GUNTOWN • When Molly Goodson is frazzled and about ready to pull her hair out, she heads into her kitchen.

“Cooking relaxes me,” said Goodson, who teaches English at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. “If I’m stressed, I just get in the kitchen and start chopping vegetables. It’s very therapeutic for me.”

Goodson was born and raised in Baldwyn, the oldest of four children born to Becky and Buddy DeVaughn. When she was 16, she and a childhood friend, Cole, began dating.

“Cole and I grew up together. Our moms taught together. We dated through high school and college at MSU and married after graduation,” said Goodson, 49. The couple has two daughters, Claire and Hallie.

Goodson remembers being in the kitchen with her maternal grandmother, Erma Jean Hamblin, and watching her make biscuits, pimiento cheese, tea cakes and pound cakes.

“My Gran and my grandfather were the rock of the family,” she said. “You never went into her house that there wasn’t a dessert on her countertop and something going on the stove.”

Goodson inherited that love of cooking and today you’ll find her in the kitchen preparing a meal just about every day of the week, even when her girls aren’t there.

“My co-workers make fun of me because I’m always experimenting,” she said. “I’ve never been afraid to try things. Early on, I’d get recipes from my grandmother and great aunts. One thing that was frustrating when I was first out on my own is they could never give me exact measurements. Now I get it. I’m always taking a recipe and either adding to it or taking something away from it.”

Goodson has been trying to cook and eat healthier and cleaner these days, but she still makes the family standbys.

“The girls’ favorite is my crawfish etouffee,” she said. “That’s what they want when they come home. I probably make it at least once every two weeks.”

She also likes to make heaping bowls of bolognese sauce served over ribboned pasta.

“I do pasta a lot – no lie,” she said. “We have pasta at least three times a week. I’m sorry, but I just can’t go without carbs.”

Goodson said she’d like to be one of those cooks who sits down on Saturday afternoons and plans out the week’s menu, but that’s not her speed.

“I don’t know what I’m going to have a taste for on any given night,” she said. “I just take it day by day.”

KALUA PORK

1 (6-pound) Boston butt pork roast

1 1/2 tablespoons pink Himalayan sea salt

1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring

Pierce pork all over with a carving fork. Rub salt, then liquid smoke over meat. Place roast in a slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 16 to 20 hours, turning once during cooking time. Remove meat from slow cooker and shred, adding drippings as needed to moisten.

GRAN’S TEA CAKES

1 egg

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter, melted

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg. Add sugar. Add melted butter and oil. Add flour. Add vanilla. Stir ingredients into a ball. Pinch small balls off and flatten on a greased cookie sheet with a wet fork. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. Let cool. Recipe easily doubles.

THREE-CHEESE PIMIENTO CHEESE

1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained

5 ounces pimiento cheese spread, such as Palmetto Cheese Spread

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Microwave cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Stir in diced pimiento and next 6 ingredients.

Stir in Cheddar cheese. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 4 hours. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 4 days. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

CRAWFISH ETOUFFEE

1/2 stick butter or margarine

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 large shallot, chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

2 pounds cooked, peeled crawfish tails or frozen coked crawfish tails, thawed and drained

Hot cooked rice

Chopped fresh chives, ground red pepper for garnish

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and shallot and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add flour, salt, and red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until caramel colored, about 10 minutes. Add broth, parsley and chives and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Stir in crawfish and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with rice. Garnish, if desired.

BOLOGNESE

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

5 slices bacon, chopped

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 to 4 carrots, chopped

2 to 4 celery stalks, chopped

12 ounces mushrooms, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups red wine

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree

1 cup milk

1 can beef consomme

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 pound pappardelle pasta

1 teaspoon parsley

Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon oil. When hot, cook bacon until brown, then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the ground beef and ground pork to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Brown, breaking up the meat and cooking it until it’s no longer pink. Transfer the meat to a bowl and drain the grease from the pan.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and mix together, cooking until the vegetables are soft and begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the garlic to the vegetables and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan, until slightly reduced.

Return the browned bacon and meat to the pan, then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, milk, beef consomme, thyme and garlic powder. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and partially cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 4 hours, stirring frequently. When the sauce has thickened, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed.

When the sauce is ready, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pan and toss with however much bolognese sauce you would like. Remaining sauce freezes and reheats well. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and Parmesan cheese.

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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