By Ginna Parsons
BALDWYN – Reid Roberts grew up eating off the family farm, with a mother and two grandmothers who were both good cooks. But he didn’t take an interest in cooking until he got out on his own.
“Basically, I was eating baked potatoes and canned soup,” said Roberts, 53.
“A friend told me I needed to start cooking for myself and I told him I didn’t know how. So he gave me a Bell’s Best cookbook and I’ve been collecting cookbooks ever since. I have about 80 now, almost all from Mississippi. I like finding cookbooks from around the state.”
Roberts, who is in radiology at Baptist Hospital in Booneville, now cooks several times a week for his wife, Patti, and their two daughters, Amy and Allison.
“I started with casseroles – normal stuff – and I didn’t bake a lot at first, but I do now,” he said. “I’ve always had pretty good luck with recipes. It’s easy to improvise in cooking but in baking you’ve got to follow the rules.”
Roberts said both he and Patti grew up in families where everyone gathered together at the supper table every evening to eat.
“That was important to us with our girls,” he said. “We were able to do that for about 10 years until they became teenagers. Now, they have mobility so we don’t do it as much.”
When everyone is together, Roberts might prepare grilled chicken, green beans, fried potatoes and salad or maybe grilled burgers, french fries and lima beans. Sometimes, he’ll make dessert.
“I’m the primary cook in the house,” he said. “Patti cooks some but I really enjoy it. It’s not a chore for me.”
One thing he does to make meal preparation go more smoothly is to measure ingredients and lay them out before he cooks.
“I’m a big believer in doing that if you have a lot of ingredients,” he said. “That just makes cooking simpler to me.”
Roberts said he’s always been a fairly healthy eater and then five years ago, he had a heart attack.
“With all my cooking for the girls, I had put on some weight,” he said.
“Now I drink water – 10 glasses a day – and I eat a little bit better and a bit less and I work out five days a week. I’ve dropped about 10 pounds.”
Roberts said he still tries new recipes, usually a couple of times a month.
“It could be anything – no one thing in particular,” he said. “I can look at a recipe and pretty much tell if it’s going to be OK. I grew up eating a big variety of foods so I was never a picky eater. Whatever your mom put out there, you ate.”
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.