By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
Drive up to Pat Hall’s big, old house in Nettleton and the first thing you’ll notice is all the cats sleeping in the driveway or perched on the front porch.
The second thing you’ll notice is the smell of something wonderful cooking inside.
Hall, an assistant vice president at BancorpSouth in Nettleton, is always in her kitchen, preparing up to three meals a day for herself and her husband, Durell.
“I don’t ever remember not cooking,” said Hall, 69. “In fact, my mother wanted me to cook because she’d rather have been out in her flowers or gone fishing.”
Hall cooks breakfast every morning – waffles, bacon and eggs, biscuits – and she and Durell, a pharmacist, eat lunch together every day, too.
“We both come home at lunch,” she said. “We may just have a sandwich or soup or leftovers from the night before. When we were first married, we had a car, but I rode a bicycle with a basket on the front and I’d carry his lunch to him at the drug store every day.”
For 35 years, Durell had Hall Pharmacy and Gifts. He sold the business in 2003 to Fred’s, and went to work there as a pharmacist.
“I usually cook supper three or four nights a week, sometimes five,” Hall said. “And I always cook Sunday lunch.”
A weeknight meal might be baked chicken, rice, green beans and homemade rolls, or doughburgers with homemade potato chips.
“We eat a lot of pork loin,” she said. “I like to season one and put it in the oven on 500 degrees for about 20 minutes, then turn it to 200 and let it cook another three to four hours, until it registers 165 degrees or so. People really like that slow-roasted pork loin.”
They also like her chicken and dressing, her fried chicken tenders and her tea cakes.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell somebody a recipe, though, because I don’t make things the same way each time,” she said. “But I buy a lot of magazines and cookbooks. That’s my reading material. I got four new cookbooks for Christmas. I have so many, I keep some stored in plastic totes.”
The Halls, who have been married 45 years, have no biological children, per se, but they have pseudo-adopted neighborhood children along the way.
“They have families of their own, but we feel like they’re ours and we tell everybody they’ve produced grandchildren for us,” said Hall. “They like to come here and eat on Sundays.”
Hall said the children and townspeople alike call her the “cat woman” because of all the cats she has. Actually, she and Durell have only three inside cats: Puddin’, Louie and Baby.
But over the years, their home has become a popular drop-off site for unwanted cats.
“We’ve both always been cat people,” said the soft-hearted Hall. “I’ve got scars on my hands from long-ago cats. I don’t know how many stray cats we feed now. I’ve counted as many as 15 before, but it’s usually not that many.”
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 email@example.com.