A ministry to others
Cooking was not a part of Nancy Fawcett’s life until it needed to be, but she has always enjoyed it, and now she regularly uses her skills in the kitchen with the specific purpose of benefiting not only her own family but also many others outside her home as well.
It was when Fawcett was married in 1960 that she became a regular cook. Prior to that she gained a little bit of experience when rooming with some fellow school teachers while she taught in Chesterfield County.
Reflecting on her childhood, Fawcett said, “My mother was an excellent cook. I don’t ever remember doing any basic cooking.”
She would occasionally help her mother and set the table, but that was the extent of her culinary work.
But when she married her husband, she went to work in the kitchen, noting that there was never a discussion on who would do the cooking nor a feeling on her part that she had to do it.
“It was never a question — the woman was in the kitchen, and the woman did the laundry, and I like it that way, so it’s not really a burden,” she said. “I figured he does car work … and the yard work.”
When it came to these early years of cooking experience, she said she cooked basically what her husband liked.
“I remember that I think I cooked a lot of mashed potatoes,” she said. “We didn’t starve, but I have a cookbook. In fact, I read cookbooks right now, so I knew if I followed the instructions, I could get done what needed to be done.”
She essentially educated herself on the culinary arts, developing quite a range of abilities while making the most of a $15-per-week budget for groceries.
“I never have not enjoyed cooking, and particularly, I make a lot of desserts,” she said.
One dessert that has become a regular for her to make these days is the Sour Cream Pound Cake.
“This is the second one I’ve made this week,” she said on a day in early November. “I made two last week. Sometimes I make three.”
She frequently makes these cakes for those in difficult situations, those suffering from illness, shut-ins — people who may not do much cooking for themselves.
“I take them a pound cake and then something else for a meal,” she said, oftentimes sending the food with her husband when he meets with the individuals. “My husband is a Stephen Minister.”
As described at StephenMinistries.org, “Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations that use the Stephen Series system.
“Stephen Ministry congregations equip and empower lay caregivers — called Stephen Ministers — to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.”
Fawcett highlighted a grief support group hosted by the Farmville United Methodist Church, focusing on the people who attend the group meetings.
“I send sliced cake for them to take home, because … most of the individuals who come live alone, don’t do a whole lot of cooking, so to get something homemade is a special treat to them,” she said. “So they meet every two weeks.”
She may or may not add icing to the Sour Cream Pound Cake, depending on the dietary restrictions the individual recipient might have
SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE
(This recipe is adapted from “The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook” by Paula H. Deen.)
2 sticks butter(1/2 pound)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream — not reduced fat
2 teaspoons pure vanilla or 1 teaspoon each vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour and lemon flavoring
Butter and eggs should be at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together; add sour cream. Add baking soda to flour. Add the flour mixture alternately with eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla or lemon flavoring. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. I use PAM baking spray. Bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes, and turn over on a plate to cool.
Occasionally, I drizzle chocolate icing over the top. I DO NOT USE BOUGHT TOPPINGS. I use an icing recipe I learned when I took an eighth-grade exploratory home economics course, which lasted six weeks. I make it from memory, but here is the recipe:
1/4 cup baking cocoa
about 6 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine cocoa, butter and confectioners sugar (powdered 10-x) in a quart saucepan. Mix until all ingredients are smoothly blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat until there is a glossy look, continuing to beat while it comes to a boil. Put a drop of mixture into a small container of cold water. If it forms a soft ball, it is ready to drizzle on the cake. Don’t boil too long because it will get too hard and not drizzle. Remove from heat, and add vanilla. If icing a cake completely, this recipe is easily adjusted by gradually adding more confectioners sugar, cocoa, butter and milk.