By Ginna Parsons
TREMONT – Mary Killingsworth still remembers the first thing she ever learned to cook: homemade biscuits.
“My mother was in the hospital and I made them and my dad said I made enough to feed Coxey’s Army,” said Killingsworth, 74. “I guess I was about 10 at the time and we had a wood stove. Still, they turned out pretty good.”
She learned to cook from her mother, the late Ruth Loden, and from a home economics teacher who never married named Miss Cowley.
“I’ve just always liked to cook,” said Killingsworth, who shares four children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren with her new husband, Bob. “Every Sunday we have several for lunch, kids and grandkids and anybody else who comes. We have anywhere from three to 10 every Sunday, sometimes more.”
One of her family’s favorite Sunday meals is steak and gravy, mashed potatoes, English peas, slaw, deviled eggs, a vegetable casserole and a dessert. Another is pork roast, creamed potatoes, peas, green beans, slaw, cornbread and collard greens.
“All my family and Bob’s family love my collard greens,” she said. “They nearly fight over them. I’ve got a 10-year-old granddaughter and one Sunday she said, ‘Granny, can I take some of these for my lunch at school?’ and I told her it was OK with me if it was OK with her mother. So she did. She took collards and cornbread and pork roast to school and she let one of her friends taste the collards and she actually liked them, too.”
Killingsworth was born in Tremont but raised in Red Bay before moving back to Tremont when she and Bob married in 2012. She worked for 20 years in a shoe factory. And then in 2011, a heart attack forced her to retire from the Senior Citizens Center in Red Bay, where she worked for 29 years.
“I’ve slowed down a bit since my heart attack,” she said. “I don’t cook everyday anymore. We call it the mop flops. If we want to cook, we do, and if we want to go out, we do. It’s just either way, whatever.”
Killingsworth said she’s always trying new recipes she gets from cookbooks, newspapers, friends and even the Food Network.
“If I don’t have anything to do at night sometimes, I’ll get me down a recipe book and look at it,” she said. “Sometimes, I try something new and it doesn’t turn and I’ll say, ‘This is not one I’d send to Mama.’”
The Killingsworths like to travel when they can to see family in Illinois and Chattanooga, Tenn. But mostly they stay home and enjoy one another’s company.
“We’re just country people,” she said. “When you get older, material things aren’t as important to you as they were when you were younger.”
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 email@example.com.