After I safely recovered Mom’s cookbooks in 2011, I was quick to notice one thing missing – recipes from her Mom – Nanny. Nanny was the Grandparent I was closest to and she had a few “home run” recipes like her coconut-fruit (Ambrosia) salad, homemade chicken noodle soup and waffles served hot from the press. What’s not to like there?
I’ve been deeply saddened that Mom didn’t have any of Nanny’s recipes in her own cookbook but I find “the closer to home, the less likely you are to write things down.” This is certainly true with cooking as many of Mom’s favorite recipes were in her head – not on paper – so good luck to us all in documenting our family’s tried and tastefully-true recipes!
My family’s recipe void began changing earlier this spring when I visited Julie, who’s my 1st Cousin and our family’s much loved Matriarch. Julie has a mind like a steel trap, so after blogging my way through almost 100 of Mom’s recipes I decided to dig deeper; a trip to San Antonio with the specific culinary reconnaissance mission of recovering a few family recipes I didn’t have. And recover, I did!
In addition to Julie gifting me Nanny’s Iced Tea recipe, I scored the Grandmother-load of all – Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce Recipe (below) which we’ll get to in a moment. Why, in a moment? Well, for those of you who haven’t read most of Betty’s Cook Nook you may be disappointed to hear that I have the gift of gab which translates quite nicely online as I’m also fast-to-type (so was my Mom, Betty). So if you want a “CliffsNotes” version of this recipe, you best scroll down to this post’s “Foodie Tips” section and continue on. If you want to read a free and fabulous story about family and food, read on!
The Art Of Family Cooking
When creating Betty’s Cook Nook I knew I wanted to weave in family stories along with our recipes because to me, eating goes hand-in-hand with daily living for all of us regardless of geography, culture or perceived socioeconomic status. Celebrating great food and friends was something my parents Betty and Louis absolutely loved to do, so it just felt right to try to honor my Mom’s love for cooking by creating this blog so I could translate her conventional cookbook online for generations to come.
While my storytelling is primarily for my family, I’ve heard from several non-family members – even strangers – who say they love reading the stories so I know the true essence of my effort extends far beyond a handful of my closest family members, maybe even to you! So I want to share a really touching story about something that happened today that directly ties to this recipe in the most fantastic way.
Who Do You Think You Are? (a.k.a. You Are What You Eat!)
For a few years I’ve enjoyed watching the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are.” I’ve seen some incredible stories uncovered through research. Because I lost my parents at a young age I have several family “holes” to fill, so last night after watching Valerie Bertinelli‘s amazing story I finally signed-up for a free 2-week trial at Ancestry.com. No, the folks at Ancestry didn’t pay me to write this post, but they should have. ;)
I was instantly addicted to my family’s online research – I’m quite skilled at online sleuthing, so Ancestry.com fits right up my alley. Within a few hours I had connected over 50 of my family members dating back to 1874. One of the most impressive things I quickly found was the address where my grandparents “Nanny” and “PaPaw” and my Mom “Betty” lived in 1944 thanks to a local city directory listing. Years after I grew-up in San Antonio, lived in Dallas 20 years then moved to Italy and returned to Texas in 2012 I learned they lived just 20 miles from where I live today in Austin, Texas … and I had no clue!
With their home address I was quickly able to find driving directions – even score a recent picture of the house from GoogleMaps.com. The home was a charming stone house, and the more I looked at the online photo I realized it looked strangely similar to one photo among the thousands of family photos that I have. It was well after midnight so I went to bed. At 4am hope and excitement woke me up. I pulled out the family photos and within 10 minutes had found the match for the online photo!
I knew I had to visit the house today. While the Google picture from the front of the street looked relatively the same with just a few modern updates to the carport and entry, I was nervous the house was no more as online records suggested their house had quadrupled in size. Today I bundled-up my two Labs “Boomer” and “Harley” and drove to Nanny’s and Mom’s old neighborhood and was thrilled to find that the house had not been torn down – it was doing just fine – including the two huge oak trees that flanked the 1981 family picture I have of the house (above).
The Way We Were
Standing in front of the house was a bit strange for me. While my feet were 70 years late arriving to the party, I felt an awesome peace; the peace that comes from discovering something special. I pictured the old 1938 stone house with my Mom “Betty” and her Sister “Delores” playing in the yard … then my Grandmother “Nanny”, sticking her head out the screen door to summon her two girls to dinner.
Today, while I may have arrived 70 years late for dinner, I’m able to recreate one of their family favorites thanks to Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce recipe. So can you!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ This sauce works well with chicken, beef or pork. Feel the force!
♥ Julie said my Grandfather Harry would make a basting “sop mop” by wrapping a T-shirt strips around a stick. Feel free to create your own … or use a modern silicon basting brush shown above.
♥ What are those yellow wrappy-things below? They’re lemon cover stretch wraps and you can find them online or at a store near you! They make juicing lemons a seedless, pulp-less pleasure!
♥ A nice side for this dish would be one of my all-time favorites here on BCN – California Potato Salad. It’s that good!
1 cup | shortening
3 | white onions, peeled and quartered
1 | green bell pepper, cut into chunks
4 pieces | celery, cut up
1 can | tomatoes (we used a 14.5 ounce can of diced toms)
1 can | tomato sauce (we used a 15 ounce can of Hunt’s)
½ cup | vinegar
2 cups (or more) | water
1 | lemon, juiced then quartered and everything added, including the peel
3 teaspoons | yellow mustard
¼ cup | catsup
2 teaspoons | chili powder
3 teaspoons | salt
1 teaspoon | fresh cracked black pepper
2 dashes | hot sauce
2 dashes | tobasco
¼ cup (or more) | worcestershire sauce
ii. what to do
1. In a large stock pot simmer everything uncovered until it’s all cooked down and reduced. While the original recipe below says “at least ½ hour,” my Cousin Julie was quick to point out that it takes much longer than noted! I think we simmered everything for about 2 hours, stirring every few minutes.
2. Taste and adjust the sauce as you like, because these measurements aren’t “exactly right!” Gottaloveit.
3. When the sauce is done to your liking, baste the meat on the grill with a sop mop or basting brush. We made sure to heavy-up on the last basting just before removing everything from the grill.
If you want to enjoy this the way Julie said our family did (throw away nothing), save the vegetables and serve them as a side dish for your barbecue meal.
Family Fun Facts ~
♥ The vintage “Fire King” measuring cup above is Betty’s; it has surely measured-up over the years and can probably tell bountiful stories about the families and friends it has fed! I alone can tell more than a few stories. :)
♥ Cousin Julie told me that when they lived in the old stone house my Grandpaw Harry worked at the IRS in Austin; turns out he was too old to enlist for WWII so worked this government job instead. What’s even more impressive is that my Mom (Betty) her Sister (Delores) and Delores’ Daughter Julie (my Cousin who was barely 2 in 1944) also lived in the house. It must have been a lively party of five, indeed! Delores also worked at the IRS which Julie said was “filled with women” as most men were off serving in the war.
♥ Cousin Julie said Nanny and PaPaw (Grandpaw Harry) would hose down the old stone house above in the hot summer days to keep it cool inside; these were days before air conditioning!
♥ Here’s my original scan of Nanny’s BBQ recipe – Cousin Julie said this was Nanny’s recipe penned by Mom’s sister Delores Sutton who is one of the most elegant ladies I ever met. I love her handwriting! The paper? It can tell a story all its own. Click the pic for a bigger view.
Salad dressing and wine make this chicken stew worthy of top honors.
Did somebody say wine? :)
Every year when we went to the Texas Coast, Mom had a favorite hole in the wall in Port Aransas that was a “must” on her list at least a few times while we were there. She was on the hunt for chicken in the form of fried gizzards and fried livers. While not my cup of tea, so to speak, I laugh when I think of the fact that my ancestors always seemed to eat every part of an animal while I can barely eat ribs without 2 packages of floss at the ready.
Foodie Tip ~
♥ “Chicken pieces” for me means chicken removed from the bone, then cut into bite-sized pieces.
2 tablespoons | cooking oil
12 (2¼ pounds) | chicken thighs, skinned
.6 ounce package | italian salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon | salt
4 cups | water
½ cup | dry white wine
¼ cup | catsup
3 medium | potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾” cubes
1 medium | green pepper, cut into strips
10 ounces (2 cups) | small whole onions, frozen
10 ounce package | frozen cut broccoli
2 cups | fresh mushrooms, sliced
ii. what to do
1. In a 4-½ quart Dutch oven slowly brown 6 of the chicken thighs at a time in hot oil.
2. Remove the chicken, set aside on paper towels to rest, then drain oil from the Dutch oven.
3. In the same Dutch oven mix the dry salad dressing mix and salt. Stir in water, wine and catsup. Add the chicken pieces, potatoes and green pepper.
4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Add onions, broccoli and mushrooms. Simmer 10 more minutes.
Serve and Enjoy!
Ready For Spaghetti?
On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese.
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table, it rolled on the floor,
And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door.
It rolled in the garden and under a bush,
And then my poor meatball was nothing but mush.
The mush was as tasty as tasty could be,
And early next summer it grew to a tree.
The tree was all covered with beautiful moss.
It grew great big meatballs and tomato sauce.
So if you eat spaghetti all covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball and don’t ever sneeze.
~ Tom Glazer
Sung to the tune of “On Top Of Old Smoky,”On Top Of Spaghetti” was one of my favorite childhood songs. This dish brings back a lot of the tastes of the 70s and is the first from Mom’s recipe book that calls for Velveeta. And we all know about Velveeta; Velveeta is to the 1970s as this dish is to my belly!
I haven’t cooked chicken on the bone in years (I’m weird that way). Luckily I had some help in the kitchen from “Blademaster Joe” as my chicken “boning” skills are weaker than a wet noodle.
5 pounds | whole chicken (on the bone)
1 large | onion, chopped in large chunks
3 | carrots, chopped in large chunks
2 stalks | celery, chopped in large chunks
1 tablespoon | peppercorns
2 cloves | garlic, chopped
2 | bay leaves
2 teaspoons | salt
5 pounds | chicken (seasoned, boned and chopped per “step i”)
3 stalks | celery, chopped
1 | green pepper, chopped
2 large | onions chopped
2 teaspoons | garlic juice
4 ounce can | mushrooms
10 ounces | spaghetti, broken
16 ounce can | tomatoes, diced and drained
2 tablespoons | ripe olives, chopped
1 can | cream of mushroom soup
to taste | salt
to taste | pepper
to taste | paprika
dash | worcestershire sauce
1 pound | velveeta cheese, grated
iii. what to do
1. Wash chicken well. Place all ingredients in large pot. Cover with water.
2. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Set lid at angle so steam can escape from pot. Lower heat to gentle boil and cook for up to 1.5 hours. Add more water if needed.
3. When meat is falling off the bone, remove from heat. Remove chicken from broth, save broth and let chicken cool. Once cool, remove skin and bones and discard. Chop meat, place into large bowl and set aside.
1. Strain broth using a cheesecloth or sieve. Discard seasonings (onions, carrots, celery, etc.).
2. Measure one quart of the chicken broth back into pan. To broth add the chopped celery, green pepper, onions, garlic juice and mushrooms.
3. Bring to a simmer and add spaghetti. Cook until spaghetti is done and almost all liquid is absorbed.
4. Add tomatoes, olives, soup, salt, pepper, paprika and mix well.
5. To chicken, add worcestershire and Velveeta and mix well. Then add chicken mixture to spaghetti.
Serves: Up to 12
~ ~ ~
Who is “Elizabeth Seale”
Sadly, I don’t know who Elizabeth Seale is. I did some online searching and no luck. She must have been a passionate foodie because she had pre-printed recipe cards with her name on them (see below). Personalized recipe cards were surely a rare thing back in the day! When scanning the card, I noticed a small imprint on the back that reads “Walter Drake & Sons., Inc. Made in U.S.A.” I’m writing the folks at Walter Drake to see if they can give me an approximate year for when the cards may have been sold. I know it was 1947 or later as 1947 is the year that Walter Drake was created.
After reading the recipe card a little further, I noticed Elizabeth was using keywords (today known as #hashtags) in her recipe. See her underlined words below for yourself: Simmer. Bone. Chop. Measure. Add. Simmer. Cook. Add. Mix. Add. #gofigure!
One of my earliest cooking tips hailed from a floury, flat, flying disc-like object; the tortilla.
Cooked in soup, tortillas were the fast and economical way to plump up chicken and dumpling soup, rather than making dumplings by hand. This cooking tip was shared with mom by our family friend and housekeeper Miss “Essie.”
I don’t remember a day when Essie wasn’t smiling. She was rich with a happiness that money cannot buy and she was a hard-working lady who helped our family for many years. She helped Mom pick-up and organize the house as Mom was more than busy raising three boisterous boys (I was the angel son, of course) and working as an independent contractor; a court reporter.
When the temperatures start to drop, I search for loose clothing, as I know chicken and dumpling season is among us. There’s no better comfort food than the warm, silky, doughy greatness of this belly pleaser.
I’m tucking this recipe here in Mom’s digital cookbook as it’s one of my favorites and certainly a dish I would make for Mom, Dad and you. Over the years, I’ve adapted this recipe and included rosemary, one of my favorite home-grown herbs.
Let’s Get Cookin’
i. soup ingredients
1 pound | boneless chicken breast, cubed. add more chicken, if you’d like.
2-3 medium | white onions (1 onion will be pierced with clove, 1-2 onions will be chopped)
splash | olive oil for sautéing (or some chunks of butter, if you’d like)
8 | whole cloves
3-4 medium | carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 sprigs | parsley on stem (or cilantro, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon | salt
2-4 sprigs | rosemary (not chopped, just for flavor)
½ teaspoon | freshly ground black pepper
2 | celery ribs, chopped
4 cups | water (or chicken broth, if you want to pump up the jam)
1 cup | whole milk
ii. dumpling ingredients
1 cups + 3 tablespoons | sifted flour
1 + ½ teaspoons | baking power
dash | salt (and some pepper, if you’d like)
2 tablespoons | chilled shortening
½ cup | milk for dumplings plus ¼ cup milk for a “slurry”
2 – 4 sprigs (~ 4” each) | chopped rosemary
iii. what to do
1. Make Soup: In a large pot, sauté chicken with 1 or 2 of the chunk-chopped onions and oil (or butter). Set in the pot the onion that is pierced with cloves then toss-in carrots, celery, parsley (or cilantro), salt, rosemary, pepper, 1 cup of the milk and 4 cups water (or chicken broth). Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring occasionally (between glasses of wine, of course). Reduce to low and simmer covered for one hour. Simmering will give you ample time to drink more wine and make the dumplings! [ side comment: Please realize step 1 is really 14 steps rolled into 1 but nobody will make soup that requires a lot of steps.]
2. Make Dough: Sift 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt (and pepper, if you chose) together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut in chilled shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ½ cup milk all at once, the rosemary and mix until dough holds together.
3. Make Dumplings: Remove onion pierced with clove, parsley (or cilantro) and rosemary from soup and throw them away. With slotted spoon, remove the chunky items (chicken, carrots, celery, etc.) from the soup and place in bowl. It’s OK to leave the chopped onion in the pot. Bring soup to a simmer and drop dumpling mixture by rounded tablespoons on top of liquid. [ When forming dumplings, dusting hands with flour helps! ] Simmer soup uncovered for 10 minutes; then cover and simmer 10 more minutes.
4. Make Slurry & Prepare To Dismount: Stir remaining 3 tablespoons flour into remaining ¼ cup milk until smooth. You just made “slurry.” Stir slurry into soup and bring soup to a boil. Stir until thickened. Return the chunky items (chicken, etc.) and simmer for a few minutes. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley (or cilantro or rosemary).
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Add more pepper if you have a cold. Trust me.
♥ You can add more herbs if you like. Bay leaves, cilantro or thyme are all good. You can place the herbs in a cheese cloth and tie-off the ends so you don’t have to “fish” the herbs and stems out of the soup.
♥ Need more fillin’? I’ve tried this with a couple of cans of yellow corn and chopped green chilies. My taste buds and tummy “high fived” each other.
♥ If you haven’t already read here on Betty’s Cook Nook, when I say butter, “Falfurrias Butter” is implied. Thank you, Nanny!
This recipe is dedicated to my special niece Melissa ~ Her zest for food taught me
the more spice you add to life, the merrier!
~ ♥ ~
If my Mom “Betty” was still alive, I would have made sure she put my own favorite recipe in her cookbook. And better yet, I would have made her some bowls of this great-tasting soup.
I’ve tweaked this recipe over the years, and you can also edit it to please your own personal taste buds. I’ve had several friends say it’s the best tortilla soup they’ve had … plus, it’s easy to make. My secret? Squeezing lime juice on top just after the cheese starts to melt.
As temperatures start to “dip,” what better way to warm-up chilly evenings, than with this all-time favorite tortilla soup recipe? Perfect as an appetizer, or as a main course, one bowl of this soup usually leads to two … or more! Totally a comfort food staple for the Fall Foodie in you.
2 cups | cooked chicken breast (cubed)
1 cup | chopped onion
1 tsp. | olive oil
1 – 4 oz. can | chopped green chilies
1 – 1.25 oz. package | taco seasoning mix ~ the hotter, the better
1 – 16 oz. can | stewed tomatoes
6 cups | chicken broth
1 – 10 oz. package | frozen corn
1/3 cup | fresh chopped cilantro
to taste | tortilla chips, broken into pieces
4 cups | your favorite grated cheese (we prefer pepper jack, monterey jack or cheddar)
1 | avocado
garnish | sour cream
garnish | green onion (scallion)
to taste | fresh ground black pepper
garnish | a squeeze of lime juice
what to do
1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place into a medium pot filled with water. Bring to a boil for 5-7 minutes and cook until done. Drain and set aside.
2. In a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion in oil 3 to 4 minutes, until soft.
3. Stir in chilies and the seasoning mix, cook 1 minute.
4. Add tomatoes and juice, breaking them up with a spoon.
5. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.
6. Add corn and chicken, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Top with the cilantro.
8. Spoon into bowls and top with chips, cheese, avocado, and sour cream. Garnish with scallion, black pepper, and a squeeze of lime.
Serves 4-5 hungry folks. The soup refrigerates well; keep the garnish (chips, cheese, avocado, sour cream) as last minute additions.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
This special recipe is dedicated to our dear family friend Bristol ~
thanks to her, mom’s recipes live on; the greatest treat I’ve ever received.
~ ♥ ~
My mom’s great friend “Bristol” said “calabacita” was one of mom’s absolute favorite recipes because she loved its spicy taste. Now I know where I get my love of spicy food!
I didn’t even know how to spell calaba-HUH?, but thanks to Google, I do now. Calabacita means “little squash” in Spanish and is often made of a variety of summer squashes with thin, edible skins, including zucchini, yellow crookneck, Mexican straight-neck and sunburst squashes (per the research I did online). We’ll see what mom used!
I remember something squashy as a kid, but not sure of the name. I think mom “dumbed” the name calabacita down to “squash” for me since my tiny tongue was too young to pronounce “ca-la-ba-ci-ta.” Although I do remember the young ability to say “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!”
5/14/11 UPDATE ~ I received mom’s cookbook this very week and scoured both the cookbook and the little recipe card file… and no calabacita recipe! All I can figure is that mom probably had the recipe in her head and didn’t need to write it down. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t share it with her friends! I’m on the hunt for the recipe, so in the meantime, enjoy the recipe below from the other Betty (Crocker)… the ingredients look similar to what I remember eating… except I don’t remember mom using chicken… but she did use both yellow crookneck squash and green zucchini.
1 tablespoon | extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 lb | uncooked chicken breast tenders (not breaded)
8 to 10 small to medium | zucchini (2 1/2 lb), peeled, thinly sliced (8 cups)
1 medium | white onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 can (15.25 oz) | Green Giant® whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can (14.5 oz) | diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, undrained
1 can (4.5 oz) | Old El Paso® chopped green chiles, undrained
1-1/2 teaspoons | garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon | ground cumin
to taste | salt and pepper, if desired
1/2 cup | chopped fresh cilantro
ii. what to do
1. In 5- to 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cover and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink in the center.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients except cilantro. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender.
♥ While I don’t remember mom serving calabacita over white rice, consider it (from me to you).
♥ Making instant rice? Why not substitute water with chicken or beef broth?