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Month: August 2020

In Texas the trees got lost …

In Texas, the trees got lost…….
Lost Pines, Lost Maples – where did they come from?????
Near Lost Maples State Park is the quintessential Texas town of Utopia. Recently my husband, I and our friends the Hurleys played 9 holes at the Utopia golf course – made famous by the movie starring Robert Duval – “7 Days in Utopia.” After all that exercise, we sauntered over to the Lost Maples Café. On the menu is one of my husband’s and my faves at rural cafes in Texas – Pepper Cheese Steak.
It typically is served with two sides and Texas Toast. This “steak” will make you feel like you are in Utopia – a comfortable place to be!

Utopia Pepper Cheese Steak

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 4


  • 1 Pound HEB Grass Fed ground round
  • 4 Slices HEB Select Sharp Cheddar Cheese Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Jalapeno Seeded & minced
  • 2 tbsp Onion Chopped
  • 1 tsp Bolner's Fiesta Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper To taste
  • 2 tbsp Texana Olive Oil


  • Seed and mince jalapeno
  • Chop onion
  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and use two forks to mix
  • Form into 4 patties
  • Pan fry 5 minutes each side
  • Top with cheddar cheese and let melt


For a fresh flavor, you can add 2 - 3 TBSP minced cilantro, but that is typically not in the Cafe model.


A chance meeting that lead to love!

Slaton Vanilla Wafer Banana Pudding

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook time:15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Yield: 8 Servings


  • 1 1/2 Cup Imperial Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Texas Flour
  • 4 Large Eggs, lightly whisked
  • 4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Falfurrias Butter
  • 1 TBSP Adams Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Bag Slaton Vanilla Wafers
  • 4 Bananas, sliced


  • In a large saucepan, mix sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
  • In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Whisk a small amount of hot mixture into eggs; return all to pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and butter Cool 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • In an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish, layer approximately 25 vanilla wafers, top with the banana slices. Pour pudding evenly over bananas and wafers. 4. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pudding. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  • If desired, serve with a dallop of whipped cream.

The “History Greek”

Probably one of my most memorablehigh School teachers was Mr. Chris. Thiswas short for a much longer Greek name, but his preferred name as he said wewould probably never be able to pronounce his whole surname.

Mr. Chris taught High School WorldHistory with all the nuances and secrets that made it real. His depth of knowledge and delivery kept thisgroup of 15 – 16 year-olds attentive. Especially dramatic were his stories of being a political prisoner inGreece -and tieing sheets together to escape out of a tower!

The Chris??? Family immigrated toAustin and became involved. His brotherwas a city councilman and his mother opened a Greek restaurant – Mama Eleni’sAthenian Restaurant on Lavaca street. The first time my family dined there, I discovered Dolmades (stuffedgrape leaves). Absolutely the mostwonderful appetizer I had ever put in my mouth! If someone has a Dolmades recipe that they love – share it and I’ll makeand post it.

I can’t remember if Greek Moussakawas on the menu, but it has been a family favorite of ours for years. It’s a great way to serve a group and a bigpart of preparation can be done a day ahead. Its also a perfect recipe for eggplant – which is actually easy to growin your Texas garden.

Greek Moussaka

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Servings 8


Eggplant and Meat Sauce

  • 2 Large eggplants, peeled and cut in 2"-3" pieces
  • 1 Large onion, diced
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 2 lbs. Ground beef
  • 6-7 Medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can Tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1 glass Red wine
  • 1 pinch Salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Tarragon
  • 1 cup Chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • cups Grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce

  • 4 cups Milk
  • ½ cup Butter
  • 6 tbsp Flour
  • Pinch Salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Egg yolks, beaten


Eggplant and Meat Sauce

  • Peel and cut eggplant. Lay out on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for 30 minutes to draw out the moisture
  • Place eggplant in roasting pan, sprinkle with olive oil, and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, diced onion, and 2 cloves chopped garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes.
  • Add ground beef to skillet and brown.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, wine, salt and pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon, tarragon, chopped fresh parsley and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Allow to cool and stir in beaten eggs

Bechamel Sauce

  • Scald milk in saucepan (milk has begun to steam and show small bubbles)
  • Melt butter in large skillet, then whisk in flour until smooth
  • Lower heat and slowly add scalded milk, whisking until thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Let cool for about 10 minutes and stir in beaten egg yolks.


  • Place eggplant in a greased 9 x 13 dish.
  • Cover with meat mixture
  • Top with 3/4 cup parmesan
  • Pour Bechamel sauce over the top, sprinkle with remaining parmesan, and sprinkle nutmeg.


  • Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees


Traditional Greek Moussaka uses slices of eggplant, but by cutting into smaller pieces, the eggplant spreads easier to each portion.
I have assembled everything except the bechamel sauce a day ahead. About 2 hours before serving - cook the sauce and top the dish with the chopped parsley, sauce, parmesan and nutmeg and bake for one hour. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.


Grandma was a bootlegger in Wink

This slice of heaven recipe comes from a childhood neighbor in Austin. Diana and Doyle were high school sweethearts from Wink, Texas. I loved hearing about their life in this far west Texas oil boom town. What I loved even better was her walking over with this heavenly pie!  It’s true – you can be known and remembered for a certain recipe. 

I knew Diana was a spirited woman – and her grandmother’s survival profession just might have been where she inherited her spunk: 

Diana Pendleton on Wink, Texas:

Wink has had four booms that I know about. Oil was found in Winkler county, then WWII came along with a piloted training air base in Pyote about 14 miles from Wink, then another oil boom and recently the fracking of oil made Wink boom again.

My grandmother went to Wink in a covered wagon as a little girl. I remember she told us she walked behind the wagon when she got tired of riding. No date! Not sure! She
never told her age even later in life.  

When my grandparents were dating everyone wore a gun on their hip. My granddad went to church with my grandmother and he wanted to hold her hand. She would not hold his hand in church. So, he threatened to shoot out the one light bulb in the church during the service … she held his hand! Ha!

She was divorced from my granddad and became a bootlegger. Mother remembers sleeping on car seat as little girl when my grandmother made deliveries in the dark. When I was a little girl my grandmother ran a “beer joint” in Wink. I can remember two long bars across one side of building where they stood and drank beer, ate pickled eggs, and danced. She did have food and tables to one side. I loved going there and helping smash hamburger patties with a hamburger press.

My parents met in Wink. My dad went to school through 10th grade. His Jr year he was registered for three gym classes and 4 study halls. Lasted about 6 weeks and the school discovered he wasn’t taking anything but basketball. He quit school and went to work in the oil field. He met my mom before the war and they were married then he was gone for about three and half years all over Europe. After the war he went back to work in the oil field. I came along as first of baby boomers in 1946. I can remember he drove from Wink to Odessa to work. It was about 58 miles so I could go to school in Wink. Winkler county at one time was only county in Texas completely fenced in. That was because of fences and cattle guards over all roads.

I grew up in a “shotgun” house. Named because it is said you could stand on front porch and shoot a shotgun through front door and every bb would go out the back door. There was front door into living room. Then kitchen right behind living room……same width as front room, then bedroom, again same width and then bathroom and back door. Really “nice “ shotgun houses had another bedroom behind bathroom and then back door. We did not have a luxury model. I think there is a model of a shotgun house in a museum in Georgetown.There was no insulation in the roof – just sheetrock ceiling and tin over rafters. Great sleeping when it rained. Ha. Remember that storage shed we had on Cloverleaf? Well, it has tin roof and we would open bedroom window and listen to it rain.  When I was in elementary school we got plastic curtains for living room windows. Mom was very proud of them. We had gas heater stoves in every room. But turned them off when we went to bed. My parents were afraid the fire would go out and we would wake up dead from gas fumes. We did wake up frozen some mornings. Ha! I can say I never felt poor, needy, or wanting.  I lived less than half a block from school.

School in Wink was great. You walked to school. Everyone knew everyone else. You had to be good because with only two grocery stores your parents were bound to run into your teachers and find out all you were up to. Football was king. Every Friday everyone went to football games. There was a picture in Reader’s Digest that showed a sign they put up on Friday night “away” football games. “Will last person leaving please turn out the lights”! With all the oil money, we never wanted for football equipment. They had tennis shoes under the bleachers by sizes. When you needed new tennis shoes you just went in…..unsupervised …….and got you a new pair. If they wore out you just got another pair. In a small school you could take part in all activities. I marched in band at halftime from 7th grade until graduation. When I was cheerleading, I would leave field with 2 minutes until half and go to band bus and put on band uniform. Friend met me with horn and hat as band lined up. After marching, back to band bus to put on cheerleading outfit and back for second half. I played tennis and volleyball from 7th grade til graduation. Any away trip we all thought we should be fed.  We had chicken fried steak, French fries, salad and green beans every trip! When band went to marching contest we went to a cafeteria. The only “restriction” was be sure you can eat all you get. Tennis racquets, band horns, cheerleading uniforms, Pom poms, megaphones, etc.  were all paid for by school.

Now they have indoor Olympic pool, racquet courts, weight rooms for girls and boys, and all weather track (6 runners), the football field training facility is in indoors and air conditioned with artificial grass. The buses all have TVs screens at each seat for traveling. Now they have online college credits for students in evening and computers new every year for students and people in community to use.

Different time and different place. When they say good ole days in Wink, they are thinking of the 50s.  

Texas Millionaire Pie

Source: Diana Pendleton - Wink, TX
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes



  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup Imperial Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Adam's Extract Vanilla
  • 21 Ritz Crackers
  • cup Pecans


  • 8 oz HEB Cream Cheese
  • ¾ cup Imperial powdered sugar


  • ½ pint Whipping cream
  • cup Imperial sugar
  • ½ cup Pecans
  • 1 Small can Crushed Pineapples
  • 2 tsp Adam's Vanilla Extract



  • Beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar, salt, and vanilla. Roll crackers to crumb texture of meal. Fold into egg whites. Add pecans. Press into a 9” pie pan. Bake 15 minutes at 350 Degrees in greased and floured 9" pie pan.


  • Blend together softened cream cheese and sugar and spread on crust.


  • Whip cream, add sugar and vanilla. Fold into pineapple and pecans.
  • Pile on filling and refrigerate until serving.