COOK OF THE WEEK: Dumas woman comes to appreciate skills learned as a teen

DUMAS – When Kami Wilbanks Derrick was 15, she began cooking supper during the week for her family in Falkner. And it wasn’t a job the teen particularly enjoyed.
“My mother worked in a factory, so I got everything started and when she got home, she’d help me with it,” said Derrick, 34. “At the time, I didn’t like it, but I’m proud I was encouraged to do it. It’s nice to be able to cook when you get out on your own.”
These days, Derrick, a full-time homemaker and part-time insurance agent who lives in the Pine Grove community outside Dumas, enjoys preparing meals five nights a week for her husband, Scott, and children, Kaylee and Kollin.
“Typically, I try to do a main dish and at least two vegetables,” said Derrick, the daughter of Larry and Martha Wilbanks of Falkner. “The kids eat any kind of chicken and they love rice. They don’t care for pasta, so a lot of times I’ll fix a meal for Scott and me, and then I’ll fix a meal for them.”
On Wednesdays, the family attends Dumas Baptist Church, so dinner is something simple, like BLTs in the summer or chili in the winter. And on Sundays, she doesn’t even try to prepare a big meal.
“We usually eat leftovers on Sunday,” she said. “When you’re trying to get two little ones ready for church, cooking a big lunch just isn’t in the picture.”

Helping others
Lately, Derrick, who stands six feet tall, has been devoting time to putting up vegetables from her garden. She grows tomatoes, green beans, squash, okra, pepper, cucumbers and beets.
“We’ve replanted green beans and squash to try to have a fall garden, and the okra will last until the first frost,” she said.
When she’s not cooking or gardening, her hands are probably occupied with sewing needles.
“I love to do counted cross-stitch,” she said. “I did the Lord’s Supper and it took me a year to make.” The framed needlework measures 27 inches wide and 11 inches deep.
“But my favorite pastime would be shopping for clothes, unfortunately,” she said, laughing.
Although hesitant to admit it, Derrick finally shared that she often prepares food to take to people who are sick or in need.
“At church, especially, we’ve had so many who have needed help,” she said. “But I’m not the only one who does it. Several of the ladies pitch in.”

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/NEMS Daily Journal

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