Young Saltillo mother places family meals ahead of everything

By Ginna Parsons
Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Dinnertime in Michelle Priest’s home is a big deal.
It may not involve fancy food or fine linens but it does involve family and that is what is most important to the 32-year-old.
“We try to eat together every night,” she said. “We don’t answer the phone or watch TV. We try to talk about our day.”
Priest said she comes from a family that ate meals together regularly and so did her husband of 11 years, Wayne.
“I think that’s probably important in what’s kept their marriages together,” said Priest of her parents, Ricky and Anita Floyd of Guntown and her in-laws, Debbie and Mike Priest of Plantersville.
It’s not hard for Priest to put meals on the table in the evenings. Most of what she prepares is simple, old-fashioned food.
“I’m not anything special,” she said. “I just do a few things well. I’m as country as a turnip green, I’m telling you.”
The second-grade teacher at Verona Elementary might prepare a baked chicken dish, mashed potatoes, green beans and corn for supper. The family, which includes 6-year-old Mekenzie and 4-year-old Jalen, also likes fried pork loin, macaroni and cheese and boiled potatoes.
“You know, I make all these homemade dishes – chicken spaghetti and chicken casseroles – and my kids would rather have a corn dog or Hamburger Helper or a bowl of cereal,” she said, laughing.
Priest learned now to cook at an early age when growing up in Guntown.
“I started cooking supper when I was 11 for the family,” said the oldest of three siblings. “I cooked Monday through Thursday and on Friday, we’d have pizza or fast food.”
And Priest isn’t through learning with her culinary schooling yet.
“I try new recipes at least once a month,” she said. “I get recipes from cookbooks and people at work and at church. I just recently learned how to make pancakes. I’d tried them before but they didn’t turn out. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of them, we have them all the time.”
Sometimes, Priest’s husband is in charge of the meal.
“Wayne does all the grilling,” she said. “It’s funny how we’ll invite
people over and I’ll plan the menu and do the shopping. I’ll make the sides, bread and dessert and he’ll cook the meat. And then he gets all the credit for the meal!”
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