EGGVILLE • When Hilda Ratliff was growing up, she didn’t spend much time in the kitchen. Instead, she was the one out mowing the yard.

”I was mostly a tomboy, and my older sister did more of the cooking,” Ratliff said. “I didn’t really start until after I got married.”

Ratliff and her husband, Mike, met in the eighth grade. They dated as juniors and seniors at Mooreville High School, then went on to Itawamba Junior College, now ICC, and earned their degrees from Mississippi State University.

After the Ratliffs wed almost 50 years ago, they rented a house from her grandparents, who lived next door to her parents. One day she decided to make one of Mike’s favorites, a chocolate pie with meringue – still one of his favorites.

“My mother gave me the recipe and I wrote it down word for word,” she said. “After making the custard, she said to beat the egg whites and put them on top. So I beat the egg whites and put them on top.”

Ratliff said when she took the pie out of the oven, the meringue was beautiful and she was so proud of herself. But later, when she asked her husband about the pie, he said it was good, but the top was papery.

“I told my mother what I’d done, that I’d followed her directions exactly, and she said, ‘You did put sugar and cream of tarter in the egg whites, didn’t you?’ I didn’t even know what cream of tarter was then. Mike still teases me about that pie, and we get a laugh out of it.”

Ratliff’s mother gave her a Betty Crocker cookbook when she married, and she still uses it today. She also got a lot of recipes from Martha Swann, a former home economics teacher at Saltillo High School.

Ratliff taught math at Saltillo for a total of 26 years and also spent four years at Plantersville Junior High. She retired in 2007.

“When I was teaching, I’d get home by 4 o’clock, so I always had time to cook supper,” she said. “Sometimes I’d get it started earlier, and we ate leftovers a good bit. We didn’t go out to eat a lot back then.”

The Ratliffs have two children, Andy and Callie, and four grandsons, and they hope to see them at Thanksgiving.

“It will definitely be different this year,” Ratliff said. “We have in times past had a lot of family over, but we’ll just have immediate family this time. Same thing at Christmas. We’re ready for this pandemic to be over so we can get back to our regular lives.”



8 ounces whipping cream

2 3/4 cups sugar, divided

1 stick butter


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/4 cups milk, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

For the icing, in a large saucepan, mix and dissolve whipping cream and 2 1/4 cups sugar over medium-low heat. Let come to a boil.

Meanwhile, place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a black iron skillet over medium-high heat and cook for about 8 minutes. The sugar will melt and turn very dark. Pour the burnt sugar into the saucepan and continue stirring. Cook until the soft ball stage.

Add butter and cook until melted. Let icing cool, then beat until spreading consistency. While the icing is cooling, prepare the cake.

For the cake, stir together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add shortening and 1 cup milk mixed with vanilla. Beat with mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 milk and eggs and beat 1 minute.

Divide batter among three 8-inch greased and floured cake pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. Let layers cool.

To assemble, spread icing between layers and on top and sides of cake.



1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cold water


1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Dash of salt

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 stick butter


3 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

For the crust, mix flour, shortening and salt in a medium bowl with a fork until crumbly. Add water gradually and continue mixing until a ball of dough forms.

Sprinkle flour on a sheet of wax paper about 18-inches long. Using a floured rolling pin, make a circle of thin dough big enough to cover a pie plate. Place crust in pie plate and trim the edges. Use a fork to prick the bottom and sides of crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes.

For the filling, combine 1 cup sugar, flour and salt in a large saucepan. Stir in egg yolks. Gradually add milk. Add butter. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring often.

Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in black iron skillet over medium-high heat and cook for about 8 minutes. The sugar will melt and turn very dark. Pour the burnt sugar into the saucepan and continue stirring. Cook until thick.

For the meringue, beat egg whites and cream of tarter with a mixer until peaks appear. Add sugar and continue beating for 1 minute.

Pour filling into cooked crust. Cover pie with meringue and cook at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until meringue is lightly browned.


3/4 cup sugar

1 cup shortening

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup boiling water

1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 cup lukewarm water (about 110 degrees)

2 eggs, beaten

6 cups all-purpose flour

Place sugar, shortening and salt in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over sugar mixture; stir well. Cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle yeast over 1 cup lukewarm water; let stand 5 minutes. Stir yeast and water together.

Add eggs to sugar mixture and mix well. Add dissolved yeast to sugar-egg mixture and mix well. Add flour gradually, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Cover with foil and refrigerate 2 hours or longer (overnight is good).

Roll dough onto a floured surface in a rectangle. Cut into circles and place on a greased pan. Let rise for 2 hours. Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Note: To make cinnamon rolls, after rolling dough into a rectangle, spread with melted butter or dot with butter. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Roll dough beginning with the long sides. Seal seam with cold water. Cut into 1-inch rolls. Place rolls in a greased baking pan. Let rise for 2 hours and bake. Top with a glaze made with confectioners’ sugar and milk.


1 pound ground turkey

1 cup chopped onion

2 (14-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes

1 can pinto beans

1 can black beans

1 can whole kernel corn

1 package taco seasoning

1 package dry ranch dressing mix

In a black skillet, cook turkey and onion until meat is no longer pink and onion is soft. Pour into a Dutch oven and add remaining ingredients (do not drain cans). Cook the soup until it boils. Let simmer for at least 10 minutes. (This can also be made in a Crock-Pot.)


1 tablespoon plus 2/3 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 (14-ounce) can cream-style corn

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Place 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch black iron skillet; place the skillet in the oven at 450 degrees and let it get hot.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine cornmeal, remaining 2/3 cup oil, eggs, sour cream, corn and cheese with a spoon. Pour into hot greased skillet. Bake for 30 minutes.

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 (662) 678-1581 or email them to

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