Cooking up a storm
Norma Cross is 79, and still hustling. Ask, and she will say it is in her blood.
Her entrepreneurial parents, William and Blanche Marshall, ran O R Lobleins Grocery at the corner of Middle Road and Tee Street in Devonshire.
“The only time my parents were off was on Thursday afternoons and Sundays. During the rest of the week they knocked off at 8pm,” she said.
“By the time I was 12, I’d come home on the bus, pick up my younger brother from my grandmother’s house, go home and cook dinner for my five younger siblings.”
Those early efforts made an impression.
Mrs Cross owns Island Sunshades & Accessories and is part-owner of Leisure Time, the computer hardware store on Queen Street. She’s also part-owner of Howzat, a Hamilton Parish liquor store; she bought into Outerbridge’s Sherry Peppers after the company’s founder, Yeaton Outerbridge, died in 2006.
Apart from that, her recipe for rum swizzle ice cream was picked up by local brand Alex & Pete’s and her recipe for fish chowder can be found in the 2016 edition of Outerbridge’s Original Cookbook.
She remembers watching her father make the traditional dish, horrified that he put the whole fish into the pot.
“I remember telling him, ‘Take out the eyes!’” she laughed. “But it fascinated me. I make it the old-fashioned way, with the entire rack. My brother Jeff is a fish lover. He buys fish and freezes the racks for me so when it gets close to winter I make a big pot and he supplies the rack which supplies all the good juice.”
She fell in love with cooking as a youngster on Lightbourne Lane in Devonshire. Some of her early experiments did not work out.
“The first time I made shepherd’s pie it came out messy, pale and unappetising,” said Mrs Cross. “My siblings said, ‘Yuck, what is that?’
“But in that era you ate whatever was put in front of you. And there were rarely any leftovers.
“Cooking is just a delight. I love experimenting and trying different things.”
She describes her rum swizzle ice cream as “really good”.
“It’s very creamy,” she said. “Originally, I made it for our Outerbridge Peppers booth at the Bermuda Food Festival. We offered 2oz sample cups of it and people loved it.
“I was not able to further promote it until I met with Peter Jovetic of Alex and Pete’s Artisan Ice Cream. He agreed to produce it, using Outerbridge’s rum swizzle mix. Being the full-fledged chef that he is, he probably improved on my recipe.” ?
With the help of a chef in New York, Mrs Cross also created several dry rubs for the Outerbridge product line.
“Working with a professional chef was really fun,” she said. “People have suggested I open a restaurant in the past.
“And I thought about it for half a second. I always thought it would be too much work.”
Part of that desire is fulfilled by the work she does with Outerbridge’s Peppers.
“I believe in the company,” she said.
“The products are unsurpassed. We have worldwide customers. My son, Jack [Lee], predominantly handles internet sales and we ship all over the world.”
She’s at work by 6am most days and usually leaves around 3pm.
She laughs at the idea of retirement.
“Good Lord, no,” she said.
“Why would I retire? This is too much fun. I am a doer. I love to do this. Sitting around playing tiddlywinks is not my idea of a good time.”
She enjoyed 40 years of marriage with her second husband, the late Mike Cross. She has three children Jack, Dan and Judy Lee.
“Right now I am enjoying life as a grandmother,” she said. “I have two grandchildren and they are my joy.”
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