By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
Food doesn’t last long in Betty Williams’ house. And it’s not because she and her husband, Jack, are eating it. It’s because she’s giving it away.
Williams, 72, figures she makes between 100 and 150 cakes at Christmastime, from miniature loaves to full-size pound cakes. She also prepares food for people who are sick or for the families of folks who have lost a loved one.
“Sometimes, I’ll fix something and take it to them for no reason,” she said. “I just enjoy doing that.”
For a dozen years, Williams, who lives in Hatley, has been making goodie bags for widows and widowers in her community.
“My mother passed away in 2000,” she said. “I was so lost and empty and lonely. That particular summer, a lot of people in our area died, leaving behind widows and widowers.”
Williams got the idea to make bags for each of them, filled with a miniature cake, a jar of homemade jelly, candy, Nabs, raisins and Kleenex.
“I put all that in brown bags and took it to them and I’ve been doing it every year since,” she said. “It made me feel good – less lonely. To see the smiles on their faces means everything in the world to me. That’s all the thanks I need.”
The daughter of the late Floyd and Corinne Brasfield, Williams was born and raised in the Mount Zion community outside Smithville. The family had no electricity and Williams learned her way around the kitchen on a wood stove.
“I would stand on a chair at the stove to wash dishes,” she said. “You’d put a pot of warm water over to the side of the stove to wash dishes in. My first recollection of cooking was standing on a chair and scrambling eggs at that stove.”
Williams eventually learned to cook full meals, and when she and Jack eloped when she was 17, she could put a full meal on the table. She raised three children on those meals and now her grandchildren and great-grands enjoy them, too.
“I cook the same way now as I did back then,” she said. “Of course, we make casseroles and things now we didn’t do then. I cook mostly what I call soul food – peas, cornbread, potatoes, beans and corn.”
Williams enjoys watching Paula Deen and Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, on the Food Network and she’s even used some of their recipes.
“I’d use a lot more of them if I knew how to work my computer better,” she said. “When it comes to technology, you can put everything I know in a thimble and still have room to park the car.”
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.