By Ginna Parsons
SHANNON – Charlotte Ellis was just 16 years old when she and her sweetheart, Jerry, wed some 39 years ago.
“The Lord just placed him in my life,” said Ellis, 56. “We go to Old Union Baptist in Shannon and I know that church is what’s kept us together as a family this long.”
Ellis had piddled in the kitchen growing up. She and her sister, Denise, would often clean house in the afternoons after they got in from school before their mother got home – then they’d fix themselves a snack.
“One day, I was going to fry bologna,” said Ellis. “I got busy doing something else and the pan of grease caught on fire. My neighbor had to come put it out. Mother didn’t let us cook after that for a while.”
In fact, as a young bride, Ellis could put only one meal on the table.
“I could cook hamburger steaks when we got married and that was it,” Ellis said. “I did that about twice a week until I burned him out on it.”
She branched out after that, poring over cookbooks and turning to her mother and mother-in-law for advice.
“I tried to make biscuits one day and I called Mama,” she said. “I thought I did what she said, but they were baseballs. Needless to say, I didn’t try those again for a while.”
Today, in addition to cooking for her husband, two children and four grandchildren, she enjoys preparing food for people at church who are sick or who have had a death in the family.
“My husband had a farming accident on Labor Day three years ago,” said Ellis, who works at Tombigbee Electric Power Association. “And I can’t tell you how thankful we were to our church family who brought food. They just take care of you.
So I want to give back to them. That’s the only way I know to help is to take food.”
Church folks are particularly fond of her chocolate and coconut pies.
“I like cooking desserts because I like to eat them, but I mostly enjoy taking them and giving them to somebody,” she said. “I don’t try new recipes very often because Jerry doesn’t eat them. But if I do try something new, I take it to church or work. They seem to like that a lot.”
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.