New Albany grandmother teaching next generation

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Jo Kathryn Prescott didn’t have much experience in the kitchen when she married, but she had a theory: If you could read, then you could cook.
“I’d think of something I wanted to eat and I’d find a cookbook and get the recipe,” said Prescott, 71. “Not everything I made was good.”
The mother of three and grandmother of two still remembers the first cooking show she ever saw. It was when she was living in Sturgis for a short period of time and it was put on by the Tombigbee Electric Power Association.
“I don’t remember the name of the show or the lady’s name who did the cooking, but I remember there was a big light bulb behind her,” she said. “I still have her recipe for chocolate pie that I use.”
Prescott got some of her kitchen know-how from her husband’s grandmother, with whom they lived for a year when they first married.
“After that, Eddy’s grandmother would come to Sturgis and stay with us for three weeks at a time,” she said. “I learned a lot from her.”
Prescott said all the cooking she’s ever done has been traditional Southern fare.
“We didn’t eat fancy food,” she said. “We didn’t know what it was. I didn’t eat shrimp growing up, but I love it now. Boiled shrimp is my favorite meal.”
Prescott said she doesn’t cook now like she did when she first married and when she had three children to feed every day.
“We don’t eat much salt,” she said. “We limit sugar and butter. We don’t eat as much beef, but we eat a lot of chicken. I think most people our age have altered the way they eat from the way they did growing up.”
Supper might be chicken tenders, potato salad and baked beans or baked pork chops, sweet potato casserole and green bean bundles.
“I used to cook Sunday dinner, but I don’t anymore,” Prescott said. “On Mondays, I pick my two grandchildren up from school and I cook dinner for them and my son and his wife. I don’t ask them what they want. I just usually fix what I want to, because I know what they like.”
In fact, those grandchildren – 11-year-old Meredith and 7-year-old Mayes – are getting cooking lessons from their grandmother.
“I’ve been doing it with Meredith since she was 3,” Prescott said. “I’d measure it out and she’d dump it in. She’s turning into a pretty good little cook. My grandson doesn’t have that good of an attention span yet. He’ll just say, ‘You go ahead and finish it.’ But he’ll get there.”
When Prescott isn’t cooking for or with family, she’s likely preparing meals for a care ministry at New Albany Presbyterian Church.
“We see that new moms or people who have been in the hospital have food when they get home, and we have a funeral ministry,” she said. “That’s a real blessing for us. It does more for us then it does for them, actually.”
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

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