Terry Wilson finds comfort in the kitchen. ¶ Comfort with every whisk of a favorite recipe and in watching her creations bring joy to those she loves. ¶ It’s a comfort the Hico resident has found for 32 years and during the darkest time of her life.
It was on Oct. 11, 1985, that her infant son Robert “Robby” passed away just nine hours after taking his first breath.
Wilson, who had a 2-year-old daughter, Pamela, at the time, channeled her grief through food.
“Weeks later, when she (Pamela) was down for a nap, I had to keep myself busy so I was sorting recipes,” she recalled.
The recipes were her own, her mother’s, her grandmother’s, friends’, co-workers’, neighbors’. Some were clipped and some just handed down from someone else.
As she sorted, she had a revelation.
“I knew I really wanted to write my own cookbook,” she said.
But life took hold — two sons, Corey and Stephen, joined the family — and the idea for the cookbook took a backseat.
“It was always in the back of my mind though,” Wilson said. “I knew I’d love to write it.”
Wilson’s recipe collection — and local appreciation for her recipes — grew through the years as her love for cooking led her to begin catering, something that started with a family wedding and then a wedding as a favor for a church member who couldn’t afford an elaborate wedding dinner on their own.
“Word got around and I started doing receptions, class reunions and church dinners,” she said.
But the book idea was always there and finally, in 2016, Wilson decided it was time.
“I told my husband (Robert), ‘I’m not getting any younger,’” she said. “‘If I’m going to do this, I should just do this.’ So I declined catering jobs and I just typed recipes.”
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Wilson named her labor of love, which she refers to as another child as she says she it felt very much like having labor at times, “Cooking Along the Midland Trail.”
“That name has been in my head since I started thinking about doing the cookbook,” she said, explaining what she says is the unique connection of the people who live all along the Midland Trail.
The book’s cover, illustrated by Brianne Solomon, features the New River Gorge Bridge, Hawk’s Nest, Cathedral Falls at Gauley Bridge and the Grist Mill at Babcock.
“You have these four scenic places along the Midland Trail that are separated, but they’re all hooked together by the water that is flowing,” she said.
The cookbook includes 426 recipes ranging from finger foods and salads to chicken, steaks and desserts.
“I’ve made everything in the book at least once,” Wilson said, adding dishes like jambalaya, French toast casserole and Terry’s Broccoli Salad are among her favorites.
She received the book from the printer on Sept. 28, 13 days before what would have been Robby’s 32nd birthday.
“I thought it was so special that the cookbooks arrived right around his birthday,” she said. “I would like to think he would be proud of it, too.”
• • •
“Cooking Along the Midland Trail” is available at Cathedral Café in Fayetteville, e-Clips Beauty Salon in Oak Hill, or by emailing Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her at 304-640-0694.
Wilson will sell the books, which she said make the perfect Christmas present at the Nov. 11 Holiday Jam at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center and at other upcoming holiday events.
Visit “Cooking Along the Midland Trail” on Facebook.
Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
I cup solid shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
1 30 oz. can pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt stirring until well blended. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream solid shortening and sugar. Add eggs and blend until well combined. Add pumpkin and 1 tsp. vanilla extract and continue to mix until well blended. Add about half of the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until well blended. Add remaining flour mixture. Drop cookie dough by the tablespoon onto parchment paper line cookie sheet about an inch apartment. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove baked cookies from oven. While cookies are cooling, in a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and blend thoroughly. Gradually add powdered sugar and continued to beat until icing is smooth and creamy. Ice cooled cookies.
WV Hot Dog Chili
2 lb. ground round
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2-2 tomato paste cans of water
1 cup ketchup
2 tsp. vinegar
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
In a medium saucepan combine uncooked ground round and remaining ingredients except water. Stir until all ingredients are well blended, then add 1 can of water. Allow mixture to cook for about one hour. If mixture is too thick, add more water, 1/2 can at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. If possible, make chili the day before to allow flavors to blend together. Serve hot and store leftovers in refrigerator. Chili can be frozen for future use.
Gene Lou’s Yellow Pound Cake with Chocolate Icing
1 box classic yellow cake mix
1, 3.4 oz. box vanilla or French vanilla instant pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
Chocolate Icing Ingredients:
1, 1 oz. square unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp. butter
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray tube cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Using electric mixer, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs water and oil. Blend on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cook in pan for 15 to 20 minutes. Invert onto serving plate. To make chocolate icing, in a small saucepan add square of unsweetened chocolate, butter, pinch of salt and evaporated milk. Stir constantly over medium/high heat until butter and chocolate are melted. Be careful not to allow chocolate to burn. Add sugar and stir constantly until mixture comes to a bubbly boil. Allow mixture to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. With a small whisk, beat icing until it becomes thick enough to stay on the cake but is still pourable. Pour icing on slightly warm cake and smooth with knife. Do not smooth with knife, or the icing with “sugar” and become gritty.
Terry’s Broccoli Salad
2-3 bunches fresh broccoli
1 - 8 oz. pkg. Colby Jack cheese, shredded
1 - 3 oz. pkg. real bacon pieces or 1 lb. bacon, fried and crumbled
3 green onions, chopped
1 carton cherry tomoatoes
1 - 3 oz. pkg Ramen noodles (optional)
1/2-1 cup sliced almonds (optional)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Wash and dry the vegetables. After cutting and discarding broccoli stems, cut broccoli into bite size florets and finely chop the green onions. If using fresh bacon, fry until crisp, drain on a paper towel and crumble. In a large bowl, combine broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, chopped green onions, bacon, shredded cheese and almonds. Mix until all ingredients are well combined and set aside. The dressing is based on your taste preference, so you will need to taste test it before pouring over the salad. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sugar with the amounts of each depending on the size of the salad. Whisk mixture until well blended and smooth. Pour a small amount of vinegar into the mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour dressing over prepared salad and toss, ensuring it is well blended.
* Adjust the sugar and vinegar for to control sweet and tangy flavors. Additional mayonnaise can help with runny dressing. If you are using Ramen noodles, place noodles in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. Pour pieces over salad one hour before serving and mix well.