Don’t let that New York accent fool you. Marge Tompkins may have been born and raised on Long Island, but she considers herself a bona fide Southerner. And 51 years as an Alabama farm wife does tend to give her that right.
She’s also a sensational cook, as her dear friend and fellow Bullock County Farmers Federation member Dorothy Reynolds told us in nominating Marge for the “Country Kitchen” spotlight.
From an early age, Marge knew she someday would be spending time in Alabama, because her ambition was to follow in her father’s footsteps and attend Auburn University. But while an education brought her here, it was Gus Tompkins, a young dairy farmer in Fitzpatrick, who captured her heart and convinced her to stay. Marge says her defection to Dixie is one move she has never regretted.
“I never had any desire whatsoever to go back to New York,” she says. “This is home.”
In their younger years, Gus farmed while Marge, in addition to being mom to their three children—Bert, Glenn and Ruth—traveled to nearby Union Springs every day to her job as a bank teller. Today, Gus is semi-retired (“as retired as a farmer ever gets,” Marge says). Marge, though retired, continues to work at least two days a week at a bank in Montgomery.
“I don’t suppose I’ll ever retire, but this job isn’t even like work to me most of the time,” Marge says. “I’m a people person; I really enjoy going to work.”
Her co-workers at the bank probably “really enjoy” the days she’s at work, too, because she’s a threat to bring in a batch of her famous fudge or pralines.
As a girl growing up in New York, Marge didn’t learn to cook. So, when she and Gus got married in ’51, it fell to Gus’ mother, Louise, to teach the young lady from the Big Apple the fine art of Southern cooking.
Four years ago, a heart attack brought some big changes to Marge’s lifestyle, mainly in the way of diet. As she says, “I can’t eat all that good, Southern cooking like I used to.” Fortunately for those around her, though, she surely can still cook it.
This splendid recipe collection from Marge includes one of her mother-in-law’s favorite cake recipes, an authentically Italian spaghetti recipe Marge got years ago from her father’s secretary in NYC, and a creamy caramel frosting recipe which—for Marge, at least—has never failed.