Angie Wysner is a regular in The Country Kitchen. No, not this “Country Kitchen”; The Country Kitchen restaurant that she and her husband, Dean, own in Randolph County. It’s where folks in and around the town of Woodland go when they want good, down-home cooking away from home.
The eatery, which was in business 10 years or so before the Wysners bought it in the spring of ’99, serves three squares a day: breakfast, lunch and supper. Lunch typically draws the largest crowd of the day, although the place can get hopping on Friday and Saturday nights, too.
As a novice to the restaurant business, Angie has yet to feel fully at ease during those extremely busy times. Although she’s a top-notch cook who’s been cooking for as long as she can remember, there’s a world of difference between cooking for the family and cooking for a restaurant full of hungry customers.
“I don’t handle it too well when it comes to filling orders fast, so I basically leave that to the folks we have in the kitchen,” she says. “What I’m best at are the things I can do in advance and take my time with.”
Take the restaurant’s excellent Brunswick Stew, for instance, one of Angie’s specialties. She cooks up four or five makings at a time, freezes it in batches and then has only to thaw, heat and dip it right into bowls. The same with her Creamed Potato Casserole, which she can put together ahead of time for parties and buffets held at The Country Kitchen.
Although you’ll find the Wysners at the restaurant most every night and on weekends, they mainly rely on their kitchen and serving crews to keep things running smoothly during the breakfast and lunch shifts. After all, they both have their other jobs to consider. Dean, a long-time Alfa Farmers member who currently serves as the Federation’s vice president/central area, is first and foremost a cattleman, and Angie, who raised laying hens and worked on the farm while the couple’s children were growing up, stays busy now as a substitute rural mail carrier.
Between her regular job and the restaurant, Angie has precious little time to spend in her own kitchen, cooking just for herself and Dean—and perhaps for any or all of her son Chad’s and daughter Deana’s families who might mosey down the road for a meal. When the rare opportunity to prepare a regular, family-sized meal does present itself, Angie’s apt to include some of the recipes that long have been family favorites, like the ones she shares in this month’s “Country Kitchen” column.
Truly special to the family are the Yellow Rice and Corn and the Green Bean casseroles, which the Wysners’ youngest child, Lori, proudly contributed to the family recipe file years ago after discovering them in her home economics class. The Wysners lost Lori in 1996 to leukemia. She was 20.
Now, Lori’s recipes and the other delicious offerings from Angie are yours to try and enjoy. And if you’re ever in extreme east central Alabama when mealtime rolls around, track down The Country Kitchen—the restaurant—for country cuisine at its finest.