DAINGERFIELD, Texas - Eva Greer didn't grow up in the company of a marvelous cook. Her mother could cook well enough, Greer says, but she did not take sensory pleasure in the process; it was merely a daily chore. In Belize, where Eva (pronounced EV-vah) was born and raised, all dishes started from scratch with basic ingredients and whatever fresh food was at hand. There were few modern shortcuts.
Greer, the child of a German physician and a mother from an upper-class German family, entertained herself in British Honduras (now called Belize) by reading cookbook recipes. But it wasn't until her four children were grown and her globe-traveling husband left his job as an energy-company executive that she entertained the thought of cooking professionally. After graduating from the Art Institute of Houston's culinary program, Greer embarked on a career that dovetails with husband Sid's new life as a rancher and farmer in deep East Texas.
She caters events in the small towns of Daingerfield and Pittsburg, conducts cooking classes most Saturdays in her cozy kitchen, serves private dinners in the farmhouse dining room for small groups and hosts guests at Greer Farm's four bed-and-breakfast cabins. Her informal classes draw participants from large cities to the east (Shreveport) and west (Dallas-Fort Worth), as well as locals, including Pittsburg's mayor.
The atmosphere is easygoing; pick up a wooden spoon and stir the roux or perch on a stool at a distance if you're shy.
After the day's menu is complete, the small class adjourns to dine with the chef and, often, rancher Sid if he's not tending cows or pruning blueberry bushes.
Class schedules are planned around in-season, local foods when possible, such as asparagus, blackberries, blueberries, peaches and summer vegetables. Returning students (and Sid) rave about Greer's soups and stews (fall session, Sept. 19). In a nod to the farm's growing herd of Maine-Anjou cattle, an heirloom French breed, roasting meats is on the schedule next fall. Sid Greer also is building herds of goats and sheep for the growing complement of customers looking to buy local, grass-fed meats.
In the course of the classes, amateur cooks take turns exclaiming at the revelations chef Eva casually drops. Not only do you push back from the Greers' table with appetite and taste buds sated, but you also go back to your own kitchen with refreshed pleasure in the process.
Greer Farm 1414 County Road 1125 Daingerfield, TX 75638
To review the year's schedule of instruction, click on the Web site's "Cooking Classes" link. Most classes are $60 per person and require reservations. Information about cabin rentals and the Greers' pick-your-own berry and fruit orchard also is given.