NETTLETON – Teresa Swain figures she’s had about 30 jobs in her 55 years. She’s done everything from being a bank teller, secretary and ditch digger to driving a tractor, running a bread route for Sara Lee and working at a mortgage company.
In 2018, she found her true calling. The next year, she made it a reality.
“I was working at General Atomics, and I’d been cooking for some girls at the plant who had children,” Swain said. “At first, they were just asking me for recipes, but then they asked me if I’d cook it for them.”
Swain started putting out a menu each week, and if anybody wanted something she was making, all they had to do was place an order.
“I knew this was my calling,” Swain said. “I love to serve people. I knew this was what the Lord wanted me to do.”
So one day in September 2019, she went home and told her husband, David, that she was leaving her job at the plant.
“And he said, ‘Are you crazy? What are you going to do?'” Swain said. “And I said, ‘I’m going to cook.'”
Once she got her catering kitchen in order and the all-clear from the Lee County Health Department, Swain began preparing casseroles and plates of food for people who would come to her house and pick them up. She even had a few drug reps she’d cater for.
“When COVID hit, I couldn’t go in the clinics anymore,” she said. “But I had six or eight older people I’d prepare meals for because they couldn’t get to the store. I’d just cook and give it to them. My dad said, ‘That’s your ministry. The Lord will bless that.'”
After her dad, Jimmy Cayson, died in 2020, those blessings came quicker than Swain could handle them.
“The business is so busy I had to hire people to help me,” she said. “Word of mouth is the best advertisement you can get.”
Most of the recipes Swain uses at Kitchen 107 belonged to her grandmother, who had Riley’s Restaurant in Nettleton for 50 years. Her aunt then had the eatery for another 30 years.
“My mom cooked, my grandmother cooked, my aunts cooked,” she said. “It was just inbred in me. My mom and dad had had Cayson’s Clothing Store, so my sister and I had to have supper done when they got home from work.”
Swain said when she stared her catering business, her husband gave her one piece of advice.
“He said, ‘Give them more than they ask for, and make it taste better than they thought,'” she said. “So that’s what I do.”
On the first Friday of every month, the Swains have “Steak Night” at their house. Folks go online to www.Kitchen107.com and pre-order, then drive up to the Swains’ home and pick up their cooked-to-order ribeyes or fillets with all the trimmings.
“People have begged us to open a restaurant, but I’ve got a good thing going,” Swain said. “If I don’t feel like cooking, I don’t put a menu out. I want to control the cooking. I don’t want the cooking to control me.”
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 call (662) 678-1581 or email them to [email protected]
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, cubed
5 chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 to 2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
Melt butter in a skillet. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic and saute until tender. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted.
In a large bowl, combine cooked, shredded chicken and the cooked, drained spaghetti. Pour warm vegetable mixture over all. Add Ro-tel tomatoes, cream, broth and seasonings. Add 1 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 cup Cheddar cheese, and stir to combine.
Pour mixture into a deep 9×13-inch greased casserole. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup each of Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until bubbly.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COCA-COLA CAKE
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
For the cake, combine Coke, oil, butter and cocoa powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, salt and baking soda. Pour Coke mixture over flour mixture and beat well. Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and beat well.
Pour batter into a 9×13-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
For the icing, heat butter, cocoa powder and milk until heated through. Add vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. Pour over cake.
MONTEREY JACK SALSA
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes, drained
1 can chopped black olives
1 can chopped green chilies
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve with tortilla chips.
FRESH SALAD WITH STRAWBERRIES AND ROASTED PECANS
Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 package Ramen noodles (discard flavor packet)
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
In a large serving bowl, combine greens, cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries and cheese.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Break Ramen noodles in small pieces and add to butter along with pecans. Cook, stirring, until pecans are roasted to desired doneness. Sprinkle pecan/Ramen mixture over salad.
For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad and toss to combine.
SOUTHERN GREEN BEANS
2 (28-ounce) cans cut green beans
1 russet potato, skin on, cubed
2 to 3 slices bacon, chopped
Combine all ingredients and place in a Crock-Pot. Cook on low overnight.
GRILLED STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS
Jalapeños, seeded and chopped
Butterfly chicken breast halves by cutting them in half horizontally, but not all the way through, and open them up like a book. Spread softened cream cheese over chicken and sprinkle with jalapeños. Fold chicken breasts back together and wrap with bacon to help keep them closed. Grill until done.