Cook of the Week: Mantachie mother indulges family with simple, Southern cooking

Lauren Wood | Daily Journal Tae Jackson of Mantachie likes to treat her family to sweets, like this cheesecake.

Lauren Wood | Daily Journal
Tae Jackson of Mantachie likes to treat her family to sweets, like this cheesecake.

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

MANTACHIE – Tae Jackson can’t say enough nice things about her mother, Patty Buse, and everything she did to teach Jackson about cooking.

“Mama taught me so well when I was growing up,” she said. “She’d let me get in there. I’d sit in the kitchen and we’d just talk while she cooked. Everything I’ve learned is because of my mama. We all do her rolls, but they don’t ever turn out as well as hers.”

Jackson, 52, the oldest of four children, grew up about a mile from where she lives now in Mantachie.

“We always had a nice enough house and my grandmother sewed all our clothes, but we always had a big meal on the table and it was always something good,” she said.

Today, Jackson still puts a meal on the table every night for her husband, Lonnie, and her three youngest children, whom she home-schools.

“When you grow up a certain way, you just get used to that,” she said.

She also has followed in her mother’s footsteps, cooking big Sunday dinners for her family as often as she can.

“When my grandkids see me at church, they’ll say, ‘Did you cook today, Grandmaw?’”

Jackson had six children with her first husband, who died in a boating accident 10 years ago. Her new husband brought two children to the marriage and together, the couple shares eight grandchildren.

“My husband and sons all deer hunt,” she said. “Last year they got four and we’ve almost eaten all that. It really helps out with the grocery budget when you’ve got teenage sons. My husband dresses the deer meat and soaks it in vinegar-salt mixture for a day or two. Then he cuts it into roasts, steaks, tenderloin and he grinds some and we put it in the freezer.”

The whole family also likes to fish at a little lake at Fawn Grove.

“One day we caught 75 bass and we cleaned those and put them in the freezer, too,” she said.

The Jackson family eats very simply most nights – maybe Sloppy Joes with baked beans and fried potatoes, or just peas and cornbread.

The only things they don’t eat are pork and seafood.

“I like to cook just about anything,” she said. “I like easy things, quick things. Simple food without a lot of fuss is the best.”

Jackson likes to tend a garden and freeze and can her fruits and vegetables.

“We try to grow as much stuff as we can and I put it in jars or the freezer,” she said. “Last year, I put up 200 bags of corn on the cob. This year, it was peas and butterbeans. There’s something about working in a garden that’s so peaceful. It used to be a chore when I was growing up, but being out there in the evening is relaxing now. Plus it’s something my husband and I can do together.”

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.