Just in time for football tailgates and the holiday season, ladies from 28 counties whipped up “udderly” delightful cheeseballs during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 42nd annual Heritage Cooking Contest in Montgomery Sept. 7.
Harriet Jones of Chambers County won the contest and $150 for her original recipe cheeseball. Emily Taylor of St. Clair County received $100 for second place with a pimento cheese and bacon cheeseball, while Jefferson County’s Polly McClure placed third and received $50 for her bruschetta cheeseball with panko topping.
Before her county’s Women’s Leadership Committee preliminary cooking contest, Jones said she didn’t have a favorite cheeseball recipe. She scoured cookbooks for inspiration, and three trials in the kitchen later, Jones had an award-winning recipe featuring two dairy delights — cream cheese and sharp cheddar cheese.
“I grew up with homemade butter and milk where the cream would come to the top,” said Jones, whose father kept a milk cow during her childhood. “Even though I hadn’t made many cheeseballs before the contest, I plan on making more now!”
Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director Kim Ramsey said this year’s recipes will help cooks across Alabama as they prepare for fall family events and holiday gatherings.
“It’s a great way for our contestants to spotlight the dairy industry,” Ramsey said. “The ladies stirred up variations on cheeseballs that represent different commodities around the state.”
Judges Kellie Henderson and retired Alabama Cooperative Extension System Agent Valerie Conner sampled cheeseballs ranging from sweet to savory and simple to surprising.
Around 120 attendees snacked on the cheeseballs, too, after laughing and learning with Karen Ingram, who owns SweetCreek Farm Market in Pike Road with husband Reed. Ingram shared stories from the market, where they sell produce from area farmers and feature local items on their café menu.
“At our core is a very serious passion — to promote what farmers do and help people make healthy choices,” Ingram said. “You have to be passionate to do this and make it work. We wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
All state contest recipes are at AlfaFarmers.org and Pinterest. View photos on the Federation’s Facebook or Flickr pages.