By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Debra White was born in Amory, but she grew up on a farm in tiny Detroit, Alabama (population 237 in the 2010 census).
That’s the only life she knew for many years.
“We grew everything we ate,” said White, 45. “We couldn’t run to McDonald’s. You can’t do that living in the country. We had to work in the garden, mow the grass, haul wood, haul hay, clean house. It makes a difference when you live in the country.”
White is the youngest of three girls born to Junior and Ann Harrison, who now live in Florence, Alabama. She moved to Tupelo in 1989 and was a court reporter when she met her husband, Tollie, an accountant.
“I cooked some as a teenager but I really started cooking when I got out on my own,” she said. “I had a cookbook – a church cookbook – and I started trying things out of it.”
White, a homemaker, said she cooks because she enjoys it and, in fact, prepares breakfast and supper almost every day.
“I don’t use a lot of processed foods – no frozen biscuits or pizzas,” she said. “Everything is from scratch.”
Family favorites for breakfast are homemade biscuits and chocolate gravy, and homemade waffles and bacon.
“Nobody is a big egg eater here,” she said.
In the evenings, she might make grilled chicken with corn and potatoes or fried chicken with peas and green beans.
A few weeks ago, she had the preacher from West Main Church of Christ over to eat and she prepared fried chicken, fresh corn, peas, hash brown casserole, green beans, slaw, strawberry cake and peach pie.
“Some people are funny about their recipes and don’t want to share then, but people can have anything I’ve got,” she said.
The Whites have two children, 16-year-old Bailie and 9-year-old Logan, and right now her life revolves around raising them and getting them where they need to be.
“Logan plays basketball and Bailie is involved in church activities, so that’s what I do,” she said. “About once a month I’ll try a new recipe. I usually get them from the Internet or Pinterest. I don’t watch the Food Network. My kids keep me busy.”
White does spend a week every summer as a counselor at Maywood Christian Camp in Hamilton, Alabama.
“I went there as a child and as a teenager and then I went back when my daughter was old enough to attend,” she said. “I’ve been going there every summer for 22 years.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Debra White recipies:
1⁄2 cup milk
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
11⁄2 cups self-rising flour
1⁄2 cup sugar
Beat egg. Stir in milk and oil. Add flour and sugar and mix just until flour is moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Pour batter into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.
Three-Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies
1⁄2 cup shortening
2 sticks butter
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
13⁄4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
33⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
11⁄2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
11⁄2 cups milk chocolate chips
11⁄2 cups toffee chips
Cream shortening, butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and beat well. Fold in chips. Use an ice-cream scoop to make big cookies and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Makes 30 big cookies.
11⁄2 pounds ground beef
1 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
51⁄2 cups water, divided
3 (1.5-ounce) packages spaghetti sauce mix
21⁄4 teaspoons salt, divided
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 stick margarine, melted
2 cups evaporated milk
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded processed cheese, divided
11⁄2 pounds spaghetti, cooked
Brown meat in a large saucepan; drain off excess grease. Add tomato sauce, 41⁄2 cups water, spaghetti sauce mix and 3⁄4 teaspoon salt. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring often.
Combine flour and margarine. Cook over low heat until smooth. Combine milk and remaining 1 cup water. Gradually add to flour mixture, stirring constantly. Cook until smooth and thick. Season with remaining 11⁄2 teaspoons salt. Add Parmesan cheese and 11⁄2 cups shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.
Lightly grease two 9×13-inch casseroles. Divide cooked spaghetti, meat sauce and cheese sauce in half. Layer ingredients as follows in each casserole: spaghetti, meat sauce, cheese sauce, 1⁄4 cup shredded processed cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.
Sour Cream Pound Cake
1 box Duncan Hines butter cake mix
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
3⁄4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 stick butter or margarine
1⁄2 cup evaporated milk
For the cake, combine all ingredients. Pour batter into a greased, floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
For the glaze, place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook 3 minutes. Pour warm glaze over pound cake.
*Note: If eggs are small, add 1⁄4 cup water.