Jane Lavender has come a long way since her first lemon icebox pie.
It was close to 50 years ago when, knowing that her future husband, John, was especially fond of the rich lemon dessert, she decided to whip one up for him.
The only problem was, when it came to cooking, Jane didn’t have a clue.
“For this pie, I knew the crust was supposed to be made out of graham crackers crumbs, but I didn’t know what else you put with them, so I just added a little milk,” she recalls.
The pie went downhill from there, but Jane says a lot of good came out of that pie.
“I always say that’s when I knew he was marrying me for love, because he sure wasn’t marrying me for my cooking,” Jane says.
Of course, those days when Jane couldn’t boil water are a distant memory now. Years of cooking for her husband and their three now-grown boys gave Jane ample opportunity to hone her cooking skills, and today, she’s top-notch.
“I enjoy cooking, but not plain, ordinary things,” she says. “When I cook, I want it to be something a little different, something memorable.”
Such is the case with all of the recipes the Tuscaloosa County resident offers in this month’s “Country Kitchen”–from an out-of-this-world Shrimp Remoulade to a pumpkin pie that even pumpkin pie-haters will rave about to a pizza casserole that Jane says her boys actually used to fight over.
Jane (who also answers to Janie, which is her given name) is a native of Wilcox County. She and John met in the mid-1940s at the University of Alabama. In 1950, after she’d earned her degree in bacteriology and worked a couple of years as a medical technologist, they got married, and Jane moved to the Lavender farm.
John still actively farms cattle and timber with the Lavender’s youngest son, Jim. As for Jane, she retired from her med-tech career in 1989 but seems to stay busier now than ever.
In recent months, cancer has tried to slow her down, but she’s determined not to let it.
Hang in there, Mrs. Lavender. We’re pulling for you.
Here are her recipes for you to enjoy.