Meal time is her time

By Corene Brisendine

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and who better to cook dinner than a professional cook? Anita Taylor has been cooking for area residents for more than 25 years.

“I enjoy cooking,” Taylor said. “It’s something that has always come easy to me.”

Taylor has been the head cook for the Riley County Senior Center for about four years. She said she sometimes has trouble cooking enough for the seniors who come during lunch time when she serves their favorites, such as liver and onions.

“We normally have about 25 come for dinner, but we run into trouble when 45 show up,” Taylor said. “They just walk in. So, I can’t plan ahead.”

Taylor said the one thing she doesn’t like about her job is all the paperwork. She said that even though she doesn’t start getting paid until 7 a.m., she comes in at 5 every morning to get things ready for the morning run. That includes preparing the meals for the area seniors who participate in Meals on Wheels, and the center’s daily lunch, not to mention the paperwork she dreads.

“Apparently, they want to pay me to sit in an office all day instead of cook,” Taylor said. “I’m not a person to sit down.”

Seniors are not the only ones who know how great Taylor’s cooking is. Before she began cooking for the senior center, she spent almost 20 years cooking for Farm Bureau. Prior to that, she raised four children — two girls and two boys — until the youngest started first grade. Now grown and on their own,  the children still visit for Thanksgiving every year. She said that last year 14 people were crammed into her tiny two-bedroom mobile home.

“Thank goodness it was nice that day,” Taylor said. “I shoved them out on the deck.”

While her oldest daughter, Ginger, is a pretty good cook, her grandchildren have plans for her when she retires. Her oldest son’s step-daughter told Taylor that when Taylor retires, his step-daughter will buy a wheelchair that will allow Taylor to reach the counter. That will allow Taylor to continue to cook. Taylor laughed and said, “I don’t think so.”

As for cooking at the senior center, Taylor said she plans to retire in a year or two, but has already been grooming her assistant to fill her shoes.

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