|The Co-op Pantry|
By Kellie Henderson
Donna Adkins of Decatur said she’s just keeping alive the traditions her mother handed down to her.
"My mother taught us to can, cook, sew, clean…the whole nine yards," Donna said.
And those sewing skills Donna and her sister, Linda Ellis, learned from a young age have grown into their own embroidery and screen printing business – Two Sisters Designs.
"Linda and I were really into quilting at the time and we had heard of a lady who had a quilting machine for sale. We went to look at her quilting machine and we bought her whole business," said Donna.
Donna and her late husband Roy moved to Decatur eight years ago to be near Linda and her family.
"He wanted to play more golf with my brother-in-law and I was pretty much game for it," Donna remembered.
While she cooks less since her husband passed, Donna is still a fervent canner and can’t wait for tomato season to arrive.
"Once the season is here, I’ll pick tomatoes on the weekend and we have to do something with them pretty quick after they’re picked, so we’ll put them up. Then we’ll skip the next weekend. And I’ll go back pretty much every other week until the tomatoes are gone or we get tired of canning. Last year the tomatoes ran out first," she stated.
Donna eats most of her canned goods herself, but shares with her two sons and their families who live in Atlanta.
"But I eat the rest of it. I especially like the hot salsa and tomatoes. I can take the jar of canned tomatoes and a shaker of salt, sit down at the table and eat them at room temperature straight out of the jar," she said.
And not just any tomatoes will do for Donna.
"There is a local place we call tomato heaven, and you can’t find anything better than a north Alabama tomato. There’s something about them that tastes so different from a tomato grown anywhere else," Donna explained.
In addition to canning, Donna looks forward to extended visits from her grandsons during the summer.
"We cook, play video games, watch movies, play putt-putt golf and go to my sister’s swimming pool. It’s wonderful to have them around," she said.
Donna enjoys golf and crafts along with watching movies and college football.
Though tomatoes may be Donna’s favorite canning treat, her preservation recipes don’t stop there.
"People think you need a lot of special equipment for canning, but it’s not hard. And it’s so nice to have things just the way you like them," she remarked.
Her Pear Relish is one such recipe that allows canners to customize the heat level by adding hot peppers to taste. And the watermelon rind makes a wonderful sweet pickle. And for those intimidated by the thought of filling all those jars, she includes her cool Cornbread Salad and a sweet and gooey ending with Orange Slice Cake.
Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.