COOK OF THE WEEK: Busy mother finds it tough to make time for the kitchen

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Melanie Owen really does like to cook. She just has trouble finding the time to do it.
The Pontotoc mother of two teenagers is a court reporter for the 1st Circuit District, so she spends most weeks on the road traveling to seven counties, depending on where court is being held.
And those two teenagers stay pretty busy themselves. Both play basketball, meaning Owen and her husband, David, spend three to four nights a week at their games.
“Unless I put something in the Crock-Pot, we end up eating out,” said Owen, 42. “Or if I do have time to cook, they don’t have time to eat. But when I do cook in the Crock-Pot, it works out well because some of us can eat early and some can eat later. And there’s not a lot of clean-up. It’s a one-dish meal. I use it a lot, especially in the wintertime. We eat a lot of soup.”
Owen tried to learn how to cook from her mother, Martha Stewart, who was featured as a Cook of the Week in the Journal in 2004.
“But she didn’t have recipes, so I couldn’t learn,” Owen said. “I have to have a recipe.”
Even when she does have a recipe, things don’t always turn out as planned.
“The last time I tried to make biscuits was about 20 years ago,” she said. “My husband tried one and said, ‘I think you forgot to put the chocolate chips in these.’ Those biscuits were flat and hard like cookies.”
Owen likes to find new recipes on the Internet, and three of her favorite sites are thepioneerwoman.com, southernliving.com and pinterest.com.
“I’ll find a new recipe, like chicken casserole, and I’ll burn everybody out on it,” she said. “Then I’ll find another recipe and I’ll make it until everybody is sick of it.”
Owen keeps her recipes in a special recipe book she’s made, and she takes pride in the ones that are handwritten by family members and friends.
“One year, my aunt brought this pink salad to Christmas dinner and I wanted the recipe and the only thing I could find to write on was a scrap of Christmas wrapping paper, so that’s what it’s written on,” Owen said. “And I still have it.”
Owen’s favorite thing to make are desserts.
“That’s probably because I like to eat them,” she said. “I can’t even begin to cook Southern things, like vegetables. When we first married, my daddy gave me five packs of peas for the freezer. Like, 10 years later, we were cleaning out that freezer and there were those five packs of peas. So, no. I’m not a Southern cook.”
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.