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Sweet Home Made Alabama Artists Share Christmas Recipes – Opelika Observer

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By Ann Cipperly
With a love for art and cooking, Kathryn Whetstone is busy planning the Sweet Home Made Alabama Holiday Art Show and looking over family recipes to plan what she will prepare during the Christmas season. The third art show will be held at the Art Haus Dec. 11 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and will feature Kathryn’s jewelry and her husband Bill’s art, as well as other local artists. A percentage of the show will benefit Women’s Hope Health Clinic, an organization that assists women and families throughout the year.
Over 20 artists will be showcasing premium, handmade unique items for sale, including pottery, hand-forged knives, jewelry, leather, wood creations, woven goods, paintings and candles. Drive-By-Tacos and Ross House coffee will be offering food and drinks.
Founder of the art show, Kathryn grew up in Opelika and was inspired in art by her parents, Helen and  Dr. Bill Whatley. Her mother also inspired her in cooking,  as well as grandmothers Merle Whatley and Helen Stites.
“I grew up in the kitchen,” Kathryn said. “I remember standing on a footstool asking my grandmothers questions about cooking.”
She recalled being with her grandmother Merle, who would cook with every cabinet door open, and there would be flour all over the floor. She would turn up the music on the old Philco radio and sing while she cooked.
“She had a good time,” Kathryn said.
On Christmas Day, her mother would get up at 5 a.m. to place the turkey in the oven to be ready for dinner at 2:30 in the afternoon. The dinner would be elegant with turkey, dressing, molded cherry salad served on a bed of lettuce, assorted vegetables, homemade rolls and delectable desserts.
Kathryn helped her mother and was in charge of setting the table and making the centerpiece. A favorite centerpiece was a crystal bowl of gleaming ornaments woven with ribbon and fresh greenery on a mirrored runner.
Kathryn recalled how much her mother taught her about “getting your ducks in a row” for large family dinners and entertaining. The silver would be polished weeks ahead, the table set and the food prepared.
“My mother taught me organization skills that now help me with my art shows,” she said. “She taught me to plan out everything methodically, intentionally and with purpose. It has served me well. She was a great southern lady. Strong but gentle.”
Kathryn says her mother had an art for entertaining, and the women in her mother’s family were musicians and artists. 
Her father was also an artist, carving exquisite ducks and song birds, as well as playing a wide range of music on his Steinway. On occasion, he would make jewelry for the ladies in his life with his dental gold, and he always gave unusual pieces of jewelry to Kathryn and her mother.
He told Kathryn, “I know you like your jewelry to be different from everyone else’s.”
He recognized her interest in jewelry at an early age.
Her family influences stayed with her over the years. As her adult life changed and evolved, Kathryn began to think about what she wanted to do after corporate life. She was again drawn to the love of unusual and artistic jewelry. She sought jewelry classes in north Georgia and from a mentor in Nashville, Tennessee.
Precious metal clay interested her, as it was porous and looked vintage. She worked with semi-precious stones and incorporated them with copper, brass and silver. As she made one of a kind jewelry to sell, she named her business Sophie’s Muse in honor of her great-grandmother who was an artist.
After Kathryn and Bill, who is also an artist, married a year ago, she began making more jewelry and using her grandmother’s antique buttons. Bill, who worked in television many years, creates a variety of art, including sculpture and painting a wide variety of subjects. Bill’s work will also be on exhibit at the art show.
As both the artists prepare for the show, they enjoyed family time at Thanksgiving and looking forward to more time with family traditions celebrated at Christmas.
“These days the holidays are simpler but still quite fun with family and great food as we build memories,” Kathryn said. “Thanksgiving we spent time at a family farm with Bill’s clan. We rode 4-wheelers, fished and listened to music on the front porch overlooking the pond. Several fine musicians in Bill’s family, including him, sat in rocking chairs and made fantastic music with such ease. It was very relaxing.
“The Whatley clan had small gatherings before and after Thanksgiving, and Christmas will be celebrated at different homes. While good food is always part of an event, on Thanksgiving and Christmas, my brothers and I like to spend time with our grandchildren. That’s the joy. But these recipes follow us everywhere.”
Kathryn and Bill and some other artists who will be in the art show are sharing their favorite Christmas recipes. Be sure to clip and save these for creating scrumptious dishes during the season.
Mark your calendar for the Sweet Home Made Alabama Art Show on Dec. 11 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Shop for Christmas gifts and help Women’s Hope at the same time. Previous art shows have also benefitted Women’s Hope and the East Alabama Food Bank. The Art Haus is located at 500 N. Railroad Ave. in downtown Opelika.
Ann Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.
Artists include:
Pamela Pattillo, woven goods
Brandon Rusk, hand crafted leather
Robin Reed, hand-poured candles
Sam Cheek, wood/folk art
Melissa Haggerty, soaps
Jim Denney, photography & paintings
Joni Thomas, fiber arts
Sharon Johnson, digital art
Richard Atkins, iron
Jill Holt, oils
Turner Porter, wood
Cynthia Barr, acrylics
Vickie Jernigan, marbeling
Jennifer Melton, upcycled folk art
Sybil Dees, oils & watercolors
Brian Ross, glass
Luke Green, wild life wood sculptures
Finch Allen, graphite/watercolors, alcohol ink painting/acrylics
Maria Auad, pottery
DeDe Wilson, mixed media
Alisha Smiley, candles
Kathryn Whetstone, hand-sculpted silver jewelry
Bill Whetstone, sculptures and paintings
 
Janet’s Christmas Wreath Spread
Kathryn Whetstone
Two 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
½ cup Miracle Whip (or other quality mayonnaise)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine above and add:
10 crisply cooked bacon strips, cooled and crumbed
¼ cup sliced green onions
Chill the mixture. When ready to serve, shape mixture into a wreath and garnish heavily with parsley. Use pimento or red bell peppers to create a bow. Serve with your favorite crackers. Can be frozen.
Lucille Johnson’s  Sweet Sausage Rolls
Kathryn Whetstone
2 cans crescent rolls
Conecuh sausage cut in 1 inch lengths (or miniature sausage links)
½ cup butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. yellow mustard
½ cup chopped pecans
Unroll and separate crescent dough. Cut each triangle in half. Place sausage on long end and roll tightly. Set aside.
Combine remaining ingredients in cake pan. Arrange rolls, seam side down in the mixture. Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
Cranberry-Pineapple Cheese Ring
Bill Whetstone’s Family
1 pkg. dried cranberries, chopped
1 pkg. dried pineapple, chopped
2 small pkg. cream cheese, softened
4 cups shredded sharp cheese, room temperature
2 – 3 cups chopped pecans
¼ – ½ cup maple syrup for drizzling on top
Bundt pan or jelly ring mold
In a large bowl, mix cranberries and pineapple with softened cream cheese and shredded cheese. Line pan with plastic wrap. Fill bottom with chopped pecans. Then add cheese mixture. Cover with more plastic wrap.
Chill for at least 2 hours. Best if made night before. Remove from refrigerator an hour before serving. Invert on serving tray. Drizzle with maple syrup. Serve with wheat thins or buttery crackers.
Ambrosia Salad
Dede Wilson; artist in mixed media
When I think about Christmas foods, I think about this recipe. It has been in my family for generations, and Christmas is not the same without it.
10 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned
3 grapefruits, peeled and sectioned
1 large can mandarin oranges  with juice
1 large can pineapple chunks with  juice
1 large jar maraschino cherries with juice, slice cherries in half
1 small bag flaked coconut
Mix ingredients together and chill. It should be the consistency of a thick punch. Ladle into small dessert bowls. You can adjust ingredients to the fruits your family likes best. It should be sweet enough, but if not, add sugar to taste.
Jane Herring’s Spinach salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Kathryn Whetstone
Dressing:
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. Poppy seed
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup oil
1 cup cottage cheese
Salad:
Sliced fresh mushrooms
Sliced red onion
Spinach
Combine dressing ingredients. Allow to sit overnight. Mix the salad with spinach, mushrooms and onion. Toss with dressing. You won’t believe how delicious this is.
Sarah Friley’s Festive Holiday Spread
Non-stick cooking spray
½ cup mayonnaise
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped pecans
1 bunch green onions, chopped
6 Ritz crackers, crushed
8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
½ cup pepper jelly
1 Tbsp. water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and green onions. Fold in pecans. Transfer to prepared pan and top with crushed Ritz crackers. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine the pepper jelly and water. Cook over low heat until melted. Remove cheese spread from oven; top with bacon. Drizzle warmed pepper jelly over to the top. Serve with Ritz crackers.
Helen Whatley’s Sweet and Sour Beans and Beets with Horseradish Dressing
Kathryn Whetstone
Mother was of German heritage, and they love their sweet and sour food choices. This is a great side dish when serving heavy meals. It’s light, refreshing and is a great compliment to most any entree. If you prefer more sour than sweet, reduce sugar and substitute some of the water for a little more vinegar. Also, you can leave the beets out, although they make the dish so pretty and appetizing. Don’t forget the sour cream dressing. Yum!
2 cans whole green beans, drained
2 onions, sliced very thin
1 can or jar sliced beets (optional)
Marinade:
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 Tbsp. salad oil (1/4 cup)
3/4 cup sugar (can reduce amount if desired)
Mix marinade and pour over whole beans, sliced beets and thinly sliced onions. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. If possible, turn the container over a few times while refrigerated to evenly distribute marinade. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and serve on a pretty platter with the dressing on the side.
Sour Cream Horseradish Dressing:
This dressing compliments the salad so well, you won’t have any left. Serve in a separate bowl next to the salad with a spoon.
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
Chives for garnish, optional
Combine ingredients and mix. Chill for a few hours in refrigerator. Serve in a pretty glass bowl and sprinkle with chives for a beautiful presentation.
Orange Fluff
Pamela Pattillo, weaver and jeweler
16 oz. 2 percent cottage cheese
8 oz. Cool Whip
Small package dry orange gelation
Two cans mandarin oranges, drained
Mix dry gelatin with Cool Whip and cottage cheese. Fold in mandarin oranges. Refrigerate about an hour before serving.
Note: You can use any flavor gelation and use fruit cocktail. 
Dot’s Soft Mints
Jennifer Melton
16 oz. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. soft margarine
3 Tbsp. evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
Food coloring
Mix first four ingredients in a large bowl. When the powdered sugar is evenly moistened, knead. When the mixture becomes smooth, divide into four equal parts.
Using food coloring of choice, knead into one section at a time. Roll into small balls about an about an inch in diameter, then flatten onto wax paper. Let the mints air dry for about 2 hours, then place into an air-tight container to store. 
Overnight Brunch Egg Bake
Kathryn Whetstone
24 oz. (6 cups) shredded co-jack cheese blend
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
⅓ cup sliced green onions
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 jar (4.5 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained
8 oz. cooked ham, cut in small cubes or slices
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or spinach
1 ¾ cup milk or half & half
Chopped red bell pepper (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Spray 13 x 9 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Sprinkle half of cheese evenly on bottom of dish. Melt butter in medium skillet. Add onions, half of bell pepper and mushrooms. Cook until tender. Arrange veggies over cheese. Top with ham. Cover with remaining cheese.
Beat eggs in large bowl. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add flour, parsley and milk to eggs. Blend well. Pour over mixture, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 55to 65 minutes or until mixture is set and top is lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into squares and garnish with red bell pepper and parsley.
Crock Pot Mac cheese
Brandon Rusk, leather artist
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of cheddar cheese condensed soup
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. bar cream cheese
Boil noodles for 8 minutes, drain and place in crock pot.
In medium sauce pan, melt butter, cream cheese and sharp heese.
Pour melted mix over noodles in crock pot, then add sour cream, milk, salt, pepper and soup and stir.   
Cook on low in crock pot for 2 1/2 hours.
Lois Houston’s Pecan Pie
Vickie Jernigan, Owner/Designer, Allmymarbles, LLC
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
1 Tbsp. flour
½ stick butter
1 cup chopped pecans
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 pie crusts
Mix flour and sugar, then add syrup; stir to boiling point.
Melt butter, pour into well beaten eggs.
Add pecans, vanilla and milk.
Pour into crust, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until middle is firm.
Red and White Grape Salad
Bill Whetstone’s Family
2 lbs. white seedless grapes
2 lbs. red seedless grapes
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ to ¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped pecans
Wash and dry grapes then mix in a large bowl. Mix sour cream, cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth. Gently mix half of mixture with grapes. Spread the rest over top of grapes.
Sprinkle top with brown sugar and pecans.
Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
Kathryn Whetstone
1 loaf French bread
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline topping (recipe follows)
Maple sugar
Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1 inch each. Arrange bread in generously buttered 9 x 13 inch baking dish in two rows, overlapping slices. In a large bowl, combine eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla and spices. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until blended but not bubbly.
Pour over bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly. Spoon some between slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread praline topping evenly over top and bake for 40 minutes until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.
Praline Topping:
½ lb. butter (2 sticks)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Combine and blend well.
Chicken and Dressing
Ginny Whetstone Thornton
2 skillets cornbread
1 fat hen
2 cups water
Celery
5-6 slices of day old bread, torn into pieces
3-5 Tbsp. poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large can cream of chicken soup
Chicken broth from hen (hen should create 10-12 cups while roasting)
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
Bake the hen overnight in 225 degree oven. Put celery stalks in cavity and cover with salt and pepper.
Next day, Cook 2 cups onion and 1 cup celery in 2 cups broth until clear. Set aside to cool.
To assemble dressing in a large bowl, add:
Crumbled cornbread, white bread, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, cream of chicken soup, about 8 cups of broth and celery and onion in liquid. Set aside.
Cut cooked hen into medium pieces. Then add to bread mixture.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Put dressing in large, deep casserole dish. Cook until desired browning and consistency. Stir from the bottom of the pan to the top every 30 minutes. As it browns on top, turn it under and re-brown the top. If the dressing sticks to the bottom or becomes dry, add more broth. You can also add butter.
Luke’s Beans
Luke Greene. Artist will be offering a class for “Carving a War Eagle.”
1 can kidney (#2 can) beans, partially drained
1 can lima beans, drained all the way
1 can pork & beans, don’t drain
6 strips bacon, cut up
3 cloves garlic, cut up or 2 Tbsp. crushed garlic
2 large onions, sliced & halved
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup vinegar (wine vinegar best)
1 tsp. dry mustard
Brown bacon, onion, garlic. Just before bacon is crisp, add brown sugar, vinegar and dry mustard. Cook 10 minutes. Pour evenly over beans. Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees.
Helen Whatley’s Spinach Madeline
Kathryn Whetstone
Two 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach
½ cup evaporated milk
¾ tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¾ tsp. garlic powder
6 oz. Velveeta cheese or a young, creamy gouda
Cook spinach. Drain, reserving ½ spinach liquid. In a skillet, melt butter and add flour and onion. Stir until smooth then gradually add the spinach liquid and milk. Cook while stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and cheese until melted and blended. Add Spinach and mix well.
Pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish. Cover with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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