By Ginna Parsons
EGGVILLE – Paula Haynes says she’s no fancy cook like the Barefoot Contessa or Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network.
But her special occasion cakes tell another story.
Haynes, who lives in the Eggville/Shiloh community between Saltillo and Mantachie, took her first cake decorating class in 1982 at J.C. Penney. And she’s been perfecting her art ever since.
“I had two weddings last year – my daughter and my son,” she said. “I did the wedding cake and the groom’s cake for my daughter’s and the wedding cake and a pie table for my son. We have Google and Pinterest to get ideas from now. We didn’t have all that when I got started.”
A homemaker who home-schooled her three children, Haynes learned the basics of cooking from her mother and grandmother.
“My dad was a preacher and we never knew who was going to be at our house for Sunday dinner,” the 58-year-old said. “I always helped Mother with Sunday dinner. And my grandmother kept us when Mother worked, and she always let us do things in the kitchen.”
Haynes’ mother, Eva Feazell, who lives with Haynes and her husband, Gary, used to use a pressure cooker a lot when she prepared meats.
“I know a lot of people are scared to use one, but I’m not afraid of it because I grew up with it,” Haynes said. “I got a small one for a wedding gift, but I mostly use Mother’s now because it’s larger. And I’ve now learned to use the Crock-Pot. I cook a lot in volume.”
She largely prepares the meals for the Wednesday night suppers at Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Skyline, where she and Gary, a retired physical therapist, worship.
“A lot of times, I fix whatever’s on sale, because I like to save the church money,” she said. “Gary helps by doing most of the shopping for me.”
Haynes said she’s noticed at church that young women her daughter’s age – 20 – are now starting to show an interest in cooking.
“Because there’s so much available on the Internet, I think they’re starting to do things,” she said. “I see them cooking more now than the generation before them.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.