Fayette County local Lou Ann Thompson enjoys being creative both in and out of the kitchen.
Not only is she a cooker and baker, Lou Ann gardens her own products to use in the kitchen, does her own canning, and crochets and sells various projects.
“You are creating when you cook. Some people are naturally creative, and I’m one of them. If I’m not cooking, I’ve got something I’m creating like crocheting an Afghan, knitting a hat,” said Lou Ann. “It’s experimental, too.”
When it comes to being in the kitchen, she prefers baking, especially pies and items she can make without recipes.
The kitchen has several gadgets that can be utilized. In Lou Ann’s case, she uses the kitchen sink the most! Washing, getting water, cleaning, etc.
One of the gadgets she enjoys using the most is her KitchenAid mixer.
“It’s super heavy duty and, no matter what I throw at it, it just handles it. Cookie dough is probably one of the worse things. If you’ve ever had to stir that stuff up… it gets really really stiff. So, my KitchenAid mixer is probably my best time saver,” she said.
Cooking comes with many memories — family recipes, cooking mishaps, social times had over meals and more.
Lou Ann shared two memories in particular. She still has and uses one of her mom’s old wood spoons.
“It just brings memories back. It’s not in the greatest shape, but it’s just an old, wooden, thick spoon. I remember her stirring noodles with it, I remember her stirring up mashed potatoes, pie dough — I was a kid,” said Lou Ann. “I know that sounds silly, but over all the things she had, that was my favorite. I’ll whip it out and use it around the holidays.”
As for how she began her journey into cooking, Lou Ann first began when she was 12 or 13 years old. She and her cousins attempted to bake banana bread.
“When we did that, we were reading the recipe and it said, ‘half a salt.’ We didn’t know — this was our first thing (baking), we put in a half a cup of salt,” said Lou Ann.
She explained half a salt most likely meant half a teaspoon.
“We didn’t have any clue what it should have been, but we couldn’t eat that,” she said. “My next cooking adventure was when I was pregnant with my son. My mom had a mulberry tree in her back yard, and I wanted pie so bad. Never made pie in my life, and I decided to go out there and pick mulberries off the tree, made a mulberry pie, and actually it was pretty good,” she explained.
Years ago, Lou Ann actually had a state license to have a personal bakery. She made many things, including tiered wedding cakes, from scratch. While she has no intention of reopening a bakery while also working full time, she decorates baked goods when she can simply because she can.
When asked for tips for those wanting to start growing and canning their own ingredients, Lou Ann said with growing you can research and see what your ground needs or do it in pots. As for canning, if you are doing acid-free food items (such as green beans), she explained a pressure-canner is needed and research on canning should be done prior to attempting it.
“You’ve got to learn the proper way to do it. If you do it incorrectly or use the incorrect equipment, it can not only make you sick, it can kill you,” said Lou Ann. “I would suggest starting out with something like jams. You cannot buy that flavor in a grocery store, you just can’t. Your canned jams over homemade bread — you can’t do better than that.”
Lou Ann Thompson has a weekly column in the Record Herald newspaper, Country Cooking. In Mid February she shared her 100th recipe with readers, readers who often reach out with thank yous and appreciation. The 100th recipe she shared was for homemade cinnamon roles.
Flavors are important in the kitchen in Lou Ann’s opinion and creating one’s own taste with their own ingredients is one of the best parts about cooking at home.
-1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast (I usually use the rapid rise and use about 3 teaspoons if you have it in a jar).
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1/4 cup warm water
-1 cup 2% milk
-1/2 of a 3.4-oz package of vanilla pudding mix (use it dry, do not make it)
-1 large egg
-1/4 cup butter, melted
-1 teaspoon salt
-3 to 3, 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup sugar (you can use brown sugar if you wish)
-1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 cup butter, melted
-1/2 cup butter, softened (you can also use cream cheese instead of the butter)
-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 teaspoon water
-1, 1/2 to 1, 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water. In a large bowl, beat milk and pudding mix on low speed for 1 minute. Let stand 1 minute or until soft set.
Next, add egg, melted butter, salt, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour. Beat on medium until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled about 1 hour.
For filling, in a small bowl mix sugar and cinnamon. Punch down dough and divide in half. Turn one portion of dough into a lightly floured surface: roll into a 18×10-inch rectangle. Brush with half of the melted butter to within 1/4 inch of the edges, then sprinkle with half of the sugar mixture. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side, pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 slices. Repeat with remaining dough and filling ingredients.
Place all slices in a greased 13×9 baking pan, cut side down. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
For frosting, in a small bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in vanilla, water, and enough confectioners’ sugar to reach desired consistency. Spread over warm rolls. Serve warm. Enjoy!