“My mother was a very good cook and she loved to try new recipes,” said Hand, 65. “She always liked her food to look pretty. When we had Sunday dinner, it would look like we were going to have company. She’d do a little tidbit tray and everything.”
Hand, who was born and raised in Mooreville, still lives there with her husband of 44 years, Perry. Together they raised three daughters – one died in 2010 – and they have four grandchildren.
“My family used to come every other Sunday for lunch and I did that because I wanted my family to stay close,” she said. “I had hip surgery last August and I haven’t gotten back into it yet. I miss them. I miss the kids.”
Hand retired from Mooreville Elementary in May 2011 after serving 28 years as a teacher’s assistant.
“I’d take my Monster Cookies to school twice a year and they always looked forward to that,” she said. “But we were taking stuff to share all the time. I always enjoyed doing that a lot.”
Hand said if she goes somewhere and tries a dish that looks and tastes delicious, she’ll ask for the recipe for it.
“I really enjoy cooking and sharing with other people,” she said. “Whenever I’d make a pretty cake or a casserole, my family would always say, ‘Who are you taking that to?’ and I’d say, ‘Nobody. This is for us.’”
Hand had to learn to cook in big quantities, because often she was preparing food for umpteen teenagers.
“This was one of the houses when my kids were growing up where their friends liked to come and hang out because I’d cook for them,” she said. “I wasn’t the only house, but I was one of them.”
Hand limits her cooking now to weekdays – she closes the kitchen on the weekend – and she pays more attention to the way she prepares food now.
“We all kindly try to watch what we eat,” she said. “We all have health problems. We might have a small pork loin with rattlesnake beans, stewed squash and bread or baked chicken, corn and a green salad. I love all vegetables. People now it seems like they don’t. I think it’s that they don’t know how to cook things down real good, like turnips, mustards or spinach.”
Hand said she used to try new recipes all the time, but at 65, well, not so much anymore.
“You know how recipes go around,” she said. “At one point in time, everybody goes wild over a recipe and everybody makes it. Then something else comes along and everybody forgets about the other good recipes. I have little recipe books where I write down recipes we like and now and then, I go back to those and think, “‘Oh, we haven’t had that in a long time.’ Sometimes, you forget about the good ones.”
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 email@example.com.