Naperville resident Tom Boehne grew up cooking with his older brother, who later became a chef. “My mom always told us that our dishes looked better than anyone else’s,” he recalls.
When Boehne entered the seminary to become a pastor, cooking became a diversion from his studies. He continued cooking after getting married because his wife Eileen enjoyed his meals.
Boehne, 56, is always looking for new cooking ideas. “For a while we went to one of those places where you prepare meals and box them up to freeze them. I learned what flavors go well together during that experience,” he says.
Now that Boehne and his wife have adopted three children, his cooking responsibilities have increased. “I always try to make enough to have some leftover meat for another meal,” he says. “I also try to keep a well-stocked pantry. I look in the pantry, see what’s there and figure out what to make.”
To keep variety, Boehne tries a weekly rotation of a vegetarian, fish, chicken and meat entree. He also likes to plan one slow cooker meal each week. When he sees an interesting recipe, he places a copy into a plastic bag in his kitchen that serves as his recipe file. “I find recipes on the internet too so now I often cook with my phone,” he says.
One of Boehne’s favorite places for recipe ideas is the Boehne family cookbook put together by his Minnesota relatives more than 30 years ago.
His grandma Riedel’s onion pie recipe is in the book and was one of his favorite dishes when he was growing up. “When she put that onion pie on the table, it just disappeared,” recalls Boehne. Onion pie was part of the family Thanksgiving fare in Minnesota and so when he married and moved to Naperville, he offered to bring onion pie to his wife’s family Thanksgiving dinner. “They had no idea what I was talking about but once they tried it, they loved it and now we have it on Thanksgiving here too.”
Boehne is pleased that his children are open to trying new foods. “They’ll eat everything. One of their favorites is kale chips.” To make them, Boehne tosses kale with olive oil, sprinkles them with sea salt and bakes them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 to 11 minutes, turning them once.
Although the family has busy schedules, Boehne says they try to eat dinner together at least five times a week. “I have seen how a great meal really fosters great conversation,” he says. He sees food as a way to connect with others, even in his ministry.
Boehne oversees the recovery ministry at The Compass Church at 1551 Hobson Road in Naperville. The Tuesday evening sessions, which are open to anyone struggling with drugs, alcohol, gambling, anger management and other issues begin with a shared meal. “We get people age 20 and up and focus on a solution. Each session follows the same steps of food, music, message and testimony.”
Boehne invites others to try one of his family favorites at their next meal and hopes the food inspires great conversation. The onion pie recipe is from his grandmother and the peaches and cream pie is from his mother, Lois Boehne.
1 cup Club cracker crumbs (about 25 crackers)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pepper to taste
To make crust, mix together butter and cracker crumbs. Pat into an 8” pie pan. Set aside. For filling, sauté onion until soft but not brown. Place in prepared crust. In a bowl, combine milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Whisk together and pour over the onions. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until filling is set. Serve immediately.
Peaches and Cream Pie
Unbaked 8” pie shell
3 to 4 peaches
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Place peaches in boiling water for two to three minutes to loosen skin. Peel and slice peaches. Place in the crust. Mix together sugar and flour. Stir in the cream. Mix and pour over the peaches. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of mixture. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn down oven to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes. Cool several hours before serving. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.