Little loves cooking desserts

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, June 17, 2009

COLOSSEE—Lisa Parker-Little has a passion for cooking and says she probably inherited this trait from her mother

The truth is, Little comes from a long line of excellent cooks, starting with her mother and father and back to two grandmothers and at least one great- grandmother.

In fact, Little lives in the very house in which her great-grandmother, Tina Rhodes, cooked the family meals in the kitchen fireplace.

“Speaking of the fireplace,” Little said with a smile, “no one even knew it was here until we gutted the kitchen prior to renovating it. It had been boarded up and covered with the inside wall.”

My husband, Joe, and I decided to save it,” she said. “Actually, it was still in pretty good shape—we figure it was built about 1920.

Little, 44, is a bookkeeper at Windsor High School, from which she graduated “a long time ago,” she says. She grew up in Colosse, where she and most of her immediate family still live.

“Our family is very close,” she said, “and we often get together to eat. So you just can’t be a Parker and not be able to cook.”

Little, for instance, does the entire thing — from meat to dessert and like her mother, cooks full-course meals when her husband is not working the night shift at International Paper Co.

Then for holiday get-togethers, she cooks the ham and sweet potatoes for Christmas, but her sister, Sharon Gwaltney, does the turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving, “because she has a knack for it.”

Her dad, Gilmer Parker, is pretty good on the grill, too. Sadly, her mom, Mildred, passed away a couple years ago.

“But whatever is needed for any occasion, I can usually come up with it,” she said.

The mother of one son, Parker,14, Little also brings her homemade dishes to her church and to his school when there are parties or receptions.

She says she would eventually like to start her own business, (not exactly catering, but close) where she would take and deliver orders for different occasions. “When I get more time,” she added.

“I really love to cook, though, and especially like to bake and make desserts,” she said. “The recipe I’m using for this story is one that I really like. It came from my mother, who used to keep a supply on hand in the freezer for unexpected company.

“They’re good for just about any occasion.”

Name: Lisa Parker-Little

Age: 44

Occupation: Bookkeeper at Windsor High School

Favorite food: Seafood

Least favorite food: Watermelon. I know it’s odd. Who doesn’t like watermelon?

What is the first thing you remember cooking? A grilled cheese sandwich

What has been your worst cooking experience? I once made a pound cake and planned to cook it in a two-piece tube pan. Well, it didn’t work. The batter ran through the bottom of the pan after I had placed it into the oven! Biggest mess I’ve ever seen, especially since I had to clean it up.

One ingredient you can’t cook without: Salt. It just gives food a better flavor, I think.

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking? You can’t rush. Everything works better when you take your time.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why? My mother, Mildred Parker. Everything she cooked was good, even when she used a new recipe and she’d say, “I don’t know about this.” It seemed to me that she cooked all the time. She had full-course meals at breakfast and dinner — she didn’t give you a bowl of cereal and send you on your way — no way. She felt everyone needed a good breakfast to face the day. I remember standing by her side in the kitchen, watching her every move. I learned a lot from her.

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Anything cooked by my dad, my sister or my nieces.

Lisa parker-little’s graham cracker bars


2 sticks melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

½ cup milk

1 cup chopped nuts

1 1/3 cups finely grated coconut

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

Whole graham crackers


¾ stick softened butter

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tbsp. Vanilla

1 tbsp. milk


Bring first four ingredients to boil, than add nuts, coconut and graham cracker crumbs.

Grease 9×13-inch pan and line with whole graham crackers. Pour filling over crackers and top with another layer of graham crackers. Mix icing ingredients and spread over top layer of graham crackers. Refrigerate for several hours to allow crackers to soften.

Note: Bars may be made ahead and frozen until needed.