By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Anna Beth Blassingame may be only 17 years old, but already she’s mastered the art of Southern cooking.
The just-graduated senior from Saltillo, who is home-schooled, has been cooking since she was about 6, and putting dinner on the table for her parents, Amy and Scott, and three siblings since she was 10.
“I watched my grandmother cook, and my mama has always let me in the kitchen,” Blassingame said. “She didn’t stress about me messing up the kitchen.”
Any time Blassingame was studying a unit in history, she’d cook foods appropriate to that time. So if they were studying about pilgrims, they’d eat venison.
“Every year in history class we have a 40-hour project to complete,” she said. “One year, mine was a Roman feast, so I cooked foods from that time period.”
Blassingame invited about 20 other home-schoolers, and they dined on salad with mint, lentil soup, dill chicken, grapes, dates and olives, boiled eggs, rosemary bread and grape juice.
“Everyone wore togas,” she said.
The slender brunette doesn’t prepare every meal for her family, but she figures she cooks lunch or dinner four to five times a week, both for the enjoyment of it, and to help out her mother, who is also her teacher.
“I usually prepare whatever I want to eat,” she said. “Pizza is my favorite meal. And I like making different kinds of soups, like taco, chili, vegetable and potato soup.”
Sometimes she does what she calls a cornbread meal – cornbread, biscuits, peas, green beans, corn and Southern fried chicken.
“But desserts are my favorite thing to make and to eat,” she said. “Cobblers are my favorite to make.”
Blassingame likes to experiment in the kitchen. She’ll look around and see what she has in the pantry or fridge and go from there. One day, a lemon and a quart of blueberries led to her Lemon Blueberry Cobbler.
A couple of weeks ago, she hosted her mother, both of her grandmothers, an aunt and a cousin for a Mother’s Day tea. She served turkey sandwiches, fruit salad, pasta salad, caramel cupcakes, rosemary lemon bars, raspberry iced tea and assorted hot teas.
But even with her talent in the kitchen, she won’t be headed to culinary school in the fall.
“For a while I’ve felt called by the Lord to be a nurse,” she said of her decision to attend Itawamba Community College. “I think it’s better to follow his will than my own desires.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.