By Bob Cox
courtesy Mountain Valley News
She is a product of a loving family that is deeply engrained in the history of Colorado.
She was born in Cripple Creek, the sixth of 15 children. Her family lived in nearby Victor. Her parents, Arthur Vincent Bielz, Sr. and Anna Lillian Beery Bielz, spent their entire lives in the famous gold mining district.
“I learned to cook at an early age. At age 13, I was employed by a local family to cook their meals. I was later employed at a restaurant,” says Peggy Cox.
She says she always enjoyed collecting recipes and cookbooks, but she did much more than collect them. She has been involved in the publication of cookbooks for various non-profit organizations, including the Mt. Hayden Rebekah Lodge, of which she has been a member since 1950. She also published a cookbook in honor of her mother in 1981.
After graduating from high school in Victor as valedictorian of her class in May 1947, Peggy married Lester Cox. Their first son, Robert (yes, that is his name in the by-line) was born in April 1949. Shortly thereafter the young couple moved to Ouray. Three more children, Beverly, Cynthia and William rounded out the family. A tragic skiing accident took the life of William (Willy) in January 1970.
Cox spent many years as a “gossip” columnist for the “Ouray Herald and Plaindealer.” She often included recipes in her columns.
When Bob took over as publisher of Mountain Valley News, Jeanne Franks was writing a recipe column. Not long after that Jeanne decided to stop writing, leaving a substantial void in the content of the newspaper. Bob went running to his mother.
Cox says she always wanted to publish a cookbook of her own. She agreed to write a column for the paper, with the understanding that she would maintain all rights to her work. The plans for a cookbook were hatched in 2002. Since then Cox has published more than 200 recipes, many of which are those simple concoctions that can be presented at a potluck or made at the last minute when unexpected guests arrive. She attributes her frugal ways in preparing meals to her mother, who often had to make do for the large family.
“My mother’s cooking was an art, involving much preparation and a lot of stretching to make her food dollar go a long ways,” Cox says. She says that not only the girls were taught to cook in her family, but the boys were expected to help in the kitchen too.
Last month the long awaited cookbooks arrived at the Cox house in Ouray. The delivery driver stacked the boxes in the driveway and disappeared over the hill. Before the sun set the next day Cox was planning her marketing strategy. She knew exactly how many books she had to sell to break even but immediately sat down and began writing personal messages in books for her nine living siblings. She says the cookbook is actually a tribute to all of her family. She attended a family party last weekend where she unveiled the book to more than 60 family members and friends.
Peggy’s Potpourri is on sale at the Mountain Valley News office in Cedaredge, and the family is currently putting the finishing touches on their website: coxbooks.com. Cox will be holding an open house and book signing in Ouray at 439 6th St. on July 29 at 10:30 a.m. and on July 31 from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. For more information, call 970-325-4489.