The inspiration for today’s recipe comes from this Texas magazine, a Sunday insert to the Houston Chronicle, dated September 13, 1970, which I found among a stack of cookbooks at a recent estate sale.

IMG_5767 On the cover is Ann Criswell, the Houston Chronicle’s first food editor. IMG_5766

Ann was the Chronicle’s food editor from 1966 until she retired in 2000.  I still have tons of recipes I clipped during her time as editor, mostly from the ’80s and ’90s.  The Chronicle’s food section was the first food section in Houston, and the Houston Post followed suit a week later.  The food section, which featured an average of 60 recipes per week, was largely geared towards middle income families.  One of her most significant contributions (in my opinion) was arranging the recipes so that they could be cut out of the newspaper in one piece — a practice I wish Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and other food magazines would adopt.

In an interview last fall, she reminisced about what a different world it was when she started the food section in 1966.   She said that she was constantly discovering and researching new foods that came on the market — things like arugula and starfruit.  As the recipes in the magazine reflect, there was a heavy reliance on canned soups.

In the section of the magazine on vegetables, she shares a secret:

IMG_5827 (2)

She goes on to advise that “[c]anned vegetables serve a purpose, of course, and can be company best . . . .  But no woman should consider herself an accomplished cook until she has mastered fresh vegetables.”  I found it kind of amusing that of the 14 vegetable recipes, half of them called for canned or frozen vegetables.

I found some of the ads interesting too, particularly this one, for the Trim Gym:


My, how exercise has changed!  This looks like exercise that even I could do, which doesn’t look much harder than lying around on a broken ironing board, and I don’t think you need a Lululemon outfit to use it:


Seriously — if you know where I can get one, please let me know!  (I’ve also been considering taking up bull riding, because even if you’re really, really good at it, it only takes 8 seconds, and that’s about my limit for exercise.)

I had a really hard time picking out a recipe from the magazine to make.  Although they might have been awesome in 1970, they sounded awfully unappealing today — dishes like “Tomato Wine Sauce” made with a can of condensed tomato soup, and “Swiss Shrimp Fondue” made with frozen condensed cream of shrimp soup, Swiss cheese, and small frozen shrimp.  But then this recipe for Hot Jalapeno Corn Bread called to me:


With the exception of the addition of 1/4 cup corn oil, the recipe is pretty much the same as the one you can still find on packages of cornbread mix today.  It bakes up dense, and moist, and goes really well with barbecued anything.  My husband heated up a few slices in a skillet the next day, and it was perhaps even better, with its lightly toasted bottoms.

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk (can use low-fat)
  • 3 cups yellow cornbread mix (I used three packages of Martha White)
  • ¼ cup corn oil
  • 1 cup canned cream-style corn (the recipe calls for a No. 303 can, but I couldn't figure out what that was)
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • l large grated onion (optional -- I omitted)
  • 1 4-ounce can jalapenos, chopped (I used jarred pickled jalapenos)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place eggs in a medium mixing bowl and beat slightly. Blend in remaining ingredients. Pour batter into a well-greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, being careful not to let it dry out. Cut into squares and serve.

Easy and delicious


 Here’s to you Ann — thanks for the memories!


I had lunch today at Barnaby’s Café in the Heights, located at 2802 White Oak Dr.  One of my friends ordered the chicken burrito, and when the monster creation arrived at the table, we all just kind of stared at it and its bizarre garnish:


Talk about food porn

Hello?  In the words of my friend Jannine, is that a burrito, or are you just happy to see me?  I’m just going to go ahead and say what I know you must be thinking and get it over with — it’s a jalapeñis.  It brought to mind the infamous banana candle, which I still can’t believe anyone would ever suggest as a healthy meal for children:

381767_1901344912375_918567386_n[1] Not gonna go there

While the burrito might suggest that sex is in the air, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I think more people are inclined to think that love is in the air.  One of the things that will definitely be on our Valentine’s Day dinner menu is Spring Mix with Strawberries and Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette. Chocolate and strawberries — it’s a no-brainer.  I’m way beyond cutting heart shapes out of beets and red peppers, and other such cutesy stuff.  This, on the other hand, is the salad that when you make it, your family will ask, “Are we having company?”  I admit that blue cheese, fruit, and nuts are nothing new when it comes to salad, but the vinaigrette–nutty from hazelnut oil, with rich cocoa notes and subtle sweetness from balsamic vinegar and golden syrup–makes this salad unique and memorable.  It’s a great way to say “I love you” this Valentine’s Day.  Definitely better than a burrito with a jalapeñis.

Recipe type: Salad
  • ◾For the Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette:
  • ◾¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ◾¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ◾1-1/2 tablespoons Lyle's Golden Syrup (can substitute honey)
  • ◾2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ◾½ teaspoon salt
  • ◾¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ◾Pinch of ground cayenne
  • ◾½ cup vegetable oil
  • ◾½ cup hazelnut oil
  • For the salad:
  • ◾8 to 10 cups spring mix
  • ◾1 cup sliced strawberries
  • ◾½ cup glazed pecans*
  • ◾4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • *I like to use Fisher Glazed Pecans, but you can use any glazed nut you'd like. Toasted pecans are nice too.
  1. For the cocoa balsamic vinaigrette, in a medium bowl, whisk together vinegars, syrup, cocoa, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Slowly whisk in oils until smooth and emulsified. Transfer dressing to a serving container.
  2. Divide spring mix among 6 individual salad plates, chilled if possible, and drizzle with dressing, reserving any unused dressing for use at another time. Arrange strawberries, blue cheese, and pecans decoratively on top, and serve.


These are really, really good.  Really.


<3 <3 <3 <3

Roses are red

Violets are blue

If you don’t like my salad

I’ve got a burrito for you