Ann Renfro Smith shares favorite recipes for the lake, beach

Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

While Ann Renfro Smith enjoys living in the house on 9th Street in Opelika where she grew up, she looks forward to relaxing days at Lake Martin with her husband, Perry Smith, who is the Adjutant General of the Alabama National Guard, their children and grandchildren. Ann is sharing recipes she and Perry prepare at the lake, which are also their favorites for the beach. The recipes are perfect to serve for Memorial Day.

Ann’s father, the late Frank Renfro, grew up in the historic Renfro house on North 10th Street in Opelika, which was built by his grandfather. After serving in WWII, he moved back to Opelika and opened Opelika Floral. He died at a young 46 years old.

Her mother, Ann “Snookie” Renfro was well known and enjoyed cooking. “I never cooked growing up,” says Ann. “My mother did it all. I was never one for getting in the kitchen.”

Along with her mother and grandmother being good cooks, her great-grandmother, Odelle Hudmon Smith, who lived next door to the library, was an excellent cook. Ann remembers hearing stories of her making fancy dishes for parties.

Many of the recipes Ann has collected over the years were passed down in the family from her grandmother and great-grandmother. The Peach Ice Cream recipe Ann is sharing is one of her grandmother’s.

After graduating from Opelika High School, Ann attended Auburn University where she met Perry, who is from Columbiana, located south of Birmingham. During her senior year at Auburn, Ann began cooking. After they were married, her mother would give her recipes.

While at Auburn, Perry joined the ROTC. He was interested in the military, as his father had been in the Navy. When the draft was being held during the Vietnam War, Perry decided to become part of the advanced ROTC.

He was commissioned second lieutenant upon graduation and decided to join the National Guard in 1973. He has been promoted over the years. When Gov. Bentley was elected, he selected Perry to become the Adjutant General, who is in charge of all the Army and Air Force National Guard for the state of Alabama. When Gov. Ivey’s term expires, Perry will be the longest serving Adjutant General for Alabama. He travels frequently, including to Romania.

Ann has continued to work at their business, Smith-Kastner Wealth Management of Opelika, which Perry founded in 1976. The company has changed names over the years, but the Smiths have remained partners.

They have two children, Graham and Sumner, who both grew up in Opelika. Graham and his wife Rebekah live in Homewood and have five children, Cole, 18; Tucker, 17; Reid, 15; Eli, 15, and Max, 11. Sumner and her husband Dan Burkhardt have two daughters, Emily, 17, and Laurel, 15, and reside in Hoover.

The Smiths have been going to Lake Martin since 1978 when they had a Russell cabin. In 1985, they found a place at Pleasure Point, and go every chance they get. The Smiths’ children and grandchildren enjoy swimming and fishing at the lake.

Ann and Perry both cook. She plans menus ahead and does the grocery shopping in Opelika before leaving. They do all the prep work at the lake, except for the Seafood Gumbo that Perry makes and freezes in containers to take to the lake and beach. They will dine on the gumbo their first night.

While the gumbo takes an afternoon to prepare, Perry uses a big pot to have enough to last for months. They keep the gumbo on hand in the freezer.  They purchase large amounts of shrimp to keep in the freezer as well for easy meals.

Perry enjoys making many of his family’s recipes. He is sharing his Homemade Barbecue Sauce recipe that is good on a pork roast, ribs and chicken. He generally doubles the recipe to have plenty, and it keeps well in the refrigerator.

His ribs recipe is grilled and then finished in the oven. The ribs become very tender and fall off the bone.

The Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloins are cooked in the oven. Ann will serve the leftover pork in Hawaiian Rolls for sliders at lunch the following day.

Potato Salad is a popular side for the barbecue dishes. Perry will dice the potatoes with the skins on. Ann lets the potatoes cool before adding mayonnaise. Otherwise, the potatoes will become mushy.

The Sour Cream Cornbread goes well with the barbecue and fresh vegetables.

While Ann almost always makes pancakes for the grandchildren, she will assemble the Sausage Pinwheels the night before. While making breakfast, she will slice and bake the rolls for snacking until breakfast is ready.

They always have fresh eggs from the chickens on their hunting land in Cusseta.

Since Perry fishes at the lake, they use the fish for making Fish Tacos, which are popular with the grandchildren.

Ann does the same planning when going to the beach. The first time they went to the beach, Ann thought she would just wait and shop there, but it was just too much trouble and time consuming. They will do the shopping here and pack three coolers.

“I always plan ahead,” says Ann. “We know what we are going to have for every meal.

“Being at the lake is a wonderful family time,” adds Ann. “I feel like we are making memories for our grandchildren that they will never forget. As a child I had a good friend who had a place at the lake. I have such wonderful memories, so I am hoping this is creating memories for our grandchildren to cherish.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at

Homemade Barbecue Sauce for Pork Roast, Ribs and Chicken
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped or grated onion – if onion is grated use 2 Tbsp.
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
Put all ingredients in sauce pan and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2  hours. Recipe is easy to double.

Vidalia Onion Dip
2 to 4 cups chopped Vidalia onions
2 cups Hellman’s mayonnaise
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
8 oz. can water chestnuts
Mix ingredients in bowl and put in greased baking dish.  Bake 350 for 30 to 45 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with crackers.

Sour Cream Cornbread
1 cup self-rising white corn meal
2 eggs
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small can cream style corn
Mix together corn meal, eggs, sour cream and corn.  Put oil in iron skillet; roll around edges and heat on high until it smokes.  Add oil to corn meal mixture and stir thoroughly.  Put back in iron skillet and bake on bottom rack of oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes on until brown on top.

Potato Salad
6 medium-sized red potatoes, washed and small diced with skins on potatoes
4 boiled eggs
Vidalia onion, finely chopped
8 oz. jar dill pickle relish
Hellman’s mayonnaise, enough to make it creamy
After boiling diced potatoes until tender, drain and let cool before mixing with other ingredients. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloins
2 pork tenderloins
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Dale’s marinade
Garlic powder
Remove skin from tenderloins, leaving a thin layer of fat covering the pork.  Place pork in casserole dish to marinate in Dale’s, garlic powder and steak seasoning.  Just use enough Dale’s to coat sides of pork, then sprinkle with garlic powder and steak seasoning.  Marinate for 30 minutes.
Then wrap the tenderloins in bacon from end to end, overlapping so the tenderloins are completely covered.
Place the tenderloins in an aluminum foil lined roasting pan on a wire rack.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Meat thermometer should read 155 degrees when done.  Broil the tenderloins for 3 to 5 minutes until bacon is crisp.  Remove from oven, place in dish and cover with foil.  Let stand for 10 minutes.
Pork Sliders
Slice Hawaiian rolls and fill with slices of leftover pork. Great for lunch.

Sausage Pinwheels
1 lb. mild Tennessee Pride Sausage
8 oz. cream cheese
1 pkg. crescent roll sheet
Brown sausage and drain on paper towel on paper plate, and press with paper towels to remove as much of the grease as possible.  Put cooked sausage back in skillet and add cream cheese. Mix on low heat until the cream cheese is completely softened.
Open the crescent roll sheet on parchment paper.  Spread the sausage and cream cheese mixture to cover the entire sheet.  Roll the sheet on the long side until completely rolled. Wrap in the parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
Slice pinwheel in 1/2-inch slices, and let them get to room temperature. Bake according to the crescent roll directions. Makes a great breakfast snack.

Baked Asparagus
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 minced garlic clove
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Break off the thick end of asparagus at the natural breaking point and discard.  Place asparagus in gallon Ziploc with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Seal bag and mix thoroughly.
Spread on a foil covered cookie sheet, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Barbecue Pork Ribs
(baby back ribs or back ribs)
Strip the membrane off the inside of the ribs. Use what you think will be good for a dry rub: garlic salt, lemon pepper, paprika, brown sugar, a little red pepper and whatever else you want. Literally rub it all in.
Put ribs on the grill at 250 degrees for about an hour, then flip and grill for about another hour. Don’t let them burn (flip more), and you want them to look like they are ready to eat and look done (but they are not done yet).
Take them off the grill and lay each (I cut the whole slab into 2 halves) on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Put butter, brown sugar, a Tbsp. of red wine vinegar and a 1/4 cup apple juice and wrap each half slab up. Might have to add an additional sheet of foil to wrap them up well.
Put ribs in oven on 250 for 2 hours.
They should be falling off the bone and delicious.

Tomato Pie
9-inch pie shell
Chopped onion
Salt and pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
Bake pie shell at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Slice fresh tomatoes about 1/2- inch thick; drain on paper towels.  Put a layer of tomatoes on crust.  Sprinkle with basil and some chopped onion.  Add another layer of tomatoes; salt and pepper to taste.
Mix mayonnaise with shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese.  Pour on top of tomatoes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Fish Tacos
Bass, trout or crappie fillets
Large onion, sliced and separated into circles
Large bell pepper, thinly sliced
Flour tortillas
Thick chunky salsa
Shredded lettuce or cabbage
Sour cream
Finely shredded cheese of choice
Grill bass, trout or crappie fillets and cut in strips.  Sauté onion and pepper in oil until completely browned.
Have individual wraps of 3 flour tortillas folded in tin foil and heat in warm oven for 10-12 minutes.
Layer fish, sautéed onions and peppers, thick chunky salsa, shredded lettuce or cabbage, sour cream, and finely shredded cheese of your choice.

Grandmother’s Homemade Peach Ice Cream
2 quarts milk
3 cups ripe peaches, blended (not chopped)
1/2 pint half and half
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 cups sugar
Mix ingredients in large bowl. Pour into ice cream freezer. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for freezing.

Apple Dessert
Large crisp apple
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 pkg. crescent rolls
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 can Mountain Dew

Spray an 8 x 8-inch Pyrex dish with Pam.  Cut large crisp apple into 8 wedges.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in bowl.  Roll apple wedges in sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Roll each coated wedge in a crescent roll and place in baking dish.  Cover with remaining sugar/cinnamon.
Drizzle melted butter on top.  Pour ½ can (4 to 5 oz.) of Mountain Dew in corner of dish.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Seafood Gumbo
1 1/2 gallons water
32 oz. pkg. frozen sliced okra
3 bay leaves
1 can Rotel tomatoes
3 Tbsp. Tony Charchere’s  seasoning
3 Tbsp. old bay seasoning
3 Tbsp. un-iodized salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
3 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet to make color darker
Put all of the above in a very large pot and let boil until okra falls apart.
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
3 white onions, chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup bacon drippings
1/4 cup canola oil
In a large frying pan, get grease/oil hot and sauté pepper and celery for 5 minutes, then add onion. Sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent/clear. Then add garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.  Remove from frying pan into a large bowl.
Make the roux:
Put 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup canola oil and 1 cup bacon drippings in a large fryer or iron skillet; cook on level 4 heat, stirring constantly until chocolate brown or like a dirty penny color  (it will take a while).  This takes a while, so don’t get in a hurry and scorch or burn the roux!
Taste it, and if it is scorched, start over. Flour, oil and bacon drippings are cheap. Nothing will ruin $150 worth of seafood faster than scorched roux.
Take roux off the heat, and add sautéed veggies, stirring constantly.
Add roux and veggies to the large boiling pot; stir in and let mixture come back to a boil.
Add 2-3 lb salt-water boneless fish filets (any cheap fish, whiting works good, it will fall apart but is very good to eat).
Add 1 – 2 lb. (4 – 8 oz. containers of shucked oysters), optional.
Add 1 – 1 1/2 lb. (3 – 8 oz. containers) crabmeat.
Add 3 to 4 lb. shelled and de-veined small to medium shrimp.
Bring back to a boil for 5 minutes, then on low/simmer until rice is cooked.
Serve in a bowl over rice.


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