Karen Newman of Blount County says her kitchen is carrying on the same traditions she cherished as a child.
“I learned to cook standing on a chair in my mother’s kitchen, and both my children learned the same way. Now my grandson, Cameron, wants to do the same thing when I’m cooking,” Karen said.
Born in Guntersville, Karen said her parents moved to Blount County when she was still a toddler. She and her husband, Charles, met at a young age at the Blountsville Fall Festival. They’ve been married 47 years and raise Charolais cattle and quarter horses. Charles cuts and bales hay for the farm.
“He does a little custom baling for some people, too, and he recently retired as the foreman of a welding and construction shop,” Karen explains, adding that his work on the farm lately has been a full-time job.
“Since the storms came through in April, he’s been fixing a lot of fences around the place where trees and limbs fell on them. But we didn’t have any other damage, so we were very lucky in that regard,” she said.
Karen works in an appliance store in Blountsville. She said driving into work on the days following the catastrophic storms was shocking.
“I can’t ever remember in my life such devastation from storms. One street about a quarter-mile from the store looked like the tornado had driven right down it. There were eight or nine houses that were just gone,” she said.
In addition to their farming and work responsibilities, the Newmans are active in the Blount County Farmers Federation, both serving on the Equine Committee in their county. And because they have a passion for farming, Karen says she and Charles have always made vegetable gardening a priority for their family, too.
“We thought it was important for our children to understand that even the food that comes from a grocery store is only there because someone planted and worked to bring that food to our table,” she said.
And while Karen says her mother’s kitchen was home to her first cooking inspirations, she says her mother-in-law has also shared wonderful recipes with her over the years, including her recipe for pecan pie.
“She’s still a wonderful cook and keeps an immaculate house at 90 years old,” Karen said of her mother-in-law. “She’s farmed all her life, and cooked the most wonderful old-fashioned farm-fresh meals all that time.”
Like her mother-in-law’s pecan pie, Karen shares several other recipes that reflect her family’s favorites.
“The squash fritters are my grandson Justin’s favorite thing, and my daughters love frogmore stew,” she said. “And we all love the cabbage and sausage supper. It cooks so quickly that we sometimes have it twice a week when cabbages are in season.”