From the Texas Farm Digest, 1896: “Sow beets, carrots, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, radishes, turnips and spinach in beds well worked and cultivated. Plant herbs in protected area from last frost. Ready beds for later spring planting, working the soil to a depth of at least four inches. Prune shrubs, hedges and fruit-bearing trees.”



  Longtime Austinite Claire Keller sends along this recipe from her grandmother, who she says used to dip seasonal berries in chocolate for a special treat throughout the year.

Serves: 18


·       1 pint medium-large strawberries

·       ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips or white vanilla baking chips

·       1 teaspoon shortening or vegetable oil


  Gently rinse strawberries and completely dry on paper towels. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper.

  Melt chocolate chips and shortening in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

  Dip lower half of each strawberry into chocolate mixture, allowing excess to drip back into saucepan. Place on waxed paper-lined tray or cookie sheet.

  Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Store covered in refrigerator. Serve with milk or cookies as dessert or afternoon treat.


  Austinite Donald Krueger sends this recipe a special “lucky dish” that his grandmother used to serve after the first of each New Year. “Eat it anytime in the month and you will have luck during the year,” he advises.

Serves: 12


·       1/2 cup olive oil

·       1/3 cup sugar

·       1/3 cup white wine vinegar

·       1 teaspoon chili powder

·       1 teaspoon salt

·       1 pound Roma tomatoes, seeded, diced

·       1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed

·       1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed

·       1 (11 ounce) can sweet corn, drained.

·       1 red onion, diced. Can use sweet onion.

·       1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

·       1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

·       1 cup chopped cilantro (from 1 bunch)


  In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt. Add tomatoes, black-eyed peas, beans, corn, red onion, and bell peppers. Stir to combine. Stir in cilantro. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight to blend flavors. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


  Longtime Central Texas resident Belle Harper submitted along this month’s recipe from her great grandmother, which she says was used by her forefathers when they first arrived in Austin before the Civil War. “It makes a great breakfast with eggs and bacon on a cold winter day, just like the pioneers would have had, ” she says.

Serves: 4


·       1 cup milk

·       2 eggs

·       1 tablespoon honey

·       3 tablespoons vegetable oil

·       1 ½ cup cornmeal

·       1 teaspoon salt


  Beat milk, eggs, honey and oil together in a large mixing bowl. Add cornmeal and salt, and stir until moistened.

  Drop batter onto a hot greased skillet (a cast-iron skillet works best) in large spoonfuls. Cook both sides like pancakes until golden brown. Or the batter can be cooked like a cake in the skillet, then sliced into equal pieces and served at the table.

  Serve with maple syrup, molasses, fruit compote or applesauce.


  From The Southern Gardener, 1896: Soil should be tilled but not plowed, and should be turned in advance of precipitation . . . Manure and other boosters should be added before tilling, or can be bunked near but not against plants to warm the soil as decomposition occurs . . . Planting should be done after the threat of frost is past . . . Crops should not be planted all at once . . . Beets and radishes grow in all months . . . Beans and snap peas make a good cover crop and improve the soil for later crops, but the peas must be grown from seeds that are germinated in water for a few days prior to planting . . . Leafy lettuce grows well in cooler temperatures, as do carrots and many varieties of onions . . . Some tomatoes will grow well in an area protected from wind . . . 


   With the cold and flu season upon us, third-generation Austin resident Janis Walton sends along the following family remedies that she says have worked for generations:

·       To sooth a sore throat and dissipate phlegm from a bad cold, sip the following: Hot water, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey.

·       Or, for the same symptoms, add a bit of hot pepper, 1 tablespoon of honey and the juice from a lemon to a large cup of tea.

·       If you have nausea from the flu, rub 5 drops of peppermint oil around your navel. And if you have congestion, put a drop on your tongue and inhale.

·       Gargle salt water three times in 5-second intervals, four times a day, to relieve a sore throat or nasal congestion from a cold.

·       For winter ear aches, put one drop of warm garlic oil or a small garlic clove in in each ear for 30 minutes a day. 


   Cedar Park resident Dominique Simonescu sent along this month’s recipe from her grandmother. “Wassail is an essential for a happy holiday season,” she says.

Serves: 8


·       1 gallon apple cider

·       4 sticks Watkins Cinnamon

·       ½ teaspoons Watkins Cloves

·       ½ teaspoons Watkins Allspice

·       ½ teaspoons Watkins Nutmeg

·       1 whole orange, sliced with rind

·       1 whole lemon, sliced with rind

·       4 cups orange juice

·       1 cup sugar, to taste


  Combine all ingredients in a large kettle. Steep just below boiling point for two hours. Remove cinnamon sticks. Serve hot in heat-safe cups or mugs.


  Austin resident Fern Donnecker sent along this month’s recipe, which she says comes from her grandmother, an early-day Austinite. “It came from her mother. It’s the best turkey you’ll ever eat,” she says.

Serves: 8



·        One 17-pound whole fresh turkey, rinsed well & patted dry

·        1¼ stick (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, slightly softened

·        2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

·        2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

·        2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

·        3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

·        Salt and Watkins ground black pepper

·        3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

·        3 large stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

·        2 large onions, quartered

·        8 cups chicken stock


Sage Gravy

·        Turkey neck

·        ¼ cup fresh sage leaves

·        3 tablespoons unsalted butter

·        3 tablespoons flour

·        1 cup white wine

·        Salt and Watkins ground black pepper

·        1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage


 Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Combine the butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper and fill the cavity with half of the carrots, celery, and onion. Rub the entire turkey with the herb butter and season liberally with salt and pepper.

  Put 4 cups of the chicken stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
  Place the remaining vegetables on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Put the turkey on top of the vegetables, put in the oven and roast until lightly golden brown, 45 minutes.

  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue roasting, basting with the warm chicken stock every 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 160 degrees F, about 2 to 2 ¼ hours longer.

  After that, remove the turkey from the oven, transfer to a baking sheet, tent loosely with foil and let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

  For the gravy, strain the cooking liquid from the roasting pan into a medium saucepan (should be about 4 cups, if not, add more stock to make 4 cups). Add the neck, bring to a boil, add the sage leaves, remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove the sage leaves.

  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced. Whisk in the sage-infused stock and cook until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and chopped sage.



 Triana Gebbe submitted this month’s recipe, which she says she got from her grandmother many years ago. Her take: Scrumptous.

Serves: 12-16


·       3 lb.  Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced

·       1 cupDiced celery

·       1 cup  Seedless red or green grapes, halved or quartered

·       1 cup  Real mayonnaise

·       1 8-oz. cartonDairy sour cream

·       Salt and ground Watkins black pepper


  In a very large bowl stir together the chicken, celery, grapes, mayonnaise, sour cream, and salt, and pepper to taste until combined. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Makes 8 cups salad.

  Serve with Sweet Gherkin pickles, carrots and other garnishments. Can be served on biscuits sliced in half.


 From the Home Remedies Guide, 1881: “For pneumonia, take six onions, put into a large spider over a hot fire, add vinegar and rye meal to form a thick paste, stir and simmer ten minutes, Put into cotton bag, large enough to cover the lungs, and apply as hot as the patient can bear. In about ten minutes change the poultice, continue reheating poultice, in a few hours the patient will be out of danger. But continue until perspiration starts freely from the chest. Make two poultices. Also an excellent remedy for croup, when applied to the throat.”

  “For dysentery, take one tablespoon rhubarb root, one teaspoon baking soda, one teacup boiling water and a little peppermint. Take one tablespoon three times a day until unpleasantness passes.”


  Brynda Castelaro sends along this month’s recipe, which she says she got from her grandmother many years ago who once lived in a two-room log cabin. “She made this every spring with peaches she canned in the fall,” Brynda says. “It’s the best.”

Serves: 10


·       2 (16-ounce) cans sliced peaches in heavy or light syrup, or in fruit juice

·       1 pint fresh blueberries, optional

  • 1/2 cup baking mix (Bisquick)

·       1/3 cup sugar

·       Watkins Ground cinnamon

·       For topping, 2 1/4 cups baking mix (Bisquick)

·       1/4 cup sugar

·       1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter

·       1/2 cup milk

·       Cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup sugar combined with 2 teaspoons Watkins ground cinnamon)

  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  Spray a Dutch oven with vegetable oil cooking spray. Drain one can of peaches. Combine both cans of peaches, including the juice from the undrained can, the blueberries (if using) the baking mix, sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Place this mixture into the Dutch oven.

  For the topping, combine the biscuit mix, sugar, butter, and milk in a plastic bag. Drop bits of dough, using your fingers, on top of the peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  Place the Dutch oven into the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and crusty.



 From Homestead Remedies, 1900: “For the rash that develops from poison ivy, boil oatmeal in water until it becomes pasty in consistency. When the paste is warm enough to be tolerated, apply to the affected area of skin. One or two tablespoons of baking soda can be added to the paste for relief of associated itching. An alternate remedy is to mix three teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water, apply it to the affected area and let it dry. These treatments are tried and tested, and will relieve scratching and itching quickly if treated with proper haste.”


  Ren Hutchinson passed along this month’s recipe that came from her great-grandmother, who she explains grew up on a windswept farm in Oklahoma where she homesteaded with her parents in the late 1800s. She says the recipe has been a family favorite for years: “My Grandmom marked “Delish-ous!” on the recipe card, and that’s how good it is.” She served it for lunch and brunch every spring.

Serves: 4-6


·       4 slices of cured bacon

·       10 ounces of freshly picked spring peas

·       ¼ small red onion, chopped or sliced

·       1 cup cheddar cheese, grated or cut in small cubes

·       2 hard-boiled eggs, cooked and chopped

·       3 Tablespoons mayonnaise

·       2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

·       Watkins freshly ground pepper

·       Salt to taste


  Cook the bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper or kitchen towel until cool.

  In a medium-sized bowl, combine the bacon, peas, onion, cheese, and eggs. Stir in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately on fresh, washed greens.


  Donna Clayton sends along this month’s recipe from Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, for a pot roast she says tastes just like the ones her grandmother made for years — and like the ones her family has loved for generations.

Serves: 6

Prep Time: 2.5 hours


·       2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil

·       Watkins salt

·       One 3-5 pound chuck roast

·       2 fresh onions

·       6 to 8 carrots

·       Watkins black pepper

·       2 to 2 1/2 cups beef stock

·       3 or 4 fresh rosemary sprigs

·       2 or 3 fresh thyme sprigs


  Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

  Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and while it heats up prepare the other ingredients.

  Generously salt the chuck roast on both sides. Cut a couple of onions in half from root to tip, then cut off the tops and bottoms and peel off the papery skin. When the pot is hot, place the onions in the oil and brown on both sides, about a minute per side. Remove the onions to a plate.

  Thoroughly wash the carrots, but don’t peel them. Cut them roughly into 2-inch slices, and put them into the pot. Slightly brown them for about a minute or so, then remove them from the pot and allow the pot to get really hot again. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Place the meat in the pot and sear it, about a minute per side. Remove to a plate.

  With the burner on high, deglaze the pot by adding 1 cup of the beef stock, whisking constantly. The point of deglazing is to loosen all the burned, flavorful bits from the bottom of the pot. When most of the bits are loosened, place the meat back in the pot, followed by the carrots and onions. Pour enough beef stock into the pot to cover the meat halfway.

  Next put in the fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs. The fresh herbs absolutely make this dish. Put them into the juice to ensure that the flavors are distributed throughout the pot.

  Cover the pot and roast for 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of your roast. For a 3-pound roast, allow for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. For a 5-pound roast, allow for a 4 to 5 hour cooking time. When the cooking time is over, check the roast for doneness. A fork should go in easily and the meat should be very tender. Remove the meat to a cutting board and slice against the grain. Serve with vegetables and potatoes of your choice.


 With all the recent rains and humidity, mold and mildew are increasing problems. Jeanne Fischer of Austin sends along this solution from her great-grandmother’s remedy book: “Pour distilled white vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing. The smell will dissipate in a few hours. For light stains, dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water.”


  Austinite Terri Johansen, a fifth-generation Texan, offers this recipe from his grandmother, Juliana Franklin, one that was passed down through generations. He remembers hearing stories about how she used to buy vanilla and other ingredients from a Watkins salesman traveling in a buggy.



  For the cake

·       2 cups flour

·       2 cups sugar

·       1/4 teaspoon salt

·       4 heaping tablespoons Watkins cocoa

·       2 sticks butter

·       1 cup boiling water

·       1/2 cup buttermilk

·       2 beaten eggs

·       1 teaspoon baking soda

·       1 teaspoon Watkins Vanilla

  For the frosting

·       1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

·       1 ¾ stick of butter

·       4 heaping tablespoons Watkins cocoa

·       6 tablespoons whole milk

·       1 teaspoon Watkins vanilla

·       1 pound (minus 1/2 cup) powdered sugar

Preparation Instructions

  Use an 18x13 sheet cake pan, or two smaller.

  In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.

  Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

  In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

  While cake is baking, make the icing.

  Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

  Cut into squares and eat.


  From Nadine Miller, who sent along a copy of “Remedies for the Practical Housewife,” an 1893 book that her great-grandmother used. “She, her daughter, and her granddaughter used these with great success,” she reports.

·       “For a sprain, mix a little turpentine with flour and the white of an egg and apply it to the part. This cures a desperate sore.”

·       “For the head ache, snuff up a little juice of horse radish, or boil a hand full of rosemary in a quart of water. Put this in a mug and hold your head covered with a napkin over the steam as hot as you can bear it. Repeat till the pain stops.