Katie Wilson emailed to suggest her mother, Marty, as a profile for a good home cook. “She is most well known for her apricot pepper jelly that she cans and gives out to friends and family. She is a retired agent from Clemson Extension Service where people would call and ask food canning questions (before the Internet). She also taught ‘serve safe’ classes for home cooks and was a big part of adopt-a-highway trash cleanup efforts. She helped compile the Old St. Andrew’s Episcopal Parish Cookbook and is very involved with the tearoom and gift shop that they do every spring. She is an amazing woman and inspired me to become a professional cook.”
When contacted, Marty was surprised, as she is the one amazed by her daughter. She said Katie is now showing her new ways and things to cook. So there’s a lot of mutual admiration and education going on.
Name: Marty C. Wilson
Residence: West Ashley
Occupation: Retired county extension agent with Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service
Family: Husband, Alan; son, Matt (31); daughter, Katie (27)
Q: Are you more of a cook or a baker?
A: Matt says I am a baker who cooks. I think that is a pretty good description of me!
Q: You said you were surprised that your daughter suggested you, as you feel that you have been learning from her. Do you cook differently? What have you learned from her?
A: Katie definitely believes in using fresh local products and she has made me much more aware of what I am buying and eating. She is also very creative in her cooking (she is a cook for Patrick Properties and owns her own food cart, Hot Links Homemade Sausage) and has encouraged us to try things that are different from what we have been used to. Some of my favorite new recipes I am sure I would not have even tried a few years ago.
Q: Your daughter says you’re an amazing gardener. What do you grow and what are some ways that you use it?
A: My neighbors may laugh at Katie’s statement. I have a small area, but I do try to grow a variety of things. I have planted peppers, tomatoes and lettuce seeds and I plan to plant basil, eggplants and flower seeds later this week. I also have fig, lemon and plum trees, several blueberry bushes, rosemary, oregano, chives, parsley, mint, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes. I love having fresh herbs to use as seasoning or as garnishes for a dish.
I make jams and preserves from the figs and freeze the rest to use in baking. The blueberries are used in quick breads, pancakes, blueberry syrup and jam. This is my second year to have artichokes and I used my first crop in December to make relish. It is good to serve with collards, hot dogs and just about anything else!
I get a lot of enjoyment seeing things grow and being able to pick a tomato or to gather lettuce leaves from my backyard. The birds also enjoy the fruits of my labor!
Q: One of your favorite spring dishes is what?
A: One of my favorite dishes to make when the weather turns warm is Ina Garten’s Linguine With Shrimp Scampi. It is easy, very light and fresh tasting. Since it does cook quickly, I suggest you have all your food prepped before starting the cooking process. I usually serve this dish with roasted asparagus spears and fresh fruit such as melons or strawberries.
Q: You are a retired Clemson Extension agent whose job included educating people about canning. What are good foods to start with?
A: The fresher the produce, the better it is to preserve. We are so lucky here to be able to find good quality fresh produce. For those who have never canned, I would suggest starting with jams and jellies. Those can be done fairly quickly and most everyone probably has a large enough pot they can use as a water bath canner or the canners can be found at a reasonable price.
Make sure you have up-to-date recipes and instructions to safely preserve your produce. A good source to go to for information is Clemson Extension Service (http://hgic.clemson.edu to download information) and any recently published “Ball Blue Book” or the “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.”
Q: What are two of your favorite cookbooks and why?
A: If you knew how many cookbooks I own and love, you wouldn’t ask me to pick just two of my favorites! I enjoy reading cookbooks the way some people enjoy reading novels.
I do like the cookbooks published by America’s Test Kitchen. They experiment with the different recipes and then explain why certain ingredients, procedures and equipment work or why they don’t. Two very handy reference books I use are “Food FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions): Substitutions, Yields and Equivalents” by Linda Resnik and Dee Brock and “The Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst, which covers food, wine and culinary terms.
Q: Where did you grow up and who taught you to cook, or sparked your interest?
A: My two older sisters and I grew up in Swansea, a small town south of Columbia. I don’t remember cooking much as a child other than baking cakes and homemade biscuits, but we all were expected to help our mom by doing chores such as setting the table, washing and putting away the dishes.
The family gatherings involved meals at either our house or a relative’s house. We would sit at the tables for a couple of hours (yes, really), talking and laughing and no one was rushing to go somewhere else. I have great memories of that time with family and good food.
Makes 3 servings
3/4 pound linguine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (may take two lemons)
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the linguine and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute watching carefully to make sure the garlic does not burn. Add the shrimp, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and them put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well and serve.