The Adventures of Writing a Cookbook

Dixon Beaumont Inn News

By Helen Dedman

Who knew one could learn so much revising the Beaumont Inn Cookbook?!  It was a fascinating process—one quite different from the process my in-laws, TC and Mary Elizabeth, used several years ago.  I remember their huge dining room table being covered with pages of recipes, recipe books with dog-eared pages and red pens and pencils at the ready!  My experience was all based on computer entries and emails.  My publisher and contact from Keen Media, Molly Merkle, was wonderful to work with but I never laid eyes on her nor heard her voice.  Okay, I know, “step into the world of 2016!”

Louise Lay

Louise Lay

Another thing I learned was it is dangerous to try to list staff from the past—you will always leave someone out.  For instance, I left Mrs. Peavler, Lil Bit, out.  She was the baker for many years and made the best chocolate cake ever!!  She was a small woman who worked in the corner of the kitchen, always pleasant and never stressed.  She saved the chocolate cake crumbles for me. My mouth is watering!

Another one I left out I didn’t even know.  A few months after the cookbook came out I got an email from Jacqualine VanDyke from San Diego, California stating that her mother was Louise Lay, who had worked at the Inn for several years and was credited with perfecting the corn pudding recipe.  Over the course of several emails, I found out that Jacqualine grew up on a farm (which is still there and owned by one of her cousins) in Harrodsburg,  moved to California in 1958 to be with her husband (also from Harrodsburg) who was in the Navy.  Her mother, Mrs. Lay, moved to San Diego 1959 and lived to be 93 years old.

I have never met Jacqualine nor heard her voice but consider her a friend.  We emailed back and forth about her family tree, recipes and which recipes she has tried in the cookbook.  So much fun, thanks to stepping into the world of 2016!

And speaking for friends, I need to add in my list of people who I could not have done the book without (Mark File, our photographer extraordinaire, is near the top!) is my friend, Pat Linton.  Pat gave me the name of Joyce Humphrey, Mrs. Bessie Fisher’s daughter.  Joyce was a wealth of information about her family– generations who had worked at the Inn.  I so enjoyed working with Joyce and happy that we became friends.  (Now if you haven’t bought the book you must, to find out who Mrs. Fisher was.) So much history of the Inn that would not have been included without the help of Pat Linton.

Last but not least, I learned and am still learning how to operate an online store. Oh my, that part of stepping into the world of 2016 has been challenging!  Not because it’s hard, I think it’s because I’m old.  To visit the store (and buy the cookbook), go to Shopify. There are many items in the “store” for you to browse through.

I have been so pleased with the response to the cookbook through the wonderful articles in Lexington Herald Leader, Danville Advocate Messenger and the best–word of mouth.  I am also attending the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort November 5.  If you have one, I hope you have enjoyed it.  If you haven’t I hope you will.  My handwriting might not be the best but I’d be honored to autograph and personalize it if you like.  Hey, that takes us back before computers and the world of 2016!