COOK OF THE WEEK: Retiree enjoys monthly meeting of all-female supper club

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Fifteen years ago, Joyce Swain was asked by three women at her church if she’d like to join their supper club. She agreed and soon, two more women were invited to participate.
That group of six – three marrieds and three singles – meet once a month at the assigned hostess’ home to eat and talk.
“We don’t review books or play cards or anything,” said Swain, 70. “We just sit around the table and visit and eat for a couple of hours and then we go home. We do support some children in Honduras. We each contribute $10 a month and that sends two children to school each year.”
The group is made up of Swain, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jane Kellum, Pat Sheffield, Sue Rasberry and Dean Wood.
“We pull out pretty things – linens and china. We use the best we have,” she said. “It’s usually fancy and elegant. They’re all good at making pretty tables and they’re all excellent cooks.”
Last week, the group met and dined on beef tips with rice; homemade rolls that Swain provided; cashew green beans; caramelized carrots; a peach congealed salad; and a Butterfinger cake.
“The hostess picks the entree and then she calls the others and they decide on side dishes, salad, dessert and bread,” she said. “We just have a really good time. We started out taking our recipes that we’d used every month to share, but we’ve been doing it so long now, we all have each other’s recipes.”
Swain, who grew up in Pontotoc, credits her mother with teaching her how to cook.
“She worked when I was in high school, so one of my sisters and my brother and I had chores in the afternoons and mine was to cook,” said Swain, who worked as a dietitian’s assistant at North Mississippi Medical Center for 30 years. “I made very simple things. Cooking is a learning experience – you learn along the way. I’ve learned from my mother-in-law and from my daughters-in-law. I’ve learned from them how to be a better cook.”
Swain lost her husband, Lindsey Clark, a few years ago. She never thought she’d remarry until she became reacquainted with family friend Willis Swain, who had also recently lost his wife, Janice.
“I had retired and he had retired after working at Pegues for 50 years and we decided we wanted to travel together,” said Swain. “But we didn’t feel right doing that unless we were married.”
So, three-and-a-half years ago, they tied the knot.
Today, the couple shares five sons, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“And I have to tell you that all of our boys are good cooks,” Swain said proudly. “We get together pretty often with the children for meals.”
One dish Swain likes to make in the summertime – much to some people’s horror – is soup. But not just any soup.
“I make my homemade vegetable soup in the summer,” said Swain. “Most people don’t like soup in the summer, but I like to use fresh vegetables – tomatoes, carrots, okra, corn, potatoes. It’s so fresh that way and it’s nice to have a big pot of soup to share.”
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.