a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
Call Mama! is a 34-page handmade cookbook – cook-booklet, really – with titles like ‘Beans in a Bundle’, ingredients like ‘1 packet of Dream Whip’, and instructions like ‘spread one pint mayonnaise on top as frosting’.
Crisco, Cool Whip and Jello are mentioned too many times to count in this Southern gem of a recipe collection.
‘Mama’ is Nell Beaman, my friend Amber’s late grandmother. Amber’s mom, Linda, produced this cook-booklet about 10 years ago to celebrate family recipes that have been shared throughout the years.
Linda asked friends to contribute some of their favorite family recipes – myself included, which is why I have a copy of this treasure.
The recipes I contributed were my mom’s ‘Beef Bourguignon’ and my grandma’s ‘Jello Cake’. My mom’s ‘Beef Bourguignon’ has always been our family’s go-to, one-dish meal for any occasion where a lot of people need to be fed. And my grandma’s ‘Jello Cake’ was probably the most requested treat by my siblings and cousins when we would visit her Northern Michigan home every summer.
The nostalgia of this cook-booklet is overwhelming. It not only takes me back to Amber’s mom’s North Carolina kitchen, where I enjoyed many of the recipes from this collection, but it also sparks my curiosity about others’ family stories behind the recipes they contributed.
Like, why is Joe Beaman’s slaw called ‘McSwain Slaw’? And, I wonder if everyone in Kathy Watson’s family makes her ‘Cranberry Relish’ at Thanksgiving? Or, what makes Mrs. Walter Fox’s cake a ‘Florida Pound Cake’?
And finally, does everyone in Abby Williams’ family think about her fruity, sugary, spiced-up beverage recipe whenever they hear someone say, ‘Peppermint Tea’?
What’s the story behind your favorite family recipe?
Happy cooking and sipping!
(Adapted from the ‘Peppermint Tea’ recipe by Abby Williams as printed in the homemade cook-booklet, Call Mama!, produced by my friend and fabulous Southern cook, Linda Reidy.)
Makes 3 quarts
Ingredients for Southern Mint Tea:
12 whole cloves
8+ cups of filtered water
4 heaping teaspoons of your favorite loose leaf black tea (I used World Market® Organic Keemun)
1 cup prepared pineapple juice
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 large oranges)
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 cup Mint Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
Ingredients for Mint Simple Syrup:
1 cup filtered water
1 cup sugar
1 bunch fresh mint (e.g. one of the small packages from the supermarket)
1. Prepare the Mint Simple Syrup one day in advance: Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes, without stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, pour syrup over the mint, and gently crush the mint with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate syrup mixture overnight in a sealed jar. Strain and discard the mint leaves, and continue to refrigerate the syrup in a sealed jar. This makes about 1 cup of syrup. (Adapted from the Mint Julip recipe on What’s Cooking America.)
2. Prepare the tea: Add the cloves and 6 cups of filtered water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the loose leaf tea, cover, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture, discard the tea leaves and cloves, and allow the brewed tea to cool.
3. Flavor the tea: Combine all the juices plus 1 cup of Mint Simple Syrup in a 3-quart pitcher. Add the cooled tea liquid, and top with cold filtered water to fill the pitcher. Shake to combine, and refrigerate. The tea will keep for a few days, and it can be enjoyed hot or iced.