COOK OF THE WEEK: Mantachie kindergarten teacher too busy to fool with recipes

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

MANTACHIE – Ask Rose Williams for a recipe and you’ll likely get a list of ingredients and a shrug of the shoulders.
“A lot of things I just dump stuff in until it tastes right,” said Williams, 45. “I make potato salad and baked beans all the time for everybody and people always want the recipes, but I can’t give them to people because I don’t measure anything.”
For the record, Williams’ potato salad is made with pimientos, more mustard than mayonnaise and salt and pepper. To her baked beans, she adds ground beef, bell pepper, onion, brown sugar, mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
Williams and her husband, Rick, live in the Ozark community, halfway between Mantachie and Marietta.
“Actually, I live in Itawamba County but I have a Marietta address and a Baldwyn phone number,” she said. “It’s crazy.”
She grew up in Mantachie on the River Road. The youngest of three children born to J.C. and Glenda Poteet, she is a kindergarten teacher at Mantachie Elementary.
“I’ve been there 19 years and I was in Tupelo at Joyner Elementary for two years before that,” she said. “I’ve taught kindergarten, second, third and fourth grades. I like kindergarten best. There’s never a dull moment with 5-year-olds. They have a lot of energy, but it’s fun.”
Williams learned to cook from her mother and her grandmother. She started with biscuits and worked her way up to putting a meal on the table while she was still a teenager.
“Even when I was little, I liked to cook,” said Williams, who works weekends at Centerville Fish and Steak. “I can remember making mud pies for my grandfather who lived with us, and they’d sit on the front porch swing waiting for me to bring them the ‘food’ I had made.”
Today, Williams gets some help in the kitchen from her 19-year-old son, Whit, who’s a student at Itawamba Community College.
“He goes through my cookbooks and finds recipes he wants me to try,” she said. “We try something new at least once a week. My son likes to help me cook, and has ever since he was little.”
One night earlier this week, Williams prepared meatloaf, ranch potatoes, corn, peas, fried green tomatoes and cornbread. Another family favorite is crunchy onion chicken, loaded mashed potatoes, green beans and homemade rolls.
When she’s not cooking for family, she’s likely cooking for members of Ozark Baptist Church.
“Every Wednesday night, we feed the youth and I’m over the cooking part of that,” she said. “I choose the recipes, buy the groceries and prepare the food with the help of two other ladies. I’m also part of a cooking team that prepares meals for the elderly and shut-ins and I do a lot of stuff in the community. I stay busy.”
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.