Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blast From the Past Food in Brody's Crossing

Three weeks ago I finished the next book in my Brody's Crossing series, tentatively titled Texan in Her Heart. It's the story of a lost sister, Amanda Allen Crawford, who travels home to Texas and the Rocking C, and ends up finding more than she'd ever imagined. Not only does she fall in love (of course!) but she discovers a sense of community in the town where her mother lived for twenty years, her brothers were born and her father is buried. If you've read the other Brody's Crossing books, you'll recognize Troy Crawford from Temporarily Texan and Cal Crawford from An Honorable Texan as Amanda's big (and clueless) brothers. As always, my small town atmosphere is enhanced by my new community of Mineola, TX, where springtime is absolutely IN BLOOM! Here's the arbor leading to our front door.

And, since I missed posting the recipes for this month on the 4th due to wireless Internet issues, I'd like to also mention that she discovers Brody's Crossing is a place to eat. Big time. I didn't realize until after I'd finished the book that someone (usually the hero, Leo Casale) was always feeding her. You'd think she was a stray kitten! He takes her to Dewey's Steakhouse and Saloon and fixes her an authentic Italian dinner (thank you, Virginia Kantra, for the Bolognese sauce suggestion) at his condo. She dines with "the lunch ladies" at the cafe. They have a "blast from the past" going-away party for her at the Rocking C.

I thought I'd share some of the recipes the lunch ladies fix for the party. These might be familiar to you if you are "of a certain age."

  • Velveeta Cheese/Rotel Tomato dip (in a Crock Pot, of course!)

  • Macaroni Salad

  • Meatballs with Chili Barbecue Sauce

  • Sausage Pinwheels

  • Peach Jello Salad

  • Refrigerator Oatmeal Fudge Cookies

You probably have some of these recipes in your cookbooks, on recipe cards or bookmarked
online. If not, I'm going to share the ones I really love. Some of these are standards you
can easily look up. Some are so simple you don't really need a recipe!

Virginia Chancellor's Macaroni Salad

  • 1 pkg elbow macaroni, cooked until soft (do not overcook!
  • 1 large green pepper or more, to taste, cored and diced into small pieces
  • 1 pkg Velveeta Cheese, cubed into 1/2 inch squares
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Miracle Whip
  • Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Add enough Miracle Whip to moisten
    everything but not so much that it becomes soggy. Refrigerate for several hours before
    serving so the flavors will blend. The Velveeta may get a little soft, but that's okay. The
    perfect macaroni salad for a hot Texas afternoon. Sometimes I even eat it for breakfast the next day!

Victoria Chancellor's Easy Meatballs

  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I use 90% to 93% lean)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 slices of bread, shredded or processed into crumbs, or saltine cracker crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Onion and garlic, minced fine, optional
  • For Swedish meatballs, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and omit garlic
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and use non-stick spray.
    Mix all ingredients. Roll into small meatballs, about an inch or a little more in diameter, and
    place on cookie sheet. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until brown. For the best looking meatballs,
    turn halfway through cooking, but if you forget, that's okay. No frying! (Note: To increase
    recipe, just use the same proportions of 1 egg per 1 lb ground beef, and add enough crumbs to
    make them stick together.)

Chili-Barbecue Sauce for Meatballs

  • 1 jar Heinz Chili Sauce and 1 jar sweet (not vinegary) barbecue sauce. I like K.C. Masterpiece.

  • Mix together, heat, and add meatballs. Great in a Crock Pot. Will keep for days (refrigerated) if you have any left after the party!

Peach Jello Salad

My mother and then my mother-in-law loved this Jello salad straight from the 1960s or 1970s. If served as a salad, put it on a lettuce leaf for a nice presentation.

  • 2 small packages Peach flavored Jello
  • 1 large (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 2 small jars apricot baby food or about 4 ounces of frozen peaches, blended
  • 1 large can crushed pineapple (Do not use FRESH pineapple!)
  • 1 large container Cool Whip

  • You will need a 9 x 13 casserole dish or two 8 x 8 dishes. Drain pineapple and save juice,
    then add water to equal 2 cups. Bring water and Jello to a boil. Beat in cream cheese. Cool.
    Add fruit (baby food or peaches, pineapple) and allow to congeal slightly in refrigerator. Stir in Cool Whip. Refrigerate until firm. Serves a lot of people as either a salad or a dessert.

I'll share the Oatmeal Fudge Refrigerator Cookie and sausage pinwheel recipes later. Writing
about all this food has made me hungry! Happy reading ... and cooking.


Victoria Chancellor said...

Sorry for any weird formatting issues. I worked on getting this to post legibly for at least an hour! The blogger tried to make the font a miniature, and I'm not sure why. I hope it shows up okay on your computer screen.

Lee McKenzie said...

It looks fine to me, Victoria.

I love the sound of your Peach Jello Salad, although I think I can honestly say this is the first recipe I've ever seen that calls for baby food.

My family thinks it's weird that I put lavender in fruit crisps. They gobble it up because it really is delicious, but they still think it's weird.

I can't wait to see their reaction when they find out they're eating baby food!

Gillian Layne said...

Um, this is staple food in the Midwest! :) And now I'm hungry for meatballs...

Winter Peck said...

The book, and the recipes sound good. I might have to try one next week.

Food always comes into my writing too. I'm constantly feeding my characters!

linda s said...

Now you made me think about all the characters who pass through my house and I must admit no conversation happens here without at least a beverage and the cookie jar. Must be my small town roots.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Lee, I think baby food was a fairly common ingredient in some recipes from this time period. My mother has several in her recipe box, especially cakes that call for things like (uck!) prune baby food. My mother sure loved that Jello "salad," which originally called for an extra 2/3 c of sugar, but she never added. Wouldn't that be sickening sweet?

Victoria Chancellor said...

I'm thinking about hosting a neighborhood covered dish dinner. We've never had one and thinking about all this "traditional" food makes me remember the covered dish dinners in the basement of our church in Shively, KY, a suburb of Louisville. Good memories!