I was sifting through some old things of my grandma’s lately and came across a spiral-bound cookbook put out by the Ripley Rainbow Girls. That’s an organization I am not familiar with, so I am not sure what role they played in our community. Considering that roughly two-thirds of the book consisted of only delicious-sounding dessert recipes, I’m sure upping our community’s diabetes numbers was part of it.
While I glanced through, looking for names I knew (Billie Bennett, Marsha Landis, Dawn Myers, to name a few), it got me thinking that we are long overdue for a curated community cookbook. We have a long history in Jackson County of people who can COOK (that’s how you say it when someone ask you if someone can really cook), and we’ve had some amazing restaurants in our history, and equally amazing ones serving us now.
I’m imagining a book that covers all ends of the county, and all the foods we love. I’d like to see a section on Legacy Recipes. That’s where foods from our lost-but-not-forgotten stores would go: the official white cake and hot dog sauce recipes from the Big R, for example, or something from the Village Cafeteria. Then we’d include recipes from the people who fed us the best, and whose recipes have never tasted quite the same since they weren’t here to make them (my entry for that? Grandma Kate’s Waldorf Salad).
Then I’d like to see the recipes from our new eatery favorites: Cozumel’s white cheese dipping sauce, for example, or a breakfast meal from the Downtowner. The Fairplain Yacht Club’s Crabby Patty Burger or one of iScream’s artisan shakes, and the ribs from Bogey’s Grill would be awesome additions. The roll recipe from Jackson General Hospital and the bread pudding from Cedar Lakes would be great too. And it wouldn’t be complete without our local craft food vendors signature items, like a jelly recipe from The Leavitt Farms, or the moonshine pecans from Ginger Harmon, or a Connie Fisher bread recipe!
We have some amazing caterers as well whose food is devoured at an event, and we’d all love to try at home. O’Brien’s Catering’s candied bacon, or one of Silverspoon’s Catering’s signature wrap sandwiches would fit perfectly into a cookbook that won’t just show what we ate: it’ll highlight the people that fed us too.
Of course, no community cookbook is complete without the standout recipes from our people who can COOK, who make every church picnic, baby shower, and Sunday dinner worth attending. I’d have to have Elizabeth Webb’s chicken salad recipe (she doesn’t use celery!!), Jean Rectenwald’s meatloaf, or pretty much anything Jackie Casto is turning out in her kitchen. I don’t want to brag, but my cousin Scott Ranson makes basically the best Thanksgiving turkeys and prime ribs around, so he’d need at least two pages in the meats section.
Perhaps 2020 is just the right time to create a cookbook that’ll showcase what’s best, and tastiest, about us, Jackson County. So if anyone is interested in heading up this project, I’ll help any way I can, as long as that way involves the taste-testing!