By Ginna Parsons
RIENZI – Judy Heytens has always has an interest in baked goods and the prettier, the better. So it’s no wonder that she decided recently to host her own tea party.
“I had been to two teas – one in Knoxville and one in Tupelo,” said Heytens, who will be 75 on Thursday. “I decided we’d never had a tea here, so I fixed one for my family.”
She served candies, macaroons, tarts, pimiento cheese tea sandwiches, raisin bread and a breakfast casserole.
“It was so much fun,” she said. “We had three tiers full of stuff. It took me two days to make everything. I got out my good dishes and set the table pretty. I enjoy that. I like the looks of it, even if it means doing dishes into the middle of the night.”
Judy and her husband, Leo, are originally from California, and moved to Mississippi 45 years ago for their ministry, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They live in the Pisgah community on the Alcorn-Prentiss county line
“We’ve had a good time in our lives,” she said. “We’ve always been Christians and all the kids turned out good. That was a big blessing.”
The Heytens have seven children, 19 grandchildren and five great-grands.
“We married young,” she said. “I was 16, but I could cook. My grandmother taught me how to make gravy when I was about 3 years old. Everybody gets me to make gravy for them, but I don’t know if it’s that good.”
She taught all five of her girls the basics of cooking, sewing and housekeeping and she taught her two boys, too.
“Those are things everybody needs to know,” she said.
The Heytens are big soup people. Her specialties are split pea, chicken noodle and taco.
“I’ll make a pot first of the week and we’ll eat on it for two to three days,” she said. “We don’t have soup seven days a week, but just about. Leo likes soup and he’s a nice person to cook for because he’s loving toward the food.”
Heytens said she doesn’t cook fattening things and she never has more than one serving of anything, even if she wants it. She also doesn’t cook with butter and she doesn’t use a lot of salt.
“I even try new recipes, occasionally, in the winter,” she said. “But not in the summer. There’s too much to do in the yard. I enjoy cooking and hard work and the ministry – the rest of it is just something you have to do.”
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.