Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mother's Recipe Box by Molly Weston

Lucy with Molly Weston

LUCY BURDETTE: I went on a mini-book tour around Raleigh, NC, with Hallie Ephron and Jennifer McMahon this spring. We were guided by Raven-winner Molly Weston, AKA Ms. Mystery

Not only does Molly know her way around a library, she has a nose for amazing southern food. I have never eaten so well or talked quite so much about food. So I knew we needed to have her visit Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Welcome Molly!

MOLLY WESTON:  I used to joke that my mother had only two buttons on her stove—off and high. A first-grade teacher, Mother frequently made week day meals that could be completed quickly. When she fried chicken, she started the process with the well-used high button. Once all the pieces were beautifully browned with crunchy goodness, she dragged the pan off the eye rather than reducing the heat. 

One of Daddy's favorite dishes—corn pudding—took longer to cook, but less time to prepare. I never thought about making it until my family was invited to a relative's home for a gathering. One of the highlights of the meal was a huge, beautifully browned, creamy corn pudding. As soon as I got home, I dug out Mother's recipe box and pulled her recipe.
Over the last year or so I've modified and refined Mothers corn pudding to reflect today's palates and waistlines—less sugar and more corn. I hope you'll enjoy it.


Mother's Corn Pudding—Transformed

1 16 oz. can creamed corn
1 16 oz. corn, drained (a smaller can is fine)
3-4 eggs
2 tbsp. flour (I use Wondra)
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup sugar
10 oz. undiluted evaporated milk (I use nonfat)

Melt butter in 1-1/2-quart baking dish (I tilt the dish after melting butter to grease bottom and sides of dish). Beat together eggs, flour, sugar, and milk (I use my hand blender). Add milk mixture and both cans of corn to buttered baking dish; stir well.

Bake in water bath at 350 degrees one hour or until a dinner knife stuck near center comes out clean.

    While I don't even consider frying chicken, I often barbecue it. My husband never met a chicken he didn't like, so I use a variety of recipes (usually depending on which ingredients I have on hand). I found another jewel in Mother's recipe box—and I had everything I needed!

Lazy BBQ Chicken Sauce

6-1/2 oz. cola (not diet)
1 cup ketchup
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (I use 4)
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 chicken, cut into pieces

Lay chicken in 13" x 9" baking dish. Cover with sauce. Bake at 350 degrees or one hour.

I used my multi-functional cooker for this. I just browned the chicken on both sides (covered), poured the sauce evenly over all the pieces, then switched to slow cook for 3 hours on high.

Molly Weston lives, reads, and, occasionally, cooks in Apex, NC. She blogs about mysteries at Molly also gives frequent talks about her favorite genre in libraries and other venues. She is the editor of inSinC, the Sisters in Crime quarterly.


  1. Welcome to the Kitchen, Molly. I'm grinning over your mom's "off-and-high" philosophy of cooking—while filing away the gems you found in her recipe box. To wit: that corn pudding has set my mouth to watering. What do you think of swapping the second can of corn in the recipe for fresh summer corn off the cob? I’ll bet it would be delicious. That baked BBQ chicken recipe is a keeper, too. I'm looking forward to devouring it. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful Sunday.

    ~ Cleo

    P.S. Love the license plate, “Ms Mstry”--perfect.

  2. The corn pudding sounds wonderful! I'll probably do what Cleo suggests and use fresh corn as my corn is almost ready to pick. And I never met a barbecued chicken I didn't like -- will have to try this one.

  3. Molly, off and high made me laugh out loud!!! Love that. I had such a good time traveling with you around your area (seems like years ago when it wasn't really that long...) I know how much Lucy/Roberta enjoyed it, too! She gushed!

    Love the pudding recipe. Sounds easy and so deliciously southern. Thanks for sharing. We love librarians and those who introduce us to them. :)

    Daryl / Avery

  4. Hey Molly! Waving at you from the lobster capital of the world... We ate so well with you. I'm a huge fan of corn pudding so I'm going to try your recipe. It looks so easy! And I second Cleo's question on substituting fresh corn. Looks like we're going to have a great crop hereabouts.

    Game to try the bbq chicken, too. I don't think I've ever made something with cola as an ingredient. But what's a "multi-functional cooker"? Whatever it is, I want one.

  5. I really should sit and list all the great authors who've graced me with visits over the years. It's been such a great experience! My "should" list, however, is second in length to my to-be-read pile.

    I'm going to have to make a permanent place on my counter for the multi-cooker. Last night we had a yummy pork loin that I started just before lunchtime. We'll save that five-ingredient recipe for another time.

  6. Hello darlin'
    I was hoping for the recipe for that amazing chicken salad you made when I visited you last!! Remember that yard sale we went to - I bought an old recipe box and it's given me a bunch of story ideas.

  7. Hallie, the Cuisinart Multicooker is my favorite new toy! I love slow cookers, but I've always skipped over the recipes that called for browning something in another pan first. Too much cleanup for me!

    I didn't mean to do product endorsement, but this jewel can slow cook, roast, steam, brown/saute, and switch to warm on its own. And clean-up is a snap. The cord even retracts for storage!

    Ro, I've got two chicken salad recipes that I really like. Which did you have—curry or cranberry? I'll be happy to share either or both. Again, they're super easy to make. (Again, the lazy cook surfaces!)

    Yes, I think that was the yard sale of the ages. I still think you should have bought the camel. Talk about great yard art!

    1. Okay, I'm off to look up the multicooker...and you must now tell us about Ro's camel!

  8. Ah, Ro's camel. Her last trip here coincided with the estate sale of a Raleigh couple who were friends of my parents. The couple was childless and had a large city yard—probably 3-5 acres. They were among the first to decorate the outdoors for Christmas.

    People from Apex would plan trips to Raleigh to "see the lights" downtown and soon planned to drive out to the add the Charles' house to the evening. They had several life-size Nativity scenes, a small chapel, snowmen and Santas, elves, carolers—pretty much anything to celebrate the season, all lighted by spotlights.

    Ro was entranced by one of the life-sized camels—I'll have to post a picture of them. But she was totally excited to find one of Mrs. Charles' wooden recipe boxes that was jammed with cards of complete directions for nothing but desserts! She read several aloud to me when we drove home.

  9. Hi Molly! I'm delighted to see you here. I have such fond memories of going on tour with you. But we didn't see any yard sales or camels!

    I'm so glad you shared the chicken barbecue recipe for the slow cooker. I always feel like I'm cheating when I use mine. It does all the hard work while I do something else. There's nothing better for pork (except maybe a real country spit that turns and cooks for an entire day). Love, love, love it for pork. Now I'm eager to try it with chicken. And I have everything on hand!

    hugs, Krista

  10. Different tours, different sights! I believe you spent a little extra time with the goats and kids at Fearrington!

    As I get older, lazier, and more decrepit, I find myself using the slow cooker more and more. I've always used it for the best corned beef I've ever eaten.

    I've got to go out now and buy an onion for Ro's chicken salad. Nah. I'll order it online and pick it up tomorrow. Love that online grocery shopping!

    1. We did! Isn't that where they have the Oreo cows?


  11. that recipe box appears in my next book. The box was filled with stained recipe cards and Molly and i wondered how many happy (and possibly sad) occasions all those red velvet cakes and lady baltimore cakes were a part of...

    It was the cranberry chicken salad, molly!

    1. Cranberry chicken salad sounds wonderful! I hope you'll share the recipe!


  12. What a mouth-watering post! I, too, remember eating REALLY well when I did the Molly Weston (Ms. Mystery) tour with my fellow ''Dangerous Dames,'' Julie Compton and Joanna Campbell Slan. Such fun! Molly, the corn pudding seems easy enough for even me to make it.

  13. I am pinning this page to my Pinterest recipe page right now! Yum! But I would also prefer to use fresh corn or freshly frozen corn for things. But it is a good idea when I would maybe have some leftover canned creamed corn that whomever opened (no names here) and didn't eat. And I have heard of cooking with Coca Cola. Actually my son-in-law has made some great pulled beef using Root Beer. I haven't asked him for the recipe yet but it was VERY good! He cooked it all day in the slow cooker. Okay, now I have to go find something to eat...

    1. I do think one can of creamed corn is pretty essential for the pudding. Totally agree with the fresh for the other can.

  14. Hi Molly -- what wonderful recipes! I still dream about all the amazing food we had with you! I have tried to explain Eastern North Carolina BBQ to people, but it's something that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. And I am absolutely going to to try both the corn pudding and the lazy BBQ!

  15. You foks give me too much credit for the food in this area, I didn't even get to take anybody to Harnett County where my daddy's relatives live. Those women have GOT to be the best cooks in the world!

    1. that's it, we're all coming back next year...

      Elaine, let us know when you find the root beer slow cooker recipe. It sounds just awful but I believe you when you say it was fab!

  16. Lovely to see you here, Molly! Thanks so much for sharing your mother's recipes and techniques. I remember lots of great food from the tour of NC.

    Can't wait to try these.


  17. Love the recipes, Molly! Used to have corn pudding at grandma's. here in Texas we make awesome ribs with Dr. Pepper. Very sweet sauce.

  18. My husband cooks like you're's high or nothing. Unfortunately he doesn't move the pan off the burner enough. I'm constantly trying to get the burned remnants of his creations off the bottom. In fact, he is under strict orders to not use any of my good skillets! He has one of his own.