Two of the most important persons in Amy Pike’s life have been her mother, Cynthia Baker, and her grandmother, the late Patricia Gillespie. They were teachers. Their love of their jobs rubbed off on young Amy. When she graduated from Piedmont High in 1999, she enrolled at Jacksonville State University where she earned her degree in elementary education.
She’s in her 13th year of teaching in the Piedmont school system. She taught fourth grade and second grade. This is her first year to teach kindergarten. Amy said she’s enjoying that age group.
“It’s a whole new world,” she said. “It’s totally different from anything I’ve taught before. There’s so much going on with them at their age.”
Amy said she takes her job seriously, trying to prepare them for future grades while watching them develop in front of her.
“They come in knowing absolutely nothing,” she said. “You’re trying to prepare them for their future selves and trying to give them a basis to start with.”
Amy’s mother is retired from her teaching career. Her father, Bill, is retired from social work and is now Piedmont’s mayor. Her sister, Ann, lives in Gulf Shores and is office manager at Sarrell Dental Clinic in Foley. Ann’s son, Brady Motes, is in the Air Force and will serve the next two years in Japan.
Amy and her husband, Corey, an electrician at Huron Valley Steel in Anniston, have four children. Hunter Pike, 22, is an electrician at Honda. Madison Pike, 19, attends Gadsden State and works for a veterinarian in Gadsden. Brock Baker, 17, attends Brewer High, and Trevor Pike, 12, is a student at Piedmont Middle.
Amy and Corey are members of First Baptist Church. She enjoys refinishing furniture and taking photos. She prefers head shots. She said she picked up the camera during her daughter’s senior year in high school in hopes of filming some of her softball games. She soon developed a love of it and kept using it more and more.
Amy said she tries to cook at least three or nights a week, depending on sports and other schedules. It’s something she grew to enjoy after watching her parents cook.
“I remember back when I was little helping my mama and daddy out in the kitchen,” she said. “My daddy was a good cook too.”
Three dishes Amy makes, Brunswick Stew, Sweet Potato Crunch and Chicken and Dumplings, come from her high school home economics teacher, Debbie Prince. Amy has made slight modifications.
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4-6 chicken breasts
1 tbs. salt
10 cups water
1/2 lb. of chopped smoked pork (I buy a tub of BBQ from the grocery store)
1/2 cup onion
1 chopped green pepper
2 tbs. chopped parsley
28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (undrained)
16 oz. package frozen corn
16 oz. package frozen baby lima beans
10 oz. package frozen sliced okra
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried whole thyme
1 bay leaf
Hot sauce to taste
BBQ sauce to taste (I like Waynes Brothers)
Combine first three ingredients in 5-quart dutch oven, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove chicken from broth; reserving broth. Debone, deskin chicken, and coarsely chop. Combine 10 cups of reserved broth, chicken, and remaining ingredients. Discard bay leaf before serving.
SWEET POTATO CRUNCH
4 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (canned sweet potatoes work fine)
3/4-1 cup of sugar
1/4-1/2 cup butter
1/3-1/2 cup milk or pet milk.
3 eggs slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1/3 cup butter
Beat sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla with a mixer until fluffy. Poor into a lightly greased 3 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle topping over potato mixture. Bake AT 350 for 30-45 minutes.
CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
3 chicken breasts
3-4 chicken legs
3 quarts water
2 tbs. butter
1/3-3/4 cup corn starch (depends on the thickness you want)
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup milk
1 dumpling recipe
Rinse chicken and place in a 5-quart dutch oven. add 3 quarts water and 2 tbs. butter. Over high heat, bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat; cover and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is very tender and separates easily from bone.
Remove chicken, cool and tear from bone into pieces; reserve broth and one chicken leg bone. Strain broth through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove fat; return broth to dutch oven. Bring broth to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and gradually stir in paste made with cornstarch and 1/4 cup water, stirring continuously until mixture is slightly thickened and free of lumps. Stir in milk, salt, and pepper.
Add chopped chicken and on chicken leg bone to broth. Allow mixture to return to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. It is important the broth be boiling gently when adding dumplings.
Pinch dough and drop into gently boiling broth. Add all the dough. Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Once the dumplings have set (or risen to the top) you may stir the mixture gently. Allow to cook for 15 additional minutes.
2 cups self rising flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
2/3-3/4 cups butter milk
Stir flour and baking soda together in a large mixing bowl with a flat bottom. Cut shortening in using your hands (this creates a much softer dough). Stir in buttermilk using a metal spoon. Add just enough of the buttermilk to make a very soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 12-14 strokes. Pat to 1/2-3/4 inch thickness.