Heartwarming dough

Published 11:36 am Thursday, July 8, 2010

Watching Jean Bradshaw maneuver around her kitchen, no one would guess she couldn’t cook when she got married.

But this generous, warm-hearted next-door neighbor, who is always there in times of stress with a hot dish, says it’s true.

“Joe, my husband, was a little perturbed when he found out, to say the least,” Bradshaw said with a grin. “His mother, of course, was an excellent cook, and he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t.”

Bradshaw learned quickly, however.

“I was determined,” she said. “I read cookbooks and I watched and learned from some of the good cooks I knew, including Joe’s mother.

“It was trial and error at first,” she added with a laugh, “but I feel confident that I can hold my own now.”

The 72-year-old can indeed.

For the past seven months she has lived at the Village at Woods Edge, where she has become friends with neighbors. When there is an illness or death at the Village, she is the first to bring food to the family.

When there’s a party, she volunteers to help with refreshments. Her cooking talents are, in fact, now known throughout the Village.

Why, just the aroma of her homemade rolls has been known to halt the work of the the retirement community’s maintenance crew. She is trying to find out when the crew will be on her floor again, so she can make rolls for them.

But Village residents are not the only recipients of Bradshaw’s culinary creations. She also has not forgotten her church family.

“My husband, children and I attended Sycamore Baptist near Franklin for nearly 45 years,” she said, “And I’m as close to the members there as I am to my own family.

“When a church member has an illness or death, it affects me as much as it does them,” Bradshaw continued. “Of course, I’m going to see that they don’t have to worry about cooking.”

Because of her love of the art, the one thing she insisted on when she moved to the Village was that her kitchen be fully equipped and in excellent shape.

“I love having my dinner in the Village dining room because I get to see my friends and to visit, but I cook my own breakfast and lunch, and I also have my family over for holidays, so I need my kitchen,” she said.

“Not long ago, for instance, I had 12 family members here for lunch, and I did all the cooking.”

Depending on the holiday, Bradshaw cooks either the ham or the turkey with all the trimmings for her family, which includes two sons, a daughter and their families. This is what she has always done and expects to continue, she said.

“Of course I don’t have a big dining room with the space I used to have, but I do have a great kitchen,” she said.

“And we can always put up a card table to take care of the overflow,” she added with a smile. ←