Renee Hall of Henry County doesn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but when she or her husband Joe are planning to cook, chances are pork will be on the menu.
"We love thin breakfast pork chops, and if Joe cooks on the grill, it's almost always pork," says Renee.
Both natives of Haleburg, Renee says she can't imagine her husband of 34 years not doing some type of farming.
"Joe's number of hogs is down right now because he's working to establish a new genetic line, so he's been helping other farmers with their planting. He's got to keep his hands in farming some way all the time," she says.
Joe also serves on the Farmers Federation's State Pork Committee and on the National Pork Board's State Relations Committee. "He does everything he can to promote 'the other white meat,'" Renee says.
Renee has worked more than 20 years for Greenbriar Rail Services as the East Coast regional human resources representative, a job she says she enjoys. Joe and Renee also have recently begun what she refers to as another great adventure.
"We've opened Smokey Harris Speedway in Haleberg, a dirt track for racing," she said. "My granddad built the track, and it was open in the late '60s and early '70s. We opened for some trial races last fall. This year the track opened in March, and we'll run through November."
When Joe and Renee aren't working, most of their social life revolves around their church, and Joe's pork chops and ribs are often requested at church gatherings.
"He does a great job of cooking for a crowd," she says.
As the season for grilling and barbecuing gets in full swing, Renee wants people to remember that pork is much leaner now than ever before, making proper cooking essential.
"I can't stress enough how important it is not to overcook pork, especially lean cuts cooked on the grill," she says, adding that a great marinade also helps keep pork juicy and tender.
The National Pork Board recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit using an instant-read thermometer. Larger cuts like roasts may be removed from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit and then allowed to cool 10 minutes before slicing.
In recognition of July as National Pork Month this July, Renee and Joe offer pork recipes for a variety of occasions Joe's Grilled Pork Chops or Country Ribs is perfect for summer cook-outs with friends and neighbors. And, "Crock-Pot Pulled Pork is a great weekend dish," adds Renee, "because it cooks so long on its own. You can have delicious pulled pork with little hands-on cooking."