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September 01, 2011   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
September 01, 2011

Winners in the 2011 Heritage Cooking Contest were, from left, first place, Dawn East of Cherokee County; second place, Shirley Ezzell of Franklin County and third place, Felicia Dewberry of Clay County. The annual contest is sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation 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.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- 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 today.

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 today," 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.

East proudly states her occupation as a full-time farmer. She works alongside her husband, John, who serves as first vice president of Cherokee County Farmers Federation. They raise cotton and black Angus cattle and were Alabama's Farm of Distinction winner in 2004.

Ezzell is vice chairman of the Franklin County Farmers Federation Women's Leadership Committee. She found her winning recipe by searching the Internet. Her husband, Charles, is president of the Franklin County Farmers Federation, and she's been a bookkeeper at Bay Implement Co., for 35 years.

"I wanted to bake something different, and the dried apricots, pecans and sour cream sounded really good," she said. "I make them for my family and for the men I work with. They love them, and they're easy to make."

Dewberry, whose husband, Lamar, is president of the Clay County Farmers Federation, said she first tasted her winning recipe at a TREASURE Forest meeting and later asked for the recipe. It's been a household favorite ever since.

"I selected this recipe for the contest because I like peanuts," said Dewberry, who serves on the Clay County Women's Leadership Committee. "We like to take them to church functions and family get-togethers."

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.

In addition to sampling all 34 recipes entered in the contest, the chefs heard from Patricia Barnes, founder of Sister Schubert's.

Barnes 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 industry in Luverne. She and her husband, George, founded the Barnes Family Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of the less fortunate and enhancing the community through education, historical preservation and compassion. The foundation 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.

Click here to download the Heritage Cooking Contest Cookbook

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