In Alabama, cold weather usually doesn’t set in until January, and although it happens every year, it always hits hard. For farmers and others who work outside all year long, a warm, hearty meal on a cold January evening is essential.
Cindy Henry, who grew up on a farm in north Alabama and now raises a small herd of cattle in Montgomery County with her husband, Mitch, knows all about simple, hearty winter cooking.
“In the summer, I like to cook with fresh vegetables, and in the winter, I use a lot of frozen vegetables to cook a lot of soups and other things,” she said. “No matter what, I like to keep it simple. Whether it’s a gourmet meal or not is beside the point. It’s all just about spending time together.”
In addition to using frozen vegetables from summer and fall, Cindy always has pork and beef in the freezer.
“We always have our own fresh beef we buy from our brother-in-law,” Cindy said. “His kids have a 4-H steer every year, so we always buy that, and we usually also have a whole pig in the freezer, too. When I say it’s simple, it really is. I am all about the freezer, especially in the winter.”
Simplicity and using real food are Cindy’s main priorities when she cooks for her husband and three children, 22-year-old Mitchell, 19-year-old Lauren and 16-year-old Ashby.
“I don’t do a lot of fancy recipes,” she said. “I’d rather spend more time around the table with my family than in the kitchen cooking. So many times in my childhood, I arrived at the family dinner table in a bad mood because of whatever had gone on that day, and I left the table happy and feeling better after connecting with my family. I always carried that with me — it’s so important to connect together over good, simple food.”