For Syble Ray Shoults, cooking borders on being an obsession. “Cooking is my first love,” the Jefferson County resident admits. “It doesn’t matter whether I’m cooking for two people or 500, or whether I have a reason or don’t. I’m just my happiest when I’m in the kitchen cooking.
“My reputation as a cook is well-known,” Mrs. Shoults continues in a matter-of-fact way, and apparently, that is not an empty claim. A Mississippi native, Mrs. Shoults has only lived in Alabama six years–since her marriage to Bessemer resident and long-time Alfa member Joe Shoults–but already she and her cooking are known across the land.
A lot of her recipes are originals–which, by the way, will be featured in a cookbook she’s in the process of writing–but others come from her massive collection of cookbooks, a collection that includes more than 200 books, dating from the 1920s to the present.
Several of those cookbooks include some of Mrs. Shoults’s own recipes.
“I have gotten numerous requests from all sorts of groups all over the country, asking for some of my recipes to put in their cookbooks,” says Mrs. Shoults. “I guess they’ve just heard from friends or relatives about something I’ve made.”
Her recipes also have been featured in The Birmingham News; in her local weekly paper, Bessemer’s Western Star; and now, in what Mrs. Shoults insists is “one of my very favorite magazines,” Neighbors. (“I keep all of my Neighbors,” she says. “I have years’ worth. They’re filed by year and month.”)
Mrs. Shoults is an energetic extrovert who’s involved in everything from church to the United Way to literacy programs. She and her husband have four children and 13 grandchildren.
Actually, she’s a story in and of herself. But the more you learn about Mrs. Shoults, the less room there will be for her wonderful recipes.
Enough said. Enjoy.