Winstead loves fellowship of food

Cook of the Week Stephany Winstead enjoys many things about cooking, but most of all, she loves the fellowship of gathering around a home-cooked meal.

Winstead works with the Neshoba County Superintendant’s office and has worked with the school system for twenty years. She is a proud mother of a fifth grade teacher, Krissy Long, who recently earned Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and her husband Matthew Long, a manager at a auto supplies store.

Winstead and her husband, Richard Winstead, have been happily married for 29 years, and Winstead said she would never have it any other way.

Winstead began cooking young. Her grandmother, the late Cora Williams, was her first guiding hand in the kitchen, patiently showing her how to create little edible treasures.

“From the time I was old enough to stand in a chair, she had me in the kitchen making biscuits,” Winstead said. “I think that’s the first thing I ever made. They were ugly little biscuits, but she was so proud of them. So, my grandfather ate them.”

Winstead stayed with her grandmother often, especially during the summer months.

“She raised everything she ate, pretty much,” Winstead said of her grandmother Williams, “So we gardened and we came in and prepared to cook it. That’s where I guess I got my love for cooking.”

As Winstead grew, she found a passion for not only cooking and baking recipes already in her repertoire, but also in creating new recipes. She said she found herself taking two or three different things and putting them together, changing the recipes up a bit, and creating a new dish.

“I find a challenge in taking leftovers and recreating them,” Winstead said. “I enjoy taking a little bit of nothing and trying to turn it into something.”

Winstead has used her skills to try and help others further themselves in the past. She previously taught the life skills and cooking class for Christian Women Job Corps before it dissolved, teaching locals how to cook on a budget and make something with little.

Winstead learned her love for turning nothing into something when she and her husband were newlyweds. She said she began couponing and cooking for two on a budget and she believes it helped make her more creative with things.

Some of Winstead’s classics include roasts, homemade jellies, homemade pickles, her pimento cheese recipe, loaded ranch potatoes, casseroles, and her famous Reese’s cake.

“I love to do roasts,” Winstead said. “I like to play with roasts, because once you cook the roast, you can take a little bit of leftovers and put them with potatoes and rice, or make beef potpie or a menagerie of things with it.”

Winstead said she baked Reese’s Cakes and created pimento cheese for others, selling them while her daughter was in school to help earn a little extra money.

The Winsteads recently finished remodeling their kitchen. Richard Winstead’s grandfather built the house with hand-sawn lumber from the land. While in the process of remodeling – expanding the kitchen and adding a new utility room and living area – the Winsteads found little things from the past buried in the walls.

“We found a receipt where they bought some materials, we found a 1940’s Baptist Record wrapped around pipes,” Winstead said. “The best find we discovered was, when we tore the front out, there was a board under the window his grandfather had signed his name on. We saved the board, and when we finish, we want to fix a sitting area under the carport and we’re going to hang that under the carport.”

Winstead said in honor of their finds, she added her own treasures to the house, writing scriptures and messages on posts in the walls and leaving a mason jar with a letter of history about the house for the next person to find.

Winstead’s favorite part of their remodel is the kitchen. The increase in room allows more opportunity to host and entertain family and guests. The family celebrated Easter and Christmas in the new space and Winstead said she loved having everyone there without feeling like they were on top of one another, and that the spaciousness makes the kitchen like a brand new place to her.

Overall, what Winstead said she loves most is how food brings people together.

“To me, that’s what food, is a source of fellowship,” Winstead said. “It is a source of sharing your love and your concern for others. Even in the Bible, with Jesus, one of the last things He did with His friends was to share supper with them. It’s meals and sharing food with people that’s important to me”

Winstead said she loves to see people enjoying her food, and it brings a sense of accomplishment to see others gathered around her meals together.

In her free time, Winstead also enjoys crafting, and writes puppet dramas and puppet skits.

This summer, Winstead is teaching a class to children in Antioch Baptist Church.

“We are just starting a new class, teaching the kids how to do puppets and dramas,” Winstead said. “How to take scripture and bring it to life. And then teach missions, and how to use those ways of ministering to others to share the gospel…I like working with the children’s ministry. I guess it’s kind of my way of giving back.”

Banana Pudding

• 1 3.4-oz. box of Instant Banana Pudding

• 2 C. of milk

• 1 can sweetened condensed milk

• 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese because the texture is better for cooking and baking)

• 1 container Cool Whip

• 4-5 sliced bananas

• 1 box of Nilla Wafers

• In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the banana pudding mix and milk until for about 2-3 minutes.  The pudding may still be thin.  You are really just looking for a consistent texture with no lumps.

• Stir in the sweetened condensed milk until it’s thoroughly mixed in.

• Do the same with beaten cream cheese.

• Then follow the same procedure with the Cool Whip.  Put mixture aside.

• Spread some cookies evenly at the bottom of a 9×12 baking pan

• Top with sliced bananas, keep overlapping or stacking them until they create a nice thick layer.

• Spread the pudding mixture evenly until it coats the entire pan.

• Repeat layering the cookies, bananas, and pudding.

• Stand cookies around the edge of the top of the layers.

• Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hrs (overnight is best).

• Before serving, scatter the remaining cookie crumbs on top of the pudding.

Southern Fried Cabbage

• 4 slices of good bacon

• Medium head of Cabbage cut up

• 1 onion coarsely chopped

• 1 tbs sugar

• Salt/pepper to taste

• Water

Fry bacon in a deep pan and remove. Remove all but about 2-3 tbs of bacon grease.

Add cabbage and onion. Sprinkle seasonings over the top and toss with grease in pan.  Fry for about a minute and top with about a cup of water. Turn heat down and cover pan. Stir occasionally, After 15 minutes turn heat up and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

Rancher’s Slow Cooker BBQ Beef

• 3lb Chuck Roast

• 1 envelope of chili seasoning

• ½ cup BBQ Sauce

• Buns

• Pepper Jack Cheese

Place chuck roast in crockpot. Sprinkle with chili seasoning. Pour BBQ sauce over roast. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker. Remove fat and shred meat.

Return to slow cooker.  Use tongs to remove meat, place on toasted buns with slice of pepper jack cheese.

Spicy Pimento Cheese

• 1 8oz pkg softened cream cheese

• 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

• 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

• ½ cup mayonnaise

• 1 medium jar chopped pimentos

• 1 tsp garlic powder

• 1 tsp onion powder

• ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ½ tsp Tony’s Seasoning

Beat cream cheese add mayonnaise and seasonings, beating until mixed well.  Add drained pimentos and stir.  Fold in shredded cheeses.  Allow to set for a couple of hours before serving.  May be formed into a ball or log.  Very good melted over burgers or chicken or for a grilled cheese sandwich.  

Farmer’s Loaded Chicken Sandwich

• Thin chicken breasts marinated and grilled (favorite marinade)

• Spicy Pimento Cheese (See Recipe)

• Thick Cut Bacon (cooked) 1 – 2 slices per sandwich broken in half

• Fried Green Tomato (See Recipe)

• Spicy Mayo

• Deli Sandwich Buns 

Fried Green Tomatoes – Thinly slice green tomatoes and soak in buttermilk.  Mix about a cup of cornmeal with ½ cup flour.  Season with Tony’s Seasoning to taste.  Remove tomato from buttermilk and coat in cornmeal mixture.  Fry in hot oil in cast iron skillet till golden and crispy.  Remove and allow to drain.

Spicy Mayo – Mix 1 cup of mayo with 1 tsp of Cajun Seasoning or Seasoned Salt. Allow to sit for 30 minutes in refrigerator.

 To assemble sandwich: Place a tbsp of spicy pimento cheese on top of grilled chicken breast either on grill or on a pan for the oven.  Allow the cheese to melt over the top and remove from heat source.  Butter and toast buns.  Spread spicy mayo to taste over bun, follow with cheese topped grilled chicken breast, fried green tomato and bacon, top with bun.

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