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Gracious Goodies' a delicious treat

Sometimes history lives on in the most tasteful ways.

For former Skaneateles resident Lorraine "Becky" Allen, her life and wisdom lives on in a truly delicious way -- a cookbook compiled and published by her daughter, Jody Allen, of Florida, following Becky's death in May 2009.

"She learned to cook at an early age. Her family were ranchers, farmers. There were many people to feed including farm hands and others that would live with them from time to time," Allen said.

While some cooks are trained at schools in far-off lands, others are a bit of a homegrown variety, which is exactly the kind of cook Becky was. She learned from her grandmother, Johanna Olson Jacobson (from Norway) and her mother Josephine Olive Jacobson Emmick. She also picked up tricks of the trade from her mother-in-law Viola Swinton Allen and from her husband Bill's aunt Hazel Swinton Kelly.

Growing up, she lived away from home at an early age during the school year. In Sioux City, Iowa, Becky lived with a family and raised their children. The job included cooking and housekeeping -- and the former was something she had learned how to do at a young age, read a lot about, subscribed to cooking magazines and even traded recipes with family and friends.

Though the story of how Becky learned to cook is fascinating and rich in American history and the American dream -- she was a child of the Depression era who eventually with her husband began a business, Skan-a-matic Corporation, in Skaneateles, and manufactured sub-miniature electronics -- how the book came about is just as interesting.

It began a few years before Becky required heart surgery in June 2008 to replace a leaking heart valve.

"I went home before the surgery and stayed with her as her caregiver and advocate for one year," Allen said. "The surgery did not go well and we had hoped and prayed for a better outcome."

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