Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe was the guest speaker Tuesday as the Jefferson County Extension Homemakers Council held its annual Holiday Food Event at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Pine Bluff.

Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe was the guest speaker Tuesday as the Jefferson County Extension Homemakers Council held its annual Holiday Food Event at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Pine Bluff.


Beebe delighted the crowd with heart-warming stories of family life in the governor’s mansion and gave the audience a personal visual tour of the mansion’s Christmas decor.


The tour spanned from 2007 to 2012, demonstrating uniquely creative decorating ideas, and tips on how to change things up and still be fugal by revamping items from previous years.


According to its mission statement, the EHC exists to empower individuals and families to improve their quality of living through continuing education, leadership development and community service.


"We teach nutrition, self-improvement, homemaking, canning, and volunteering," said Bettye Johnson, the council’s president. "We’re involved in almost everything. Wherever there is a need, we are there to help."


Johnson described the holiday food event as a gift to the community.


Select recipes from the council’s annual cookbook were featured at Tuesday’s event. The cookbook includes recipes from all four clubs in Jefferson County: Camden Road, Grace Willing Workers, Lunch Bunch, and Willing Workers of White Hall.


Attendees were treated to mouthwatering appetizers like pecan cups by Patsy Wallace, seasoned pretzels by Catherine Atkinson, olive bonbons by Verneita Jean Self and spinach roll-ups by Sandy Smith.


Appetizers were followed by Velveeta cheeserolls and rice salad with chicken and cranberries by Marnette Reed, citrus-glazed turkey breast by Mary Ann Kizer, Mexican manicotti by Cheri Aronowitz, roasted potatoes by Marynell Cardin, squash dressing by Nancy Rosen, Indian corn casserole by Dixie Fritz, French chicken by Karen Needler, marinated vegetable salad by Judy Cox and cranberry salad by Nancy Rosen in memory of Gladys White.


An array of desserts included orange slice cake by Marnette Reed and Jo Ann Carr, banana cake with caramel frosting by Mary Nell Cardin, loaded pretzel cookies and chocolate drop candy by Jo Ann Carr, French apple dessert squares by Sue Medlock, carrot pudding by Mary Ann Kize, and Santa hat cheesecake bites by Sabrina Self-Gwin. The women also got to watch live presentations of how each featured dish is prepared, with a few pointers for success.


Although the club’s membership has steadily increased each year, growing from a small group to more than 200 members in Jefferson County, Johnson has a goal to start more clubs. She encourages anyone who is interested in joining to contact the EHC office at 870-534-1033.


Cookbooks, which include several delicacies from the governor’s mansion, cost $5 and are also available by calling the office.