There is something so special about friends and family gathering around a table full of home-cooked food, laughing and sharing together. In the South, the act of serving others through food is especially cherished. And for Carol James, it’s a calling.
Nearly every year since 1994, Carol has hosted a family reunion at her home in Gadsden, inviting more than 75 family members who live across the country in places like Houston, Texas; Long Island, New York; and McDonough, Georgia.
“Before planning that first family reunion, I asked Jesus how I could best share my faith with my family,” Carol said. “He replied, ‘Feed my Sheep.’”
And feed them she did. Carol, an Alabama Farmers Federation member from Etowah County, plans her reunion menus months in advance and has become an expert in preparing delicious recipes for a crowd.
“You have to start working early,” she said. “I tell people about the reunion in our Christmas letter, and then around May I send them a menu and a calendar — everyone refers to it as ‘The Letter.’”
Once people begin to arrive, Carol puts them to work in the kitchen.
“The younger generations would come and help me get ready, and I loved seeing the little things they learned. I was really surprised they didn’t already know some of these things,” Carol said. “But they can only learn by getting in the kitchen with someone who knows.”
These interactions, as well as a strong sense of nostalgia surrounding the delicious food always present at the reunions, inspired Carol to write a cookbook.
“After hosting 13 family reunions, I am writing this cookbook to create lasting memories by sharing the recipes of the dishes prepared for those reunions and sharing my faith,” said Carol, who inscribed at the beginning of her cookbook, “Feed My Sheep.”
“Feed My Sheep” recipes are simple, Southern, approachable and crowd pleasing. Contact Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.