The Inspired Cook

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To all of the readers who are someone’s father, I wish you a joyous day. I hope that you are treated to a delicious meal, too.

At the age of 80, my daddy, Homer Kirkwood, passed away in March of 2004. Charles, my better half, lost his dad, Jesse Ward, in Sept. of 2008, just a few days prior to his 93rd birthday. Since then, Father’s Day hasn’t been the same for either of us.

                In honor of them, I dedicate this column. Both of these men were true Southern gentlemen with a delightful sense of humor.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Daddy ate a lot of beans since they were cheap, but he never tired of them. His grandma prepared his favorite beans, limas, just the way he liked them: soupy, in other words, with a lot of pot liquor or juice.

                I can see him now as a tow-headed little boy, eating lima beans and tipping up his bowl to drink every delicious drop of bean soup. His love of bean soup resulted in his being nicknamed Soup.

                By the way, many of you over the age of 50 may remember Kirkwood Body Shop in Eustace located on S. FM 316. My daddy built it and repaired cars for about 30 years before retiring in 1989.

                I haven’t made any limas in quite some time. Today, I’m sharing a recipe that I created inspired by my daddy’s love of them.

                Charles’s dad Jesse was born in Atlanta, Ga. At the age of two, he lost his father in a horrific train accident. To help support his mother and younger brother, Jesse had to drop out of school when he was nine to work in a cotton mill. Throughout most of his life, he worked as a truck driver.

After retiring, he belonged to the Van, Texas Volunteer Fire Dept. In his early 90s, he drove a fire truck and served as a school crossing guard.

                I’m sharing a casserole recipe I created years ago inspired by one in a cookbook that Charles gave me. The first time I made it for Jesse, he only served himself a tiny portion as he wasn’t a fan of casseroles.

                Charles and I were amazed that he kept going back for more while talking constantly throughout dinner. He was quite a conversationalist.

We believe he had four servings of it. At one point during his “second helpings”, he accidentally kept the serving spoon and began eating with it.

When Charles and I noticed his little faux pas, we found it very difficult to keep from bursting into wild laughter. Therefore, we avoided eye contact with one another and never let Jesse know what he had done.

Daddy’s Favorite Lima Beans

Ingredients:

1 lb. pkg. Dried large white lima beans

1 1/2 c. Diced cooked ham

1 t. each Garlic and onion powders

1 1/2 t. Sea salt, finely ground

3/4 t. Black pepper

1 T. Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

Water

Directions:

                Rinse beans and discard any broken, shriveled, or discolored beans along with any stones. Place beans into a large pot. Cover with 8 cups of cold water. Soak for at least 8 hours or overnight, which I believe is better.

                Drain beans through a fine wire-mesh colander; rinse. Place beans back into the pot. Cover them with water. Add ham and seasonings; stir.

                Over high heat, bring beans to a boil, reduce heat to Low, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If necessary, add more water during cooking.

Yield: 4-6 servings, depending on size

                Note: My beans cooked for 2 hours, and I had to add a cup of water before they were done.

I cooked my beans with the lid off, which results in a firmer, intact bean. If you like your beans rather mushy, cook them with the lid on. If you prefer them to be somewhere in between, then cook yours with the lid ajar.

Sausage-Stuffing Casserole

Ingredients:

                1 lb. Jimmy Dean hot breakfast sausage (You can use mild or regular.)

                1 (6-oz.) box Stove Top Stuffing mix, chicken flavor (I use the cornbread type.)

                1 (15.25-oz.) can Whole-kernel corn, drained

                1 c. Cheddar cheese, shredded (Sometimes, I use Fiesta-blend.)

Directions:

                Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a medium-sized casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumble and cook sausage; drain.

Cook the stuffing per box’s instructions. When stuffing is done, stir in drained corn and sausage, mixing thoroughly.

Place mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle top with cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Yield: 4-6 servings