old favorites

Grandma’s “Irish cake”

My Irish grandmother, Annie Allen, arrived at Ellis Island in 1909, a twenty-one-year-old with two little boys, four and two, in tow. I can’t imagine. She joined her husband Bill, who’d come ahead two years earlier to work and save money for her passage, Bill had never met his son Sam. Grandma set up house, had two more kids, and lived a long life in her own home, cooking, baking, and tending her garden until she passed in her late 80’s. As a young lad, her youngest grandchild, I relished her “Irish Cake,” sitting with her for tea—a ritual she kept every afternoon around four whether I was there or not. During my time, Grandma’s Irish Cake was a Christmastime deal only. During the rest of the year, we had store-bought Irish Cake wannabe or raisin bread, either from the grocery or home-made.

Irish Cake is variety of soda bread, loved by many. It’s easy and quick to make, but don’t skip on the key ingredients—real good butter, cream of tartar, and especially buttermilk—or you won’t be getting the authentic experience. We never captured her exact recipe, which I’m sure came straight from County Down, where Grandma probably learned it from her mother, Mary Anne McKee. This recipe has been thoroughly tested in Dad’s kitchen and approved for annual consumption by the family.

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Dad’s Holiday Cranberry Relish

My first cook book was a classic, The New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne (Harper & Row, 1961). My ancient, rusty paperclip bookmarks tell the story of why I have kept it all these years. I use the book only a couple of times a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Clipped are Turkey, Stuffings, Mashed Potatoes with Variations, and Cooked Cranberry or Orange Relish.

We love it on the dinner table, but it’s even better as a condiment for turkey sandwiches. Lots more flavor than out-of-a-can.

Now a family must-have, Cranberry Relish uses cooked berries, not raw, and lots of sugar. Get over it. My family won’t let me play with this recipe. Having said that, I am going to be trying Keto-friendly versions to see if any sugar-substitutes have conquered the cool aftertaste issue. Suggestions?

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Yams Richard

New Orleans is one of our favorite places. On our first trip there, in 1977, we visited—through pure luck—two of its greatest restaurants: Antoine’s, where we had pompano en papillote (in a paper bag) and Brennan’s, for its famous breakfast. We took away two Hurricane glasses from Brennan’s, Continue reading

Grandma’s turkey stuffing

Thanksgiving has always been my second favorite holiday because when I was a kid, our family Thanksgiving made me feel a happy-family-ness, warmth, and love that were beyond our Scots-Irish/Norwegian family most of the time. Everyone (I think) felt the culinary highlight was the Thanksgiving turkey stuffing (sometimes called dressing interchangeably). Here’s how I remember it every Thanksgiving and Christmas watching my mom make the stuffing. Mom’s stuffing was identical to Grandma’s, a version she probably brought over from County Down.

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Dad’s Keto Chili

One way to make a long-term Keto diet go down easier is to Keto-ize your old favorite recipes. I mean, duh, right? Now that we are Keto veterans, in-it-to-win-it for the third time (!), I’m more interested than ever in making sure my old favs can still be enjoyed without guilty thoughts and can be modified for Keto and keep their greatness.

Dad’s Keto Chili

Chili has been a mainstay of DRB since the beginning. We started with a cookbook version, tweaked and tried variations over several years, tried our hand competing at a chili cookoff, and now are looking at Dad’s Chili with a fresh eye for its Keto potential. Lose the beer and hold the beans, and you’re most of the way there. Here’s the good news—there’s no need to sacrifice any flavor to make great Keto chili. Try out the recipe and see for yourself.

Note to Dads

This is a great family dish. There are ways the kids can help, or they can just enjoy the goodness and help you build your rep as a dad does wonders in the kitchen. There’s plenty of flavor and nutrition for non-Keto-istas, who can amp up their servings with tortilla chips or corn bread crumbled on top.

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Clam chowder

The cornerstone of Christmas Eve dinner at our house for more than 40 years, my creamy clam chowder has survived many experiments and diet plans. Whether you go for the high octane version with sourdough bread bowl, or the Keto option, this cozy delight gets us all ready for a cold ride to church. Sometimes we save the strawberry shortcake for after, sometimes not.

Keys to greatness: The bacon base, the herbal accents, and just the right thickening for that great–not too thin and not too thick–texture that everybody likes.

Keto Option: Our clam chowder is a great Keto deal from the get-go since we use bacon and heavy whipping cream and add butter for even more richness and fat. But since potatoes and wheat flour are Keto no-no’s, another solution had to be found to thicken the chowder.

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Mom’s potato salad

Summer’s here, and the time is right—for the old family recipe potato salad. The Queen Mum (this would be Dad’s mother-in-law) has a great recipe for potato salad that has been a family favorite for decades. She can’t recall where it came from and has “modified” whatever the original was, but she can’t quite recall how. This is no doubt the story of many old family recipes.

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Grandma’s stuffing

It’s what makes our Thanksgiving menu such a special, family-favorite menu. It is everyone’s favorite—back when I was a kid, when our kids were little, and now. It’s the #1 choice when we ask, “so, what should we have for Thanksgiving this year?”

This post has been updated as of 11/18/2022.

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Italian breakfast casserole

Breakfast casseroles can be really healthy and satisfying. Always a crowd pleaser, like if you’re having a morning-time birthday party or a day-after-the wedding family hangers-on brunch until it’s time for the relatives to get on their way home. The versions with bread are great, but this one and its variants taste just as good and are lower-carb.

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Crumbleburgers

In my little suburban, growing-up neighborhood in the 1950s, there was a food fad called “crumbleburgers” that was a favorite sandwich (besides PB&J) during my Boy Scout and “church kid” years. All the moms made them—my mom’s version was really great.

I don’t know if crumbleburgers are exactly the same thing as “sloppy joes” or not. As I remember, they were simplicity itself: ground beef and Heinz Chili Sauce. I don’t remember if my mom added fresh onion and bell pepper like I have. It doesn’t matter. It’s the memory that counts.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chuck (80-85% fat content)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 bottle (1/2 cups) Heinz Chili Sauce
  • salt and pepper

How to

  1. Heat the skillet to medium-high and add 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Add ground beef and break it up into crumbles as you cook for 8-10 minutes until thoroughly browned with no pink remaining.
  3. While the beef is cooking, create 1/4″-1/2″ dice from the onion and green pepper.
  4. Lower heat to medium, stir in diced onion and pepper and cook 8-10 minutes until vegetables are very soft and golden.
  5. Lower heat, add Chili Sauce, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, covered.
  6. Spoon over hamburger bun(s) to create an open-face sandwich. Nutrition info below doesn’t include a bun.

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Crumbleburgers

Simple, delicious "sloppy joes" from the 60's.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: ground beef, sandwich
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Calories: 396.61kcal
Author: dad

Equipment

  • 12" skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp fat for browning olive oil, canola, butter, etc.
  • 1 lb ground beef 80-85% fat content
  • 1 medium onion 1/4" dice
  • 1 medium green pepper 1/4" dice
  • 12 oz Heinz® Chili Sauce
  • 1 each hamburger bun

Instructions

  • Heat fat over medium-high heat.
  • Brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper for 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in chili sauce, bring to boil, lower heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove cover, add salt and pepper to taste. At this point, you must decide how sloppy you want your joes. If necessary, cook off some of the liquid over low-medium heat until desired thickness happens.
  • Serve on or over your favorite hamburger buns and pretend you're on a picnic.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 396.61kcal | Carbohydrates: 19.07g | Protein: 20.08g | Fat: 26.29g | Saturated Fat: 8.99g | Cholesterol: 80.54mg | Sodium: 769.22mg | Potassium: 398.39mg | Fiber: 0.97g | Sugar: 1.89g | Vitamin A: 110.08IU | Vitamin C: 25.96mg | Calcium: 29.71mg | Iron: 2.36mg
Nutrition Facts
Crumbleburgers
Amount Per Serving (1 sandwich)
Calories 396.61 Calories from Fat 237
% Daily Value*
Fat 26.29g40%
Saturated Fat 8.99g56%
Cholesterol 80.54mg27%
Sodium 769.22mg33%
Potassium 398.39mg11%
Carbohydrates 19.07g6%
Fiber 0.97g4%
Sugar 1.89g2%
Protein 20.08g40%
Vitamin A 110.08IU2%
Vitamin C 25.96mg31%
Calcium 29.71mg3%
Iron 2.36mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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