These recipes were collected for 45 years by a Southern American lady who has lived in California, Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma. This accounts for the units of measurements and products I use. It also explains why some of my recipes have a Southern or Tex-Mex flavor.
My earliest memory of cooking anything was brownies. I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade. I had made them before, but this was the first one I recall vividly and there was a good reason! I was doubling the recipe. I even used a hammer and cracked the pecans and picked them out and chopped them to go in it! They came out of the oven looking beautiful. After supper that night, each of the family eagerly took a bite and YUCK!!! I had not doubled the sugar! They were not edible. ALL that hard work–just to be thrown away!!! I sure learned the hard way to always double check your recipe to be sure you included all the ingredients; AND to especially make sure you doubled ALL the ingredients when doubling!
My parents frequently entertained friends while we were growing up, and Mom served magnificent meals. She was a fabulous cook. She and her sisters often tried new recipes and these were passed down to my cousin Judy and me…but we only assisted our mothers in cooking. We didn’t grow up learning to cook at our mothers’ elbows in the kitchen. I usually set and cleared off the table, made salads, cookies and sometimes made lunch on Saturday (usually tuna fish salad, warmed up chili or sardine sandwiches).
Judy and I left home when we were 18 years old to follow our dream of one day becoming roommates and living and working in a big city. We had bare essential cooking skills. At that time Judy could cook chili and pizza (using a mix) and even fry a chicken; and I could make tacos, tuna casserole and macaroni & cheese, my favorite dish. Thank goodness Judy had been given a Better Homes & Garden cookbook for a high school graduation present, and we used it often.
The night before we left home to move 400 miles away to Dallas, Texas, I suddenly realized I would no longer have mom’s recipe box available! So I frantically began copying the recipes I liked. I remember calling home once to ask Mom how many hours I needed to boil a chicken.
My interest in cooking took off suddenly after I married and some friends began to ask us over for meals. I kinda felt that we should reciprocate. HELP ME! This jump started my cooking adventures. I learned gradually by trial and error and from many excellent cooks.
One time I heard someone refer to a lady named Harriett as a “gourmet cook.” And I decided right then and there that I wanted that title applied to me also! I had a long ways to go! My parents taught me I could do anything I wanted to do IF I applied myself…and apply I did. But it didn’t come easy—and it also came with lot of work, trials and flops! But gradually I progressed. As time went on, we exchanged dinners with 30 other church friend couples, and occasionally I even overheard the coveted title of Gourmet Cook being applied to me!
Where did my recipes come from? From many sources. Many were adventures. Some even came from Granny’ little 3 x 5 recipe boxes that I have occasionally bought at Estate Sales. You know a Son is in charge of the sale if you are lucky enough to find one of these—for a Daughter would NEVER get rid of Granny or mom’s recipe collection! For example, Grandma’s Shrimp Batter came from one of these boxes I picked up.
I rarely eat something I really like without asking for the recipe…and my friends usually graciously share, and I do likewise. The name of the person who gave me a recipe is noted on it. While there is a story behind practically every one of these recipes, in the interest of space, I only inserted the most interesting ones. Some recipes are “Cherie’s Creations.” Others are my copycat creations from my recipe Quests.
How reliable are these recipes? Yes, I have personally tried out all the recipes in this collection (except for a few that have the notation “Not Tried,” which I intend to make soon.) Recipes that I have prepared at least a zillion times due to popularity with my family, friends and co-workers, I have designated as ***FAMILY FAVORITE***. I highly recommend them. You won’t be disappointed. I personally typed all these recipes and I admit that I am not a perfect typist. I apologize in advance should you discover any errors. Please, please let me know if you do so I can make corrections.
It has long been a hobby of mine to try new recipes (preferably those recommended by others known to be good cooks). I also enjoy “Quests” where I attempt to duplicate a dish I have eaten in a restaurant or elsewhere. I usually have several ongoing Quests. Sometimes I am successful and other times I finally give up and decide that it’s something I’m willing to pay to eat it prepared by someone else.
A little about my Quests. For ten years I tried to make a recipe for Chicken in Orange Sauce I ate at a small Chinese restaurant in L.A., California around 1998. The chef told me he sautéd orange peel in oil for the orange flavor—so that was all I had to work with. I knew the flavor didn’t some from orange juice, which was used in so many Orange Chicken recipes. I looked thru countless cookbooks and websites for recipes. Finally in 2014, I had success!! (16 years later)
Crème Brulee was another Quest with a happy ending this year. I didn’t create this recipe; however, I researched a ton of recipes on line. I found a man on the internet who had also been on a Crème Brulee quest. He told how he had tried and was disappointed with numerous recipes. He finally discovered what he claimed was the easiest and best recipe ever—and it was his Aunt Susan’s recipe! That was good enough for me! I tried it and I totally agree. That search had a happy ending. I think you will like it also. You don’t need a mixer or a torch, and don’t have to “stir constantly.”
A tip! Any recipe that stays “stir constantly” is a perfect candidate for the microwave. You’re stirring so it won’t scorch—and nothing scorches in the microwave! You just have to figure out the micro length of time and stop and stir it often while it thickens.
What cooks helped shape my cooking experience? One of the first notable sources was the Dallas Times Herald Food Editor which printed many great recipes—from which came our Family Favorite recipes for Corn Casserole and Cabbage Hollandaise.
Another was Helen Corbitt, a chef for 14 years for Neiman Marcus’ restaurant, the Zodiac Room, in downtown Dallas. My co-workers and I sometimes celebrated our birthdays there, and surprisingly, the prices for lunch were most reasonable! And better yet, if you ate something there that you really liked—you could often times find the recipe in one of Helen’s cookbooks and make it yourself…like her Poppyseed Dressing for Fruit Salad and her Cocktail Sauce for shrimp!
Another consistently good source was Barbara Richardson McClellan, who writes a daily food column for the Longview (Texas) News Journal where we lived for 9 years. She also published several cookbooks and owned a restaurant for awhile. If Barbara printed it – I knew I could depend on it being good enough to serve to company without making it beforehand. That says a lot! Several recipes in my collection have her name beside them.
When we moved to Oklahoma City, I followed a weekly recipe column in the Daily Oklahoman (OKC) by Melba’s Swap Shop by Melba Lovelace. Readers brought to her column ideas and recipes to share and requests for particular recipes. Melba often shared some very good recipes. My family can vouch for her Turkey and Dressing recipes, which we made for many Thanksgivings.
Last, but not least, was Gloria Pitzer, “The Recipe Detective.” I used to buy Divinity Cookies aka Spanish Pecan Cookies from Neiman Marcus Bakery. I looked high and low but couldn’t find the recipe for them. I made several flops. So I sent some cookies to Gloria who could copy most any recipe. She was intrigued that I went to that much trouble, and she obligingly came up with the recipe, for which I will be forever grateful! I also subscribed to new newsletter in which she printed many recipes she successfully copied. This was before there were copykat cookbooks published. Now her early recipe booklets are collectors items on Ebay. There are about 5,600 secret, and not so secret recipes developed by Gloria Pitzer that have been uploaded to the web, mostly by her fans. She only has 34 of her recipes on her website.
How to I file my recipes? I keep two files: One file is my tried and true, very good recipes, typed on 4″ x 6″ index cards; and the other file is an expandable wallet for my “Recipes to Try.” I highly recommend that you do NOT mix recipes you have tried with those you have not made–UNLESS you indicate “tried” or “untried” on them. This will save you some embarrassment!
What is my favorite thing to cook? A lady named Shanon asked me this not long ago, and I was speechless (for a moment anyway). I really couldn’t think of any particular “favorite thing.” I realized that I don’t have a “favorite thing.” I answered that my “favorite thing” was to try new recipes and I was happy with my answer. It’s the truth!
How many cookbooks do I own? I have bought countless cookbooks during my lifetime, but have only retained a few. At the tail end of a garage sale one time, I picked up 54 cookbooks for $5.00. By the time I reviewed all 54, needless to say, I was sick and tired of cookbooks. I rarely buy any now, although I am sometimes tempted at garage sales! I go through each cookbook page by page and mark the recipes I want to try. Then I photocopy those recipes, file them in my “To Try” file and give the book away. I only keep a few specialty cookbooks and a couple of basic bookbooks. No, I don’t watch any cooking shows on TV. I often give a basic cookbook to girls graduating from high school.
I originally created Recipearls for my personal use. It was a way I could have easy access to my recipes no matter where I was–at work, or at the homes of my parents, my daughter or son. And also so my recipes would be safe in case of fire. When I was at work I could check on Recipearls for the ingredients of a dish I wanted to prepare for supper–and stop by the store and pick up what I needed on my way home. Over the years, the private link to Recipearls was given out to a few others. Now, I have published it publicly on the internet.
I really hope you will enjoy making some of the recipes in Recipearls. Feel free to share the LINK with your friends. Your comments are welcome.
Cherie (Berry) Kropp
NOTE: There is a hidden SEARCH BOX. On the home page, click on the little folder at the top of the Sidebar above the word “Recipearls” and it will bring up a search box.
INVALUABLE MICROWAVE TIP! ALL dairy products should be cooked at medium power in microwave. Chances are high the dairy product will sour if cooked on high power and eggs get tough. I learned this at a microwave class that came with my first purchase of a microwave in 1980 for $300.00! Knowing this right from the start saved me much grief.