By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
Thank goodness for cafeteria ladies. They taught Pauline Hawkins just about everything she knows about cooking.
“I was an only child for 141⁄2 years and my mama did everything,” said Hawkins, a leap year baby who will turn 81 next week. “When I married, I was not able to cook anything.”
Right after she and her husband, Billy, wed, he went into the service.
“What we couldn’t eat, we ate anyway and threw the rest out,” she said. “We were so poor, all we could afford was a loaf of bread and a piece of bologna, and it wasn’t too hard to fix that.”
But then Hawkins started working in school cafeterias.
“The older ladies were all good cooks and when you’re around food all the time, you become more interested in it,” she said.
She became particularly interested in the idea of cooking and freezing her own foods.
“I figured if you can buy frozen foods in the store, why can’t I do it myself?” she said. “So when I make anything, I hardly ever make enough for just one meal. I’ll make two dishes and we’ll eat one and freeze the other.”
When she makes fried pies, she cooks the fruit and makes the dough one day and forms them into pies the next. Then into the freezer they go. When she’s ready to cook them up, she pulls them out and fries them frozen.
She also freezes her stuffed peppers, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casseroles and greens.
“Why cook a little pot of greens when you can cook a big pot?” she said. “It makes it a lot easier. I make all my soups in the summertime when everything is fresh from the garden, and then in the winter I just pull it out and add a can of tomatoes to it.”
Hawkins has two refrigerators and four deep freezers in which to store all her goodies.
And her family is mighty glad to hear that. Because her son, Tommy, and his wife, Patti, and their two children, Will and Makenzie, enjoy eating with them as often as possible and almost always on Sundays.
“We all live right here in a big wad and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Hawkins said. “We’d be lost without them.”
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.