Recipes Recipe List: “September 1

Recipe List: “September 1

Recipe List: “September 1

Throughout its first 15 years, Neighbors magazine regularly provided readers a sampling of recipes. Some were sent in by readers, and some were winners in cooking contests, but most appeared courtesy of various state and national commodity groups and, more often, of food manufacturers who were promoting their products.

In its 16th year, however, Neighbors’ recipe section underwent a dramatic change. It was transformed from just a page in a magazine to a collection of some of the best recipes you’ve ever seen, brought to you by some of the best cooks on earth: Alfa Farmers members.

The new feature was called “The Country Kitchen,” and that first one, in January 1991, marked the dawn of a new era in classic recipes. Since then, “The Country Kitchen” has featured more than 100 Federation cooks and their families’ favorite recipes.

To be perfectly honest, “The Country Kitchen” was begun largely for selfish reasons on the part of the writer. When I joined the Federation staff in 1990, I left behind a newspaper career and years of writing newspaper recipe columns that featured different readers each week. Giving up that most enjoyable column-writing tradition was actually quite difficult, if not downright depressing.

I didn’t stay down for long, however, because I quickly realized that Neighbors was a recipe column waiting to happen. “It would be an incredible addition to Neighbors,” I told then-Editor Jay Burnett as I pitched the idea to him. “Perhaps so,” he said. “We’ll give it a try and see how it goes over,” he said.

It went over very well, thank you. In fact, you readers have made “The Country Kitchen” a virtual institution. According to a recent reader survey, seven out of every 10 Neighbors readers say they read “The Country Kitchen” first thing when Neighbors arrives.

As the writer, the best part of “The Country Kitchen” for me has been the chance to meet and visit with some truly fantastic folks. Even during the couple of years when I was living in Memphis and writing “The Country Kitchen” long distance, I felt like I’d made a wonderful friend every month, just talking with the featured “chef” on the phone. It is my hope that, when you read the introduction to each month’s column, you come away from that feeling a little bit like you’ve gotten to know the person, too.

“The Country Kitchen” hasn’t been around all of Neighbors’ years in print, but because it has become such an integral part of the magazine, current Editor Jeff Helms wanted it to be part of Neighbors’ 25-year celebration. So, he asked me to put together the Top 25 “Country Kitchen” recipes.

I should have told Jeff no right then and there, because there’s no way in the world I can possibly do that. After all, although I’ve tried dozens upon dozens of the recipes through the years, I haven’t come close to trying them all. The absolute number one best recipe, if there is such a thing, very likely is one I’ve never tried. Right?

So instead of the 25 all-time great “Country Kitchen” recipes, here are 25 that have earned an “A+” rating from me, my family, friends, acquaintances and Neighbors readers who responded to a recent poll.

I can’t guarantee that they’ll be the ones you’d include in your personal Top 25, but I can guarantee that they all are simply wonderful.

Oh, yes, and here’s to 25 years of Neighbors and almost 10 years of “The Country Kitchen.” We only hope you’ve enjoyed reading them even half as much as we’ve enjoyed bringing them to you.

And now…my picks for the “Top 25”…