Organizations: Newnan Junior Service League

Poundcakes are helping put Wimberley Larkey through college.

“Buying books and art supplies, which can be very expensive, would have been difficult without help,” says the Kennesaw State freshman, who earned a scholarship from the Newnan Junior Service League’s cookbook fund. “I’m grateful because art is my passion, and I want to help people with it.”

Food for Thought: Lar-key, a psychology major who plans to practice art therapy, is part of a Coweta County tradition: Every year, two female graduates receive a four-year scholarship underwritten by sales of A Taste of Georgia. First published in 1977, the prize-winning cookbook has raised more than $1 million for charities and scholarships. This year, the Leaguers are clinking tea tumblers as the cookbook enters its 20th printing, each spiral-bound volume offering more than 800 recipes for such staples as sweet potato casserole, roasted pecans and whipped cream pound cake (a universal favorite).

“More than just a cookbook, A Taste of Georgia is a look back at a time before cooking shows were on every television channel,” says project chairwoman Michelle Hitt Grasso. “This cookbook represents the best of our grandmothers’ kitchens, with traditional Southern comfort food, gourmet recipes and tips on cake decorating, napkin folding and table setting – the kind of book we all reach for time and again.”

Bringing Home the Bacon: Cookbook fund-raisers started during the Civil War for wounded soldiers and their families. While A Taste of Georgia showcases the groaning-board traditions of Southern hostesses at their apron-cinching finest, it also was an ambitious product of the wo-men’s movement.

“During the 1970s, more women were going to work outside their homes, so the League looked for a project that was flexible enough to work around women’s jobs,” Grasso says.

Ladies of Quality: Busy schedules did not compromise culinary standards, though. Each recipe was “blind-tested” three times. Among those that made the cut were contributions from The Cloister at Sea Island and then-First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

The quality control paid off. A staple gift at bridal showers, A Taste of Georgia has been inducted into the Southern Living Cookbook Hall of Fame. There were 7,500 copies in its first printing, but because of a steadily growing appetite with each press run, more than 300,000 are in circulation now.

And no, the cookbook has never been updated – why mess with what works? – but its recipes, and its scholarships, have fed multitudes in more ways than one. – Candice Dyer

Categories: Organizations