COOK OF THE WEEK: Hamilton grandmother shows her love in many special ways

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Jeanette Mitchell says some days she’s in a cooking mood and some days she’s not. Sunday, the mood hit her hard.
“Some days, you just enjoy it more than others,” she said.
For Father’s Day, she largely cooked from her garden, making a squash casserole, a chicken casserole, stir-fried zucchini, steamed broccoli and a blueberry cobbler. She also whipped up an Easy Apple Carrot Cake and a pan of Graham Cracker Brownies.
“We keep something sweet cooked in the house all the time,” said Mitchell, 62. “When I was growing up, your meal wasn’t complete until you had eaten some dessert. You always left a little room for something sweet.”
For 10 years, Mitchell and her husband, Mitch, had a restaurant called Mitch’s Drive-In.
“I quit my job at Kerr-McGee to help him in the restaurant,” she said. “We started out as a little drive-in with burgers and shakes and then we added on steaks and catfish and a little bit of anything you wanted.”
After the restaurant closed in the mid-1980s, Mitchell helped her husband at his business, Mitch’s Gun Shop. But today, she has an even more important job.
Three days a week and on Sundays, Mitchell takes care of Jessie Kay, her 7-year-old special needs granddaughter with big brown eyes and a peaches-and-cream complexion. Mitchell feeds her, changes her, talks to her, hugs her, tickles her and gives her soft kisses on her cheeks.
Jessie Kay can’t sit up or walk on her own and her sight is limited. She can say a handful of words, but her laughter comes easily.
There is nothing wrong with her hearing.
“If anything, her hearing is even more keen than ours,” Mitchell said. Jessie Kay likes to hear her Nana fuss at her grandfather and at Gizmo, her little white Maltipoo.
“Gizmo, be quiet,” Mitchell said to the little dog when it began yapping, which drew a big belly-laugh from Jessie Kay. Mitchell pretended to fuss at the dog some more, much to her granddaughter’s delight.
“She was so good yesterday when she was here that I got to do all my cooking,” Mitchell said as she held Jessie Kay on a pallet in the floor and stroked her face. “She’s my good girl.”
Mitchell said she and her husband cook something just about every day, whether it’s for themselves or a friend or for their family, which includes their daughter, April, and her son, Daniel (Jessie Kay’s brother), and her son, Michael, and his wife, Brittany.
“Sometimes I’ll cook a big meal and we’ll eat leftovers, but usually I fix something every day,” she said. “We eat breakfast and have our big meal at lunch and then something light for dinner.”
Whatever Mitchell makes, she wants it to look nice.
“My mother always told me how important presentation was,” she said. “How many people want to eat ugly food?”
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.