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.
From Russia, With Love
Turns out I didn’t know much about savory stroganoff growing up; I surely didn’t know how to spell it or make it … but I sure knew how to eat it!
While researching a bit for my first stroganoff post back in 2011, I learned that stroganoff (as it’s name would imply) is a dish inspired from Russian cooking. I Googled “Russian Food Facts” and found this interesting passage …”Russia is mainly a northern country with a long-lasting cold winter. The food should give us much energy and warmth to survive during the winter time. So, the essential components of Russian cuisine are the ones, which provide more carbohydrates and fat rather than proteins.”
Yup. Those are my roots – carbs and fat (light on the proteins). LOL. Enough of the history lesson – let’s cook!
foodie tip ~
♥ Noodles or rice? Go for some wide noodles (shown) … nothing’s better!
♥ For you stroganoff fans out there give Mom’s Sausage Stroganoff recipe a whirl. It’s a different take on this beef stroganoff, it’s just as tasty and if you’re in a hurry to get your stroganoff fix, it’ll do the trick!
¼ cup | flour
1 teaspoon | salt
⅛ teaspoon | pepper
1 ½ pounds | beef, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons | butter
1 cup | onion, sliced
1 clove | garlic, minced
½ cup | water
1 teaspoon | worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons | catsup
4-ounce can | button mushrooms
¾ cup | buttermilk
to serve | noodles or rice
ii. what to do
1. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat cubes of meat with this mixture.
2. In a large pan, brown the meat slowly with the butter. When the meat is brown on all sides, add the onion, garlic, water, worcestershire sauce, catsup and liquid drained from canned mushrooms. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Trust me, it’s worth the time as the meat should finish out very tender!
3. Stir in the mushrooms and the buttermilk and cook only until heated through.
Serve over noodles or rice.
OK. I lied about no more history lessons!
As you can see by examples of my Mom’s handwritten recipe cards here on Betty’s Cook Nook, Betty had great penmanship. This morning I was admiring her handwriting in her recipe card above and noticed the funny little “ands” … Mom wrote them like a little “o” with a cross through it. A few online clicks later and I found out this character stems from shorthand – a form of abbreviated writing – that was invented before recording devices- back then the tape recorder. The connection to this recipe?
When I was growing up Mom was a court reporter. This meant she knew stenography (the process of writing in shorthand) and she was skilled at typing faster than the wind. Mom’s business tools were much different from today’s modern day tools; she often typed in duplicate and triplicate, making copies via carbon paper. To archive documents she made Xerox copy machine “copies” – not electronic scans. She had a typewriter – not a computer – until the early 1980s when technology started to transform her industry. I remember her first “green screen” IBM computer (sample above) … something that would completely revolutionize how she did work. And this funny little device called a stenomask she could place over her mouth to quietly repeat – almost in unison – what was being said in the court room; she could later come home and with a tape recorder and a “fancy” foot pedal device she could listen back-and-forth to court testimony while she typed it out the good ole fashioned way.
OK, now I’m done with the family history lessons. For now. :)
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!