Lydia's Thankful Kitchen

I graduated college in May 2006 from Blue Mountain College, married Scott two weeks later, and moved to Starkville to start teaching at Starkville Academy. I started teaching second grade. (Those second graders are now freshman in college. That only means two things, they are getting old, and I need to find a good wrinkle cream.) I taught that year and loved every minute of being with my students. The next year I moved to fifth grade, and down the hall from me was Catherine Ray. All I know to say is that she took me under her wing, and I now consider her my big sister. When you need a recipe, call Catherine. Need advice on discipling children? Call Catherine. If you just want to chat about your day, call Catherine. She has helped me transition from being a working gal to a stay at home mom to Community Group leader to understanding how to be hospitable to others. She will call and say, “I baked a pie, I will be over in 10.” We had a tree fall  in our front yard, and Jody and Mr. Bob Bates were at my door the next morning before 8 a.m. cutting up the tree. Among the most important attributes Catherine has taught me is to live out my convictions. By the world’s standards it might not be popular, but if God has called you to live by a certain standard, you stick with how He has called you to live. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, let’s all remember to reflect on those we are thankful for. I am thankful she has set such a wonderful example for me, for my family, and for her family. I am thankful for the day that Catherine became my friend.

Catherine is also a FABULOUS cook! She is always having our family over for dinner. Everything is homemade and delicious. I am always amazed how she juggles family, work, and cooking for the masses. She will prepare Sunday dinner regularly and will whip multiple dishes together and the 9 x 13 pans just keep coming out of the oven. I have selected a few of my favorite dishes that she prepares. I do hope that some of these dishes land on your Thanksgiving table. Happy cooking!



Pork Roast:

I’ve never cooked this recipe, but every time Catherine has served this dish the pork is tender, juicy, and delicious! We also just need to take a minute and talk about the gravy. It adds the perfect sweetness to the pork roast. Y’all! This is a MUST!

  • ¾ cup chopped onion

  • 2 Tbsp. butter

  • ½ cup brown sugar

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice

  • ½ cup chili sauce

  • 2 tsp. mustard

  • 3 drops of tabasco

  • ½ jar of red plum jam

Rub loin with garlic powder and onion salt. Bake at 375˚ for 25 minutes per ounce. Cook on rack. Saute onions in butter and mix in other ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes. 30 minutes before roast is done, take out, pour off fat. Take off rack. Put half of sauce on roast, baste, finish baking. Put foil around roast after taking off the rack. 

Mac & Cheese_3.jpg

Mac & Cheese Deluxe:

I first had Catherine’s version of mac and cheese at a Graduate Community Group gathering. It makes a ginormous amount, and I thought we are going to have a ton of leftovers. WE RAN OUT! I am talking not one little noodle left. Let’s talk calories for just a minute here. I think Paula Deen said it best, “I am not your doctor, I am your cook!”  The amount of assorted cheeses adds so much richness to this recipe. This is one recipe that you will just need to overlook calories on and walk a couple of extra laps the next day at the gym. I don’t cook it often,  but when you need a large quantity this is a great recipe to use. If you were cooking for another family this would be great to divide and share.

  • 10 oz. macaroni noodles
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 8 oz. American cheese, shredded
  • 1 ½ cups of cottage cheese
  • 2/3 cup of sour cream
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse. Place macaroni in a 9x 13 dish. Make a white sauce with the butter, flour, milk, and salt over medium heat. Add American cheese and stir until melted. Stir in cottage cheese and sour cream and pour over macaroni. Top with cheddar cheese and bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes.


Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole:

Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole:

Scott’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish is sweet potato casserole. Catherine uses Ruth’s Chris recipe. My mercy, it is practically a dessert! So yummy!


  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup butter (melted)

Sweet Potato mixture:

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (you can use canned to save time, just drain them)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs (well beaten)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted (1/2 cup) 

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350˚ degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.