By Ginna Parsons
BALDWYN – Before Maria Hughes married her husband, Hayden, she was a vegetarian. Today, she eats – and cooks – such things as deer, wild turkey and catfish.
“My husband is a big hunter and we grill a lot of what he kills,” said Hughes, 35. “This really cool thing he gets that we get to have is flathead catfish. He grabbles (catches the fish by hand) and their belly meat is a steak – it’s like halibut.”
Hughes teaches art at Booneville Middle School. She started her education at Northeast Mississippi Community College before spending time at Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Her degree is from Mississippi University for Women.
“If I ever decide to go back to school and get my master’s degree, I’ll probably go to Ole Miss,” she said, laughing. “I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out.”
Even after teaching all day, Hughes still looks forward to getting to her home near the Pratts community outside Baldwyn to cook dinner for her husband and two children, Ames and Townes.
“Everybody cooks in my family,” she said. “My mama does technical stuff like chocolate croissants and stuff that takes all weekend. She tries complicated recipes. Maybe I’ll do that when my kids are grown. When we were growing up, we called her a gourmet chef. Of course, we didn’t know what gourmet meant.”
Hughes said she doesn’t cook now like she did when she first married.
“I was more adventurous then, more experimental,” she said. “For date night, we’d spend our money on ingredients and make a specific recipe. Now, during the week, I do simple things like tacos, pasta and spaghetti.”
But on the weekends, the Hugheses pull out the grill and special recipes and cook for their friends and family.
“If you come by, you come by, and if you don’t, we have more leftovers,” she said. “Sometimes people who hunt will bring me their wild game and ask me to prepare it.”
When Hughes goes out to eat in a restaurant, she often chooses ethnic or exotic items from the menu.
“I love Indian food and Thai food – stuff I don’t know how to cook,” she said. “If I go out, I’m not going to South. I know they have amazing food there, but I can cook that. I’m going where the food is new and different to me.”
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.