Ivor postmaster learned to cook after sisters moved away from home

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, August 18, 2010

By Merle Monahan/Contributing Writer

Laura Major

SMITHFIELD—Laura Major said she would have learned to cook earlier, had it not been for her two older sisters.

“They’d let me in the kitchen, but only to clean up their messes,” said Major, who serves as postmaster in Ivor. “I was quite a bit younger than they, so they tried to boss me around. They’d make me wash the dishes, or sweep the floor, things like that, while they cooked.”

Major said when they left home, she learned to cook. But not so well that she didn’t make mistakes.

“During the first years of my marriage, I had to throw out quite a few things,” she said. “Have you ever heard of anyone who couldn’t boil an egg?”

It’s hard to believe that this energetic lady ever had trouble cooking. The mother of two grown sons at home, Major cooks at least two and often three meals a day for her family. In addition, she caters a buffet dinner almost single-handedly annually for about 50 people at Smithfield Ruritan Club and is always ready with a covered dish for her church.

Before she does any of this, she rises at 5:30 a.m. to feed her four horses, and if it’s a work day, she travels about 60 miles round-trip and repeats the horse feeding routine when she gets home.

“But I love to cook,” Major said. “If my schedule permitted, I’d do more of it. I really enjoy having my husband’s family all here to eat when they all get together.”

Recently, she put up some canned goods.

“I decided to try my hand at preserving and made a batch of apple butter and a batch of strawberry-fig preserves,” Major said. “It turned out pretty well. At least my husband, Ben III, and sons, Ben IV and Michael, all liked it, so that’s a good sign.”

Major said with a laugh she regrets never coming up with a way to get back at her sisters for the way they treated her, but she is working on it.

“Do you know they made me gather the eggs because they were afraid there would be a snake in the chicken coop?”

Name: Laura Major

Age: 50

Occupation: Ivor Postmaster.

Favorite food: Scallops.

Least favorite food: Liver.

What is the first thing you remember cooking: Making a cake with Mama.

What has been your worst cooking experience: When I was first married, I had to throw away quite a few things, but I really messed up some boiled eggs once. I cooked them way too long.

What is one ingredient you can’t cook without and why: It would have to be sugar. It gives everything a better flavor.

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking: Don’t leave what you’re cooking unattended. It only takes a minute or two to overcook, boil over or a dozen other things that can ruin your meal.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why: My mom. She could take almost anything and make a delicious meal out of it. We lived on a farm and like most farm families, grew our own produce and meat. I can still visualize the hog killings, which my parents would not let me get near because I was little, but I still remember the sausage and fresh pork mama cooked. I also remember the vegetables and fruit pies.

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be: Ice cream.

Laura Major’s recipe is:
Pasta Salad
Salad Ingredients:
16 ounces Rotini noodles, cooked
1 cucumber, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
6 ounces pimentos, chopped
Few diced olives and tomatoes, if desired.

Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp Accent
¼ tsp dry mustard
4 Tblsp parsley flakes.

Mix salad ingredients and pour dressing over top.  Mix well. Refrigerate overnight.