COOKS OF THE WEEK: Oxford couple makes variety of food palates work in their home

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Carley Lovorn and Rob Winkler traveled abroad in many countries both before and after they married. And then they had a child.
“We kind of have an international palate, but we also have a 4-year-old who likes plain things,” said Rob, 42. “So we kind of have those two things going on at our house.”
To make life even more interesting, Carley, 35, is a pescatarian: She eats fish, but no meat or poultry.
“We just try to keep things really healthy,” said Rob, who is in his first year of teaching English as a second language at Della David Elementary in Oxford. “We use a lot of fresh vegetables and a lot of beans and lentils.”
Since moving to Oxford, where Carley is the assistant director for the Mississippi Geographic Alliance in the Public Policy Leadership Department at the University of Mississippi, the couple has joined a CSA, or community supported agriculture group.
“The one we have a share in is Yokona Bottoms Farm,” said Carley, the daughter of Elaine and John Lovorn of Tupelo. “We get a bunch of fresh produce from them every week and try to figure out what to do with it.”
Now, there’s a new CSA in town called Old Thyme Farm.
“We don’t have a share with them, but I’m learning from them about gardening,” said Rob, who grew up in Pennsylvania. “We’re trying to grow a garden ourselves.”
The couple learned a lot about cooking when they lived in Guatemala just after they married almost six years ago.
“We lived in this 10-room house with all these other people from places like Spain and Germany,” said Carley. “When we lived in Guatemala, we cooked together most every meal. Not only did we have this big international house, but we also had a huge produce market around the corner.”
Agua Fresca anyone?
Because Rob gets home earlier in the day than Carley, he usually starts the evening meal. Dinner might be pasta mixed with beans or saffron rice, Indian paste and diced vegetables.
“A staple in our house is black beans, macaroni, tomatoes and garlic,” he said. “Our son Rowan will even eat that.”
Rowan isn’t crazy about green vegetables, though, so the couple has had to find ways to sneak some health into his diet.
“Agua Fresca is one way we do that,” said Rob. “We discovered this refreshing yet healthy summer drink when we traveled through Mexico. Agua Fresca is a little like a smoothie, but much lighter because you don’t use any yogurt or other dairy. In Mexico they often make them with vegetables such as celery and cucumber, in addition to the usual fruit-based fare.”
The couple came up with their own version, using an abundance of cucumbers they get from their CSA, and melons, especially ones that aren’t really sweet.
“We’re both really into where our food comes from,” Carley said. “It’s been really fun being a part of a CSA.”
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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