By Ginna Parsons
BALDWYN – In 15 years of marriage, it’s safe to say April Haynes has learned a thing or two about cooking.
She and her high school sweetheart, David, began dating in the 10th grade at Kossuth High School. They got engaged when she was 17 and wed the summer after they graduated.
“I did not cook a lot growing up because my mother always cooked,” said Haynes, 34.
“The first six months we were married, we ate fried bologna and mashed potatoes out of a box,” her husband said.
“Then we progressed to Hamburger Helper,” Haynes said, laughing.
Haynes was a stay-at-home mom for more than 12 years, but when her daughter, Taylor, started school, she found she had a lot of time on her hands.
So she started calling her mother and asking questions about cooking, and she began watching shows on the Food Network.
“I started watching what the cooks were doing and I figured out I didn’t have to do their stuff exactly,” she said. “I learned I could make it my own.”
Today, Haynes, an agent with Tommy Morgan Realtors in Tupelo, cooks at least three or four times a week for her family.
They might have chicken tenders with honey mustard dipping sauce, buttered herb potatoes and green beans; or Mexican soup with quesadillas; or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corn.
“I always have my family here at Easter. The first year, I decided to do hand-breaded chicken and it took me, like, two-and-a-half hours to cook it and everybody was so hungry they were threatening to go to McDonald’s,” she said. “Now, I do something easy like Italian beef sandwiches with chips and dip so that we can spend time together.”
Haynes said she tries new recipes at least a couple of times a month. She gets them from Facebook and Pinterest and from her favorite Food Network show, “The Pioneer Woman.”
She prefers making things like soups – “because you can change them up pretty easy” – but she doesn’t care for making desserts or cooking meat with bones in it.
“Pork chops I’ll do, but not chicken or fish,” she said. “It’s just gross to me. Even as a kid, gnawing stuff off the bones – yuck.”
She does enjoy Mexican food – she says she could eat it 24/7 – and for her, the spicier the better.
“But a couple of times, I’ve made dishes that were too hot for David to eat,” she said. “My parents always grew peppers and onions. I guess I got my love of heat from them.”
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.