NETTLETON – When Kim Taylor and her first cousin were little girls, they used to get in the kitchen all the time and experiment.

“We used to sneak food and try different stuff,” Taylor said. “We’d scramble pancakes because we didn’t know how to flip them. We made the biggest messes, but it was all good food.”

Taylor’s come a long way since then. Today, she has Graceful Catering by Kim Taylor in Nettleton.

“I stay booked just about every weekend, even if it’s small things,” Taylor said.

Catering kind of fell into the 36-year-old’s lap. She started making cheesecakes, chess pies and chess squares to share with friends and family, but word soon got out.

“People kept wanting them,” she said. “I couldn’t keep them in stock. I wasn’t cooking for the public, but people were asking for them all the time.”

After starting her catering business, she decided to open The Coffee Mug in downtown Aberdeen in 2019.

“We had truffles, trifles, stuffed muffins, cobbler biscuits, parfaits, fudge,” Taylor said. “But I was the only cook, the only baker. It was a seven-day-a-week job, and I wanted to spend more time with my family. So I closed it in November 2021.”

When Taylor went back to catering, she found the game had changed.

“It’s a new world out there now,” she said. “Grazing tables are the new thing. Tables used to be rustic, with a lot of tin. Now, it’s grazing tables with charcuterie boards.”

Taylor’s first cousin, Amanda Joy Taylor, helps her with a lot of her events.

“She’s more like my sister than my cousin,” Taylor said. “And she’s my biggest supporter.”

Taylor grew up in Pontotoc and went to Pontotoc city schools, but she now lives in Nettleton. She and her husband, Anthony, share five children, and are foster parents to three others.

“We’ve been fostering children since about 2015,” she said. “At one point I thought we were through, but the Lord sent us more to take care of.”

Some of the kids play baseball, so the family is only home two or three nights a week for supper. Taylor might make homemade chicken strips with mac and cheese and green beans, or baked chicken Alfredo with a side salad.

“I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do like to read cookbooks and magazines,” she said. “I’ll try a new recipe at least twice a week. I love a good challenge in the kitchen.”

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 [email protected]

BUTTERMILK PIE

1 stick butter, melted and cooled

1 (9-inch) regular pie crust, unbaked

Beat sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add cooled butter and beat again. Add salt and cornstarch. Add buttermilk last and beat well for 2 to 3 minutes until foam forms on top. Pour batter immediately into pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Cream both sugars, eggs and vanilla. Add butter and beat until fluffy. Add flour gradually by hand. Fold in chocolate chips. Form dough into a round log and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, slice cookies and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 12 minutes for crispy cookies.

JALAPENO CHEESE BALL

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 medium jalapeno, chopped

1/2 cup real bacon bits, plus more for garnish

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

Combine cream cheese, garlic powder, poppy seeds, white pepper, chopped jalapeno, 1/2 cup bacon bits and 1 cup cheese. Form into a log. Roll log in remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle with additional bacon bits. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

TURNIP GREEN SOUP

2 bunches turnip greens, washed and chopped

1 package Knorr vegetable mix

1 cannellini beans, undrained

1 can pinto beans, undrained

1 package smoked sausage, cut in coins

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the greens with a bouillon cube until greens are tender. Add vegetable mix, beans, celery and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add the sausage, and cook for 1 hour.

Recipe courtesy of Amanda Joy Taylor.

SALMON PATTIES

2 cans pink salmon, unrained

Combine salmon with juice, onion, bell pepper, corn meal, egg, salt and pepper. Roll into balls, then flatten into patties. Cook in hot canola oil for about 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve with biscuits.

Recipe courtesy of Amanda Joy Taylor.

GERMAM CHOCOLATE CAKE

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 bag fancy coconut flakes

For the cake, in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs and buttermilk and beat well. Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round pans that have greased parchment paper at the bottom. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 to 30 minutes. When layers are cool, split each in half to make four layers, and cut off rounded domes to make layers flat.

For the ganache, combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small stainless steel pot and cook over low heat until melted.

To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Top with ganache. Place second layer on top and top with ganache, then sprinkle with pecans and coconut. Repeat with third layer. Place fourth layer on top. Drizzle ganache over top layer, letting it run down the sides of cake. Sprinkle cake with pecans and coconut.

Recipe courtesy of Amanda Joy Taylor.

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