To say Wanda Cobb was an inexperienced cook when she married at the tender age of 17 would be an understatement. But 40 years later, she knows her way around the kitchen pretty well and is used to cooking for a crowd.
"My husband Joel and I were both 17 when we married, and I didn't know how to boil water. I learned to cook from my mama over the telephone," said Cobb, of Monroe County. "I cook pretty much every day out of necessity; there's no fast food out here," she says of their rural community known as Old Texas. "Of course what I cook day-to-day is nothing like what I do for hunters or a big group."
In addition to their cattle, horse and timber operations, the Cobbs also have a successful hunting business. They host long-weekend deer and turkey hunts on their property, and when the hunters arrive, she kicks her cooking up to crowd-sized proportions.
"Most of my recipes are enough for a family or other small group, the kinds of things that are good to cook and take along for church dinners," she explains.
While Wanda says she does the majority of the cooking in their home, she adds that Joel is a wonderful chef when it comes to cooking on the grill. She said she believed it was important that both her children learned how to cook, too.
"When they left for college, I made them both a cookbook, but not what most people think of as a cookbook. It was just the normal, everyday things they were used to eating, like how to cook butter beans and make potato salad," she recalls.
And Wanda says she now enjoys having her five grandchildren visit the farm and her kitchen.
"The two oldest boys are 11 and nine years old, so they can't wait to get out here during hunting season. And the girls both love being around the horses. The baby of the family will be two in October, so he just follows whoever he can find," jokes Wanda.
She says each of her grandchildren has been on her kitchen counter as soon as they were big enough to sit up on their own, and she says she still keeps some fun supplies on hand for them.
"The girls especially still love to play with dough, so I keep refrigerated pie crust and cookie cutters on hand for them to play with," she said.
Even when she's off the farm, Wanda remains active in agriculture, serving as chairperson for the Monroe County Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Committee. Joel serves on the Monroe County Farmers Federation board of directors.
"Anytime we're visiting other places, it's easy to see how much people need to open their eyes about where their food comes from and how hard people are working to make sure we all have a safe, abundant food supply," said Wanda.
Most of the recipes Wanda shares with Country Kitchen readers are her own crowd-pleasing specialties like her camp stew and sour cream pound cake, but she also includes her daughter Tonya's recipe for broccoli soup.