A former home economics teacher, Debbie Owens of Greene County says she never did much cooking as a little girl, but that all changed in junior high school.
“The chorus teacher heard me sing and told me I’d better take home economics,” says Debbie.
So throughout junior high and high school that’s precisely what she did, and she went on to Auburn University to pursue a degree in home economics.
“When I was at Auburn, everyone who majored in home economics had to spend one semester in the Home Management House. It was a small, pretty brick house where we all practiced cooking and other aspects of maintaining a home. I still use some of the recipes I learned that semester,” Owens says.
After having spent so much time teaching home economics, Debbie says she still has former students talk with her about the recipes she taught them.
“It’s fun to see old students in the grocery store and have them ask me about a certain recipe or tell me they still make it for their families,” she says.
In addition to the years she spent as a student and teacher, Debbie says that her mother-in-law was a great influence on her cooking.
“I was inspired and trained by Mamie Owens, my mother-in-law. She was a great cook, and the (Federation field staff) knew when to hit her house for a taste of something homemade,” says Debbie.
After retiring from public school, Debbie began teaching at Pickens Academy where she is serving her fourth year as computer coordinator for elementary and high school students.
“It’s been quite a career change, but I’m enjoying it because I’ve always been interested in computers. And our first home computer actually came from the Farmers Federation as one of the prizes when we were named Outstanding Young Farm Family of the Year,” she says.
Debbie and her husband, Edward, who is secretary treasurer of the Greene County Farmers Federation, were in the dairy business at that time. Since then, their operation has changed to timber and hay production.
“After Edward sold his dairy cows, he began teaching agri-science at Pickens County High School, where he’s been for 10 years now,” Debbie says.
Debbie and Edward met at Walker Community College in Jasper before each transferred to Auburn University where they graduated.
The couple lives in the community of Pleasant Ridge and has three sons: Richard III, who is enrolled in seminary; Brad, a registered nurse; and John Morgan, a student at Pickens Academy.
“Edward and I say John Morgan’s our last chance,” said Debbie, “and he promises he’s going to Auburn.”
Debbie says the recipes she shares are dishes she cooks all the time and include some favorites she’s collected over the years.
“I learned to make Chicken Crescent Rolls while I was living in the Home Management House at Auburn, the rum cake was my mother-in-law’s recipe, and Adrianna Williams, a long-time friend from West Greene, gave me the potato loaf cake recipe,” Debbie says.