COOK OF THE WEEK: Myrtle mom says she’s a country cook at heart

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

When Linda Rowland became a bride, she could make breakfast. And she could cook a hamburger and put a BLT sandwich together.
But that was about it.
“When I married, I had never cooked a meal,” said Rowland, 64. “I mean I’d never cooked a ‘meal’ meal. I was always the outdoors person, trailing along behind Daddy in the fields. My sister, Margaret, did the cooking.”
Rowland and her late husband, Dale, married some 44 years ago in the summer, so grilled burgers and sandwiches were household staples. But then cool weather rolled around.
“I called my mother one day and said, ‘Mom, how do you make butterbeans and peas and cornbread?’ And she nearly fell out laughing. And then she told me.”
At the time, Dale was a meat and potatoes man. He didn’t like to eat any kind of vegetables.
“Thank goodness for Southern Living magazine,” Rowland said. “I have been a subscriber for years and years and years. In fact, I’ve got so many cookbooks now I don’t have room to put them. There’s just so much information in them. I’ve enjoyed seeing what kind of recipes they could come up with.”
Rowland perfected the cooking of vegetables and Dale learned to love them.
“After I’d cooked vegetables a few times, Dale went over to his mother’s and said, ‘Mom, you just don’t know how to cook vegetables. Linda cooked some and they were so good!’”
Gardener at heart
Today, Rowland cooks mainly for herself at the home in Myrtle she shares with a Collie named Lady Lass and two cats – Sheba and Simon. She works as a teller at BNA Bank in New Albany; before that, she worked at Piper Impact for 25 years.
“A lot of times if I cook on the weekend, I’ll have leftovers to eat at night,” she said. “I try to cook a small enough portion that I don’t have a lot of waste. I’m just a country cook.”
This past summer, she even planted a little garden to keep herself busy. At harvest time, she put up 50 packs of peas, butterbeans and okra and canned 60 jars of tomatoes.
“I don’t eat all of this,” she said. “My kids get their share.” Rowland has two daughters, Suzanne Rakestraw of New Albany and Sharon Albert of Nashville.
“I also have a flower garden,” she said. “I have people to say, ‘Linda, every time I drive by your house, you’re in the yard.’ And I guess I am. I love to garden.”
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.