COOK OF THE WEEK: Prentiss County retiree entertains family in small doses

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – When Syble Dees’ children were growing up, they knew they could always count on a special meal at the supper table on Friday nights.
And even after these children married, they continued to come home on Fridays for their share of the goodies. When they started having children of their own, Dees and her husband, Layne, moved the meal to Sundays after church.
“But that got to be more than we could manage, so now I cook for them by families,” said Dees, 77. “Sometimes, I cook breakfast for supper and they really like that.”
And who wouldn’t?
Dees offers up platters of country-cured ham, scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits and bowls of chocolate and red-eye gravy.
“I still cook for all of them on holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said, ticking off a list of their favorites, like chicken and dressing, potatoes, purple-hull peas, English peas, green beans, corn, deviled eggs, sweet potato casserole, baked turkey, fried ham, cranberry sauce, plus a relish tray with pickles. And don’t forget the fresh coconut cake.
“I am not much on casseroles,” she said. “We just don’t eat them much. I have three freezers full of fresh vegetables and that is what I cook most of.”
One of Dees’ specialties is her caramel pie.
“My caramel pie is a hit wherever I carry it,” she said. “To me, they are so easy to make, but the secret is in browning the sugar. I have had several that were auctioned off for over $100 for the youth at First United Methodist Church in Booneville.”
She has also helped Bobby and Joan Goddard prepare Wednesday night meals at the church.
“Maybe a year I was there to help them,” she said. “I shared some of my recipes with them.”

Grower of daylilies
While Dees enjoys preparing meals for her three children, her five grandchildren, her five great-grandchildren, and all their families, she’s equally fond of the daylilies she’s been growing for 15 or 20 years at her home in the Osborne Creek community outside Booneville.
“I would be afraid to say how many I have,” she said. “I have several thousand, and probably 200 to 300 different varieties. I dig them and sell them in April and September.”
Dees has plenty of time to work in her flowers now that she’s a lady of leisure. After working for 30 years at Brown Shoe Company, followed by a stint at a furniture factory, she retired in 1998 from the maintenance department at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
But you won’t always find her nose to the grindstone.
“Layne and I eat out a lot,” she admitted. “We got a lot of gift cards for restaurants. Cravin’ Catfish, Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden, Outback. We like them all.”

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.