She and her husband, Steve, have a vegetable garden. They can a lot of the produce, and Wonda cooks a lot of it during the summer for her friends as they swim in her pool and enjoy her spacious flower-filled yard.
“Sometimes when people see my yard, especially when they see it for the first time, they say it looks like a little paradise,” she said. “It makes me feel good, knowing that somebody else is enjoying it like I am.”
Wonda also likes to crochet and travel. Two months ago, she and Steve went to St. Marten, St. Thomas and Nassau. They’ve recently returned from Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Savannah. They’ve already booked their next vacation in the Smokies.
Wonda was born in Myrtle Creek, Ore., to the late Howard “Sarge” and Leona Lucas. She, her sister, Elaine Raulerson, and their mother moved often with her father who spent 30 years in the Army. Elaine and her husband Bobby live in Jacksonville.
Wonda is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and attends the Kingdom Hall on Hwy. 204. She has a daughter, Tracie Beck Bryant, and a grandson, Cody Bryant. She calls her shitzu Precious My Baby. She graduated from Jacksonville High School and attended Jacksonville State University for a year.
Wonda had her own home cleaning business for nine years, then she studied medical transcribing at Gadsden Business College. She worked 10 years at that profession at Jacksonville Hospital and five years for doctors James Yates and Russell Ingram at the Mediplex.
She had to medically retire when she developed blood clots in her legs.
“The doctors said that with the job I had where I had to sit all day, that a blood clot could hit my lungs,” said Wonda. “I didn’t want to take a chance on that happening.”
She and her first husband, Dexter Beck, were married 30 years when he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1995. She and Steve, who is self-employed, married a year and a half ago after a 30-year friendship.
“My husband likes to grill, and whatever he grills determines what dishes I make to go with it,” said Wonda. She serves the following dishes not only during summer but year round.
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1 baked 9 inch pie shell or graham cracker shell
1 c. sugar or Splenda equal to 1 cup
¼ c. cornstarch
¼ t. salt
1 c. water
2 c. strawberries
Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt in pan. Slowly stir in water and strawberries. Cook over low heat until mixture heats. Boil for 3 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon strawberry mixture into baked shell or graham cracker shell and chill until firm. Other fruit can be substituted.
1 head cabbage, chopped or coarsely sliced
1 lg. onion
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
6 packages Roman oriental flavored noodles
Salt and pepper
Steam cabbage. Brown beef with onions. Drain grease. Put beef on top of cabbage and sprinkle with 2 packages seasoning that comes with the Roman noodles. Stir. Put noodles on top of beef with 4 more seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss and serve. The longer it sits, the better it gets. The recipe can be halved and is just as good.
Chicken and Dumplings from Scratch
1 lg. onion
5-6 large leg and thigh quarters
Cream of chicken soup
Cream of celery soup
2 c. plain all-purpose flour
1 c. ice water
Boil chicken thighs or take stock from turkey. After you boil chicken or turkey, drain stock to make about 1 gallon. For each gallon of stock, add 1 large onion. Pull chicken meat off bone and clean what you don’t want in your stock. Add to stock. Boil until onion is clear or done. Mix soups into stock with whisk. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Leave it boiling for dumplings. It must be boiling when you add dumplings.
Mix 2 c. plain flour with 1 c. ice water
Make sure it’s ice water if you want waxy dumplings. After mixing well with hands, roll out thin on flour board. Cut into strips. While stock is boiling, drop dumplings into stock but don’t stir until after they’ve cooked. After dumplings are added, cook for about 30 minutes. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Add more water if they are too thick.
Chocolate Pound Cake
1 c. butter
½ c. shortening
2 c. sugar
3 c. plain flour
½ c. cocoa
½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar and add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add dry ingredients with milk and vanilla. Mix well. Bake in deep and floured tube pan because it rises a lot. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours or until done.
Crisco Pound Cake
2 c. sugar
1 c. Crisco
2 c. plain flour
1 T. vanilla
Mix eggs, sugar, Crisco and vanilla. Beat until mixed, but don’t over mix. Pour into a tube pan. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Do not preheat oven.