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Cookbook a legacy for family

Mavis Croes' family is keeping her memory alive through a cookbook they created containing her recipes.

Mavis was a typical mother and wife of the 1950s and 60s.

"She got married, had children and the rest of her life revolved around serving those two careers," recalled her eldest daughter of six children, Carol (Croes) De Young.

Mavis spent a lot of time in the kitchen and became known for her delicious meals.

"When she wasn't cooking and baking for her own family, she was bringing baked goods to a bazaar at church or at her Homemakers (now HCE) group or our 4-H events," recalled De Young.

Over the years, Mavis acquired hundreds of recipes.

"Anything she came across she clipped and saved," said Mavis' oldest granddaughter Cindy (Croes) Olson.

After Mavis died of cancer in June 2007, her six children gathered to sort through her possessions and each took something home with them that held some memory or special purpose.

"Needless to say, Mom had a very large recipe box, along with many cookbooks, including a complete collection of the St. Croix County Homemakers Cookbooks that almost everyone in the county has used at one time or another. Since I was the oldest daughter, someone thought I should take her recipes and most of her cookbooks," De Young said.

Once De Young got home she wondered how she'd organize all of the recipes. Being very computer-savvy, she decided to purchase an inexpensive cookbook program and enter in recipes when she had spare time.

When she had about 90 percent of the recipes entered, De Young sent a rough draft of the book to her niece, Olson. After making Olson's corrections, De Young sent a revised draft to her siblings.

In addition to some changes, De Young's siblings added even more recipes they'd received from their mother over the years.

"All of the six brothers and sisters, as well as three sister-in-laws, and the eldest niece, Cindy, all played a part in getting this to be ready to print and bind," De Young explained. "So after going through 10 sets of hands and eyes and nearly four and a half years after Mom's death, it was finally sent out to be printed and bound."

The 144 page cookbook is full of Mavis' masterpieces and many family memories.

De Young ordered 25 cookbooks and gave them as Christmas gifts this year to each of her siblings and to each of Mavis' grandchildren.

The Croes family members weren't the only ones who wanted one of Mavis' cookbooks, though.

"Since we have had many requests from people who knew Mom and wanted one recipe or another, we decided we should order more and then sell them with the proceeds going to one of Mom's favorite charities," said De Young.

In just three weeks, around 130 copies have been requested from family, friends and community members.

The Croes plan on selling the cookbooks for $20, with proceeds -- around $7 per book -- going to causes that were important to Mavis.

Since they're still not sure know how much money they'll be able to raise, De Young said the family has not earmarked a specific charity.

"Mom was a very dedicated friend and neighbor throughout the Deer Park and St. Croix County communities, so we would like to see some of the funds go to something in Deer Park. Whether it be something at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, the Deer Park Library -- Mom was one of two people that started the library -- or the community center, fire department or Lions Club. She was also very devoted to the needs of the American Cancer Society and March of Dimes," De Young said.

Olson and De Young hope Mavis would be proud of the work the family put into assembling the book.

"I think she'd be a little embarrassed wondering why her recipes are so important, but she'd be humbled, too, to know that so many people want them," Olson said.

De Young and Olson hope the book will help the memory of Mavis live on.

"She was such an understated lady, that I am sure she never would have thought there was anything special about her old recipes that were spattered and worn from years of repeated use," De Young said. "Mom always did things for others and was never comfortable with people making a fuss over her. This was a true labor of love on my part, and on the part of my siblings, and a very small repayment for the work ethic and values that she taught everyone who touched her life."

Interested in buying one of the cookbooks?

The cookbooks will be on sale at the New Richmond News, Countryside Plumbing & Heating, Deer's Food Locker, Bremer Bank-Deer Park and Deer Park Library.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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