TUPELO • Vanessa Pound Hendrix had been attending Parkway Baptist Church for about two weeks when the woman in charge of Wednesday night suppers asked her if she wanted to take over the job.

“I told her I didn’t know how to cook for a crowd, so she taught me how,” said Hendrix, 55. “She showed me how to plan menus, how to buy groceries, how to look at the grocery ads and plan a menu around what’s on sale.”

That was 16 years ago.

“Through the years, I’ve had to adapt some things,” she said. “At one time, I cooked for 85 to 100, but now it’s more like 35 to 40. I like it because when I prepare meals for church people, they appreciate it and enjoy it.”

Two favorite meals are meatloaf with mashed potatoes, black-eyed peas, rolls, green salad and banana pudding; and Jessie’s Favorite Chicken (chicken breasts, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken and sour cream topped with breadcrumbs and sliced tomatoes) served with rice, green beans, rolls, green salad and chocolate cake.

“I didn’t learn to cook from just one person,” Hendrix said. “I learned from a lot of people. Dad was a Civitan and my mother was a Civanette so I have a lot of recipes from those ladies. They were always passing things around.”

One of Hendrix’ friends, Staci Bridges, always made homemade cinnamon rolls from her grandmother’s recipe, so Hendrix has adopted that recipe as her own.

“It’s what I take for Christmas morning breakfast,” she said. “They don’t care if I’m there or not as long as they have those cinnamon rolls.”

Hendrix is the youngest of two girls born to Ralph and Doris Pound. She worked with her mother at Tupelo Beauty Supply for 18 years and now she helps her dad with his rental property. She has one daughter, Madison, who will be a senior at Mississippi State University this fall.

“I’m always looking for something to do different with my food,” Hendrix said. “I cook at church and now that Mama’s gone, I cook for Daddy. But when it comes to eating at home, I’m like, ‘We’re going out to eat.’”

Every year at Christmas, Hendrix decorates her home to the extreme, then invites folks in to visit and eat. Last year, she hosted a Christmas party for one of the ladies’ Sunday school classes at Parkway.

“I want to make that a yearly thing,” she said. “What’s the point of decorating if no one enjoys it? Christmas explodes in my house. It’s bad. My attic is slap full of Christmas. People come here and panic when they see all the boxes pulled down before I have it all put out.”

MEATLOAF

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 pound ground beef

1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup ketchup

Beat egg and milk together. Add cheese, oats and onion. Add ground beef and mix well. Form into a loaf. Place in a 9x5-inch greased loaf pan.

Combine mustard, brown sugar and ketchup and spread over top of meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Note: When Vanessa Hendrix makes this for church suppers, she makes five times the recipe.

PEACH SALAD

2 packages peach gelatin

1 can peach pie filling

2 cups hot water

1 large can crushed pineapple

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

1 cup chopped nuts

Combine gelatin, pie filling, hot water and pineapple in a serving dish and let gel. Combine cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and nuts and mix well. Spread on top of gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

CORN CASSEROLE

1/2 box Jiffy cornbread mix

1 (14-ounce) can creamed corn

1 (14-ounce) can whole kernel corn

1 stick butter, melted

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, divided

Combine cornbread mix, creamed corn, whole kernel corn, butter, onion and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Pour mixture into a greased casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese the last 5 minutes.

LEMON DELIGHT

CRUST

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans

FIRST LAYER

1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese

1 cup sugar

6 ounces whipped topping

SECOND LAYER

6 egg yolks

2 cans sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup lemon juice

6 ounces whipped topping

For the crust, combine butter, flour and pecans and press into the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

For the first layer, combine cream cheese, sugar and 6 ounces whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust.

For the second layer, combine egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Spread over first layer. Top with 6 ounces whipped topping. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Note: This recipe contains raw eggs.

WASSAIL

1 gallon apple cider

1 quart pineapple juice

1 quart orange juice

Juice of 3 lemons

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 cinnamon sticks, wrapped in cloth

3 tablespoons strong tea

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Remove cinnamon sticks before serving.

CROCK-POT CANDY

2 packages white almond bark

2 German’s chocolate baking bars

2 (1-pound) jars dry-roasted peanuts

1 (12-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Break up bark and baking bars and stack in a Crock-Pot with peanuts and chocolate chips. Cook on low for 2 hours without opening the lid. Mix thoroughly and pour by the spoonful onto waxed paper.

TEA CAKES

2 1/2 cups White Lily self-rising flour

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended. Add butter mixture to flour and rub it into the flour with your fingertips just until the dough comes together in a ball. Do not overwork the dough or it will be tough. Halve the dough and work with one half at a time. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness, cut into cookies and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

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 call Ginna at (662) 678-1581 or email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.

ginna.parsons@journalinc.com

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