Like many proud grandmothers, Juanita Haynes of Cullman County could talk all day about her family, but it might take half that time to list all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“When we’re all together for holidays, there are 40 of us. We have four children, 12 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and our in-laws” says Juanita who’s been married 60 years to husband Howard, who is better known as “Bud.”
“I know it sounds like I’m bragging when I talk about them, but Bud and I are just so thankful for them all. It is a real blessing to have every one of them, and they each have their own special place in our hearts,” explains Juanita.
The couple still lives in the Fairview community on the family farm where Bud was born, and that land is currently home to the fifth generation of Hayneses to live there.
“Our son Darrel’s grandson, Jack, is 2 years old, and he loves the cows and the tractor,” says Juanita.
And Juanita still cooks lunch for her family members who work on the farm.
“I cook lunch for Darrel and his two boys every day, and they’re appreciative of it. No matter what I fix, they thank me every day with no complaints,” she says.
But it’s hard to imagine food lovingly prepared in Juanita’s kitchen would give them anything to complain about, and they’d certainly be hard-pressed to find a cook with more experience.
“I can’t remember not cooking,” she begins.
“I was my parents’ oldest child, and I had three brothers. I can hardly believe it now, but my mother would get lunch started then pull a chair up to the stove for me to stand on and leave me to finish lunch so she could work on other things,” Juanita recalled.
From that chair in her mother’s kitchen to the meals she still fixes for her family, Juanita doesn’t use a lot of recipes. In fact, she says her youngest son, Kevin, was surprised she was going to be in the Country Kitchen. “He said, ‘Mama, you don’t use recipes,’ and I usually don’t, but there are some things that I’ve made so many times I just don’t need to look at the recipe anymore,” she explains.
When she’s not in the kitchen, Juanita says humbly, “I just do what mothers do. I still garden, I’m active in church work, and I help with the children.”
“I guess the greatest thing I can hope to do is give my family sweet memories to enjoy,” she said. “When they’re all here, they’re always laughing about things they did, and that makes me happy. We sent all four of our kids to Auburn, and even though I’m sure it was hard, I don’t remember it that way. I’m proud we could do that for them. Bud and I may not be able to leave them all a pile of money, but they’ve all been able to make themselves a good living and a happy family, and I’m most grateful for that.”
Juanita says she likes cooking to be easy, and the recipes she shares this month reflect that simplicity with common ingredients that can be assembled and prepared quickly. She says her Never-Fail Roast is a great dish to prepare for company, and Pecan Muffins are a fast breakfast treat that’s also a great use for their pecans she and Bud put in the freezer every year. And since June is Dairy month, it’s a perfect time to try her daughter-in-law Lydia’s Ice Cream.
“We especially like it with strawberries, but you can use any fruit you like. It is the most delicious ice cream you’ll ever put in your mouth,” she says.