COOK OF THE WEEK: Tupelo woman learned to cook by trial and error

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Dani Maddox likes to cook, but she doesn’t want to have to spend any more time in the kitchen than she has to. So often when she makes a recipe, she’ll double it so she can get four or more meals out of it.
“When I make my baked spaghetti, I could put it in two 9×13-inch pans, but if I put it in four 8×8-inch pans, then I can have one to eat that night and three more to freeze,” said Maddox, 50. “That way, on a night I’m short of time, I can just pull one out and thaw it.”
The senior loan assistant at BancorpSouth has three grown children and two grandchildren, so when she cooks now, she’s usually just preparing something for herself and her husband, Mike.
“About every other week, I’ll cook every day,” she said. “When I was growing up, lima beans and cornbread was a meal. My husband, now, he wants meat.”
Maddox, who calls herself an Army brat, grew up in Mobile, Ala. She lived there through her childhood and a large part of her adult life. Three years after her first husband died, when Maddox was just 29, she packed up her kids and moved to Tupelo.
“Tupelo was my Daddy’s hometown,” she said of her father, John Crosby. “When he retired, he came back home to raise horses. Now, he’s retired from that.”
Maddox was just 16 when she married the first time and learned to cook by trial and error.
“My mama would write things down for me,” she said. “If I wanted to make Christmas candy, she’d send me a recipe. Sometimes, she’d come over and show me how to make stuff. I never could make a pound cake do right. The recipe just said to cream butter and sugar, but it didn’t say for how long. She showed me how to make it work.”
Maddox’s mother, Cindy Andress, still lives in Mobile.
“On the holidays, we go home to Mobile,” she said. “At Thanksgiving, I take a week off and we start cooking for the whole week as soon as I get there. Sometimes my kids come with me, but lately the grandkids have been coming with me.”
Maddox doesn’t often turn to cookbooks or magazines for new recipes, and she doesn’t care much for the cooks on the Food Network.
“They don’t cook like I do,” she said. “I don’t measure anything unless I’m making a cake and they always have everything measured. But sometimes, one of my friends will have something good to eat and they’ll say, ‘Try this, Dani. Can you figure out what’s in it and make it?’”
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 email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.