COOK OF THE WEEK: Becker woman carries on family tradition of Sunday dinner

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Martha Sheely of Becker has picked up where her mother left off. For years, Sheely and her husband, John, and her brother, Billy Wayne Head and his wife, Peggy, and their families all gathered at Sheely’s parents’ house for Sunday dinner.
But after Red and Evelyn Head died, a decision had to be made.
“My sister-in-law and I figured if we didn’t continue with the Sunday dinners, we’d never get together as a family anymore,” said Sheely, 66.
So now, she and Peggy take turns cooking on Sundays at their respective homes.
Sunday before last, the dinner was at the Sheelys. She served roast beef and gravy with carrots and potatoes, creamed potatoes, peas, corn, slaw, squash, sliced tomatoes, cantaloupe, cornbread and a Chocolate Sybil Cake for dessert.
“I cook just about every day for John and me, but I do my big cooking every other weekend,” she said.
Fortunately, the recent roast beef turned out well. One Sunday, she barely averted a disaster.
“I preheated the oven and put the roast in and then I cut the oven off,” she said. “I went back in there two-and-a-half hours later and found what I’d done. I had to throw that thing into a pressure cooker to get it on the table.”
The Sheelys live in the Athens community outside Becker, about halfway between Amory and Aberdeen. They have one daughter, Brandy, who lives in New Orleans.
“We like to go to New Orleans to visit Brandy because we get to try new restaurants,” she said. “She takes us to so many places down there. We like the different seafoods. The baked oysters – oh my gosh. They’re so good.”
Sheely worked at Amory Garment for a dozen years and then became a stay-at-home mom for the next eight. From there, she went to Hatley School, where she was an assistant teacher for 25 years. She retired in 2010.
Today, she spends her leisure time canning vegetables, doing cross-stitch and reading. And recently, she completed a longtime project.
“I just finished piecing a quilt I’ve been working on for 22 years,” she said. “It’s being quilted now. You’d just have to see it to appreciate the time I put into it.”
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

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