Lowe loves to cook from scratch

Published 8:02 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SEDLEY—Tammy Lowe turned out to be a great cook, but it was a gradual process, she said.

“When I was little, I spent a lot of time with my grandmothers and, of course, they taught me a lot.

“Then, when I married Michael, both he and his mother were good cooks, so I learned even more from them.”

Lowe loves to cook, she said, and has been putting her talents to good use. She has her parents and the rest of her family over for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, their birthdays, and any other occasion she can think of.

“I am an only child,” she revealed and I missed growing up with the big family gatherings. So whenever I can get my in-laws, my family and friends together to eat, I do.”

She cooks almost everything from scratch, she went on, adding that she uses real potatoes, real coffee, puddings and cakes — no mixes. “I learned that from my grandmothers. It sometimes takes a little longer, but it’s worth it.”

She rarely uses prepackaged ingredients.

In fact, she and her husband are so adamant about cooking from scratch that they go out on their boat and catch their own seafood.

“You rarely catch us having hot dogs and hamburgers at our cookouts” she said. “It’s almost always some type of seafood —fish, oysters, things like that.”

This is when the teamwork starts, Lowe said with a smile.

“Michael will do the grilling while I do the vegetables, which came from our own garden.”

With so many cooks in the family, it’s only natural that the couple’s two sons, Winston and Matt, would show an interest in the culinary arts.

“They both love a home-cooked meal,” she said, “and when they were in college, they’d come home for the weekend, eat to their heart’s content and take leftovers back to school with them.

The boys, both of whom just graduated from Virginia Tech, (not twins — Winston, 24, waited for Matt, 21, to graduate high school, then both enrolled at Tech at the same time) realize that if they want to continue eating meals like their mother cooks, they need to learn how to cook like she does.

“They’ve both shown a great interest,” Lowe said. In fact, Matt just cooked my birthday dinner — barbecue on the grill, potatoes and peas.

“I was very pleased,” she added. “It was really good.”

Name: Tammy Lowe

Age: 47

Occupation: Assistant branch manager at the Bank of Southside Virginia in Franklin.

Favorite food: Seafood

Least favorite food: Liver

What is the first thing you remember cooking? When I was about 15 or 16, because both my parents work, I decided to cook dinner for them. I found a recipe for Swiss steak, which sounded good. Well, the steak ended up like beef jerky and the vegetables were ready way before the meat. I realized then that before you cook, you must first have a plan.

What has been your worst cooking experience? My mom always cooked with a pressure cooker, and I thought I should too. I tried on two occasions and the first time, I had chicken shoot out all over everything, which was bad, but the second time, I had garden peas from one end of the kitchen to the other — even the ceiling. I decided that a pressure cooker was not for me.

One ingredient you can’t cook without: Onions. I think they give foods a better flavor.

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking? Everything runs smoothly if you plan ahead. When I have company over, I prefer to write my menu down. I am a biggie for making lists for myself.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why? There are lots of good cooks in my family so it would be hard to choose. Both my grandmothers, Virginia Marshall and Lottye Branche, were excellent cooks. Each had big families, and the things they could come up with on such limited funds, were amazing. When I was small, I stayed with Mema Branche quite a bit and I cook a lot like she does. She used to guesstamate, a lot. She never wrote anything down, never measured anything, but everything she made was delicious. I also learned a lot from my mother-in-law, Betty Lowe and I hate to say this, (just kidding) but I learned from my husband, Michael, as well. On the other hand, having a husband who cooks is good when you have company. We make great a team.

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



8 chicken thighs

1 box Annie’s frozen dumplings

1 large Vidalia onion, sliced

4 stalks celery, cut in small chunks

1 tbsp. chicken base (purchase at grocery store)

1 tbsp. salt

Black pepper to taste


Place chicken, onions and celery in large pot, fill half full of water, making sure that all ingredients are covered. Add salt and pepper. Boil until thoroughly done.

Remove chicken from pot, cool, debone and set aside. May have to add as much as four cups water back to pot, bring to boil and add base.

Add dumplings, cook for 15 to 30 minutes, following directions on box.

After dumplings are done, add chicken. Cover pot and let stand. Do not overcook.