Susannah Davis is obsessed with food. And she’s not ashamed to admit it. “My mother cooks, my grandmother, of course, cooked, and my mother-in-law cooks,” said Davis, 38. “That’s just a thing in our family. We hang out together and cook.”
Five or six nights a week, Davis can be found in the kitchen preparing supper for her husband, Chip, and their three boys, Vaughan, Stephen and Alex.
“I make out a menu every Sunday and I let them pick things for me to do and then I incorporate what they want into the week,” she said. “We even have what we call New Dish Tuesday Night, where I make a new dessert or side dish or entree.”
So it’s no surprise that Rhonda Hanby, longtime chairman of the St. James Ladies Club Rummage Sale & Food Bazaar, has decided to turn over the reins to Davis, who has been at St. James since 1997.
“Susannah is in training at the moment,” Hanby said. “We’re technically co-chairs, but next year, she will do it all. I’ve done it for seven years and it’s a lot of work. It’s time to move on and let others do it. Not only does Susannah have great cooking skills, but she’s got very good organizational skills. I feel very comfortable passing the baton to her.”
This year’s bazaar is Saturday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Catholic Life Center located on the north side of St. James Catholic Church on Lakeshire Drive in Tupelo.
“We’ve got five new recipes this year and three of them came from Susannah,” Hanby said. “There are some bazaars that offer 30 to 40 items. We’d rather offer a dozen really good tried-and-true recipes.”
On tap this year are Davis’ Bandito Chicken Casserole, Baked Ziti Pasta Italiano and Mexican Lasagna, as well as some longtime favorites, including Hallelujah Southern Turkey Dressing, Jammin’ Jambalaya, Chicken Pot Pie, Mary Ann’s Awesome White Chili, Breakfast Casserole, Cranberry & Cream Cheese Salad and the Christmas Cookie Medley. The other two new recipes this year are Paula Deen’s Squash Casserole, and Backwoods Chili, which won the People’s Choice Award at the 2010 Tupelo Chili Fest.
Prices range from $6 to $20, depending on the size of the item, and only cash and checks will be accepted.
Davis used her family as guinea pigs for some of the new recipes St. James will be offering.
“I do get good feedback from them,” she said. “My family doesn’t particularly care for casseroles. They don’t like a lot of processed foods, believe it or not. So the recipes we chose are really good. They were the top scorers when we did a taste-test.”
To get ideas for new recipes, Davis said she scours cookbooks, magazines and the Internet just about daily.
“I have no earthly idea how many cookbooks I have,” Davis said. “I’ve put myself on cookbook restriction right now. I’m not buying anymore. I regularly only use six or eight of them anyway.”
The rummage sale will feature common household items, such as clothing, baby items, electronics, new and used furniture, home decor, kitchen appliances, outdoor equipment, toys, books, puzzles and DVDs.
“Basically, it’s just about anything you would find in your own home,” Hanby said. “We will have a clothing boutique for better items, but most of the regular clothing is just a buck each. We really want to give the community value. People can really get some good deals.”
Last year, the food bazaar and rummage sale grossed about $12,000 for a net profit of about $10,000.
The money was used to make donations toward college scholarships, a Christmas party for senior citizens, a birthday party at Tupelo Manor, Vacation Bible School, Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic, Cub Scouts and Smithville tornado victims.
For more information about this year’s event, call Hanby at (662) 690-9685.