By Ginna Parsons
SMITHVILLE – Ask Jan Minch about her favorite cookbook and she’s likely to pull down five thick binders filled with recipes she’s organized in plastic sleeves.
The recipes are clipped from newspapers, pulled from the Internet or gathered from family and friends. They are organized by main dishes, sides, appetizers, salads, breads, soups and desserts.
“I largely taught myself to cook reading cookbooks,” said Minch, 59. “My mom liked us doing stuff in the kitchen, but she didn’t like us to make a mess. She wanted you to do it right. So what I didn’t learn from her, I got from cookbooks.”
When Minch’s two children, Ashley and Jason, moved out on their own, she made them both cookbooks that included her favorite recipes as well as some from her mother and her grandmother.
“I tried to make sure I taught my daughter to cook and she’s a good cook today,” Minch said. “And my son’s a good cook, too. He does most of the cooking at their house.”
Minch worked in Human Resources at PeopLounger until the plant closed. After that she went to work part time as a secretary at Amory Church of Christ.
In her free time, she cooks, gardens and dotes on her only grandchild, Jack.
“He spent the day with me not too long ago and he went home and said, ‘Grammy let me eat 49 Starburst candies,’ which Grammy did not, but he hasn’t yet learned the concept of what happens at Grammy’s house stays at Grammy’s house,” Minch said, laughing.
Minch said she cooked more when her kids were growing up, but now she only prepares big meals when her husband, Dennis, a railroad engineer, is home.
They like spaghetti with salad and garlic bread, and grilled steak with baked potatoes, Caesar salads and grilled onions. If the kids come to visit, she’ll likely do a roast with potatoes and carrots and maybe butterbeans or okra, or sometimes fried fish with hushpuppies and cole slaw.
But she’s pretty much learned to stick with her tried-and-true family favorites.
“I try new recipes about once a month,” she said. “In fact, not too long ago, I tried a new meatloaf recipe – my husband loves meatloaf. My daughter was over that night and they ate it, but they said, ‘It was OK, but can you please go back to your other meatloaf recipe?’ So you just never know about a new recipe, do you?”
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.