Cooking is the Language of Love for Adam Pierce to Spread Joy to Others

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Adam Pierce has a passion for cooking and enjoys cooking for family and friends, as well as at Providence Baptist Church. Adam is pictured with a pork roast that was smoked, sliced and then seared on a flat top grill, using the reverse sear method of cooking. Photo by ANN CIPPERLY

By Ann Cipperly

With a passion for cooking, Adam Pierce feels it is a love language for him to be able to prepare meals that bring joy to others. Adam not only enjoys cooking for family and friends but also cooks for special events at Providence Baptist Church. When he prepares meals for large groups, his wife, Kathi, who also has a love for cooking and baking, is by his side, serving as sous chef.

Adam grew up in a family with good cooks. His grandmother made delicious chicken and dumplings, while his grandfather and father, Walter Pierce, would bake a batch of six pound cakes at once. Adam is still waiting for his family’s secret pound cake recipe to be passed down to him. He is planning to make a few changes to enhance it for the next generation.

Adam and Kathi both grew up in Opelika. For his last two years in high school, Adam attended the Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile. While in high school, Adam thought about attending the Johnson and Wales Culinary School, but he met Kathi soon afterward graduating. They married the following year.

Adam is an electronics technician with Opelika Power Services and also works part-time at Frederick-Dean Funeral Home. In his spare time, he savors being in the kitchen cooking.

Adam has been attending Providence Baptist Church for about 39 years. For 25 years, he assisted a family who was coordinating events at the church before he took over cooking. While they were not able to hold a Fourth of July event last year because of Covid, this year they held the celebration, changing the way the meat was cooked.

Over the years, it was generally 15 to 20 men cooking the meat overnight over a pit for the Fourth of July. Adam knew he wouldn’t have as many helping this year. He cooked 300 pounds of Boston butts in a large smoker that was able to accommodate all the meat at one time. When the meat came out of the smoker, it was very tender.

The hostess committee at church coordinated preparing potato salad and baked beans to go with the meat, while the congregation provided desserts. This year’s Fourth celebration allowed life to feel closer to normal.

Recently, Adam cooked 40 pounds of Boston butt for his father’s 70th birthday party. Kathi prepared baked beans, potato salad and her homemade banana pudding. A friend brought coleslaw.

Adam watched videos and followed groups online to learn how to add flavor to meat without having a sauce. He uses the reverse sear method for cooking steaks in a hot skillet or flat top, which seals in the flavor. “If you have to put steak sauce on a steak,” he said, “it wasn’t cooked correctly.”

When cooking a pork roast for a crowd, he will use the reverse sear method. After the pork is cooked in a smoker, he slices it and then sears the chops on a flattop. It is flavorful and tender.

Adam also cooks breakfast on a flat top for a crowd. It gives him the opportunity to cook pancakes, sausage and eggs at the same time and not have a messy kitchen.

A few years ago, Providence church held a men’s breakfast on Saturday mornings for fellowship and Bible study. Adam would like to revive that again once Covid is not an issue.

He is looking forward to being involved in cooking more at the church once it is safe. At one time, they would cook hot dogs on Labor Day and have a fish fry at a fall festival. At Thanksgiving, he would help smoke whole turkeys to provide a meal to the church family and others in the community who did not have family locally or lacked funds. They provided the full meal at no cost.

Adam and Kathi enjoy having family and friends in their home for meals. Before Covid, they would have about 15 people in their home twice a week for dinner.

The couple enjoy having their three grown children. Hannah, 24, Maddie, 21 and Zachary, 19, for meals. They are learning to cook from scratch like their parents.

Kathi enjoys trying different recipes and has a passion for baking. She gets ideas from online, Pinterest and cookbooks, then creates recipes that suit their family’s taste. Kathi is creative and works to keep meals interesting. She has a board on Pinterest called “Kathi Tested and Family approved.”

Adams feels it is relaxing to cook, and it takes his mind off other things. He focuses on time management to be sure all the dishes are cooked in time and allows time for cleaning up.

Friends have talked to him about having a food truck, and that might happen one day. For now, he is enjoying cooking as a hobby.

“I don’t want to lose the love of cooking and for it to be something that I have to do to provide for my family,” Adam said. “I look forward to cooking when I can and sharing. My favorite part of cooking is doing something that makes people happy.

“I always consider food a love language that you pour your time and love into it. I have been able to cook and do something that people look forward to eating. Food has been the way I can serve others.”

Adam is always ready to try new dishes. He doesn’t like to repeat the same dishes over and over. People tell him they don’t like Brussel sprouts until they try his, roasted with bacon and honey. He has learned how to infuse flavor into the meats and other dishes he prepares.

“Food is a universal language,” he said. “You can put food out there, and people will come. It may open up a conversation and create a friendship. It is a love language when I cook without having to say anything.

“I have been blessed. Kathi is by far my biggest access that I have. She has the same passion for food. She is always willing to help with preparation when I am cooking for a crowd. God has given us ability and resources that cooking and sharing is our purpose.”

They hope that before long they can start back having family and friends for dinner over a couple of times a week. It was always good times around the table with conversations and laughter. They are missing that love language and want to get to that back again.

“Our time on earth is short,” he said. “It is hard to look back to see what I did with my time. I wonder if I spend enough time with my family and help create memories of being at the table together.

“I look at memories from growing up and remember the food family members cooked,” Adam added. “I learned to cook by watching them. I took a liking to cooking and learned from people who have had a love of cooking their entire adult life.”

Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

Bacon and Honey Brussel Sprouts

1 lb. thick cut bacon

2 lb. whole Brussel sprouts

1 cup honey

Black pepper to taste

Start by cutting Brussels in half. Fry bacon on griddle or in cast iron pan until crispy, reserving the grease created. After removing bacon to drain, place Brussels in the grease and begin to toss. Allow to sit cut side down on the griddle to caramelize the Brussels.

Cover with a dome and add water to allow steam to continue to cook Brussels until tender.

While cooking, chop bacon and mix honey and black pepper in a separate bowl. Once Brussel sprouts are tender, remove from heat and cover with mixed honey and black pepper. Toss in bacon pieces and serve.

Baked Beans Supreme

1 53 oz. can pork and beans

1 lb. hamburger meat, browned and drained

1 small onion, chopped

1 bell pepper (color of choice), chopped

¾ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup yellow mustard

2/3 cup ketchup

Brown hamburger meat with pepper and onion until done. Drain completely. Pour pork and beans into medium size bowl and add hamburger meat, onion, bell pepper, brown sugar, mustard and ketchup. Stir gently until combined trying not to mash beans.

Place in a 9 x 13 casserole pan and spread evenly. Cook in oven set at 375 until hot all the way through (usually about 45 minutes). For extra fancy beans, fry and chop bacon to sprinkle across top before baking.

Bacon Fried Corn

1 lb. bacon

24 oz. frozen yellow corn, thawed

Taco seasoning to taste

Cilantro to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

On griddle or cast iron pan, fry bacon until crispy, reserving the grease. Remove and drain when done. Place corn into grease and stir constantly. Sprinkle taco seasoning, cilantro and red pepper flakes in as corn gets close to being done. Remove from heat and sprinkle bacon crumbles on top before serving.

Chicken Fettucine Bake

1 rotisserie chicken, deboned

1 lb. penne pasta, cooked al dente

3 jars of alfredo sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Mix pasta and deboned and shredded chicken in bowl. Add half of the mixture to 9 x 13 casserole dish and layer with half the cheese. Repeat. As an added layer of flavor, you can sprinkle with  Parmesan cheese on top. Place in  a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and begins to brown. Enjoy!

Kathi’s Banana Pudding from Scratch

½ cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups milk

4 eggs, separated

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 box  vanilla wafers

4 medium ripe bananas

¼ cup sugar for egg whites

In medium sized saucepan, mix flour, salt and sugar; add milk slowly. Stir constantly over low heat until thickened. Stir and cook for about 15 minutes. Beat egg yolks in separate bowl and slowly stir into mixture. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

Line bottom of casserole dish with vanilla wafers and sliced bananas. Add custard mixture to casserole dish creating layers if space allows, ending with custard on top.

Beat egg whites in chilled bowl with ¼ cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently spread on top of custard and bake in oven set at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes until meringue is browned. Serve chilled.

Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake

3 cups sifted cake flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. fine sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

4 eggs at room temperature

¼ cup bourbon

1 cup buttermilk at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In stand mixer cream butter and sugars together at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Switch to low speed and add eggs one at a time until just mixed in. In a small bowl combine buttermilk and bourbon.

Slowly add one third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture to the mixer. Mix just until incorporated and then repeat. The final third of the flour mixture should be mixed by hand to prevent over working the batter.

Prepare a Bundt or tube pan by buttering and flouring to prevent sticking. Pour batter into prepared pan and cook for 50-55 minutes until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

While cooking, prepare glaze:

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup bourbon

Cook over low heat until the butter and sugar have melted. Poke small holes in the bottom of cake as it starts to cool and pour half the glaze mixture into these holes.

When cooled, turn cake out and pour remaining glaze over the top allowing it to drip down sides of cake. Enjoy with a bit of vanilla ice cream, or fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

Reverse Seared Pork Loin

Season with your favorite barbecue rub on a whole pork loin. Smoke on grill until internal temperature reaches about 145 degrees. Allow to rest and then slice into pork chops.

Heat large cast iron skillet and add chops to pan with a pat of butter searing each side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Muddy Buddies

9 cups rice Chex cereal

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup peanut butter

¼ cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Pour cereal into a large bowl. Combine chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a separate, small microwave safe bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook for 1 minute and stir. Continue to heat in 30 second intervals until mixture is completely melted. Stir in vanilla.

Fold chocolate mixture over cereal. Once cereal is completely covered, transfer it to a large paper bag. Add in the powdered sugar, close the bag tightly and shake to coat the cereal with the powdered sugar. Once coated, pour the coated cereal onto a large cookie sheet to cool.

Store in an airtight container or Ziplock bags.

Sweet
Potato Pie

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ butter, softened

2 eggs, separated

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup evaporated milk

¼ cup sugar

1 unbaked deep dish pie crust

Combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, butter, eggs yolks, spices and salt in a large mixing bowl; beat until light and fluffy. Add evaporated milk; beat just until combined.

In a clean, separate bowl, beat room temperature egg whites until foamy; gradually add sugar 1 Tbsp at a time, beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into potato mixture.

Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45-50 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Top with whipped cream to serve.

Spinach and Artichoke Cups

24 wonton wrappers

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 wonton wrapper in each of 24 mini muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray, with edges of wrapper extending over the top of cup. Bake 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Once combined, spoon artichoke mixture into won ton cups. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until filling is heated through and edges of cups are golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!

Hashbrown Casserole

30 oz. bag shredded hashbrowns, thawed

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 stick butter, melted

1 can cream of chicken soup

½ cup sour cream

1 small onion, diced

½ cup milk

Salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 casserole dish. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Pour it all into the prepared casserole dish and top with additional cheese.

Cook for 45 minutes or until top is light brown and bubbly.

Rosa’s Dinner on the Grounds Brunswick Stew

12 lb. smoked Boston Butt, chopped

12 lb. roasted chicken, chopped

12 cans diced tomatoes

12 cans corn

3 bottles ketchup

3 bottles Worcestershire sauce

Cook, debone, and chop meat. Mix Worcestershire sauce with meat. Add ketchup and tomatoes. Cook slowly 2 ½ hours. Add corn and cook another hour. Slow cooking and constant stirring are key to making this stew great!

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