Keeping the family business in good taste

by Don Bingham

Elizabeth Skinner, granddaughter of the late Alta Hart Price, is keeping up with the family business—the business of time-honored and treasured keepsakes of the family recipe collection.

Elizabeth and her brother, John Price, found a collection of their grandmother’s church family recipes when sorting through her estate. Most of the collected recipes were on various sheets of paper, cards and some written on the white cardboard inserts from the age of ladies panty hose accessories! Each recipe resounds with the historical ambience of folklore—with memories of good food, good friends and good will.

The recipes come from family, residents and members of the Searcy community and the Smyrna Methodist Church. The church is documented as Arkansas’ oldest church, located near Center Hill in White County. The pre-Civil War church was built in 1856 and remains in all its tradition and splendor, complete with exposed square nails and boards that were cut in the spring of 1856. The church has been maintained and supported by the White County Historical Society and has now become the responsibility of the city of Searcy, with assistance from the WCHS and the Searcy Arts Council.

“This book is in loving memory of my family heritage, their hard work and devotion, strong will and courage, good humor and most of all, their love handed down from one generation to the next in sugar and spice,” said Elizabeth.

Many of the recipes have been compiled in a cookbook by Elizabeth, titled “Alta Hart Price’s Book of Recipes,” and may be ordered from Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will continue to support of the Smyrna Methodist Church restoration projects.

Enjoy a few of the following recipes from the family recipe collection of Alta Hart Price:

Grandmother’s Pound Cake

1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
5 eggs beaten
3 cups sifted flour (I use Omega flour)
3 scant tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sweet milk (sweet milk means whole or 1 or 2 percent milk)
2 tsp. vanilla (imitation)

Mix butter and sugar. Beat eggs one at time and add to mixture. Mix all of  this well.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then for about 10 or 15 minutes at 375 degrees or until done.


1/4 cup sugar
Little water
3/4 stick butter
1 tsp. rum extract
2 tsp. imitation vanilla

Bring to boil sugar and a little water. Add butter.

Boil until forms a film on teaspoon. Add rum extract and vanilla.

Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups of flour
2 cups of oatmeal
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter
2 eggs well beaten
3 tsp. sweet milk (sweet milk is today’s whole milk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup of raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup of nuts (optional)

Mix dry ingredients. Stir in butter and beaten eggs, milk and vanilla. Add raisins and nuts. Mix until dough is moist.

Bake in oven 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Whiskey Candy

1 stick butter, soft
1 pkg. confectioner sugar
1/3 cup whiskey
1/2 cup nuts (chopped fine)
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Cream together butter, sugar and whiskey. Add nuts. Cook until thermometer reads firm ball stage. Roll in little balls and let stand in icebox overnight.

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler. When almost cool, stick balls on toothpick and dip in chocolate.

Union Cake

6 egg whites
3 cups flour
2/3 cup milk
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup raisins
1 cup currants
1/4 tsp. citron (lemon)
1 tsp. almonds
1 tsp. nuts
1 tsp. cream milk
1 tsp. cherries/juice

Mix batter.

Mix in raisins, currants (small raisins), citron (lemon), almonds, nuts, cream milk and cherries.

Bake at 350 degrees until done.


2 lbs. beef
1 lb. sausage
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. comina seed or cumin
4 tbsp. bacon drippings (sub bouillon cube)
1 large can tomatoes
8 tbsp. chili powder
4 cups boiling water
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Brown meat, garlic and comina seed in drippings. Drain meat. Add tomatoes and chili powder; cook until meat is very tender.

Add boiling water, salt and pepper.

Let simmer about 2 1/2 hours.

Add 1 can or 1 lb. of chili beans.


1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well bea
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts)
3/4 cup flour

Cream together thoroughly butter and sugar. Add eggs, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and nuts.

Add flour enough to make dough stiff and enough to make into balls (3/4 cup of flour or more).

Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
5 tbsp. shortening or 1 stick butter
3/4 cup buttermilk

Mix together. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden.


Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has authored cookbooks, presented television programs and previously served as the executive chef at the Governor’s Mansion. He is now the director of special events at the University of Central Arkansas.