More than 44 years after the original surprise party I received a surprise text from my cherished Cousin Alison.
Sadly Alison’s not near my front door to whisk me to Dime Box, Texas to visit family, but she’s texting because she’s found an old article from yesteryear about something I don’t even remember as a young tot – one special feast honoring my Grandmother’s 75th birthday!
I’ll spare you my many fabulously fond stories about my dear Nanny but I hope you’ve enjoyed one of the greatest gifts life has to offer – Grandparents!
What’s special about this ol’ newspaper post is that it honored my Grandmother at one of the fanciest restaurants in San Antonio – La Louisianne. Sadly “La Lou” closed its doors in 1992 but trust me when I say it gifted memorable meals to thousands of folks who graced passed its front doors.
How remarkable that this birthday party appeared in the San Antonio Express-News. I’m crediting my Mom, Betty, for what’s probably the only time my name has been in *real* newspaper print. Hooray!
While Cousin Alison’s name didn’t make 1974 print, just the week before Nanny’s great dinner my Cousins Billy and Debbie found out they were blessed with her arrival, coming in 1975. What a great gift in our lives!
My Cousin Lorin texted me this caesar salad recipe proving that food can last beyond the best of times. Thank you, Lorin!
Enjoy food, salad, and family to the fullest!
❤ Two heads of lettuce? Yikes – where’s room for dessert!? We cut this recipe in half. Even for two ambitious Texans.
❤ To coddle and egg: Don’t hug it near and dear. :) Drop it in hot water for about 40 seconds to make it nice and toasty!
❤ Hangry? Add sliced grilled chicken breast for a more bountiful meal.
❤ Love salads? Don’t forget to click here (and scroll down) for more salad ideas here at Betty’s Cook Nook!
❤ Thanks to Joe! I bought a head of CABBAGE at the store, thinking it was Romaine lettuce. He fixed my wrong. #Guh
Total prep: About 15 minutes (sans the grilled chicken)
2 heads | romaine lettuce, cold, dry, and crisp
¼ teaspoon | salt
¼ teaspoon | fresh cracked black pepper
½ cup | croutons
2 ounces | garlic oil
½ ounce | worcestershire sauce
½ ounce | red wine vinegar
½ ounce | lemon juice
1 | cage free egg, coddled
1 tablespoon | anchovies, chopped
2 tablespoons | parmesan cheese, shredded
iii. What to do
1. Pull apart the Romaine lettuce into 2-inch pieces.
2. Mix the lettuce with salt and pepper.
3. Form a bed of croutons in the center of the lettuce,.
4. Mix the next 4 ingredients and pour over the crouton-lettuce mixture.
5. Add the egg and anchovies.
6. Toss well and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
I found this recipe folded in my Mom “Betty’s” index card holder. I recognized her handwriting immediately.
There’s no doubting Mom’s love for seafood as this recipe is one of several shrimp recipes I’ve discovered in her cookbook (surf the shrimp recipe archive).
While I tell a few funny stories on this food blog about my dislike for most types of seafood, this recipe is delicious, proving once again that my distaste for seafood is waning. Mom would be proud.
The Write Stuff
I look closer at the paper containing the recipe and notice the phone number “CA6-4141”. I was time-warped back to an era when phone numbers began with exchange names. Exchanges were phased out in the 1960s and 70s, so this would date the origin of this recipe back about 50 years ago. The number CA6-4141? “CA” stood for “Capitol” which translated to “22” so the full phone number would have been 226-4141. Confusing short-code, huh? Today San Antonio has 10-digit dialing like most large cities. The city’s newest area code 726 went into effect in 2017 and made me smile because 726 is my birthdate, July 26th.
Also on the paper recipe (below) I see The Clegg Company. A quick Google and this San Antonio Business Journal article popped-up in sight. I was surprised to learn that the then 104-year-old retailer was purchased by Herman Miller – the maker of the iconic Herman Miller Aeron chair. This very chair was one I sat on during my days working for a large internet consultancy that went belly up after the dot-com bust. That’s another long twisty, turbulent story for another day!
While stories like these likely don’t mean much to folks outside my family I include them here as an example of the amazing ways we are connected to the past if we’re open to it. All this from a Shrimp Victoria recipe scribbled on a notepad… and tucked away for more than 50 years!
❤ The rice was good but believe it or not I’m trying buttered toast on the next go (we were out of bread)!
❤ Not sure how to clean and devein your shrimp? I’ve included a couple of YouTube videos below that will show you how easy it is!
❤ I thought I was being fancy by letting my shrimp marinate overnight in the fridge. Turns out that it’s not really necessary! My online sleuthing showed that a 30-minute marinade should be fine but with an acid-based marinade (this recipe has lemon juice) the shrimp can turn “mushy” as the acid can start to break down the shrimp. I didn’t experience this with my dish, however!
❤ While stores may not be consistent in how they classify shrimp, when you’re at the seafood counter there’s a method to the madness for how many shrimp typically come per pound (this is indicative of their size). Resources that will be helpful include the Certi-Fresh Shrimp Sizing Guide you can print, and keep with your cookbooks (score!)… and the Farm to Table guide that provides some detail on larger-sized shrimp. Now you’ll be able to decipher shrimp-like code like PUD, P&D, U/15, and 61/70!
Total prep: About 30 minutes.
½ cup | unsalted butter (my grandmother “Nanny” insisted on Falfurrias)
1 ½ pounds | cleaned, raw shrimp
½ cup | onion, chopped
1 cup | fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons | lemon juice
1 tablespoon | worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons | flour
1 ½ teaspoons | seasoned salt
dash | fresh cracked black pepper
1 ½ cups | sour cream
1 tablespoon | fresh parsley, chopped
to serve | rice or buttered toast (optional)
iii. What to do
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter. Cook shrimp and onion, stirring until the shrimp is almost tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms, lemon juice and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in the flour, seasoned salt and black pepper. Then the sour cream. Return the skillet to the heat and cook over low heat stirring until hot, but not boiling.
4. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve at once over rice or buttered toast.
Yields 6 servings
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
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.
The old saying goes “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
I know Mom loved this recipe: a) because I found it in her cookbook and b) because it has black pepper in it and I love pepper and know she did as well!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Never trust anything that is ⅛ teaspoon in size. Either don’t waste your time adding it into your dish or pump up the jam and add more. In this case I’d add way more than ⅛ of pepper. Go for the gusto!
1-½ pounds | round steak, cut 1/2 inch thick
¼ cup | all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon | salt
⅛ teaspoon | fresh cracked pepper
¼ cup | cooking oil or shortening (we used oil)
8 ounce can (1 cup) | tomatoes
1-¾ cups | water
½ cup | white onion, chopped
1 clove | garlic, minced
1 tablespoon | beef-flavored gravy base
1-½ teaspoons | worcestershire sauce
2 large | green peppers, cut into strips
to serve | hot cooked white rice
ii. what to do
1. Cut steak into strips.
2. Combine flour, salt and pepper and coat the steak strips.
3. In a large skillet, cook the steak strips in hot oil until until browned on all sides.
4. Drain the tomatoes, reserving their liquid.
5. Add the tomato liquid, water, onion, garlic, and gravy base to the steak. Cover and simmer in the skillet for about 75 minutes until the meat is tender.
6. Uncover and stir-in the worcestershire and the green pepper strips. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes more. If desired, you can thicken the gravy by adding a mixture of flour and cold water.
7. Add the drained tomatoes then cook for about 5 minutes.
8. Take a few deep sniffs of your dish. It smells like AWESOME!
TO SERVE: Pour spoonfuls of the peppery steak and gravy over hot rice. The recipe says this yields 6 servings. But if you’re like me, this dish actually yields 2 bountiful servings. :)
This dish was brought to you by the letter “P”!
PS ~ Now that we have peppered steak on the brain let’s watch a Peter Piper video from one of my favorite childhood TV shows – Sesame Street.
Green, white and red make this colorful all-in-one dish a hearty way to satisfy your meat, veggie and carb craving in every bite.
Did somebody say carbs? ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
foodie tip ~
♥ Turkey stove top will make great use of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers (sliced or cubed).
10 ounces | frozen cut asparagus tips and pieces
1 can | campbell’s cream of celery soup
1 ⅓ cups | water
1 ½ cups | diced cooked turkey
½ teaspoon | salt
¼ teaspoon | worcestershire sauce
dash | fresh cracked pepper
1 ⅓ cups | minute rice
3 tablespoons | pimiento, diced
to garnish | parsley
ii. what to do
1. Prepare asparagus according to package directions. Now drain.
2. In a large saucepan combine the asparagus, soup, water, turkey, salt, worcestershire sauce and pepper.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in rice, cover and simmer or 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
4. Stir in pimiento and garnish with parsley.