Casual and Flavorful Southern Menu
All that's missing from my favorite backyard barbecue menu is…your family or a group of your friends to enjoy it!
Grilled Pork Loin Roast, Avocado Mandarin Tossed Salad, Buttery Bubble Bread and Pecan Pralines make up a meal that my husband, Richard, and I like to serve when we host parties on our poolside patio. Our grown son, David, and our extended families often request it for special celebrations.
Over the years, we've tried all kinds of pork roasts on the grill, but many were too dry. After experimenting with several versions, we "invented" Grilled Pork Loin Roast. Cooked covered over indirect heat, the meat stays very moist.
The small town of Dublin, Texas, where Richard and I grew up, was a place that could have inspired Norman Rockwell. Family and community get-togethers involved delectable food made from scratch and always included that special ingredient—a pinch of love. So it was natural that I married my high school sweetheart.
My own real interest in cooking developed in Philadelphia, where we lived for 6 years while Richard played offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was drafted after playing college football at Baylor University in Texas.
Cooking and entertaining for the players and their wives was an important part of pro football. Team members came from all parts of the country, and we wives started cooking together.
It was a wonderful opportunity to cultivate lifelong friends and to learn regional cooking.
Our love of Tex-Mex food inspired the Avocado Mandarin Tossed Salad. This colorful mixture complements the pork roast. It's a salad that also goes well with lots of Mexican main dishes.
After Richard's retirement from football, we moved to Granbury, where he became a banker. My first career was teaching senior English for gifted students, college preparation classes and college writing. Now I work as a writer and have had career/business and college preparation articles published.
I also write a cooking column—"Bon Appetit"—for my local newspaper, the Hood County News. In an early article, I shared my recipe for Buttery Bubble Bread…and readers still request that I rerun it. I think people are very surprised that this yummy pull-apart monkey bread is actually simple to make.
It was the first homemade bread I made for David when he was a toddler, more than 25 years ago. He lives in Florida now, so each homecoming dinner features comfort foods he requests by phone in advance.
Now that I have a bread machine, I mix the dough in the machine, take it out and let it finish rising the second time, then bake it conventionally.
For dessert, I like to serve Pecan Pralines. These traditional treats complement a variety of foods. Many praline recipes I've tried were complicated or unpredictable. This is one that I'm confident to share with even a beginner cook. Pralines can be made ahead. But choose a nice sunny day, since high humidity can affect their texture. Be sure to let the mixture reach the soft-ball stage before stirring in the butter and vanilla.
Her Family's Cooking!
To surprise my mom, Billye Thiebaud Young, and mother-in-law, Dorothy Nell Stevens, I wrote and published a cookbook of treasured family recipes. Both of them are fantastic cooks, and Six Generations of Southern Cooking preserves their great recipes along with some from other relatives.
Mom gave me a subscription to Taste of Home the first year the magazine was published. It's very popular in this area. In fact, last year the golf club in our development gave 200 copies of the Taste of Home Annual Recipes cookbook as table prizes for our tournament. The women were elated to receive such a wonderful, practical gift.
Besides cooking, I like to work in my flower garden and swim. Richard and I now enjoy cooking together and experimenting with new recipes. We've even attended several cooking schools.
We enjoy hosting dinners for relatives and friends. To honor a recent milestone wedding anniversary, I gave Richard a surprise dinner party. The biggest challenge was keeping it a secret as I cooked a meal and desserts for 40.
I resorted to hiding the cookies in the attic to keep them from him. Now anytime our friends come to visit, they want to know if they can check the attic!
I've enjoyed telling you a little about myself and my family and sharing the recipes for my always-popular patio meal. Like all the delicious dishes Taste of Home features, they are real favorites from real people. Bon appetit!