Do you have bunches of recipes piled up around your house? I have baskets and shelves full of instructions on how to make one scrumptious dish after another…whenever I have the chance.
I have cookbooks galore, too. One of the first ones I got after I was married was the beautiful red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. (It now looks like it was in a flood.) My Mom bought it for us, knowing how much we would need it. Over the years, we’ve gathered quite a collection. We have Italian cookbooks with Lidia Bastianich’s favorite recipes. (She’s an older Italian lady on KET. My beloved only has eyes for me, but he’d eat at her house anytime!) We have church cookbooks, Alabama cookbooks, and Southern Living cookbooks. We have Rachael Ray cookbooks AND bakeware. (She’s on the Food Network.) I have a big Belfry High School Reunion collection from 2000 but my very favorite is the Fireman’s Favorites by the Belfry Volunteer Fire Department. It’s from…actually I don’t know what year it was, but it was decades ago. It looks pretty rough, like it might have been on at least one fire run. My sister-who has an identical copy-didn’t even recognize it. You can tell that it has seen a few meals and years. Apparently, I am a messy cook. It looks like I dropped something on it every time I used it!
A few years ago, I came across an old recipe called “Fresh Apple Cake”. It was a yellowed paper I had folded in half. In my own hand across the top I had scrawled two things: “Peggy King’s” over the title, and then “TR loved it!” I couldn’t ever, EVER remember making a fresh apple cake and thought, “Who the thunder is Peggy King?!” I didn’t linger on the thought but proceeded to chop, stir and bake it because “TR” is my beloved. On a day I couldn’t remember, he had eaten it and loved it! That’s all I needed to know!
I am a binge baker. When I find a recipe I like, I make it over and over, sharing it with as many people as possible. Be it apple cake, banana bread, cinnamon biscuits, or the like, I spread it around locally and then go to the next recipe I fixate on.
I made the “Fresh Apple Cake” for my beloved. He loved it-again! I took it to my Mom and the girls at work; they all loved it. I made two to share with the girls at the jail. They loved it. I baked one for a new friend. She loved it. She shared it with her parents who were visiting from Syria. They loved it. When I shared the recipe with her, I said, “This is Peggy King’s Fresh Apple Cake”. She nodded, realizing it was important. “Who is Peggy King?” she asked. “I have no clue.” She and her daughter giggled. I went on, “Anytime you make it, you have to call it “Peggy King’s Fresh Apple Cake”. They agreed.
I was making this Fresh Apple Cake so often, I decided one day that I would start praying for Peggy King, whoever the thunder she was.
Last Sunday, I went to the funeral of a dear friend of my family. I got there just as the service was beginning. Sitting in the back, I asked my Mom who everyone was. (It’s hard to tell from behind.) Whispering, she named each person she could see row by row. Mrs. Copley and Johnie Mae were sitting together. (I love them both!) Another lady was with them. Leaning closer, my mother said, “And that’s Peggy King.” “What?!” I whispered. “Peggy King?!” I repeated. “The Peggy King…I…?” and she nodded before I finished the sentence.
Holy smokes! I sat across the aisle from THE Peggy King! I couldn’t believe it! She’s like a rock star to me! (I’d rather meet her than Beyoncé’!) I definitely had to speak to her!
After the service, I waited in the back of the crowd for The Peggy King to come by. I felt like one of those silly girls you see in the Beatles’ clips! “Are you The Peggy King?!” I gushed, still trying to be quiet.
She smiled and answered, “Yes…I am The Peggy King…” (My Mom had already told her I was baking her cake and praying for her.)
I hugged her so tight! Then we chatted like old friends. I told her all the times I had shared her cake. She was sure she had found a better recipe called “West Virginia Black Walnut Apple Cake”-I think. I told her it absolutely COULD NOT beat the one of hers I already loved. I could tell right away that she is a treasure; sweet as her apple cake!
Now I’ve been thinking…If this one recipe of Peggy King’s has made such an impact on me and those around me…what other recipes does she have?! And what cookbooks does she use? I must investigate!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.