By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – For 30 years, Carol Ivy taught practical nursing at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. But five years ago, she decided to retire.
Only she didn’t want to stop working.
So now, she spends about three days a week at Baptist Memorial Hospital as a senior care nurse pulling 12-hour shifts.
And still, she finds the time to cook four or five nights a week.
“I love to shop for clothes, I love to shop for shoes and I love to cook,” said Ivy, 66. “Walking, reading, shopping and cooking. I can do those anytime.”
Ivy readily admits she’s a self-taught cook.
“My mother did not cook – she didn’t like cooking,” said Ivy, who grew up in Iuka. “My grandmother didn’t teach me to cook, either. I loved them and they loved me, but cooking was not their thing.
“I’ll tell you why I started cooking. When I was dating my husband, his mother could make Spam taste good. She tried to teach me some things about cooking, but I wasn’t a very good student. So I had to learn to cook on my own, and I found I really enjoyed it.”
Ivy picked up a copy of Betty Crocker’s cookbook and began reading and trying different things. And along the way, she made more than a few mistakes.
“My husband was so patient with me, because I sure did mess up a lot,” said the petite blonde. “I started with salmon patties, because that was something my mother-in-law did so well.
“Let me tell you about the first chicken I ever fried. My husband didn’t think it was getting done fast enough, so he slipped in the kitchen while I was doing something else and he burned that chicken up. So he is banned from my kitchen. Literally banned. He doesn’t do any cooking at all. He doesn’t even grill.”
Ivy and her husband often get funny looks when they introduce themselves. Her name is Carol. His name is Carroll.
“We really don’t even pay attention to it anymore after being married for 48 years,” said the grandmother of four. “But sometimes, someone will call the house looking for my husband. They’ll said, ‘May I speak to Carroll?’ and I’ll say, ‘This is she.’ And then there’s this long pause on the other end of the phone.”
While husband Carroll may be banned from cooking in the Ivys’ kitchen, he certainly is welcome at the table.
“I cook a lot and a lot of different things,” Ivy said. “Carroll says he never says what I cook is his favorite because I never cook the same thing twice in a year. So he has to keep getting new favorites.”
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 e-mail them to email@example.com.