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March 2014 Country Kitchen

Debbie Hinkle of Calhoun County says cooking has always been second nature to her.

“I come from a family of cooks, and I probably started cooking myself at 5 or 6, pulling a chair around to the stove to get breakfast started for Mama,” she recalls.

Debbie admits she spent more time in the kitchen when her children were growing up than she does now, though she has plenty of other pursuits to fill her time. She makes jewelry and stained glass, knits and crochets, and even does some cotton and wool spinning.

“There’s a spinning guild near here, so I got interested in learning to do it,” she said. “My mom gave me a spinning wheel for my birthday one year. I like to keep myself busy.”

In addition to staying busy with handcrafts, Debbie and her husband Kenneth have greenhouses where they grow hanging baskets and vegetable and herb plants.

“We start late winter every year, and we usually wrap up after Mother’s day, before Kenneth has to get back to work in the fields,” she says, referring to his rye, soybean and wheat crops.

A native of Bowling Green, Ky., Debbie has lived in Alabama for more than 40 years and is proud to have roots in Piedmont.

“Kenneth has farmed here since he was 17, and we live in the home place that’s belonged to his family 105 years. It’s home, and I love it,” she said.

That same sense of family roots is reflected in some of the recipes Debbie shares, like her Grandma’s Pecan Pie and buttery Almond Crickle. For cooks looking to try something a little less traditional, Debbie’s Candied Bacon or Tomato Couscous are a definite departure from Southern staples.