COOK OF THE WEEK: Officer manager finds time to feed husband and beloved pet in Ripley

RIPLEY – If you want to know if Dottie Gadd makes a good blackberry cobbler, you might want to ask her dog, Jenny.
The 8-month-old Weimaraner is the cherished pet of Gadd and her husband, Phil, who have no children.
“We call her our little thief,” said Gadd, 46. “Not too long ago, I made my husband a blackberry cobbler because I hadn’t fixed one in a long time. He got him a bowl and I left the rest out to cool before I put it up. After a while, we started missing Jenny and I said to Phil, ‘It’s gotten awfully quiet in here.’
“I got up to check on her and, of course, as soon as she heard me she came running into the room just a smacking her lips. She’d eaten a big hole out of the middle of that cobbler. I told Phil I hoped he’d gotten his fill because the rest of that cobbler was going in the trash,” Gadd recalled, laughing.
Jenny should eat well around the Gadd household. Even though Gadd works full-time as the officer manager for Ripley Funeral Home, she still prepares the evening meal just about every day.
“Phil thinks he has to have cornbread with every meal,” she said. “So we’ll have spaghetti, slaw, beans and cornbread or pinto beans and cornbread or chicken and dumplings and cornbread.”
When the Gadds first married 26 years ago, Phil didn’t even know his new bride could cook. Because she’d worked at Phillips Hamburgers in Holly Springs, he thought her entire repertoire consisted of flipping burgers.
“I think one of the first meals I fixed him was hamburger steak with gravy, creamed potatoes, butter beans and cornbread and he said, ‘Wow. I didn’t know you could cook.’”
Gadd is trying to stay away from the cornbread herself. In June 2008, she and her older sister decided to embark on the South Beach diet, which limits carbohydrates and sugar. So far, she’s lost 85 pounds.
“It’s one of the easiest diets I’ve ever been on,” she said. “I can have whole wheat bread and whole wheat spaghetti. I’ve kind of fallen off the wagon here lately, though. I need to get back on it.”

Cake decorator
Not too long ago, Gadd decided to take a vo-tech course on computer repair, but when she went to register, the class was already full.
“I was already there, so I asked what else they offered and they said cake decorating, so I said to sign me up,” she said. “I’d first got interested in cooking when I took home economics in 10th grade at Marshall Academy. I liked baking, making cakes. So this made sense.”
In all, Gadd took three four-week classes and learned the basics as well as more advanced cake decorating.
“I make cakes for friends, family and co-workers, mainly for birthdays, but I’ve done some baby showers, too,” she said. “Most of the time they tell me what they want. Other times, they don’t care. They say, ‘Just do it.’”

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@djournal.com.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal