COOK OF THE WEEK: Tupelo retiree finds simple cooking easiest, tastiest

TUPELO – Ed Maxcy has no problem remembering when he first got interested in cooking. He was maybe 4 or 5 years old when he climbed up on a chair in front of the stove to fry his eggs for breakfast.
“I guess most people learn to cook breakfast first,” said the 67-year-old, who retired in 2008 from B&B Concrete in Tupelo. “It’s the easiest meal to fix and if you mess it up, you can just throw it out and you haven’t wasted much money.”
Breakfast is still his favorite meal to cook, although he’s come a long way from fried eggs. Now, you might find him making an omelet with asparagus, half-and-half, cheese and diced tomatoes.
“I put that on a piece of dry toast and top it with some salsa verde and I’m ready to go,” said the father of two and grandfather of four.
But it’s not breakfast that his daughters associate him with. Rather, it’s the evening meals that he prepared nightly for many years before his wife, Betsy, got home from work.
“My schedule was different and a lot of times, I’d get home before she would, so I’d begin to cook,” he said. “I was hungry. And whatever I cooked, they ate. They never complained.”
Maxcy learned to cook from his mother, Rosa Mae, who lives in Charleston. His father, Ed Sr., died in 2001.
“When I went to school at State, I ate out all the time,” he said. “Then I got an apartment and I had to fend for myself. I relied on my experience from my mother’s cooking.”
Maxcy doesn’t like to use a lot of fancy ingredients or seasonings when he cooks.
“I use the KISS method – Keep It Simple Stupid,” he said with an easy laugh. “I don’t use a whole lot of different spices. I like to taste the food I’m eating. Salt, pepper, sugar, some Rendezvous seasoning or Robert St. John’s seasoning. I might use a little Tabasco. I’ve tried recipes where there would be a whole laundry list of spices and things and when it would be done, I really couldn’t tell it was worth the effort.”

Sunday dinner
Maxcy used to prepare a lot of his food on the grill, but he’s backed off that technique a bit after having two surgeries.
“I haven’t quite sprung back yet,” he said. “But I do like to grill chicken breasts. I just rub them with some oil to keep them from sticking and season them with some salt and pepper. I might add some barbecue sauce. Chicken is so versatile.”
Today, Maxcy is probably best known – and liked – for the Sunday dinners he prepares every other week for his family, including daughters Cindy Hale and her husband, Matthew, of Saltillo; and Rosanne Brown and her husband, Eric, of Verona; and his grandchildren.
“It’s a method of keeping the family close,” he said.
They like his roast beef and gravy, smashed potatoes, fried okra or fried green tomatoes, English peas and carrots, turnip greens, and cornbread.
He doesn’t do desserts.
“I’m no baker,” he said. “I make cookies at Christmas and that’s about it. But I really would like to spend some time in the kitchen with somebody who knows about yeast breads.”

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