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Now here's a celebrity cookbook that fans can really sink their teeth into. It's called Stirring Up Success With a Southern Flavor, a 288-page recipe roundup that promotes the joy of cooking - and the excitement of reading.
Celebrities from the worlds of country music, TV and movies, professional athletics, the NASA space program and even Washington, D.C., came together for the project.
In Stirring Up Success, Alan Jackson shares his recipe for red velvet cake, Tim McGraw shows you how to make chicken and dumplings, and comedian Bill Cosby makes life sweeter with his homestyle bread pudding. What's more, the stars are serving up these dishes for a good cause - the literacy programs in Catoosa County, Ga., outside of Chattanooga.
Randall Franks, who starred as Officer Randy Goode in the hit TV series In the Heat of the Night, co-authored the cookbook and spearheads the literacy project, benefiting Catoosa County's Shirley Smith Learning Center. "Adult illiteracy has always been a problem in this area," he explains.
Randall serves as Chairman of the Catoosa Citizens for Literacy, and also writes a syndicated column for News Publishing Co. He began work on the cookbook last year.
"I wanted to do something to help, and I am excited that this yearlong labor of love is now available," says Randall. "Many of my old and new friends graciously donated recipes and photos to help us raise funds."
Recipes for the cookbook were provided by an impressive group of Randall's friends, including country stars (Faith Hill, Tracy Byrd, Brooks & Dunn, Charley Pride, Tracy Lawrence and more); actors (Denzel Washington, Dennis Weaver, Morgan Freeman); and former First Ladies (Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, "Lady Bird" Johnson).
Randall and his co-author, Shirley Smith, rounded things out with recipes from various other celebrities, including bluegrass and gospel performers, Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton and a former Space Shuttle astronaut.
Randall himself has country music connections dating back to Bill Monroe. An old-time fiddle player, Randall performed with Bill's Blue Grass Boys band and as part of the Jim & Jesse Show.
"After I landed the role on In the Heat of the Night," says Randall, "I found that many of the stars I greatly admired were watching our show weekly, like George Jones, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn. Through the years, I have been blessed to meet many of these top stars."
Randall called on them to help with the cookbook project, and they immediately got onboard. And today, he's proud that Stirring Up Success seems to be doing exactly that.
"We are close to raising $17,000 in cookbook sales!" he says. "This provides a wonderful way to give back to the community."
Randall's celebrity friends share his commitment to helping the citizens of Catoosa County. "Reading ignites our imagination," says Faith Hill. "It teaches us to dream."
If you would like to help others with their dreams, you can order your own copy of Stirring Up Success With a Southern Flavor. The book is available on the Internet at etrecordshop.com for $19.95, or you can purchase it by mail by sending $23.95 to Catoosa Citizens for Literacy, 36 Muscogee Trail, Ringgold, GA, 30736.
-- Bob Paxman