Zilla Spencer

Vegetable Pizza is something Zilla Spencer of Vardaman makes quite often and the?Christmas tree version of it is always a hit. The idea came from Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens, and she says it’s one of the best Christmas things she’s run across. And with either pizza, “You can put whatever vegetables you want on it and decorate it however you want to.”

Zilla, who says she couldn’t boil water when she married, got most of her cooking instruction from her mother-in-law, the late Ludie Loftis Spencer. The roll recipe is as Mrs. Spencer wrote it out for Dewitt September 22, 1973. To the recipe, she added, “Mother loves ya!” “Her husband, Thomas, had died March 1973 and I guess that reminded me of human mortality and the valuable things that often are lost with our parents. Each time I make the rolls, always at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and for other special occasions, I am reminded of Mother and her love for us. I never made the recipe until she died, some 13 years after she wrote it out, since until then she always made the dough and gave it, or most of it, to her children!” said Dewitt.
“Goodness, yes,” was Zilla’s response when asked about gardening, saying, “It’s a passion.” She and Dewitt, a self-proclaimed champion pea-sheller, can hardly wait to get their garden going in the spring. They have already planted several things so far this year, and plan to try running butterbeans. They also mix beds of flowers in with the garden, an idea they got from Estelle Cook of Bruce.
Zilla cooks all the time, Dewitt says “too much” and that it’s her fault he’s overweight. She likes holiday cooking, and loves bread--cornbread, Mexican cornbread and rolls. About 10 years ago, she made a cookbook of her favorite recipes to pass along to their daughters, Leah and Morgan, for Christmas.

Vegetable Pizza
2 pkg. crescent rolls
Roll flat on a cookie sheet and pinch edges together. Bake at 375° about 7 minutes.
1-8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
Beat the three ingredients together and spread over cooled roll crust. Add chopped raw vegetables: broccoli, green onions, radishes, green peppers, lettuce, cucumber, etc. Top with grated cheese. Cut into squares to serve.
Christmas tree version of vegetable pizza: to make tree shape, remove dough from cans in rolled sections. Do not unroll. Cut each section into eight slices (16 slices from each can). To form each tree, start by placing one slice for top, two slices just below, with sides touching. Continue arranging in a row of three slices, then a row of four, ending with a row of five. Use the remaining roll for the trunk. Repeat making second tree. Bake one tree at a time. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled tree and decorate with chopped vegetables. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Mrs. Ludie’s Refrigerator Rolls
3 qts. plain flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 qt. milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 pkg. yeast
1/4 cup warm water
Put milk, sugar and shortening in large boiler on stove. Heat to boiling, but do not boil. Set off to cool. Sift plain flour and measure two quart-jars with tablespoon. Do not jar the flour  as it is supposed to be loose in the jar and not packed down. When milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add yeast dissolved in a 1/4 cup warm water. Also add the two quarts flour. Cover. After this mixture has risen until doubled in bulk, add salt, baking powder and soda to the third quart of flour and add it to dough mixture. This makes a lot! Make out rolls or refrigerate. Will keep in the fridge 2 or 3 weeks.

Pork Loin
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 Tbsp. minced garlic
Saute in 3 Tbsp. margarine three minutes.
Add the following mixture and saute for two or three minutes:
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 tsp. red pepper
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. Creole seasoning can be added if desired.
Put over pork loin and wrap in foil. Bake for a couple of hours at 350° degrees. Uncover the last 20 minutes.

Lemon Jello Cake
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 pkg. lemon Jell-o
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup oil
Mix all ingredients and beat three minutes. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°·
Topping: 2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
Mix well. Make holes in the top of the hot cake with a fork and pour topping over it. Let set for 10 minutes, then turn cake out on cake plate.

Sweet and Sour Pork
(Bobby Phillips)
1 #2 can pineapple chunks
1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup green pepper strips
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 lb. pork chops cut in small strips
1 Tbsp. oil
Water, about 1/4 cup
Brown pork in oil, add water, cover and simmer about 45 minutes. Mix vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and pineapple juice drained from
chunks (add water to complete one cup). Cook on low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Combine mixture with pork and let sit covered 10
minutes. Add pineapple chunks, onion and pepper. Cook five minutes. Serve over rice.

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