Archived Story

Cooking is second nature

Published 11:37am Saturday, June 22, 2013

BY MERLE MONAHAN/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
merlemonah@aol.com

Brenda Reed, Cook at Grayson and Emma’s Garden Spot, lives in Courtland with her two daughters, Tiffany and Brittany Johnson, who both attend college, Tidewater Community and Paul D. Camp, respectively. -- MERLE MONAHAN/ Tidewater News
Brenda Reed, Cook at Grayson and Emma’s Garden Spot, lives in Courtland with her two daughters, Tiffany and Brittany Johnson, who both attend college, Tidewater Community and Paul D. Camp, respectively. — MERLE MONAHAN/
Tidewater News

COURTLAND—Brenda Reed thinks she may have one up on many of the other cooks in the area. She not only cooks traditional dishes, but cooks game as well as any pioneer wife.

”We lived in a small rural community when I was growing up and my Daddy loved to hunt. So when he’d come home with a couple rabbits or squirrels, that’s what we’d have for supper. If he killed a deer, the meat we didn’t eat right away was dressed and preserved.”

Reed says her father would dress the game and she watched her mother cooked the meat for the evening meal.

“It didn’t seem the least bit unusual,” she added with a smile.

Reed, 42, doesn’t cook game as much anymore. “There aren’t many hunters in my family now, so it’s not so readily available. Besides, I don’t think my girls would like it so much.”

Reed was born and raised until she was 10 in Bena, Va., a small place near the York River.

Her family then moved to Zuni because her father’s job transferred him to the area. She attended Windsor High School and after graduation, took data processing classes at P. D. Pruden Vocational School.

She now lives in Courtland with her two daughters, Tiffany and Brittany Johnson, who both attend college, Tidewater Community and Paul D. Camp, respectively.

A single mom, Reed works as the cook at Grayson and Emma’s Garden Spot on Route 58 near Courtland.

“I’ve been here for seven years, starting as a sales associate,” she said, “but I’ve been the cook only for the last year and a half.”

Reed says she was offered the job after the regular cook had to take time off and she has been there ever since.

“I love it,” she went on. “Actually, I’ve been cooking all my life so it’s just second nature for me.”

She said aside from garden supplies and the greenhouse products, Grayson and Emma’s offers dozens and dozens of homemade foods, which she cooks.

“We have soups, almost every vegetable in season, meats, including ham, breads and desserts —for instance, our ‘fried jacks’, which are fried fruit pies, are great sellers.”

“We make it convenient for our customers,” she continued. “People can stop by after work and pick up a home cooked meal without the hassle.”

Reed works five days per week, which gives her time to do some of the other things she enjoys.

“I attend Barnes United Methodist Church and sing in the choir and I also help with the talent show at the Franklin-Southampton County Fair.”

A talented musician, Reed says she has sung in the talent show and has won, but plans to give up participating.

“My youngest daughter, Brittany, will be a contestant in the queen’s pageant this year and will also sing in the talent show. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” she said.

NAME: Brenda Lou Reed.

AGE: 42

OCCUPATION: Cook at Grayson and Emma’s Garden Spot.

FAVORITE FOOD: Steak

LEAST FAVORITE FOOD: Peppers (all kinds)

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU REMEMBER COOKING: Scrambled eggs.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR WORST COOKING EXPERIENCE: Grabbing a hot pan bare-handed that was about to slide out of the oven so it wouldn’t fall. The pan didn’t fall, but I had some sore fingers for a while.

WHAT IS ONE INGREDIENT YOU CAN’T COOK WITHOUT: Black pepper.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU HAVE LEARNED ABOUT COOKING: Take your time and pay attention to what you’re doing at all times. Don’t be afraid to try new things and come up with new creations. Also remember, simple is sometimes the best.

WHO IS THE BEST COOK YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN AND WHY: I would have to say it’s two of the best cooks, not just one. My Mama and Daddy, Elizabeth and William Jere Parham were both excellent cooks. I watched them as I was growing up and learned most of what I know about cooking from them. Mama always cooked country style, with homemade biscuits, fried chicken, fried squash with onions and much more. Daddy did a lot of the cooking as well, both in the house and on the grill. His specialty was baking pies and cakes. When I was little, he taught me how to cook pancakes, like when it was the right time to flip them over.

IF YOU COULD EAT ONE THING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Soft hot rolls.

CORN PUDDING

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. self-rising flour

1 tbsp. sugar

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

¾ cup milk

17-ounce can cream-style corn

3 eggs

Directions:

Melt butter in sauce pan over low heat. In mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add flour, sugar, salt, pepper and butter to beaten egg mixture and mix until smooth. Add corn and milk to mixture and blend well. Pour into greased 1 ½ quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until firm.

BREAD PUDDING

Ingredients:

1 loaf of sliced bread

1 quart milk

3 eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup raisins

2 tbsp. vanilla extract

3 tbsp. butter

Directions:

Melt butter in sauce pan over low heat. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, vanilla and melted butter and mix until smooth. Pour in milk and mix until blended well. Add bread. Break the bread into small hunks as you add to mixture. Add raisins and mix well. Pour mixture into a 13x9x2-in pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until pudding is firm.

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