Cooking has always been a family affair for Patsy Hendrickson and daughter Mary Kay Griffin.

In fact, in 1970 when 12-year-old Mary Kay first entered the State Fair of Texas cooking contest and won Best of Show for her Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Patsy took second place in the cake category.

So it seemed a natural fit for the mother-daughter duo to chair the Rockwall Women’s League committee responsible for putting together a League cookbook. The year-long project at first seemed overwhelming. But with the help of a strong committee and the League’s nearly 170 active and associate members, including several other mother-daughter pairs, Patsy and Mary Kay were able to spearhead an award-winning cookbook that has set mouths to watering all over Rockwall County.

“Initially, we were worried our members wouldn’t be able to find the time to get this book done,” Hendrickson said. “They are already so busy between their volunteer hour requirements and the work they do on our annual fund-raising charity ball. But we were flooded with recipes and every time we’ve asked for help, someone has stepped up.”

Active members of Rockwall Women’s League are required to complete 20 hours of community service annually, plus additional hours serving on Ball and club committees. Last year, League members amassed a record total of more than 6,000 hours of community service in addition to their ball and club volunteer responsibilities. League members who have completed seven years of active service are awarded special “associate” status. Both Griffin and Hendrickson are associate members and former League presidents.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said associate member Toni Humes, who did all the calligraphy for the league’s first cookbook, published in 1987. “We were amazed back then how willing our members were to help. That’s just the way League members are.” Humes’ daughter Jennifer, now a women’s league member, has worked several promotional events selling cookbooks. Proceeds after expenses will fund grants to area non-profits and scholarships for Rockwall County high school seniors.

One of the most popular tasks was taste-testing the 253 recipes that ended up in the book, entitled “A League of Our Own….From Blue Jeans to Ball Gowns.”

“It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it,” quipped associate member Barbara Allan, who co-chaired the 20-member selection committee with active member Tish Johnson.

The process proved more interesting than she had expected, said Griffin. All recipes were tested without names attached. It was difficult for her and Hendrickson to stay mum when committee members rejected some recipes submitted by women they knew were great cooks. Griffin’s own Chocolate Chunk Cookies were trumped by another member’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. “Some of the committee’s selections – and rejections – were a little surprising,” Griffin said. “But my friend’s cookie recipe was definitely the best!”

Two other book favorites are the Mozarella Chicken Salad and Hungarian Stuffed Peppers submitted by Judy Minth and daughter-in-law Allyson Minth, both of whom are associate members. Minth’s daughter Kristen, an active member, served on the cookbook committee. The Hungarian Stuffed Peppers, like many recipes in the book, come with a story.

“Our Grandma Pipok brought that recipe with her from Hungary,” said Minth. “I can remember eating it as a little child and I’ve passed it down to Kristen and Allyson.”

The book made a big hit with USABookNews.com, which named it a finalist in its Regional Cookbook category. USABookNews.com is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

“The credit for this award goes to all of our members whose handprint is on this book – in one way or another,” said Hendrickson. “It’s a wonderful legacy to women’s league.”

Rockwall Women’s League cookbooks are available from women’s league members and the following area businesses: Bountiful, Direct Décor, Ginger’s Collection, Heath Hair, Kroger, L’Egantz, Sachet, San Martino Winery, Tapestry (formerly The Hope Chest) and from the Culinary Connection in The Shops at Legacy in Plano.

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