COOK OF THE WEEK: Tupelo physician learns ropes of farm living in Blue Springs

BLUE SPRINGS – For years, Dr. Leanna Lindsey Hollis had this picture in her head of where she’d like to live. She envisioned a big old house on a large expanse of land where she could raise cattle and grow vegetables.
And then, 20 years ago, she found her dream when she purchased a home and 150-acre farm from Shirley and St. Elmo Newton in Blue Springs.
“I came out here and looked at it and it was the picture in my head,” said Hollis, who specializes in wounds and hyperbaric medicine at the Would Healing Group on Cliff Gookin Boulevard in Tupelo. “I’m not sure why I wanted this. I mean, I’d never even touched a cow before.”
Now, Hollis and her 17-year-old son, Ryan, a senior at Tupelo High School, raise horses, goats, cows and chickens, and tend vegetable and herb gardens.
“It’s amazing to me that I’ve done all this,” she said. “What a good life I’ve had out here. It’s really fun. When I came here I didn’t know any of this.”
Hollis, a second-term alderman, bought a book on canning and taught herself how to put up green beans, pears, spiced peaches, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, strawberry jam, lemon-fig jam and cranberry jelly, among other things.
“I really like making jams and jellies, mainly because they look so pretty on top of hors d’oeuvres,” she said.
And those are her specialty.
One year at Christmas, she and her sister decided to prepare appetizers to tide family and friends over before the big meal.
“Then, it became a challenge to find new and better ones every year,” she said. “I’m not much of a casserole cooker. If I’m taking something to a potluck, it will either be homegrown green beans or tortilla rollups or chip and dip or a cheese spread. My sister tells me that sometimes I like pretty food at the expense of good food.”

Gluten-free expert
Hollis, 54, has also had to learn a thing or two about gluten-free cooking. Her 80-year-old mother, Mary Lindsey, lives with her and has to have a special diet.
“I thought I was a scratch cooker before, but, I mean, you can’t even use a can of cream of mushroom soup. I’d walk down the aisles of the grocery store, crying, thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ But my sister and I have both gotten quite proficient. It’s not that hard, really, after you know what you’re doing.”
Hollis said the main difference in gluten-free meals is that they don’t eat pasta, pre-shredded cheese, canned soups or desserts that need crusts.
“Our main problem is eating out,” she said. “So I cook every day. I really do. I make breakfast every day but Wednesdays, because I start my rounds so early. Generally, I fix lunch for me and for Ryan and Mother handles her own lunch. Then I fix supper every night. It’s very relaxing to me. I love the smells and the chopping.”
Dinner might be long grain and wild rice cooked with gluten-free chicken broth and fresh herbs, a green salad, Brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil and a roasted pork tenderloin.
“I don’t like to fry anything and I don’t eat liver,” she aid. “Liver is just a nasty organ. It’s a filterer. It would be like eating spleen.”

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