Dianne Nall was only 9 or 10 at the time, but she still remembers how proud she was when, after a lot of patient instruction by her mother, she made her first skillet of cornbread.
“That was the first thing my mother taught me to cook, and I really thought that was something, that I could make cornbread just like hers,” Dianne says.
Of course, since cornbread was a part of nearly every meal, once Dianne had mastered the art of making it, she was responsible from then on for getting it on the table.
“But I didn’t mind,” she says. “I loved to cook.”
That enthusiasm for cooking still prevails for Dianne in her Monroe County kitchen.
“Some people look at cooking as something that’s just got to be done, but I never dread it,” she says. “I honestly enjoy it.”
Dianne and her husband, Eddie, have lived most of their 26 married years on a cattle and cotton farm in Excel, a tiny community not far from Monroeville. The Nalls have two children, Sarah, 18, and Andy, 15. While Eddie farms, Dianne works full time as secretary at the Monroe County Area Vocational School.
Although she knows it’s a good idea to plan ahead on meals, that’s something Dianne’s just never gotten used to doing.
“I come in every afternoon and head straight for the kitchen to start supper, but most of the time, I have no idea what we’re having,” she says.
That’s why she’s into dishes that don’t take hours to prepare. Several of those quick-and-easy favorites are among the recipes she shares this month in “The Country Kitchen.” One of Eddie’s favorites, a thick and cheesy broccoli soup, can be ready to serve in 15 minutes or less.
By the way, while it was Dianne’s mother who taught her the basics of cooking, she insists that it’s her mother-in-law, Minnie Nall, who has helped her hone her skills as a Southern down-home cook.
“Minnie Nall is the best cook in the county,” Dianne says.
Coming from a daughter-in-law who’s a top-notch cook herself, that’s mighty high praise.