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.
Don’t let this recipe fool you.
This rice isn’t spicy hot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.
I was surprised to read this dish calls for ground beef … but all the happier since it was my main squeeze tonight. That’s right – this dish and I are going steady.
After making this dish per Mom’s instructions I read up a little more on the history of Spanish Rice which you might want to check out.
foodie tips ~
♥ Bacon drippings or shortening? Seriously ~ this is Texas. Go for the bacon drippings.
♥ We all know that food portions were smaller back in the 1970s. So when this calls for a “small box” of rice, I’m thinking it must have been 3 ½ cups of rice. The smallest box of rice I found at my local grocery store was about 7 cups strong (14 ounces). Supersize me.
♥ This is a great-tasting recipe but if you want something spicy you better add some cumin or chili powder or maybe even a can of Rotel (drained).
¼ cup | bacon drippings (or shortening)
1 | onion, thinly sliced
small box | minute rice
½ | green pepper, diced
1 pound | ground beef
2 8-ounce cans | tomato sauce
1 teaspoon | prepared mustard
to taste | pepper
to taste | salt
1 ¾ cups | hot water
ii. what to do
1. In a medium sized pot prepare the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon strips and set aside reserving the drippings in the pan. The bacon isn’t used in this recipe so now you have something to snack on while you finish this out. :)
2. Add the onion, rice, pepper and meat. Stir over high heat until lightly browned (including the rice).
3. Add the tomato sauce, mustard, pepper, salt and hot water. Bring to a boil; then simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Shake your maracas – it’s ready!
Serve warm, as a sidekick or a main dish. Leftovers refrigerate well. This makes a lot of rice!
A scan of Mom’s original recipe card:
And for those who want to learn a little more about how to shake your maracas:
Pork. The Other White Meat.
I did some research and found out that “The Other White Meat” campaign debuted in 1987 – the same year Mom died and after she would have cooked this dish in the kitchen. So I guess you could call Mom a pork visionary. :)
I learned that this ad campaign has been one of the top 5 most memorable promotional taglines in the history of contemporary advertising. I can promise you that as an ad guy, that’s a huge accomplishment.
So lean meat and tagline aside, Mom was making pork in the Kiker kitchen and she was throwing fat into the mix … pre Paula Dean. I can see why – this bbq pork chop recipe holds its own, with or without bones.
This dish was so tender I could actually cut my chop with a fork. Well worth the wait coming out of the oven. Enjoy!
4 | pork chops (Mom would have used chops with bones)
to season | fat for skillet
⅓ cup | celery, diced
½ | lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons | brown sugar
½ teaspoon | salt
½ teaspoon | mustard
⅛ teaspoon | black pepper (I added more)
2 cans | hunt’s tomato sauce
½ cup | water
ii. what to do
0. Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Brown the pork chops in the fat.
2. Transfer chops to a shallow greased baking dish that has a cover.
3. Sprinkle chops with celery, lemon juice, brown sugar and the seasonings. Pour tomato sauce and water over the chops.
4. Cover and bake in oven 75 minutes or until chops are tender.
Yields: 4 Servings
foodie tip ~
♥ You’ll have leftover sauce from this recipe. Make good use of it on pasta or as a dip for grilled veggies.
Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe:
Each summer, the Kiker Family of 5 usually found our feet in the warm and sandy beach of the Texas Coast…
…Dad sporting his silver anti-reflective hat, Mom wearing her hand-painted denim shirt and a straw hat wrapped with a brown burlap ribbon. Me? I was reluctantly wearing zinc oxide on my nose and face… and a sunburn on the rest of me.
Here in Port Aransas, you’d find Dad, Tim and Roger fishing in the Gulf. And Mom? You’d find her (and alternating family members and friends) at the South Jetty with nets in hand.
We Were Crabbin’
There on the jetties, I spent many a day darting amongst the giant rocks looking for floating treasure… yet our favorite treasured time was checking the traps to see if we might have caught gold; crabs. Female crabs went back in the water, but males, we would keep. Mom would boil them rosy red later in the day back at our hotel (usually Executive Keys) and transform them into seafood spectacular.
In the meantime, grab a couple of fresh crabs (or canned ones if you’re celebrating the simplicity of the 70s) and give props to the kissin’ cousin of la quiche… Crab Supper Pie!
Even though I don’t love seafood without a disclaimer, there are a few dishes I love (fried shrimp, grilled salmon creamy nutty tuna)… and now creamy, crunchy crab supper pie.
Let’s Go Crabbin’
1 cup | natural Swiss cheese, shredded
9-inch | pastry shell, unbaked
7½ ounce can | crab meat, drained and flaked
2 | green onions, sliced with tops
3 | eggs, beaten
1 cup | light cream*
½ teaspoon | salt
½ teaspoon | grated lemon peel
¼ teaspoon | dry mustard
dash | mace
¼ cup | sliced almonds
ii. what to do
1. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the bottom of the pastry shell.
2. Top with crab meat and sprinkle with green onion.
3. Combine eggs, cream, salt, lemon peel, dry mustard and mace. Pour over crab meat.
4. Top with sliced almonds.
5. Bake in a slow-oven (at 325°F), for about 45 minutes or until set.
6. Remove from oven and let stand about 10 minutes before serving.
Great For Breakfast Or Dinner
♥ Despite the fact I’m not a Sea Foodie at heart, I added more canned crab because it was sold in 6 ounce cans (not 7½ ounce cans). The result? Uber meaty crab pie!
♥ Mace? I had never heard of this as a seasoning but turns out that mace is not something you spray in someone’s eyes… it’s a warm spice that’s a milder cousin to nutmeg. Think pepper + cinnamon. It’s about $9.00/bottle, so get ready for this nutmeg substitute!
Family Fun Fact ~
♥ A “Port A” ritual was for mom to get her chicken gizzard fixin’ and for us… a bean burger on Mustang Isle.
While most folks cringe when hearing me speak of a “bean burger,” relax… it’s a beef burger topped with refried beans, cheddar cheese and fritos… something we enjoyed back home in S.A. at Sills Snack Snack on Austin Highway. Later on at college I found a replica at College Station’s Deluxe Burger bar (now closed).
Shortly after reclaiming Mom’s cookbook and sharing the good news with my brothers (Tim and Roger), Roger asked if I had found the “S.O.S.” recipe. Funny, I had forgotten about chipped beef until he mentioned it!
Roger said Dad would make S.O.S. for us kids when Mom (Betty) was in stenography class (she was studying to become a successful court reporter. And she became just that)!
While Mom’s recipe below calls for toasted hamburger buns, I also remember Dad topping mere pieces of white toast with the creamy mixture. Super simple S.O.S.
Roger sent me this passage from his daughter Kim which taught me a thing or two about the history of this time honored dish:
“After reading the history of chipped beef and its relation to the military, I can understand why your Dad probably enjoyed making it. For Army soldiers, chipped beef was a favorite meal and for him it probably carried a lot of meaningful memories. For you, I can understand why you wanted us all to sit down as a family when we were kids and try it. Although we literally were in tears because of how bad it tasted, I can understand now why it had meaning for you. :)
Love ~ Kim”
While Kim didn’t find the Stouffer’s version of chipped beef terrifically tasty, I have to admit that after eating mom’s casserole, I’ll be giving it another go soon. I was surprised how great it tasted without my usual *mandatory ingredients* of salt and pepper.
1 can (16-17 oz.) | peas
1 cup | evaporated milk
¼ cup | butter
2 tablespoons | chopped onion
¼ cup | flour
1/2 teaspoon | paprika
1 teaspoon | prepared mustard (we prefer Jack Daniel’s mustard)
3 hamburger buns | split and toasted (we prefer seeded buns)
1 jar (2-1/2 oz.) | shredded dried beef
1 cup | grated American cheese
ii. what to do
0. Preheat oven to 375°F.
1. Drain pea juice into a 2-cup measuring cup then add enough water to make 1 cup of liquid.
2. Stir-in evaporated milk; set aside (reserve).
3. Melt the butter, add onion and cook together until tender, but not brown.
4. Blend-in flour, paprika and mustard.
5. Add the pea reserve and cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
6. To half of sauce add peas; spoon into a 10 x 6 inch baking dish.
8. Add beef to remaining sauce and spoon on top of buns.
9. Sprinkle with cheese. If your local store doesn’t offer American cheese, you can substitute a mild cheese, like Colby.
10. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes.
Makes six 1970s portions, or two 2011 portions! Yeah!