Seven children plus five keeps grandmother busy in kitchen

Published 9:07 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

IVOR— Mary Warren wanted to learn to cook when she was young so she could help her mother.

“We had a large family, six children, and mama had so much work to do,” Warren said. “I thought if I could do the cooking, mama would have time for other things.”

The 75-year-old retired caregiver, who has seven children, has been cooking ever since.

She cooked for her siblings and her parents until she left home. And she used to cook for some of her patients.

Although Warren no longer works outside her home, she still takes food to her church, St. Paul’s Holiness in Sedley, when there is a need for it. She often has her children and their families over for a meal

In addition, Warren is always ready with a snack for her grandchildren when they stop by to catch the school bus.

Along with that, until a few months ago, she volunteered at the Senior Citizens Center near Zuni, where she seldom cooked, but helped in other ways.

“My husband had some health problems and I had to give that up, though,” she said. “But I love to cook. There’s no better feeling than to pull a pound cake you’ve made out of the oven that tastes as good as it looks.”

Warren said she cooks for the most part just like her mother did.

“I rarely use a recipe, except from memory,” she said. “I also like to cook from scratch.”

Warren combines her mother’s ideas with some of her own.

“I sometimes add an ingredient that she didn’t use, like a different flavoring or a spice,” she said. “I know this is experimenting,” she added with a smile, “but I haven’t ruined anything yet.”

It isn’t likely that Warren ever will ruin anything she cooks. With her children and her husband, John’s five, plus 19 grandchildren, she gets plenty of practice in the kitchen.

She says there’s no place else she’d rather be.

Name: Mary A. Warren

Age: 75

Occupation: Retired

Favorite food: Hot fried chicken

Least favorite food: Scallops.

What is the first thing you remember cooking: When I was about 10, my mother would let me stand on a stool in front of the stove and cook bacon and eggs.

What has been your worst cooking experience: I tried to make rolls once that didn’t turn out well at all. They looked pretty before I cooked them, but they didn’t rise—turned out flat as a pancake. That was such a bad experience that I haven’t tried to make rolls since.

What is one ingredient you can’t cook without and why? Black pepper. It seems to give foods a better taste.

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking? Be sure to have the correct ingredients and have them all in front of you before you start cooking.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why? My mother. Times were hard and she had six children to feed, but we always had enough. She made everything from scratch, and could make a meal out of very little. She never used a recipe, except from memory and that’s the way she taught me. My children still wonder how I can make a good meal when they see no food in the kitchen cupboards.

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



3 cups sugar

2/3 cup Crisco shortening

2 sticks butter

3 cups plain flour, sifted

1 cup milk

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

6 whole eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp coconut flavoring

1 small can Angel Flake coconut


Cream sugar, Crisco and butter. Add eggs. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt, alternately with milk. Add vanilla and coconut flavoring. Add coconut. Pour batter into angel cake pan and cook in 300 degree oven for two hours.


Boil together 1 cup sugar and ½ cup water for three minutes. Add 1 tsp coconut flavoring and pour over hot cake.