COOK OF THE WEEK: Banana pudding bowl holds special memories for Mantachie cook

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Felicia Jones has an old glass bowl in her kitchen cabinet that she wouldn’t part with for the world. Not only does it regularly hold banana pudding, but it also is filled with memories.
“It’s just a plain cheap Pyrex bowl, but it was my grandmother’s bowl,” said Jones, 58. “Her name was Daisy McMillen and she was a little lady who stayed at home and cooked and took care of her yard. When we were growing up, we always ate Sunday dinner at her house. She always had fried chicken and creamed potatoes and a great big bowl of banana pudding. Of course, the bowl seemed a lot larger when I was a child.”
A few years ago, one of Jones’ sisters gave her a recipe for a coconut pie and Jones began using the custard in that recipe as the basis for her banana pudding.
“And everybody said, ‘Oh, this tastes just like Grandmaw Mac’s,’” Jones said. “So my sister who ended up with the banana pudding bowl gave it to me since I now make the banana pudding. Of course, that bowl isn’t pretty, but it’s priceless to me.”
Jones, who shares three children and three grandchildren with her husband, Terry, grew up in Mantachie and went to high school there before moving on to Itawamba Junior College, now Itawamba Community College, and then Ole Miss.
With a degree in health and physical education, she moved back home to teach.
“I taught some elementary and a little bit of high school, but junior high is where I spent most of my time” said Jones, who retired in 2002 after 27 years.
Now, her full-time job is taking care of her 21-month-old grandson, Cayson, who’s not quite ready for preschool. She is also a member of the Pilot Club and she plays the piano at Mantachie Methodist Church.
“And I love to do yard work,” she said. “I just stay busy all the time.”
Sometimes, she’s even too busy to cook.
“I don’t cook as much as I did when my children were growing up,” she said. “I cooked every night then. Now, I cook maybe three or four times a week.”
The couple enjoys country meals like peas, stewed potatoes and cornbread, or baked chicken, green beans, corn and slaw.
“I don’t make desserts when it’s just Terry and me,” she said. “When I do make one, it’s because the children are here or I take it to a function. I don’t need them in my house.”
Jones said she pretty much makes all her desserts from scratch – that is, until she found Edwards Chocolate Pie and Turtle Pie in the freezer section at the grocery store.
“I mean they’re good, just as good as they can be,” she said. “I keep those in my freezer. You never know when you’re going to need a pie in a pinch.”
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 ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.