COOK OF THE WEEK: Mantee retiree counts on garden to help fill Sunday table

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

MANTEE – Kathy Frazier’s mother didn’t spend a lot of time with her in the kitchen when Frazier was growing up in Montpelier. So when she married, she had a lot of learning to do.
“And what little I learned was on my own,” said Frazier, 77. Her first husband, Charles Johnson, died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1973, leaving her with three children – 9, 11 and 13 – to feed.
“I mostly taught myself,” she said. “I guess I didn’t know too much because I put a plastic measuring cup on the eye of a hot stove.”
But learn she did.
Today, she cooks every Sunday for her children and their families at her home in Mantee in Webster County. Many of those meals revolve around the vegetables Frazier grows in her garden.
She might prepare a beef roast with fresh green beans, new potatoes, corn, cornbread and a lemon dessert, or fried chicken with peas, stir-fried cabbage and onions, new potatoes with a white sauce, and a chocolate cake.
“I couldn’t feed my children on Sundays if I didn’t have my own garden,” she said.
Frazier can often be found outside working in her vegetable garden or in her flowers.
“A lot of my wild hydrangeas come from Kilgore Hills,” she said. She also has several varieties of daylilies, and eucalyptus trees and split-leaf philodendrons make the yard seem almost tropical.
She had chickens because she and her husband of 35 years, Harold, like fresh eggs, but a raccoon killed all but one of them.
“I finally got that coon yesterday in a live trap,” she said. (It’s buried in her backyard.)
Frazier, who retired from Mississippi State University in 2013 after 25 years in the Information Technology Services, isn’t one to try a lot of new recipes.
“I’ll try one now and then – I mostly get them from the newspaper – but not as much as I used to,” she said. “We pretty much know what we like. And I’m not even going to try a recipe if I don’t think it’s going to be good.”
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.