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South Texas Living

Good cooks run in the family

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Rainy Days and Starry Nights
September 19, 2012 | 1,925 views | Post a comment

I just read for the second time, It Ain’t All About the Cookin’ by Paula Deen. The book is a memoir. It is about her life and how she learned to cook from her grandma. It has several recipes in the book. For almost 20 years, Paula suffered from agoraphobia, a fear of going outside the house. She spent those years in her kitchen cooking, because that was the only thing that made her happy. The book is fascinating.

I surely never dreamed about becoming a good cook. I didn’t even like to cook. It was all about eating. As for my mother, she did what all good mothers did during the Depression, and that was cook what you had in the house to feed your family, and if it was a big family, like ours, you wanted to have enough for all.

So, as I have written in my column before, when I got married, I didn’t know how to cook for only two people. I didn’t even know how to cook. So with a good cookbook of my husband’s, I did learn, in spite of lots of failures and accidents, like the pumpkin pie disaster I wrote about last year. Now I love to cook.

My children learned to cook and all four enjoy cooking. Derek makes fantastic steaks, and all kinds of things on the grill, and I remember him making an awesome meat loaf smoked on the grill. Julie even learned to cook after she got married. But before that she didn’t care for cooking. She once tried to make Jell-O when she was about 14, and when I got home, she was in the kitchen in tears, “Mom, I have been cooking this Jell-O for over 20 minutes and it still hasn’t thickened.” That gives you an example of how much she knew about cooking.

But after she and Mike married, she became a very good cook. She made the best homemade mushroom soup, beef stroganoff, and potato pancakes.

Kristi learned to cook at an earlier age than any of the kids. I mean she cooked gourmet dishes when she was only 14. She loved cookbooks. She would make wonderful chicken divan, and homemade sopapillas, and many delicious dishes. She got married at 16, and continued to cook great gourmet meals. Her children are all grown now and they can attest to their mother’s cooking and continue to be good cooks themselves and use Kristi’s recipes, like her famous soups made from scratch.

Our oldest son, Trent, liked cooking, and after he was married, he collected cookbooks and would cook us fantastic meals. When we visited him and his wife in Nacogdoches in the ’70s he loved to make us a gourmet meal. I remember one time back in the ’70s he made us spinach lasagna. He brought us our salad on a chilled plate and then he brought the main course on a heated plate that he had heated in the oven. Only a chef would do that!

Trent was a medical technologist in the hospital for 25 years and as the years went by, Trent continued his creative love of cooking. One time I said, “Trent, if you ever get tired of the medical field, you can always get a job as a chef in a good restaurant.”

I guess that was sort of a prophecy. He is now living in Bolivia, South America, where he and his wife own La Posada Hotel and he just opened a restaurant in the hotel. He loves it, and he’s the main chef. He loves to talk about food. People travel from all over the world to Bolivia to the little town of Samaipata, and talk about La Posada and the Texan who is the chef there in their restaurant.

And I don’t want to leave out my husband, Eddie, who made the best smoked chuck roast and made it taste like the best brisket in the world. It would melt in your mouth. Julie asked that he cook that for their wedding reception in Red River, New Mexico, in 1975.

I am so blessed to have so many good cooks -- or shall I say “chefs” -- in my family. Maybe we can have our own cooking show? In another column, I will share favorite recipes from my kids and me.

Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at

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