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 at 1701 Virginia Ave. here in Austin 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 my Mom, 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!
♥ In 2014 I sent a letter to introduce myself to the residents of 1701 Virginia Avenue but sadly they did not reply; still sad about “no reply” to this day (2020).
♥ 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.
Our patio at 2927 Trailend Drive in San Antonio was such a great space. A little before its time, our paved patio was surrounded by short walls of bricks that matched the house proper and it had a built-in charcoal and wood grill that was all Dads; his cooking kitchen. The grill was 2 levels tall and I’m sure considered an outdoor gourmet kitchen at the time it was built in the 1960s.
The patio was our main portal to the outside world. There were three patio exits into the backyard, north, east and west. If the yard could speak it would likely tell you stories about many baseball games (shown above) … family adventures with the riding lawnmower, clothes that were line-dried, lots of Easter and 4th of July celebrations and my first hammock. And while the yard was our green space, the patio was our center to family fun.
Probably the craziest thing I remember us doing was boarding-up the patio exits one super cold night so we could try our hand at filling-up the patio with enough water to freeze and make an ice rink! I don’t remember our devious plan working but suffice it to say we all loved that patio.
With the love of the patio in mind, I hope you like this recipe! It’s savory, bacon-y and Texas-tasty. Give it a whirl!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ If you haven’t read other recipe posts here on Betty’s Cook Nook yet, you may have missed the 4-1-1. My Grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Faulfurrias brand butter for all cooking. So while this recipe clearly calls for Kraft Miracle Brand Whipped Butter, I’m sorry I have to insist on Nanny’s behalf that we use butter. Just doin’ my job!
♥ Whoopsie. The same is true about the Kraft grated parmesan cheese from a can. Tres 1970s. For an updated taste go fresh n’ cheesy and hand-grate it. Sorry, Kraft, we make up for our pet foodie peeves by eating plenty of your other greatness, like Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. From a box. Gasp!
♥ I can’t figure out why this recipe is called “Patio Potatoes” since they are cooked on the stove top … maybe if you have a gas grill on your patio with a side burner you can get in some patio time.
♥ Adding the onions and peppers a little later into the potato browning stage is a good idea; our veggies were a bit over cooked.
1 stick | falfurrias brand butter
4 cups | cooked potatoes, sliced no larger than ¼” thick
1 cup | white onion, sliced
⅓ cup | green pepper, chopped
to taste | salt and fresh cracked pepper
¼ cup | fresh grated parmesan cheese
4 slices | crisply cooked bacon, crumbled
ii. what to do
1. Melt butter in skillet; add potatoes and brown lightly. Add onion and green pepper. Cook until browned, turning frequently.
2. Season to your liking with the salt and pepper; top with the cheese and bacon.
Yields 4-6 1970s servings or 2-3 2014 servings. :)
Here’s a scan of Mom’s original Patio Potatoes recipe!
How did this get in here? Oh yeah, I couldn’t resist! Here’s a picture of me as a wee tot on our patio at Trailend. Proof positive it didn’t take much to make me smile. Or wear striped shorts.
Wait! Did you honestly think before we dove into this recipe that I wouldn’t “wax on” about this or that (or both)? Well you’re right!
You might learn a few things about this tasty dish, as did I. Most shockingly, this recipe does not hail from Switzerland – FOR REAL? Yes, if Wikipedia is remotely true, (and I believe that it is), I’ve been wrong about this small but tastefully important detail my entire life. Read why here.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ “Fat” sounds so … er … fatty. :( We used bacon drippings. Mmmm … bacon! :) Sounds much healthier and “hipper” than mere fat alone.
♥ If you’re feeling rather hungry and you don’t want to pound/tenderize the meat, you can simply coat the steak with the flour mixture by tossing them all together. But don’t blame me if you have second thoughts!
♥ Sadly, my local market (cough-cough-HEB-cough) was out of the cuts of meat I was looking for. Sniffle! Sniffle! But I found boneless chuck steak ribs and they were quite good. But on the next go, I’ll try waking up early in the day for a run at the steak.
♥ Serve with a bountiful sidekick of instant potatoes? Hey, don’t hate! This blog is about functional food from the 1950s – 1970s, so that’s what we ate … and we loved it! And yet I’m still alive to blog about it. I fondly remember black packets of Borden Brand Instant Mashed Potatoes prepared with a divot generously filled with melted butter and a sprinkling of Lawry’s Brand Seasoned Salt (shown above). My brother Roger tells me that Idahoan has filled the void sadly left by Borden. I read more online about the blows to the Borden brand and he’s right. Tonight my partner Joe thanked me more than he did at Christmastime for making this savory starch “with no nutritional value.” That says a lot about his love of instant potatoes … and my skills with gift giving. :\
♥ Whoopsie! Forgot to add the peas near the preparation dismount … probably because I was overly-focused on the “sinsationally” starchy potatoes and garlicky green bean sidekicks.
1 ½ pounds | round or chuck steak, about 1-inch thick
2 tablespoons | flour
1 ½ teaspoons | salt
¼ teaspoon | fresh cracked pepper
3 tablespoons | fat
1 | white onion, sliced into rings
8 ounce can | hunt’s brand tomato sauce
1 cup | water
1 cup | green peas
ii. what to do
1. Cut steak into four pieces.
2. Mix flour, salt and pepper, coat the steak, then pound into steak.
3. Heat fat/drippings in a large pan over medium heat.
4. Separate the sliced onion into rings then cook them in the bacon (Mmmm …) drippings until golden. Push the rings to the side of the pan to make room for more friends.
5. Place the coated steak into the pan and brown slowly on both sides.
6. Cover steak with the onions, the tomato sauce and water and blend. Heat until bubbly.
7. Cover tightly then lower heat and simmer 2 hours or more until meat is very tender. Add the peas and warm through.
When I saw the recipe card below, I stared at it for a few minutes trying to figure out what Mom had written. After doing a Google search I learned that in fact there was something called “Stay Abed Stew”. Something that has been extended by some to be called “Stay In Bed Stew” as it turns out it’s so easy to make. I prefer the Stayabed name.
I learned that this recipe originated from the “I Hate To Cook Book” written by Peg Bracken in 1960. The book was made for everyone, men and women alike, who want to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible. I learned a little bit about Peg and she was a copywriter at an ad agency. I would have loved to meet her as I’ve worked with many writers in my days in the ad agency world.
Peg wrote that “Stayabed Stew” could be left to cook by itself and was perfect “for those days when you are en negligee, en bed, with a murder story and a box of bonbons, or possibly a good case of flu”. What’s not to love there?
Despite the slow-cook process, the dish was totally easy to make and very tasty. Thank you, Peg, for showing us that speed and sustenance – above all – are golden.
foodie tips ~
♥ I’m pretty sure I forgot to add the ½ can of water; make sure you do this to give it a little more juice.
♥ My interpretation of this dish involved using cannellini beans, 3 carrots and a russet potato. Delicious.
♥ If you decide to use peas vs. beans I saw an online post where someone said they added the peas during the last 30 minutes of cooking to avoid them being “mushy.” Seems legit.
1 pound | stew meat
2 | white onions, cut into chunks
2 | carrots, cut into chunks
1 | potato, cut into chunks
1 can | cream of mushroom (or celery) soup
½ can | water
to taste | salt
to taste | fresh cracked black pepper
1 can | beans (or peas), including the juice
0. Preheat oven to 275°F.
1. Combine everything in a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.
2. Cook in oven for 5 hours. No stirring necessary!
Yields: About 5 servings
No Beans About It
Those who know my passion for chili know that I insist that the best chili on the planet is the chili that contains beans. My hips don’t lie.
Right or wrong this sweet bowl of red texas style chili recipe does not have beans and there’s something about it that I absolutely loved … I nervously shelled about $20 for the steak to the folks at HEB and I’m happy to report that it was absolutely delicious! I learned tonight that I actually prefer this type of chili meat over ground anything (even chili ground) so this recipe taught me never to say never in the kitchen.
foodie tips ~
♥ Salad Oil? It’s not salad dressing; more like veggie oil, olive oil and the like. Read more about salad oil here.
♥ Sorry, onion lovers! To avoid “the burpies” we deviated from this recipe and included all of the onions all at once vs. using some fresh on top to garnish. Feel free to keep it raw and real (note Jill’s recipe card below for details).
♥ Chili Lover? Check out my other family favorite – Kiker’s Kicker Award-Winning Pot Licker Chili recipe. Yay, food awards … I’m important!
♥ For the dismount also consider serving with saltines or tortilla chips. It keeps you honest.
3 ½ – 4 pounds | boneless beef chuck blade steak
¼ cup | salad oil
2 cups | onions, chopped
3 medium | green peppers, diced
4 cloves | garlic, crushed
2 28-ounce cans | tomatoes
12-ounce can | tomato paste
2 cups | water
⅓ cup | chili powder
¼ cup | sugar
2 tablespoons | salt
2 teaspoons | oregano leaves
¾ teaspoon | cracked black pepper
to garnish | monterey jack cheese, shredded
ii. what to do
1. Cut steak into ½” cubes.
2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the meat cubes in clusters ⅓ at a time until it’s all browned. Let’s have a look, shall we?
What a simply delightful video, yes?
3. Remove the meat and set aside, reserving the drippings in the dutch oven.
4. To the drippings add the onions, green peppers and garlic. Cook 10 minutes.
5. Return the meat to the dutch oven and add the next eight ingredients (except the cheese, which is a garnish).
6. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer at least 1 ½ hours. This gives you enough time to play some Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Burgertime or Galaga.
7. When serving, sprinkle with the cheese and more fresh onion, if desired.
Yields 12 servings. Or 6 hungry Texans.
Below is a scan of the original chili recipe Mom scored from Jill Root.
Who Is Jill Root?
Jill Root was a great lady. She was the mother-in-law of my much, much oldest brother Tim. After my Dad died, Jill, Mom (Betty), Tim and I spent many Christmases together with the rest of the Root family, so I can promise you she had a heart of gold. You can read more about Jill here.
Thank you Jill for this recipe! I found a way to make my chili even better (coming soon).