COOK OF THE WEEK: Mantachie mother makes time in busy day to preserve bounty of summer

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

MANTACHIE – There’s nothing quite as pretty to Cynthia Moore as a pantry full of homemade canned goods. So she takes it upon herself every summer to make her pantry as pretty as possible.
“Canning and putting up vegetables is my passion,” said Moore, who works in the central billing office for North Mississippi Medical Clinics. “I just love looking at them.”
Last year, the 45-year-old put up pepper jelly, hotdog slaw, muscadine jelly, raspberry fig preserves, blueberry syrup, canned tomatoes, canned green beans, tomato relish, pear preserves, banana peppers, apple butter and canned okra.
“Canning okra is the only way to preserve it,” she said. “And it’s pretty. I’m all about presentation.”
Moore learned a good deal about canning from Maudell Mitchell, her paternal grandmother who died in June.
“She was an awesome cook,” Moore said. “My goal has always been to be as good a cook as my grandmother. Whenever I put food on the table I pray that it’s as good as hers.”
She uses a lot of her grandmother’s recipes in her cooking, as well as those she has collected from other family members, friends and the hundreds of cookbooks she owns.
In fact, she’s in the process of putting a cookbook of her own together.
“It’s called ‘Magnolia Keepers’ and it’s been in the works for about a year,” she said. “I hope by fall I’ll be able to get it to the publisher. It’s not just recipes. There are little stories in there, too. I want it to be a good read.”

Cooking for Brent
When Moore isn’t working or cooking, she’s likely spending time with her husband, Dan, and their 16-year-old son, Brent.
“We like to go a lot,” she said. “We travel, we camp, we go horseback riding. We’re not here much. We come home long enough to wash our clothes and then we go again. My son is big into 4-H in Itawamba County. My husband and I are both shooting coaches with 4-H. We teach kids gun safety and how to shoot.”
She’s also on the cooking crew for the Future Farmers of America that Brent is involved with.
“Whenever we go to cow shows, we take and set up cookers so the kids don’t have to go and buy their food,” Moore said. “Sometimes the food at those shows is pricey and sometimes it just doesn’t taste good.”
And Moore knows Brent wants his food to taste good.
“If Brent’s home for supper, I cook,” she said. “Deer steak with mashed potatoes and green beans. Pork tenderloin with twice-baked potatoes and steamed broccoli. During the week it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. White Chocolate Chunk Cookies are his favorite dessert. But then, Brent has a lot of favorites.”

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.