COOK OF THE WEEK: Booneville homemaker’s old-fashioned cooking in big demand

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal


Pearl Millsaps believes the Lord puts each one of us on earth for a reason. She thinks she’s here because she likes to help people.
“I help with meals at church and I help when families have a death or sickness or when someone has a baby,” said Millsaps, who will be 82 on July 15. “Cobblers, apple pies and chicken and dumplings – I carry that to lots and lots of people.”
Millsaps said she’s not a fancy cook and she doesn’t do fancy food.
“I don’t fix all that beautiful food with doodads like folks do today,” she said. “A member of our church once said he watches for older people’s food at potlucks and whenever they come in and put their food down, that’s where he goes first because he knows it’s going to be good.”
Millsaps, the seventh of nine children, grew up in Choctaw County. Her father was a cattle dealer and her mother was a homemaker.
“My mother was a wonderful lady and I don’t know how she did all she did,” Millsaps said. “Everybody had a chore. We all had jobs, we all played together and we all worked together. Our house was like Grand Central Station. There were so many of us kids and our friends. She never knew how many was going to be at the table, so we were always cooking.”
Millsaps finished at Weir and then spent two years at Wood College and two years at Mississippi State University. Then she met her husband, Earl, who was in the service. They will celebrate 60 years together in November.
The couple lived in Mobile, Ala., for 12 years and then spent the next 18 in Georgia. They moved in Booneville in 1987 from Ackerman.
“I worked at the George E. Allen Library for a while here and quit to take care of a grandchild,” she said. “But I’ve always considered myself a homemaker. I guess you just do what you saw your mother do.”
Millsaps’ cooking is a big hit with her family, which includes two children – another one is deceased – three grandchildren and three great-grands.
“At least once a week I have the family over,” she said. “And all the big holidays they come over here. A couple of months before the holiday, they start worrying me about what we’re going to have.”
You can bet it won’t be anything fancy.
“Maybe fried pork chops, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans,” she said. “Cornbread and vegetables with sliced tomatoes – just plain ordinary food – that’s my favorite meal.”
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.