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A home for the heart: For Linder Burt, recovery leads to a new home and ‘ideal job’

 

Linder Burt, head cook at Recovery House, prepares a salad of black and green olives, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and Italian dressing.

Linder Burt, head cook at Recovery House, prepares a salad of black and green olives, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and Italian dressing. Photo by: Kelly Tippett

 

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Linder Burt’s Mexican cornbread is a favorite treat served at Recovery House.

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

For Linder Burt, preparing lunch and supper for a dozen adults every day isn''t a hardship; it''s a life-saving blessing.  

 

As head cook at Recovery House, a substance abuse treatment facility for women, Linder brings very personal insight to the unique environment. Only 18 months ago, she herself arrived homeless and helpless at the Lowndes County agency, in dire need of treatment. 

 

"I had nowhere to go, no clothes, nothing. When I walked in the door I felt love, I felt warm, I felt everything," she shared. 

 

For years, the Clarksdale native had been fighting an uphill battle, plagued by unhealthy relationships and addictions. 

 

"I felt like I was running for my life," she said, recalling fleeing to Chicago in the 1980s to escape an abusive boyfriend. At one low point, she was homeless, living on the streets of the Windy City, deep into a crack cocaine habit.  

 

It would take her sister''s death to bring Linder back to Mississippi in 1988. Unfamiliar with the drug culture back home, crack was replaced with legal and more easily accessible alcohol. Over time, Linder would make steps forward -- finding a place to stay, getting a job, raising her children -- but spiraling alcohol abuse was bringing her to a crisis point.  

 

After enduring a seizure from long-term alcohol use, the 47-year-old mother of two decided enough was enough. Linder underwent detoxification for 10 days in Batesville and transferred to Recovery House on April 2, 2008. 

 

"When I came to Recovery House, I felt like I had found a mansion," she said. 

 

After three months in the recovery program and eight months in transition, a sober and settled Linder now lives in independent housing. To her delight, her 18-year-old daughter recently came to live with her. 

 

 

 

New doors 

 

Whatever doubts Linder may have had in March when first offered the position of head cook at the facility where she went through treatment have long since disappeared. 

 

"Boy, now I feel like today this is my life. I am back at home, and I love it. There is just something about this place." 

 

Prior to treatment at the United Way agency, Linder had learned how to prepare meals for large groups by volunteering at Care Station, a facility for feeding the hungry and homeless in Clarksdale.  

 

"I like helping others; I like to work with the public," she said. "I can relate to the girls here; they can ask me questions, and I can help them keep a positive attitude while they go through this program." 

 

Working within a budget, Linder is responsible for planning menus, doing all shopping and preparing lunch and supper Monday through Friday each week. Different salads and soups are some of her favorites to make. 

 

"I enjoy being around these people, people I consider like me, and cooking for the clients here," she said. "It''s just the ideal job for me. I''ve worked on and off at fast food places before, but it''s nothing like cooking for people who enjoy my meals. I feel like I''m right here at home, where I learned to live a sober life.  

 

"I hope they''ll let me retire from here."  

 

Linder shares three favorite Recovery House recipes below. All will serve at least 12 people. 

 

(Editor''s note: The editor thanks Meagan Coughlin, project coordinator of the United Way Community Volunteer Center, for information included in this article.) 

 

 

 

Mexican Cornbread 

 

 

 

1/2 cup vegetable oil 

 

Three eggs, beaten 

 

One 15-ounce can of cream style corn 

 

1 1/3 cups milk 

 

1 tablespoon sugar 

 

3 cups self-rising cornmeal 

 

Three or four hot chilies, chopped 

 

One onion, chopped 

 

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 

 

     

     

  • Heat oil in cast iron skillet at 375 degrees.  

     

  • Beat eggs, corn, milk and sugar in a bowl. Add the cornmeal and mix well.  

     

  • Stir in chilies, onion and cheese. Pour the hot oil into the batter and mix well. Pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until golden brown.  

     

 

 

Taco casserole 

 

 

 

1 1/2 pounds ground beef 

 

One onion, chopped 

 

One garlic clove 

 

Two small cans tomatoes 

 

One can cream of mushroom soup 

 

One package taco seasoning 

 

1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese 

 

One 5-ounce package noodles, cooked 

 

     

     

  • Cook and drain noodles; cook meat, onions and garlic and then drain the grease.  

     

  • Add all other ingredients in a casserole dish, except cheese. Spread cheese on top and bake until hot and the cheese has melted. 

     

 

 

Recovery House Chicken Spaghetti 

 

 

 

Chicken (Five leg quarters) 

 

One to two onions, chopped, to taste 

 

One to two bell peppers, chopped, to taste 

 

2 pounds Velveeta cheese 

 

2 cans Rotel tomatoes 

 

2 cans cream of mushroom soup 

 

16 ounces spaghetti noodles, cooked in chicken broth 

 

     

     

  • Boil chicken, seasoned with lemon pepper, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste. Debone chicken. 

     

  • Sauté onions and bell peppers in broth. Add Rotel, cheese and chicken. Mix all ingredients. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. 

     

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment Hk commented at 10/14/2009 12:51:00 PM:

Good for you--way to go! Take care if YOU!! you have accomplished alot--be proud of yourself. Your food sounds amazing also.. just like you :)

 

Article Comment Dana Jones commented at 10/14/2009 4:57:00 PM:

Your story is a model! Thanks for sharing your recipes with us. I will certainly enjoy making dishes for my family.

 

Article Comment BB commented at 10/15/2009 3:11:00 PM:

You go girl!!!! I know your family is so very proud of you and so is GOD!!! Great recipies!

 

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