By Kitsey E. Burns
BOONVILLE — A group of Starmount alumnae from the class of 1970 is releasing a cookbook next month in honor of their class. The cookbook shows off the group’s love of their alma mater with the title Ramalicious and book cover done in the signature Starmount colors of navy blue and burnt orange.
The project sprang from a general discussion among a few classmates who enjoyed cooking and it’s a project that has brought a group of friends even closer to one another. Christine Shore Bryant, LuAnn Hall, Kathy Pinnix Nixon, Wanda Barron Jordan, Judy Deck, Joyce Holman Moore, Glenda Vestal Chambers, Tommie Jo Haynes Paul, Carol DiClemente Clark, and Cathy Eskridge Baldwin have worked for the past several years to put the cookbook together.
“We started talking seriously about doing a cookbook in 2012, after talking at a 2011 breakfast about our cooking, and our mothers’, and how we loved the camaraderie of cooking and keeping those old recipes alive for our children and grandchildren,” explained Judy Deck. “Some of us had lived around the country and even around the world, and we all loved food and cooking.”
Deck said that there was a group from the Starmount Class of 1970 which had stayed in touch and would occasionally meet up for breakfast. Many members of the cookbook committee don’t live in the area anymore, but visit occasionally and always make time to visit with their former schoolmates.
“We didn’t even mention doing a cookbook for a year cause it was just nice to reconnect with your fellow classmates that you’ve not been in touch with closely,” said LuAnn Hall.
Wanda Barron Jordan agreed that getting back in touch with classmates was one of the most special parts of the project.
Hall and Jordan said the class was closer perhaps than some and had always worked to remain close through class reunions and other gatherings.
“We wanted something to honor our class because we’ve really made an effort to maintain a presence with people,” Hall said. “We had some tragedies in our class, especially our senior year, and I think that drew our class together closer maybe than some others. We learned at a young age that you never know what’s going to happen.”
The group wanted their book to be for the entire class and so they began working to track down other members of the Starmount Class of 1970.
“It took years of effort to track down as many classmates as possible, and we started calling ourselves the Starmount Ladies Investigative Society,” Deck joked. “There were 179 members of our class and each one is represented by a recipe. Either a classmate sent one or more recipes for inclusion, or if deceased then a family member sent one in their memory. If we couldn’t find a classmate, or if they chose not to participate, then we selected a recipe for inclusion in their honor. For us, it was an article of faith that no one would be left out.”
“We’ve decided that when we all retire we could have a private eye agency because we have learned to track people down and stalk them pretty good trying to get recipes,” Hall added with a laugh.
The cookbook was a team effort, Deck said, which each person sharing their expertise to put the project together.
“Without any one of us, the effort would not have come together as it did,” Deck said.
Hall said it was slow going at first and then it began to snowball. The final book has 868 recipes.
“The way I look at it, there’s something for everybody,” Hall said. She said she loved that many submissions include what she called “vintage” recipes that aren’t as commonly made now, but things they remembered from years ago. Many recipes are also family traditions that represent the love shared by family and friends eating together.
“When you have love in your cookbook it has to be good,” Hall said. She said her favorite recipe was right in the front of the book, one submitted by Ricky Pardue. She said she has gotten a lot of laughter and joy from his submission.
“The cookbook has been a work of love and the reconnection with each other is priceless,” added Joyce Holman Moore. “I wouldn’t take anything for it.” Moore described some of her favorite recipes in the book including her mom’s Christmas nut cake.
“She passed away when I was 18 and this recipe is just her, she made it every year, just at Christmas,” Moore said. “And my Uncle Joe’s spaghetti sauce. My favorite uncle and it is incredibly good sauce.”
Deck said it was hard to pick a favorite from the more than 800 recipes, but she does love Glenda Vestal Chambers’ Cherry Pound Cake and LuAnn Hall’s Texas Caviar.
Though the project was a lot of work, Deck and Hall said there was also food and fun at the their cookbook meetings.
“Our meetings were almost always held around LuAnn Hall’s kitchen table, with food and coffee and lots of talk and laughter,” Deck said.
They have become much more than just a committee working on a cookbook, but also a support group for one another through good times and bad.
“The cookbook project has brought us all so much closer than we would have ever thought possible. We are now 10 sisters/friends for life,” Deck said. “Through the course of working on our cookbook, we’ve helped each other through a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, a move, the arrival of grandchildren, graduations of children, and myriad other life crises that were made easier and more bearable, and joys that were multiplied, by the love and support of the other nine remarkable women with whom we share so much history.”
The Starmount Class of 1970 will celebrate its reunion on Sept 26 where classmates will get first dibs on copies of the cookbook. The cookbooks will be available to the public for purchase later in September. The cookbook is $20 and orders may be placed with any of the 10 Cookbook Committee members or by mailing contact information and a check for $20, plus shipping charges if the book is to be mailed, to Starmount Cookbook, P.O. Box 6, Hamptonville NC 27020.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.