By Ginna Parsons
HICKORY FLAT – Lynn Stewart can cook just about anything you’d ever want to eat, but her desserts, cookies and candies are what she’s known for.
“I make everything from scratch,” said Stewart, 74. “I don’t use cake mixes. I can tell a cake mix and I can tell a pudding pie.”
In fact, she has certain brands that she’s loyal to and you won’t find any impostors in her pantry or refrigerator: Crisco shortening, Gold Medal flour, Domino sugar, Land ‘O Lakes butter, Parkay margarine and Nestle Toll House chocolate chips.
“I’ve always loved to bake and I baked all my married life,” said Stewart, who lost her husband, Wendell, in 2009 after 51 years of marriage. “I always had something warm and sweet when my kids got home from school, and then my granddaughters started bringing their ballteam friends over here after school before ballgames.”
Those after-school snacks quickly turned into pre-game meals, as Stewart would fix chicken spaghetti or chicken strips or fried shrimp for the girls – and of course something sweet – before they headed to their big match.
The cookies Stewart is known for far and wide are chocolate chip, and her recipe is similar to the one on the Nestle Toll House package, but she’s made a few changes.
“I use butter and Crisco and a little more flour and I take mine out of the oven when they’re still soft,” she said. “That’s what makes them so good. Everybody calls them Nanny’s Cookies.”
Stewart was born in Illinois and her family moved to Memphis when she was in second grade. She graduated from high school there and after marriage, Wendell went into the Marine Corps, where he served two tours in Vietnam. They eventually moved to Hickory Flat in 1976.
“When I first got married, everything was trial and error,” she said. “I was the youngest of three girls, but none of us girls cooked. We didn’t do anything. Mother was a stay-at-home mom and she took care of everything.”
Stewart has two daughters, Paula and Amy, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A son, Greg, died in 1985 at age 20 of a rare cancer.
Every year, just before Christmas, Stewart invites her four granddaughters to her house and they spend the whole day making all manner of sweet treats.
“We do about 20 different things, because they all have their favorites” she said. “Divinity, fudge, haystacks, chocolate-dipped pretzels, chocolate crackle cookies, decorated sugar cookies, turtles, cinnamon candy, Oreo balls, five-layer cookies, Penuche, Martha Washington candy. I mean, we’ve got it going on that day.”
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.