July 2015
Homeplace & Community

Eating It Up

  Glenda Rotton, left, cooks a pot of Little Lady Finger peas and butterbeans as Dora Cole watches. She cooks them together to achieve a special flavor that’s not possible when the vegetables are cooked separately. She says there’s no comparison between mixing the vegetables on the plate and cooking them together.

Lifelong friends Dora Cole and Glenda Rotton enjoy talking, cooking and singing on their cable tv show “Dora & Glenda Dish It Out.”

Thomas Roughton was hauling video recording equipment into the kitchen for the taping of the next segment of the "Dora & Glenda Dish It Out" cable TV show.

Glenda was at the stove stirring a pot of Lady Finger peas and butterbeans. Dora was topping pears with mayonnaise and shredded cheese, the kind that comes already shredded and packaged.

The cat went out the door as the preacher came in.

"Forgot my mandolin," the preacher said as he went back out and the cat came back in.

"Oh, Dora! Don’t do that," Glenda said as she spanked Dora’s hand that was reaching for the sugar dish.

"Everything’s better with a pinch of sugar," Dora said, intent on adding "just a pinch" to Glenda’s cook pot.

Glenda kept Dora at bay by putting the lid on the pot.

Dora, center, and Glenda both sing in the choir  at East Side Baptist Church and were members of a gospel singing group. They said their favorite place to sing, other than church, is in the kitchen. Rev. Ed Shirley accompanies them on the mandolin or the guitar. Sometimes they sing prayerfully. Sometimes they sing joyfully. Sometimes they sing off key. Sometimes they let the preacher sing along.  

"I don’t want even a pinch of sugar in my vegetables. Go away," Glenda told her.

Glenda Rotton and Dora Cole have been friends "forever" so they can talk to each other that way.

The "Dora & Glenda Dish It Out" cooking show is a new venture for the lifelong friends. But cooking has been a lifetime calling for both.

"Oh, we’ve been cooking all our lives," Glenda said. "We both owned restaurants here in Union Springs for years and years. My husband and I owned the Country Kitchen out on Highway 82 for 35 years. Dora owned the Tip Top Café in town for about 20 years. Is that right, Dora?"

Glenda said the Country Kitchen got its start as a snack bar serving mainly chicken and burgers.

"Then we expanded to a full family restaurant, serving meats, vegetables and desserts," she said. "Later, we added a grocery store so you could come eat with us or buy groceries and cook yourself."

The Tip Top Café also started small and stayed small for a while.

"The Tip Top was mainly a barbecue place," Dora said. "We had pit-cooked pork and chicken, and served it with the best slaw anywhere. We had sandwiches and plates, too."

  Thomas Roughton, producer of “Dora & Glenda Dish It Out,” goes on location to tape the popular cooking show featuring Dora Cole and Glenda Rotton. Both owned and operated restaurants in Union Springs for several decades. They are well known for their expertise in the kitchen.

The owner of the Tip Top Café building was impressed by Dora’s work ethic so he took down the firewall between the café and the adjoining building so she could expand her restaurant.

"A bunch of the men liked to come to the café early and drink coffee, but I didn’t always get there as early as they wanted," Dora said. "So, I just started leaving them the key. They would go on in and have the coffee ready when I got there."

Glenda and Dora agreed that men can outdo women when it comes to gossiping.

"Whoever says men don’t gossip is wrong," Dora said, laughing. "I’ll vouch for that."

Neither admitted to doing any gossiping themselves - nor did they deny it.

Although they both owned restaurants in a small town known as the bird dog capital of the universe, Glenda and Dora didn’t consider themselves competitors.

"I was out on the highway and Dora was in town," Glenda said. "We didn’t compete. We didn’t have to."

Due to health and circumstances, Dora closed her restaurant in 1986 and Glenda in 1991.

"We both wish we were in the restaurant business right now," Glenda said. "It was hard work, but we loved it."

Both women love to sing, too, and are "pretty good at it." They are members of the East Side Baptist Church and were members of the East Side Harmony gospel singers.

When Thomas Roughton approached Dora and Glenda last year about doing a talk show on N-Focus Productions, they didn’t hesitate. They were always ready for new adventures.

"The show was called ‘Remember When’ and we just talked about things that happened long ago - the cotton mills, grist mills, working in the fields," Dora said. "The thing was we just never got through talking. We sang a little, too."

Now, with the new cooking show, "Dora & Glenda Dish It Out," the friends can talk, sing and cook. The three things they love to do.

"Oh, we have a big time," Glenda said. "We cook and talk while we cook and then we invite someone to come to the table and eat and tell how good our cooking is."

Dora and Glenda don’t always agree on the "how to" of the cooking and they each give their opinion and let folks make up their own minds.

The banter between the two "makes the show," the producer said. "They are fun ladies."

The real bone of contention between the two is that pinch of sugar Dora puts in everything.

"I do not want sugar in my vegetables except the turnips if they are bitter," Glenda said, then jumping from sugar to potatoes. "But, you can put an Irish potato in greens to take the bitterness out. I’d rather do that than add sugar."

Dora said a pinch of sugar makes anything better, and then she jumped to potatoes.

"If you put in too much salt, add a potato and the potato will take the salt right out," she explained.

"A potato won’t take the sugar out," Glenda said.

The Rev. Ed Shirley, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church, was the guest of Glenda and Dora and sat down to a chicken salad plate and a side of pear salad Dora had prepared.

As Dora forked the chicken salad onto the preacher’s plate, Glenda quipped that she needed a spoon.

"I didn’t see a spoon," Dora said.

"There was one by the fork," Glenda said to which Dora paid no attention.

Dora decided to make the preacher a chicken salad sandwich "to go." She went off camera to get another plate. Roughton tried to chase her with the camera. Glenda laughed and went to check on her oven-fried okra and her vegetable combo.

Dora was in the sugar dish.

"Oh, Dora," Glenda said.

The preacher took out his mandolin and the segment closed with the trio singing, "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be."

Roughton called "cut" and another segment of Dora and Glenda was wrapped up.

The "Dora & Glenda Dish It Out" and Country "Fried" Singing show airs at 5 p.m. Sundays on Direct TV Channel 29 and on the Dish. The show is a production of N-Focus, Thomas Roughton, CEO.

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.