It seems hard to believe that nine months have whizzed by without even a peep from me and the women of the Jemima code. Please forgive us; we’ve been a little busy.
Just this week, we traveled back and forth between Austin and Houston several times, first to introduce a new cook at Prairie View A & M University’s Cooperative Extension annual State Conference and Awards Banquet, then, to install an exhibit at Project Row Houses, where the Blue Grass cooks will be on view for the next two months. In between, there were multiple event planning meetings and nursing a kid recovering from ACL surgery.
Oh my goodness.
Everyone warned me when I started this blog project over a year ago not to put myself under pressure to be brilliant or witty on demand, like pay-per-view. But I am a journalist, for Heaven’s sake! I require a deadline to stay on task. Besides, as far as Jemima tales are concerned, I could go on and on and on.
So what a surprise that after my trip to the White House for Chefs Move, I didn’t go on at all. Instead, I stopped researching new women and accepted way too many opportunities to serve the community — as chair of the host city committee for the 33rd annual conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and vice president for Foodways Texas, a new organization modeled after Southern Foodways — all while teaching kids to like the taste of kohlrabi everyday after school. The University of Texas honored the nonprofit cooking organization I founded with a service award for all of those healthy kiddy cooking classes, but my heart beat louder and louder for more Jemima tales.
What would you do? What Jemima would do, of course.
I started sharing “my girls” with live audiences too, presenting Jemima as a role model at meetings of the Culinary Historians of Southern California, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, and Slow Food Austin. I also told a grateful Prairie View audience about an inspirational woman with an inventory of professional culinary accomplishments and community work so long the city of Ft. Worth honored her with a day named just for her. Her name was Lucille Bishop Smith.
This was a good week for Lucille’s whispered wisdom.
For me, this Tarrant County native upheld the African American cook’s nurturing character while teaching the value of discipline, confidence, and creative thinking during difficult times. Not coincidentally, her profile demonstrated numerous ways that organizational, technical, and managerial skills can be added to the profile of American black cooks.
Lucille lived productively, establishing herself as a respected professional with a local and state reputation during the Great Depression, and publishing more than 200 delicious recipes for simple, as well as elegant cookery, in Lucille’s Treasure Chest of Fine Foods. She raised funds for community service projects, fought to raise standards in slums, developed culinary vocational programs in Ft. Worth and at Prairie View, was responsible for the first extension workers being employed in Tarrant County, brought the first packaged Hot Roll Mix to market, conducted Itinerant Teacher Training Classes, developed Prairie View’s Commercial Cooking and Baking Department, compiled five manuals for the State Dept. of Industrial Education, and was foods editor of Sepia Magazine. And all of that is just part of her resume. Her bio concludes:
“She represents a faithful wife, a devoted mother; a devout Christian, a character builder, a successful business woman, a pioneer in education ventures and a dedicated servant of people.”
Lucille’s Treasure Chest epitomized her life’s work to empower others by using food as a tool to achieve social uplift. In the Preface, she encourages women of the community to follow in her footsteps with this Recipe For A Good Life:
Take equal parts of kindness, unselfishness and thoughfullness;
mix in an atmosphere of love;
add the spice of usefulness;
scatter a few grains of cheerfulness;
season with smiles;
stir in a hearty laugh, and
Dispense to EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY
Lucille did all of the cooking at Camp Waldemar when I was there every summer of my childhood. WHERE did you find this box?!?!?! A girl I went to camp with lost her home in Bastrop in the fires and is sick that Lucille’s Treasure Chest burned along with her home. I would dearly love to find one to replace it for her!! Thanks and please email me!!
I would like to obtain a treasure chest of Lucille’s recipes for fine food – for obvious reasons !! any help you can provide would really be appreciated. Thank you
Hi Lucille – Unfortunately, the collection is extremely rare. I keep mine under lock and key in a fireproof safe. Try searching ebay. I wish you good, good luck!
Hi Cynthia – Unfortunately, this book is priceless. Try ebay.
Lucille Sullian Lucille’s grandsons are opening a restaurant paying homage to Lucille in Houston. http://www.lucilleshouston.com I’m sure they would be able to locate something for you.
Is this book for sale? I’d love to buy one.
So glad to hear of this research into my Great-Grandmother’s life and history. For all those fans of Lucille’s Treasure Chest, please stop by the resturant in the Museum District of Houston, TX, or visit the website at http://www.lucilleshouston.com.
Hope things are going well with the restaurant, Brian. I would love to meet up sometime!
If anyone is still looking for LUCILLE’S TREASURE CHEST OF FINE FOODS. It’s your lucky day. I am listing one on E-bay. User name payordontbid
I recently found two boxes. LUCILLE’S TREASURE CHEST OF FINE FOODS in mint condition and the second box I am not sure what to make of it. The acknowledgment page is marked *Lucille E Smith*, not B Smith. It seems much older than the Treasure Chest and has almost all the same recipes but then quite a few more added. Anyone know if Ms Smith used Lucille E Smith at any time?
Her full name was Lucille Elizabeth Bishop Smith. Perhaps one edition used “E” instead of”B”?
Lucille was a customer of my father’s at the now long-gone Continental National Bank in Fort Worth. The recipe collection she sold him is now a family heirloom.
Kristin – The site is still down due to re-design, so I apologize for not seeing your comment sooner. I am curious: Did you purchase Lucille’s Treasure Chest?
Hi Jim – Please accept my late response. How did the auction turn out?
Thanks for responding, Renee. It could also be a typing error. Thanks for following.
Very lucky family, David. Thanks for following.
Toni and all–thanks for this. I’ll be giving Mrs. Smith a shout-out at TCU for Black History Month tonight. The Fort Worth Public Library has one complete set of Lucille’s Treasure Chest AND boxes and boxes of the original cards, which look to be the materials from which the sets were compiled.
Super cool and FYI I quote your important work in the Introduction to the Jemima Code.
I remember Lucille from my years at Waldemar (1962-1968). She was always so friendly. The food, well, I still dream about some of her delicious recipes! Her cornbread was absolutely the best ever!!
Hi everyone, I have one of this collection book in my hands. If somebody is still interested, I accept offers for it. this is my email address. email@example.com
Hello all. Love this blog, came across it during research on African American culinary traditions. I also have started collection vintage African American cookbooks, can you clue me in on some. I to am looking for a Lucille’s treasure chest, do anyone have one for sale or auction. I am also researching Ebay. Thanks.
I will be putting one on eBay soon. The box with all the cards.
I am trying to find one of Lucille’s Treasure Chests to purchase. I so loved her food while a camper at Camp Waldemar. My mom had one of her recipes boxes but it has somehow gotten lost over the years.
If anyone knows of one, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
It was an honor and privilege for Soul Summit 2015 to honor the Williams family for carrying on Lucille Biship Smith’s legacy at their Houston Restaurant, Lucille’s. You can read about the event in this story by the food editor of the Austin Chronicle:
Does anyone have a recipe box available? Would love to purchase! Thanks!!
I just put a treasure box on eBay that I inherited from my aunt. It’s a 4th edition and missing one card, #35 Sunshine Salad in the Salad category. I can tell that she loved the treasure box as it has some wear and some of the most loved recipes have some splatter on them. I’m in the process of downsizing so that is why it is offered for sale.
I just purchased “Lucille’s Treasure Chest” at an estate sale and am searching for any information regarding how to identify the earliest edition sets. My set is a little different from those I find online. Appreciate any information you can provide.
Where can you purchase “Lucille’s treasure chest of fine foods”? Ideally the flash cards.
Can Lucille’s Treasure Chest of Recipes be purchased? If so where?
Anyone have a digital set of her recipes?
Hi All, Have read your comments, and would love to find a set, either physical ( preferred) or digital. For those interested, I found a few of her recipes in an older article about her in the Houston Chronicle. It includes one for something called “Frozen Sandwich”, which is a frozen banana cake ( sounds divine), and a recipe for her chili biscuits (recipe includes one for the biscuits, followed by one for the chili). I was just surfing around on Google, and found them- there are probably others, too.
Looking for the Treasure Chest.
I have a copyrighted 1941, 4th edition, Lucille’s Treasure Chest of Fine Foods. I’d like to sell it but not sure of the best way to do so.
My email is email@example.com
Please contact me if interested in purchasing my Lucille’s Treasure Chest.