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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Aunt Reva's recipes

I'm finishing up a new novel, not part of the Kelly O'Connell series but possibly the first of a new series to be called Blue Plate Special Mysteries. Title undetermined yet. The working title is Deadly Greens but I more like the sound of Mashed Potatoes Can Be Murder. Either would fit the book, which is set in a cafe in a small town in East Texas. The idea comes from The Shed in Edom, Texas. For years, my kids and I visited my good friends the Ogilvies--"Uncle Charles" and "Aunt Reva"--at Arc Ridge, their guest ranch outside Ben Wheeler and ate at The Shed. It's a typical cafe--chicken-fried, fried catfish, great mashed potatoes, wonderful meringue pies, just what you expect. I did order chicken salad once and was dismayed to realize that it came from Sam's. I suppose the food was really good but for us I suspect it was the ambiance and the company. But The Shed is a fond memory, and I hope to go back soon.
I've decided, since this is a semi-culinary mystery, to include recipes as so many authors do these days. And that leads me to a confession--the best food on those trips to Arc Ridge came from Reva's kitchen. She and I had a wonderful time together in the kitchen, and then we served everyone on the porch, which was sort of a Florida room with louvered windows overlooking the small lake in front of their house. It remains in memory as one of the most peacful places I've ever been.After dinner, the kids and I would traipse about a quarter of a mile to our cabin.
Of course, there was the night Aunt Reva served roast, and Uncle Charles asked, "How's your meat, kids?" They all raved that it was great, and he said, "You're eating Houdini." Houdini had been an escape-artist calf who lived in a pen between the ranch house and our cabin, and the kids always stopped to visit with him. I don't remember for sure, but I think they stopped eating.
Reva was raised in a small town in Missouri, and she was a master of down-home cooking. Alas, our memories of Arc Ridge and UncleCharles and Aunt Reva are just that--memories.Both have passed away, and the ranch has been sold. But we all hold the memories tight.
Here are a couple of her recipes I'll share in the book, which is due out February 2013.

Reva’s good beans
I fix this as is in spite of my ironclad rule against including green peppers in anything!
1 3-lb.-4-oz. can Ranch Style beans
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes (or two 14-oz. cans)
1 onion, chopped
½ green pepper, seeded and diced
Drain beans, but do not rinse. Put into crockpot along with other ingredients and simmer all day if you have to. (You can probably get by with less, but it’s nice to let them thicken up.)

Aunt Reva’s chili relleƱos
2 4-oz. cans whole green chilies
½ lb. sharp cheddar (or as much as you want to use)
5 eggs
¼ c. milk
Grease and butter a pie pan. Spread chilies in a single layer on the pan. Cover with grated cheese. Mix eggs and milk and pour over cheese and chilies. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until eggs have set.
These chili rellenos are Colin's particular favorite.

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