Lady Bird Johnson’s family recipes have been circulating in Central Texas since before the first family moved into the White House. You might have some of them in your own recipe collection. But the LBJ Presidential Library, which houses dozens of Lady Bird’s beloved recipes, has compiled 18 of them into a new gift set available at the library or online.
Each card features a favorite family recipe used for holiday meals at the White House or the LBJ Ranch, and the set is available in the library store for $8.75. You can also buy them at shop.lbjstore.com.
1/2 box Cheerios
1 box Rice Chex
1 box tiny pretzel sticks
1 lb. pecans or mixed nuts
1/2 cup margarine (or butter)
1/2 cup bacon drippings
1 Tbsp. garlic salt
1 Tbsp. savory salt
1 Tbsp. Tabasco
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
Mix Cheerios, Chex and pretzels together. Add nuts. Melt margarine and bacon drippings, then add seasonings. Put nut-cereal mixture in a large pan. (Lady Bird used a turkey roaster.) Pour liquid mixture over cereal mixture. Place in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir often. Makes 10 pints.
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup flour
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 quarts chicken stock
Meat picked from leftover roast turkey, plus the turkey carcass
2 lb. smoked sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 lb. okra, sliced
Salt and pepper
6 cups cooked white rice
2 green onions, chopped
Make a roux by heating the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium and continue whisking until the roux turns a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to medium low and continue stirring until the roux turns a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the celery, bell pepper, garlic and bay leaves and stir for 3 minutes, then add the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the turkey carcass, sausage and okra. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo (moving the pot half off the burner helps collect the impurities). Remove the carcass from the pot.
Add the turkey meat and season well with Tabasco, salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with rice, scattered with the green onions. Serves 10
Sometimes, it can be hard for visitors and locals alike to know all the ins and outs of Austin. Food trucks open and close and move just as you’ve figured out what their hours are. And a two-hour wait for food isn’t restricted to nationally-known barbecue.
That’s where Meagan Fritts wants to step in and provide a better experience with her new tour company, Access ATX. She organizes small tours that take guests to a handful of local hot spots and old favorites — sometimes in a theme, such as barbecue or food trucks, and other times just a general city tour with food. You can sign up for one of the existing tours or inquire about a specialized one for your group. Tickets start at $75 per person, and Fritts already has some special tours set up, including a holiday trip to San Antonio. Find out more at accessatx.com.
In addition to all the shopping and eating you’re doing this time of year, it also feels like the season to circle the wagons ’round the kitchen and get to work on some projects. Maybe that’s the biggest gingerbread house you’ve made yet or an experiment to see how many seeds you can sprout from your windowsill. These five books will guide you through these adventures and hundreds more.
With the right know-how, any kind of cooking can be studied as a science experiment, but National Geographic takes that idea a few steps further with “Edible Science: Experiments You Can Eat” by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant (National Geographic Children’s Books, $12.99). The experiments range from familiar old-fashioned fun — like shaking cream to make butter, and making ricotta cheese with milk and vinegar — to the more obviously scientific, like baking color-changing cookies or building a water purification system. Parents will learn, too, and then you’ll never again make couscous or beef jerky without thinking about osmosis.
Growing food is one of my kids’ favorite food-related science projects, and who knew there was enough to say about growing plants from pits to sustain an entire book? Holly Farrell goes deep on seeds of all sizes in “Plants from Pits: Pots of plants for the whole family to enjoy” (Mitchell Beazley, $14.99), which explains the most basic — how to sprout an avocado pit — to fruits with the most tedious tiny seeds: strawberries, apples, tomatoes, blueberries and figs. Botanists of all ages will be surprised to find out what you can grow from kitchen scraps.
There’s this beautiful time when kids become aware of calendars but not stressed out by them. If yours are in that sweet spot, or maybe they just really love planning things, they’ll enjoy “The Family Calendar Cookbook: From Birthdays to Bake Sales, Good Food to Carry You Through the Year” (Running Press, $23) by Kelsey Banfield, which gives you ideas for cooking projects tied to whatever is going on during the year, including official and unofficial holidays and seasonal celebrations. Banfield shares ideas for teacher appreciation and graduation in spring, beach picnics for summer, preservation and back-to-school cooking in fall and more Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s ideas than you could use in five years.
Houston baker Kristine Samuell doesn’t only make gingerbread houses in December. She makes them for every major holiday and created a guidebook called “A Year of Gingerbread Houses: Making & Decorating Gingerbread Houses for All Seasons” (Lark, Crafts, $19.95) to inspire you to think outside the candy canes and snowmen. Even if you only end up making gingerbread houses this time of year, her recipes and techniques will help you make sturdier — and tastier — creations.
If you already have a copy of “Betty Crocker Kids Cook” (Betty Crocker, $19.99), you probably don’t need the latest edition. But if you don’t, it’s not a bad kids’ cookbook. Many of the recipes call for packaged cookie or cake mixes, not-so-subtly nudging you into buying Betty Crocker products, but your kids will like the ideas nonetheless — brownies, pies and cake balls on sticks, bottom-of-the-cereal-box cookies, and this cauliflower “popcorn” that won’t fool anyone but will satisfy the craving for something salty during a movie.
Movie-Time Cauliflower ‘Popcorn’
3 cups small, fresh cauliflower florets
1 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
Heat oven to 450 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine cauliflower, oil, salt and pepper; stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Pour mixture evenly into ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch pan.
Bake 10 minutes. Use pot holders to take pan from oven. Using wooden spoon, stir cauliflower mixture. Return pan to oven. Bake 8 to 12 minutes longer until light golden brown and crisp-tender (use a fork to test). Sprinkle with cheese. Let stand about 1 minute or until cheese is melted. Serves 3.
This was one of my favorite recipes to come through #Austin360Cooks in the past few days. It’s a Thanksgiving-worthy side dish of roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic, herbs and almonds that is easy enough for even non-cooks to get right. Thanks to Yes More Please bloggers Ian and Mariana McEnroe for letting us run this in today’s paper.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic, Herbs and Almonds
2 lb. bag fingerling potatoes
4-6 Tbsp. butter
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
3 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped
4 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 tsp. dried dill
1 or 2 drizzles extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
Zest of one lemon and the juice of half
In a medium size pot, parboil the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Drain them, and cut the bigger potatoes on a bias.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a separate small pot, melt the butter, add the garlic and heat for about 1 minute. Add chopped herbs, remove from heat and let stand at room temperature.
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minute. Check for doneness.
Once they are roasted, remove from oven and drizzle the butter and herb mixture. Toss well and pop them back in the oven for about 3 to 4 more minutes. Pull them out and sprinkle the chopped almonds and lemon zest and drizzle with lemon juice. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 10.
It’s the biggest food holiday of the year — is your camera ready?
We’ve had so much fun in the past year checking out what home cooks across Central Texas are cooking through our #Austin360Cooks project. It’s mostly based on Instagram, where users add the hashtag when they’ve cooked up something delicious.
(Editor’s note: The item was originally posted on Oct. 17, 2011.)
The legacy of the LBJ family’s Pedernales River chili has lived on long past the first family who made it famous, but the story of Zephyr Wright, the longtime Johnson family cook who created it, isn’t as well known.
The chili is simple by today’s standards: ground meat, onions, tomatoes, salt, cumin seeds, chili powder, hot sauce and two little old cloves of garlic that would blush at the number of ingredients that go in most chili pots these days, including my own.
But more than 50 years after people first started requesting the recipe from Lady Bird, the Johnson family chili recipe is still making the rounds, most recently in a new book called “ Eating With Uncle Sam ,” that was published in conjunction with a National Archives exhibit about how the government, including presidential recipes, affects the American diet. Last week, as I was writing a story about the book and its Texas ties , I realized that there was far more to this chili and the cook who created it than the recipe indicates.
Wright often cooked chili for the family on their famous Stonewall ranch, and after Johnson had a heart attack, out went the beef suet . So many people requested the chili recipe that the White House printed it up on recipe cards that could be easily mailed out, and the recipe has been printed in a number of books and newspapers in the half century since Johnson took office.
“For everyday eating, Lady Bird brought along Mrs. Zephyr Wright, the Johnsons’ cook for 21 years,” a Time magazine reporter wrote in an article in December 1963 . “Zephyr is an expert at spoon bread, homemade ice cream and monumental Sunday breakfasts of deer sausage, home-cured bacon, popovers, grits, scrambled eggs, homemade peach preserves and coffee.”
Wright is rarely credited, but her work didn’t go unnoticed and her impact on the Johnsons goes far beyond peach preserves and chili.
The top photo of Wright and Luci Johnson is from a 1965 birthday party that the family hosted for Wright, and the families were so close that some in Johnson’s administration believe that the Wright and her husband Sammy, who was the family chauffeur, directly influenced Johnson’s decision to make civil rights a priority.
In fact, Zephyr Wright was in attendance when Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and when the president was done signing the bill, he gave her the pen he used.
I was thinking about Wright when I cooked a batch of her chili last week for the story. She died in the 1988, but her legacy lives on through her recipes, even if her name isn’t in capital letters at the top of the page.
I should have clipped my own story and taped that recipe to the fridge because, every three or four months, I pull out the Google and dig up this buttermilk waffle recipe. I always mix up the flours, and over the weekend, I used half whole wheat and half einkorn, which led to a super egg-y, almost French toast-like waffle that I loooooved. My kids did, too. (I also made my own buttermilk by adding a little vinegar to regular whole milk.)
In the photo on the right, you’ll note that I went whole hog and put peanut butter on my waffle. Waffles are already so rich, but I grew up eating Eggos slathered with peanut butter just about every morning. I only needed a hint of PB to enjoy that sensory throwback.
Several of you asked for the recipe online, so here it is!
Alton’s Waffles a la Addie
2 cups flour (half all-purpose, half whole-wheat is preferred)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 eggs, room temperature and beaten
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
Peanut butter and syrup, for serving
Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, butter and buttermilk. Combine wet and dry ingredients until just mixed but still lumpy. Let rest for 5 minutes and then cook in your waffle iron.
About three years ago, I started making Paula Deen’s corn casserole for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. All the other side dishes are claimed by others, but this one used to be the specialty of my cousin’s cousin, who lived with them for a while.
When she moved back to Southern California and took her ridiculously delicious casserole with her, I had to step in and keep it going. You might have strong feelings about Paula Deen, but you’ll also have them about this casserole if you try it. If you just can’t bear the attempt, here’s a corn casserole with bell peppers and chorizo that we ran in the paper earlier this year.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.
It doesn’t get any more Thanksgiving than green bean casserole. The quintessential casserole turns 60 this year, but the traditional version isn’t suited for gluten-free eaters.
This adaptation from Gluten Free Girl author Shauna James Ahern requires only a few more steps to make a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner that everyone might love. Warning, this makes a lot of crispy onions, which is rarely a bad thing.
Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole
1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
For the crispy onions:
2/3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Peanut oil or lard for frying
For the casserole:
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (if you’re using boxed stock, make sure it’s gluten-free)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups sliced cremini or white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup coconut milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Put a large bowl of ice water in the sink. Put the green beans in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. (If the beans are slender, cook for 3 minutes.) Plunge the hot green beans into the ice water. Let them sit for 1 minute, then immediately drain the water. Dry the beans with a towel and spread them out on a baking sheet to air-dry entirely.
Put the flour and salt and pepper for the onions into a wide bowl. Toss the onions in the flour to coat entirely. Put enough fat into a large cast-iron skillet to make a depth of 1 inch. Set the skillet over medium-high heat. When you can flick a tip-of-your-finger-full of water into the fat and it sizzles, you are ready to fry. Lower a light layer of the sliced onions into the fat and fry until they are lightly golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all the onions are fried. Set them aside for later.
Pour the stock into a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and keep it at a simmer. Set a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Put the butter in the skillet. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are hot and wilted, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Toss the flour over the tops of the mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms are fully coated. Pour 1/4 cup of the hot stock into the skillet, stirring constantly. When the stock is incorporated into the mushrooms and bubbly hot, add another 1/4 cup. Continue this until all the stock is added and the sauce is thick. Add the coconut milk and keep stirring until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes.
Put the green beans into a large baking dish. Pour in the mushroom sauce. Toss until everything is coated. Sprinkle a bit of pepper on top. Top with the crisp onions. Bake until the sauce is bubbly around the edges of the onions, about 15 minutes. Serves 6.