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breads and other baked goods,” said the baker. With a degree in Home Economics from University of Memphis and a focus on interior design, Beard expected to be designing kitchens for a living, not cooking in them. “Who’d have thought I’d be cooking? God just works it out. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and playing around in the kitchen. I just never expected to enjoy it as much as I do now,” said the Memphis graduate. As a child, Beard remembers cooking for her family a great deal. “I remember looking over my mom’s shoulder and watching how she prepared things. She worked two jobs. So, she was always asking me to put something in the oven or cook some vegetables to go with dinner,” said the cook. “Soon, I was buying groceries and making our lists. That’s kind of how I got started. Cooking with my mom then really helped prepare me for the job I have now.” While her mother never dreamed she would turn out to be a domestic sort of person because she was more outdoorsy, she supported her daughter’s ambitions. “One thing that really stands out in my mind is when our local community center was holding a cooking class. I wanted to take it, so mom signed me up for it,” said the culinary student. “We had to make a chocolate cherry cake and when I got finished, it looked like a cake. So, I thought to myself, maybe this is something I can do.” In addition to serving her church, the cook has gone on mission trips where she gained a newfound respect for what others go through to prepare meals for their families and make their ingredients stretch. “I’ve been to Ecuador and Haiti. While visiting those countries, I found myself drawn to the ladies who cooked there. Watching how they cooked with wood and open flames made me appreciate food and commercial kitchens,” said the world traveler. Beard believes cooking should begin early and recognizes the benefits of teaching children to feed themselves. “Cooking teaches them responsibility, builds confidence and encourages time management and organizational skills. It also teaches them the importance of cleaning up their own messes,” said the busy mom. The Briarcrest Christian School student encouraged her children to get their hands dirty and explore new recipes. “When Mallory, Lydia and Matthew were growing up, we had one night a week where each would have a turn to prepare dinner. They would make their lists and tell me what they needed form the grocery store,” said Beard. “It was exciting to watch them branch out from boxed macaroni and PA G E 1 4
Carla Beard taught her own kids how to cook so they could be independent. She shares her cooking advice with sisters Alaina and Brianna Wilder. cheese to making their own pizza crust.” The Corinth resident takes pride in knowing she and her husband, Larry, have reared their children to be self-sufficient adults. “Sending my two girls off to college made me thankful I had reinforced the importance of learning how to cook and take care of themselves,” she said. “I don’t receive phone calls nearly as much as I would have because it’s not as hard for them to be on their own. I’ll call and they’ll tell me they are making enchiladas.” When they come home, Beard said her children all have their favorite meals they want to cook. “It’s so nice for me because it gives me a break. I find it to be very gratifying. Just knowing they will be able to feed themselves, know how to budget and what they need to get,” said Beard. When it comes to cooking with kids, the mother recommends starting out simple, teaching them to prepare foods they enjoy eating and discussing food safety and temperature. “The main thing is showing them they can do it. Once realize they can, it is only natural for them to be successful,” she added.
C R O S S R O A D S M A G A Z I N E — 2 0 1 4 FA M I LY E D I T I O N