‘Mama Nell’ shares favorite

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 15, 2002

‘collected’ recipes in cookbook


Features Editor

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Mama Nell’s back in town and she’s causing quiet a stir in the kitchen.

Nubie Ivonell Grace Chapman wouldn’t admit it, but she is "one more good cook" and she learned her culinary skills right here the in back country of Pike County.

"I’m from Center Ridge – out from Springhill," Mrs. Chapman said, with a smile. She grew up in the country and she grew up having chores to do, but one of those was not cooking.

"My mother was a wonderful cook, an excellent cook, and I learned a lot from watching her, but she didn’t turn me loose in the kitchen," Mrs. Chapman said. "I didn’t really learn to cook until I got married. Then, I learned by trial and error."

The more she "trialed" the less she "errored" and, before long, she was venturing out from turnip greens and cornbread to more "complex" dishes.

"I love to cook and I love to try new recipes," she said. "I even like to hear people talking about cooking and about recipes they like."

That fascination with food – preparing it, not overstuffing with it – became a hobby of sorts for Mrs. Chapman. She began to collect favorite recipes from family and friends. Then from acquaintances, then from complete strangers along the way.

"I like to travel," she said. "I’ve been to a lot of places in the United States and overseas. I don’t especially care to cook exotic dishes, so I haven’t picked up a lot of recipes from the countries I’ve visited, but I do get recipes from those who travel with me."

There’s nothing Mrs. Chapman would rather do than swap recipes with a traveling companion. "And, you would be surprised at how many people enjoy swapping recipes."

As much as she enjoyed collecting and swapping recipes, Mrs. Chapman enjoyed cooking even more.

Family, friends and neighbors often cornered her in the kitchen and wouldn’t let her out until she had whipped up their favorite recipe.

"My cheese straws and Italian Cream Cake are the two things I have the most requests for," she said.

It’s a pleasure to cook for people who really enjoy the fruits of your labor and Mrs. Chapman has been pleasured a lot.

So many people have shared with her that she decided she wanted to return the favor.

She began to plunder through all of her recipes and pick out those she especially enjoyed cooking and eating. She picked and picked and picked – 200, 400, 500 and more.

What to do with all of those wonderful recipes that had been handed-down and shared around for so many year?

The best idea Mrs. Chapman could think of was the put them into a book. And, when she did, it was a "best" idea.

Mrs. Chapman’s book, titled "Delights, Delectables and Dainty Dishes" is now in print and she’s rather proud of it.

The cookbook includes recipes handed down for generations and those as delightfully new as a few moons ago, but each and every one has been perfected by trial and error.

There are recipes for the old Southern standards, like dried peas and turnips greens, and innovative dishes like lemon pecan pie.

"I have recipes in the book for starters for breads and cakes," Mrs. Chapman said. "Some people think you have to get a starter from somebody. Well, somebody’s got to start it and this book tells you how."

Mrs. Chapman will be at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday.

She invites everyone to come by and visit with her and perhaps share a recipes or two and take a look at Mama Nell’s cookbook.