April 2010-Neighbors Country Kitchen
Sara Peebles of Pickens County says she has a sign in her home that reads, “Welcome to My Kitchen – Open 24 Hours a Day,” and her grandchildren believe it to be true.
“I’ve had a knock on the door close to midnight and heard ‘What’s in the fridge, Mimi?’ because they know there’s always food here,” says Sara.
But there’s not a hint of complaint in her voice as she recalls the late-night refrigerator raid.
“We have a big kitchen and dining area. So when all 20 of us are here to eat, there’s room for us all to be seated and enjoy ourselves,” Sara says, referring to family meals with her four daughters and their families.
“We have a very close-knit family, and we all get together for every birthday and major holiday. So we’re all here together pretty often, and it’s a blessing,” she adds.
Both Sara and Will, her husband of 46 years, are natives of Pickens County, and the couple lives on the family farm where Will was born.
“The only time he’s ever moved in his whole life was when we married and built our house here on the farm. I don’t think you could drag him out of Aliceville,” Sara joked.
Longtime members of the Farmers Federation, Sara is secretary for the Pickens County Women’s Committee, and Will serves on the county’s board of directors. At one time, the Peebles’ farm grew cotton, corn, soybeans and hay and raised cattle, but they are now taking things a little easier.
“We’re pretty well retired now. Will still has hay and cattle, and we have a few goats that we keep in an area that’s not accessible with the tractor, so they keep the underbrush cleared. The grandkids and their friends love to watch the goats, and we enjoy that,” she adds.
Sara says she has always lived on a farm, and as the seventh of eight children, learned to cook and sew at an early age out of necessity.
“I’m just a down-home person, and I cook simple recipes, but I’ve had plenty of practice in the kitchen,” she says.
Most of the recipes Sara shares this month are favorites she acquired and adjusted over the years, but two have special meaning for her family.
“Will’s father did large-scale barbecue here in Aliceville for years. He would prepare hundreds of pounds of pork barbecue at a time for civic functions, and the barbecue sauce recipe came from his recipe that would make enough sauce for 100 pounds of pork. We just scaled it down to manageable proportions,” she said.
“And whenever we have birthday celebrations in our family, the birthday person gets to choose what the cake will be. The Caramel Cake is by far the most requested,” said Sara.