Words by Jan Brand

Photography by Stephanie Fisher

Sara is leaving her mark at The Pan Handle on Granbury Square so that others can share their hopes and dreams around the kitchen table in style.

Norman Rockwell, famous for depicting life in America, most often painted the American family. A favorite subject was the time spent around the kitchen table. It’s been called “the heart of the home.” The dinner table is a place where memories are made, dreams are conceived, confidence and courage are created, and people grow closer together. Perhaps, the most famous memory-maker is Sunday dinner, when grown children are drawn back year after year like homing pigeons, bringing their young to experience Mom’s pot roast, or Dad’s hamburgers on the grill. They don’t come for the food, they come for the love.

Food is one of the love languages. We feed people we care about whether it’s family, friends, or volunteering in a homeless shelter.

Sara Miskovic, owner of The Pan Handle, 106 North Crockett Street, on the Square, was raised on a farm. Her roots run deep in Hood County. Her great-great grandfather, Davis Lafayette Monroe, trekked here from Log Cabin, Georgia, bringing his young family to be part of the big dreams emanating from the big state of Texas. The land where he planted those roots is still the home place for the Monroes and Miskovics. The first Monroe bought land in 1891.

The Monroe family did such a good job of knitting the family together, no one wants to leave the farm. There are five homes on the land, including the log house Sara’s parents built that she grew up in. She and her husband and children have a home on the land, along with her siblings and grandparents.   

Sara knows first-hand the importance of growing your own food and the joy of sitting around the family table with those you love, celebrating the results of your labor. Society has yet to find a bonding tool that equals that experience. Following the trail of farmers from time immemorial, Sara’s family lived off the land. Raised on a dairy farm, she learned as a youngster how to milk cows. She fried her first egg when she was five-years old. When she was eight, her grandfather taught her how to drive the farm truck that pulled the gooseneck-trailer to haul hay. After school she fed animals.

Her favorite memories are of those in the kitchen cooking with her mother and grandmother. It was there, while canning, baking and preserving, that she learned wisdom, and gained knowledge. It was there she learned to love and build strong ties. They taught her patience and endurance, and demonstrated the traits to be a good wife and mother, as well as the basics of sewing, canning and farming.

Sara was inspired by the exceptional cooking talents of her mother and grandmothers. Her mother was an apprentice chef at the posh Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas. As a child, Sara loved looking at cookbooks and took cooking classes. As a teenager, she loved making fancy gelatin molds, to give a box of Jell-o some extra zing. It seemed inevitable that she would pass on her love of food and hospitality.

The Pan Handle is a cook’s paradise. She bought the store in May of 2016, and like any creative woman, she redecorated, putting her own touch into it. Sara’s talent isn’t limited to cooking, and when you walk into the store you see examples of her art scattered throughout.

Her husband, J Miskovic, constructs the displays for her artwork. He has a degree from Tarleton State University and lends a hand as a cost and pricing analyst. She calls him, “the brains and the brawn.” He also serves as a volunteer firefighter for Cresson.  

When you walk through the door of The Pan Handle, you are transported into the wonderful world of cooking. The smell of coffee assails the senses. What looks like an endless array of glass bins holds eighty-one blends of Texas roasted beans. Even a non-coffee drinker, like me, is tempted because the smell is almost irresistible. An assortment of bulk artisan teas is also available, as well as local resources from businesses and artists in the Hood County area.

On Wednesday and Thursday Sara unleashes her creativity to produce her own unique relishes, pickles, salsas, jams, jellies, preserves and chutneys—developing her label with delicious original foodstuff. She surprises the palate with innovative twists on conventional fare, like grape chutney.

For the cookie baker, she has the most extensive cookie-cutter selection in the area. If you’re addicted to kitchen gadgets, you can find things you only dreamed of having to simplify a task.    

The things she offers in the store are those she uses to create precious memories. Following in the footsteps of those who have gone before her, she is passing along her knowledge to her own children.

Amy, her thirteen-year old daughter also loves to cook, and benefits from the same special time in the kitchen with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She won first prize in the Hood County 4-H Livestock Show for her peanut butter fudge. Graham, her ten-year old son loves animals. He’s raising a pig and wants to continue with a litter. Six- year old Georgia loves to bake cookies with her mother. But her specialty is creating interesting and different fruit salads, leaving her own artistry in the bowl.

Like the early settlers who came to America to be free, then pushed into the vastness of the west to build lives, Sara Miskovic and her family have lived the American dream. From hard work and faith, they were the nation builders, not the politicians, not the scions of industry, but the family. They came and left their mark on the land and passed their values down for future generations. Sara is leaving her mark at The Pan Handle on Granbury Square so that others can share their hopes and dreams around the kitchen table in style.