COOK OF THE WEEK: Tupelo woman knows cooking not always a serious business

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Would your feelings be hurt if someone told you your chicken and rice casserole tasted like paint?
Janice Page learned to take this criticism in stride.
Page, 63, was invited a few years back to be a part of a casserole club. She and six other women were each charged with making six frozen casseroles and taking them to a party, where they would then exchange the food. Each participant would go home at the end of the evening with six casseroles made by the others.
“I decided to make chicken and rice and I spent all day making them,” said Page, 63. “I had everything lined up on the counter, had everything just right. When I got done with them, I put them in the freezer.”
The next day, Page attended her party and came home with her six casseroles. A short time later, her phone rang. It was one of the women from the party.
“She said she was cooking my casserole and something smelled like paint,” Page recalled, laughing. “Well, it seems that someone had wrapped up a wet paint brush and put it in the freezer and apparently, it made everything taste like paint.”
(Page wouldn’t say who the someone was, but she did shoot a look at her husband, Lewis, when telling the story, and he began to chuckle.)
“So, I had to call everybody and tell them not to eat my casseroles,” Page said. “And I never got invited back.”
Queen of one-pot meals
These days, Page gets invited lots of places and she’s often asked to bring some of the goodies she makes. A chicken salad recipe she got a year or so ago has been particularly popular with her co-workers at Harrisburg Baptist Church, where she works in the children’s nursery.
“I got the recipe from a friend and I put everything in it that she did, but I also put some sweet pickle in there, too,” said Page, a mother of two and grandmother of two. “And I don’t put the boiled egg in there like it called for though.”
Her favorite things to cook are desserts and one-dish meals.
“I’m a sweet-aholic,” said Page, who moved to Tupelo from Memphis in 1985. “But I don’t make them because they’re pretty. I make them because they taste good. And I love one-pot meals. It’s so convenient – beef stew, vegetable soup, lasagna, meat dish pie.”
Because of work, she cooks only about three or four nights a week and the rest of the week the couple eats leftovers or goes out to eat.
“I don’t have time for much anymore,” she said. “I used to love quilting. I just haven’t done it in a while. And I used to scrapbook, too. Maybe one of these days I’ll get back to 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 ginna.parsons@ journalinc.com.