By CHERIL VERNON
Just in time for Christmas, the Palestine Junior Service League is selling its newly-released 206-page cookbook “Something To Talk About: Recipes from the Palestine Junior Service League.”
Uniquely, the cookbook not only features recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation — and others that are perfect for the modern family “on the go” — the cookbook also ties in local history with its rich photography of Palestine landmarks of Reagan Park, the Texas Theater, Texas State Railroad, Trinity River and three historic Palestine homes while accenting recipes featured in the cookbook.
“The cookbook would make a perfect Christmas gift for mothers, daughters, daughters-in-law, anyone who enjoys cooking or loves Palestine,” PJSL Cookbook Committee co-chair Kelley Slate said Friday.
The cookbook recipes include appetizers, beverages, breakfast, brunch and breads, soups and salads, vegetables and side dishes, main dishes, casseroles and desserts.
“There are very elaborate recipes to quick-and-easy fixes for your family,” Slate said. “We have crockpot recipes and recipes perfect for a dinner party and recipes that would be perfect for your friends.”
The cookbook includes recipes such as Sarah Jane Freeman’s “Peach and Bri Quesadillas with Lime-Honey Dipping Sauce” to Karen Parsons’ “Pan-Seared Salmon on Baby Arugula Salad” to Laura Bates’ “Party Brisket” to Kristy Wages’ “Sopapilla Cheesecake.”
“The recipes are from all of our Junior Service members — active and sustaining,” Slate said. “We had a lot of fun collecting these recipes and some of our members are known for recipes they shared.”
While some of the recipes have been passed down from relatives, others have been originals or shared from friends or in honor of someone important in the life of the PJSL member, Slate said, making the cookbooks a “cherished” keepsake for many.
“We hope the community will embrace it,” Slate said. “It was a fun project. We all love to cook and love to entertain, so even though it was labor intensive, it was worth it.”
Tossing around ideas for the cookbook cover, the committee decided to portray a fun group of Southern women enjoying each other’s company at a garden party setting while showing off some of the food featured in the cookbook. Other photographs taken a historic sites in Palestine were used for category dividers.
“We just wanted to highlight our community that we love so much by sharing the history of what our town is about with others,” Slate said. “While doing the research on our town’s history, we all ended up learning something new. It was a wonderful experience for all of us who took part in it.”
The cookbook’s front section includes a history of not only the PJSL but also a history of Palestine and Anderson County. The historical significance of each site photographed for the cookbook also is explained in the cookbook. The women were able to feature the historic H.H. Link home, the Hodges Hill home (owned by Judge and Mrs. James N. Parsons III) and the A.B. Hodges Home (owned by Jim and Chauncey Boone).
PJSL members are recognized in the cookbook as well as those who helped with the project.
“For example, Duncan Antiques allowed us to drag one of their beautiful antique tables out for one of our photo shoots and Petal’s gave us a floral arrangement for another photo shoot,” Slate said. “We really appreciate everyone who went out of their way to help us with this cookbook. We also appreciate the selfless members who made the recipes and allowed us to use their china for the photos.”
The cookbooks, which costs $25, are available at the following Palestine locations: O’Sweet Pea, Charles Dickens Fine Jewelry, Petal’s Florist and General Store, Oxbow Bakery & Antiques, L&L, Coed Shop, Old Magnolia, BARC, The Humane Society and the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We have 500 copies and have already sold quite a few, thankfully,” Slate said. “Each recipe in here represents one of us. It has a very sentimental value to us and we want to share that with the community. It would make a wonderful Christmas stocking stuffer.”
All proceeds will go to the PJSL fund and put back into the community through its various projects and donations to local organizations, such as Meals on Wheels and BARC, The Humane Society. PJSL projects include the Reagan Park Project (teaming with the City of Palestine to improve the park, having completed two phases of its long-term plan); Back to School Fair; Arts (hosting annual theater productions for local students); and Spread the Warmth (providing new and gently used coats to local students in need).
Bringing the cookbook to life was the photography of PJSL member and cookbook committee co-chair Jennifer Willard.
“Jennifer does a wonderful job for us. It was a lot of fun to see our creative vision come to life with the pictures she took,” Slate said.
The PJSL will showcase its cookbook at its next event, the Nutcracker Tea on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Carnegie Building in downtown Palestine. For information about that event, call 903-723-7321.
For more information about the PJSL or its events, follow the organization on Facebook by searching for Palestine Junior Service League.”