By Ginna Parsons
PLANTERSVILLE – You’d think that because she was one of 12 children, Glenda Payne would have learned a thing or two about cooking growing up in Tennessee, but you’d be wrong.
“I did the house cleaning and left the cooking to the ones who liked to,” said Payne, who will turn 60 on June 28. “I didn’t like to cook until I got to Mississippi. I came down here as a single parent and I had to cook for my two babies. And it was fun.”
She started finding recipes and making them her own and pretty soon, people started asking her to prepare meals for them.
And Glen’s Country Kitchen and Catering was born.
But Payne’s a bit more ambitious than that. She’d one day like to have a restaurant in Plantersville and maybe just open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
“I do Southern cooking with a twist of class,” she said. “I do a lot of hors d’oeuvres, and everything isn’t fried. I’m learning to use different seasonings. There’s more than just salt and pepper out there. I use olive oil instead of Crisco. As you get older, you learn.”
In addition to her catering business, Payne works as a tool crib attendant at MTD in Verona, where she’s been for 22 years. She also helps in the concession stand at the BancorpSouth Center when she’s needed, and she has a jail ministry.
“I stay busy,” she said. “I refuse to die.”
Payne, a mother of two and grandmother of three, visits with women at the Lee County Jail every Sunday for an hour.
“I tell them, ‘This is only a chapter of your life. There will be another chapter. You will get out of here. We’ve all got chapters. Some of our books are just bigger than others,’” said Payne, a member of the Temple of Compassion and Deliverance in Tupelo. “You don’t give up on people when they fall down. It’s our job to help them up.”
Payne gets her Sunday meal prepared every week before she goes to church.
“I tell my husband if I don’t cook before I go, you’re not going to get fed.”
She does simple meals during the week, like taco salads or spaghetti with green beans and garlic bread, and saves the more elaborate meals for Sundays.
“I cook every Sunday except Mother’s Day and maybe my birthday,” she said. “And I don’t know how to cook for just two. We have family come and church friends. My door is always open to anybody that wants to eat.”
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.