COOK OF THE WEEK: Marietta woman wears many hats – nurse, mayor, mother

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

MARIETTA – Judy Ramey is in her third term as the mayor of Marietta.
She’s also the chief nursing officer at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Booneville, where she’s been employed since 1975.
During the week, she makes cakes and pies for her son to sell at his restaurant, Ramey’s.
And still she finds time – and enjoyment – in cooking as often as she can for her family, which includes three children and seven granddaughters.
“I can remember when I was a child, I’d have to stand in a chair to stir cornbread,” said Ramey, 63. “I’ve just always loved to cook.”
Ramey credits her Grandmother Pharr, her Aunt Bessie and her Aunt Maxine with teaching her how to cook.
“My mother never liked to cook a whole lot,” said Ramey, of her mother, Edna Pharr. “She liked to clean, so we had our own assignments, you might say.”
Every fourth Sunday, when Ramey doesn’t have church at night, she’ll invite her family to her home to eat.
“Let’s see, we might have jambalaya, green beans, candied sweet potatoes and rolls,” she said. “Or they like spaghetti, garlic bread and salad, and hotdogs for the kids.”
And of course, she has to make a dessert. Those are her specialties.
“I told my son when he got ready to open his restaurant that he had to have homemade desserts if he wanted to be successful,” Ramey said. “If people plunk down a couple of dollars for dessert, they want it to be good. His aunt Betty Burns makes the cheesecakes, and his grandmother – my mother – makes the pecan pies, and I make the rest, usually coconut and chocolate pies and strawberry cake and caramel cake.”
Ramey said she’s been asked at least 100 times how she gets the meringue on her pies so high.
“You have to beat it and beat it and beat it,” she said. “You can’t beat it with a hand mixer because your hand gets tired. I beat egg whites no less than five minutes, and after I add the sugar and vanilla, it beats another five to seven minutes. I just turn on the stand mixer and walk away.”
When Ramey and her late husband, Jim, were raising their children, Michael, Jason and Gail, she used to cook a lot more than she does now. Today, she’s likely to make a pot of soup and eat on that all week.
“But now, I’ve got it made,” she said. “I just go down to the restaurant and eat. I probably eat there three or four days a week.”
Ramey does try new recipes, but only once a month or so.
“If you give me a recipe, and it’s really good, I’ll say, ‘You know, I could double this or add a little bit of that and make it a whole lot better,’” she said. “There are some good cooks at the hospital, and we’re always sharing recipes. When you’re an only child, and you don’t have any brothers and sisters, the people at work become like your family.”
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.