GARWIN — Typically, when someone has a birthday here at Jason's, the local restaurant, that person buys a round of coffee for everyone in the group. Today, though, the birthday celebration is for the town.
The food is part of that celebration.
The women gathered around the table today assembled and edited all the recipes printed in the town's quasquicentennial anniversary cookbook. Some of them were also on the committee 25 years ago when this small Tama County town published its centennial cookbook.
"I'm the guilty one," laughs Shirley Richards. "I'm the one who said, why not do a cookbook again."
Darlene Bovenmyer adds, "We hadn't had one since 1980, so it was time."
The cookbook is a result of the town's plan to celebrate its 125th anniversary with a series of events set for July 2-4.
The committee formed last summer. The members hoped they could get residents to contribute enough recipes to fill a book that could be sold to raise money for the quasquicentennial.
That didn't turn out to be a problem.
"We got over 1,900 recipes," says Joan Bacon.
That list had to be pared down to less than 1,000 recipes for it to fit into a book.
But, these women are happy with the result.
It's first few pages includes a brief history of the town (legend says it was named Garwin because of a telegram dealing with a battle over the location of the railroad — the telegram said "G and R win." The "G" and "R" were two local landowners.)
Each section of the book leads with a picture and paragraph or two about some item relating to the town's history, such as its state championship football season or Civil War veterans reunion. On the back of that page are various old advertisements from local businesses, such as a buffet supper — pie 5 cents.
But, these women are quick to credit others for making the book a local success: the cookbook company, Jumbo Jack's Cookbooks in Audubon; Jason Hosek, who runs the local restaurant; the three churches in town; and the many families who donated recipes.
The members of the committee were no rookies to the cooking game. Many are farmers or farm wives, and Carley Luethje ran the local restaurant for many years.
The committee includes Richards, Bovenmyer, Bacon, Luethje, Ruth Beck, Shirley Delfs, Sherry Folks, Phyllis Konicek, Vivian LeVier, Winona Paustian, and Elaine Upah.
To buy a copy of the cookbook, contact a business in Garwin or Konicek at 504 Center, Garwin, IA 50632. The cost is $15 plus shipping.
Oh, these books have been around a bit.
"I took one to New Zealand on vacation and gave it to some people there," says LeVier with a grin. "I'm pretty sure they didn't know where Garwin was."
Perhaps they do now.