Two of Alabama's tastiest crops, peanuts and pecans, were ingredients in the winning recipes of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Annual Heritage Cooking Contest in Montgomery Sept. 1.
Dawn East of Cherokee County won first place and $150 with her Butter Pecan Bars. Shirley Ezzell of Franklin County won second place and $100 for her Apricot Sour Cream Tea Cookies, and Felicia Dewberry of Clay County won third place and $50 for her Salted Peanut Chews.
East said this marks the third time she's competed in the statewide cooking contest. She formerly competed in the pie and soup categories after winning her county contest in previous years.
"I was shocked when they called out my name," said East, who is vice chairman of the Cherokee County Federation Women's Leadership Committee. "I found the recipe on my computer several years ago, and I like to make it for my family. I take it to church, and I've actually taken it to some of our county Federation meetings. It's pretty popular."
East said the ingredients include some of her favorite things to eat: buttered pecans, cream cheese and butter.
The annual contest is sponsored by the Federation's Women's Leadership Division as a way to showcase the flavor, versatility and nutritional value of Alabama agricultural products. Dishes were judged on taste, appearance and ease of preparation.
During the judging, contestants heard from Patricia Barnes, founder of Sister Schubert's. She told her life's story of growing up in Troy and using her grandmother's Parker House roll recipe to start her own business, which later became a multi-million-dollar industry in Luverne.
Barnes and her husband, George, founded the Barnes Family Foundation, a charitable organization, which has donated more than $2.3 million to charities, scholarships, historical preservation and the creation of a home for abandoned children in the Ukraine. The Federation made a contribution to the foundation following her presentation at the contest.