By Ginna Parsons
BOONEVILLE – Debbie Ozbirn admits she has a job that can wear on her nerves at times.
Fortunately, she has a trick that relaxes her.
“This job can be stressful at times and cooking is a major stress reliever,” said Ozbirn, a financial aid associate at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. “My family gets to enjoy the benefits of it.”
The Blackland native, whose parents, Layne and Syble Dees still live there, learned to cook from her mother and her grandmother.
“My mom encouraged us to cook,” said the fast-talking Ozbirn. “My older sister kind of took the lead. And my grandmother wanted us to cook. We stayed with her in the summers and she needed our help in the kitchen.”
Ozbirn, 56, still remembers learning how to make biscuits in her home economics class.
“That was my biggest thing, my most exciting thing,” she said. “I was so excited to be able to make the biscuits for breakfast at home. I even made an extra pan to give away.”
Ozbirn still makes those same biscuits every Saturday morning for her three grandsons, who spend Friday nights with her and her husband, Marvin, and stay through noon the next day.
She also prepares Sunday lunch every week for her family, including the grandkids, who come home with her after church at First Methodist in Booneville.
She might fix lasagna with garlic bread or spaghetti with garlic bread.
“We eat a lot of garlic bread at our house,” she said.
Ozbirn was diagnosed with diabetes about 20 years ago and has had to change the way she cooks and eats.
“It’s hard to cook and not eat, but I try to be really cautious about the diabetic stuff,” she said. “Right now, I control it with medication. I do not want to have to go on shots. I don’t do shots well. After I delivered my first child naturally, the nurse told me she was going to have to draw some blood from my arm. I told her I’d rather deliver another baby than look at a needle.”
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.