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Twila Van Leer: A 4-H project became a family treasure, recipe book

Joella Peterson's 4-H project, undertaken when she was 9 years old, just gets better with age. When challenged to come up with a personal project when she was a little girl, her idea was to create a family cookbook featuring a recipe for each one of her ancestors.

Today, Joella is the children's services manager for the Provo Library and lives in Springville. Her mom lives in Bluffdale. But they still are a team in promulgating family history for the younger generations. And the cookbook helps. It's a tangible reminder of people who went before, paving the way for today's generations.

The two, Lucy the supportive mom and little Joella, brainstormed and decided that the cookbook was a good idea. They bought a looseleaf binder at a local dollar store and dived in.

They used a four-generation pedigree chart to gather the names of the ancestors Joella wanted to pay tribute to through her book. Then they started collecting the recipes, testing them if they had questions and adapting if necessary. When it was finished, there were 45 recipes, each attached to a progenitor.

Some of the ancestors, such as William Dorris Hendricks, proved to be a treasure trove of cooking know-how, Joella said. He was a manager of the old Wasatch Springs resort just north of downtown Salt Lake City, and his wife, Mary Jane Andrus Hendricks, was the cook at the popular swimming hole. Among their frequent guests was President Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who hosted parties at the resort.

One of her ancestors had a "secret" recipe that she would put together in the wee hours of the morning to avoid any chance that it could be copied by anyone else.

Each ancestor is honored with a short tale from his or her life. The name is underlined in pink in the pedigree chart, which is repeated on each page for that purpose.

"Each recipe has a name and a story," Joella said.

When it was done, and Joella had received the praise of her 4-H leaders for a job well done, the cookbook took its place on a shelf with other cookbooks in Lucy's kitchen. Family members coming and going have enjoyed its recipes through the years. A favorite is the Danish Abelskivers, or ball-shaped pancakes, that are topped with fillings to individual tastes. The Swedish pancakes also enjoy a top spot on the popularity list. The Scandinavian dishes hint at the origins of the Mormon pioneer ancestors.

Great-grandmother Addie Mabel Hillman Quayle's recipe for Butter Flake Rolls includes a brief description that describes her as "a good cook." | Twila Van Leer

Great-grandmother Addie Mabel Hillman Quayle's Butter Flake Rolls were a treat in the 1800s, and they are a treat today. See recipe below.

Of course there was the problem of trying to perpetuate the recipes of a 19th century cook who "just threw the ingredients in," said Joella.

And in the 37 years since she labored over her 4-H project, the book has picked up some of the flotsam and jetsam of a busy kitchen, as a good cookbook should.

But for the Petersons and the many family members who have shared the recipes the young girl so faithfully gathered, it's more than a cookbook. It's a link with a past in which their ancestors helped to build a foundation for those now living.


2 tablespoons (or packets) of yeast, in 1¼ cups warm water

½ cup sugar

½ cup shortening or butter

3 eggs, beaten

4½ cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons salt

Put the flour in a bowl and mix other ingredients in. Knead and put in fridge until ready to use. Roll out into a rectangle, then roll up like a jelly roll. Cut in 1½- to 2-inch slices. Put slices into a muffin pan and bake at 400 degrees until nicely browned. Makes 30 rolls.