COOK OF THE WEEK: Ingomar teacher doesn’t let students, faculty go hungry

INGOMAR – A couple of years ago during Homecoming Week, Jennifer Drewery dressed up as Paula Deen – complete with a gray wig and lots of jewelry – and showed up at school carrying a big cake and a basket of fried chicken.
But even if Drewery weren’t dressed up like the queen of the Food Network, her students and the faculty at Ingomar Attendance Center still would associate her with food.
“Students know to come to my room if they’re hungry,” said Drewery, who teaches science to junior high and senior high students at the K-12 school in Union County.
“When any of the teams make it to the playoffs, I cook for them,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll do breakfast, and I’ll make two or three breakfast casseroles, while other parents bring bacon and sausage biscuits. Sometimes we do lunch for them. That’s one thing about our teams. We feed them. They might not get to play, but they’re well fed.”
Drewery, 37, said parents will often stop her in the grocery store and ask her what she’s making for supper.
“I’ll tell them and then they’ll ask if they can have my leftovers the next day,” she said, laughing. “Nothing I fix ever goes to waste.”
Drewery, who lives in Myrtle but grew up in Ripley, learned how to cook from her mother, Sandra Drewery, and her grandmother, Betty Wilbanks.
“I can remember sitting on my grandmother’s kitchen cabinet while she made biscuits,” Drewery said. “And then when I took home ec, the first thing we had to make was biscuits. The teacher handed me a recipe and I just looked her and said, ‘There’s a recipe for biscuits? My Mamaw never has used one.’”

Culinary arts dream
Speaking of home economics, Drewery, who will marry her longtime boyfriend, Mitchell Pannell, on Oct. 22, said she really misses those classes being taught in school.
“I’d love to teach a culinary arts class here, especially since they’ve taken home ec out of schools. All that some of the kids here know about cooking is fast food. I’d love for them to be able to prepare meals to serve teachers at lunch or make casseroles for teachers to buy and take home for supper.”
But she’d have to make sure to remember to use recipes in the class.
“I used to get onto my mother because she wouldn’t follow a recipe,” Drewery said. “She’d just do what she wanted, and I’d say, ‘Can you not follow a recipe?’ And it’s funny now because I’m the one who doesn’t follow recipes.”

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 e-mail them to ginna.parsons@djournal.com.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal