You know Becky Bhaer is serious about her cooking when she introduces her custom-built cookbook cabinet.
It’s about 6 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and every nook and cranny of the raspberry pink bureau is stuffed
with hundreds of cookbooks and recipes from around the country.
“I’ve got healthy cookbooks and not-so-healthy cookbooks,” said Bhaer, pulling out “Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding
House Cookbook” from Savannah, Georgia, and another from Colorado.
Just because she has the books, doesn’t mean they’re a Bible to follow religiously.
“Lots of times I use the cookbook for a guide and then I tweak it,” Bhaer said.
The recipe featured today is from family, not a cookbook. And it’s an oldie but a goodie, she said.
“My sister-in-law gave it to me at least 30 years ago, maybe longer.”
When Bhaer was drumming up appetizer ideas for the General Federation of Women’s Club Little Black Dress
FUNdraiser, she decided to hunt down the ham dip. When the sister-in-law didn’t recall it, Bhaer reached
out to her son, who likes to make it for sandwiches. He also couldn’t recall specifics.
She ended up finding the recipe in her collection — with one problem. It didn’t designate what kind of
mustard to use.
Bhaer experimented with yellow and honey.
“I didn’t think the honey mustard added any flavor,” said Bhaer, who also prefers regular cream cheese,
over light, for this recipe.
There are a couple reasons that Bhaer was bent on doing this recipe for the fundraiser, which raises
money for scholarships for non-traditional women attending college.
“It’s easy and it can be served so many different ways.”
Spread it on pumpernickel bread with cheese for a filling sandwich or spoon it into halved cherry
tomatoes for a colorful appetizer.
“I think for the Little Black Dress FUNdraiser, I’ll make a big batch of it and serve it with crackers.”
GFWC is just one of many groups and boards that Bhaer, who is the retired Wood County clerk of courts,
She said she often misses the main monthly meeting of GFWC — it’s her euchre night — but thoroughly
enjoys the women’s club’s offshoot groups of literature and garden.
Bhaer also serves as vice president for the Wood County District Public Library Board of Trustees and on
the governing board of the Wood County Committee on Aging. In addition to euchre, she loves the game
“When I have time, I like to cook,” she said. “I like to feed people. I like to take care of people.”
Bhaer and her husband, Ted, have two children, Julie and David, and two granddaughters.
The couple met in between her junior and senior years at Morehead State University. Bhaer recalled
cooking him chicken and biscuits for one of their first dates.
After they married, she taught high school business at North Baltimore High School for four years, then
stayed home with the children for 10 years.
Bhaer took a bookkeeping job with Wood County Clerk of Courts Betty Haas. When Haas announced she was
leaving, four years later, Bhaer decided to campaign for the seat.
She was appointed over four other candidates, and was clerk of courts from October 1987-2008.
Bhaer said she got used to running for re-election every four years.
“I was shy. People will never believe it, but I was very shy. Going up and talking to strangers was
Now, Bhaer said she welcomes the camaraderie of her fellow volunteers, legions of friends, card-players
“I like people. The worst punishment you could give me is taking away the people.”
When she was appointed clerk of courts, she embraced the job, learning how to work with $15-$20 million
annually and manage a staff of 25.
“It’s a pretty hard job to sum up. It’s like being a CEO of a small company.”
Bhaer also became appreciative of the area, as she traveled from Northwood to North Baltimore, attending
chicken dinners and pancake breakfasts.
“Wood County is a great county. The expectations are high and people appreciate the job you do,” she
said. “We may disagree, but we do it agreeably.”