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A Cookbook Full of Memories

When is a cookbook more than just a collection of recipes? When it’s North Carolina’s 4-H Centennial Cookbook: Celebrating 100 Years of Blue Ribbon Recipes.

This collection, compiled in commemoration of the 2009 centennial of the state’s 4-H program, includes favorite recipes and special 4-H reminiscences shared by 4-H alumni and current 4-H’ers from across the state. The book was published in 2010 by the N.C. 4-H Development Fund, part of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc. in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. And it is as practical, logically arranged and easy-to-use as if Jane Simpson McKimmon, the state’s first home demonstration agent who began her career in 1911, had herself authored it.

In fact, if you turn to page 192 in the “Desserts” section, you’ll find a recipe for Junket Ice Cream that was demonstrated by McKimmon in 1934 and is perhaps the oldest in the cookbook. The recipe – with the story behind it – is shared in the cookbook by 4-H alumna Juanita Ogburn Hudson, who vividly recalls McKimmon’s 1934 demonstration of the recipe at the Panther Branch Home Demonstration Club in Johnston County.

Hudson’s is just one among many colorful stories accompanying the recipes which are grouped in the cookbook chapters titled “Appetizers and Snacks”; “Beverages”; “Breads”; “Beef, Lamb Pork”; “Poultry and Fish”; “Main Dishes”; “On the Grill”; “Dairy Foods”; “Egg Cookery”; “Vegetables and Fruits”; “Salads and Dressings”; “Desserts”; and “For a Crowd.”

The titles themselves are reminiscent of annual 4-H cookery competitions – and appropriately so.

For example, on page 108 of the Egg Cookery section, the Egg-Cellent Egg Custard recipe submitted by Kacie L. Hatley of Stanly County is a competition award winner. “I won first place in the state 4-H egg cookery presentations for the 9-10-year-old category in 2006 using my late Grandma Hatley’s recipe,” says Hatley.

The book is a collection of hundreds of tantalizing recipes, such as Sherbet Punch, Coffee Cappuccino and Sweet Tea (under Beverages); Baked Cilantro Fish in Coconut Broth (Poultry and Fish); Granny’s Famous Lasagna, World Series Cheese-A-Roni and Bill’s Fabulous Flying Burritos (Main Dishes); DB’s Secret Family Recipe  and Joey’s Barbecue Sauce (On the Grill); Apple Cranberry Casserole, Zesty Mesquite Potatoes and Gran’s Yams (Vegetables and Fruits); Famous Lemon Bars and White Corn with a Kick! (For A Crowd) … and many more.

At the same time the cookbook celebrates the positive impact of 4-H on its members.

On page 180 of the Desserts section, Dr. Myrle L. Swicegood of Chatham County shares her recipe for The Best Bread Pudding and the following tribute: “4-H led me to choose Home Economics as my profession,” Swicegood writes. “This later led to my becoming a 4-H agent, then associate director of S.C. Extension. My ability to speak, conveying my love of people, and desire to help others on their journey was highly influenced by my demonstrations.”

Along with her recipe for Irish Soda Bread (page 39, Breads section), Judy Stowers Farley, who now lives in Orange County, writes, “the 4-H Club programs were ‘my heroes’ of success growing up in a rural area of southwest Virginia. My 4-H presentations in foods, electricity and homemaking skills in local, district and state competition awarded me with confidence, skills and knowledge to become a very successful student, teacher and parent.”

And don’t miss the Southern Sweet Potato Pie recipe (page 174) from Rachel Kirby Thomas, a Wilson County 4-H alumna and retired N.C. State University food and nutrition specialist, who helped test many recipes found in the cookbook. The accompanying story of her work with Cooperative Extension and as supporter of 4-H youth food and nutrition programs is as rich as her recipe.

Proceeds from the cookbook will be used to establish a 4-H Foods and Nutrition Endowment, so that 4-H’ers in the next century will continue to create their own success stories to tell. — Terri Leith

For purchase information, go to, or call 919 515-1680.