COOKS OF THE WEEK: Co-workers enjoy organizing, preparing food for potlucks, special occasions

VERONA – Their names rhyme, they’re both office associates for Mississippi State University’s Research and Extension Service in Verona and neither one of them can stand the thought of eating liver.
But what Marilyn King of the Furrs community and Carolyn Matthews of Tupelo really have in common is their love of cooking.
The two women often get the food together for staff lunches, potluck dinners and special occasions.
“Occasionally, we’ll put something in the Crock-Pot to share with co-workers who want to eat with us at lunch,” said Matthews, 54, who grew up in Ripley. She and her husband, John, share three children and four grandchildren.
King, 60, who lives in the Furrs community, grew up in Lee County outside Sherman. She and her husband, Billy, share four children and four grandchildren.
King likes to cook big Sunday meals every week for her family. They like her baked chicken, twice-baked potatoes and green bean bundles.
Matthews prefers to take a dish to a potluck and join her brood in Ripley.
“I have to do stuff that’s quick,” she said. “I have a 13-year-old son and a 13-year-old grandson to cook for.”
Both women learned to cook at home while growing up. King said her mother was a good cook who unwittingly benefited from the help of her husband.
“Mother would put on a pot of peas or beans and Daddy didn’t think it was seasoned right, so he’d come along behind her and put another hunk of fatback or some salt and pepper in the pot,” King said. “And then we’d sit down to eat and she’d say, ‘Oh, these peas are so good,’ and my dad would wink at me. I don’t think she ever knew he was coming along behind her, seasoning things.”

Sweet things
Matthews was the youngest of eight children. She learned to cook from her mother and her sisters.
“We all did it all,” she said. “My older sisters were all good cooks, too, so I got to enjoy their food, too. My mother made tea cakes and chess pies so we learned how to make that kind of stuff. She also made homemade biscuits, but I never quite got the hang of that.”
When it comes to desserts, Matthews is going to be asked to make a peach cobbler.
“I take that to work, church, family gatherings,” she said. “The recipe’s been passed down through my family.”
For King, the ultimate dessert is the chocolate pie recipe she got from her mother.
“My husband helps me with the stirring on that one,” she said. “One time, he was stirring it and he asked me if my pie shell was baked and I realized I didn’t even have a pie shell. So I called my neighbor and she had one she said I could have. I went and got it and got it baked. I think my husband had to stir that pie filling for about 45 minutes. His arm was so tired. He didn’t volunteer for that job again for quite a while.”

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@djournal.com.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal