Cook brings Sunshine to church, others

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WAKEFIELD—Ann Branch has not always known how to cook, but when she learned, she learned well.

Her first experience at cooking chicken and dumplings after she got married was such a disaster, that she threw it out before her husband could see it.

Then she made up her mind to excel in the culinary department. And she did.

During the years she has been involved in a several organizations where she helped with the cooking, but she thinks her biggest achievement was the founding in 2005 of a senior citizen’s club at her church where she not only cooks, but helps plan the meetings.

A member of Wakefield Baptist Church, Branch was asked to organize an activity for the seniors in her church. She came up with the Sunshine Seniors, who meet at the church once every month to watch an interesting program and enjoy the company of their peers over a good lunch.

Although Branch helps with the cooking, she does not do it all, she says.

“We have a committee of eight, who plan the menu for 12 months, then designate a duty to each member.

“For instance, if we’re planning a cold plate, one of us will make chicken salad, while another will make potato salad — things like that.

“The club has really grown,” she went on. “Members don’t always show up for one reason or another, but we usually have a pretty good number. They come from all around, different churches, any denomination.

“They seem to enjoy it,” she said with a smile. “We once had 82 at a meeting and we had to be on our toes in order to feed them all.”

Although the active great grandmother still cooks for her family — one daughter who works in town often has lunch with her — she has had to slow down a bit.

And since her children have married and moved away, she doesn’t cook at home as much as she once did.

“We also used to have all the holiday meals here, but now they’re getting to be a little too much for just one person,” she said. “So I don’t have the crowd here any more.

“We do get together, though. Now I go to their homes.”

Name: Anna “Ann” Branch

Age: 82

Occupation: Retired.

Favorite food: Fried Chicken.

Least favorite food: Liver.

What is the first thing you remember cooking? Banana muffins. I was about 11 or 12.

What has been your worst cooking experience? It was shortly after I got married and I attempted to make my husband chicken and dumplings. I really couldn’t cook that well, but I thought, how hard can it be? Well, it was a mess — the dumplings were so mushy. I couldn’t even tell what it was. My husband never saw it, by the way. It went straight into the garbage.

One ingredient you can’t cook without and why? Salt, although I don’t use as much now because of health reasons. But I think it gives foods a better flavor.

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking? Be sure you have all your ingredients before you start cooking.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why? My mom’s sister, Lizzie Brown. My mom died when I was five, so my cooking experiences with her were limited, but I did visit my Aunt Lizzie during the summer and sometimes on weekends. She taught me what I knew about cooking. I used to help her in the kitchen. Her cooking was old fashioned and everything was absolutely delicious.

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Fried chicken.




¾ cup solid shortening

1 cup scalded milk

2 eggs beaten

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp salt

1 cup cold water

2 pkg dry yeast

½ cup lukewarm water

7 ½ cups plain flour


Combine shortening and scalded milk and stir until shortening is melted. (milk and shortening may be heated together — stir occasionally until shortening is melted) Combine eggs, sugar and salt and beat in cold water.

Soften yeast in lukewarm water and one teaspoon of sugar.

Combine all three mixtures together. Add flour, enough to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead until dough is soft but not sticky. Turn into a well-greased bowl, rotating until dough is greased on all sides.

Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk — about one hour. Punch dough down and pinch off rolls the size of walnuts. Place in well greased pan, cover and let rise in a warm place until they double in size.

Cook in 425 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 36 rolls.