Someone’s in the Kitchen

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010


IVOR—Joanne Hickman’s friends call her the “Cookie Lady.”

Joanne Hickman of Ivor is known as the “Cookie Lady.”

That’s because on special occasions, or when a friend is sick, or just because she feels like it, she may show up with a plateful of her home-baked cookies.

For the grand opening of the local veterinarian’s office, she brought cookies shaped like dog biscuits, and when her husband, Richard, who is on the Ivor Town Council, attends a meeting, she sends him off with a batch of her famous brownies.

But cookies are not the only things this active grandmother bakes. For Christmas gifts, she makes dozens of baskets filled with cakes, cupcakes, candy and of course, cookies, all of which are homemade.

“I have a couple of clients, a lawyer and a Realtor in Norfolk, who like to give the baskets to their employees,” she said. “They have been known to order 20 or more at the time.”

Hickman can also be found at craft shows, fairs and other events with her baked goods booth.

“I don’t make much money, just enough to cover expenses,” she said. “But I love to bake, so I guess I’ll be doing it for a while”

The oldest of 10 children, Hickman learned to cook when she was about 5, she said.

“Mama needed some help, and as the oldest, it fell to me. But I didn’t really mind; in fact, I enjoyed it,” Hickman said.

She is a self-taught cook, although she did learn how to bake from one of her grandmothers.

“I used to visit her in upstate New York when I was a tiny little thing, and we’d make cookies. I can still remember her donning her cookie apron, dragging out her big box of sprinkles, and we’d spend hours mixing, baking and decorating all sizes and shapes of the sweet treats.”

Hickman, who has a son and a daughter, who also bakes, plans to start teaching her grandchildren to make cookies when they’re old enough; she’s already started with the oldest grandson.

Hickman and her husband moved about two years ago to Ivor from Norfolk, where they owned a bird store called Parrot Island.

“The economy was so bad that we sold out and moved here,” she said. “It was the best move we’ve ever made. The people are wonderful.”

It wasn’t long before she had been given the name “Cookie Lady,” a name she doesn’t mind at all.

“There’s something comforting about giving something you’ve made yourself to someone,” Hickman said. “And when someone asks why my cookies taste better than theirs, when they’ve used the same recipe, I say ‘it’s the love that goes in along with the eggs and chocolate chips.’”

NAME: Joanne Hickman

AGE: 56

OCCUPATION: Real estate paralegal




WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR WORST COOKING EXPERIENCE: I once cooked a cheesecake that turned out beautifully. I wrapped it and started to my car to take it to a party, but when I was about 3 feet from the car, I slipped, and the cake flew out of my hands into the air and fell at my feet. What a mess! I came inside and cried. When I went back outside, the birds and squirrels were having a feast.

ONE INGREDIENT YOU CAN’T COOK WITHOUT AND WHY: Butter. It gives a richer flavor.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU HAVE LEARNED ABOUT COOKING: Almost every mistake you make can be fixed. You can cover it with gravy, add more liquid, or in case of over-baked breads, you can paint it, tie a ribbon around it and give it to someone as a paperweight. I actually did that with a loaf of banana bread that I forgot I was cooking. Fortunately, the oven turned itself off, but the bread dried out and shrank to almost nothing.

WHO IS THE BEST COOK YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN AND WHY: John Kliner, the young man who owns the No Frills Grill in Norfolk. He never measures anything, but everything he cooks comes out perfectly. I learned a lot by just watching him. He isn’t afraid to try new things, and I’m beginning to do that myself. He did not teach me to cook, though. I’m pretty much self taught.


Favorite Butter

Pound Cake

Cake Ingredients:

3 cups plain flour

2 cups sugar

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup softened butter (margarine may be used, but butter makes cake more moist)

1 cup soured milk (buttermilk or add 2 Tbls lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk)

4 large eggs

1 Tbls vanilla extract

Sauce Ingredients:

½ cup butter

1 cup sugar

5 Tbls water

1 tbls vanilla extract


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour one 9×13 inch or a bundt pan. Mix all cake ingredients together and beat at medium speed with mixer for about 3 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and bake for one hour, testing after 50 minutes. Prepare sauce by mixing all ingredients in sauce pan over low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is melted. Do not boil. When cake is golden in color and a wooden pick comes out clean, it is done. Remove from oven, poke several holes in hot cake and pour about one-third of sauce over hot cake. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes. If using rectangular pan, pour rest of sauce over cake in pan. If using a bundt pan, remove cake from pan, then pour rest of sauce over still warm cake. Cool completely.

Other toppings, such as confectioner’s sugar, strawberries or fudge syrup may be used. This dense, moist cake freezes well.