PONTOTOC – When Scottie Albrite and his wife, Connie, moved to Pontotoc in 2019 to help take care of his mother-in-law, he wasn’t sure he was going to like it.
Albrite, 72, was raised in Nokesville, Virginia, and had a service station and wrecker service in Manassas, Virginia, for 44 years.
“Now that I’m here, I don’t think I’ll ever move again,” Albrite said. “The people here are so nice.”
Albrite was used to cooking Wednesday night meals at the church he attended in Virginia. When he and Connie moved to Pontotoc, she encouraged him to attend the Men’s Bible Study group at Maple Drive Presbyterian.
“I said I wasn’t sure, that I didn’t know the Bible as well as those guys, but I went,” he said. “They would do breakfast, like biscuits from Hardee’s or the Tin Nickel. I started making breakfast casseroles and quiche for them. When I cook, they’re very satisfied. I was amazed they liked the quiche as much as they did.”
Albrite said his grandmother was a big influence on his cooking.
“When she wasn’t teaching, she was in the kitchen,” he said. “She made the best oatmeal cookies and biscuits you’ve ever tasted. She always used cast iron, and she had a can of grease sitting by the stove. We’d can tomatoes and freeze green beans, corn and lima beans. As kids , we helped. That’s what you did in the simmer after Vacation Bible School was over. “
Albrite got into grilling in the late 1980s. He started with things like steak and worked his way up to smoking turkeys.
“My favorite meal is anything I can cook on the grill – grilled steaks, cauliflower and asparagus – the whole meal cooked on the grill,” he said.
Albrite has found as he and his wife and his mother-in-law, Edith Littlefield, have gotten older, they don’t need and can’t eat as much meat as they once did.
“I might cook two steaks and slice them on the cutting board, and then everybody gets what they want,” he said. “Two steaks will feed four people. Three pork chops, sliced, will feed four people.”
While Albrite enjoys grilling, he also likes to make casseroles and pasta dishes, and he gets a lot of recipes from allrecipes.com.
“I make a lot of meals that Edith enjoys and we always have enough for leftovers,” he said. “We’re spicy food people – even my mother-in-law at 95 doesn’t mind spicy food.”
Albrite cooks just about every day, and he does it because he enjoys it.
“I like it when people like something I’ve made,” he said. “I call it big head cooking – I get a big head when they say they like it.”
DO YOU KNOW A GOOD COOK? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, PO Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can call (662) 678-1581 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAUSAGE PECAN MORNING CASSEROLE
1 (16-ounce) loaf raisin bread
1 1⁄2 cups half-and-half
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Grease a 9×13-inch glass casserole. Cube raisin bread and put in the baking dish.
Brown sausage links; drain and cut into bite-sized pieces. Mix with bread in the baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, half-and-half, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon until blended. Pour over bread and sausage. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Combine brown sugar, butter, syrup and pecans. Spoon by teaspoon over casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
CAJUN CHICKEN PASTA
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
Chop chicken into bite-size pieces, add the Cajun seasoning and place in a ziptop bag. Shake to coat.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the chicken in butter until almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the bell peppers and onion. Sauté and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat.
Add cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and black pepper and heat through. Add the cooked, drained linguine, and toss to heat through. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve.
2 (9-inch) pie crusts, unbaked
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies, drained
Place bacon in a large deep skillet and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
Place crusts in two 9-inch glass pie plates. Sprinkle bacon on the bottom of each crust.
In a bowl, combine cheeses and flour.
In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, cream, onion and green chilies. Add cheese mixture and stir well.
Divide mixture between two pie crusts. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes, until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
EDITH’S CHICKEN POT PIE
2 (12-ounce) cans chunk chicken breast
2 (12-ounce) bags frozen mixed vegetables
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
Drain chicken broth and reserve broth. Press chicken into the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole with a fork. Sprinkle a lot of black pepper over chicken.
Cook frozen vegetables as directed, and drain.
Combine cooked vegetables, cream of chicken soup and reserved chicken broth in a large bowl. Pour over chicken.
Combine Bisquick, buttermilk and melted butter until smooth. Pour over mixture in baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until top is golden brown.
4 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes, pureed
Boil macaroni until done; drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef; drain the grease. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic, paprika and pureed tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cooked, drained pasta. Mix well and serve.
SMOKED BABY BACK RIBS
Big Bob Gibson’s dry rub, or your favorite
Prepare smoker. If using a grill, prepare for indirect cooking.
Bring ribs to room temperature. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Coat both sides of ribs with dry rub.
Place ribs on grill rack. Maintain smoker / grill at 250 degrees for 3 hours. Every hour, spray the ribs with apple juice.
Once the meat pulls away from the bone tips, remove the ribs from the smoker / grill and place each rack on a piece of heavy-duty foil. Rub ribs with barbecue sauce, wrap up tightly and return to smoker / grill. Cook an additional 2 hours. Let the ribs rest for 1 hour before eating.