In many ways, Kathy Anderson's life in Jefferson County has been a whirlwind of farming and cooking.
"We did truck farming, growing okra, green beans and tomatoes. We had cattle, and cut hay. We've raised horses, goats and sheep. My daddy had bees and we raised a hog or two when I was growing up, and Alvin and his dad had a dairy. About the only thing we haven't tried is chicken houses," says Kathy of farm life with her husband, Alvin.
"And I definitely grew up cooking. My grandmother ran a boarding house in the late �40s and early �50s, a time when men were coming into
Birmingham to find work. They would stay at a boarding house during
the week, and go home to their families for the weekends. So I grew
up helping make those great big boarding house batches of food,�
But she adds that her grandmother wasn't her only source of inspiration.
"My mother was an excellent cook too, and my sister has a catering business in Jackson, Miss. Alvin's mother cooked biscuits and cornbread every day of her life from the time she was 9 years old, and baked every kind of cobbler
known to man. I grew up with a lot of wonderful cooks around me," Kathy says.
Married for more than 30 years, Kathy and Alvin have been longtime members of the Farmers Federation, with Alvin continuing to serve on the Jefferson County Farmers Federation's board of directors.
We both work off the farm too. So it takes a lot of time and dedication to keep it all going, but it's important to us to keep working with the Federation," she says.
Kathy works as a claims authorizer for Social Security, a job she finds rewarding.
"I serve the public every day, helping people get the right benefits at the right time. When you see the relief in people's faces because you can help them, it's pretty satisfying," she says, adding that Alvin works for the State of Alabama as a traffic signal technician.
"I tell people he's responsible for the red lights, but he says he's responsible for the green ones too," she joked.
With their busy schedules, Kathy says she doesn't have time for complicated recipes.
"I don't make a lot of fancy things; I cook what my family likes to eat -- quick and simple food that tastes really good," she says.
For those chilly February nights, Kathy suggests a satisfying bowl of Baked Potato or Black Bean and Rice Soup, and she says her Honey Bun Cake is always a hit.
"It has the most wonderful aroma. The minute people come in the door, they smell it and it just takes hold of them. It's really a go-getter of a recipe," she says.