Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Grandmother's Recipe Box by Lucy Burdette

 LUCY BURDETTE: I don't think we've officially told you this, but I'll be writing and sharing recipes on Thursdays from now on, except for the first Thursday of each month when Annie Knox aka Wendy Watson will be posting. (So glad you'll continue to be a part of us Wendy!)

Anyway, the idea of posting more often got me a little panicky. What if I run out of recipes? Or interesting stories about food? For inspiration, I went to my messy recipe drawer, where I found a pile of handwritten recipes in my paternal grandmother's handwriting--what a treasure! 

I can't help sharing the one that was on the top--for Roach Poison. It was written on a piece of a brown paper bag. Is this not perfect for a mystery writer???

In case you can't read it:

Roach poison

1 tsp. cocoa
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. boric acid

Shake well and put in bottle caps

Here's another one of grandma's notecard gems:

 The best cough syrup for a hacking cough is one teaspoon each of gin, lemon juice, and honey. 

Grandma Alice adds that she found this in Life Magazine, and they got it from Dr. Lendon Smith, a Portland, OR pediatrician who had a 5 minute television program "The Children's Hour."

But I can't leave you with only roach poison and cough syrup, so here's my recipe for the best friend okra ever! Living in Tennessee for four years, I learned the joy of this dish.

Do not make this with frozen okra or brown pods. Save it for the time you come across okra at the farmer's market or come by and I'll cut you some pods from our garden! (Possibly the only okra grown north of the Mason-Dixon line...)

Pan Fried Okra

about 20 pods of fresh okra, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 smallish green pepper, chopped
1 egg
1/3 cup yellow corn meal

Slice the okra, discarding the stems and ends. If you notice a woody feeling as you cut, that pod has gotten too big. It will taste like eating straw and your family will say "We knew we hated okra!" so do yourself a favor and throw it out.

Saute the onions and peppers a few minutes in a large frying pan until soft. Meanwhile, beat the egg in a small bowl, then add the sliced okra and stir. Dump the cornmeal over that and stir again.  

Add this mixture to the pan and fry until it looks brown and the egg is cooked. Serve as a side veggie with Tobasco sauce to taste. Or here I had it for supper with sliced tomatoes and my favorite cottage-oat biscuits, which I'll tell you about another time.

And meanwhile, I invite you to enjoy the Key West food critic mysteries, full of food, friendship, and murder--all set in Paradise! PW said about DEATH IN FOUR COURSES: "Anyone who's overpaid for a pretentious restaurant meal will relish this witty cozy."

And please follow Lucy on Twitter @lucyburdette, or "like" her on facebook for all the latest updates.


  1. Lucy- Loved your recipe for Fried Okra. My Mamaw made fabulous fried okra with fresh okra from her garden. I am ashamed to admit that I refused to eat it when I was young (what can I say, I was from North of the Mason-Dixon line and did not know what to make of that green stuff) but learned to appreciate the crunch and flavor of fried okra when I finally "grew up". My mom passed away last year and I was working on clearing her house and found a HUGE file of recipes she had collected, including handwritten recipes from her mom, my Mamaw. I was absolutely tickled when I saw her handwriting! And I found recipes written on bits and pieces of all kinds of paper, including a napkin!
    I am finishing "Death in Four Courses" on my Kindle and am thoroughly enjoying it. I have been to Key West only once but I can still recognize many of the landmarks you describe in the book. Look forward to your next book! ~Nurse JudyMac

  2. For the cough syrup, my grandmother substituted whiskey for the gin and added a bit of glycerine. Maybe the point was, you didn't notice you were coughing?

    Roaches like cocoa? Who knew? I hear boric acid works for ants as well, but I don't know if they like cocoa.

    Can't wait for more Thursday recipes!

  3. Nurse JudyMac, thank you so much for the lovely comments--I'm delighted you're enjoying the book!

    Don't you feel lucky to have found the recipes in her handwriting? I have some from my mother-in-law too, and some boxes I haven't even opened. I hope one of my stepkids will be happy to find my box, a long time from now!

  4. Sheila, I think you're right--the point was you got a little tipsy and didn't realize you were miserable:).

    As for roaches, I have not tried out the cocoa recipe because thank goodness, we don't have any. But I when I went to school in Gainesville, FL, they were an awful problem. I wish I'd had this then!

  5. Sweet post, Lucy! (I treasure the notes and handwritten cards from my mother and aunt's recipe box, too.) You are so right on the roach recipe. You've got to write that into a future mystery!

    ~ Cleo

    1. Oh my gosh, I just got a brainstorm...there have to be roaches on Hayley's houseboat. And her roommate is an older lady, a little wacky...better go write this down...

  6. Lucy, that's hysterical to find recipes like that. Treasures, definitely, and perfect for a new mystery!

    ~Avery aka Daryl

  7. Lucy, what a find! Your mystery roots run deep. Who'd have thought you would find a recipe for poison?

    The okra recipe is making me wish I had some. Maybe I'll try the farmer's market next week. I love that advice about the okra that grew too large. Must remember that.

    ~ Krista

  8. So much fun to be writing here with you ladies--who else would want to hear me ramble on about my grandmother and what we're having for supper??

  9. LOL. The only time I tried to fry okra I, a northerner, was newly married to a Jewish man. No cornmeal in the cupboard but I tried to fry it in Matzoh meal. Disaster. I don't touch it to this day. The cough syrup is a tried and true rememdy in my family but we used bourbon rather than gin. And yes, I think you got a little tipsy and didn't mind the coughing so much.

  10. Oh Judy, okra fried in Matzoh meal, that has to be a first!! At least we all have the cough remedy down:)