Carol Simpson said she felt a little out-classed when she walked into the Alabama Farmers Federation's Annual Heritage Cooking Contest in Montgomery Sept. 2. The St. Clair County cook was carrying an Autumn Harvest Pie, her entry in the state cooking contest, in a grocery bag.
"I didn't see mine as being in the same class as those," she said, looking around the room filled with fresh-baked pies. "I just really didn't think it would win."
But it did, and her family's favorite pie not only earned high praise from the judges, it also won her a blue ribbon and $150. Other winners in the contest
were Shannon Murray from Franklin County who won second place with her mouth-watering Key Lime Mousse Pie and Toni Flowers of Montgomery County who won third with her delicious Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie. Second- and third-place winners received cash awards of $100 and $50, respectively.
Participants in the statewide competition, sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Division, had earlier won their county Federation's annual cooking contest. The state competition was held at the corporate offices of Alfa Insurance and drew winners from 35 counties.
Simpson said her award-winning pie actually began life as a cake recipe given to her by her niece, Sarah Crocker.
"I've used it (as a cake recipe) for my family and they liked it," she said. "I wondered how it would be as a pie, so I changed a few things and it was even better as a pie!"
Besides its taste, the pie also is simple to make and takes only 45 minutes from start to finish, she said. It also keeps well and can be made a day or two ahead of time, she added.
When asked what made her pie a winner, Simpson paused a minute and said,
"Well, it must have been the taste - and the Lord's blessings."
During the judging, contestants learned about the Buy Alabama's Best Program from Montgomery businesswoman Virginia Whitfield of Whitfield Foods, Inc. The program encourages shoppers to look for and purchase food products from Alabama.
The Heritage Cooking Contest strives to showcase the flavor, versatility and nutritional value of Alabama agricultural products. Dishes were judged on taste, appearance and ease of preparation.