From Signs in the Blood:Lunch for Phillip Hawkins (Chapter 4)

Turkey Breast with Garlic and Herbes de Provence

This fills the house with the most amazing smells. Small wonder Phillip took to Miz Goodweather right away.

  • 1 turkey breast
  • lemon
  • Fresh garlic cloves, peeled and cut in slivers (3-5, depending on size of cloves and your taste for garlic)
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Jane’s Krazy Salt

Rinse turkey breast and pat dry. Squeeze lemon juice all over it and rub with the cut edge of the lemon. With a sharp knife, make little incisions all over the turkey breast, inserting a garlic sliver in each incision. Sprinkle with salt and herbes de Provence. Roast uncovered at 325 till a meat thermometer reads 170 (or according to directions with turkey.)

Gramma’s Mayonnaise

Gramma had a special mayonnaise maker—a tall glass cylinder with a metal plunger—that Elizabeth used for years till one day it got broken. So here’s a slight adaptation, suited to a blender. It tastes just the same—really, really good.

  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch or more of cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. prepared mustard (Gramma used yellow; Elizabeth uses Dijon)
  • Juice of one fresh lemon (about 4 Tbs.)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 c. canola oil (Gramma used ordinary Wesson oil; Elizabeth is more health-conscious.)

Put all ingredients, except for 1¾ c. oil, into blender. Blend 5 seconds on low. Keep blender running and add remaining oil in a slow thin stream. Stop blender and stir mayo with rubber spatula, scraping the sides well. Blend again till good consistency.

For Miss Birdie (Chapter 8):

Gramma’s Banana Bread

This is actually my own grandmother’s recipe—Ruby Wright Northcutt grew up in Troy, Alabama , and was the sort of grandmother everyone should have had. Really more of a cake than a bread, it’s dense and moist and sweet. Excellent toasted, delicious cold and spread with cream cheese, just fine all by itself.

Makes two loaves (freezes well)

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 c. ripe bananas, mashed well (3 large bananas = 2 c.)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda (a little more than level), stirred into the mashed bananas
  • 3 1/2 c. sifted flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1 tsp. salt, sifted with the flour

Prepare your loaf tins by greasing well (more butter) and cutting a piece of waxed paper to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay it in the greased pan and grease the top of the paper too.

Preheat oven to 325.

Cream together the butter and sugar. When well blended, stir in the beaten eggs. Mix well, add bananas and flour alternately till you have a well blended batter. Do not over-mix. Pour into loaf tins and bake at 325 for about an hour. A knife or bamboo skewer poked into the middle of a loaf should come out clean.

Turn out of loaf pans, peal off waxed paper, and let cool on a rack.

Supper with Ben (Chapter 9):


Makes two—serves four hungry people generously. Or you can freeze one before baking it. This also works with store-bought pesto and dried tomatoes that have been soaked to soften.

  • Pizza crust (see below)
  • 1 c. basil pesto (see below)
  • 2 c. oven roasted tomatoes, cut in strips (also see below)
  • Prosciutto – about 8 very thin slices
  • 2 c. grated Provolone
  • 1 c. grated Asiago

On a floured surface, roll pizza dough into a rectangle about the size of the cookie sheet with sides that you will be using to bake the stromboli on. Spread with half the pesto, then half the remaining ingredients, leaving a bare margin of about 3 inches on all sides. Roll up like a jelly roll, pinch ends shut, place on oiled baking sheet, fold down. Brush with more oil. (The oil from the roasted tomatoes is especially good.) Repeat whole process for second stromboli. Bake at 375 till well-browned (about 30 minutes).

Basil Pesto

A much better way to deal with an abundance of basil in the garden than trying to dry it. This keeps at least a year in the freezer—and for months in the refrigerator. Pine nuts are traditional but usually rather expensive and sometimes a bit rancid as they have a short shelf life. Elizabeth likes almonds.

  • 3 packed cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves (can substitute more basil if you prefer)
  • 4 larges cloves fresh (peeled) garlic (not elephant garlic; it’s too mild)
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan (or romano or asiago)
  • ½ c. pine nuts, walnuts, raw, unblanched almonds, or hulled sunflower seeds (or any combination thereof
  • salt to taste, or none at all
  • ¾ c. olive oil (extra-virgin, if you want to be really fancy, but any pure olive oil will do just fine)

Put all ingredients into a blender or a food processor. The food processor will quickly produce a smooth paste—the blender will require a little coaxing and stopping and starting and rearranging the contents with a spatula before the paste is achieved. In fact, dealing with vast quantities of fresh basil every summer is what finally convinced Elizabeth she needed a food processor.

Put finished pesto in half pint jelly jars and store in the freezer.

Pizza Dough

This recipe will make two 10 inch pizzas or two strombolis (and the strombolis freeze well, uncooked.) If you want to use it for pizza, it should be topped and then baked at 500 for about 10 minutes.

  • 1 pkg. regular yeast (not quick-rising), dissolved in ¼ c. luke-warm water with a pinch of sugar and set aside till foamy.
  • 2 c. unbleached flour
  • ¼ whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. warm water
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt

Combine flours in large bowl, make a well in the center and pour in the foamy yeast. Mix lightly and let rise about ten minutes. Next, gradually add 2/3 cup water, working in the flour. Halfway through, stir in the salt and the oil. Add more flour, as much as the dough will take and still remain just a little sticky. Turn out on a floured surface and knead for ten minutes. Put in greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled (45-90 minutes.) Punch down. Let rest 15 minutes. Divide in half and roll and/or stretch into rounds (or rectangles for strombolis.)

Roasted Tomatoes

This is a wonderful thing to do if you have lots of tomatoes in your garden. It’s also a great way to make those tasteless pink store tomatoes worth eating. Works best with plum tomatoes such as Romas.

Cut tomatoes in half length-wise. Put in a big bowl. Sprinkle with Jane’s Krazy Salt and enough olive oil to coat well. Mix around till well-coated then lay out on a cookie sheet (with sides), cut sides up. Bake at 200 till they begin to dry out, but are leathery rather than crisp. Check now and then as the smaller ones will be done before the larger ones. Try not to eat all the smaller ones on the spot.

Put in a jar with the oil from the pan. Keep in the refrigerator for a week—in the freezer for longer periods. Use in strombolis, on pizza, in spaghetti sauce, etc.

A re-creation from Tapas (Chapter 11):

Pineapple Salsa

Grilled fresh pineapple slices are a great side dish with barbequed chicken or pork. And if you can manage to save back two or three slices, the next day you can make a tasty fresh salsa. No amounts or proportions here—go with your own preferences.

  • Fresh pineapple slices, grilled.
  • Finely chopped red onion
  • Finely chopped fresh garlic
  • Chopped jalapeño peppers (leave seeds and ribs in for a hotter salsa)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice and salt to taste.

Picnic lunch for Sallie Kate’s birthday (Chapter 22):

Mushroom Quiche

  • 1 partially-baked pie crust (see below)
  • Small box of fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Bunch of green onions, cleaned and chopped.
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 ¼ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Lightly sauté the mushrooms, garlic, and green onions in the butter, then spread over the partially baked pie crust. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Combine the eggs, cream, salt, and cayenne. Pour into crust. Put onto a cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated 425 oven for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake another 30 minutes or till a knife inserted in the custard comes out clean. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

Pie Crust (1 9-inch)

There is no substitute for homemade pie crust

  • 2 c. flour (white or unbleached)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ½ c. solid shortening, such as Crisco
  • 4-5 tbs. ice water

Mix salt in flour. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives, till mixture looks like coarse meal. Sprinkle with water, a tablespoon at a time, and mix lightly with a fork. Add only as much water as it takes for the pastry to hold together when lightly pressed into a ball.

On a floured piece of waxed paper, roll pastry into a circle 2 inches larger than the pie tin. Fit it loosely into the pie tin, trim and crimp the edges, prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Bake 10 minutes in a pre-heated 425 oven. Check during baking. If the crust is swelling up, poke it back down.

Spinach Salad with Mango and Green Onions

  • Baby spinach leaves
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ c. toasted almond slivers
  • ¼ c. crumbled blue or gorgonzola cheese

Combine and toss with vinaigrette. (See below)

Vinaigrette Dressing (1 pint)

In a pint jar, combine the following:

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. Jane’s Krazy salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Scant ¼ c. basalmic vinegar

Now fill the jar with extra-virgin olive oil and mix.

Store in refrigerator.

With the addition of a little soy sauce, this makes an excellent marinade for steak.

Brownies with Chocolate Chips

Makes one 9-inch square pan.

  • 1 stick butter (no substitute)
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. chopped pecans (optional)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 handful semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add all other ingredients EXCEPT eggs and chocolate chips. Blend well and let cool. When cool, blend in eggs and beat well. Pour into baking pan, well rubbed with butter. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

From 1901: Clytie’s Ginger and Dried Apple Stack Cake

This recipe is slightly adapted from a wonderful book by a friend of mine. Barbara Swell has collected recipes from some of the great traditional cooks in our county for her book Secrets of the Great Old-Timey Cooks. (Check Barbara’s website for information on this and other of her cookbooks.) The recipe actually comes from Gelema Worley (maybe she inherited it from Clytie.)

Filling (make first)

Apples (about 10) Gelema uses Jonathon, Grimes Golden, or Striped. Clytie would likely have used dried apples or fresh in season. ¼ c. sugar mixed with pinch cinnamon.

Peel and slice the apples. Sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and let set till they get juicy. Then put in a pan and cook very slowly till the apples are soft, stirring till the lumps are mostly gone. Don’t add water (unless the apples are sticking) and the flavor will be more intense.Cool the applesauce to room temperature.

Cake layers

  • 1 ¼ c milk
  • 1 ¼ c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 big Tbs. shortening
  • Self-rising flour

Big pinch each of cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves (Clytie would probably have used a teaspoon of ginger and a half teaspoon of cinnamon.)Beat shortening, sugar, and eggs till fluffy. Add vanilla and spices and combine well. Pour in milk, stir, then add enough flour to make a batter that’s as stiff as cake mix batter. Preheat oven to 300. Divide batter into 4 greased cake pans. Bake till lightly browned.

Spread the cooled applesauce on the warm cakes, stacking as you go. Finish with layer of sauce on the top. Store in an airtight container. This cake is actually better the second day, if you can wait.

If Clytie was making this cake to impress a feller, she would likely have doubled the amounts to make a really impressive tall cake.