COOK OF THE WEEK: English teacher had a good teacher of her own in the kitchen

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Ann Arnold has been teaching English at Itawamba Community College for more than 40 years. Before that – in the late 1960s – she taught at Milam, when it was the ninth-grade school.
“It seems like I’ve taught half the people in town,” said Arnold, 66, who grew up in the small town of West in Holmes County.
When it comes to cooking, Arnold had a good teacher herself – her mother.
“My mom worked before it was fashionable for women to work,” said Arnold. “Then at age 33, she had twins – I have a twin brother. But she was always willing to teach me in the kitchen, always made time for me. And when I think about it, that was before the time of modern conveniences. If we had fried chicken for Sunday dinner, somebody had to kill the chicken.”
Arnold said her mother’s cooking was known all over town.
“She cooked for the whole town,” Arnold said. “My dad used to say that one of the worst feelings in the world was to come home for lunch and see a pineapple upside down cake with cherries on top sitting on the counter. That meant somebody had died and it was going to the wake. But if it didn’t have cherries on it, that meant we were going to get to eat it.”
Arnold also likes to cook for friends and she especially enjoys preparing the food when she entertains in her home. But most of the day-to-day cooking falls to her husband, Bill Ratliff.
“Bill cooks much more than I do,” she said. “He makes the best fried chicken you’ve probably ever eaten.”
Dessert diva
Arnold’s favorite things to make are cakes, candies, cookies, pies – anything that could be considered a dessert.
“That’s probably because that’s the first thing I learned how to cook,” she said. “My grandson, Blade, likes to cook with me. We have a good time making cakes. I guess we’ve been doing that since he was 3. We’ve eaten a good many cakes with egg shells in them, but that’s OK, too.”
As New Year’s Day approaches, Arnold already knows she’ll make turnip greens, black-eyed peas and something with hog jowls. As for resolutions?
“Probably the same resolution I make every year – let’s see how many pounds I can lose,” she said, laughing. “Only I may actually do it this year.”
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

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