June Neighbors Country Kitchen
It’s hard to tell if Amy Belcher of Montgomery County is more proud of her family’s farming heritage or her family’s tradition of making wonderful food.
“I love food and enjoy cooking even though I probably cook real meals less now than ever before. A 6-year-old, a 2-year-old and a fulltime job outside the home do not leave much time for cooking,” she says, although she still makes time for helping out on the family farm.
“I still do the book work for the family farm in Hope Hull where we live,” says Amy, adding that her son, Mason, seems interested in carrying on the family farming tradition.
“Mason knows more about what happens on the farm than I do. Even at age 6, he tells me which bull goes in which pen,” Amy says.
And she adds that while daughter Elizabeth is a little young to help out in the kitchen, Mason loves to cook, carrying on the other family tradition.
“My dad’s family, the Joe and Myrt Hall family, started as a family of seven and has now grown to a whopping 44 people,” Amy said. “We all still get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandmother began the tradition of us using our ‘real stuff’ for those special meals. We use the good china, crystal glasses and the silver. The past several years I have hosted the Hall family Christmas Day dinner at my home. I love every minute of it.”
She’s also quick to spread the praise to another cook in her family. “I’ve always enjoyed baking more than cooking, but my sister, Ashlie, cooks wonderful meals,” says Amy.
Amy has worked for 12 years with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries where she serves as editor of the Farmers and Consumers Bulletin and a member of the Ag in the Classroom Committee. She is also coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program.
Amy says she calls her husband, Michael, a “recruited farmer” because his knowledge from his construction business is often valuable on the farm.
“Michael’s not much of a mechanic, and Daddy’s not much of a builder, but between the two of them, they make a pretty good pair,” Amy says.
Amy says she pulled out several recipes she hasn’t made in a while to share with the Country Kitchen.
“The Dr. Pepper Cake is Michael’s favorite. When he saw that recipe, he said, ‘Now how long has it been since you made that?’ He says it was all part of the scam to get him in the family,” Amy jokes.
Amy also says that her macaroni and cheese recipe is based on her grandmother’s.
“She passed away before any of us got the recipe from her, so I started with a recipe I found in a set of her cookbooks and went from there. One day I realized that since they had laying chickens, Granny must have kept filling her recipe full of eggs. It’s as close as I could get to her macaroni and cheese,” Amy said.
And while she enjoys her family recipes, Amy says what’s on the menu isn’t what’s important.
“We always have good food, but the fellowship that surrounds that food is what makes the event memorable,” she says.