AT THE TABLE WITH: Nancy McAllister Stauffer

Nancy McAllister Stauffer
Nancy McAllister Stauffer

Nancy Stauffer and I have been acquaintances for many years. We reconnected on Facebook when I was in search of an artist for my “Neighborhood Kitchens” Cookbook. Not related by blood, we share three Gaugler cousins.

Nancy and her three older sisters were reared in the Limerick area, each branching out with their lives and still remaining in the area.

She was no beauty school dropout. After graduating from Brylan Beauty School, she started her first job with Vogue Beauty Salon in Phoenixville. Before retiring, she lent her talents to being a stylist.

Being a noted decorative artist keeps her busy. She works a lot of craft shows and displays her talents at the Swamp Door in Gilbertsville. This facility is a co-op offering the works, collectibles and treasures of 52 vendors. There is a two-year waiting list to be eligible to showcase there.

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This shop got its name from back in the day when there was no direct route between Limerick/Royersford and Boyertown. A toll road was built, and blasting through a hill became necessary to continue the road. Today, this road is known as Swamp Pike. The area of the blasting gained the name of The Swamp Door. It is also believed that it was there the toll booth was located.

Nancy teaches decorative painting classes in her garage/studio, along with teaching at Steph’s Folkart Studio in Lancaster. She seems to be very fond of boxes and vesicles that hold things. Nancy is a member of the Reading-Berks Craftsmen Guild.

When she and Lavern Stauffer met and married in 1968, they started their family and moved to the same house they live in today in New Hanover Township. Daughter Lori’s family, including granddaughter Kaylah, reside in Alabama, while daughter Tori and her children, Dylan and Julianna, came to live with the Stauffer household. A new family member, “Freddy” (a rescue), rounds out the household.

Four years ago, Vern was forced to retire from his job at Kraft Foods in Allentown due to health issues. It was a 60-mile round trip for him to travel each day. Recovering nicely from his heart issues, Vern is Nancy’s No. 1 supporter, aiding her in her many projects and being her general cheerleader.

This is a busy time of the year for them, as Nancy’s painting lean toward Halloween and the holidays.

Both are busy in their garden. This year, they have planted and are harvesting all type of berries. There is an abundance of zucchini and all the other vegetables found in the garden. After producing all these wonderful garden bounties, there is a need to prepare, preserve and process for use later.

They have an upcoming cruise planned, beginning in New England and moving on to Canada before coming home.

As well as her artistic talents with the paintbrush, she is an artist in the kitchen, always whipping up goodies for family and friends.

Recently, Nancy, through the Weight Watchers plan, has lost 30 pounds, which led Vern to lose 40 pounds on her watch. This venture has led her to create new recipes for them to enjoy while checking the scale.

This is a recipe Nancy put together while doing Weight Watchers. Her whole family loves this soup, including the kids.

NANCY’S CHICKEN & BLACK BEAN SOUP

Brown two chicken breast in a Dutch oven spayed with Pam with a teaspoon garlic salt. Cook thoroughly. Remove and set aside to cool.

Add two boxes of chicken broth, a bag of frozen corn and half a bag of frozen chopped onions (Nancy hates cutting onions) to the Dutch oven. Add in 1 cup of red bell pepper (chopped), a large jar of mild salsa, 2 cans of black beans (drained and rinsed) and 2 Tbsp. of “Better than Bullion” (chicken flavored).

When the corn is done, shred the chicken and put back in the pot. Heat through. You can garnish with tortilla chips and Colby Jack cheese.

Enjoy!

Let Bette hear from you: banjack303@verizon.net. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.