Flossie Johnson put out her first cookbook, “Flossie’s Favorites,” in 1992.
Her second book, “Flossie’s Favorites Too,” came out 10 years later.
Now it’s 2012, and, sure enough, Johnson has another cookbook, “Save the Fork.”
“We had heard the story about the woman who said, ‘Save your fork,’ and we were inspired by that,” Johnson said.
The story goes that a woman who was dying asked her children to bury her with a fork in her hand. When one asked why, the woman said her mother used to occasionally tell her at dinner to save her fork. That meant she would have dessert that night, or “the best was yet to come.”
“So,” the woman said, “I want to be buried with a fork in my hand, for the best is yet to come!”
Johnson, who lives in Wilkes County, is the former wife of Junior Johnson, the NASCAR legend. She also is a bit of a legend in racing circles. She not only helped Johnson with his racing business for years, but also was known for the hospitality she always provided to the larger NASCAR family.
On the cover of “Save the Fork,” Johnson holds a plate, napkin and fork that belonged to her mother, Cordie Williams Clark.
“We wanted to honor her with that,” Johnson said. “She taught me a lot of things, in the kitchen and in life.”
Clark died in 2001, just a couple of months shy of her 100th birthday.
Not much else has changed since her last cookbook, Johnson said.
Johnson, 82, appears to take after her mother, refusing to let her age slow her down.
She has lost some weight, she said, but she still loves to cook for company, especially when old NASCAR friends like Darrell Waltrip or Jeff Hammond drop by.
She goes to the annual NASCAR banquet. The back cover photo on “Save the Fork” shows her with Kathy Virtue, a friend and the book’s publisher, at the 2011 banquet in Las Vegas.
She still raises chickens for Tyson Farms, processing about 32,000 poulets (young chicks) every 21 weeks or so.
She still keeps a big garden, and does a bunch of canning and freezing every summer.
The other week, she was helping at MerleFest, working in the kitchen that feeds the musicians and their families.
She still keeps up with other volunteer work, too, especially for the local hospice.
She said she hasn’t slowed down in the past 10 years. “I think keeping active is maybe why I’ve got along as well as I have,” she said.
“I still do things I’ve always done. I still go out with friends. We still have fun. And I don’t worry about a thing. It’s not worth it.”
Johnson again turned to her friends and family for her latest cookbook. About 30 people contributed recipes to “Save the Fork.” Johnson figures about half are her recipes, and half came from others. But, she said, most of these recipes have been circulating among her family and friends for years.
The 115 recipes are divided into three sections: cakes, pies and miscellaneous treats.
Johnson describes herself as a country cook, and “Save the Fork” reflects that.
Cakes include black walnut cake, old-fashioned caramel cake and several pound cakes, including her favorite, coconut pound cake. “I make that to be auctioned off a lot at benefits,” Johnson said.
Pies include coconut cream, lemonade, buttermilk, peach custard and sweet potato.
Treats include classic banana pudding, apple dumplings, sticky buns and an easy cobbler. “Blackberry cobbler is probably my very favorite,” Johnson said. “But you can use apples, peaches or anything.”
She hopes that people who buy “Save the Fork” get a lot of pleasure out of it, and maybe even learn a thing or two: “I think everyone needs to learn how to bake something.”