By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – If you find yourself hungry for a good breakfast on any given Saturday morning, you might want to swing by Emily Maddox’s place. She probably wouldn’t even notice one more mouth at the table.
Maddox, a mother of four, grandmother of five and great-grandmother of three, invites all her family to the home she shares with her husband Joe, on Saturdays for a feast – bacon, eggs, country ham or sausage, biscuits and cheese grits.
“Breakfast is my specialty and my favorite meal to cook,” said Maddox, 80. “All the children, the grandchildren – just whoever’s available that day – show up and we eat at 10. It’s our time to visit. Sometimes they’ll stay and help with the dishes, but usually I run them off, tell them I don’t have anything else to do.”
But breakfast isn’t the only meal Maddox prepares for family. Monday through Friday, her husband, two daughters and a grandson usually show up a little before noon for lunch.
“I don’t even know how long they’ve been doing that,” she said. “Some days, I cook and some days we have leftovers, but they’re always here. Lunch is the main meal of the day during the week.”
She might fix baked ham, a green bean casserole and potato salad; or chicken and dumplings and green beans; or cubed steak, peas, fried eggplant and creamed potatoes. (The secret to good creamed potatoes, Maddox said, is to cream the potatoes real well before you add milk or butter to them.)
“They come here and spend their lunch hour and then go back to work,” she said. “I have one granddaughter who comes later who calls and says, ‘Don’t put up the leftovers. I’m on my way.’”
Maddox, who was born in Georgia and lived all over Alabama before moving to Tupelo in 1960, said she started cooking at home when she was about 11. But she really learned some valuable skills when she was in college.
“When I was in school at Auburn, I lived at Susan Smith Cottage,” she said. “We cooked and cleaned for our room and board. We had a housemother and everything.”
After the Maddoxes married, they hired a woman to help with the household chores.
“She did all the cooking and I thought I was going to have her forever,” Maddox said. “She could make the best chicken and dumplings, and I wish I’d got her recipe. Bertha Boyd was her name, but we always called her Nana. She was literally a part of our family.”
Maddox, who worked at the Infants’ and Children’s Clinic for 32 years before retiring in 1994, also learned a thing or two from her mother-in-law.
“Joe’s mother made this Seven-Layer Cake all the time,” she said. “Now, for each child’s birthday, I make one and they all think it’s real special that they get that cake.”
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.