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Dash of Class: Glenda Jackson is 'One of Hardin County's Finest Cooks'

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By Nora Sweat

This month’s “One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks” is a Hardin County transplant and we are so glad she chose to live here. She is Glenda Jackson, mother of my neurosurgeon, Dr. Thad Jackson. She and her husband moved from Santa Claus, Ind., to Florida, and after Dr. Jackson and his wife, April, moved to Elizabethtown to open his practice, the Jacksons moved here to be closer to family, especially Ethan and Emily, their grandchildren.

“My mother grew up in English, Ind.,” Dr. Jackson said of his mother. “She never got to meet her father as he was killed in a hunting accident while she was still in the womb. She is a very patient woman. I am fairly certain I had ADHD as a child well before Ritalin was popular. Her structure and nurturing kept me from falling through the cracks, among lots of other things. Her family and faith are the most important things in her life. She was right about all those things I didn’t agree with her as a teenager.”

Glenda didn’t start off as a cook.

“When I got married, I didn’t know how to cook, as my mother was a school teacher and (it) seems after dinner it was either back down to school for ticket-taking at the door, PTA or papers to grade,” Glenda said. “As far as cooking, when our two sons came along, it seemed it was just the regular foods they liked, such as spaghetti, chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers and homemade french fries. The sons were very busy after school as each participated in three sports. In my husband’s business we would often entertain between 40 and 60 people at our home in Santa Claus and we would have that catered.”

When she moved to Florida, she made a priority of cooking more than meat-and-potatoes meals.

“There were six couples … who would have dinner once a week at our homes and that is when my love for cooking began and the Cheese Stuffed Chicken was one dish I prepared for those times,” she said.

Other favorite dishes include her mother’s Chicken Tetrazzini and her Gelatin Salad.

Another family favorite is her mother-in-law’s Date Pudding.

“When I first went home to my husband’s for Thanksgiving, he told me I would just love his mother’s date pudding. We now have it every Thanksgiving and it is one of my favorites, too,” Glenda said.

French fries still are a family tradition. Glenda’s sons loved homemade fries cooked in olive oil and it’s a favorite of Emily and Ethan now.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Chicken Tetrazzini 

1 hen

Broth from hen

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

4 sm. cans sliced mushrooms, drained

1 -7 oz. pkg. spaghetti

Juice from mushrooms

1 qt. milk

1 stick butter

2/3 cup flour

1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 lb. American cheese, grated

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 sm. can sliced ripe olives (optional)

Cook chicken until well done. Remove bones and cut meat into bite-size pieces. Cook spaghetti in chicken broth. Cook green pepper and onion in mushroom juices. Make sauce of milk, butter, flour, and cheeses. Combine all ingredients, mix well. Bake in a 13” x 9” dish at 400 degrees until golden brown. Yield: 12 servings

Cheese Stuffed Chicken in Phyllo

8 skinned and boned chicken breast halves

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

4 c. chopped fresh spinach

1 medium onion, chopped

2 T. olive oil

4 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut up

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

½ c. crumbled feta cheese

½ c. shredded Cheddar cheese

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

1 T. flour

½ t. ground nutmeg

½ t. ground cumin

16 frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed

Melted butter or margarine

Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap and flatten to 1/8” thickness. Sprinkle evenly with salt & pepper, set aside. Sauté spinach and onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium high heat 3-4 minutes or until onion is tender. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese until blended. Stir in Mozzarella cheese and next six ingredients. Spoon 1/4 cup spinach mixtures on center of each chicken breast half and roll up, jelly roll fashion. Unfold phyllo sheets on lightly floured surface. Stack two sheets, brushing with melted butter between sheets. (Keep rest of sheets covered). Place a chicken roll on short side of phyllo stack; gently roll up, folding in long side. Repeat procedure with remaining pastry, melted butter, and chicken. Place rolls in a shallow pan and brush with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until done. Note: If using large breast halves, you might want to downsize some.

Pineapple Gelatin Salad

1 box lime gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup crushed pineapple

1 cup diced celery

1 cup frozen dairy topping, thawed

1 cup ground pecans

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Cool, and then add celery and pineapple. Add dairy topping and nuts. Put in a mold and chill.

Date Pudding 

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup sugar

½ cup milk

Mix all ingredients well and spread in a 13” x 9” pan greased with butter.

Sauce: 

2 cups boiling water

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoonfuls butter

After sugar and butter are dissolved in boiling water, let cool and then pour over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees half an hour or until golden brown. Serve with thawed whipped topping.