By Ginna Parsons
THAXTON – By day, Beth Graham is a mammographer at Oxford Diagnostic Center, but evenings and weekends she’s a mother and a farmer’s wife.
Graham and her husband, Jeremy, and their two daughters live in the Hurricane community in Pontotoc County in Jeremy’s family’s old homeplace. They operate Graham Dairy, a family business Jeremy took over from his parents, although they still help daily.
“They milk 150 cows and sell to Borden in Hattiesburg,” Graham said. “An 18-wheeler comes every other day and picks the milk up. They milk at 3 a.m. and 2 p.m., so it’s not for everybody, but I can’t imagine living any other way. I love this life.”
Because they are a good ways from town, Graham has to plan her menus and grocery shopping well in advance.
“I shop once a month and when I grocery shop, I grocery shop,” the 31-year-old said. “But we raise our own beef and pork, we have our own milk and Jeremy’s family has a big garden every year. We don’t eat a lot of bread, so when I go I buy two loaves and put one in the freezer. I’m not saying we don’t eat processed food out of convenience sometimes, but we try to know where our food comes from.”
Graham remembers helping her mother in the kitchen when she was a young girl, but it wasn’t like she was in charge of the meals. However, she could put a meal on the table when she got married eight years ago.
“My skills have probably grown a bit since then,” she said. “I do remember though the first night back from our honeymoon, I made chicken spaghetti and garlic bread for supper. We just live too far out to be able to run into town and get something.”
Well before Graham thought about marriage, she started her own cookbook. It’s a small spiral notebook filled with hand-written recipes alongside ones cut from the newspaper or clipped from a magazine.
“I cook at least four out of seven days a week,” she said. “Working full time and having two babies – sometimes you get home and feel rushed to get something ready, but I do enjoy it.”
The girls – Mary Hatley will be 4 in August and Kendall is 1 – spend a couple of days a week with Graham’s parents, Wells and Diane Russell of Thaxton, and a couple of days a week with Jeremy’s parents, Dwayne and Denece Graham, who live across the road.
“Mary Hatley can make homemade biscuits better than I can,” Graham said. “Mrs. Denece and Mary Hatley make biscuits in the mornings when she stays with them.”
Graham said she cooks like her mother did, preparing typical Southern meals for her family, like baked pork chops with peas and potatoes or chicken with green beans and corn.
“I don’t do anything real exotic, but I would like to learn how to make cheese,” she said. “We’ve got all the stuff right here, I just don’t know how to do it.”
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.