Sarah Reed of Sumter County says she’s always liked to be outside too much to think of herself as a cook.
“I cook because I have to. I’m definitely an outdoor girl,” she says. “When you spend the day working on the farm, you can look around in the evening and be proud of what you see you’ve done. When you spend the day working in the house, you go to bed knowing most of it will need to be done again tomorrow.”
Sarah and her husband, Roy, live in the Ward community in Sumter County where they raise Black Angus cattle and their own hay and forage. They both serve as directors for the Sumter County Farmers Federation.
“More and more women are becoming involved on the farm and in the Federation,” says Sarah. “I’ve gotten to know so many wonderful people by traveling with them on the Federation’s tours and trips, and I’ve learned to love all of them. It’s just like a big family.”
And Sarah knows about family. She reared her daughter and three sons on her farm in Ward, and she is the proud grandmother of 11 grandchildren, for whom she cooks regularly.
“They all love to hunt and come out to the pond here on the farm, and when we cut hay, they all pitch in and help. Of course, the grandchildren stay with us anytime they can. Most of the meals cooked at our house are for more than two people,” she says.
The meals are frequently cooked by more than two people as well.
“Roy and I have a good time when we cook together, and all my grandchildren are good help in the kitchen. One of my sons cooks on the grill all the time, and it is so nice to have my daughter in the kitchen with me. It reminds me of when she would cook with me when she was a little girl,” Sarah says.
Even though Sarah says she views cooking as more of a necessity than a hobby, her kitchen is the backdrop of fond recollections.
“The greatest part of cooking has been that I was able to cook so much for my children and grandchildren,” she says. “They were always bringing friends over when they were young, and my boys would bring their girlfriends to eat as they got older. I felt like I was always adding one more to the table, but it meant I was able to be with my family and their friends more. Several of their friends still say when they turn in my driveway they feel like they’re home. What sometimes seemed like a curse turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. I have so many wonderful memories of children at my table. I’m just thankful I had a kitchen big enough for all of them.”
Because she often cooked for a big crowd, Sarah says recipes weren’t necessarily part of every meal.
“Sometimes when I had a big group to feed, I got out whatever was in the fridge and made something out of it,” she says.
Sarah said she wanted to share recipes that were a little different from the norm, like Cincinnati Chili. And since Sarah often cooks for a crowd, several of the following recipes, like Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and French Toast Soufflé, are ideal for family gatherings.