Dorothy B. Sorenson

Obituary: Dorothy Sorenson, 92, former Bee food editor

Published: Friday, May. 31, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Friday, May. 31, 2013 - 6:28 am

Dorothy B. Sorenson, a former Bee food editor who gave readers tips about cooking and recipes over the phone and in columns under the pen name "Katherine Kitchen," died May 8 at 92, her family said.

Mrs. Sorenson worked at The Bee in the heyday of the food section. She started in 1964 as a clerk-typist in the home economics department, which boasted a full kitchen and demonstration auditorium across the street from the paper's main building.

By 1970, she was one of four home economists who wrote stories about cooking and recipes under the pseudonym "Katherine Kitchen." In addition, she and co-workers spent afternoons answering phone calls inquiring about food, fashion, home furnishings, etiquette and sewing. She responded with cheer and professionalism to all – including unaware callers seeking a recipe for "quickie" lorraine.

"She'd say something like, 'You know dear, I think it's pronounced "keesh" lorraine,' " retired Bee food writer Gwen Schoen said. "She didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But she wanted them to be educated."

A wife and a mother of four boys, Mrs. Sorenson understood and valued the work of making a home. She loved interacting with readers and organized a chocolate chip cookie contest that drew a line of 400 people outside The Bee holding plates of cookies to be tasted and judged.

Besides annual stories on how to cook a holiday turkey, she wrote about ways to bake and mail cookies that would arrive intact to troops in Vietnam, where one of her sons was serving in war. After a terrible flood, she went with coworkers into neighborhoods under water to offer tips on sanitizing water and checking canned goods before use.

"She was a lady, and I mean that in the old-fashioned sense," Schoen said. "She dressed properly, never lost her temper and was always polite. She treated everyone with respect."

As views about cooking changed from domestic chore to culinary art, Mrs. Sorenson interviewed Julia Child and other top chefs and traveled to write about cooking schools in France, Italy and Switzerland. She also answered calls on a KFBK radio show.

"She missed out on a lot of homemade dinners at friends' houses, because they were just too intimidated to cook for 'Katherine Kitchen,' " said her son Stephen.

The eldest of eight children, Dorothy B. Prusia was born in 1920 in Franklin, Neb. She studied home economics at the University of Nebraska but left early to marry Harry E. Sorenson in California three days before he shipped out with the Army Air Corps during World War II.

She worked at McClellan Air Force Base during the war and spent the next 20 years raising her family before joining The Bee. She completed her home economics degree at California State University, Sacramento, in 1967.

Mrs. Sorenson retired in 1986. She was married for 50 years to her husband, who owned a furniture-repair business after an Air Force career. She lived alone in Sacramento since he died in 1992.

"She still drove her car," her son said. "She prided herself on being able to take care of herself. She was very independent."

Dorothy B. Sorenson

Born: Oct. 20, 1920

Died: May 8, 2013

Survived by: Sons, Stephen of Reston, Va., Mark of Dunlap, and Rodney and Lee, both of Sacramento; brother, Elmer Prusia of Lincoln, Neb.; sisters, Estelle Sorenson of Sacramento, Urva Lou Frerichs of Minden, Neb., and Carolyn Barber of Grand Island, Neb.; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren

Services: None

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.

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