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Cookbook for a Cure

posted Jan 14, 2019, 12:22 PM by Kathy Carr
The old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade.” But when life gives you a challenging diagnosis of ALS… what else would you do – if you are an accomplished cook – but make a cookbook? Not just any cookbook, but a cookbook that is a fundraiser for ALS – and you would call it “TASTE BUD PLEASERS!”
Cheryl Orr-Hood took on that challenge. For indeed, Cheryl’s history as a “maker-of-things-exceptionally-tasty” is long. A native of Car­berry, Cheryl graduated from Carberry Collegiate to go on to The University of Manitoba to get her degree in Home Econo­mics with a major in Foods and Nutrition.
Her culinary career went from summertime baking in small town Wasagaming to having her own bakery: “Sweet ‘n’ Savoury Foods Inc.” in Toronto. It was here that she developed mouthwatering desserts that even earned her a mention in a major Toronto magazine.
Cheryl came back to Carberry in 1999. She was sought after as a caterer for weddings, family gatherings, the farmers market and meals for potato harvest crews. In 2007, she married local potato farmer and widower, Bruce Hood. Besides cooking, she busied herself with a huge garden and community interests, such as the Seton Centre and the Heritage Festival. The two of them em­braced life by taking trips from one end of the country to the other.
However, in 2016, her life took an unexpected turn. Experiencing loss of balance, falls, and numbness in her fingers, she and Bruce sought a medical explanation. The possibilities ranged from a stroke, to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s or MS, and at worst – ALS. Their worst fears were confirmed.
ALS is the common name for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a disease which gradually paralyses people because the brain cannot communicate with the muscles of the body. It is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”, for the baseball player that contracted it, and made the disease more well known.
The challenging thing about ALS, is that presently there is no cure. There is research being done to look for answers to the question of how to combat this disease. The relative rareness of ALS affects the amount of funding research receives. Last fall, Cheryl participated in a clinical research trial that had her travelling to Montreal seven times to test an experimental drug that shows some promise. Her attitude was, “If it doesn’t help me, it may help someone else who gets this disease.”
Cheryl stayed at home with Bruce on their Fairview farm until it became necessary to be in Carberry hospital. Her disease had progressed so that she could no longer walk, and her voice faded until she now finds talking difficult. Her brain, however, remains sharp. And, even more amazing, her attitude is positive and her sense of humour remains intact.
So, Cheryl embarked on the advice her mother, Jean Orr, gave her 20 years ago. “Why don’t you make a cookbook?” For Cheryl’s cooking and baking involves not only using recipes that she has adopted from other sour­ces and adapted to make them tastier, but also involves recipes that she has developed herself - and brought rave reviews when she presented them. Each recipe has been well tested for taste – and success!
So, work began with the help of husband Bruce (who has been constantly there to assist with all aspects of the book), and friends who typed, and edited; Anne Fallis was invaluable for her design and layout input. Sister Brenda helped organize, but also baked and cooked (to the detriment of her waistline, she claims!), Taste Bud Pleasers be­came a reality with the first books received just before Christmas. In case you are wondering how Cheryl was able to provide the input that the recipes needed, we can thank modern technology.
If you look closely at Cheryl, there is a silver dot on the end of her nose. By aligning the dot with the letters on the screen, the notebook-sized keyboard screen which is suspended about two feet in front of her, lets her spell out what she wants to say – and the machine does the talking. It is an amazing feat that she can do this. It was through this technology she was able to provide the personal notes that accompany the recipes and the suggestions that were not written down – as well as do the necessary editing.
The cookbook contains recipes – main course meals like Chicken Biscuit pot pie, to a fancier Lamb Moussaka; basics like pie dough, to something you might make only for a special occasion, like Raspberry Chocolate Cake. In between there are handy guides for spices and where to use them; substitutions (who hasn’t discovered they are out of a certain ingredient at the last minute?) tips for canning, and using the microwave. At the back of the book, there are pages showcasing one of Cheryl’s other talents: her artwork.
One of the publisher-supplied inserts is: “Ten Commandments for Good Living.” They offer good advice for us all, but #9 spells out what Cheryl and Bruce hope to accomplish with this book, “Be alert to give service. What counts most in life is what we do for others.” The sale of this cookbook will help others on a similar journey to Cheryl’s.
Taste Bud Pleasers is being sold for $20.00. All of the funds raised through the sale of the cookbooks are going to ALS Society of Mani­toba. They have been extremely helpful to Cheryl and Bruce as she copes with the progression of her ALS. You can purchase copies in Carberry at Accenting Styles, HMS Insurance and Meyers Meats.
by Gloria Mott