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Woman pens e-books about cooking, growing up in small-town North Dakota

Mary Ann Gadberry has penned a series of e-books about growing up during the 1950s and 1960s in Forman, N.D. The book also contains recipes that use simple ingredients such as milk, butter, eggs and flour. JOHN STENNES/FORUM NEWS SERVICE

GRAND FORKS — Mary Ann Gadberry knows you really can go home again.

The Grand Forks woman has written an e-book with a title that says just that.

“Home Again for Spring and Summer” was recently released, and is made up of Mary Ann’s memories of growing up during the 1950s and 1960s in Forman, N.D., where she lived with her father, a Soo Line Railroad foreman; her mother, a homemaker; and six brothers and sisters.

During her childhood there, Mary Ann, like many small-town kids, rode bikes, fished and entered 4-H projects in the county fair. She wrote about those experiences and others, such as dyeing Easter eggs, in “Home Again.”

“Back in those days, we had none of the fancy colors, graphics, stickers or markers that are available today,” Mary Ann said.

“We used vinegar and food coloring.”

Mary Ann’s daughter, Kristine Gadberry, 33, grew up hearing about her mother’s childhood.

“She was always this fantastic storyteller,” said Kristine, who lives in San Francisco. Kristine says her mother translated those stories to the page without sacrificing their flavor.

“To read her story is exactly like her telling the story. She has a way of writing that feels like you’re talking to someone,” Kristine said. “It’s a very warm and inviting style.”

Another book

Mary Ann graduated from Sargent Central High School in Forman in 1973 and spent the next three decades working at several newspapers in North Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska. She is now a copy editor at the Grand Forks Herald.

It was when Mary Ann was working at the Omaha World Herald that she became editor of the food page and wrote a column called “Cook’s Corner.”

“The whole concept of the (food) column was people could submit the recipes, but they couldn’t submit them unless they had a story to go with it,” Mary Ann said. The column resonated with Omaha World Herald readers.

“People really bonded with that,” she said.

Mary Ann turned her Cook’s Corner columns into an e-book of the same name (to be released in November) that shares her own mother’s many recipes.

Each recipe in Cook’s Corner evokes a memory of her mother making that particular dish.

“I can remember watching her. She was always cooking and baking. She made everything from scratch,” Mary Ann said.

She expects her cookbook readers will have similar experiences when they are reading it, she said.

“All of our parents and grandparents cooked the same way,” she said.

“Because of that shared experience, readers will enjoy reading Cook’s Corner, even if they don’t make any of the recipes,” she said.

The Cook’s Corner recipes are for “comfort food,” she said. “There is nothing interesting about it. There is nothing healthy about it.”

The recipes use simple ingredients such as milk, flour, butter and eggs, and “every recipe has something you can get in a small-town store,” she said.

‘In those days’

The columns that make up the “Home Again” and “Cook’s Corner” books take readers back to a slower, simpler time and pique their own memories, Mary Ann said.

Although Kristine loves her mother’s stories, it surprised her how much other people did, too.

“Every time, I would go home, she was like a celebrity. Everybody had something to tell her,” Kristine said.

Some of Kristine’s own favorite stories are about her mother and grandfather doing little tasks, such as going fishing or searching for the first flowers of the spring.

Other stories that Kristine especially likes connect to her grandmother, who died long before Kristine was born. These stories make her feel like she knows the grandmother she never met, Kristine said.


Knowing those columns resonated with her daughter and her readers, Mary Ann decided to compile them into book form. She chose to first publish the books electronically because she wanted to be able to reach readers Kristine’s age, she said.

“I thought there was a group of people out there who wouldn’t want to buy it in hard copies,” Mary Ann said.

She plans to publish them in print by the end of the year.

Mary Ann said writing the columns that lead to the books was gratifying.

“There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve brought out somebody’s memories,” she said.

Mary Ann Gadberry has written two more e-books, “Home Again with Family in a Small Town,” to be released July 15, and “Home Again for Autumn and Winter,” to be released Sept. 15. These will be available for purchase on Amazon.

Article written by Ann Bailey of the Forum News Service

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