MOOREVILLE – Linda Mitchell doesn’t get paid to be a short-order cook, but most days, that’s what she is.
The Mooreville grandmother often prepares breakfast for one grandchild and then another one comes in hungry and wants something different and then a third might stroll in a couple of hours later looking for something to eat.
“They say, ‘Gran’s house is just like the Huddle House. You can get just what you want when you want it,” the 69-year-old said, laughing.
Mitchell, daughter of the late Geneva Hussey Milton and Lawrence Hussey, grew up in Mooreville. Today, her daughter, Pam, and her family, and her son, Mike, and his family, all live “within spitting distance” of one another in the Lee County community.
“Anybody that comes in my house is welcome to eat,” said Mitchell, who retired in 2001 from Cooper Tire. “And they don’t ever want the same thing.”
Mitchell keeps her pantry and two deep freezers stocked with all the family’s favorites, including wild game.
“Whenever the boys go hunting, their wild game always finds a way of ending up here. It’s always here for Gran to fix,” said Mitchell, who enjoys sewing, writing poetry, gardening and taking care of her animals when she’s not cooking.
Over the years, Mitchell’s learned to soak her deer meat in salt, vinegar and water overnight to get the “wild” taste out.
“I have a commercial tenderizer, so we tenderize all our deer steak,” she said. “And I fry it in vegetable shortening instead of oil. It just tastes better.”
Mitchell’s daughter, Pam Tharp, said when her oldest son went squirrel hunting for the first time, he brought back a squirrel and the request that they have squirrel for supper that night.
“I called Mom and in an hour, we had squirrel dumplings,” Tharp said. “She can cook turkey, rabbit, deer, quail, dove, etc. You bring it to her and she will find a way to cook it and make it delicious.”
Sunday dinner is a long-standing tradition at Mitchell’s home. More often than not, there are 10 to 12 gathered at her table.
“I make enough to feed everybody and have leftovers, although sometimes, they come back at night and eat the leftovers,” she said. “I’m always afraid I’ll run out of food, so I always cook too much.”
Sometimes, she’ll fix a roast with carrots and potatoes, lima beans, creamed corn, fried okra, slaw, rolls and a dessert. Another favorite menu is fried pork chops or deer steak, mashed potatoes, peas, slaw, bread and dessert.
“But every Sunday meal also includes chicken tenders, french fries and macaroni and cheese,” she said. “Those are a must for the grandchildren.”
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 email@example.com.
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal