By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Evelyn Lancaster is a blur. Whether she’s in her kitchen cooking or outside puttering in her garden, she’s always moving.
“I don’t sit down,” the 74-year-old said. “I may not accomplish one darn thing, but I stay busy.”
Lancaster and her husband, Jim, who will celebrate 55 years of marriage on May 2, were both raised outside Clarksdale. They left the Delta in 2007 to move to Amory to take care of an elderly aunt, Bess Radde.
“After Aunt Bess died in December, we decided to stay here in her house,” Lancaster said. “That’s what she wanted us to do.”
The Lancasters are in the midst of updating the brick home they share with their two dogs, Russell and Katie. They recently had several old windows replaced and now they’re scraping and painting the old sills.
“When my eyes open, I’m up, whether it’s five o’clock or four,” she said. “I can’t go back to sleep. I just close doors and go at it. If I ever sleep late, you can say, ‘Evelyn’s sick.’”
When warm weather hits, you’ll find Lancaster working in either her herb bed or vegetable garden.
“I love the outside,” she said. “I love to plant me a little garden. Last year, we had herbs and tomatoes. I love sharing with people.”
One thing Lancaster shares is her cooking. She often makes coffee cakes to take to the sick or elderly and sometimes she delivers one to a neighbor as a “happy.”
“I was one of 12 children – the fifth of 12 children – and I was the one that did all the ironing for that crew,” she said. “So when I married, I couldn’t cook very much. Jim’s daddy taught me to make biscuits and my mother-in-law taught me to make my egg custard. She was so patient with me.”
Lancaster is quick to point out that she likes to cook easy, simple food.
“Dumplings and Mexican cornbread is my kind of eating,” she said. “I’m not a gourmet cook. Never have been.”
The mother of three, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of three keeps her favorite recipes in spiral-bound notebooks. She has cut out recipes from magazines and newspapers and glued them to the fronts and backs of the pages.
Many have the words “great” or “yummy” written out beside them. Only a couple have the word “no” scrawled across them.
“I have two big thick and heavy recipe books done so far,” she said, “and it’s about time for me to start on a third.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.