Local author writes cookbook to benefit cancer research

Carol Reed, 67, engaged in the fight of her life with ovarian cancer. She was blessed to win, she said, and from that journey stemmed a project. “Friends in the Kitchen” is a unique cookbook, inspired by her journey and the friends she met along the way.

Carol Reed has lived all over the country. From Virginia to Alaska, her husband’s job in the U.S. Forestry Service brought her face-to-face with the nation’s wonders. But the Reeds have called the Plateau home for 20 years now. It was three years ago, during an MRI for unrelated back pain, that a tumor on her ovary was accidentally discovered.

“If anyone can be considered lucky for getting cancer, it would be me. It was stage one and a huge blessing that I had so many options,” Reed said. “Of course it wasn’t easy but I really didn’t have time to be scared.”

At one point, she sustained life-threatening side effects from chemotherapy and was forced to stop treatment.

“Chemo was supposed to be my fail safe, but it turns out my body couldn’t take it. The decision to stop was a terrifying one. I prayed and that next morning, I received a gift in the mail. It was an angel and I took it as a sign that everything would be OK,” she said.

The angel remains on her sun-drenched windowsill three years later as a reminder she didn’t fight that demon on her own.

As a tribute to her triumph over cancer, Reed decided to write a cookbook of sorts.

During the course of her treatment, friends from across the country started coming out of the woodworks, she said.

“It was nice to reconnect with all these people and know they were supporting me from afar,” said Reed.

The rekindled friendships reminded her of recipe swaps. Cooking and eating together is a special way for humans to interact, she said.

What sets this book apart from others is what Reed describes as “two minute stories” nestled in the pages. It’s more than a collection of recipes, she said. Each section contains a couple short narratives, describing what part of the country it came from and the friendships that brought it to Reed’s table.

For example, “The Mountain is Out” is one of the stories inspired by her time here in Washington, that accompanies such recipes as “Rhubarb Happiness”.

Each recipe has a personal connection and as Reed concocts something tasty in the kitchen, she reminisces about the person who introduced it to her.

The book is comprised of simple open-up-your-pantry recipes. Readers won’t have trouble finding these ingredients at the grocery store and probably have most of them in the kitchen already, said Reed.

“Friends in my Kitchen” is available at Almost Necessities in Enumclaw and online at Reed’s website, Rhubarb Glacier.

The book is dedicated to fighters, survivors and supporters, said Reed. All of the proceeds will benefit cancer research and awareness efforts.