Jennifer Perkins, general manager of the new TJ’s Time Out in Selby, credits much of her spirit and success to her mother.
“My mother Janice taught me cooking at an early age.” said Jen. “I was six when she taught me to make homemade, hand-cut egg noodles and pie shells.”
Something Jennifer still enjoys very much.
“We ate a lot of homemade soups, meat and potato meals,” said Perkins.
Jennifer plans on serving one of her mom’s creations, a pheasant and noodle dish, as a special in the restaurant. “All proceeds will go to the Walworth County Care Center, where mom now lives,” said Jennifer.
“My mother was such a stickler for old-fashioned home cooking from scratch that we never used a microwave,” said Jennifer. “We had one, but she wanted me to learn ‘the right way’ to cook.”
It wasn’t until Jen was 14 years old at her older sister’s apartment that she used one for the first time.
“I almost blew the place sky high because I put a can of SpaghettiOs in the microwave,” she laughed.
Jennifer now lives in Java with two of her kids, Thomas and Erica. Her father, Gene Perkins, lives in Selby. Her oldest daughter lives in Ohio.
Jennifer was born to run a business. She’s worked in the food industry of 23 years. In 2007 she graduated magna cum laude in her class at Ohio Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in business management, but she gives all the credit for her passion to her mother.
“Mom was never big on exchanging recipes.” said Jen. “She told me once that if someone asks you how to fix a dish you have made, tell them to go spend time with their mother or grandmother in the kitchen, and learn themselves.”
There is one recipe her mother taught her when she was very young that she’s happy to share. She considers it kind of a recipe for happiness.
“The sense of pride in one’s family and the joy of bringing to loved ones a home cooked meal that you have prepared. The recipe is very simple,” she said. “First, plan the meal by thinking ahead, if there isn’t a special occasion then think of one. That way every meal is special.”
Jennifer believes that family involvement is also important.
“Delegate tasks so that everyone is involved. Don’t rush things. A good home-cooked meal takes time,” she said. “Slow down, listen to some music or help your child with his spelling. Enjoy these moments.”
Jennifer said it is important to set the table, because giving each person their own place at the family table is a key ingredient. Break the silence, she said. Busy lives don’t always make room to talk to each other and meals are a key time for family camaraderie.
“Above all, slow down and enjoy life and family and remember the reason we call it comfort food,” she said.
“My mother’s cooking is attached to my holidays and memories, a level of security for me. It was as she was, always reliable and comforting,” said Jennifer. “Her cooking was so good because only she could make it. And being able to eat in her company? No restaurant anywhere ever can compete with that.”
Jennifer Perkins’ Recipes
1 rolled/boned leg of lamb (about 3 lbs).
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tsp of sea salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Secure roast at 1 inch intervals with cooking string. Rub surface of roast with rosemary and garlic and place in preheated oven. Place roast on broiler rack in oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted reads 140 (medium rare) to 155 medium. Remove from oven and place on a cutting board, sprinkle with salt and cover loosely with foil. Let stand 10 minutes, roast will increase 5 degrees under foil. Remove string before slicing.
and Brat Soup
1 yellow onion, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, entirely grated
1 cup finally chopped dill pickle.
3 large red potatoes, skin on, diced in ½ inch squares
32-oz carton chicken broth
1/2 cup of pickle juice.
1 Tbsp Worchester sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh dill chopped
3 brats grilled and sliced into desired sized bites
3/4 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
Coat the bottom of a heavy pan with oil and sauté the onions and carrot for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add remaining ingredients minus the sour cream and flour. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are softened but not mushy. Mix the flour and sour cream together until thoroughly combined; simmer for a few minutes more. Served garnished with a few sprigs of dill.
This can also be cooked in a slow cooker. Just combine all of the ingredients except for the flour and sour cream. Prepare that and add to the soup after 4 hours. Cook an additional hour until soup has thickened slightly. Enjoy!
2 lbs imitation crab, chopped fine
1 large purple onion (about 1/2 lb), chopped fine
About 1/2 lb finely chopped celery
1 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 Tbsp fresh dill
2 cups Miracle Whip
A splash of lime juice
Mix ingredients together well and refrigerate.