COOK OF THE WEEK: ‘Mama Teresa’ cooks for special needs residents, girlfriends, co-workers

BOONEVILLE – There’s no question that Teresa Shouse likes to cook. But the best part is, she gives most of what she prepares away.
“I cook weekly – several times a week – but never for myself. Usually when I make something to take to somebody, I might take out a little for me, but I don’t eat big meals at night,” said the 39-year-old. “I mainly like to cook salads, casseroles and appetizers. I’m not much on baking.”
Shouse is a special education teacher at North Mississippi Regional Center, where she has worked for eight years. Before that, she spent about nine years at Anderson Elementary.
“I cook for co-workers and we love to cook together,” she said. “If we’ve got a meeting, we’ll all cook and share.”
Shouse’s mother died when she was 13, so she spent her teen years with her maternal grandmother, Mary Wallace, who died in December.
“My sister and I both loved to cook, but we weren’t allowed in the kitchen,” she said. “My mother and grandmother were both picky. I guess my sister and I came by it naturally. They were both good cooks. My other grandmother, Ruby Shouse of Marietta, was also a great cook and a great influence.”
Even in high school, Shouse would cook for her friends.
“They called me their mother hen,” she said, laughing. “Even the residents where I work now call me Mama Teresa, even though I don’t have any kids of my own.”

Surprise meeting
Tonight, Shouse will dine with a group of friends who gather each week during “American Idol” season to watch the popular TV talent show. For tonight’s finale, she’s making Italian beef sandwiches and a pasta salad. A few weeks ago, she prepared shrimp spaghetti with a salad and bread.
“I really don’t care who wins tonight,” she said. “I like both of them – Lauren and Scotty – so I’ll be happy either way.”
Shouse is also very involved with the Junior Auxiliary, and once a month, she gets together with a group of women to play Bunko. She also loves to travel.
“My birthday was in March and some of my girlfriends and I went to Tunica to Paula Deen’s restaurant and she was actually there,” Shouse said. “She and her husband, Michael, were going through the buffet line just like everybody else. I actually got to meet her and have my picture taken with her. That was definitely an unexpected birthday surprise.”

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.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal