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Rob Curley: Dorothy still cooking while kitchen gets a few new appliances

Most of us have old friends or family members who, when they show up unexpectedly after decades apart, we simply don’t want to leave. Or at least we hope they’ll stick around for a good, long while.

Then there are those who are nuttier than a candy bar. You know the ones – folks best tolerated with at least a few states in between. Possibly an ocean. Or at least a really big lake.

They’re proof that Snickers don’t always satisfy. Sometimes they make you hangry.

When Dorothy Dean and her nostalgia-filled recipes returned to the pages of The Spokesman-Review in the snow-filled winter of 2017 after a nearly 35-year absence, it was like our long-lost surrogate grandmother had returned.

Or at least the one who could cook nearly anything with a can of cream of mushroom soup, some cottage cheese, a box of orange Jell-O and likely a little Crisco. It wasn’t always healthy, but it tasted like home.

That’s basically what Dorothy did in Spokane from 1935 until 1983 – the time before lard became a “four-letter” word. For the past two years, she has been back in our newspaper every Wednesday in her full, butterized glory.

We’ve made lots of recent changes to The Spokesman-Review – including reviving many long-lost ingredients – but the first one to really get people’s attention was the hometown hospitality head honcho’s homecoming.


We’re not sending Dorothy back to the Island of “Lost Light Features That No Longer Run In Newspapers.” We asked her for a little help in finding more things that will make our readers happy. She immediately suggested a casserole.

That’s Dorothy. She loves meals made of overlooked items in the back of the pantry. We were looking for a few more recipes to help heal a funny bone.

Since 2017, The Spokesman-Review has tried to reprint six pages from those classic cookbooks each Wednesday, equating to roughly 30 to 36 of Dorothy’s old recipes each week. This week, that number will be scaled back, with some other new features being added – all recommended through subscriber suggestions.

There will continue to be two pages of Dorothy Dean recipes in our Wednesday newspapers, which equates to about eight to 12 individual recipes.

Starting today, modern recipes will appear in this section. For the first month or so, the new recipes will come from outside providers, like syndication services and other newspapers, but the hope is to eventually have each week’s new recipes come from chefs here in the Pacific Northwest. These recipes will be from noted local chefs and restaurants, as well as regional caterers and even home cooks.

For the next few weeks, the section also will include many of the Non Sequitur comics that didn’t run in The Spokesman-Review after the comic was canceled earlier in the year. The section also will be used to try out new comics and puzzles for our newspaper through at least August.

When we asked our readers if we should bring back Non Sequitur, the response was overwhelmingly positive. But many had another suggestion: Let subscribers have a bigger voice in some of the other comics we run.

In two or three weeks, we will begin to use some of the pages in that section to show what other comics and puzzles are available, then let our readers tell us which we should run.

For the past few years, we’ve tried to emphasize that this isn’t “our” newspaper, that The Spokesman-Review is really our community’s paper and the community should have a bigger voice in it. Our coverage has changed dramatically because of that.

Many more local stories and photos. More local graphics and illustrations. Bringing back the daily Northwest section. Having large puzzle sections. More local letters to the editor. Not always leading the newspaper with bureaucracy and body bags. A weekly voting update from our D.C. delegation. Showcasing more local heroes and not always having a front page filled with bad news.

And you’ve rewarded us for those changes.

All newspapers are struggling with advertising, which was what really paid for this industry. We are, as well. But most other newspapers are also struggling with readership. That’s where we’re different.

Among our peers across the nation, our circulation and readership numbers are the exact opposite. We’ve seen our first real readership gains since 1994. We were named by Editor & Publisher magazine as one of the “10 Newspapers That Do it Right.” Editors from across the nation visit us now to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

All of that happened simply because we listened to you.

A few weeks ago, we heard loud and clear the call to bring back Non Sequitur. And that we should catch everyone up on what they’ve missed. We’ve also heard about other things.

That brings us back to today’s paper. Yes, there are fewer Dorothy Dean recipes, but way more than there were between 1984 and 2016. We want to continue to make changes and updates that our readers want, and Dorothy said she would love to help out in any way.

That’s just the way she is.

Dorothy’s totally that family member we all love when she visits. Besides, when she starts cooking with rum, we all know we’re in for a heckuva great meal regardless of how things taste or how many calories are really in her “light salad.”

If you’re upset about Dorothy or would like to talk directly with her nephew, then please call Cousin Joe at (509) 459-5503.