Heritage Cooking Contest features fresh fruit salads

During summer, salads are ideal sides for nearly every meal, and fresh fruit salads were a refreshing theme for this year’s Heritage Cooking Contest, sponsored by the Lee County Women’s Leadership Committee, a division of Alabama Farmers Federation.
The event, held at the Lee County Extension Office, also included a craft and sewing contest. Every year a different category is selected, which spotlights Alabama commodities and agricultural products.
Winners of the cooking contest were Mary Richburg for Mango Avocado Salad with Blueberries, first place; Jackie Henderson for Grape Salad, second place; Ann Whatley for Summer Fresh Fruit Salad, third place; and Barbara Vining with Sierra Salad, honorable mention.
The first place winning Mango Avocado Salad with Blueberries was served in a crystal bowl lined with lettuce and garnished with lime slices.
“I have been looking for recipes that use fresh fruits and vegetables with a different taste than what I have eaten in the past,” said Mary. “I have been looking for recipes that don’t have a lot of fat and sugar. This recipe appealed to me because I like the mangoes and blueberries in this salad mixed with the avocadoes, and the lime flavor dressing enhances the flavors.”
The recipe doesn’t have any sugar. Mary serves a lot of salads to her family, and they have been enjoying this recipe. As the first place winner, Mary will complete in the state cookoff in Montgomery on Sept. 5.
She and her husband, Mahlon, have a hay production and registered Angus and SimAngus cattle operation. They have a garden in their backyard and grow tomatoes, green beans squash and peas. They rotate their crops. Mary cans the tomatoes and green beans to serve during winter months.
The Richburgs both taught in Auburn City Schools for 40 years. Mahlon taught agriscience at Auburn Junior High and Auburn High School, while Mary was an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor. They have two adult children, George and Katie, and are looking forward to having a grandchild in July.
Since retiring, Mary has stayed active volunteering at her church and at a nursing home library, where she helps keeps the books stocked.
Along with her winning salad recipe, Mary is sharing a variety of other favorites that her family enjoys. The Caprese Salad is a summer favorite with fresh mozzarella and fresh sliced tomatoes with basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It goes together quickly and looks attractive. Another of her favorites is Green Salad with Fruit, Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans. The dressing and pecans can be prepared ahead. The pecans add a nice crunch to a variety of salads.
Second place winner Jackie Henderson prepared Grape Salad and served it in a tall crystal bowl with additional brown sugar and chopped pecans on the side to sprinkle over the fruit. Jackie has a love of cooking for her three children, four grandchildren and great-grandson. She was lunchroom manager at Beulah School for 37 years.
Ann Whatley received third place for her salad that used a variety of colorful summer fresh fruits with a citrus dressing. The salad can be served two ways by either tossing it in the dressing or layering the fruit and pouring the dressing over the top. She is also sharing a recipe for her Cucumber Salad, which is refreshing on a summer day.
Ann has been actively involved in the Women’s Leadership Committee over the years. She and her husband, Charles, owned a dairy farm for many years. Every spring, they have a large garden and share vegetables with those in need and others in the community.
While member Elizabeth Ham didn’t enter the contest, she is sharing her favorite salad recipe, which is Spinach Salad with Apple and Red Onion. Clip and save this recipe to serve year round.
In the craft competition, Jackie Henderson won first place for her wreath, and Mary Richburg received first place for a handmade table runner in the sewing division.
The Alabama Farmers Federation was formed in 1921, with more than 350,000 members representing every commodity produced in the state. At the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, the federation works to educate participants about timely agricultural issues and programs, as well as helps educate teachers about agriculture each year.
The Women’s Division was organized to promote agricultural products and commodities, as well as to provide an opportunity for women to participate in policy making.
The local Women’s Leadership Group donates to various charities, including Big House, Battered Women Shelter and the Veterans’ Association. They keep a project going all the time.
Look over the recipes and create a variety of scrumptious salads for your family while fresh fruits are in abundance.

Mary Richburg
First Place Winner
Mary served her salad in a lettuce lined crystal bowl garnished with lime slices.
2 mangoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
⅔ cup blueberries
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of salt
Combine the mango, avocado, blueberries, mint, basil and cilantro in a medium bowl.
Combine the lime zest, lime juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine.
Serve immediately.
Jackie Henderson
Second Place
Jackie served this in a crystal dish with extra pecans and brown sugar on the side.
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 lbs. seedless red grapes
2 lbs. seedless green grapes
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3Tbsp. chopped pecans
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until blended. Add grapes and toss to coat.
Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans just before serving. If desired, serve extra brown sugar and pecans on the side.

Ann Whatley, Third Place
Ann served this colorful salad in a crystal bowl.
2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
½ tsp. grated orange zest
½ tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
3 bananas, sliced
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 cup seedless grapes
2 cups blueberries
For the sauce: Bring orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, orange zest and lemon zest to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Choice of two methods of serving:
1) Mix all the ingredients together in a glass bowl. I prefer this method because the fruit has a better chance of getting covered with the sauce, or
2) Layer fruit in a large, clear glass bowl in this order: pineapple, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges, grapes and blueberries. Pour cooled sauce over fruit; cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Barbara Vining
Honorable Mention
Barbara served her salad in a crystal bowl.
12 oz. cottage cheese
16 oz. Cool Whip
30 oz. can fruit cocktail, drained
½ pkg. (1 ½ oz.) strawberry Jell-O
1 small banana, cut in small bites
1 cup mini marshmallows
4 oz. canned peaches, cut up and drained
Mix above items in order given and let remain in refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Enjoy.

Elizabeth Ham
1 lb. triple washed spinach, de-stemmed
1 small Golden Delicious apple, quartered, cored and sliced
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp. (a couple of splashes) apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. grain mustard
1 Tbsp. (a good drizzle) honey
Coarse salt and black pepper
Place spinach, apple and onion in a salad bowl. Place oil, vinegar, mustard and honey in a small plastic container and fit lid on container. Shake dressing to combine, 1 minute. Pour dressing over salad, toss, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
I’ve tried several types of apples, and Golden Delicious works the best; Honeycrisp also works.

Mary Richburg
1-2 ripe tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves, whole or chopped
2-4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make a layer of sliced tomatoes.
Top with basil.
Add a layer of thinly sliced cheese.
Make another layer, if desired.
Drizzle with olive oil, dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper as desired.
Let stand about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Note: Best not to refrigerate, as it diminishes the flavor.

Ann Whatley
2 seedless English cucumbers, sliced very thin
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Place sliced cucumbers in a glass bowl. Whisk vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes and salt together in another bowl. Pour over the cucumbers; stir gently. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Personal Notes: I plan to try this with some finely sliced or chopped onion and also a little fresh dill.
I rarely follow the directions for mixing as I like to make this and keep it in a jar in the refrigerator. I simply mix up the vinegar mixture, put my sliced pickles into a quart jar and pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers. I then put in the refrigerator and use as needed.
During the summer, I like to keep a jar of this in the refrigerator to eat with fresh vegetables.

Mary Richburg
1 large cauliflower, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup salted peanuts
7 oz. pkg. dried cranberries
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
Chop cauliflower.
In large bowl, add the cauliflower, peanuts, cranberries, mayonnaise and sugar.
Stir until well combined.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Makes 10 cups.
Note: Red skinned peanuts add color to the salad, but plain peanuts work just as well.

Recipe from Carolyn Hill, Talladega County
2 cups sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 banana, diced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 can Bing cherries, drained and cut into halves (or 12 oz. frozen pitted dark sweet cherries)
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Put paper liners into muffin pans and fill with mixture. Freeze at least 2 hours. Serve frozen.
When frozen through, individual servings can be transferred to freezer bags or other airtight containers for storage.

Mary Richburg
4 cups watermelon cut into balls with a melon cutter, about half a large watermelon
3 cups blueberries
¼ cup mint, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. honey
4 oz. feta, crumbled
Combine the watermelon, blueberries, mint and honey in a large bowl. Stir to fully combine.
Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes
Add the feta and stir to combine and serve.

Mary Richburg
10 oz. mixed salad greens
3 large oranges, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 qt. strawberries, quartered
4 oz. blue cheese
½ cup candied pecans
½ cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. honey
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 small shallots, minced
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 cup good olive oil
Place greens on 8 individual salad plates.
Top with orange slices and strawberries, sprinkle with cheese and pecans.
For dressing: whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually whisk in olive oil, whisking constantly until blended.
Candied Pecans:
The candied pecans can be made in advance. Simply store the prepared pecans at room temperature in an airtight container.
2 tsp. butter
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. water
1 cup pecan halves
1/8 tsp. cinnamon, optional
Heat oven to 350 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small skillet over medium heat, add butter, brown sugar, salt and water.
Stir until butter and sugar melt. Add pecans and cook, stirring very frequently, for about 3 minutes, being cautious not to allow the mixture to scorch.
Remove from heat and add cinnamon, if using. Stir to combine.
Spread pecans on prepared baking sheet and bake 5 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before using.