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Nancy lived in the middle of nowhere. She was born in a sod shack to pioneer parents, had less than a high school education and spent her entire life in the local area, she hated to travel – yet at least twice every year, a team from Gourmet magazine and Bon Appetit magazine would arrive at her home to cook a fantastic feast with her and talk about cooking. Nancy was an unbelievably phenomenal cook. Her lamb roasts: tender, succulent, delicious – oh they were good; Her soups and stews: Irresistible; Her desserts: Something to savor. She could take the most ordinary everyday item and make it extraordinary. Nancy had this innate understanding of how to take simple everyday flavors and make them, pop.

I remember arriving on a pastoral visit. We sat in the living room to talk and there was this plate in front of me, piled high with chocolate chip cookies. We were chatting and at some point I took one of those cookies and…wow! This cookie was…breath taking, I was stunned. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what in the world we were even talking about. I had never tasted a chocolate chip cookie like this before, and have not since. Nancy was just laughing, “I always get the same reaction with those cookies”. The cookies were the tip of the iceberg, his woman was pure genius.

What I found so curious was this: She was very well known in town; Many had tasted her fabulous food – and no one seemed to care. Why was it that experts in gourmet cooking would travel over one thousand miles just for the opportunity to cook with her, but to a neighbor down the street, she was just, Nancy? Was it cluelessness, jealousy, familiarity? Maybe a little of each, but I can tell you this: No matter what any of her neighbors thought of her, Nancy was by far, the best cook in town, and possibly the state.

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