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Spice of Life: Cookbook keeping Day’s loving legacy alive

Last Modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 7:26 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

On Friday, Nov. 13, 1998, Helen Day died six days before the release of “DayDreamers,” a cookbook that all who loved her compiled as a way to keep her loving legacy alive.

The American Press published a story back then announcing the book’s release two days before the restaurant owner passed away.

Today, I want to let you know that the second edition of the book, “DayDreamers II,” has been released and is being sold exclusively at Keith’s Jewelry and Pawn Shop at 729 Ryan St. The original book was compiled with recipes edited by Pauline “Bo” Day Rentrop, Day’s daughter.

Laura Day Waldmeier is Day’s granddaughter. On Monday, while walking through downtown with my family, we visited the pawn shop and there Ms. Waldemier showed me the new book.

“I think the history of Day’s Restaurant, and the stories and recipes the family and extended friends who ate there contributed to the book make this a very special occasion,” Waldemier said.

Day’s Cafe opened in 1941 on South Ryan Street and closed in 1981 having moved to a location on Hodges Street.

While thumbing through the cookbook, recipes for grillades and gravy, crawfish pasta and marinated bean salad got my attention along with a group of sayings on the first page of the main dishes section that the family calls “Helenisms.” A note that introduces the quotes states, “When we were growing up, mother had many sayings, a few of which we knew we would hear whether we wanted to or not.”

Those sayings include:

Count your blessings. Be kind.

Mind your manners.

Do something extra for those who are less fortunate.

Kind words are never wasted.

Cook more than you need; you never know who will turn up at dinnertime.

It’s those types of life-long gifts, remembered by family and friends, from a woman who left a large impression on them, that makes this book the kind everyone should have in their kitchen.

I have written before that cooking is more than an act of meeting life’s physical needs. Reading the stories recounted in the book leaves me with an impression that Day fed bellies and souls.

“Food is very important to the Day family — and I don’t mean just as nourishment. We socialize with food, celebrate with food, nurture with food, and mourn with food. We take food to the sick, to a family who is welcoming a baby and to families who are mourning the death of a loved one,” Rentrop wrote.

I hope you get the book and enjoy a part of the city’s past and share the same love and warmth with your friends and loved ones in the future.

For more about “DayDreamers II,” call 439-2470.

Stuffed Bell Peppers (Serves 8)


• 4 large bell peppers

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 1 can cream of mushroom soup, condensed

• 1 egg, beaten slightly

• Salt to taste

• Pepper to taste

• 1 pound ground chuck

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• Leftover, gravy, optional

• 1 1/2 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix


• Cup peppers in half, lengthwise through stem. Seed, wash, and parboil in salted water until crisp-tender. Turn upside down and drain thoroughly.

• Meanwhile, brown ground chuck with onion and garlic. Add mushroom soup and leftover gravy, if you have it, and cook about 10 minutes. Stir in stuffing mix, salt and pepper. Cool slightly and stir in egg. Pack mixture in each pepper half.

• Spray 9x13 baking dish with vegetable spray and pour water to one inch. Place pepper in dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

From Day Dreamers II: A Day’s Café Family and Friends cookbook

• • •

Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at or 494-4090.

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