67-County Alabama Garden Party: Covington County

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The Alabama honeysuckle border was inspired by an 18th century, Southern applique quilt. (left) Covington County – A “Plate of Yarn” Veggie Noodle Primavera (right)

The Cullman Tribune is celebrating the Alabama Bicentennial (1819-2019) with statewide field reporting by Alabama Master Gardener/Botanical Artist Ben Johnson South. This year-long feature, “The 67-County Alabama Garden Party,” will spotlight different counties each week. Each county will get its own “quilt block,” along with a historical profile, and we’ll share a recipe specific to the area. At the end of the year, all 67 counties will be put in a book to commemorate the Bicentennial.

Covington County

Spinning yarn is something storytellers in Covington County have been known for since it was established by the brand new State of Alabama in 1821. Years later this beautiful county of pine trees and wiregrass on the Alabama-Florida line would be known for real yarn and textile mills.

Here’s a classic yarn from Covington County: An 80-year-old couple over in Florala is having trouble remembering things, so they drive into the county seat of Andalusia to get a doctor to check them out. They describe for the doctor the problems they are each having with their memory. The husband remembers it one way and the wife, of course, remembers it a totally different way. After they’d worn the doctor out with their bickering and nit-picking details, the doctor told them they were fine, just start writing things down to help them remember. The couple thanks the doctor and leaves.

Later that night while watching Fox News, the old man gets up from his chair.

His wife asks, “Now, just pray tell where are you off to, if you remember?”

The husband replies, “I can’t remember why it’s any of your concern, but I’m headed to the kitchen.”

She shoos him on and asks him to bring her back a bowl of the ice cream they cranked that afternoon.

She then asks him, “Don’t you think you might want to jot that down so you can remember from here to the icebox what I wanted?”

He says, “Hush, I can remember that.”

“Well,” she then says, “I’d also like some of those strawberries we got at the Crossover market in Opp. You’d better write that down because I know sure as shootin’ that you’ll forget about ‘em.”

He says, “Dear, I believe I can remember from here to the kitchen that you want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.”

“Well,” she adds, “I also would like some whipped cream on top. I know you’ll forget that, so you’d best scribble it on your pad.”

With irritation in his voice, he says, “Hellfire, I don’t need to write that down, I can remember.”

He stomps off into the kitchen. When he returns 30 minutes later, he hands her a plate of bacon and eggs.

She stares at the plate for a moment and says, “Just like I figured, you forgot my biscuit.”

I’m not spinning a yarn when I say there are many ways to enjoy how PLANTS + PEOPLE come together positively and pleasurably here in Covington County, including our original recipe for “A Plate of Yarn” Veggie Noodle Primavera:

*ANDALUSIA POWER PLANT FARMERS MARKET- 256 Historic Central Street, Andalusia, AL 36420; Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7 a.m.-noon, June-September

*COVINGTON COUNTY FARMSTANDS- Crossover Produce, 508 Alabama Highway 52E, Opp, AL 36467, Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., May-September; James Hughes, 2046 Caton Road, Florala, AL 35057; Wingard Produce, Highway 55, McKenzie, AL 36456

*PLANTING AN IDEA- Public sculpture might seem a tad highfalutin’ for this unpretentious part of Alabama, but I’m imagining a field of wiregrass with ginormous, maybe 60-feet tall, knitting needles made of steel and a “to scale” ball of yarn, either of metal or possible woven, native willow. This could be a fun way to celebrate the history of yarn-making in Covington County and a wonderful gathering place for an annual yarn-spinners convention.

Y’ALL COME to Covington County on your 67-County Alabama Garden Party tour!

Thank you to terrific cook and yarn-spinner, Laurie Johnson, for her original, plant-centric recipe for “A Plate of Yarn” Veggie Noodle Primavera.

Covington County – A “Plate of Yarn” Veggie Noodle Primavera (4 servings)

As we become more conscious of the carbohydrates, gluten and calories in our beloved pasta dishes, we are finding ways to lighten up these favorites.  One popular innovation is to replace (either all or part) traditional pasta with vegetables that are shaved or spiraled.  This recipe uses spiraled zucchini noodles (zoodles) as the base in the popular pasta primavera dish.  In addition to zucchini noodles, use all your favorite, colorful vegetables to create this fresh and light dish.  Other veggies that work for spiraling are yellow squash (ye’ squoodles), butternut squash (b’nut squoodles), potatoes (poodles), sweet potatoes (sweetpoodles), large carrots (carrotoodles) and beets (boodles).

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (chopped) colorful, assorted fresh vegetables- carrot sticks, multi-colored bell peppers (green, red, yellow and orange), red and green onions, green beans and cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • About 3 tbsp. chicken broth (use a bouillon cube to make this small amount) or dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp. shaved parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp. minced fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, thyme, basil, oregano, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Prep vegetables – Slice carrots, peppers and onions into thin strips.  Cut green beans and cherry tomatoes in half.
  2. Turn your zucchini into “zoodles” – zucchini noodles.  Use a spiralizing tool if you have one, buy them spiralized at your grocery or slice them into thin ribbons using a knife or vegetable peeler. Press the excess moisture out of them with paper towels.
  3. Heat a couple of swirls of olive oil in a heavy non-stick skillet and lightly sauté the carrots, peppers, onions and green beans for about 3 minutes until just softened.  Season with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (to taste) while cooking.
  4. Add about half of the zoodles and the chicken broth or wine.  Simmer for another 2 minutes or until the liquid mostly cooks off.  Add the halved cherry tomatoes and stir to combine well.
  5. Remove from heat and add the remaining zoodles and about half of the minced fresh herbs and stir well.  As it blends, the hot cooked mixture will blend with the raw zoodles for a fresh take on al dente pasta!
  6. Place on plates, top with the shaved parmesan cheese and extra minced herbs. 
  7. Enjoy your lightened up pasta primavera!

 

Also, check out Alabama Bicentennial: 200 ways to save Alabama for the next 200 years.

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Ben South