Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News January 2018
ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORP.
A conversation with the governor Best of Alabama winners Slow cooker favorites
Manager Stan Wilson
ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. Subscriptions are $12 a year for individuals not subscribing through participating Alabama electric cooperatives. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.
Best of Alabama winners Mountain biking and hiking are two of the most popular activities at scenic Oak Mountain State Park, voted the best place for hiking in our Best of Alabama contest. See all the winners beginning on Page 20!
VOL. 71 NO. 1 n JANUARY 2018
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You and your pet
Forty years ago
Slow cooker favs
This month we begin a new column, “About Your Pet,” by north Alabama veterinarian Dr. Goutam Mukherjee.
On Jan. 15, 1978, downtown Auburn was rocked by an explosion at the Kopper Kettle restaurant that left the small town reeling.
Cooking with a slow cooker has many benefits: juicier meats, versatility, and convenience. Our readers agree!
D E PA R T M E N T S
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In this issue: Page 11 Page 28
11 Spotlight 30 Gardens 29 Around Alabama 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 36 Cook of the Month 46 Hardy Jackson’s Alabama ONLINE: alabamaliving.coop ON THE COVER: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the “First Dog,” Bear. Read our Q&A interview with the governor, beginning on Page 12. PHOTO: Alabama Governor’s office
JANUARY 2018 3
OFFICE LOCATIONS Jackson Office 1307 College Avenue P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 251-847-2302 Toll Free Number 1-800-323-9081 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours) Pay your bill online at www.cwemc.com 855-870-0403
Transition from 2017 to 2018 As I write this at the close of 2017 and face the New Year of 2018, I have what seems to be very common thoughts of “where has 2017 gone” and “time is sure flying.” It does seem like it hasn’t been any time since 2017 was just beginning. Now basically it can be added to years gone by. In 2016, we started the construction of our new facilities after several years of planning and the contractor, Sam Skipper tells me he should finish in the middle of 2018. That is the project after years of planning and construction that we are proud to see winding down. We are also proud of some of the other programs that we plan to accomplish in 2018. Looking back at accomplishments from
2017, I would have to mention the Washington Youth Tour, our five scholarships which were awarded, the annual meeting, and other contributions to school programs and the community. In addition, CWEMC paid over $300,000 in property taxes to Clarke, Washington, Monroe and Wilcox counties. In December, CWEMC refunded more than $900,000 to members from their patronage capital accounts. Members from 1986, 1987 and 1988 should have received checks before Christmas. In 2018, we plan to continue these programs and will look for ways to continue to serve and be a benefit to the area. Thank you and Happy New Year!
Payment Method Payments can be made at our Chatom and Jackson offices with cash, checks, debit or credit cards, or use the mobile app.
Stan Wilson Manager of Clarke-Washington EMC
4 JANUARY 2018
Offices will be closed January 1 for New Year’s Day www.alabamaliving.coop
Over $900,000 paid in Capital Credits Capital credits are the allocations of margins to individual patrons based on the patrons’ proportionate contributions in the margins. As provided for in our bylaws, each member of the cooperative has a capital credits account in his-her name for each year he-she has been a member. The size of the account depends upon the amount paid to the cooperative during a given year, multiplied by a percentage of the margins for that given year.
1987 and a portion of 1988. The checks were mailed out in December totaling over $900,000. As it usually happens when checks are mailed each year, many are returned due to the fact that some members have moved and left no forwarding address with Clarke-Washington EMC. If you were a member of the cooperative during 1986, 1987, or 1988 and you did not receive your capital credits check, please contact our oﬃce.
At a recent meeting, the board of directors authorized the payment of capital credits for the years 1986,
Leroy Mitchell heading to post ofﬁce with Capital Credit checks
Art Dees pays Wilcox County property taxes to Juanita Kendrick
Art Dees pays Monroe County property taxes to Fonde Melton
Polly Odom pays Washington County property taxes to Mary Ann Dees
Steve Shefﬁeld pays Clarke County property taxes to Evelyn Pritchett JANUARY 2018 5
YOUTH TOUR IS HERE AGAIN! If you’re a high school junior who would like to speak with a member of Congress, visit the White House and learn about the grassroots spirit of your local electric cooperative. Clarke-Washington EMC has an opportunity for you. It’s time to apply for the Rural Electric Youth Tour, a six-day, all expenses-paid educational trip to Washington D.C. The Rural Electric Youth Tour is a group of more than 1,600 high school juniors who visit Washington D.C., every June, year after year from all over America. They come because the people who led electric cooperatives believe education is important education about electric cooperatives and education about America. Clarke-Washington EMC has been sending high school students from Southwest Alabama to Youth Tour for decades. Clarke-Washington EMC’s Youth Tour contest is open to students in the eleventh grade. Students compete by writing an essay and interviewing with a panel of judges who challenge their knowledge of current events, the electric cooperative industry and the communities in which they live. The top four essay winners will first attend the Alabama Rural Electric Association’s Montgomery Youth Tour in March, and join other students representing electric cooperatives all over Alabama. This trip includes touring historic sites and meeting with state leaders. Clarke-Washington EMC’s Youth Tour top two winners will join other students from rural electric cooperatives around Alabama, and fly to Washington D. C. for an all expenses-paid, week-long trip in June. Interested students may request additional information from their guidance counselor or call 1-800-323-9081.
2017 Youth Tour winners, left to right, Conner Newell and Kamryn Newsom at CWEMC’s Annual Meeting
6 JANUARY 2018
Scholarship Opportunity for Graduating Seniors Are you a high school senior who is graduating this spring? Are you a dependent of a CWEMC member?
If so, you are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Electric Cooperative Foundation. Clarke-Washington EMC has joined other cooperatives throughout the state of Alabama to create this Electric Cooperative Foundation. This spring the foundation will be awarding scholarships across Alabama for students to continue their education at post-secondary and vocational schools.
application from your high school guidance counselor, or print one from our website at www.cwemc.com under Educational Programs or call:
Deadline to apply is February 16, 2018
For more details about this scholarship, obtain a copy of an Electric Cooperative scholarship Alabama Living
JANUARY 2018â€ƒ 7
Hunting Works is working for Alabama’s economy By David Rainer Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources There’s an old saying that to find a person’s passion, follow the money. That apparently is true for Alabama’s hunters, who fuel the economies in many parts of the state that need it the most. To ensure the citizens of the state understand how important hunting is to the state’s well-being, both economically and culturally, Hunting Works for Alabama was formed last year to enlist the aid of the business community to spread this important message. “Hunting Works for Alabama is basically a grass-roots group of people who want to make sure we inform the public about the enormous impact hunters have on our economy,” says Tim Wood, one of the four co-chairs of Hunting Works for Alabama. “You’re talking about a $1.8 billion industry in the state. You’re talking about $375 million that people spend on just hunting-related equipment. Travel expenses, hunters are spending about $405 million a year. That’s travel, fuel, food and lodging. “In the rural part of the state, that is extremely important. The tax dollars and economic benefits in these rural areas, it would be devastating if they didn’t have it. You could look at Demopolis, Selma, Camden and Faunsdale and look at the effects on these areas. It would be absolutely devastating.” Wood, the general manager of Central Alabama Farmers Co-ops in Selma, said the co-ops he manages cover the Alabama Black Belt, which is known for its rich soil, great hunting and fragile economy. Wood said the importance of hunting is reflected in their business model. “Our business has changed,” Wood said at the second annual Hunting Works for Alabama meeting at the Civilian Marksmanship Program Talladega range recently. “We used to make money three months out of the year – March, April and May – from selling fertilizer, chemicals and seeds. Now we make our money in September, October and November. The paradigm has absolutely swapped. 8 JANUARY 2018
“We’re also a sporting goods company that sells firearms. You don’t see that at farm stores. We sell hunting apparel. Our focus is on the hunting industry.”
According to the latest figures, about 44,000 non-residents hunt in Alabama annually. Because the costs of non-resident licenses are significantly higher than resident licenses, those non-resident sales provide a significant funding source for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. The economic impact from non-resident hunters also ripples throughout the state. “What I think is so important is the out-of-state dollars coming into the state,” Wood said. “You’re talking about some of the poorest areas in Alabama in the Black Belt. People travel from all over the United States to go deer hunting in Alabama. These people are paying lodging taxes, buying food and gas, and buying hunting licenses, which supports the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. These tax dollars are not just being used by people in the hunting industry. It affects everybody in Alabama. Even the birders benefit from hunting in Alabama because the habitat enhancement made for hunting benefits all wildlife.” Wood also outlines the importance of more hunting opportunities for the general public. “Hunting leases have become so expensive,” he says. “People are having to pay $15 to $20 an acre for a place to hunt. The everyday hunter back in the old days didn’t pay anything. If you wanted to go hunting, you could go up the road and some farmer or landowner would let you hunt. Those days aren’t here anymore. “That is why it is absolutely critical that programs like Forever Wild and the Wildlife Management Areas from Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries provide the everyday citizen places to hunt and give them a reason to buy hunting licenses. It is crucial
that this Division is properly funded.”
Become a member
Wood said anybody or any business that wants to become a member of Hunting Works for Alabama can sign up and it won’t cost a dime. Go to www.huntingworksforal.com for information or to join the organization. “When you become a member, you’re able to come to our meetings and meet with other people in the industry,” he says. “You learn the facts and figures about the economic importance of hunting in the state. We are fortunate to be in Alabama, where we are a hunting and gun-friendly state. It’s a luxury, and we want to keep it that way. “We’re trying to build a network of support. Eventually, we’re going to have to talk to our legislators, because there will be issues that come up that will end up in the Legislature. We need to have voices in the different districts who will contact these legislators to express how important hunting is to the state.” After one year, Hunting Works for Alabama has 107 members with a goal of reaching at least 150 by the end of the year. Pam Swanner of Alabama Black Belt Adventures, David Dexter of Mobile and Grant Lynch, chairman of the Talladega Superspeedway, serve as the other cochairs for the organization. “We’re looking for slow growth,” Wood says. “When you have an all-volunteer staff, we have paying jobs we have to tend to. But for many of us, this does affect our paying jobs. And it also affects our way of life, which I think is more important.”
| Alabama Snapshots |
SUBMITTED BY Tommy and Amy Spruiel, Detroit, AL
SUBMITTED BY Regina Sanders, Lanett.
SUBMITTED BY Deborah Walters, Fairhope.
SUBMITTED BY Cindy Prater, Danville.
SUBMITTED BY Sharon M. Tucker, Cullman.
SUBMITTED BY Alice Barton, Marion. SUBMITTED BY Kathy Hester, Cedar Bluff.
Submit Your Images! March Theme: “Front Porches” Deadline for March: January 31
SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: www.alabamaliving.coop/submit-photo/ or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124 RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at www.alabamaliving.coop and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. Alabama Living
JANUARY 2018 9
| Power Pack | SOCIAL SECURITY
Ex-spouse benefits and how they affect you
ust like during tax season, it’s good to have all the information you need early so you can prepare and get any money you are due. If you are age 62, unmarried, and divorced from someone entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on his or her record. To be eligible, you must have been married to your exspouse for 10 years or more. If you have since remarried, you can’t collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless
Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death. Also, if you’re entitled to benefits on your own record, your benefit amount must be less than you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. In other words, we’ll pay the higher of the two benefits for which you’re eligible, but not both. You can apply for benefits on your former spouse’s record even if he or she hasn’t retired, as long as you divorced at least two years before applying. If, however, you decide to wait until full retirement age to apply as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be equal to half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount or disability benefit. The same rules apply for a deceased former spouse. The amount of benefits you get has no
effect on the benefits of your ex-spouse and his or her current spouse. Visit Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/ divspouse.html to find all the eligibility requirements you must meet to apply as a divorced spouse. Our benefits planner gives you an idea of your monthly benefit amount. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you may still quality for widow’s benefits. You’ll find information about that in a note at the bottom of the website. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/ retire/divspouse.html today to learn whether you’re eligible for benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. That could mean a considerable amount of monthly income. What you learn may bring a smile to your face … even on tax day!
ABOUT YOUR PET
Pets are more than treasured companions “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France
ets are a very important part of our lives. One in six American households own a pet. Sixty percent of Americans think pet owners lead more satisfying lives than non pet-owners. From our personal experience, they would be right! We humans started forming a bond with animals many millennia ago. From being just a tool to make our existence a bit easier, like herding dogs, pets have now taken up the role of trusted friend and companion. The history of this bond goes back a long way. A gravesite in the Czech RepubGoutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He works part time at Grant Animal Clinic and is a member of North Alabama Electric Cooperative.
10 JANUARY 2018
lic unearthed a 31,000-year-old skeleton of a dog buried with a carefully placed bone in its mouth. This skeleton was found in a human graveyard. Perhaps it is romanticizing a bit, but maybe another human like us placed the bone and shed a few tears before throwing the first handful of dirt on their beloved friend. Over 50 studies in the last few decades have demonstrated the many health benefits of pets. Cat owners enjoy a 30 percent reduction in heart attack risk. Watching fish swim lowers blood pressure, and stroking a dog boosts the immune system. Pets provide valuable services as helpers for the blind and disabled. On top of all these herculean tasks, they also work in prisons, nursing homes and women’s shelters providing compassion and healing.
The list goes on. An excellent book, Made for Each Other, by Meg Olmert is a must read on this topic. These creatures give us so much in their short lives! We bear a significant responsibility to take care of them and give them a life full of care and joy. A wonderful guideline for animals in our care is called the “five freedoms:” freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress. This column will appear every other month. If you have a pet-related question of general interest, please write to Dr. G at PO Box 687, Geraldine, AL 35974. www.alabamaliving.coop
January | Spotlight
Identify and place this Alabama landmark and you could win $25! Winner is chosen at random from all correct entries. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Send your answer by Jan. 9 with your name, address and the name of your rural electric cooperative. The winner and answer will be announced in the February issue. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual landmark in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public. A reader whose photo is used will also win $25. Submit by email: email@example.com, or by mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124.
Holidays leave you over-full? Commit to scale back If you over-indulged over the holiday season and want to get back on a healthier track, check out the annual Scale Back Alabama (SBA) campaign, designed to address the state’s challenge with obesity. SBA is a free weight-loss program to encourage Alabamians to get healthy and have fun while doing it. Since the first competition in 2007, Alabamians have lost more than 1 million pounds. Form a two-person team and commit to losing a total of 10 pounds each over a 9-week period. The kickoff for the 2018 event is Jan. 9, with teams weighing in Jan. 22-28. Teams will weigh out April 2-8, and the final event will be April 17. To be eligible to win cash prizes, each team member must lose 10 pounds and be recorded by a coordinator at an official SBA site. Winning teams are determined by a random drawing from all eligible teams. Individual cash prizes will also be awarded. To learn more, visit www.scalebackalabama.com or search for Scale Back Alabama on social media channels.
In the September 2017 edition of Alabama Living in an article on Alabama-made sauces, the status of Moore’s Landing Restaurant in Jasper was incorrectly reported. The restaurant has been in business for 32 years and continues to operate at 1301 Highway 78 East in the College Hill Plaza in Jasper. It specializes in steaks and seafood and is open for lunch and dinner, from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. A menu and more information is available on the restaurant’s Facebook page, or by calling (205) 221-3474. Alabama Living
DECEMBER’S ANSWER This small, igloo-shaped dome, built by state trooper Robert Kendrick, sits along County Road 63 near Calera in Shelby County. Kendrick’s niece, Kay Cessna, wrote in with a little history of the House of Prayer and memories of her uncle, who died in 1999. “He was a wonderful Christian man,” Cessna says. “He saw so many terrible things being a trooper that he decided to do something good that could be used by all. He built the House of Prayer in the late 1970s near the main highway so if anyone had a need to talk to God, they would have a private place to go. He made it with rocks he collected from his yard there in Calera, and he poured the concrete by hand.” Cessna’s sister, Treva Patterson, also wrote in to mention her uncle, unaware that her sister had done the same. The randomly drawn winner among the correct guesses submitted is Eve White of Central Alabama Electric Co-op. The photo was contributed by Emma Wall of Auburn.
This month in
Alabama history ®
January 16, 1967 Lurleen B. Wallace was inaugurated as Alabama’s first female governor. Originally a stand-in candidate for her husband and former governor George Wallace, Lurleen eventually earned the admiration and respect of the public as she handily won the gubernatorial election. While in office, she continued her husband’s fight against federal, court-ordered desegregation but succeeded in bringing attention to the treatment of the elderly and mentally ill. She also advocated for the creation of more state parks and recreational facilities. Lurleen died from cancer only 16 months after taking office, and more than 30,000 Alabamians attended her funeral as she lay in state in the capitol rotunda. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1973. http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1662 JANUARY 2018 11
A conversation with the governor
PHOTOS BY ALABAMA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
Kay Ivey talks about economic development, the Census and Alabama’s ‘first dog’ By Minnie Lamberth
labama’s 54th governor was inaugurated unexpectedly in April 2017, yet she is a familiar figure as a state leader. Gov. Kay Ivey was in her second term as lieutenant governor when she was promoted to the state’s top job at the resignation of former Gov. Robert Bentley. She had previously held the office of state treasurer for two four-year terms. Early in her career, Ivey had served as reading clerk of the Alabama House of Representatives under Speaker Joseph C. McCorquodale, and was also assistant director of the Alabama Development Office. She ran unsucessfully for state auditor in the 1980s. Ivey later served as director of government relations and communications for the Alabama Commission on 12 JANUARY 2018
Higher Education. Recently, Alabama Living sat down with Ivey in her office in the state capitol to discuss her current role. Alabama Living: When you moved into the governor’s office, you talked about “steadying the ship of state.” Do you want to speak to some of the steps you have taken toward that end? Ivey: Before I became governor, a dark cloud was over this state for quite a long time, and that dark cloud caused great uncertainty. Certainly it hindered progress in attracting new investments and creating employment opportunities. It hindered the process of just carrying out the routine business of the state. And it certainly hindered the focus that we should have had trying to find ways to provide
opportunities for all Alabamians. So a dark cloud had been hanging over us. And I knew I had to get a handle on that and, quote, “steady the ship.” To me what we did to steady the ship was to be very methodical and deliberate as we evaluated each one of the cabinet positions. That took us some time because we wanted to be very thorough, and deliberate, but that’s been done, and that’s a good thing. When I became governor, it was in the second half of the legislative session. But even so in that time I was able to support the Alabama Jobs Act. (Ivey signed legislation in May to extend the Alabama Jobs Act, which provides incentive packages for the state to lure businesses to Alabama.) We also supported ending the judicial override situation, so that whatever a jury www.alabamaliving.coop
decides is what prevails. Whether it’s the like it did. Remember, most folks have places where you used to go unobserved? death penalty or life imprisonment, and three months to get ready for an adminisIvey: Well, it’s for sure everywhere you that was a good thing. (Gov. Ivey signed tration; we had three hours. go somebody’s going to see you and want a bill in April that ended a provision that One of the opportunities certainly was to stop and talk, and that’s an OK thing. was unique to Alabama that if a jury recthat we had a vacancy in superintendent’s I just have to plan a little bit longer to go ommended life in prison, a judge could slot right after I got to be governor. We grocery shopping than I normally would. override the recommendation and impose also had the ESSA, the Every Student SucI have to plan a little bit longer to remain the death penalty.) ceeds Act, was due. It just was not comafter church or whatever than I have beAnd then the autism bill, and the late plete. It was inconsistent. It had a lot of fore. But that’s OK. I’m honored that folks Jim Patterson was the key person that kept things in there that should not have been recognize me and want to have a picture. that alive and moving it forward, and certhere in my view, and so I asked Secretary Or they want to talk or share a concern. tainly we applaud Jim for his leadership on DeVos to grant us an extension, and she That’s a good thing. But yeah, you’re right. that. (The bill, sponsored by the late Rep. did, and I was proud to see that we were I’m meeting a lot of folks that I never Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville, required able to improve that plan substantially. We would have previously. Now, my mug shot certain health insurance plans to provide still have an opportunity to provide more is out there, and people know me. It has coverage for autism therapy.) amendments after the department reviews certainly been an adjustment. I had to So we’ve just had to work hard and use what has been sent. change houses. a lot of common sense to be sure that peo(ESSA was signed into law in December Alabama Living: Did you move into ple felt better about the ship of state be2015 as a federal education law that rethe Governor’s Mansion? cause it was now going to be steadier, and places the No Child Left Behind Act. AcIvey: May 6 – me and Bear. Alabama’s we could start getting back on track. cording to the Alabama State Department got a first dog. (As the Auburn graduAlabama Living: What are some of Education, the ESSA requires states to ate explained why she would have a dog signs that you are seeing that the ship is develop plans to close achievement gaps, named, of all things, Bear, she told the steadier? increase equity of instruction and increase story of how he had come to her as a hardIvey: Some signs that it’s working can outcomes for all students.) ship puppy. He had been injured by an be seen with the investments that have We had the opportunity to issue an exautomobile and was left at the same veterbeen made in the state during the time ecutive order that prevented the executive inarian Ivey used. After he had been treatI’ve been governor. We’ve had over $2 bilbranch for naming lobbyists to boards and ed for his injuries, Ivey heard from the lion of investments. That’s the addition of commissions – since lobbyists get paid for vet’s office.) They called me and said, “We some 5,000 new jobs and more on the way. a particular viewpoint. Boards and comthink you’ve got a dog that you can’t live We’ve had drops in the unemployment missions are designed for citizen input. without.” They turned out to be right. Afrate in each of the months I’ve been in ofWe disbanded a number of the Bentley ter he’d been through all of that, I couldn’t fice, and that’s a good sign. task forces that had been created to study, change his name. So I just bought him an Since I’ve been governor, we’ve taken study, study. We did keep the opioid criAuburn collar. some actions to change the date of the next sis task force, but we have modified it and Alabama Living: Is the Governor’s Senate race election. I simply followed the expanded the membership and included Mansion comfortable for you and Bear? law, and the law said if there’s a vacancy some folks that really need to be on that. Ivey: He’s learned to ride the elevator in the Senate less than four months away That is a major crisis in this great state quite well. Mansion staff and orderlies are from the next election, the governor shall we’ve got to deal with. very fond of Bear, and he of them. They call a special election forthwith. Alabama Living: How has the tranpay him a lot of attention. He has free run I appointed two Supreme Court justices sition been for you personally? How are of the grounds and the mansion. So we’re – Lyn Stuart to be chief justice and Will you adjusting to being a public figure both right at home. I still sit on the back Sellers to fill her vacancy. So we’ve been even when you’re at the grocery store, porch at the mansion just like I sat on the busy doing some things that needed to be at church, at a shopping center, or other back porch at my house. done to give some diAlabama Living: rection and stability At left, Gov. Ivey talks to students from Rockwell Elementary School at the capitol. Below, she You’ve already alvisits Briggs & Stratton’s engine plant in Auburn. to the state. luded to some of the Alabama Living: issues in state govYou’ve been involved ernment. What are in state government some of the issues for many years, but that are of greatest the role of governor concern to you and is surely unlike any other state leadother. Can you speak ers? What are your to an unexpected concerns? What are challenge or opporthe concerns that tunity that you have leaders are dealing faced? with that are top of Ivey: Well, everymind? thing was unexpected Ivey: Well, for me, at the moment – beone of the things that cause I wasn’t expectwas missing before ing things to play out I took office was a Alabama Living
JANUARY 2018 13
strong working relationship between the executive office – the governor’s office – and the legislature. But I’m proud to say that we’ve made a big difference in that, and I’ve got a strong relationship with the leaders of the House and Senate and a lot of the members in both houses. Having a good working relationship so you can have open, transparent communications and understanding with the legislative branch is important because the people of Alabama expect elected leaders to work together. Now we’re not always going to agree. But we can work together and find avenues and programs that we can work together on. That’s very definitely of advantage to the people of Alabama to get progress. Another concern that I have, and I’m trying to raise the issue across the state, is getting ready for the Census. The Census will occur in 2020, Gov. Ivey waves to the crowd at a groundbreaking ceremony for Wayne Farm’s expansion project in Enterprise. and while that seems like a long time away, it’s really not. person, it’s going to impact the amount of Then there’s another firm in Jasper – YoroBecause now is the time to start getting federal funding we get in this state. That is zu. prepared and be sure that all our people a serious, serious issue. So every AlabamiThe bottom line is as we continue to who, for example, have moved into new an who is in this state needs to receive and track investments, create more jobs, we neighborhoods or new apartments or new complete a Census form. want to take it to rural areas every time condos or whatever that their addresses It will be sent in paper. So it’s not going it’s possible. have been secured and sent to the Census to be something you can sit down and reWe also need to address broadband inicoordinators in Alabama. spond digitally to. It’s going to be imperatiative throughout the state. (See related ADECA is the state coordinator for the tive that people take the time to fill out the story on Page 18.) Along those lines, we Census process, and already we have sent Census report. Future funding depends did FirstNet – First Responders Network out letters to the mayors and county comon it. – that all first responders can have access mission chairs advising them of the rules Alabama Living: Having grown up just to that network whenever a crisis or and the procedures they need to be underin Camden in Wilcox County, you’re a need arises so they can have their own taking now to get their roster current in daughter of rural Alabama like many of channel of communications, and so that’s Washington so Washington can send the the readers of Alabama Living. Can you a start in that direction. form to everybody, and then it’s going to speak to areas where state government is First Reponders Network, I think, is be key that everybody fills out a census. working to strengthen and support livsome 30 towers that will be built. The U.S. The reason it’s so important is, Census reing and working in rural Alabama? Department of Commerce put out an RFP sults determine how many Congress peoIvey: You’re right, I’m definitely from throughout the nation, and AT&T won ple you’re going to have. It also determines LA, and that’s lower Alabama, and proud that RFP to be the provider. Alabama will the federal funding you’ll get from the of it. be the 24th state to opt in. AT&T then federal government for needed projects. In job creation, for example, some inhas the responsibility to build the towAnd in Alabama now, while our popvestments and job creations are occurring ers, maintain and operate for the next 25 ulation has been growing, it hasn’t been even in our rural areas. For example, in years. That’s separate from broadband, but growing as fast as some of our sister states. Bibb County – Mercedes Benz has anit’s another good thing especially for rural So there’s a great chance that Alabama nounced an expansion for Bibb. Alabama, as well as everybody else that could lose a congressperson, and we cerDallas County is being strengthened by are first responders. tainly don’t need that. In addition, every International Paper’s changing over their Folks in rural areas are good folks and town, every county and so much more process to make a different product and they’re hardworking. We need to do evdepends on federal dollars coming in putting in new equipment down in Selerything we can to help them have access here. All of ADECA is funded with federal ma. And so that’s a good stabilizing thing. to better opportunities. dollars. And if we have to lose a congress14 JANUARY 2018
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Improved revenues could assist budget process See related story, page 18
By Minnie Lamberth
PHOTO BY DIONNE WHETSTONE
hen legislators gather Jan. 9 to convene for the 2018 regular session, they’ll enter the fourth year of a four-year term – or, in other words, an election year. During the last year of a quadrennium, says Senate Majority Leader Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, legislators usually “try to minimize the amount of conflict and maximize the amount of working together.” Recognizing the influence of the election cycle, Reed highlights an area where the legislature would give paramount attention. “Number one, first and foremost, are going to be the budgets – the education budget as well as the general fund budget,” he says. The state’s budgets are always the top priority, but the process is expected to go easier this year. Over his seven years in office, Reed says, “We have continuously struggled with both budgets because during that window of time Alabama as well as America has moved through the Great Recession. We’ve had very difficult circumstances related to having enough funding.” He notes that the state has cut right at a billion dollars out of the budgets during this period. In addition, “We have almost 5,000 fewer state employees than we had in 2008.” This time around, however, legislators are seeing potential for stronger budgets, given improvements in revenue collection. “As a result, we are going to have a little bit of an easier time in trying to manage some of the budget issues,” Reed says. House Majority Leader Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, echoes that sentiment. In his view, both the education trust fund, which supports public schools, higher education and related agencies, and the general fund, which supports non-education state functions, are going to be in pretty good shape. “I’m excited about our education trust fund,” Ledbetter says. “The money’s where it needs to be with the economy improving, and that enables us to do some things we haven’t done in the past.” During the last budget cycle, the legislature added around 150 schoolteachers in the state, and Reed hopes that addition continues. “If we have resource there where we can look at the potential of having additional teachers, especially math, science and special
education, that’s going to be very important.” Reed notes that rural areas would be the focus of some of the growth in pre-K as well as increases in middle school teachers. Compared to the education budget, the general fund budget has been more of a struggle in the past, Ledbetter says. But legislators had an opportunity to plan ahead. “Last year we set aside $93 million just to be fiscally responsible looking to the ’18 budget. Most of that was due to the one-time funding from the BP settlement.” In 2015, Alabama officials announced a $2.3 billion settlement with BP Oil in response to the economic and environmental damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. A portion of those funds have been available to the general fund, including a distribution of $105 million to Medicaid for the current fiscal year. Reed says carrying the $93 million forward took a lot of discipline but will help offset this coming budget. The Alabama Medicaid Agency will continue to receive a lot of discussion. The legislature is also expected to give attention to issues in the state’s prison system. An increase in the number of state troopers is another topic of interest. The current budget added 30 new state troopers to Alabama highways. “I think there will be a move to do that again – to add additional state troopers in the coming budget if there’s additional resource there,” Reed says. Having additional troopers on the road is important to rural Alabama, Reed says. “It’s not as much a concern in regards to having state police coverage in Birmingham or Huntsville as it is in a rural area like Fayette or Greene County.” Among other issues, expanding broadband is a continuing concern for rural Alabamians. “I think that’s something that will come up in this session and certainly deserves a lot of debate,” Ledbetter says. Broadband, Reed says, “may be just as important as roads and bridges and rivers and ports as we look at all of the elements that are associated with not only transferring goods and services but also transferring and managing data.”
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Rural broadband Bill would encourage investment By Allison Law
s a full-time farmer from a rural area, state Sen. Clay Scofield knows first-hand the issues with having limited internet connectivity. It’s why he’s again this year sponsoring a bill to provide tax credits for companies willing to invest in rural broadband infrastructure. “We don’t have access to higher speed internet, and it affects our ability to do business and be connected with markets around the world,” Scofield says. It’s not just an economic development issue, though that is an important component. “We’re putting our students at a serious disadvantage if they don’t have Internet in their homes,” he says. And students can’t take online classes at colleges and universities without adequate internet. And the uses for telemedicine continue to grow. With today’s technology, “we can connect someone in Greene County or Geneva County to specialists at UAB,” he says. Telemedicine also allows for high-risk patient monitoring and for remote yet real-time diagnoses in such specialties as wound care, neurology and stroke. The biggest portion of the bill will provide a tax credit of up to 10 percent of the total investment in rural and underserved Alabama. That will be capped at $20 million per year, for a limit of 10 years. Scofield says the state would also abate some sales and use taxes and ad valorem taxes as well. If the state maxes out at $20 million a year, that would mean that providers are investing $200 million a year in rural Alabama to get that $20 million tax credit. That has a potentially huge return on investment: How many times are those dollars turned over in the rural areas, in terms of wages for people who build the 18 JANUARY 2018
infrastructure and for the materials to do so? After 10 years, the abatement goes away, Scofield says, so the state can begin to collect on that new infrastructure. “So it’s a good deal for them, and a good deal for us.” The bill addresses the biggest reason why there isn’t high-speed Internet in many areas of rural Alabama: the prohibitive cost. For years, it hasn’t been cost-effective for big Internet companies to extend their services to rural areas; Scofield’s bill aims to address that issue head-on. During the 2017 session, SB253 passed the Senate but got bogged down in the House. Scofield has been working with his colleagues to ensure support in 2018. “We have a lot of support for it, and it has bipartisan support,” he says. Before the session starts, legislators will get the results of an initiative to map the internet connectivity in Alabama. Part of the problem, Scofield says, is that it’s hard to offer incentives to companies to invest when there isn’t an up-to-date map that reflects the coverage statewide. Some maps, which are based on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data, aren’t really accurate, Scofield says, because if one person within a census block is served, then all the people in that block are considered served, which isn’t the case. “That’s why getting a map is critical, so we can determine what we are really looking at.” The Alabama Rural Electric Association, which publishes Alabama Living magazine, as well as the Alabama Farmers Federation support this legislation. Contact your legislators and let them know that you want them to support Scofield’s rural broadband bill. www.alabamaliving.coop
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2018 By Allison Law
nce again, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite places and things about our great state in our magazine’s Best of Alabama contest, for which we ran ballots in the August, September and October issues. We asked you to vote on your favorites – everything from seafood restaurants to small towns to the best articles you’ve read in Alabama Living. It’s likely no surprise that many of the winners are beach-related. Your favorite seafood restaurant was the Original Oyster House, with locations in Spanish Fort and Gulf Shores; your favorite souvenir was seashells, sand dollars or sand from our sugar white beaches. And your favorite day trip? Gulf Shores. But there were winners elsewhere in the state, too. For best burger, you liked the Jefferson Country Store (featured in our Worth the Drive section in 2016), and for best hiking place, you picked Oak Mountain State Park outside of Birmingham. There were some rather curious answers, too. For best burger, more than one of you responded with Burger King (we were really hoping for an Alabama-based restaurant). And for best living history experience, someone responded with “in college dorm room Troy State.” (He or she obviously had a very interesting collegiate career!) But perhaps the funniest responses were to the best Alabama souvenir question. One reader suggested a “redneck tan,” and another responded with “a full stomach from Peach Park.” (Peach Park, incidentally, was voted best ice cream in our 2017 contest!) Read on to learn more about our winners this year, and see if you agree with the winners.
Best seafood restaurant: Original Oyster House, with locations in Gulf Shores and Spanish Fort (on the Causeway) The Original Oyster House Restaurant has been serving fresh seafood (in addition to a variety of steaks, chicken, salads and pasta dishes) in a casual, family atmosphere for more than 30 years. The first restaurant opened in 1983 in Gulf Shores with 60 seats and 10 employees; after multiple expansions, it now seats 300 and employs 130 people. The second location, on the Mobile Bay Causeway, opened in 1985 and has also expanded over the years to include a gift shop, boat dock, 300 seats, conference room and full-service banquet room. The causeway location is at 3733 Battleship Parkway/Highway 90 in Spanish Fort; call 251-626-2188. The Gulf Shores location on the boardwalk is at 701 Highway 59; call 251-9482445. Visit them online at originaloysterhouse.com 20 JANUARY 2018
Best Alabama-made burger: Jefferson Country Store, Marengo County The Jefferson Country Store, located in the unincorporated Jefferson community, opened in 1957 and has been the heart of the area ever since. Besides selling the expected glass-bottle Cokes and Moon-Pies, the store has a small restaurant that offers such Southern house-made foods as pimento cheese, chicken salad and Brunswick stew. Regulars know to ask about daily specials and the “secret menu.” When a writer for Alabama Living visited the store in 2016, that secret menu item was the Firecracker Burger, a hefty beef patty topped with sliced red hots (sausages) and embellished with a thick slab of hoop cheese and jalapeno slices. Besides its kickin’ burgers, the store also offers specialty items, like souse and rag bologna from Alabama’s Zeigler meats, hoop cheese and ribbon cane syrup. And there are locally-sourced products like fresh vegetables and honey. Visit the store at 26120 Alabama Highway 28, Jefferson, Alabama. Call 334-289-0040 and find them on Facebook. www.alabamaliving.coop
Readers vote for their favorites in Best of Alabama contest Best recipe from “The Best of Alabama Living” cookbook: Pecan Pie It’s hard to go wrong with a Southern classic like Pecan Pie. A recipe submitted by Memory Bush of South Alabama EC for the November 2014 issue of Alabama Living was selected for “The Best of Alabama Living” cookbook, published in 2016. Want the recipe, or any of the other 300 other delicious recipes in the book? It can be yours for $19.95, including shipping! Visit bestofalabamacookbook.com to place your order.
of “epic rides” with just about every trail condition imaginable. Hikers enjoy the White, Blue, Yellow, Green and Lake trails, which offer a variety of difficulties and several connectors to allow for loops. Trails are well marked with colored blazes and trail markers to help rescuers find lost or injured hikers. For more on any of the trails at the park (as well as the campgrounds and cabins), visit alapark.com or call 205-620-2520. Best historic hotel: The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa This eight-story beauty, opened in 1908, sits in the heart of downtown Mobile and has hosted politicians, royalty, entertainers and sports legends. The hotel fell on hard times and was closed in 1974, but was impeccably restored in 2007. The restoration incorporates its old-world glamour with modern amenities, including a full-service day spa, modern fitness center and outdoor pool. It’s connected to the 35-story RSA Tower, Alabama’s tallest building. The hotel is located at 26 North Royal Street in Mobile; call 251-338-2000.
Best hiking/biking trail: Oak Mountain State Park Mountain biking and hiking are two of the most popular activities at this state park in Pelham, with more than 50 miles of trails. The Red Trail has something for mountain bikers of any skill level, from kids or beginners to experts. The International Mountain Bike Association added Oak Mountain to its list Alabama Living
Photo by Billy Pope
Best game to hunt/fish/trap in Alabama: Deer White-tailed deer are the No. 1 game animal hunted in Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, so it’s no surprise that deer topped our list. Approximately 180,000 deer hunters account for more than 4 million man-days of hunting activity annually and have a significant impact on the local economy of rural Alabama. The harvest varies from year to year but hunters typically harvest in excess of 300,000 deer annually, according to the ALDCNR.
Best “living history” experience: USS Alabama The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the commissioning of its iconic ship. The park has long been considered a worthy tourist attraction, but over the last few years it has enjoyed a shift in focus to a restored-to-original-condition museum on water, its history meticulously researched. It’s also been modernized, with interactive kiosks and newly restored artifact exhibits from two World Wars, with more on the way. The park is located at 2703 Battleship Parkway in Mobile; call 251-433-2703 or visit www.ussalabama.com JANUARY 2018 21
Best day trip in Alabama: Gulf Shores This coastal city in Baldwin County is naturally famous for its beaches, but there’s plenty more to do here. Visitors come for the fishing and golf as well as land- and water-based activities, from hiking along the Branyon Backcountry Trail to kayaking through the back bays. And there are lots of family activities, including the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and the Historic Fort Morgan. Best Alabama souvenir: Seashells, sand dollars, sand (anything from the beach) As much a tradition as sunburns and swimming, shopping for souvenirs at the beach is an inexpensive and fun way to create memories from a family vacation. Our readers answered mostly sand dollars and seashells, but you could just as easily include hermit crabs, T-shirts, beach towels and keychains. Next time you’re enjoying the Alabama beaches, boost the local economy a little more with a stop at a souvenir shop.
Illustration by Dennis Auth
Best small town for unique shopping: Fairhope The Baldwin County town of Fairhope enjoys a picturesque setting along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay, but it has more to offer than just pretty scenery. It’s long been a resort community, but over the years artists, writers and craftsmen have found the small town to be an inspiring haven for their work. When its downtown area began to decline in the 1970s, leaders decided to revitalize the town in the image of a quaint European village. Today, its vibrant downtown is filled with unique shops and galleries, gourmet restaurants and cozy cafes. Its high quality of life makes it attractive to visitors and residents alike.
Best article you’ve read in Alabama Living in the last year: Hardy Jackson’s column on air conditioning (or the lack thereof) In general, when we ask readers for their favorite part of the magazine, the answer is either the recipes or the musings of Hardy Jackson, humorist and essayist for several publications. You may not know that Jackson is an eminent scholar in history at Jacksonville State University, and has authored, co-authored or co-edited 11 books on various aspects of Southern history. His column in the August 2017 issue posed the question, “Who Remembers Life Before A/C?” Jackson surely does: “Nights so hot that at bedtime you would take ice cubes, wrap them in a wash rag and hold them to your cheek or chest in the mistaken belief that if you could get one part of your body cold, the rest of you would cool down enough to let you sleep. “What you got instead was a wet pillow or wet sheets.” Best thing about Alabama: The people We’re heartened by this response – the idea that what makes our state great is, naturally, its people. But perhaps not surprisingly, running a close second and third to this question were food and football.
Baldwin EMC member wins Best of Alabama drawing Ally Mills Dorrough was born and raised in Montgomery, but she has called Baldwin County home since 2012 and is a member of Baldwin EMC. And she loves Alabama Living magazine! “Alabama Living captures the heart of Alabama, telling stories of its people and places with passion,” Dorrough says. “I enjoy discovering hidden gems about our great state, from little known restaurants to recipe inspiration to interesting events and sustainable initiatives.” Dorrough was the randomly drawn winner in the Best of Alabama contest. We ran a ballot in the August, September and October issues, asking readers to tell us their fa22 JANUARY 2018
vorite places and things about our state. All eligible entries were entered into a drawing. Because Dorrough entered the contest online, she wins $350! (Mailed entries were eligible to win $250.) Dorrough lives in Foley with her family – husband Dan and children Olivia, 2, and Davis, five months. They love traveling, cooking, volunteering with their church’s youth ministry and anything to do with Auburn. “War Eagle!” They also enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and hospitality of the Alabama Gulf coast. “Plus, since this is a tourism-driven area, there is plenty to do on and off the beach!” she says. www.alabamaliving.coop
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A gas leak caused the explosion in January 1978 that destroyed the Kopper Kettle restaurant and several nearby businesses. PHOTOS COURTESY AUBURN UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES
40 years after the Kopper Kettle explosion Eyewitness recalls blast that demolished downtown Auburn By Lindsay Penny
an. 15, 1978 was a quiet Sunday in downtown Auburn. At that time, Auburn was a sleepy little village still on the cusp of the economic boom it would see years later. The streets were empty as Jim Patterson, an Auburn student, made his way from his apartment on Thach Avenue to St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church on nearby Magnolia Avenue to catch the morning worship service. A second later, he hit the ground. At 8:13 a.m., the Kopper Kettle, a restaurant located in the heart of downtown Auburn, exploded due to a gas leak, taking out several neighboring businesses and shaking the town to its core. The blast left more than 70 businesses damaged, and one small town reeling. “I immediately fell to the ground, and when I looked up, there were huge pieces of buildings so far up in the sky, I couldn’t believe it,” says Patterson. After the dust settled, concerned for the well-being of the church congregation, Patterson made his way through the rubble to St. Dunstan’s. The Rev. Rod Sinclair was preparing for the 8:30 a.m. service when the explosion happened, knocking him to his knees. He thought a small plane had crashed into the downtown area. “It was just like the movies you see on TV where there is a big explosion, the building rocks and all the windows start moving around,” Patterson says. “It was just an incredible experience.” Shortly after the explosion, chaos ensued as volunteers, police, firemen and state officials were on the scene to determine the cause of the explosion as they prepared for the worst, searching the rubble for fatalities. Miraculously, there were none. “A large part of the street was gone from the Kopper Kettle on down Magnolia,” says Patterson. “Many of the businesses had not opened yet, but there were students living in apartments above those businesses. That was the concern; nobody knew where they were at.” 24 JANUARY 2018
JANUARY 2018â€ƒ 25
Much to everyone’s relief, not a single person was killed that day and no life-threatening injuries were sustained. Students were away from their apartments, cars were halted at just the right stoplight, and churchgoers, like Patterson, were just beginning to emerge. The restaurant was closed at the time of the blast, according to a report by ABC News. Investigators determined the gas leak blast was equivalent to multiple tons of TNT exploding. Another witness, a Vietnam veteran, said that it was the most devastating aftermath he had witnessed since returning from the war. “It’s a memory I’ll never forget,” says Patterson. “At that time in 1978, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ was a big hit. I can say that I was rocked by the song and also by the Kopper Kettle.” The Kopper Kettle made national headlines that night as word spread about the freak accident in a small Alabama town. “We were all so grateful that there were no fatalities,” Patterson says. “Everyone in the community really came together that day. I’m so thankful Auburn was small and slow back then. If this had happened today, it would be a much different outcome.” Two weeks after the explosion, at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Sinclair gave a sermon fittingly titled “Explosions,” recognizing the outpouring of camaraderie and grateful spirits exhibited in Auburn following the blast. Sinclair and his wife, Louise, now live in Charlottesville, Va. By the early 1980s, the block was rebuilt and the evidence of the blast was gone. The familiar greasy spoon that once stood on the corner of Gay Street and Magnolia Avenue did not make a return, but it will forever be remembered by Auburn students and residents. In fact, shortly after the Kopper Kettle’s demise, an Auburn student wrote and recorded the local radio hit “The Kettle’s Gone,” a take-off on the country hit “The King is Gone.” Commemorative T-shirts were printed and sold, and Auburn graduates still recall exactly where they were the day of the Kopper Kettle explosion.
The corner at Bay and Magnolia once occupied by the Kopper Kettle has been PHOTO BY LINDSAY PENNY
Editor’s note: Patterson is a retired diplomat with the U.S. Department of State and resides in Washington, D.C. He lived near the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and says as his windows shook from the plane crash, he thought back to that January day in 1978.
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28â€ƒ JANUARY 2018
January | Around Alabama
Gulf Shores, Polar Bear Dip. Take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico on New Year’s Day at 12 p.m. Beach access and parking is available at 240 W. Beach Blvd., beside the new lifeguard building. Featuring DJ, chili and hot chocolate. Free. T-shirts and koozies available and donations are welcome. Proceeds benefit the Alabama Special Olympics and the Kiwanis Club of Gulf Shores. 256-490-4985
Photo courtesy of Visit Mobile.
Montgomery, Hank Williams 65th Memorial Celebration, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Hank Williams gravesite in Oakwood Cemetery Annex. Wreath laying at 10 a.m., followed by live music at the museum in downtown Montgomery. 334-262-3600 or thehankwilliamsmuseum.net
Gulf Shores, Civil War Tour Series at Fort Morgan. Featuring different aspects of the Civil War each week. For topics and more information, visit fort-morgan.org.
Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration, from Jan. 26-Feb. 13, will fill the streets of Mobile with colorful floats.
3-Feb. 21 14 Theodore, Winter Wednesdays at Bellingrath Gardens. Join us on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. for special programs covering gardening, history and the collections in the Bellingrath Museum home. Garden admission $13 for adults, $7.50 children ages 5-12. Bellingrath.org
Birmingham, The Blind Boys of Alabama perform a Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert as part of the Alabama Bicentennial. The show at the Alys Stephens Center will feature an orchestra conducted by Henry Panion III and seven choirs from universities around the state. Tickets for the 5 p.m. event are $24-$44; call 205-9752787 or visit www.alysstephens.org
Birmingham, Alabama Dance Festival. An annual dance festival that includes classes, workshops, performances and community residency activities. Admission charged for some events, while others are free. For times and locations, visit alabamadancefestival.org
Decatur, Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Over 14,000 Sandhill cranes, along with several pairs of whooping cranes, spend the winter at Wheeler NWR. Events include viewing the cranes up close, birding workshops and nature walks, kids’ activities and live raptors. Free. 256-350-6639 or visit www.fws.gov and click on “national wildlife refuges.”
Huntsville, Beaks and Barks Winter Festival at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Explore the Lewis Birding Trail, take classes on birding and take part in the global Great Back Yard Bird Count. Four legged friends are welcome. hsvbg.org
Elba, “Rumours of Fleetwood Mac” – A Tribute Show. The Fleetwood Mac tribute band Rumours will perform at Elba High School at 7 p.m. For more information, contact the Coffee County Arts Alliance at 334-406-2787.
Millbrook, Amphibian Search Night Hike at Lanark. Join us for a nighttime expedition to find native amphibians. Put on your waders and hike to the vernal pools and take a dip in the water to see what types of amphibians live there. Waders in adult sizes 7-13 available. Bring a flashlight and waterproof shoes or boots if preferred. $5. Alabamawildlife.org
Montgomery, January’s Food For Thought lecture will feature Elizabeth Findley Shores, who will speak on “Finding Family History: The Secrets in an Antique Coverlet.” 12 p.m. at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, in the Farley Auditorium. Bring a brown bag lunch; drinks provided. Free. www.archives.alabama.gov
Guntersville, 33rd annual Eagle Aware-
ness. Guest speakers, birds of prey presentations, photography opportunities and guided tours are among the highlights of this event at Lake Guntersville State Park. Visit alapark. com and click on Lake Guntersville, then Eagle Awareness Weekends 2018. 256-571-5440.
Mobile, Mardi Gras. Delighting both young and old from around town and across the nation, this celebration lasts more than two and a half weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. The streets of downtown Mobile are filled with the sights and sounds of live marching bands and floats. For parade routes and schedules, visit mobile.org.
Brundidge, Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival. This annual event traditionally features four of the top storytellers in the country. It opens on Friday night with supper and stories at the We Piddle Around Theater, and moves eight miles up the road to the Trojan Center Theater on the campus of Troy University for three storytelling concerts on Saturday. For ticket information and performance schedules, call 334-344-9427 or 334-685-5524.
Auburn, 2018 Auburn Polar Plunge, 9 a.m. at Auburn Samford Pool. This event raises financial support for the athletes of the Lee County Special Olympics. For more information, search Facebook for “Special Olympics Alabama – Lee County.”
Dothan, Seed Swap at Landmark Park. The Wiregrass Master
To place an event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. or visit www.alabamaliving.coop. You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.
Gardeners will host a seed swap. Similar to a potluck dinner, gardeners are encouraged to bring samples of their favorite heirloom seeds to exchange with others. Admission is free with paid gate fee ($4 for adults, $3 for children and free for members). A small portion of seeds distributed will placed in the seed bank for future generations. Landmarkparkdothan.com
Birmingham, Cat Fanciers Association Cat Show. Various breeds of pedigreed cats will compete, as well as non-pedigreed household pets. Vendors onsite with cat supplies, apparel, jewelry and more. Local cat rescue groups will also have cats available for adoption. Adults $8, seniors $6, children $5. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. both days. Zamora Shrine Center, 3521 Ratliffe Rd. Birminghamfelinefanciers.com.
Chatom, Indian Artifact Show, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Chatom Community Center, 222 Dixie Youth Drive. Free. Email email@example.com
Monroeville, 17th annual Genealogy and History Workshop, Old Courthouse Museum. $35 registration fee includes lunch. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. 251-575-7433.
Orrville, Old Cahawba Cemetery Walking Tour. Old Cahawba’s three cemeteries tell many stories. This tour explores the personal stories of many who once called the area home. 10 a.m. Admission $8. 334-872-8058.
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JANUARY 2018 29
| Gardens |
Month-by-Month Gardening 2018
Intentional gardening Finding garden ﬂow in 2018
had such good intentions when I sat down to write this month’s column. I was going to create the perfect list of monthly gardening chores that would set us all on the path to a fun and productive gardening year. After days and days of trying to create a list that works for every part of the state, though, I realized that my intentions were good, but impractical. How can one short list begin to address the diversity of Alabama gardens and gardeners, not to mention the many variables of gardening in this state such as local climates, soil types and weather patterns? That would require writing a book, not a column. So, instead, I decided to make a list of intentional gardening strategies that can help us all focus on our personal objectives and, perhaps, find flow in our gardens rather than feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. It all begins with questions. The first set of questions is all about establishing your gardening goals: What garden style do I want – formal, informal, natural, manicured, something else? Do I want my garden to be ornamental, edible or a combination of the two? Do I want a low maintenance or a high maintenance garden? Do I want my garden to be interesting year-round or just during certain seasons? Do I want a garden that attracts birds, butterflies and other wildlife, draws the attention of passers-by or does both? Then answer some questions about the resources you have to put into a garden: How much space do I have to garden in and do I want to expand or reduce that space? How much time and energy can I commit to my garden? How much money can I spend on Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
my garden? Is my garden area typically dry or wet, sunny or shady or a combination of these? Do I have good soil in my garden or can I improve that soil? Once you’ve answered these questions, here are some strategies to help keep up with your garden’s needs: Walk through the garden as often as possible to look for problems, for chances to pick fruits, vegetables or flowers and to determine which areas and plants need immediate and/or long-term attention, such as watering, pruning, fertilizing and new or different plants. Concentrate on one section of the garden each time you go out there to work, and don’t get distracted by other parts of the garden. You can save those for the next garden workday. Finally, get your hands on one or more gardening guides (available online or in many books and magazines) that will help you organize your gardening plans with an eye toward your local needs. Two extremely helpful resources for our part of the world include the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Alabama Gardener’s Calendar (visit www. aces.edu and search for gardener’s calendar) and Month-by-Month Gardening — Deep South, a book written by Nellie Neal and published by Cool Springs Press. However, there are many other resources you can use so take some time to explore the options (and, by the way, January is a great month to stay inside and do just that). Also, tap into the knowledge of local experts at garden centers, public gardens and Alabama Cooperative Extension System offices, attend some gardening workshops and seek advice from seasoned gardeners in your community or from garden club and plant society members and Master Gardeners. Needless to say, there are many other things that can be added to these lists of questions and strategies, and the monthby-month list accompanying this column as well, but perhaps these will kickstart your own intentional gardening approach and help you find gardening flow and joy in 2018!
Because the exact timing of many gardening chores and opportunities varies in different parts of the state, here are some general guides for things we can all do in and for our gardens and yards each month.
January • • • •
Choose and order seeds, bulbs and plants for the coming year. Do a soil test. Plant trees and shrubs now and through the winter. Start seed for winter or early spring crops indoors or in a cold frame.
• Prune many trees and shrubs, though not spring-blooming species. • Begin grafting trees and shrubs. • Start seed for later spring vegetables, herbs and flowers. • Remove or treat winter weeds in the lawn and landscape.
• Prepare garden beds for spring and summer planting. • Add fertilizer or other soil amendments recommended by soil test results. • Clean and service gardening tools, power equipment, irrigation systems, etc. • Start outdoor plantings of tender annual crops.
• Begin moving hardy houseplants outdoors and repot any that have outgrown their containers. • Keep a close eye out for increasing pest, weed and disease problems. • Begin planting summer crops. • Start regular lawn mowing and maintenance routines.
• Plant summer annual flowers • Seed new lawns. • Water lawns, newly planted shrubs, garden beds and potted plants as needed. • Mulch newly planted shrubs.
• Take cuttings from shrubs for rooting new plants. • Trim leggy limbs from shrubs to improve their shape. • Remove spent blooms from most shrubs and other flowering ornamentals. • Stake tall flowers and other plants to keep them from falling or blowing over.
July • • • •
Plant irises and spider lilies. Sow seed for late summer and early fall vegetables and flowers. Keep watering, mowing and weeding. Plant seed for pumpkins and gourds.
August • • • •
Start planting fall vegetable seeds and transplants. Divide clumps of perennials such as irises and daylilies. Add organic matter to empty garden beds. Keep planting late summer and fall annual vegetables and flowers.
• Plant new trees, shrubs and wildflowers now and on through the fall. • Sow seed for leafy greens such as mustard, lettuce, turnips and collards. • Plant spring-blooming bulbs. • Take houseplants indoors.
• Winterize and safely store lawn and garden tools and chemicals. • Clean out flower and vegetable beds and add organic matter to improve soil quality. • Keep planting new trees and shrubs. • Freshen mulch around shrubs and perennials.
November • • • •
Add fallen leaves to compost piles. Start planting new roses. Clean birdfeeders and baths and keep them filled for winter birds. Water newly planted shrubs and trees and container plants.
December • • • •
Add lime to soils if needed (based on soil test recommendations). Prune grape, wisteria and other ornamental or fruiting vines. Plant blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and other small fruits. Stop fertilizing houseplants.
JANUARY 2018â€ƒ 31
| Worth the drive |
Culinary treats with a 360-degree view By Allison Law
10 Hightower Place Florence, AL 35630 256-246-3600 Hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for Sunday brunch Reservations recommended, especially for “event” nights such as Valentine’s Day Attire is business casual
32 JANUARY 2018
he 360 Grille, perched 20 stowith, but with an upscale twist.” ries up atop the tower of the The Grille also gets fresh seafood Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa twice a week, and sources items loin Florence, lures guests with its comcally when possible. For example, the manding views of the scenic Tennesbutternut squash risotto features local see Valley and Wilson Dam. squash. The aptly-named eatery is the In the last year, the Grille began a state’s only rotating restaurant. Food Sunday brunch, again with a seasonal and beverage director Garien Shelmenu. Among its most popular items by, who’s also the executive chef, first The Spring Vegetable Frittata, on the Sunday brunch menu, is the chicken and waﬄes, which has came to the 360 Grille as a patron. He features goat cheese, scallions and fresh vegetables. become almost a staple in Southern brought his wife for a sunset dinner, restaurants. But the Grille uses a petit and it was “spectacular.” New York strip coated in rice flour, quicksignature dishes, which are often seasonal. “It completely took my breath away,” he fried to produce a crispy meat with a fla“Our fish and grits is a popular dish. Our says. vorful sauce. braised bison short rib is popular. We take The speed is generally set to allow for a It is fine dining – entrees are generally in some of the Southern flavors and incor3-4 course meal in one full rotation, which the $20-$40 range – but there is a children’s porate them in more upscale and versatile is about an hour to an hour and a half. Pamenu, though with an upscale flair. The items,” Shelby says. trons seated near the windows get the full steak and frites, for example, is a petit filet The heirloom tomato salad is a play on a 360-degree view in one meal, but the speed with Parmesan fries. caprese salad, with freshly fried mozzarella, is slow enough that the rotation is neither The goal is not to have an intimidating a fig balsamic reduction and a spinach pedistracting nor scary. (Interior seats are stamenu, Shelby says. “We take our risks. But sto, instead of the regular basil pesto. “We tionary.) the goal is for our customers to look at the just try to play with the classics and present Its views are unparalleled, for sure. But menu and be wowed, but also to be familiar them in a more elegant way, and take fun Shelby wants people to have a culinary as with the things they see.” risks on certain pieces of the dish.” well as a visual experience. The staff is trained to be able to answer The dessert menu features a baked AlasIt has always been a fine dining restauany questions and explain ingredients ka, but made with red velvet cake and rant, but made the transition to a steakor techniques that may be unfamiliar to cream cheese ice cream. The s’mores are house about a year ago. Steaks are the anguests. “Our menu is designed to have a made with a graham cracker tulipe, a sour chor – the Grille gets fresh beef delivered conversation,” he says. cream fudge cake, marshmallow ice cream two to three times a week – but the chefs and a toffee ganache over the top. “It has The 360 Grille tinker with Southern staples to create other all those flavors our customers are familiar
JANUARY 2018â€ƒ 33
| Alabama Recipes |
In addition to good taste, slow cookers give us the valuable gift of time.
What's in a name? The first slow cooker on the market made its debut in the 1950s under another name. The company Rival bought and re-introduced the invention with the name Crock-Pot in the 1970s. They were instantly popular, but then waned when microwaves became the latest kitchen rage in the 1980s. Now they’re back in style. In the last decade, all brands of slow cookers have enjoyed a surge in sales. Some figures state an increase in overall sales of more then 65 percent since 2008.
BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY FOOD/PHOTOGRAPHY BY BROOKE ECHOLS
In the South, our culture puts a premium on slow. Our speech slides out with a drawl. We take our time and do things at a laidback pace. So, at first glance, a kitchen device with “slow” in the name seems like the perfect match for this leisurely lifestyle. But we all know that’s not reality, the lifestyle anyway. Today, even down here, most of us are daily moving at break-neck speeds, trying to cram more into every single moment by multi-tasking on many levels. And the slow cooker absolutely fits this scenario. By promising to deliver a hot, tasty meal that requires minimum effort at the end of a long, hectic day, slow cookers are just as popular now as in their heyday in the 1970s. Some sources claim that in 2011, 83 percent of American households contained and used a slow cooker. But it’s not just the convenience that we love. The way they cook – low and slow – has a lot of tasty benefits. It gives us moist
34 JANUARY 2018
tender meats (even when we use cheaper cuts), drastically reduces the risk of burning or over-cooking food, and gives the flavors in any recipe time to truly come together. They’re highly versatile. While they were originally used mainly for savory main dishes, now you can prepare pretty much anything, including desserts, in slow cookers. Plus, they use a tiny amount of energy compared to other kitchen appliances, and as another added bonus (especially for Alabama!), they won’t heat up your entire kitchen. So we’ve established a slow cooker is the busy family’s very helpful friend. But maybe we should also take a cue from the way a slow cooker works: Be open to all kinds of possibilities; take the time to really connect with those around us; and step away from the hustle and hurry sometimes. Good things very often come slowly, and they’re usually worth the wait.
Ham Potato Bake
White Chicken Chili
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin 1 medium onion, sliced 2 tablespoons margarine 2 tablespoons plain flour ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper 1 can cream of celery soup 1 soup can water 1½ cups fully cooked ham, chopped into bite-size pieces 1 teaspoon prepared mustard 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 1 2 2 1
Spray slow cooker with vegetable spray. Place potatoes in bottom of cooker, then add onion. In a medium-sized saucepan, soften margarine; remove from heat. Add flour, salt, pepper and mustard; mix until smooth. Combine water and celery soup, stir until blended. Add to the mix in saucepan and stir until smooth. Place pan over low heat and bring to a simmer. Remove immediately and pour over ham and potato mix in the slow cooker. Cover; turn on low setting and cook for 8-10 hours. When done and just before serving, sprinkle cheese over top of the mixture and stir until cheese is melted. Serve warm.
cans white northern beans can mild Rotel cups diced chicken cups water package white chili seasoning
Combine all of the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours and serve with cheddar cheese and tortilla chips. Tina Hancock North Alabama EC
Crock-Pot Red Beans and Sausage 4 15-ounce cans kidney beans (light or dark) 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes 2 pounds Conecuh sausage (or your choice) 1 package smoked turkey necks 1 onion, diced 1 bell pepper, diced Garlic powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
2 pounds stew beef 5 or 6 potatoes, peeled and cubed 4-6 carrots, peeled and sliced 3-4 celery stalks ½ small onion, minced ½ cup boiling water with 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved 1 can tomato soup 1 can golden mushroom soup
Pour 4 cups of water into Crock-Pot, add smoked turkey necks and turn on low setting. While the turkey necks are on, chop sausage, bell peppers and onions. Let turkey necks cook for about 2 hours. Open and drain water off beans and tomatoes and add to the crockpot. Add in sausage, peppers and onion. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, garlic powder and crushed red pepper. Season to your liking. Continue to cook on low for 6-8 hours. Great with rice and Mexican cornbread.
Mix all ingredients together in slow cooker and cook on low at least 8 hours.
Sharlene Parker Baldwin EMC
Crock-Pot Beef Stew
Charles Boenig Baldwin EMC
Peggy Key North Alabama EC
Cook of the Month: Myra Johnson, Central Alabama EC Very Easy Crockpot Gumbo with Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 1/4 1/2 1 4
14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes, undrained 6-ounce can tomato paste can okra and tomatoes, undrained pound skinless boneless chicken, cut into small pieces large sausage link, sliced 14.5-ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth green bell pepper, chopped small onion, chopped stalks celery, chopped tablespoon Cajun seasoning cloves minced garlic basil leaves teaspoon ground black pepper (I use coarse grind) teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less to your taste) bag frozen medium-sized shrimp, thawed (peeled and deveined without tails) cups hot cooked white rice
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, okra and tomatoes, chicken, sausage, broth, bell pepper, onion, celery, Cajun seasoning, garlic and basil, black pepper and hot pepper to slow cooker. Stir gently to combine everything. Cook on low about 2 hours. Add shrimp and cook another 30 minutes until shrimp is warm. Serve over cooked rice or mix the rice in the slow cooker just before serving. (Read more about Myra on the next page.)
JANUARY 2018 35
Cook of the Month:
Myra Johnson, Central Alabama EC Author Myra Johnson has taken her love of Tallassee, Ala., history and turned it into several popular books, including a cookbook. She’s also got a long history with slow-cookers, leaning on their reliability and convenience for decades. “I used to commute to Montgomery for work for many years, so I used my Crock-Pot all the time. It made my days so much easier,” she said. She’s got countless slow-cooker recipes, but one of her alltime favorites is her Gumbo with Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp. “I love it because it really is so simple. Just throw everything in and forget it,” she said. “It’s also versatile. You can adjust the heat level by adding hot sauce or cayenne pepper if you want it spicy.”
Congratulations to Ethel Lemmond of Joe Wheeler EMC! Your Alabama Living gift bag is on its way. Keep those recipe submissions coming!
Submit your recipes! Online: alabamaliving.coop Email: email@example.com Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124
Themes and Deadlines March: Honey | Jan. 8 April: Bread | Feb. 8 May: Junior Cooks | March 8
Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.
Soup, dessert and entree win prizes at ‘Crockin’ It’ competition Story and photos by Allison Law
For Tif Smith, entering competitions at the Alabama National Fair is a tradition she’s enjoyed for more than 20 years. It’s also a family tradition – she cooks with her sister, who came all the way from Dallas, Texas, to enter the Fair this year with her. Smith won first place in the annual “Crockin’ It” contest, the slow-cooker competition sponsored by Alabama Living at the fair in early November. Her prize-winning dish, Crock Pot Amish Cabbage Patch Soup, is a hearty meal-in-itself that’s perfect for these colder months. She credits the unique flavor to the cumin. “You have to be careful with it, but that’s that ‘bite,’” she says. She thought that cabbage would provide a nice layer of texture along with the beans, and she added Alaga syrup to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. One judge noted that even though he doesn’t care for cabbage, he enjoyed the flavors and texture in Smith’s soup. She calls herself a “recipe freak,” and after she suffered a detached retina in March, she used her recuperation time to research recipes and think about twists and touches she could use to make them her From left, Creative Living Center Director Ann Ball, Stacie Bruney, Tif Smith, TerreLynn Huston, Alabama Living Editor Lenore Vickrey and Fair President Keith Norman. own. Smith lives in Montgomery but grew up in Wayne County, Miss., on a pig farm. She and her family did lots of cooking and sewing, skills she’s tried to pass on to her own children. “Tradition is real important to me,” she says, and points to her daughter in the audience. “We’ve been doing this since she was 5 years old, and she’s 27 now.” And Smith’s aunt was one of the “fair ladies” – the dedicated women who work hard each year at the fair to help the contestants and the judges, and who keep the competitions running smoothly. Her family was even keeping up with the competition while the judging was going on. “My mom and dad have already called,” Smith says with a smile. “I said, 'They’re judging, Daddy!'” A young man recently asked Smith for advice about competing; he likely knew that she’s been participating in these contests for many years. “You don’t win if you don’t try,” she says. “Anybody can come up with a recipe. You just keep trying. There was many years when I didn’t win.” 36 JANUARY 2018
First place Tif Smith, Montgomery
Crock Pot Amish Cabbage Patch Soup 1 1 2 2 1 1 ½ 2 1 1 2 1 1 ½
pound ground beef large onion, chopped stalks celery, chopped large bell peppers, one orange and one red, chopped 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained 15-ounce can Garbanzo beans, drained head cabbage, chopped 32-ounce boxes beef broth 28-ounce can diced tomatoes small can tomato paste teaspoons chili powder teaspoon cumin teaspoon garlic powder Salt and pepper to taste Several shakes of Alaga Hot Sauce cup Alaga Light Syrup
Crock Pot Amish Cabbage Patch Soup
Cook the ground beef in a skillet and drain. Add ground beef, onion, celery, bell peppers, beans and cabbage to the Crock Pot. In a bowl, whisk together beef broth, hot sauce, syrup, tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Pour over the Crock Pot ingredients. Cook on low 6-7 hours or high for 4 hours. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.
Second place Stacie Bruney, Montgomery
Slow Cooker Reese’s Cake Cake: 1 box chocolate fudge cake mix 1 cup water 3 eggs ½ cup creamy peanut butter 1/3 cup butter, softened 1/8 cup Alaga Corn Syrup Glaze: ¼ cup creamy peanut butter ¼ cup Barber’s milk 1/8 cup Alaga Corn Syrup 1 cup powdered sugar Topping: 30 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped ¼ cup chocolate sauce For the cake, prepare the slow cooker with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cake ingredients. Pour batter into the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Check after 1 ½ hours just in case. When cake is done, remove the pot from slow cooker and set on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together the glaze ingredients. Spread evenly over the top of the cake. Drizzle chocolate sauce on top and sprinkle chopped peanut butter cups. Alabama Living
Slow Cooker Reese's Cake
Mongolian Beef, Southern Style
Third place TerreLynn Huston, Montgomery
Mongolian Beef, Southern Style 2 ½ ¼ ½ 3 2 1 4 1 2 1
pounds chuck roast cup plus 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce cup plus 4 tablespoons water cup dark brown sugar cloves garlic, minced teaspoons minced ginger tablespoon Dale’s low-sodium seasoning green onions, sliced into 2-inch pieces tablespoon olive oil tablespoons cornstarch tablespoon Alaga Hot Sauce
Combine ½ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup water, sugar, garlic and ginger in the Crock Pot and stir. Add Dale’s seasoning and stir well. Lay the chuck roast into the Crock Pot, cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove beef; shred with fork, then return to the Crock Pot. In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and 4 tablespoons water. Add ½ cup liquid from the Crock Pot. Whisk until it boils and thickens. Pour this liquid back into the Crock Pot. Before serving, heat a pan and add olive oil; add the green onion pieces. Let them sizzle for a few minutes. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and Alaga Hot Sauce. Serve the Mongolian Beef over rice and top with the green onion sauce. JANUARY 2018 37
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| Outdoors |
PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE LEE
Glimpsing one of the world’s rarest birds
cross the field on this frigid day, we watched several hundred tall gray sandhill cranes feeding, but we didn’t feel the cold. Quite comfortable behind the one-way glass of the observation tower at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, we felt only the warmth of excitement as we also spotted three special white birds, bigger and more majestic than others in the flock. Never very common and now one of the rarest birds in North America, whooping crane numbers dipped to about 15 in the world by the 1940s. The population has rebounded to about 600 today. Numbers of the similar sandhill crane species also dropped early in the 20th century, but now nearly 500,000 lesser sandhills and 100,000 greater sandhills migrate across North America. However, numbers remain low for some other subspecies. The tallest birds in North America, whooping cranes stand about five feet tall, compared to sandhills at four feet. Darker gray, sandhills have bright red patches on their heads. Nearly all white, except for black wing tips, whoopers often feed with sandhills where their ranges overlap. People can only hope to see whoopers in a few places in the world, but one of them is Alabama. “Whooping crane numbers are on the rise, but their population is still low,” says Amber Wilson with the International Crane Foundation Whooping Crane Outreach Program in Decatur. “There are two distinct migrating flocks in North America. One is the historic wild flock that travels from their breeding grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas for the winter. The other migrating population is the reintroduced flock that travels John N. Felsher lives in Semmes, Ala. Contact him through Facebook.
40 JANUARY 2018
from their breeding grounds in Wisconsin down to Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. There are also about 40 non-migrating birds in Louisiana and 10 in Florida.” Fearing that disease or another catastrophe could devastate the whooping crane population in one stroke, the International Crane Foundation (www.savingcranes.org) and other groups formed the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. These conservationists wanted to establish a second migratory flock and did so in 2001. “Historically there was at least one record of a whooping crane in Alabama before the reintroduction of the eastern migratory population,” says Hillary Thompson, an ICF spokeswoman. “Sandhill cranes are native to Alabama. Sandhill crane numbers were once very low, but their numbers have increased greatly over time.” Now, these eastern birds pass through or winter in Alabama. Sandhills usually arrive at the 35,000-acre Wheeler NWR off Interstate 65 adjacent to Decatur in early November. The first whoopers typically follow a couple weeks later, but a severe cold front could push migrating birds southward. Both species generally leave the refuge in late February or early March heading northward. “The refuge was established in 1938 as a migratory bird sanctuary,” says Teresa Adams, the Wheeler NWR supervising park ranger. “The refuge has diverse habitats, including reclaimed farmland replanted in hardwoods that provide places for more than 295 bird species, including more than 30 species of waterfowl in the winter. A few sandhill cranes started coming here about 20 years ago. In 2016-17, we had about 20,000 sandhills on the refuge. The whopping cranes started coming here in 2005 and their numbers have steadily increased. In the winter of 2016-17, we had 29 on the refuge.”
Photograph in comfort
Probably no other place on Earth provides a better place to view and photograph wild cranes, geese, ducks and other birds up close in comfort than the observation building. A short walk behind the Wheeler NWR Visitor Center, the building sits on a pond shoreline overlooking fields. In an elevated room surrounded by one-way glass, people can observe and photograph birds without sharp eyes spotting them. Photographers can also reserve an observation blind down near the pond shoreline if they wish. “I don’t know of another place like it anywhere where people can get such a good look at the birds and stay warm in the winter doing it,” Adams says. “On some days, people can see all kinds of ducks, geese, thousands of sandhill cranes and some whooping cranes. Sometimes, the birds come right in front of the observation building. We also mounted a microphone on the building so people inside can hear the birds.” The refuge closes many roads to motorized vehicles in the winter so people don’t chase off the birds. However, the roads remain open to hikers and bicyclists. Since the Tennessee River runs through the refuge, people can also see many bird species from boats. People can see cranes and enjoy various exhibits, workshops, guest speakers, concerts and other activities in Decatur and on the refuge during the 2018 Festival of the Cranes, slated for Jan. 13-14. Area visitors can find any food, lodging and other necessities they need in Decatur. For more about the area and the festival, call Melinda Dunn of the Decatur Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-232-5449 or 256-350-2028, or visit www.decaturcvb.org. For information on Wheeler NWR, see www.fws.gov/refuge/wheeler or visit the Friends of Wheeler website at www.friendsofwheelerrefuge.org. www.alabamaliving.coop
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Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time. AM Minor Major
PM Minor Major
11:16 11:46 07:01 07:16 07:31 08:01 08:16 02:31 03:01 03:46 02:01 08:16 09:31 10:16 11:01 11:31
06:16 06:31 12:01 12:31 12:46 01:16 01:46 08:46 09:16 09:46 10:46 03:31 04:16 05:01 05:31 06:01
04:16 -12:16 12:46 01:31 07:46 08:31 09:46 11:31 --12:31 02:01 03:16 04:16 05:01
11:31 05:01 05:31 06:16 07:01 02:01 02:46 03:31 04:31 05:46 07:16 08:31 09:31 10:31 11:16 11:46
MAR. 1 -2 07:01 3 07:31 4 07:46 5 08:16 6 02:31 7 02:46 8 12:01 9 -10 11:01 11 09:46 12 10:16 13 10:31 14 11:01 15 11:31 16 -17 06:31 18 06:46 19 01:01 20 01:31 21 02:16 22 02:46 23 03:46 24 10:01 25 08:46 26 09:31 27 10:01 28 10:46 29 11:16 30 05:46 31 06:16
06:31 12:31 01:01 01:31 02:01 08:31 08:46 09:16 09:46 04:31 04:31 04:46 05:16 05:31 05:46 06:01 12:01 12:31 07:01 07:31 07:46 08:16 08:46 01:46 03:16 04:01 04:31 05:01 05:16 11:46 12:01
12:01 12:46 01:16 08:01 09:01 10:01 ----01:16 02:46 03:31 04:16 05:01 12:01 06:16 07:01 07:46 08:46 10:01 11:31 --12:31 02:16 03:31 04:16 05:01 -06:31
05:46 06:31 07:16 02:01 02:46 03:31 04:31 05:46 07:16 08:31 09:16 10:01 10:31 11:01 11:31 05:46 12:31 01:01 01:31 02:16 03:01 03:46 05:16 06:46 08:16 09:16 10:01 10:46 11:31 05:46 12:16
FEB. 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
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Jimmy V and Jackson
ince 2006, the NCAA and ESPN have sponsored Jimmy V Week, showcasing the country’s best college basketball teams in a competition to fund the V Foundation’s effort to cure cancer. Jimmy V Week was founded upon a speech made by Jimmy Valvano in March 1993 at the first annual ESPY Awards. The former basketball coach, who won an NCAA National Championship at North Carolina State in 1983, delivered a powerful and moving speech while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. Coach Valvano was in the final stages of his battle with bone cancer. He had to be assisted to the podium by his two close friends, Dick Vitale and Mike Krzyzewski. Once there, Coach Valvano came to life and was full of energy and passion saying, “I am fighting cancer. Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I have left, and I have some things that I would like to say.” He told the crowd, “There are three things we all should do every day. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears — could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” Coach Valvano talked about the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research and the importance of raising money for cancer research. He said, “It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It Jackson Conway may save someone you love. The Foundation’s motto is ‘Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.’ That’s what I’m going to try to do every minute that I have left.” Finally, he said, “I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.” Cancer took Coach Valvano two weeks later. There are many
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44 JANUARY 2018
memorable speeches, but every so often there is a speech in the most extraordinary of circumstances that stands the test of time — a speech that continues to move people to tears and motivates them in ways they had never imagined. A speech that stays with you forever. Coach Valvano’s speech was one of those. Last week I met Jackson Conway, a remarkable young man. He is from Evergreen, Alabama, is 14 years old, a freshman at Sparta Academy, plays all sports, likes hunting and fishing, is an avid Alabama football fan, and has cancer. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma last July, with a tumor on his jaw bone and deposits in his lungs. We have flown him to M.D. Anderson for treatments. He has been taking chemo treatments for months. Doctors recently removed the tumor and a large section of his right jawbone. They replaced his jawbone with a bone graft from his right lower leg, which left him with a terrible scar and in a walking boot. They also took his lower right teeth and left him with a scar under his right jaw. He is a handsome and intelligent young man. A young man that could just as easily be mine or yours, instead of Kristy and Terry Conway’s. He is stoic, yet upbeat about his situation. He talks about playing sports and hunting deer. He also talks about his recent trip to Tuscaloosa, attending an Alabama football practice, spending time with the players, meeting Coach Saban, hanging out in Coach Saban’s office, and trying on his practice hat. He gave the players wristbands that have his name and favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11. Some of the players, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, wore Jackson’s wristbands in the game against Mercer in November. They send him messages of encouragement. Through his treatment, Jackson has been a rock of faith. He tells his family, “I know I am going to be ok. Don’t worry, I am going to win this.” In Houston during Hurricane Harvey, Jackson asked his Mom, “Why are y’all worried about the storm? God has helped me through cancer up to this point, so he’s going to take care of us through the storm.” Jackson follows Coach Valvano’s creed, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Do something to help, do something to help someone. We can’t save Jimmy Valvano but we might save your child’s life or someone you love. We might save Jackson’s life. He still has a long, hard fight in front of him. You can follow Jackson and make a contribution on Facebook at TeamJackson. I hope you have as good a month as Jackson. www.alabamaliving.coop
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| Hardy Jackson's Alabama |
Let’s hear it for the hog Well, I’ve always heard, but I ain’t too sure, That a man’s best friend is a mangy cur. I kinda favor the hog myself. How ‘bout a hand for the hog! — Roger Miller
Illustration by Dennis Auth
read the other day that someone somewhere had done some calculations and come to the conclusion that your average American eats 28 pigs a year! I don’t know just what, exactly, they base that figure on, but I can say, without fear of contradiction, that I and my family and most of my friends have always done our part to keep pork consumption high. We are serious about swine. Now I can’t claim any particular expertise when it comes to pigs. I only raised one. She ate what we gave her and fattened up real nice. I don’t recall mourning her passing, but I do recall enjoying the meat. It’s like this. On a farm everything had a purpose, and a pig’s purpose is to get eaten. Which is why farm folks I knew never made pets out of pigs. Still, among pig raisers I recall a certain respect for the animals, and that respect was most evident at killing time. I have witnessed only a few hog killings. They were long ago and all sorta run together now, but thinking of them as one, what I remember most was the cold and the efficiency. It was cold because, even though by then we had refrigerators, you killed hogs in winter, when there was less chance of the meat spoiling. It was
Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University and a regular contributor to Alabama Living. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
46 JANUARY 2018
efficient because, after years of practice, those doing the killing, the cleaning and the carving-up, knew what to do and how to do it. There was not a lot of talking and socializing, with the work. Those involved were intent on getting the job done as quickly as they could and, though it may seem odd to say it, with as little inconvenience as possible to the pigs. Now, of course, there is a certain inconvenience in getting killed. But in the killing, there appeared an acknowledgement of the significance of the pig’s sacrifice. There was no laughing, joking or kidding around the way Southerners usually do when they get together. Death was serious business. And it was not until all the pigs had become pork that the mood shifted. That’s when they divided up the meat, setting some aside for smoking, and started rendering the fat into “cracklings” for cornbread. Then there was a scramble to claim the parts that the very mention of today causes consternation in polite circles – chitlins, brains, feet, knuckles, and of course, liver and lights (if you don’t know, look it up). My Daddy was particularly good at taking bits and pieces and making hog’s head cheese, to which country connoisseurs gave their highest praise – “ain’t a hair in it.” Today, most people who eat those delicacies don’t even know it. They are consumed as “assorted pork parts” that are unidentifiable in potted meat, bologna, sausage, and stuff like that – which, I suppose, was figured into the 28-pig calculation. Which is a shame, for chitlins, knuckles, liver and lights once enabled Southerners to make two pigs out of one, and in the hardscrabble South, quantity mattered. But so did quality. Southerners learned to do wonderful things with these, the least and the leavings. Which is why I’ll take pickled pig’s feet over ground-up pork parts any day. Yessir, “How ‘bout a hand for the hog!” www.alabamaliving.coop