In Alabama, cold weather often doesn’t set in until after Christmas. But when winter finally does descend on our Southern state, the bone-chilling cold requires recipes that warm from the inside out. Alabama cooks always need a few good recipes for soups and stews on hand in January.

Cathy Childree of Barbour County has developed several delicious January recipes over the years, along with perfecting a famous local recipe for cornbread, a great compliment to any soup, stew or chili.

Cathy cooks all year for her family, friends and church. However, warm, hearty soups are perfect for feeding family and friends the first couple weeks of the year — after Christmas leftovers have been consumed and before everyone gets settled into their school and work routines.

“Everybody’s tired in January,” she said. “I’m a special education parapro, and I’m out of school for about two-and-a-half-weeks. I love to make soups and stews the week after Christmas,; then live on them and share with whoever comes by those first two weeks of the year.”

Cathy also makes sure to keep plenty of food on hand this time of year for her husband, Kenny, and his friends, who use their farm to practice long-range shooting.

“He has people from the military, police departments or just buddies who show up to practice,” she said. “If they come hungry, I will feed them. You can show up at my house, and even if I’m not ready for you; I’ll find something to fix.”

Just about everyone in Comer, the tiny town where the Childrees live, knows about Cathy’s cornbread recipe.

“I’ve been making it since 1981,” she said. “I was teaching high school at the time, and I was the junior class sponsor. We were building a float, and one of the moms decided we were going to be starving before we finished, so she came up to the school with chili and that cornbread. I told her, ‘You’re not leaving before I get that recipe.’ Now, I’m in trouble if I don’t make that cornbread — it’s expected at church, with family or at any kind of gathering where there’s going to be soup.”