Newcomer Jennifer Faircloth shares family recipes

Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

After living in Ocean Springs, MS. on the Gulf coast for 23 years, Jennifer and Mark Faircloth wanted to live on or near a lake when they decided to move to Opelika to be near their daughter. They selected Foxchase at Emerald Lake and built their lovely home on a wooded lot. It has been ideal with Mark having space to cycle and connecting to the bike trails.

The Faircloths moved in their home just five months ago and furnished it with family antiques. Jennifer’s favorite is a large hunt board that belonged to Mark’s mother. She has fond memories of dinners with the hunt board covered in delicious, elegant dishes.

Jennifer’s mother and grandmother were also good cooks. Jennifer grew up in Jackson, Miss., where her father had a two acre garden. She has wonderful memories of tables laden with fresh vegetables.  Sunday dinners were special with a pot roast and assorted vegetable dishes after church.

Taking care of the large garden was hard work for everyone in the family. During the summer months, her mother would scrape corn off the cob to put in the freezer.

While her mother worked, she had a maid to help, who would prepare bread pudding for Jennifer for after school snacks.

After high school, Jennifer attended college and received a master’s degree in social work at the University of Tennessee. She met Mark after college when he moved to Jackson to work at Lowe’s.  He had met some of Jennifer’s friends who introduced them. They were married a year later.

Mark was born in South Carolina and grew up in Greenville, AL. He graduated from the University of Alabama.

Jennifer and Mark moved to different towns in Mississippi over a two year period. They were living in Greenwood when they were expecting their first child, Will. Mark was working long hours managing Lowe’s, which was difficult having a family. A friend asked him to be the branch manager of a bank, which was the beginning of his banking career.

A couple of years later, he became the manager of a bank in Mobile where their daughter Rebecca was born. Mark currently has his own business, Faircloth Performance Partners, consulting and teaching at banking schools.

Jennifer worked as a social worker for 32 years. When her father passed away, she retired to help her mother.

Rebecca moved to Auburn to become the first communication director at Auburn United Methodist Church. She met her husband Charlie Duffield while working at the church. They have a daughter, 18 month old Caroline. Rebecca now works for Foresite Engineering, while Charlie is an RN at Baptist South Hospital in Montgomery.

Jennifer and Mark are enjoying living in Opelika and being near Rebecca, Charlie and Caroline. When they moved here, Jennifer’s 93 year old mother moved with them and resides at Camellia Place.

The Faircloths’ son Will and his wife, Ella, have been Methodist missionaries in San Jose, Costa Rica, for 12 years. Will is a professor at the Methodist Seminary and helped start a children’s home eight or nine years ago. Four years ago they adopted two sisters.  Jennifer and Mark’s oldest granddaughters are Nicole, 15, and Marilyn, 8.

Family is important to the Faircloths. Jennifer’s family recently held their 33rd reunion. Jennifer’s mother was one of five children who were born and raised in Oxford, Miss. Each year a branch of each sibling hosts the family reunion.

In 2011, a member of the family assembled favorite recipes from the reunions in The Johnston Family Cookbook.

As Jennifer was recently looking over the cookbook, she reminisced about the recipes that brought back memories. She recalled that when they visited her parents or Mark’s the mothers always prepared their favorite dishes.

Although Mark’s mother had a cook, she enjoyed entertaining and making elegant dishes, such as Chicken Gordon Bleu and grapefruit and avocado salad. “Mark’s mother was more refined and didn’t have a garden,” says Jennifer. “It was great for me to learn how to cook some dishes from my mother-in law.”

Now she is learning new dishes from her two Korean sisters-in-laws. Chae’s Slaw is one of her sisters-in-law’s recipes.

When the Faircloths lived on the coast, Jennifer would make a shrimp boil when family visited. She served it with her Deep South Potato Salad recipe she is sharing. The dressing is a flavorful combination of mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar and seasonings.

Her Summer Vegetable Soup is hearty prepared with fresh tomato, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, cannellini beans and pasta.

She likes to make one pot recipes she can serve with a salad.  The Chalu Pa is one of her favorites that she makes in a Dutch oven. The dried pinto beans are cooked with a pork roast with garlic, chili powder and other spices. She serves it with assorted toppings. It is a fun dish to serve for company and will serve a crowd.

The Lemon Meringue Pie and Banana Bread are her mother’s recipes, and the Squash Soufflé is one of her mother-in-law’s recipe.

“We love Opelika and Trinity church,” says Jennifer. “Moving from the coast we are really enjoying being back inland. We are enjoying driving in the country in Mark’s father’s 1963 Falcon convertible, which is so peaceful. We have really enjoyed becoming more knowledgeable about the rivers and joined the Chattahoochee River Keepers. It has been a rich 15 months. We feel very blessed.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at


Summer Vegetable Soup
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Two 32 oz. containers of vegetable broth
2 plum or 1 regular tomato, seeded and chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms, (less if preferred)
1 ¼ tsp. of kosher salt
½ tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
15 oz. of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup of bow tie pasta
Optional:  Add shredded rotisserie chicken, or top with 1-2 tsp. of basil pesto
Sauté carrots and next 4 ingredients in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium/high heat for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in broth, tomatoes, squashes, mushrooms, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Stir in beans and pasta, cook 10-12 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
Stir in chicken, if using and top with basil pesto, if desired.
Makes about 10 cups.

Rebecca’s Market Skillet
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
1 large zucchini, sliced
¼ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
¼ tsp. of black pepper
4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil, medium heat, in large skillet.
Add onion and red pepper, cook and stir for 3 minutes.
Stir in corn and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes or until all vegetables are tender, stirring as needed.
Remove from heat.
Stir in parsley, black pepper, 2 Tbsp. of cheese.
Top with remaining cheese. Serves 4.
Optional: For a hearty meal, add sliced, cooked smoked sausage.

Brucie’s Squash Soufflé
8 medium size yellow squash, sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
¼ – ½ cup diced onion
2 eggs, beaten
2 ½ Tbsp. flour
1 cup sharp, finely shredded cheddar cheese
Cook squash in enough water to cover them; simmer (about 15 minutes) until done.
Sauté’ onion in butter while squash is cooking.
Drain squash very well.
Combine squash, onion, eggs, flour and cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Beat with mixer until consistency is fairly smooth.
Bake at 300-325 for 40-45 minutes until it “sets” as fairly firm. Sprinkle with more shredded cheese and serve.
Serves 6.

Oven Fried Green Tomatoes
½ cup cornmeal
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
3 medium sized green tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch slices
Vegetable cooking spray
Combine cornmeal, salt and pepper and set aside.
Combine egg and water and beat well.
Dip tomatoes in egg mixture, and then dredge in cornmeal.
Lightly coat a 10x15x1 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Place tomatoes in a single layer in the pan.
Bake at 450° or until golden brown (turn once during baking).
Serves 6.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Tomato
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 pkg. baby spinach leaves
2/3 cup chopped ham
1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Oil, as needed
1-2 garlic cloves
Red pepper flakes
Cut tops off tomatoes and scoop out the “flesh.”
Coat a saucepan with a little oil; add pepper flakes and garlic.
Heat for just a minute or two.
Add spinach and toss to wilt; add ham and cheese.
Mix well and stuff the tomatoes.
Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, if desired warm.
Also can be served at room temperature. Serves 4.

Deep South Potato Salad
6 cups Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into large dices
3 quarts water
2 tsp. salt
Place potatoes and salt in water and simmer until potatoes are tender.
Drain and allow to cool.
2 cups mayonnaise
½ cup yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. white pepper
1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup small-diced red pepper
1 cup celery, small-diced
4 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
Combine first 7 ingredients to form a dressing.
Add potatoes and all other ingredients to the dressing and mix well. Makes 2 quarts.

Chalu Pa
1 lb. dried pinto beans
7 cups water
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cumin
4 lbs. pork roast
½ cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 can chopped green chilies
Place all ingredients in a large pot.
Cook until roast is tender, about 2½ -3 hours; remove roast, shred. Return to pot.
Simmer an additional 30-45 minutes.
Garnish with ingredients listed below.
Serve in flour tortilla or over corn chips.
Serves 16.
Garnish Selection:
Sour cream
Chopped tomato
Chopped green onions
Chopped black olives
Shredded cheese

Marinated Asparagus
1½ lbs. fresh asparagus, trimmed
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. canola oil
¼ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted
Bring 2 inches water to a rolling boil in a large frying pan.
Plunge asparagus in water, remove after 1 minute.
Drain immediately, pat dry and place in 9 x 13 inch dish.
Combine remaining ingredients (except nuts) and whisk vigorously.
Pour over asparagus; cover and chill for at least 8 hours.
To serve, drain off marinade, place in serving dish and sprinkle nuts on top. Serves 4-5.

Chae’s Slaw
1 large cabbage
Medium onion (sweet or Vidalia, your choice)
8 boiled eggs
½ – ¾ cup of Italian dressing
½ – ¾ cup of mayonnaise
Black pepper (depending on taste)
Toasted sesame seeds
Coarsely chop cabbage, onion and eggs.
Add dressing, mayonnaise and pepper.
Mix well and top with sesame seeds.
Serves 14-16.

Brucie’s Consommé Rice
1 cup raw, converted rice
1 10½ oz. can of undiluted beef consommé
1 10 ½ oz. can of French onion soup, undiluted
4 oz.  sliced, drained mushrooms
Combine all ingredients in a 1½ or 2-quart casserole dish.
Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour. Serves 6.

Sue’s Lemon Meringue Pie
3 egg yolks (save whites)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Juice of 3 lemons
Pour into 1 graham cracker crust
Whip egg whites until stiff and fold in 1/4 cup sugar.
Cover pie with meringue.
Cook under broiler until peaks are lightly toasted.
Serves 6-8.

Ella’s Bourbon Pecan Pie
1 cup white sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp. bourbon
1 ½ cup pecan halves
9-inch deep piecrust
Mix all ingredients and pour into crust.
Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat and bake at 350° for an additional 1 hour.
Serve heated or room temperature with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Serves 6-8.

Sue’s Banana Bread
1 ¼ cups self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup Crisco shortening
2 eggs, well beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional:  chopped nuts
Mix dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening.
Add eggs, bananas, vanilla and nuts, if desired
Pour into greased, floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until tests done.

Crawfish or Shrimp Soup
1 onion, diced
Minced garlic to taste
1 stick butter
Two pkg. (12-14 oz. each) fresh or frozen raw crawfish tails or shrimp, peeled without tails, deveined
Two 14 oz. cans cream style corn
Two 12 oz. cans evaporated milk
3 cans Campbell’s cream of potato soup
Creole seasonings, such as Tony Charchere’s
Sauté onion and garlic in butter. Add remaining ingredients. Heat on low to medium for 1 hour. Can place in crock-pot.
Makes 6-8 servings.


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