"I like to think of it as extreme genealogy."
Pièce de résistance: the shower
Lisa Cooke on cooking with intuition.
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Lisa enjoys the challenge of raising three very active daughters and being the drama ministry director at the family's Baptist church. In her free time, Lisa is an avid genealogist who has researched her family roots, including some of her ancestors who lived in Texas in the 1800s. Her home office is lined with meticulously labeled scrapbooks that contain photos and memorabilia found across the U.S. and Europe. Lisa looks at her genealogical research as more than a pastime. "It gives me a sense of place and purpose to know where I'm from," she says. Lisa is also an accomplished baker, and has a wall of ribbons in her kitchen that she has won for her pies, jams, jellies, cookies and cakes. Lisa recently took up the guitar and plays the piano for her family, too.
"I like to think of it as extreme genealogy. Some people want to rock climb. Some people want to jump out of airplanes. But for me to put on the clothing, to step onto the soil of a ranch and really live firsthand for an extended period of time the way they did. That's extreme. It's, I'm sure, every genealogist's dream and certainly mine."
Lisa Cooke is a matron of San Francisco society with a flair for organizing tea parties and church bazaars. Her husband provided an affluent lifestyle in California, but they both grew restless and have come to the Lone Star State dreaming of a fortune in the cattle business. The Cookes sold their well-appointed home to make the move and their family's future comfort depends on the success of this venture. She is her husband's greatest ally and the heir to whatever profit his rancho achieves.
Mrs. Cooke is the mistress of her household, as well as the primary supporter of her husband's financial venture. She is her husband's most trusted business confidant, but her primary responsibilities lie in creating a happy home and community on the frontier.
Mrs. Cooke manages the ranch house's daily activities and division of labor. Daily chores include: start and maintain kitchen fire; brew coffee; milk and tend to dairy cow; feed chickens and collect eggs; tend to kitchen garden; ensure food supply is free of vermin; clean house; maintain firewood supply; sew, mend, or repair garments; and soak beans overnight and grind corn for the following day's meals. She assigns daily chores to all the children and encourages them to contribute in any way they can to the family's support. Like everyone living on the ranch, Mrs. Cooke must rise early, to begin her work before the heat of the day. She must decide the daily schedule of the ranch's main house and discuss the priorities early each morning with her "girl of all work." Mrs. Cooke must maintain the family's food store and ensure that they remain within their means between supply deliveries. She must oversee the care and feeding of the domestic animals housed near the ranch headquarters and coordinate the completion of these chores with the foreman.
As a woman, Mrs. Cooke is expected to water, maintain, and harvest the plants in the garden as well as keep them safe from rodents or other predators. She is responsible for coordinating the laundry, ironing, bathing, and baking. She must know how to "sew plain" and mend and possibly even make her own clothes. In addition, the Cookes are expected to lead a Christian example and extend every courtesy to her husband's employees and ensure that they are comfortable.
Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York and Wall to Wall Television.
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