By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – When Cindy Wood was in her 20s, she became interested in learning how to cook. She’d watched her grandmother make many a pie or cake, but didn’t even really know the basics of cooking.
Her friend and neighbor, Mary Jo Wells, took pity on Wood and taught her how to cook – without even turning on the stove.
“She didn’t cook often, but she was an excellent cook when she did,” said Wood, 48. “She taught me how to make meatloaf, fried chicken, roast with potatoes and carrots, how to cook cabbage and fried green tomatoes. And even gave me pointers on how to grill chicken, steaks and burgers, all the while sitting at her kitchen table, never turning on a stove or firing up a grill.”
During the holidays, Wood would get hands-on instruction at the Wells’ home on the correct way to make making cornbread dressing.
“I would have the simple job of cutting up celery and onions, while in the background would be lessons on the proper methods of cooking cornbread – whether or not to pour the oil into the skillet after it gets hot or add it before putting the skillet in the oven to heat,” she said. “I don’t think it was ever determined which way was best or if one made any difference over the other.”
Wood, a retired bookkeeper, began collecting recipes from other friends, and neighbors and family members. Pretty soon, she had a thick notebook crammed with them.
So she decided she’d put them into a cookbook for herself. And then her friends saw it and they, too, wanted a copy. Wood found an Internet site, www.bookemon.com, that allowed her to compile recipes and photos.
Since then, she’s compiled three cookbooks: “Cookin’ in Mayberry,” “Recipes from New Albany, Mississippi,” and “Oty’s Place.” (Mayberry is Wood’s pet name for New Albany, and Oty is her dog.)
She also has two Facebook pages: Recipes from New Albany, and Oty’s Place.
Barbecue nachos popular
Wood doesn’t care much for sweets nor does she make them. She’d rather leave the baking to others.
But she does enjoy making casseroles and appetizers.
“Casseroles because they’re easy and appetizers because they’re pretty,” she explained matter-of-factly. One of her most requested appetizers is her Barbecue Nachos.
“I made them not too long ago for this party – a big platter of them – for everyone to enjoy,” Wood said. “Then this guy asked me if I’d make another platter of them. I thought he meant for everyone to share. The next thing I knew, he had that whole thing in front of him.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.