The Belmont woman has a veritable feast lined up: turkey and gravy, chicken and dressing, green beans, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, slaw, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, a relish tray, rolls, cornbread and some kind of chocolate dessert.
“I’ll do all the cooking myself,” said Howard, who has two sons, four grandchildren and two great-grands. She also had another son and a granddaughter who have both died, and she lost her husband, Pat, in 2001 after a long illness.
“I grew up cooking,” said Howard, a Fulton native who moved to Belmont in 1957. “I never learned to milk, so I would cook supper. Of course, we didn’t cook anything but vegetables back then.”
Howard, 81, said she cooks just about every day, but usually she’s fixing something for someone else.
“Sometimes you get to where you don’t feel like doing anything, but I always feel like cooking,” she said. “I make cookies for the guys on the garbage truck every Wednesday. Today they got Tea Time Tassies. They seem like they really appreciate it.”
The folks at Calvary Baptist Church in Belmont also appreciate her cooking, especially her fried pies.
“As soon as I walk in they say, ‘Did you bring fried pies?’ A lot of times they’ll get their dessert before they get anything else.”
Howard worked for Winfield Manufacturing making clothing patterns for the U.S. government for 23 years before retiring in 1994.
“I worked and I came home and I cooked a meal every night for my family,” she said. “I didn’t even think about it. I just did it. It wasn’t a chore.”
Once Howard gets the Thanksgiving meal behind her, she’ll start on her Christmas baking. She’ll make peanut butter balls (her family calls them Goof Balls), Martha Washingtons, tassies and sugar cookies and, of course, her fried pies.
“I’ll take them to people and they’ll say, ‘Well, you didn’t have to do that’ and I’ll say, ‘OK, I’ll just carry it back home.’ And they’ll grab for it and say, ‘Give me that!’”
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.