COOK OF THE WEEK: Houston retiree enjoys cooking, camping

Barbara Fleming of the Thorn community outside Houston keeps all the ingredients on hand so she can make her Fruit Cocktail Cake on the spur of the moment. (Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com)

Barbara Fleming of the Thorn community outside Houston keeps all the ingredients on hand so she can make her Fruit Cocktail Cake on the spur of the moment. (Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com)

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

HOUSTON – Barbara Fleming began cooking at age 10 with the blessing of her mother.

“I liked to cook and my mother let me cook, but she always said I was an expensive cook,” said Fleming, 64.

“It wasn’t that I messed things up. We could always eat everything I cooked, but I liked to cook expensive things.”

During one of her experimental phases, Fleming developed a fascination with food coloring.

“One day I made the creamed potatoes green and my daddy said, ‘Uh, I just can’t eat green potatoes.’ As I went along, my mother helped me and then my mother-in-law, who was a really good cook, too.”

Fleming grew up in Houston, the fourth of five children born to Son and Jonnie Weaver. She is retired from BancorpSouth, where she worked for 40 years. She and her husband, Dwight, live in the Thorn community outside Houston. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Fleming, who plays bridge several times a week, cooks the main meal at lunch every day, and she and Dwight generally eat a light snack in the evenings, or sometimes they’ll have what she calls “plan-aheads,” which is her polite way of saying leftovers.

She also cooks lunch every Sunday for two of her children who live in town and their families.

“I like casseroles and things like red beans and rice,” she said. “I start Sunday lunch on Saturdays and finish it Sunday morning before going to church.”

The Flemings have a big garden at their home and they eat out of it all year long. This past fall, they had a pumpkin patch.

“I had the best time being the ‘pumpkin fairy,’” she said. “I’d just pick a couple and go to someone’s house and secretly leave them.”

The couple has a camper and a group they regularly travel with to different campgrounds, such as Oak Grove, La., Mountain View, Ark., and Trace Lake in Pontotoc.

“We have such a good time when we go,” she said. “My favorite meal is grilled pork rib-eyes, baked potato and salad. I like that even better than a beef steak. When we camp, everybody does a meal, and that’s always my meal. They love it.”

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 ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.

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