By Debbie Adams
With this week being Thanksgiving– when people spend a great deal of time thinking and talking about food– we asked Vinton residents to name the best cooks in town.
One name that kept coming up was Pat Barton.
Whitney Russell, the associate pastor at Vinton Baptist, said, “If you ask most people at Vinton Baptist Church who the best cook in Vinton is, they will all reply, ‘Pat Barton.’ Mrs. Barton spent years serving our church in the kitchen. Mrs. Barton, her right-hand man Bobby, Ardella Hough, and her loyal and hardworking kitchen helpers spent many days and nights serving Wednesday night dinners, funeral meals, and food for all sorts of special occasions at our church.
“Everyone has their favorite dinner Pat Barton and her crew would make, but my favorite is her cheesy potatoes! The truth is…Ms. Barton doesn’t really have a specialty, because everything she makes is delicious and amazing! We know the secret to her recipes too…everything she makes and prepares, she does with love. She is generous, thoughtful, hardworking, a master chef…and in my opinion…the Best Cook in Vinton!”
Pat Barton’s Cheesy Potatoes
6 cups mashed potatoes
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp. salt
Shredded cheddar cheese for topping
Optional: ½ tsp. garlic salt, ¼ tsp. onion powder
Combine all ingredients except shredded cheese and place in greased 2 qt. dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.
Pat’s granddaughter, Laura Barton Bryant, says, “We are certainly spoiled to have her in our lives. Her cheese ball is certainly noteworthy as are her green beans and coconut cake. All so, so good!”
Pat’s cheese ball is a staple at every holiday event. One year she served the cheese balls at a reception for Vinton Baptist Pastor Lewis Bates. Roanoke’s then Mayor Noel C. Taylor attended the reception and “absolutely loved the cheese ball. He said he had never tasted anything like it.” He asked her to write down the recipe then and there, and she sent him home with the leftovers.
“Cream Cheese Cheese Ball” is one of her most requested recipes among friends and family. Each year she prepares numerous cheese balls for her neighbors for Christmas gifts.
Pat’s Cream Cheese Cheeseball
2 8 oz.pkg. cream cheese
1 large can crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped onion
1 tsp. seasoning salt
Mix all the ingredients, except the pecans, in a bowl. (Pat says mixing it up with your hands might be the best technique.) Roll the mixture into a ball. Roll it in chopped pecans. Chill.
Pat’s Green Beans
1 large can green beans, undrained
4 chicken bouillon cubes
½ stick of butter
Water to cover
Combine all the ingredients in a pot, heat to boiling, then reduce to simmer for about 45 minutes or until they are the consistency your family enjoys.
Pat’s Thanksgiving Cake
1 cup Crisco oil
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Beat together Crisco oil, sugar, pumpkin, and eggs. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into pumpkin mixture.
Bake in greased and floured bundt pan or tube pan for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350˚. Cool cake. Invert pan to remove cake.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
½ up Crisco solid shortening
1 box confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Milk as needed
Combine all ingredients. Add enough milk to make the frosting spreadable.
This cake freezes well.
Kathryn Sowers says her family had many great cooks, especially her mother, Arlene Carroll Scott. (Not surprisingly, Arlene Scott and Pat Barton’s mother were sisters.)
“She had so many great dishes she made– most did not really have recipes,” Kathryn says. “Everything from fried chicken to homemade coconut cake to green beans and the list keeps going. I would ask her– and it was a pinch of this, a hand full of that. I would even ask her to measure it so I would know how much she was talking about. Just about everyone in Vinton who got married or had a wedding or baby shower or birthday had one of her homemade decorated cakes.
“One of her recipes that I still make every Thanksgiving is her Cranberry Relish Salad.”
Arlene Scott’s Cranberry Relish Salad
2 c. raw cranberries
1 c. diced celery
2 apples (your favorite variety)
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 cup chopped pecans (can be left out if there are allergies)
2 c. sugar
1 pkg. lemon jello
1 pkg. cherry jello
3 c. hot water
Grind cranberries, oranges and applies. Add celery, nuts, sugar. Mix well and let stand in fridge. Dissolve jello with 3 c. of water and let stand in fridge until starts to jell. Add to cranberry mixture. Place in refrigerator until firm. It will
“I don’t make many cakes, but I do make delicious deviled eggs, meatloaf and mac AND cheese,” Sowers says. “My specialty is cookies and candy at Christmas. I make at least 12 different ones. The ones most requested are Jets and Buckeye balls, strawberries, and chocolate sticks. The Jet recipe came from my aunt, Lucille Noell Carroll.”
Kathryn Sowers’ Jets
4 ½ c. powdered sugar
½ c. salted butter
4 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Semi-sweet chocolate for dipping
Melt butter with milk. Add sugar, salt and vanilla and mix well inn mixer
Set in fridge or freezer until cool.
Roll into small balls, place on parchment paper, and return to freezer until hard (overnight).
Melt semi-sweet chocolate and dip balls into chocolate to coat. If you use block semi or un-sweetened chocolate, add about a Tbsp. of coconut oil to the chocolate.
Place Jets back on parchment paper and return to freezer until hard.
These can be then put into air-tight containers until you want to serve or give as gifts.
Just up the street at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church, Pastor B. Failes also names a church cook as the Best Cook in Vinton.
“The best cook I know in Vinton is Bonnie Jones,” Failes says. “She cooks for the Wednesday night dinners at Thrasher, and for many sports banquets that William Byrd held at Thrasher before the pandemic. I love her homemade spaghetti sauce. It has an amazing flavor even when she cooks for over 300 on a Wednesday night. Just the right amount of seasoning. Her pimento cheese is legendary! She is an amazing cook!”
Bonnie was willing to share that legendary pimento cheese recipe.
“I do love to cook and really enjoy being part of the cooking team for Wednesday night suppers at Thrasher each week,” she said. “I majored in home economics in college and have always loved to be in the kitchen cooking for lots of people. A friend of mine gave me a recipe for pimento cheese many years ago and it has become one of my favorite recipes to share with friends and family. Thanks to Joy Beaman for sharing this with me. It’s not what I would call typical pimento cheese. It is very creamy and delicious.
Bonnie Jones/Joy Beaman Pimento Cheese recipe
1 block cream cheese
1 8 oz. extra sharp cracker barrel cheddar
1 pound Velveeta cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 TBSP vinegar
1 TBSP sugar
1 small bottle of diced pimentos, drained
Put cream cheese, cheddar and Velveeta in food processor and blend til smooth. Add mayo, vinegar and sugar and blend. Add pimentos and stir into cheese. Great served with crackers, pretzels or to make a grilled cheese sandwich.
If you would like to suggest other great cooks in Vinton and their recipes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.