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cooking and dining published by The Auburn Plainsman

LOGAN ELLISON | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


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The Auburn Plainsman: Cooking and Dining 2021

January 28, 2021

TIM NAIL | SECTION EDITOR

(Clockwise from top left): Scott Brown, owner of Whistle Stop Bottle and Brew; Eric Lindemann and Terri Plundo of Resting Pulse; staff of Red Clay Brewing Company; equipment at John Emerald Distillery


January 28, 2021

The Auburn Plainsman: Cooking and Dining 2021

Breweries bring new life to Opelika By TIM NAIL Section Editor

Away from the bustling college scene found in neighboring Auburn, Opelika has become something of a brewing and distilling hub within the past 10 years. The owners and staff of the city’s largest alcohol-producing businesses say Opelika was a natural choice as a place to turn their hobbies into full-time career opportunities. The first such business to launch was John Emerald Distillery, which owner Jimmy Sharp pointed out was the second distillery in the state in recent times and the first to make whiskeys and rums since the Prohibition era. Sharp opened John Emerald with his father in 2014 after leaving work in a subcontracting company. Sharp named the distillery after his grandfather and has named his products after ancestors like his great-grandmother Elizabeth and great-grandfather Hugh Wesley. “My wife’s family are third-generation Auburn grads, so I was required to look at Auburn as a possible location, and through [that] we discovered Opelika,” Sharp said. The distillery also seeks to use local ingredients where it can order to support agriculture in the area and gather some natural resources. “For now, we’re using an Irish grain, but we smoke that grain here with local peach and pecan wood,” Sharp said. “Our gin [uses] ginger berries we pick from the wild ourselves.” Since 2014, John Emerald has expanded to distribute its products in seven states. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for small businesses, Sharp said sales have been better than ever. “Oddly enough during COVID, [sales] have grown,” he said. “We’ve gotten ourselves hooked up with some spirit-tasting clubs that have been really active during COVID.” John Emerald is the next-door neighbor to Red Clay Brewing Company, the brainchild of Opelika native Kerry McGinnis, who returned to his hometown after eight years of service in the military. The idea was an extension of his passion for home brewing that formed when he saw a need for products that could put Opelika on the map. “Growing up after 17 years of trying to get out of here, I finally [did] and realized it wasn’t

so bad,” McGinnis said, laughing. “We often joked about opening our own brewery and at some point decided no one [else] is coming to Opelika … so we went ahead and pulled the trigger.” Red Clay focuses mainly on brewing beers and ales through the use of what assistant brewmaster Craig Collins calls its “science lab,” behind the taproom. McGinnis mostly made Red Clay’s brewing equipment by hand with the help of friend and co-founder, John Corbin. “A lot of our stuff isn’t originally for brewing,” said Anna Bernard, Red Clay’s taproom manager. “Kerry built our grain hopper and he also built our keg washer. Our mash tub is an old dairy tank, and our kettle is a Frito-Lay flavoring machine.” The success of John Emerald and Red Clay, as well as other independent businesses that have launched in the last decade, pushed the City of Opelika to develop First Avenue to entice more entrepreneurs to its core downtown area. Several have since appeared – one being Resting Pulse Brewing Company, the city’s second brewery, which opened in 2019. David and Terri Plundo developed Resting Pulse after retiring from the health care field. They settled in Auburn after moving from Iowa five years ago. “We always wanted to [open] a craft brewery, but everywhere we’ve lived they were multiplying like mushrooms,” David said. “We got down here and really there was nothing. Red Clay had just opened and there was nothing else within a reasonable driving distance.” Terri said they sought to create a drinking environment where people can “find their resting pulse,” giving the brewery’s name a double meaning. Resting Pulse’s relatively recent opening means it is still learning the tricks that come with starting a brewery, Terri said, which has made getting off the ground more of a challenge because of the pandemic. “You don’t want to step too far in advance because you have to invest … in cans and a canning line, and it gets kind of expensive,” Terri said. “We plan for growth. We bought a 15-barrel system so that we can grow.” Despite Resting Pulse being more of a newcomer to Opelika, Terri said the city and its

citizens have remained supportive since COVID-19 first impacted the Auburn-Opelika area. “People bought a lot of food to go, so our kitchen got known a little bit better,” she said. “Looking at that, that helped us pay some of the bills that might not have been paid.” Some may not always want to go out for a drink, or when they do, they may not find the kind of beverage they’re looking for. That’s why Scott Brown, a native of Mobile, Alabama, encourages people to “relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew,” a phrase he borrows from Charles Papazian, whom he calls the “godfather of homebrewing.” Brown is the owner of Whistle Stop Bottle and Brew, Opelika’s latest alcohol-based business that does not brew, but sells the supplies needed to home brew and make wine. “I’ve been brewing for about eight years, starting when I was living in Maryland, the year after I retired,” Brown said. “As the kids have gotten older, I was looking for something to do as a hobby. My oldest two boys got me a beer kit for Father’s Day 2012.” Brown moved to Auburn in 2017 with his wife, following 28 years serving in the Coast Guard, when he saw there were no shops offering locals the chance to make wine or home brew. The shop opened in June 2019 and expanded in May of this year with a bottle shop area for drinking. He said founding the shop has been very timely because of the pandemic, as people in search of new hobbies have eyed making their own alcohol. “Homebrewers are everyone from right at 21 years old up to people who are retired,” Brown said. “Some people don’t even know you can make your own beer. It really isn’t complicated.” Two of Whistle Stop’s busiest months since its grand opening were March, when the pandemic initially affected the area, and May, when some were getting bored or anxious from being locked down, Brown said. He credits Red Clay with helping him launch the shop and ensuring he was conducting business properly. “If they’re brewing and they find themselves short on yeast or some hops, they’ll call up,” Brown said. “As a matter of fact, they have a key [to the shop].”

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The Auburn Plainsman: Cooking and Dining 2021

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January 28, 2021


January 28, 2021

The Auburn Plainsman: Cooking and Dining 2021

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LOGAN ELLISON | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Midtown Auburn offers pop-up shops and restaurants By LANEY MAYFIELD Writer

If you are in or near the Midtown Auburn subdivision on Opelika Road, you may have noticed people walking in those small houselike structures empty-handed, and leaving out with delicious goods. Inside those buildings are pop-up restaurants ready to serve those who are want to satisfy their appetite. Are you craving a freshly brewed beverage or mouthwatering desserts? Well, Ross House Coffee and Roastery in Midtown Auburn has you covered. The temporary establishment relies on the support of customers who are familiar with its original and historic location on Ross Street, and the taste buds of new consumers in the area. Toni Holt, owner of The Ross House Coffee and Roastery, said she was content with her original locations and did not plan to open a new business. However, she was approached by property holders to open a new location and accepted the offer and was thrilled to extend the operation without hesitation. The Ross House Coffee and Roastery in

Midtown Auburn opened in August 2020. Since it opened, Holt said the store has seen an incredible amount of profit. Customers love their distinctive latte art and baked avocado toast, but there are a few novelty drinks and snacks on the menu that gained notoriety within the subdivision. “Our specialty lattes and Chai teas are our biggest sellers,” Holt said. “Our Hot Chocolate Bombs that explode in your drink with marshmallows and candy when steamed milk is poured over it, is a top seller in Midtown.” Holt said that she has received positive feedback from the community. She said members in the area have called the shop “cute and fun.” At the Midtown location, customers can relax outdoors in the quiet courtyard area while enjoying the aroma of coffee and treats. Holt said this is beneficial to customers considering that COVID-19 regulations are in place. “I am proud of the pop-up location because it gives us more exposure to another area of town,” she said. “I plan to stay for a long time because I feel like it will keep

growing. I plan to keep growing it and coming up with great marketing ideas to keep it strong.” From savory to salty, dill pickle to caramel, some would say that The Auburn Popcorn Company is a staple in the community. Praised for its gourmet corn kettles and homemade ice cream, the business has solidified its spot in being one of the best popcorn shops in town. Stanley Andrews, owner of The Auburn Popcorn Company, wanted to expand his business beyond the bustling atmosphere of Downtown Auburn. So, he brought one of the oldest and most iconic snack foods of all time to the subtle subdivision. Andrews said his downtown business is a tourist attraction. By adding another location to the other parts of the Auburn-Opelika area, popcorn lovers would have an opportunity to enjoy the treat without having to commute across the city. Sales were skyrocketing, so he added another location to assist the original store. “My original store serves a lot of customers and tourists in the area. I was thinking, ‘I’ve got the tourist spot sealed, what I needed

was a spot to elevate pressure off my downtown store,’” Andrews said. “I’m not just focused on students, but residents in both Auburn and Opelika who want to enjoy unique popcorn without having to go downtown and worrying about parking and long lines,.” Some ice cream flavors are not available at the Midtown location. However, the establishment will add your choice of drizzle or seasoning to your choice of popcorn. Assorted snacks and candy bars aid with sales along with a variety of different flavored shakes in Midtown as well. Though business is steady when students leave for breaks, Andrews said he makes the most profit when classes are in session. He plans to remain at the pop-up location for many months to come, and he hopes to see it grow to be as large as the downtown store. “The Midtown location is the new and up and coming in this small community,” he said. “It has the potential to be grand. I want to see it on the level of the original location in downtown Auburn, but I know it will take some time. It has been receiving positive responses from folks and, it will be a matter of time before it takes off.”


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The Auburn Plainsman: Cooking and Dining 2021

January 28, 2021

What you need to survive cooking in college Creative meals on campus and essentials for apartment living

Uncrustables and Lunchables: an ode to youth By CHARLIE RAMO Section Editor

Is hunger pain the only thing forcing you out of bed in the afternoon? Do you need nourishment but don’t want to put on pants? Look no further, because I have the perfect guide for meals you can “make” without leaving a dorm room. The easiest meals are the ones where you don’t have to do anything to prepare, the best example of this being a salad. Many grocery stores have prepackaged individual salad bowls with multiple ingredients to mix in. They sometimes even come with a plastic fork, so you don’t have to waste any brain cells worrying whether you own any cutlery. This effort to eat semi-healthy can be more expensive than buying individual ingredients, but you don’t have to worry about storage or bulk buying this way. Slap that bowl in your minifridge and enjoy before it expires. Another one of my favorite easy meals is simply buying a box of Uncrustables and throwing them in your miniscule freezer. When it’s time to enjoy, drop a few on the floor and give them 20 minutes to thaw. Don’t let kids have all the fun with premade lunches.

Lunchables can also serve the same role as Uncrustables but without the thawing time, but I cannot recommend them as I find them mildly revolting. The only exception is the make-your-own pizza kit. Bon appetit, my Italian prodigy. Don’t listen to your judgmental aunt — hummus is a meal. Change things up by trying different flavors or try different types of chips ­— pita chips, pretzel chips or just eat it by the spoonful. I don’t judge. Tortillas might be the most versatile food item you can buy. Glob some peanut butter on one, slather some hummus, carrots and peppers on another, dip a third in Nutella and fill a fourth with beans, corn, cheese, lettuce and your preferred salsa. If you’d like, you can play a YouTube video of restaurant sounds to trick your brain into thinking you’re eating out instead of sitting at your desk in a room. I’ve heard of people making grilled sandwiches with a clothes iron before. You could probably make a decent grilled cheese that way. For legal reasons, I’m pretty sure I cannot endorse doing so, I’m just saying it’s possible. Make sure you always have some fruit on hand. Get apple slices, grapes or some other fruit that requires minimal prep

to eat. I’m not really sure what works best because I don’t eat healthily. Do as I say, not as I do. Keeping in the theme of fruit, smoothies count as meals too, in my book. You can get massive premade bottles of the stuff. Just choose a flavor and chug. You can drink it and pretend you’re being healthy, despite knowing there’s an empty box of Oreos in your trash can that was new four days ago. Oatmeal has always been food for the elderly and the disturbed, but it’s now food for you. Heat up some water and pour it into one of those single-serving oatmeal bowls. They even come in fancy flavors such as apple cinnamon and mixed berry. Yum. Did you know that you can buy little cups of Panera branded soup? It just needs to be heated up to serve. Assuming you don’t have a microwave, you might be able to put the cup of soup into a larger bowl of water you heated up. I genuinely have no idea if this would work. Please report back with your results. Living in a dorm is challenging since there isn’t a way to truly prepare meals, and constantly eating out gets expensive quickly. Hopefully, these options show you how you can save money and not feel too sad while doing it.

Five apartment must-haves to feel like a real adult By ABIGAIL MURPHY Section Editor

Rice cooker: Don’t let the name be deceiving. While yes, it can also cook rice, soups, oatmeal and even pudding. Also pairing beans or vegetables with the rice can add for a more interesting meal. Beginning with oil, garlic, a chopped vegetable like an onion and letting that brown before adding water our choice of rice and legumes can create more texture and flavor in the dish. Also trying different rice can allow for more diversity in cooking. It doesn’t have to be just white rice. Quinoa, couscous, wild rice and Arborio rice, which is used to make risotto, are other options. Instant Pot: Consider this the rice cooker 2.0. This allows for a variety of more cooking options, from Pad Thai, butter chicken, grilled peaches and steam cakes. With more settings than rice cookers, more flexibility comes with what food could be made. The Instant Pot even has a setting for yogurt, even though I have no idea how yogurt is made with or without an Instant Pot. The main drawback is Instant Pots are on the larger side and can be hard to store depending on the apartment’s

kitchen size. However, both the Instant Pot and the rice cooker offer a one-pot meal, which is great since you are the one cleaning the dishes. Toaster oven: This can easily act like your oven if need be. Going back to the ‘90s, I know this was the appliance that got my mom through grad school. According to Taste of Home, some meal options include lasagna rolls, salmon, stuffed bell peppers and cornbread. The toaster oven can also be helpful for reheating meals as it provides a little crispness to the food. Some also come with an air frying pan allowing for a healthier alternative to traditional fried foods. Electric kettle: This does not get the respect it deserves. While it is more limited compared to the other appliances, it requires very little cleanup. It can also be helpful with certain noodles. I don’t mean just ramen. Often times rice noodles require for boiling water to be poured over it rather than cooked in a boiled pot. The kettle offers an easy way to do that. It can also be used for drinks like teas and coffees. Microwave: We already know. I don’t need to explain, but for this reason, it deserves a spot on this list even though we all already know.

JACK WEST | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


January 28, 2021

The Auburn Plainsman: Cooking and Dining 2021

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Benefits of making coffee before leaving the house By ABBY WINSKOWICZ Writer

ASHTON SCOTT | PHOTOGRAPHER

Students turned to cooking during quaratine when many businesses closed.

COVID brings people to the kitchen By COLLINS KEITH Assistant Section Editor

Quarantine, while unwanted, unhelpful and mundane in the way that it forced people indoors, gave people the time to self-reflect and learn new skills. One way students escaped boredom and saved money during quarantine was by cooking, and Arianna Jones, junior in education, credits both boredom and her grandma as the driving factors behind her newly acquired skill. “I was bored,” Jones said. “I know how to follow a recipe really well, but I’ve always wanted to be like my grandma and her sisters too. If you know older people… they never really look at recipes, so I’ve always wanted to be like that.” With just an apple, a pear and some flour, Jones’ grandmother can whip up just about any pie, she said. The ability to cook with what you have in the pantry is a skill she wanted to learn over quarantine, instead of going shopping based off of a recipe. “I’m a big, ‘Well let’s go get it,’ type of person,” Jones said. “‘Let’s go to the store,’ type of person. If [my grandmother] is missing something, she knows how to replace it. That’s one thing that I really wanted to learn.” For Jones, she wants to learn from the cooks in her family while she can — the earlier, the better. There’s not much that tastes better than home-cooked peach cobbler, she said. “Our moms are getting up there, too … they’re not going to be able to stand in the kitchen for much longer, and do all of those things,” Jones said. “You want to learn that for yourself. We’re about to graduate and start families, you don’t want to be calling your mom like, ‘Hey, can you cook dinner for my family,’ you know?” Jones was on spring break with her friends when she got the email that the University would be closing, she said. From mid March to late April, she barely left the house and watched a lot of Tiktok. “I got online, I looked the stuff up, and Publix actual-

ly sells the Sambazon acai packets,” Jones said. “I got on Tiktok, again, figured out how to make a thick smoothie bowl…and I blended strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries together. Over the summer… I was making acai bowls after every workout.” For Jones, cooking food was as much about saving money as it was a lifestyle change, as she made the effort to eat healthier, better tasting food. According to Andrew Yingst, sophomore in chemical engineering, the motivation to cook for him was brought about by his time home last summer and fall, missing his mother’s home cooking, as well as trying to cut specific foods out of his diet. “I think the comparison of being on-campus freshman year and just eating out a lot to going back [home] and having my mom’s home cooking made me realize that [food] is a lot better when you can make it at your house,” Yingst said. Right now, Yingst’s favorite type of food to make is East Asian, and so far, he’s made kimchi rice and a bok choy tofu soup. Yingst has always liked cooking simple things, but over the past two months, he’s started to cook most of what he eats at home, trying to tackle more and more difficult recipes. “I’m kinda trying [everything], but I really want to get good at making stir-fry and things like that,” Yingst said. “I’m a very adventurous eater, and I’m trying to avoid restaurants because I’m more vulnerable [to COVID]. It’s been a mix of trying to cook some things like my mom cooks, some gluten-free options and some other things.” While Yingst didn’t start cooking primarily due to his time spent in quarantine, he attributes his interest in cooking to the situations that COVID has put him in. “There’s the influence of being back home, having home cooked meals and realizing how bad I had it freshman year,” Yingst said with a laugh. “I’m trying to avoid going out, as there are so many people not wearing masks at restaurants. Last semester, when all of my friends were back at college and I was just kinda stuck, I was like, ‘Okay, why not?’”

For college students seeking caffeine while still staying on a budget, making coffee at home may be the solution. Though it is sometimes tempting to grab coffee on the go, making your own rather than paying for Starbucks will save a lot of money in the long run. There are also many different ways to make coffee, such as drip coffee, stovetop coffee or just simply using a Keurig, which helps break the routine. In my experience, using a Keurig or other coffee machine is a highly efficient way to make coffee with little hassle and cleanup. What I personally love about making coffee at home is that I am able to make it just the way I like it. I can control the sweetness and flavor without relying on the workers at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts to make

it perfect. Another approach I have attempted was drip coffee, which is insanely cheap to make. All that it requires is coffee grounds, paper filters and a pot or water bottle. Maggie Mayfield, sophomore in hospitality management with a focus in culinary, said that she takes a simple approach to her morning coffee. “Every morning I wake up and grab my coffee grounds,” she said. “I then put it into a special Keurig pod and brew my coffee. Once the coffee is poured into her mug, she adds creamer and drinks it on her way to class. “I prefer making coffee at home because it is cheaper and there is no wait,” she said. It also helps me make a routine for each day.” Mayfield added that there is such a simplicity in making coffee at home and taking the time to put the effort into it.

JACK WEST | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Students choose to make coffee at home in order to save money.


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