Nan Edwards can cook, yes indeed. She learned how to cook from her mother Betty, who is one of the best cooks in Bruce, Mississippi, if not Calhoun County itself, which is nothing to sneeze at, no it is not. I’ve had my feet under the dinner table at the Edwards’ household many a time; their 9-layer caramel cake is legendary, and what they do with fresh vegetables from their garden constitutes a tutorial in great Southern cooking.
I had to beg Nan for the recipe. She kept putting me off, saying she did not know where she had it written down when I knew very well she had it in that little Colonel Rebel recipe box she keeps on top of her refrigerator next to the paper towels. But I was patient, persistent, called her up one night, found her in the right mood, so she read it to me over the phone. What with her wagging her finger at me every other sentence, it took fifteen minutes, swear to God.
“Dissolve one package yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. When yeast begins to work, add 1/2 cup sugar, another 1 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons salt. Blend until sugar is dissolved, add 3 large eggs and beat well. To this mixture, add 2 cups plain flour and blend until smooth. Gradually add enough flour (up to 4 or more cups) and mix well to make soft dough. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least eight hours. When ready to bake, form dough into balls and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, bake for 15-20 minutes until brown. The dough will keep for up to four days covered in the refrigerator.”