RIPLEY – Beth Hill had always dreamed of going to college. After all, she graduated with honors from high school in the Buena Vista community in Tippah County.
But after getting married, she and her husband, Jimmy L. Hill, had three children – all boys – and their education came first.
Finally, at age 46, Hill enrolled at Blue Mountain College.
“The first course I took was anatomy and physiology and I made an A in it, and that just set me on fire,” she said. “I got my education degree from Blue Mountain at age 50 and a master’s in education from Ole Miss after that.”
For 18 years, Hill taught life skills science at Ripley High School before retiring in 2005. Before that, she worked at the Bank of Falkner, and the 10 years before that, she was at The Peoples Bank in Ripley.
But even when she worked full time, she still found the time to cook every night for her husband and her boys. Now that her kids are married with families of their own, she’s cut her cooking back to two to three times a week.
But at least once a week, she invites everyone over for a meal of pork roast, green beans, corn and homemade bread, or chicken and dressing, candied potatoes, macaroni and cheese and homemade bread. Always homemade bread.
“My sister began to make bread in the 1970s and it was really good,” said Hill. “So I started making it and it turned out pretty good. I’ve been making it ever since.”
The grandmother of three often enters her bread as well as other goodies in the Tippah County Fair, and she has the ribbons to prove her prowess in the kitchen.
“I don’t even remember what the first ribbon I ever won was for,” she said, “but it was probably bread.”
To date, she has 35 Grand Sweepstakes ribbons – the best of the best – as well as numerous blue and red ones.
“This year, I think I entered 15 foods, including fresh peaches and tomatoes,” she said. “I got blue ribbons on everything and three Grand Sweepstakes. That’s typical of what I’ve won over the years.”
But Hill doesn’t just stick with what’s tried and true. At least a couple of times a month, she’ll try a new recipe she’s clipped from the newspaper.
“I like to cook what I’ve got in my cabinet,” she said. “If I haven’t got it, I fix something else. I get all my ingredients out before I make something. I guess that goes back to living in the country. You couldn’t just get up and go to the grocery store when you wanted to.”
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.
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal