Tammy Thompson of Dale County is the kind of mother whose life revolves around her children, and much of their time together is spent gathered around the table of her country kitchen.
“I try to cook a sit-down dinner for the family every night, and I’m finding out that’s unusual among more and more families. With three kids in school and the busy schedule that creates, they need some food that’s not on-the-go,” Tammy says.
Tammy and her husband, Chris, live in the Sylvan Grove community near Midland City where they farm peanuts, cotton and cattle. Their children — Savannah (16), Tucker (12), and Tate (8) — are all students at Northside Methodist Academy, and Tammy says she and Chris are glad their children have been able to enjoy farm life.
“The boys especially love the experience of going out into the fields with their Daddy, getting good and muddy before they come tracking back through the house,” she said. “Chris let Tucker help more with the peanuts last year than ever before, and it won’t be long before he’ll be driving the tractor himself.”
According to Tammy, her father farmed some when she was a growing up and came from a farm family, but Chris is the one with the true farming pedigree.
“He’s the fifth generation to farm in Dale County, and the only one of five children to carry on that tradition,” she says.
“Farming isn’t the right life for everybody though, and Chris has the right personality for it. A farmer takes huge risks and can’t control much of what affects his business. Chris has a really laid-back personality. He says he does the best he can with what he can control, and leaves the rest of it to God.”
Tammy also came from a relatively large family of four children, and she says she learned much of what she knows about cooking through trial by fire.
“Growing up, I hung around the kitchen with Mama, and I helped her some but didn’t have a lot of hands-on cooking experience. Then, one Thanksgiving, Mama was in the hospital, so I helped cook the Thanksgiving dinner, and it was actually pretty good. I made my first chicken and dressing, which was a big deal. Nobody went hungry,” she jokes.
In addition to the experience in her mother’s kitchen, Tammy also says that her mother-in-law has helped her become a good cook.
Tammy says Chris serves on the executive committee for the Dale County Farmers Federation and that she serves on the women’s committee, work she enjoys and is proud of.
“Federation meetings give us the opportunity to talk with other farm families in our community,” she says.
“We understand each other’s challenges, and people can share ideas and solutions that have worked well in our area. And being a part of the women’s committee is so fun because we get to educate children about where their food and fiber comes from. Even in an agricultural area like the Wiregrass, so many people never think about or talk with their children about agriculture. We want to let them know there is something beyond the grocery store, and it’s interesting to see the kids’ curiosity in something many of them don’t know much about.”
Since Tammy knows first-hand how hectic schedules can leave little time for cooking, she offers some recipes that go from pantry to table in no time.
“Taco Rice is one of the kids’ favorites, and it’s an easy week-night supper. Chicken Pepper Jack Soup is a recipe that my sister-in-law made and we all loved. It doesn’t take much ‘prep’ time, either,” she says.
Blueberry Congealed Salad and Cold Shoepeg Corn Casserole are just the recipes to reach for when spring cookouts call for make-ahead side dishes