After 36 years as The Herald’s voice for Snohomish County homemakers, Judyrae Kruse is retiring.
Judy was hired to write the Forum, a column designed to exchange readers’ recipes and homemaking tips, on April 18, 1977. To read Judy’s column is to read a diary of life in Snohomish County: Recipes for slow-cooker stew and make-ahead casseroles followed the school year. She shared an idea for dinner pulled from the pantry after a week of snow and ice. When the weather warmed, the recipes cooled: crisp salads and gelatin desserts, ideas for grilling.
She knows first-hand when it’s time to share some expertise with fish. Judy’s husband, Wayne Kruse, is The Herald’s longtime fishing and hunting writer. While Wayne told readers where to find the salmon, Judy told them how to fix it once it came home.
When someone was looking for a particular recipe – “it was a cookie, crisp, with some kind of spice” – Judy sent out an SOS. And readers responded. If they didn’t have a recipe that fit the bill, they often shared something they thought might be equally nice. “My kids love these cookies.”
Occasionally, without warning, a recipe would strike a chord. Who knew county residents ate so much Green Goddess dressing? After a request, the deluge of recipes continued for months.
How many ways are there to make snickerdoodles? Many. Many ways, many readers, many recipes. Judy published them all. That’s because she understood the focus of the column: It was not the recipes themselves, but the readers, the names of friends and neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers, that were important.
Judy was not averse to a rerun if someone pleaded for the directions they’d lost. And she knew that some recipes just had to be run every year, like the annual “dinner in a pumpkin.”
If some recipes were crazy popular and some became a tradition, the columns that garnered the most thoughtful – and the most poignant – responses were reader requests for help recreating a childhood dish, often something made by a mother long gone.
Readers shared stories of their childhoods in towns across the country, tough times during the Depression or times of deprivation during World War II, and how their mothers created treats, such as the potato candy from the 1930s, for their kids, no matter what.
Judy may be retiring, but she leaves a rich legacy based on the most basic of values: family, home and hearth. Her columns weave together the story of our lives, the story of Snohomish County, in a way that is comforting and familiar, entertaining and instructive, humble and homey. Just like the woman herself. Just like Judyrae Kruse.
BY THE NUMBERS Judyrae Kruse’s Forum column has been a fixture in The Herald for three decades. Here’s the breakdown:
Years written: 36
Columns written: 2,496
Letters received: 14,400
Dog biscuit recipes: 144
Missed deadlines: 0
**Judyrae and her husband, Wayne, wanted to be sure to share the following news, which is Wayne’s edited version of the story which first appeared in The Everett Herald on May 22, 2013.