Discussion questions to ponder while you cook

Mama’s BBQ sauce (courtesy of E Lafaye)bbq sauce

  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 14 oz ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbs Liquid Smoke
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp cayenne

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer a few minutes until all mixed, let sit for an hour at least to let the flavors meld.  You can adjust to make it more or less sweet/spicy.  This is both a cooking and a dipping sauce.  It will keep in the fridge for weeks.  Store it in a squeezy bottle to make it easier to use.


cornbreadMama’s Spicy Corn Bread

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 4oz chopped pickled jalapeño peppers
  • 1/s cup shredded cheese (Monterey Jack or similar)
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal or polenta
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 degrees C (fan-assisted).  Grease 9-inch square pan.  Stir together in a small bowl flour, cornmeal/polenta, baking powder, salt.  In a larger bowl, beat together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs.  Add corn, chillies, cheese.  Stir wet ingredients into dry until combined.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake for 40 mins or until golden on top.

Cool and cut into squares.  Serve with anything which has been cooked on a bbq, as it’s a scrumptious way to soak up the sauce. It also can be used as the base for amazing stuffing for chicken or turkey.  For a fabulous canapé, cut small squares and top each with a dollop of crab mayonnaise.


key lime pieTrudy’s Key Lime Pie

You will not find this served in any UK restaurant, although many have it on their menu.  Key lime juice has a unique flavor and the juice is not available in this country.  Some chefs say that Mexican limes come close, but for the real thing you need the juice from Florida.  You can either have it shipped over, or ask someone nicely to bring it back from their holiday. Also, Key Lime Pie should never be green in color.  If it’s genuine, it should be a pale yellow, which is proof that actual Key lime juice was used.  The juice also makes and awesome margarita and amazing ceviche.  Definitely worth the effort of importing it.  NOTE: recipe includes raw egg yolks.

  • 8oz graham crackers (or buy prepared crust)
  • 4oz butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk
  • 4oz Key lime juice

In a food processor, crush the crackers to a fine crumb and mix with melted butter.  Press with a fork into a 9-inch pie tin. Chill for 2 hours.

In a bowl, combine egg yolks, condensed milk, and lime juice.  You will notice that the mixture begins to set immediately.  This is because a chemical reaction takes place between the ingredients.  No cooking is necessary.

Pour the filling into the prepared base and chill for 3-5 hours.  You will find baked versions of the pie on the internet, some of which are topped with meringue.  This is a good way to use up the egg whites, but I think it’s unnecessary and adds too much sweetness.  The pie should be tangy.  A small swirl of whipped cream is all that’s needed.

Instead of one large pie, you can make individual ones in ramekins.  Simply spoon some of the base and filling into each and chill.  Very cute for dinner parties.


Hilda’s Mint Julep (courtesy E Lafaye)mint julep

  • 6 sprigs mint
  • 3 oz. bourbon
  • ½ ounce sugar syrup (1 cup water and 2 cups sugar heated to dissolve sugar into a syrup)
  • Crushed ice

My stepfather is from New Orleans.  He says that he was raised on this drink, which explains a lot. Crush half the mint in a tall glass.  Add bourbon and sugar syrup, and remaining mint.  Top with crushed ice and more mint.  To make a large batch, crush a lot of mint, heat in some sugar syrup for an hour.  Crush again to extract more mint flavor.  Cool and strain.  When you’re ready to drink, put a sprig of mint in each glass, add bourbon and the mint/sugar syrup.  Get plenty of aspirin for the next day.


peach cobblerSelma’s Peach Cobbler (courtesy E Lafaye)

There are two styles of cobbler in the Southern states:  top-down and bottom-up, depending on where you place the fruit in relation to the cakey topping.  This is a bottom-up, where the cake batter resides below the fruit and rises up around it during baking.  You can use canned peaches.  These were widely available in the 1930s but I like to think that Selma would use fresh ones.  A little cinnamon in the fruit mixture brings out the flavor.

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour melted butter into a 2-quart baking dish (11×7 or 8-inch square). In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir to blend. Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended. Pour the batter over the melted butter. Toss the peaches with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Arrange the peach slices over the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. The top will be browned and the cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Serve warm with a little heavy cream, whipped topping, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Serves 6.

5 thoughts on “Recipes

  1. Hi Vanessa…
    Here seems the only place I can comment. Couldn’t find a comment box elsewhere on your blog.
    Sending hugs and warm wishes from Brixham in South Devon.
    Great recipes by the way.
    Healing hugs to you… lots and lots…
    Caz Greenham xxx

  2. Cate

    Hello there, Vanessa

    Please add a heart to your Map of Love from Pietermarizburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

    Far-away hugs and every good wish to you and your James.

    Take care
    PS I seldom give out my personal email address, but need you to know this really does come from SA 🙂

  3. Maureen and Jon

    Hello Vanessa and James

    We are sending you love from France. Our friend Madeleine who is with us but no longer with us said “take advantage from every day and love from where ever it comes”.

    We send you our thoughts for your every day together.

    When I make your recettes I will think of you both with love.

    Maureen and Jon

  4. Lisa

    Hi Vanessa

    I have only recently discovered this site but with it I have taken great strength from your honest portrayal of this wicked disease.

    Sadly, I have two family members both fighting their own battles against the “wicked one”…. the journey beside them is, many times, difficult and heartbreaking but positivity and love (lots of it!!) is helping each of us to try and conquer this demon. We have become a family of warriors!

    We send you our thoughts, warm hugs and prayers and are extremely grateful to be able to read about your own courageous and endearing battle. Stay strong warrior princess xx

    Love from
    A fighting family from the West Midlands, UK. xx

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