Sunday Dinner: Family Recipes

The letter was lingering in my “stack” and discovered when I was trying, with varying degrees of success, to bring order to my cluttered desk. The table/desk is running over, and during the periodic straightening effort I found the letter of last July from Norma Jean Easterling of Barnwell First Baptist Church.

She wrote about making family cookbooks. I had written about this in an earlier column, and she had some excellent suggestions for saving favorite recipes. I am passing these on to you. We thank her for suggesting a good project.

Barnwell First Baptist is in the Barnwell-Bamberg Association and is pastored by Rev. Keith Richardson who has been there about three years. The 100-plus-year-old church has 350-400 members.

A native of Barnwell, Norma Jean has been a member of Barnwell First since 1961, so she knows a lot of stuff! She attends Sunday school, of course, but is also a member of the Joyful Ministry Group, part of the WMU Women on Missions. The group’s major focus is on visiting the shut-in members of the church. She is also a member of the Carolina Honduras Foundation, a medical missions program where groups from several churches assist in the clinic, etc. She works full-time at a physician’s office.

Norma Jean has four children. Her daughter, Cindy Easterling, lives in Duluth, Ga. Another daughter, Lynn Barnes, and her husband, Jerry, live in Orangeburg. Their two sons, Daryll and Matt, live in Atlanta. Norma Jean’s son, Jimmy, and his wife, Melissa, are in Barnwell. They have two sons — Neal, who lives in Milwaukee, and Timothy, in Washington, D.C. Their daughter, Kodee, is a student at Winthrop. The other son, Tim, and his wife, Debra, live in Nebraska with their five children. You might have seen Norma Jean’s grandson on TV recently and didn’t know it. A Marine living in Washington, D.C., it was Timothy who danced with Mrs. Obama at the inaugural ball.

In addition to the family cookbook, Mrs. Easterling did one for the church’s Wednesday night suppers. These full-meal suppers were prepared on site but have been discontinued. Some of the recipes used for these suppers listed ingredients for 50, 75, 100 and 200 servings. She left the book with the church for the time when the suppers will start again.

Norma Jean Easterling

Mrs. Easterling tells about the recipe books she has made for her children.

“A number of years ago, my son, while living in Nebraska, asked me to compile recipes that I used when my children were growing up. After thinking about it awhile, I purchased a notebook for each child and a large one for myself, along with a supply of cover sheets.

“I began going through my favorite cookbook, a loose-leaf Betty Crocker purchased with Betty Crocker coupons about 1952. I chose recipes that I had used regularly, adding any changes I might have made and sometimes a note about the recipe. I printed these and made the needed copies, inserted the copies in the sheet covers.

“I continued adding recipes and gave each child his or her book at Christmas that year — and we have added many recipes. When my daughter-in-law asked for a recipe and I emailed it to her, it went to everyone to add to his or her book. Now that the grandchildren are asking for recipes, I just take them to the copy machine and copy.”

We thank Mrs. Easterling for sharing such a good idea with us. It will take a bit of time for you to do this, but your children and grandchildren down the road will be glad you did when they are enjoying one of your dishes for … Sunday Dinner.