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Southern cookbook author Gena Knox to share nutrition, cooking information at April 24 luncheon

Southern cookbook author Gena Knox wants to educate people about "smart things we can do on a daily basis" to enjoy the wide variety of food available in the South in a healthier way. She will be speaking and demonstrating some of the recipes from her cookbook "Southern My Way: Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors" at The Pastoral Institute auxiliary's Women Helping Women luncheon set for April 24.

Knox, who was born in Columbus and grew up in the Reynolds/Butler area, now lives in Athens, where she has a garden and chickens for fresh eggs.

"I'm certainly honored to be invited," Knox said in a recent interview. Not only will she give a cooking demonstration, but her recipes will be used in the meal served at the luncheon. The dishes will be prepared by RiverMill chef Jamie Keating.

All proceeds from the luncheon will go to the Samaritan Fund, which helps provide counseling to women and children who couldn't afford it otherwise. Counseling is provided for a low fee or free, said Beth Burgin, marketing coordinator for The Pastoral Institute.

Last year the auxiliary luncheon raised enough money to provide 2,600 hours of counseling. "We always need more," Burgin said. The counseling provided is both group and individual, and counselors also visit homeless shelters.

This will be the eighth year the luncheon has been held, Burgin said. In the past, speakers have included a writer of Southern novels and a Christmas-themed author.

"This year we wanted to do something different," Burgin said. "We're excited to try something different. It helps spread the word about all the good the Pastoral Institute does in the community."

Knox said, "I think it will be fun to tell everybody about the cookbook, to focus on the local flavors in the South, using healthier versions."

We are fortunate to live in the South, where "such a wide variety of food is available," Knox said.

People can make smart choices no matter what their budget is, she added. The cookbook uses easy-to-find ingredients, and the recipes are for dishes you can do "even during the week," Knox said. She grew up surrounded by wonderful cooks, her grandmother and mother.

Growing up in a small town there weren't restaurants, and "Mom cooked every meal," Knox said. "She made us all help in the kitchen. I developed a love and passion for it.

She didn't fully appreciate how special it was being surrounded by farms and gardens until she grew up, Knox said.

Knox has been able to pass along her heritage to her 2-year-old son, who loves to collect the eggs from their chickens. She also has a newborn. In her garden, she's planted carrots, beets and English peas. This is her second cookbook. Cookbooks will be available, and she will sign them after the luncheon.

Women Helping Women luncheon

What: Luncheon and Cooking Demonstration with Gena Knox

When: 11:30 a.m. April 24

Where: RiverMill Event Centre, 3715 1st Ave., Columbus

Tickets: $35 per person, $300 per table of eight

More online: To register, visit pilink.org. Learn more about Gena Knox at genaknox.com

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