Lonnie Dunlap spends her weekday mornings and afternoons tucked away in the kitchen of the Tanaina Daycare center, in UAA’s student union. She wakes up early to be to work at six thirty, and finds her self busy without a break until two o’clock, feeding roughly 60 kids and their caregivers.
This hard working chef will soon celebrate her 24 year anniversary with Tanaina on September 24.
“I love it.” Dunlap said. “And I love to cook.”
She hasn’t always been a chef for the daycare though, originally she was a teacher but in 1993 she moved into the kitchen when a job opened up.
Dunlap is one of the universities most under appreciated employees but one of the hardest workers.
“Sometimes we have to fill in for her, and we just get exhausted and our feet hurt. We have no idea how she does it.” Daycare employee Maranda Williamson said with a smile. “We tell her to take breaks but she won’t, and sometimes she will come back at four with a jug of milk.”
Due to state regulations the food must me a well rounded meal, but Dunlap puts a little bit more into it.
“Her food is so wholesome, and everyone just loves it. Even the teachers.” Williamson said.
Both the kids and teachers agree that she has one meal that stands out specifically above all the others, and that is her sweet and sour meatloaf with a side of sticky rice and a vegetable.
“Its incredible.” Williamson exclaimed.
It is a recipe that Dunlap describes as simple, and basic.
Sweet and Sour Meatloaf
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and for a group of 60 put it into the oven at eight am.
In a large bowl mix 12 eggs, 8 packets of lipton onion soup mix, 41/2 C water, 2C ketchup, and 1 loaf of frozen bread crumbs.
Add 12-14 Ibs of ground beef or turkey and mix well. Spray a large pan with Pam and place the mix in the pan. Poke holes in the top of the loaf and bake until ten am. Drain excess grease.
Part two-Sweet and Sour Sauce
In a large pot mix 6C of ketchup, 5C of water, 2 1/2C honey, 4C tomato sauce, 2TBS worcestershire sauce, and 2TBS vinegar. Stir Constantly till boiling.
Mix together ½ C cornstarch and ¾ C water, then add it to the sauce and thicken.
Next Pour the sauce over the meatloaf, and return it to the oven for five minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool before digging in.
Even though its a favorite, it is only served every five or six weeks.
Other meals include chicken corn chowder, beef bean and cheese casserole, corn bread, and the not so popular split pea soup.
“The don’t really like split pea soup, so we probably won’t have it again until October.” Dunlap said.
Every meal she makes is homemade and in honor of her and the work she has done the daycare is starting to put together a recipie book to raise money for the non-profit daycare.
“We hope to have a beautiful dedication in the beginning of the book.” Williamson added.
The estimated time the books will come out is the end of October, and Williamson hopes the parents and staff find in useful.
“What I am doing is taking all of her favorite recipes and breaking them down to family style so instead of a recipe that feeds 60 make it so it feeds four or five.” Williamson said.
“She needs a big bonus or something.”