Cook of the Week: Tupelo teller loves everything about food, cooking

Adam Robison | Daily Journal Cortney Ward

Adam Robison | Daily Journal
Cortney Ward

By Ginna Parsons
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Talk about determination.

When Cortney Ward was about 7 years old, she talked her baby sitter into letting her make a cake while her parents were out.

“It was a spice cake and it was horrible,” the 31-year-old said. “There were ingredients I didn’t recognize, so I just left them out,” she said. “The recipe called for soda and I thought ‘Pepsi,’ but I knew that didn’t belong in there so I left the baking soda out. And it called for oleo and I didn’t know what that was, so the cake was very, very dry.”

But she’s gotten better.

And even more determined.

“I’ve pretty much done everything myself, taught myself to cook,” said Ward, the daughter of Lisa and Randy Ward of Pontotoc. “The women in my family can’t be in the kitchen with anyone else or it’s a disaster. I’m the same way.”

First, Ward borrowed her mother’s church cookbooks to get recipes. If she had a question about something, she usually turned to her maternal grandmother, Anne Wilder of Ecru.

“Both of my parents can cook, they just don’t really like to,” said Ward, who lives in Pontotoc and works as a teller at Trustmark Bank in Tupelo. “My grandmother is where I get my cooking from, I suppose.”

Today she’s much more likely to find electronic sources for her recipes.

“I’ve got probably 50 cookbooks at home but most of the recipes I try come from Pinterest and food blogs,” Ward said. “They’re going to be the death of me. If I tried a new recipe every week for the rest of my life, I’d already have all the recipes I need to do it. It’s sad.”

Ward, the youngest of three children, would rather cook something sweet than put a meal on the table, although she said she does most of the cooking at her parents’ home.

“My family likes simple, basic things,” she said. “I’ll fix pork chops, green beans and mashed potatoes, or hamburger steaks, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. They’d eat mashed potatoes every night if I’d fix it. It takes some doing to get them to try new stuff.”

When she is feeling adventurous, she’ll find something sweet to make to take to a potluck at church.

“Pretty much whatever I make they’ll try it at church,” she said. “The last new recipe I took there was Twinkie cupcakes and they turned out wonderfully. I mean, I love to cook, but food is everything. I like cooking food, I like eating food, I like reading about food. It’s ridiculous.”

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

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