Devoted Sisters: Pontotoc pair enjoys preparing Friday luncheons for family

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Just about every Friday, you can ease down one particular block of Highland Drive in Pontotoc and smell something good coming from one side of the street or the other.
That’s because three out of four Fridays every month, sisters Elsie Blanke and Wilma Chittom prepare a veritable feast for their sisters, Clarice and Marlene, and their niece, Klair.
“Wilma and I work together to prepare the food,” said Elsie, 92. “I like to do the hosting and she likes to make the food pretty.”
One week, the meal will be at Wilma’s and the next, it’s at Elsie’s. The next Friday, Klair and her mother, Kay, host the sisters at their home in Tupelo.
“They do this for Klair,” Kay Griffin said. “They’re so good to her. They call it Klair’s Friday. She gets to choose the menu.”
The sisters come from a family of seven girls and one boy. Elsie is the oldest girl and Wilma, 82, is the youngest.
“When I married, Daddy warned my husband to expect tomato sandwiches for breakfast because that’s all I knew how to cook,” Wilma said. “There were six girls older than I was, so I never got a chance to get in the kitchen much.”
Both sisters said they really learned how to cook after they married. Both are widows now.
This past Friday, they prepared a grilled ribeye roast, green bean and corn casserole, roasted potatoes, English peas with carrots, macaroni and cheese, fresh fruit salad with dressing, homemade rolls and banana pudding for dessert.
“Good, good, it’s good,” Klair repeated often during the luncheon as she particularly enjoyed the potatoes, mac and cheese and rolls.
The sisters just beamed.
Are y’all twins?
Elsie and Wilma say they both cook something just about every day and are always willing to share with one another.
“I’ll call and say, ‘I’ve cooked so-and-so if you want to come over and get it,’” Elsie said. “We used to walk across the street to each other’s homes, but now we drive. One January, I used a whole tank of gas going back and forth between our houses.”
Wilma said one of the benefits of living across the street from her sister is her well-stocked pantry.
“It’s like living across the street from the grocery store,” she said laughing. “If I don’t have it, she does.”
The sisters were born and raised in Pontotoc, one street over from where they live today. Wilma is a retired schoolteacher who taught in Pontotoc County schools for 30 years. Elsie lived in Hattiesburg for 40 years where she was a payroll and benefits supervisor for Hercules. She moved home to Pontotoc in 1996.
“I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been out and about and people have asked us if we’re twins,” Wilma said.
“And I always say, ‘Thank you,’” Elsie said, ribbing her younger sister.
The two enjoy cooking for family and friends and people in their church. They also prepare meals for shut-ins and others who can’t help themselves.
Wilma said she gets the most satisfaction from cooking with four of her great-grandsons.
“They come to my house and make cookies and brownies and they’ve even done cakes. In the last two years, they’ve entered things at the fair and won blue and red ribbons. They are the joy in my life. That’s the most important thing I do.”

Mardi Gras Party Cake
Wilma Chittom
2⁄3 cup butterscotch chips
1⁄4 cup water
21⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
11⁄4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup shortening
3 eggs
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄2 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk
1⁄3 cup water
1⁄3 cup butterscotch chips
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Seafoam Frosting
1⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1⁄3 cup water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 egg white
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. In small saucepan over low heat, melt butterscotch chips in water, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine flour, all remaining cake ingredients and cooled butterscotch mixture; beat at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely.
For the filling, in a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in half-and-half, water, butterscotch chips and egg. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in margarine, coconut and nuts; cool slightly.
For the frosting, combine sugars, water and corn syrup in a saucepan and cook to the softball stage (236 degrees). Meanwhile, beat egg white and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. While beating constantly, add the syrup to the egg whites in a slow, steady stream. Beat until thick enough to spread.
To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer, top side down, on serving plate. Spread with half of filling mixture. Top with second layer, top side up; spread remaining filling on top to within 1⁄2 inch of edge. Frost sides and top edge of cake with frosting. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Store in refrigerator.

Sister Recipes

Cheese Straws
Wilma Chittom
1 pound grated sharp or mild Cheddar cheese, room temp
1 stick butter or margarine, room temp
2 cups all-purpose flour (not sifted)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cream the cheese and butter together, beating well. Add flour, salt and cayenne and mix thoroughly. The dough will be stiff. Using a cookie press, press the straws out to desired length and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bottoms are brown. Let cool completely before placing in an airtight container.

Petite Pecan Pies
Wilma Chittom
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon melted margarine
Dash of salt
For the pastry, beat cream cheese and margarine until smooth. Add flour and mix until blended. Roll into 24 small balls and chill. Place balls in tiny ungreased muffin tins and press dough on the bottom, then up the sides of the tins.
For the filling, combine ingredients and put about 1 teaspoon of mixture into each tin cup. Bake 17 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Italian Spaghetti
Elsie Blanke
2 onions, chopped
2 rounded teaspoons minced garlic
11⁄2 pounds ground round
11⁄2 pounds ground sirloin
2 to 3 dashes thyme
2 to 3 dashes oregano
Salt and pepper
2 (24-ounce) jars Ragu roasted garlic sauce
Cooked angel hair pasta
Sauté onions and garlic in a large saucepan. Add meat and cook until meat is done. Add seasonings and spaghetti sauce. Simmer for 1 hour. Serve over angel hair pasta.

Chocolate Cherry Cake
Elsie Blanke
1 box German chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1 (20-ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons margarine
1⁄3 cup milk
1 (6-ounce) package milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, eggs and cherry pie filling. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Combine sugar, margarine and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, then add chocolate chips. Stir until well blended. Spread over warm cake.

Baked Beans
Elsie Blanke
1 large can Bush’s original baked beans
1 onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup ketchup
1⁄3 cup brown sugar
3 slices bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
Combine baked beans, onion, ketchup and brown sugar and pour mixture into a baking dish. Cover with pieces of bacon and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Green Bean Bundles
Elsie Blanke
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Whole green beans
Bacon slices, halved
In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, Worcestershire and vinegar. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Wrap 5 or 6 whole green beans with a half piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place in a baking dish and pour butter-sugar sauce over all. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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