|The Co-op Pantry|
By Kellie Henderson
Employees of the Taleecon Farmers Co-op love to see Carolyn Holder of Lee County come in the store. Not just because she’s a kind lady, but also because she might be bringing in another one of her delicious dishes.
"I learned to cook some by just being around Mama, I guess; but she did most of the cooking and I did most of the looking. I didn’t really have much first-hand cooking experience until after I graduated college and started to cook more. A lot of what you learn in life comes out of necessity," Carolyn says.
Carolyn and her husband, Bill, farm on the outskirts of Loachapoka. Bill was the Chief of Police in Auburn before retiring to the farm, and Carolyn retired from Auburn University where she was Receivables Manager, a job that she says prepared her for her current work on the farm.
"We have about 50 purebred Simmental cattle, and I keep most of the records for our operation. Sometimes I feel like the records I keep now are as detailed as those for the students at Auburn, just fewer to keep up with," she says.
Carolyn’s father had cows as she was growing up, but she really didn’t know anything about cattle until she married Bill.
"Daddy had a few cows, but I was more in the way than help. I learned all I know about cows from Bill. He had commercial cattle until 1996 when he bought a Simmental bull at the stockyard. Bill really liked the way the bull looked, and he had such a gentle temperament that we went to a purebred operation. That’s what I really like about them. Some of course are more gentle than others, but, in general, even the bulls among Simmental cattle are not very aggressive," says Carolyn.
And in talking with Carolyn about their operation, her pride in their herd and the work they do on the farm rings through.
"We had twins born a week or so ago. Two bull calves, and they’re both doing real well. We’re all glad to see a little green coming up around here, too. Bill’s already fertilizing, and we’re hoping to get our hay going early in case we face another year of drought," she says.
They are also glad they can rely on the Taleecon Farmers Co-op to provide what they need to care for their cattle and land.
"We have a good relationship with the Co-op here, and we try to do things every once in a while to show them how much we appreciate what they do for us," Carolyn says.
And what Carolyn does is share some of her home cooking with the Co-op employees, and Julia King of the Taleecon Co-op says the Holders’ generosity is heart-warming. "They are such good folks and the kind of people you want to do business with. Carolyn’s food is always delicious, and it means a lot when your customers do something so thoughtful."
Carolyn and Bill don’t get to see all their children and grandchildren as much as they’d like; but when busy schedules permit, food is sure to be a part of the family gathering.
"One of our favorite things to do is have a big fish fry with fries and hushpuppies, and all that fried food that’s not good for us. But the men all love to grill, too, and not just in the summer time. We all get together as often as we can, but it’s hard to find a time when everybody can be here," she says.
According to Carolyn, her cooking isn’t complicated or full of hard-to-find ingredients.
"I don’t go in for anything exotic, just good country cooking," she says, an approach that’s reflected in her recipes that follow. Most of the ingredients are staples of any well-stocked kitchen.
Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.