Someone’s in the kitchen

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IVOR—Lou Ann Darden gives her mother, Louise Pitt-man, credit for the fact that she knows how to cook.

“When my sister, Jo Anne, and I were about 13 and 14, Mama worked until almost dinner time, so it was our job to start dinner when we came in from school.

“We’d take turns—when one cooked, the other washed the dishes. Otherwise, we’d end up squabbling over something or other,” Darden continued. “But actually, I found that I liked to cook, and Jo Anne really didn’t care for it, so I probably cooked more than she did.”

Darden, 56, still likes to cook. She raised three children and now cares for several of her six grandchildren during the day, who all like Grandma’s cooking.

“You’d think the kids would want something sweet, like cookies,” she said. “But just last night, they all had to have dinner before they left.”

Darden’s cooking talents are not known by just her family. A member of the Ladies Auxiliary for Ivor Volunteer Rescue Squad for more than 15 years, she worked with her mom (who was a former president) and other members to help raise money for the squad. How else? Cooking and serving meals for several of the other organizations on special occasions.

“We still do,” Darden said. “We serve the Ivor Ruritan Club often and have also served the Ruritan district meeting. We’ve served hunt clubs, the squad, auctions, yard sales and any organization where food is needed.”

But speaking of the auxiliary, Darden holds a position in the organization, which does not involve cooking, but which is the envy of some of the members, including her mom.

A very talented artist, she painted down-home country figures on the stage backdrop for the auxiliary’s annual fundraiser, “Hee Haw,” a presentation written and directed by Darden’s mother.

“I guess you could say I’m a ‘jack of all trades,’” she said with a laugh, adding that she does whatever she is capable of, including handling the sound equipment for the show.

“I’ve helped Mama with the show for more than 15 years,” Darden said of the event, which has been the auxiliary’s biggest fundraiser since it began. It is always held in early November.

Darden has a busy life, but she still finds time to be active at Ivor Baptist.

She is a deacon. But she also is a church member who most often is found in the kitchen of the fellowship hall when there is an occasion to eat.

Name: Lou Ann Darden

Age: 56

Occupation: Homemaker

Favorite food: Chocolate

Least favorite food: Sauerkraut

What is the first thing you remember cooking: When I’d stay with my grandmother, Lilly Felts, she’d let me help her make what she called flour bread.

What has been your worst cooking experience: I once used a recipe from a Paula Dean cookbook that called for cake flour. I was not used to using cake flour, and didn’t realize how powdery it was. According to the recipe, I put all ingredients in a bowl, than added the flour. But when I turned on the mixer, the flour flew all over the kitchen, on the walls, the ceiling, everywhere. What a mess!

One ingredient you can’t cook without: Salt

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking: I don’t know how other people manage this, but I have found that if you’re out of one ingredient, there’s always something else that can be substituted.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why: I can’t say that I know just one because I can remember things that my mom and both my grandmothers cooked that were really good. For instance, grandma Lula Pittman, could cook delicious chicken and dumplings for a few people, but she wasn’t as good when it came to feeding crowds. Grandma Lilly had a large family and could make the best meals out of almost nothing. I learned the most from my mom, Louise Pittman, though. She taught me the basics of cooking, and I use her recipes all the time. She cooks what I call regular meals for the family, but she also knows what to do when it comes to planning a party, or any special occasion. She’s an all-around cook and I’m fortunate to have learned from her.

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be: Anything chocolate

Lou Ann Darden’s Recipe.


Chicken Salad


1 whole chicken, baked or boiled

4 eggs, hard-boiled, diced

1 cup celery, diced.

½ cup (store-bought) cucumber pickle relish

½ cup (homemade) cucumber pickle relish

1 to 2 cups mayonnaise


De-bone and cut up cooked chicken. Add eggs, celery, both pickle relishes and mix well. Add mayonnaise (from 1 to 2 cups) to desired consistency. Refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours for flavors to blend.