Archive for the ‘recollections’ Category

When I was growing up, one of my favorite summer foods was barbequed chicken.

I especially looked forward to the times when my mother made her homemade sauce — a sweet, tomatoey, fragrant barbeque sauce based on a recipe that she got from “a fellow-worker in the University [of Iowa] Hospitals when [she] was writing poems in the [Iowa Writers’] Workshop and moonlighting to keep body and soul together.”*

I’ve been meaning to make some of that sauce for a long time, and today, the first sunny day in what seems like months, seemed like the perfect day to try.

As with most of the things I make, I adjusted the recipe a little bit.  After reviewing the original ingredients, I decided to cut the sugar in half, use sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (the original recipe doesn’t specify what kind of oil or vinegar to use), add a little lime juice and Aleppo pepper and increase the amounts of garlic, pepper and salt.  I hope that my mother would approve of this updated version of Blake’s no-cook barbeque sauce.

½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
¾ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of one fresh lime
1 can tomato sauce (I used a small box of strained Pomi tomatoes)
1 medium red onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced very finely or pushed through a garlic press
a dash of Worcestershire sauce

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the vinegar, olive oil and lime juice and mix well.
Add the tomato sauce, and mix well again.
Add the grated onion, minced garlic and Worcestershire sauce, and mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Pour into jars and refrigerate.

*quote (and original recipe) taken from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Cookbook, edited by Connie Brothers and published in 1986.

Barbeque Sauce on Foodista


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Walking to school

One of the things I most look forward to when I am visiting my family is walking my nephew to school in the morning.

It’s not a long walk, but there is something peaceful about being out with all of the other parents and kids and dogs converging on the neighborhood school in the frosty morning air.

The other thing that I like about this particular walk is how familiar it feels.  Not only because I have done it many times before, but because of the uniquely St. Louis flavor of the sights along the way.

The limestone wall outside my nephew’s school is just like the one that surrounded the playground of my own elementary school

and the sweetgum balls that we kick aside remind me of the neighborhood where I grew up, just a few miles from here.

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Food memories

I am not sure why, but recently I have been craving stuffed cabbage.  It’s one of the dishes my mother used to make and I remember it as hearty and filling and flavorful; a wonderful one-dish Sunday supper.

If I cooked with meat it would be easier to recreate my mother’s recipe (which used ground beef and rice in the stuffing), but since I don’t I had to find a meatless alternative.   The recipe I finally settled on used Middle Eastern spices instead of the Eastern European flavors that I remember growing up.

Like my mother’s version, this recipe begins with rice; in this case, flavored with turmeric.

Instead of meat, I used lentils,

cooked on top of the stove and then mixed with the turmeric-scented rice, sauteed onions and garlic, toasted almonds and golden raisins.

I carefully unfurled the cabbage leaves and stuffed them with the rice and lentil mixture

(a little surprised that the recipe did not suggest that I steam the cabbage first) and laid the rolls gently in a baking dish.  I drizzled them with the simple, cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce and baked the casserole for about 40 minutes.

The result?  A hearty, spicy and filling winter meal.

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