COOK OF THE WEEK: New Albany mom believes good recipe can turn anyone into a cook

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – It’s probably pretty hard to ignore the finer points of cooking when you’re growing up if your mother is a caterer.
“I started helping Mother from the time I can remember,” said Beth Buse, whose mother, Regina Loudermilk, had Celebrations in Columbus for many years. “First, I carried a little tray of food around for her, then it was on to cakes. Finally, I started helping her with large functions and dinner parties.”
But when it came time to make a career decision, Buse knew catering wasn’t for her.
“I didn’t want to follow in her footsteps,” said Buse, 32, of New Albany.
“Catering is a very hard job. And I always felt a calling for social work. I enjoy helping people at what’s a very hard time, but also a very joyful time in their lives.”
Buse is a medical social worker for the North Mississippi Medical Center Hospice in Tupelo, which serves the terminally ill.
“Sometimes, I can integrate cooking into work,” she said. “Talking about food and cooking, about canning and gardening, gives some normalcy to their lives.”
While catering wasn’t Buse’s cup of tea, cooking most definitely is.
“I love cooking for my family,” said Buse, who, with her husband, Beau, has a 3-year-old son, Bennett, and a 6-month-old daughter, Liz. “I probably cook four to five nights during the week and on the weekends.”
Buse even prepares most of her daughter’s baby food.
“I puree it so she has home-cooked food just like we do,” Buse said. “It’s better for her and it’s cheaper.”

Eat your veggies
For inspiration, Buse has a stack of Southern Living cookbooks at home and she often refers to them for recipes or ideas.
“My theory on cooking is anybody can cook if you have a recipe to follow,” she said. “It may not look or taste like it’s supposed to the first time, but if you keep practicing, you’ll get it right. That’s what I do. I like to take a recipe and improvise or adapt it. I know how to change things up in a recipe so it will work. A lot of times I make up what we eat. Occasionally, they don’t turn out but most of the time they do.
“I don’t think I’ve ever made spaghetti sauce the same way twice. If I don’t have a bell pepper, so what? I’ll just add extra mushrooms or chop up a squash and have more of a garden vegetable sauce.”
Sometimes, Buse will attempt a new recipe and share the results with her co-workers at Hospice.
“But I hardly make the same thing twice to take anywhere,” she said. “For potlucks, I tend to make something green so that I know everybody is getting their vegetables.”

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 ginna.parsons@ journalinc.com.