COOK OF THE WEEK: Vegetables take center stage on Ingomar woman’s table

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

INGOMAR – Even though Sylvia Swords is a Mississippian by birth, she spent almost 30 years in Illinois. Consequently, her children weren’t raised in real Southern fashion.
“Up North, we didn’t have a lot of gardens, so my kids didn’t eat a lot of vegetables,” she said.
But all that’s changed in the 33 years she’s been back home.
“When I cook on Sundays, my husband, Mickey, says the table looks like Barnhill’s restaurant,” said Swords, 64. “When I have them over, there are 16, with kids, grandkids and me and Mickey, and that’s without someone bringing home a friend.”
Swords and her husband, who have been married almost 30 years, share six children and seven grandchildren.
One of her family’s favorite meals is meatloaf, roast with potatoes and carrots, green beans, lima beans, corn, macaroni and cheese and cole slaw.
And if it’s summertime, she’ll have squash.
“I make the biggest bowl of squash I can make,” she said. “And it’s never enough. And I usually have two desserts.”
But if Swords, who is retired from Cooper Tire, is making a typical weeknight meal, you can bet the star of the show is going to be chicken.
“My husband said when we got married that if he hadn’t liked chicken, he would’ve starved to death,” she said. “My favorite food is chicken.”
Now that Swords is living in the Lone Star community just outside Ingomar in Union County, she has a big garden every year.
“I can green beans, but I freeze all the other vegetables,” she said. “I could eat my weight in tomatoes.”
She also keeps her freezer stocked with meat so she can prepare a balanced meal every night, without having to make multiple trips to the grocery store.
“I’m terrible about making out a weekly menu,” she said. “I just make what I feel like fixing that night. I cook at least four to five nights a week. My husband likes to eat at home a lot more than I would like to.”

Food for fox hunters
For years, Swords and her husband joined her in-laws, Charlene and J.T. Swords, at a fox hunting camp in Grenada.
“Fox hunters would come from all over the country and we cooked breakfast and lunch for them and the judges,” she said. “Mickey’s father used to fox hunt, so it was like a reunion for them.”
The couples participated for several years, until Charlene became ill and died.
“You meet a lot of interesting people at those things,” she said.
Now, the Swordses spend their spare time preparing and enjoying food during Ole Miss football game weekends.
“We’re big Ole Miss fans,” she said. “We have seven games we go to and tailgate. The boys grill and I make all the extras. We’ve been doing this for a while now.”

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.