When he suddenly died in 2008, Kline admits she lost her passion for cooking. The regular Sunday brunches — where upwards of 20 would attend — weren't the priority for her as they once were.
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"We still have get-togethers, picnics and some brunches," she said. "I haven't gotten my passion for doing that back yet. It's still baby steps."
And one of those baby steps for Kline, 61, was completing her cookbook, "Plain Jane Vanilla — With a Twist." She started the cookbook in the fall of 2007 and had about 50 recipes completed before her son's death in the spring.
After Mike's death, Kline would revisit the cookbook occasionally, until last fall, when she decided it was time to finish it.
"I had to get this done for myself and for him so I could move forward," she said.
The 143-page cookbook contains more than 328 recipes and meal plans that she spent years whipping up at Saint James School in Hagerstown as well as family recipes.
Kline said the name of the cookbook, "Plain Jane Vanilla — With a Twist," is a reflection of who she is.
"It just kind of personifies how I see myself and how I like things — just plain and simple, uncomplicated. Life isn't always that way, but that's the way I like things," she said during a telephone interview from her home near Boonsboro.
Kline learned to cook as a child at the apron strings of her grandmother and mother. Her mother worked so Kline would often make sure dinner was on the table after school for her and her two younger brothers.
Her enjoyment of cooking followed her into adulthood. "It's something I've always liked," she said.
In 1975, Kline went to work as a kitchen helper at Saint James School half-way through the school year. When one of the cooks decided not to return in the fall, Chef Paul Henry offered her the position. It was under Henry's tutelage that Kline said she gained on-the-job training.
"It was a first real job I ever had," she said.
When Henry passed away in 1981, Kline was asked to oversee the kitchen and dining room. She headed the kitchen until she retired in 1993.
While at St. James, Kline learned to keep the students at the boarding school fed. One of her jobs as cook was preparing meals for 120 students at breakfast, 200 students at lunch and between 130 and 140 students for dinner time.
The job taught her to do meal planning, which she often did for the entire school year before classes even started. She would pencil in the menu, then as the months went by would add seasonal items.
Favorite recipes of the students included her cinnamon buns, homemade rolls, cheese soup and Chicken Salad a la St. James, all of which are included in her cookbook. She said many are recipes she adapted over the years and ones she served to students at St. James.
As for her cookbook, Kline is hoping people will enjoy the recipes. But she's hoping that they can take away so much more.
"I want people to really be aware how fragile life is. Take it a day at a time and enjoy. You never know what's going to happen and when," she said. "And I just kind of want people to be aware, you just never know. Mike's death was such a shock. It'll be four years on April 6, and it doesn't seem real."