Sarah Simpson started making homemade biscuits at the age of 6.
“Mama put me up in a chair to help show me how to make biscuits,” she said
Her mama, Mabel Cox, came from a family of 11 — five sisters and five brothers, plus herself.
Her mama was a “great cook,” Simpson said. Her mama cooked three meals a day for Simpson and her brothers and sisters.
“Daddy came home from work for lunch every workday,” she said. “And, to feed five boys, she had to have a lot of food available.”
And, if mama was in the hospital, which she was occasionally, it fell to Simpson to take care of the cooking.
“The boys didn’t do anything at home,” Simpson said. “I had to fix breakfast in the morning and dinner at night.”
For breakfast, Simpson would usually make cooked sausage or streaked meat from the shoulder of a pig. Then, she would use the grease from the meat to make gravy. And, of course, she would also make biscuits, the first dish her mama taught her how to make.
“Cooking makes me feel close to mama to this day,” Simpson said.
This experience growing up at home is part of the reason Simpson is such a good and proficient cook today. Even now, Simpson still cooks about three or four times a week, even though it is just for herself and her husband, Ronnie Simpson Jr.
“Last night, we had country ham and gravy,” Simpson said. “Ronnie’s favorite, however, is fried chicken with gravy and biscuits, and cooked apples.”
Her mama also taught her how to mix the flour together properly with the buttermilk and then make a hole in the center of the flour/buttermilk mixture and then add the lard into the center and mix all three ingredients together.
“The secret to making proper biscuits is not to knead the dough too much,” Simpson said, “‘cause it makes the biscuits hard. It makes the dough too worked up.”
Simpson, owner of Sarah’s Beauty Boutique, grew up in a family with seven brothers. She was the only girl after her sister died in infancy. She has a daughter named Paula Casstevens, who also brought a recipe for a recent Draughn family reunion. Simpson also has two granddaughters. One is 16-year-old Kayla Simpson and her sister, 5-1/2-year-old Caroline. Simpson is teaching Caroline and Kayla both to cook, just like her mama taught her.
“They’re going to be good cooks, too,” she said, “just like my daughter, Paula.”
Simpson and her extended family recently got together for the reunion, at which a lot of the family brought several of their favorite dishes. The family has been getting together every year for the past 33.
“My mom was a Draughn,” Simpson said.
Mainly now the grandkids and great-grandkids keep up the tradition of the yearly family reunion. Around 40 or so attended this recent reunion which is always held on the third weekend in May.
“They try to bring different dishes every year,” Simpson said. “A couple of dishes a piece … They also all are good cooks too.”
CAROLINE’S MAC ‘N’ CHEESE
BY CAROLINE SIMPSON, 5 1/2 YEARS OLD
1 box of shell macaroni
1/2 to 1 stick of margarine
1 container of cheese sauce
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Follow the directions on the box of noodles to cook. Drain the macaroni. Stir the last four ingredients together and heat over medium heat until creamy and mix with the noodles.
BY SARAH SIMPSON
6 ounces of uncooked spaghetti
1 pound of ground beef
1 cup of chopped onions
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
3/4 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tablespoon of Worcester sauce
1 1/4 cups of ketchup
1 Tablespoon of mustard
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the ground beef and the onions in a large skillet, stirring until the meat is browned and crumbly. Drain well. Stir in the salt, pepper, chili powder, 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, Worcester sauce, ketchup and mustard into the meat mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir into the spaghetti noodles. Spoon this mixture into a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Top it with 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown. (Chef’s tips: Don’t cook the Baked Spaghetti too long. It’s perfect when the cheese is just golden brown.)
BY PAULA CASSTEVENS
1 box of brownie mix
1 package of chocolate fudge pudding mix
1 container of Cool Whip
Make the brownies according to the directions on the box. Let the brownies cool completely. Fix the pudding according to the instructions on the box.Let it sit about 5 minutes to set. Put the first layer of brownies at the bottom of a bowl or dish. Then place a layer of the pudding on top of the brownies. Then layer on the Cool Whip. Make as many layers in this order as desired.
BY KYNDAL SIMMONS
1 pound of 93-percent lean hamburger
1 32-ounce can of pork and beans
1 small chopped onion
1/4 cup of finely diced green peppers
1/4 cup of finely diced red peppers
1/2 cup of ketchup
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of mustard
Mix all together and bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 35 minutes.
BY DONNA BIGGERSTAFF
1 graham cracker crust, store bought
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding
1 16-ounce container of sour cream
1 can of crushed pineapples
1 container of Cool Whip
Mix the pudding, sour cream, pineapples and 1/2 of the Cool Whip together and pour into the pie shell. Spoon the remaining 1/2 of the Cool Whip container on top of this mixture.
CROCK POT CUBE STEAK
BY DONNA BIGGERSTAFF
A cube steak
1 can of golden mushroom soup (for every pound of cube steak)
Flour and season the cube steak. Brown both sides lightly. Place steak in a crock pot, adding the golden mushroom soup. Cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours.
EASY STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
BY LINDA SHEETS
Cake and Frosting
Yellow cake mix
A container of Cool Whip
3 cups of fresh strawberries
1 cup of sugar
3 Tablespoons of strawberry Jello
1/4 cup of water
Make the cake according to instructions on the box. Let cool. Cut cake into two layers. Mix the strawberries, sugar, Jello and water together evenly. Spread the strawberry mixture on the top of both layers and stack one layer on top of the other. Ice the cake with the Cool Whip and refrigerate.
CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE
BY PAM DRAUGHN
2 packages of graham crackers
2 3-ounce packages of vanilla pudding
3 cups of milk
1 8-ounce container of whipped topping
1 16-ounce container of chocolate frosting
Using a 9-x-13-inch dish, line the bottom of the pan with the graham crackers. Combine the pudding and milk and stir well. Add the whipped topping to this mixture. Next, put 1/2 of this mixture onto the graham crackers in the pan. Then, lay the second layer of graham crackers on the top of this pudding/whipped topping mixture. Add the remaining half of the pudding/whipped topping mixture on top of this second layer of graham crackers. Then, warm the frosting in the microwave and pour it over the layers in the pan. Refrigerate at least two hours before eating.
BY NELDA DRAUGHN
Graham cracker crumbs
1 16-ounce can of peaches
1 16-ounce can of crushed pineapples
1 16-ounce can of mandarin oranges
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup of lemon juice
1 carton of Cool Whip
Mix the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice together. When thoroughly mixed, add the Cool Whip. Drain the mandarin oranges before mixing into the Cool Whip mixture. Then add the crushed pineapples and the chopped peaches. Layer the graham cracker crumbs and the Cool Whip mixture alternately into a deep dish. Chill before serving.
Lucie R. Willsie can be reached at 336-719-1930 or on Twitter at LucieR.Willsie.