COOK OF THE WEEK: Church meetings help Tupelo woman’s husband recover from cancer

TUPELO – When Cathy Floyd’s husband, Curtis, was diagnosed with cancer, part of his treatment called for a rigorous regimen of chemotherapy.
But the sessions left him weak and unable to get out of the house much, even to go to church. And he loved his small group gatherings at East Heights Baptist.
So his wife brought church to him.
“We started talking about it and I asked the other members of our small group if they’d mind coming to our house every week to meet,” she said. “And I fed them. The first time they came I made chicken corn chowder. There were no leftovers.”
For nine months, the group met at the Floyds’ home in east Tupelo, with different members helping with food each week.
“Curtis said it made all the difference in the world in his recovery,” Floyd said.
The 63-year-old mother of three and grandmother of one didn’t grow up cooking. Her mother, she said, cooked because she had to, not because she liked to. Floyd didn’t find joy in the kitchen until she married the first time.
“My children’s paternal grandmother was a wonderful cook,” Floyd said. “I saw how much she really enjoyed cooking and how much people enjoyed her food. She said a neighbor once told her, ‘Your children will remember you for the things you made.’”
And that’s how Floyd wants to be remembered, for the delicious foods she prepares for family and church family like butterscotch pound cake, chicken and corn chowder, cavatini, German chocolate Bundt cake and, of course, her signature chicken and dressing.
“I finally made up my own dressing recipe,” she said. “You can get too much sage in it and I found just the right seasoning in chicken-flavored Stove Top stuffing. Half the ladies in church have my recipe. My sisters make it. I gave it to Vicki Helms and she made it for the Mississippi Picnic in Central Park in New York City.”
Vicki Helms Carter, formerly of Tupelo, helped found the annual Big Apple shindig.

Junk food ‘dangerous’
Floyd had always been a petite woman and didn’t have trouble controlling her weight – until she hit age 40.
“Then, I had to start watching what I ate and how much of it,” she said. “I use reduced-fat everything, but I don’t use fat-free anything. Reduced-fat margarine, Hellman’s Light mayonnaise, skim milk – you really can’t tell a difference.”
She eats oatmeal, a mini-whole wheat bagel and a glass of skim milk every day for breakfast and snacks on fresh fruit and yogurt between meals.
“We don’t have any junk food in the house, not even when the kids come because they don’t eat junk food, either,” said Floyd, who is retired from Bell South.
It’s not that Floyd can’t appreciate junk food. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“Junk food is dangerous,” she said. “Curtis and I both know there are two things we can’t have in the house or we’ll eat the whole bag at one sitting and that’s Cheetos and Fritos. We save those for special occasions, like when we’re traveling.”

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 ginna.parsons@ djournal.com.

Ginny Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal