Rhonda Tigner in Mantachie prepares Chicken Dressing, Cheesy Potato-Broccoli Soup, Fawn Grove Punch, Strawberry Cake and Jerry's Chocolate Pie for her family. Many of Tigner's recipes came from her Grandmother Delsie Spradling, whose old tin full of recipes Tigner still uses today.
Shingle: Cook of the Week
BY GINNA PARSONS
MANTACHIE – When Rhonda Spradling Tigner was about 8 years old, she got an Easy Bake Oven, a gift that has fueled a lifetime of cooking.
“My brother, Andy, was three years younger than me,” said Tigner, 47, “He ate everything that came out of that oven, so we ran out of cake mixes real quick.”
Tigner moved from the Easy Bake to her mother's kitchen quite easily.
“If it had not been for my mother, I would never have learned to cook as well as I did,” Tigner said.
“She never complained about how much I spent on ingredients – and a lot of them were wasted,” she said. “One time, I made this green Jell-O pie with an Oreo crust. My brother wouldn't even eat this.”
In addition to her mother, Eleanor Spradling, Tigner credits her two grandmothers – Alice Franks and Delsie Spradling – with helping her to hone her culinary skills.
“My chicken and dressing recipe was my Grandmother Alice's,” said Tigner, who is president of the Mantachie branch of BancorpSouth. “She was famous for it. Everybody in the community loved her chicken and dressing better than anyone else's.
“She liked to make desserts, too,” Tigner said. “But she had severe diabetes. Even though she was diabetic, she still managed. It always amazed me how she could be such a good cook and fix all this stuff and never eat it herself.”
Tigner still uses her Grandmother Delsie's strawberry cake recipe, one she got from an old tin of recipes that her grandmother collected.
“She had a little store and she wrote down every recipe she could get her hands on,” Tigner said. “She wrote recipes on the backs of birthday cards, sympathy cards and invitations. And she clipped recipes from the newspaper,” Tigner said as she held up a Cook of the Week article from a 1959 issue of The Itawamba County Times.
These days, Tigner shares her recipes, and her food, with her family and friends. Her family includes her husband, Mark; her son Andrew and his wife, Michelle; and her son John.
“And we share a lot of food at church activities,” she said. “My mother and grandmother were always good about carrying food to people when there's sickness or death in a family or a new baby.”
And there's one family in Mantachie who eats quite often with the Tigners: Jerry and Doris Pitts.
“Jerry Pitts is quite a character in Mantachie,” Tigner said. “He has a parts store here. The pie (Jerry's Chocolate Pie) is named for him because he's the only person we know who can eat a whole chocolate pie at one time. And he's tiny.”
Jerry's not just partial to Tigner's pies, either.
“We don't eat a lot of leftovers here, because I try to plan so I don't have much left,” Tigner explained. “But Jerry told me one time, Don't you give any of your leftover food to a four-legged dog. You give it to this two-legged dog,'” Tigner said.
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to 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 email@example.com. Each Cook of the Week will receive $10 from the Daily Journal.