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Cookbook serves up generations of love

COAL GROVE — If the quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, then the late Betty Jane Thompson Hite was dishing out a lot of love to her family. It was said that she expressed love for her family through her cooking.

She expressed so much love, in fact, that one of her daughters, Annetta Hite Molter, decided to preserve Betty’s memory in a genealogy-cookbook.

Molter, 62, spent about a year compiling handwritten recipes from her mother and aunts, as well as old family photos and a genealogy that dates back to her grandparents, Charles and Daisy Mae Thompson. The finished product is a book called “Precious Memories with Love: Recipes and Reflections of the Thompson and Hite Families.”

“When my mother passed away, different relatives would say, ‘What was your mother’s recipe on such-and-such?’” the Coal Grove resident said. “I thought I would just make some copies of some of her cake recipes, and then I thought it would be nice to have a genealogy-cookbook for the Thompson side so some of my younger cousins, now in their 20s, would recognize photos of their great-great relatives.”

Betty, who died Oct. 31, 2002, was one of 14 children. Molter included pictures of her and her mother together and with other family members. Her family was so large, they would have to eat in shifts for Sunday dinner, Molter said in the book.

Of the recipes featured in the book, a considerable amount of space was dedicated to desserts, especially cakes. Molter said her mother’s raspberry Jell-O cake was always a favorite, requested by many for different holiday celebrations.

For Molter, this book was her first, and a very important one.

“I’m just hoping to motivate others to perhaps do something like that to preserve their heritage,” she said. “So many children today haven’t seen their grandparents, much less a great-great-grandparent in some cases. I think family history is important; people lose sight of that.”

“Precious Memories with Love” is available for purchase as the Jesse Stuart Foundation in Ashland, Ky. as well as the Merle Norman studio in Ironton. Molter will have a book signing on April 18 from 2-4 p.m. at the Briggs-Lawrence County Public Library, with books available for purchase. The cost per book is $19.95 with all proceeds going to Ironton’s First Baptist Church.