Sherri Plant of Madison County says that some of her fondest childhood memories are of long days spent on her uncle's dairy farm in Arkansas.
"I grew up in town in Tuscumbia, but I always dreamed of being a farmer when I grew up. I never got to be a farmer, so I married one instead," Sherri says of her husband, Weldon.
"He has a full-time job off the farm, but Weldon definitely has a farmer's heart. He's always been very involved in agriculture. He has cattle now, and he leases row crop acreage," says Sherri.
Sherri is serving her second year as principal at Lynn Fanning Elementary School in Meridianville, where she was assistant principal for the 12 previous years.
"Every year around Valentine's Day, a few teachers and I decorate the library, spread tablecloths and set the tables with good china and hot tea for the faculty. We play soft music, relax and enjoy each other's company. It gives us an excuse to sit and chat. Who can run with hot tea in a pretty china cup?" she asks.
This treat for her faculty is just one reflection of what Sherri calls her philosophy on cooking and entertaining.
"I just feel that we live in such a fast-paced world that one of the nicest things you can do for your family and friends in this day and age is to prepare a wonderful, homemade meal, set a lovely table, and stop and enjoy time together," she says.
Sherri also considers her love of entertaining a family tradition. "My mother was an excellent cook and my grandmother before her was a wonderful cook as well. Mother was a true entertainer, regularly hosting her bridge club, and I learned from her," Sherri says while admitting that her cooking and entertaining haven't always been what they are today.
"My son Adam was one of the pickiest eaters I've ever seen, so it was after my children left for college that I really started to take risks and try new things in the kitchen. I subscribe to lots of cooking magazines, and I love to try new recipes when I entertain," she says.
But that doesn't mean Sherri is a slave to trendy ingredients.
"I like recipes that are tried and true and don't have a list of a million ingredients not available in Meridianville," says Sherri.
And in keeping with that sentiment, the recipes Sherri offers here are made from ingredients that are stocked in most kitchens or readily available at the local supermarket.
She also shares some of her tea party staples like Lemon Curd and Open-faced Bacon Tomato and Basil Sandwiches.