The Phoenix Reporter and Item (

At The Table With ... Cheryl Robinson Thornburg

Thursday, August 31, 2017

For the past two years, The Table has shared with you countries, cities, towns and areas along with recipes from those areas.

It is time to come home again.

Today starts a new format — with slight name change: At The Table With. Weekly I will be interviewing people of interest — mostly local and some not so local. The column will feature their favorite recipes.


Cheryl and I worked together for one year at The Phoenix, Reporter & Item, and when we met for brunch, it was the first time we actually met in person. She was my community news editor and liaison to The Phoenix, Reporter & Item. After meeting me, she decided to move to New Mexico ... well, there is another really another reason ...

Cheryl is originally from Reading and then went out into the world before returning to Reading 13 years ago to care for her mother. Along the way she got married, had three children (two girls and a boy) and got a divorce.

At that time, she started to work for The Mercury in Pottstown and then became associated with its sister publications, Berks-Mont News and The Phoenix, Reporter & Item.

Cheryl really enjoys living in the area. As a “people person,” she liked what was at her door — the theaters, the arts, the culture.

About a year ago, her children and their families and their father, David Thornburg, planned a family reunion in David’s town of Glenwood, N.M. — population 500. Her daughter convinced her to join in and come along, and she did. After being divorced from each other for 20 or so years, Cheryl and David rekindled and once again found they still cared for each other. So Cheryl decided to retire and move to New Mexico and a slower pace of life, planning to return to her sculpting and writing and illustrating children’s books. The local library is the heart of Glenwood. There is no television connection and only Verizon phone service, but, there are an internet connection and wifi.

At the end of July, Cheryl and her cat, T.J. (for Thomas Jefferson), were driven by her nephew, Darrin Dougherty, the 2,200 miles to New Mexico via a 16-foot truck towing her car.

Both she and David enjoy cooking. There is a lot of outdoor cooking in New Mexico year-round. But Cheryl is of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and is taking along her recipes.

A very different cookie among so many cookie recipes is her chocolate cutout cookies. Most traditional cutout cookies are made from a white sugar cookie recipe. It is never too early to think about holiday baking.


1/2 cup butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

4 tbsp. cocoa powder

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Combine all the dry ingredients and add into creamed mixture gradually. Chill dough for at least one hour. Roll out on floured work surface or between two pieces of wax or parchment paper. You can substitute a little cocoa powder for white flour when rolling out. Cut out with cookie cutter(s) or rim of glass. Place on ungreased or parchment paper baking sheets. Sprinkle with white or colored sugar if desired. Bake eight to 10 minutes. Makes two to three dozen depending on size of shape. You can double this recipe.


Let me hear from you: Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.”