In Cookin’ in a Coal Camp, author Glenna Pack brings us a charming, old-fashioned cookbook that has been a favorite for years. Mrs. Pack tested these recipes on her family as they were moved from coal town to coal town throughout West Virginia. The book is divided into eleven categories of recipes, some of which are accompanied by old-fashioned sayings: “The peace of the world will, in the end, depend upon our capacity for friendship and our willingness to use it.”
Mrs. Pack’s recipes range from the familiar: Pork Barbeque, Clam Chowder and Pecan Pie; to some Pack family specialties: Daddy’s Idaho Buckeroo Beans and Mama Pack’s Harvard Beets. Lastly, there are those recipes whose names alone will pique your interest: Texas Lizzies, Foothill House Sweet Dreams, Hot Brown and Queen Elizabeth Cake.
She resurrects the lost art of candy making, with recipes for homemade mints and fudge. For those with hunters at home, she has included Roast Pheasant and Smothered Venison Steak. Plan a holiday brunch including Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Egg Sausage Souffle.
A vintage black and white photograph of West Virginia in its heyday accompanies each chapter. For over thirty years Mrs. Pack has been living in Charleston, where she still enjoys cooking. Treat yourself (or the cook in your life) to Cookin in a Coal Camp. Happy eating!
Carolina Gateway 1/21/09
By Beverly Lane Lorenz
Nearly 60 epicureans, as well as “wannabe” cooks, assembled in the demo kitchen at the Sun City Carolina Lakes Lake House to honor one of their own, Glenna R. Pack, author of the cookbook, Cookin’ in a Coal Camp, in the fall.ﾠ
The cooks, a group of women know as the Cooking Fingers, meet regularly to “share the joy of cooking, exchange experiences, techniques and recipes while forming friendships,” says the club’s leader, Paula “Deen” Giles.
This day belonged to Pack, who brought along her sister, Kay Hindsley, of Tarboro, N.C. The sisters prepared all of the table decorations, with several coal mining figurines, nuggets of coal candies and a pineapple cheese ball. The recipe for the cheese ball is in her cookbook.
Marilyn Budreau, Velma Hobbs and Giles assisted Pack in the kitchen. The recipes featured included the pineapple cheese ball, reception salad, chicken broccoli casserole and chocolate apple cake. Hostesses Elaine Wilson, Marcia Stefani and Donna Paul served coffee and helped with the set-up as the others watched and worked. Hindsley was either at her sister’s side or taking photos to preserve the memories for her sister, family and friends.
Pack shared some of her history with the audience during the demonstration. She was born and raised in Welch, W.Va., which she calls “the heart of the coal fields.” Her late husband, Allen, was a third-generation coal miner from neighboring Bramwell, W.Va.. After their wedding and a two-year stint in the Marines, he went to work for his father’s coal company. ﾠ
Pack said she wrote her cookbook after responding to an ad in Southern Living magazine about how to write a cookbook. She received a small instruction booklet and wrote down every recipe she had collected over the years from her mother, mother-in-law, neighbors and friends.ﾠ
During the summer of 1995, when her husband was recovering from heart surgery, the couple read and proofread her hand-written recipes. Then they sent the recipes and some photos of coal mining towns where they had lived to a company in Waverly, Iowa, for publication. Pack’s son, Andrew, designed the cookbook’s front cover.
When it was first published, Pack ordered 300 books and gave them away to family and friends as gifts during holidays. Then Tamarack, a crafts and gift shop in Beckley, W.Va., began carrying the cookbook. The shop was her best customer and in May 2002, Pack received the shop’s Author of the Year award.
Pack gave an autographed copy of her cookbook to each attendee at the Cooking Fingers luncheon.ﾠThe attendees then surprised Pack, a breast cancer survivor, with a $200 donation to the Cancer Society for Breast Cancer Awareness. She was shocked by the group’s kindness and generosity.
Fifty members of the Cooking Fingers club went to the national Taste of Home Cooking School at Baxter Hood Center in Rock Hill in November. Three members – Giles, Budreau and Sue Clawson – helped the chef at the school.
The club also held a bake sale and raised $300, which they donated to the Sun City Thanksgiving and holiday food drives organized each year by the Helping Hands group for Indian Land area neighbors in need.