Debbie English cooks at center and school
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Jul 25, 2013 | 1187 views |  0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Debbie English has two jobs and three families and loves them all.

First, there’s her own family - her three children, seven grandchildren and parents, along with other relatives.

Debbie is in her second year of working at the community center where she prepares food to be sold at the concession stand. She cooks hamburgers, cheeseburgers and French fries, as well as more healthy food such as grilled chicken and turkey burgers.

She also works with the children in the center’s after school program during the school year.

“I work the soccer field, the baseball field, or wherever I’m needed,” she said. “I do whatever they need me to do. Everybody here is so good to work with.”

She gives her director Janis Burns and her supervisor Liz Dixon credit for allowing her to do something she enjoys so much.

Debbie’s second job and third family is in Wellborn at the elementary and high school. She worked at the high school for six years. She’s now at the elementary school where she - again - prepares food.

“I cook, serve or just whatever needs to be done,” she said. “We rotate and everybody does everything. I love it. Angie Hammett and all the girls I work with there are so sweet. They’re my other family. I thank my community center family and my Wellborn family, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. And I thank God.”

Debbie has a lot of friends at the community center and Wellborn Elementary. She makes friends easily and gives her mother credit for that.

“My mother always told me to treat people how you want to be treated, and that’s what I do,” said Debbie. “I love working with people in general and always have.”

Debbie was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Jacksonville four years ago from Anniston. Her son Earnest lives in Jacksonville. Another son, Joshua, and a daughter, Jasmine, live in Anniston. Her grandchildren are Jaquavion, Xzaviar, Meorri, Mekhi, Bentley and twins Jamir and Jamar. She is the daughter of Mary Sanders of Jacksonville and Howard English of Cleveland.

Debbie attended Anniston High School and Gadsden State Community College where she studied to be a medical assistant. She weighed her options and decided to do something different. The fact that she enjoys cooking helped her make that decision.

“If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it just like this,” she said. “I love working with people, and I love working with children.”

She said she has one hobby - her grandchildren, who range in age from 8 to 1.

“They keep me busy,” she said. “They’re such a joy. They keep me on my toes, that’s for sure. That’s about all I do is work and spend time with my grandbabies.”

Debbie attends First Missionary Church in Anniston.

Debbie began cooking when she was about 14 to help her mother. It didn’t take her long to realize how much she liked it.

“My mom taught us early to cook,” she said. “I was about 14. She’s a good cook. Her sweet potato pies and everything else she cooks is awesome. She’s a good teacher and I’ve been able to come a long way when it comes to cooking because of her.”

One of the first things Debbie learned to make was macaroni and cheese. She makes it fairly often for her family. She does most of her cooking when they’re all at her home at the same time.

She shares her Macaroni and Cheese recipe, which is still one of her favorite, and Swedish Meatballs, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Texas Toast.

Contact Margaret at


Macaroni Cheese

Serves 6, Prep 15, Cook 30 min.

1 lb. macaroni noodles
6 T. all-purpose flour
7 T butter or margarine
2 c. milk
8-12 ozs. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 t. salt
¼ t. black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook macaroni. Drain, rinse and set aside. In same pot over low heat melt butter. Add flour, salt, pepper and butter until smooth. Slowly add milk and whisk until smooth. Remove pot from heat.

Add cheddar cheese and stir until cheese starts to melt. Add macaroni. Stir until coated. Pour into 9x12 baking dish. Sprinkle more cheese on top. Bake 20-30 minutes until crispy brown.

Swedish Meatballs

Prep: 5 min.

1 pkg. frozen meatballs
2 cans cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery or cream of chicken (optional)
8 oz sour cream
2 t. low sodium soy sauce

Place all in crock pot. Cook on low for at least five hours.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

3 c. heavy whipping cream
1 ¼ c. packed dark brown sugar
3 T. light or dark syrup
1/2 c. chopped pitted
½ c. water
½ t. baking soda
¼ c butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 c. Gold Medal all-purpose flour
¼ t. salt
1 c. whipping cream

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 10 4 oz. cup baking dishes with cooking spray. Place on cookie sheet.

2. In 2 quart saucepan, heat 3 c. whipping cream, the brown sugar and corn syrup to boiling oven medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil 14-15 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened and reduced to 3 cups. Pour ¼ cup of the toffee sauce into each custard cup. In 1 quart saucepan heat dates and water to boiling over medium heat. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda. Let stand 5 minutes.

3. In medium bowl beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating just until blended. On low speed beat in flour and salt alternately with date mixture until smooth. Spoon 3 to 4 T. butter over toffee sauce in each cup (do not spread).

4. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clear. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream and remaining sauce.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Texas Toast

1 piece grilled chicken
2 slices Texas toast bread
1/4 c. mozzarella cheese (sliced or shredded)
4 pieces of frozen bacon slices

Put bread on grill. Put cheese on toast, then chicken and bacon. Make sandwich. Put back on grill 10-15 minutes. Keep turning until golden brown.
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Debbie English cooks at center and school by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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