REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books: ‘Picks & Chews:

Recipes and stories from our past that helped shape the people and legends of Trona’

Memberrs of the Trona Senior Center found a wonderful way to celebrate theirtown’s centennial. They compiled a cookbook full of recipes accompanied by residents’ profiles, drawing not only on the bygone days but also on the reminiscences of contemporary citizens who make their mark in the 21st century. After all, we may not pay attention to a local saga as it unfolds before our eyes, but future generations will appreciate what we record.

The recipes emphasize down-home flavors, such as Carol Reeves’ Cowboy Stew, Virginia Johnson’s Corned Beef Casserole, Doyle B’s Pioneer Point Stew (requires well water, “no tap water – please”), Dora Gates’ Ginger Snaps from the 1920s and Shorty’s Hot Cakes c. 1852, included purely for historical interest and very pointedly not recommended for consumption. But some more exotic dishes emerge (Crab Stuffed Potatoes, Oriental Mushrooms, Pineapple Spareribs and Play Dough), as do others best described as whimsical. For instance, one by first-graders says to bake cookies at 20 degrees for an hour. Another for rum cake involves drinking a key ingredient while “wixing mell” and finally “pouring mess into boven and ake.”

Editor Benadom has interspersed vignettes of lives in Trona: Nolan Paulsen “will always be remembered for his role as the Cowardly Lion in the 1975 production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’” at Trona High School; “a story I must tell anyway” even though Benadom couldn’t find a recipe to go with it, about cafeteria worker-manager Betty Miller; and a brief biography of Centennial Grand Marshal and area historian extraordinaire Margaret Pipkin “Lit” Brush who contributed Myrtle Pipkin Murchison’s Baked Corn Casserole and Lit’s Dump Salad. Benadom gathered the delightful collection by posting on bulletin board and Facebook, phoning, visiting in person, and announcing the plans at meetings of various groups.

At project’s end, she concluded, “Sharing recipes seems to be a good way to get families to share stories and history. What I learned from editing this cookbook is that family/oral history is important and using the cookbook to generate those conversations gives more meaning as we get a good taste of the past!”

Direct your questions about “Picks & Chews” to Trona Com-munity Senior Center, 760-372-5889. Next month, you can read an interview with Priscilla Benadom on, the website of the southern region of the 108-year-old California Writers Club.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at the Historic USO Building, Maturango Muse-um, and Red Rock Books.

Story First Published: 2017-02-17