Meet Ambassador Kathleen Phillips
Serving up "Southern Shortcut Recipes" on GritsandGouda.com
January 20, 2023
Here at Sweet Grown Alabama, we're excited to welcome our inaugural group of "Sweet Grown Alabama Ambassadors." This class of ambassadors will help us promote Alabama farmers on their respective social media pages. We caught up with Kathleen Phillips, of Grits and Gouda, to learn more about her and why she loves local products!
1. Who is Kathleen Phillips?
I'm short and Southern, just like my recipes! I make Southern shortcut recipes with a pinch of gourmet! I’m a food blogger at GritsAndGouda.com, cookbook author, freelance food stylist and former test kitchen director, loving life in the charming town of Gardendale, Alabama. I take traditional Southern recipes you know and love (and some with a twist) and make them with shortcuts so you can enjoy them faster.
2. How did you begin your cooking journey?
I've been cooking since I was four years old, stirring my mom's chocolate pudding on the stove until it thickened - which seemed like forever. I grew up competing in method demonstrations in the 4-H Club on how to make homemade yeast breads. I was cooking entire meals for my family before I was a teenager with vegetables and preserves from our garden and venison from our winter harvest. After college, I refined my recipe developing skills and learned food styling as a test kitchen professional at Oxmoor House (former publishing company for Southern Living cookbooks) in Birmingham, Alabama.
3. What's your all-time favorite meal?
My all-time favorite meal is a plate full of pinto beans and ham, fried potatoes, deviled eggs, fried squash, sliced heirloom tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinaigrette and a buttered piece of crispy, crunchy cornbread. (Southern, with a pinch of gourmet...all the way!)
4. What draws you to locally grown products?
I'm drawn to locally grown products because I love the stories behind the farmers that grow the crops and create the products, plus I want to support those families that, in turn, ultimately support Alabama's economy. Also, having grown up planting and harvesting a huge garden with my family and, now, having a small garden of my own, I know that local means better taste and quality.
5. Where's your favorite spot in Alabama?
I'm a bit of a Shrimp and Grits connoisseur and am compelled to order it at restaurants if it's on the menu. I also love to find hole in the wall local dives with my husband when we are Alabama road trippin'. So, my favorite spot in Alabama is my seat at the supper table sitting across from family or friends with a bowl of wild-caught shrimp and creamy, cheesy grits in front of me.
6. Do you prefer visiting a u-pick farm or buying the products pre-picked?
Hands down, I prefer the U-Pick farm experience to buying produce already picked. First, it can't get any fresher than right off the tree or vine. When my kids were little, I'd take them to local u-pick strawberry and blueberry farms. Not only were those fun memories we shared together (mosquito bites and all) but picking their own fruit and vegetables provided a way for them to realize where their food comes from. For example, sweet potato fries do not originate from a plastic bag in the freezer. A farmer planted them, then dug them from the Alabama red clay.
Kathleen and her husband Scott on a tour of Sirmon Farms in Baldwin County.