COOK OF THE WEEK: Fulton cook learns on her own to prepare Southern fare

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

The trouble with mothers who are good cooks is that many times, they don’t let their children in the kitchen to see how food should be prepared.
Consequently, they turn out young husbands and wives who don’t know the first thing about making cornbread or frying chicken or cooking turnip greens.
Liz Beasley had one of those moms.
“Mother was a wonderful cook, but she would not let me cook,” said Beasley, 72. “I had to teach myself. Right after I married at 17, I invited my mother and my brother-in-law over for rice pudding. I realized after I’d served it that I was supposed to cook the rice first. It wasn’t fit to eat.”
Beasley soon found herself some cookbooks, and when she did have questions, she was quick to get on the phone with her mother or mother-in-law.
“I’ve turned out to be a simple cook, just a country cook,” said Beasley, who has one daughter, and four grandchildren whom she helped to raise. “But I’m not a convenience cook. I cook from scratch mostly.”
Beasley, who worked for 15 years at the Charm Step shoe plant and another 26 at Mueller Copper Tube, said she’s learned to take her time when she cooks.
“I sift my flour before measuring it to get a more accurate amount,” she said. “I make sure my margarine and cream cheese are at room temperature. And I get all my ingredients out and measured and ready before I start to cook something and sometimes, I still mess up. But it seems like the more trouble you go to, the better your food is sometimes.”
When the Beasleys’ grandkids were living with them, they loved for her to cook big Sunday dinners. But now that it’s just her and her husband, J.W., she’s backed off that some.
“The grandchildren used to love that meal,” she said. “They’d always want macaroni and cheese and fried okra and banana pudding. So whenever they come now to visit, I have to make all that.”
Beasley said she relies on her tried-and-true recipes, and she rarely tries anything new, unless someone recommends something to her.
“I have about 30 cookbooks, but I don’t really use them,” she said. “I’ve gotten to an age where I can’t remember what cookbook a recipe I want to use is 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 email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.