Grandma’s Sweet Baked Stickies

Grandma's Stickies

If you could meet and eat with one person who’s ever lived on this earth, who would it be?

My answer’s easy. It’s my grandma, Lois McCombs Tessnear, my dad’s mom.

I’ve not yet met her, but I will someday. She passed away three years before I was born. But I think of her often, including every time I bake in our home kitchen.

My mom and dad tell me Grandma was a very good cook and that one of the things she made was what they called “Stickies,” biscuits sweetened with vanilla and sugar. Along with World War II era letters she exchanged with my grandpa Harry and the homestead they settled that remains in our family, the Stickies are one of the things I have with which to remember Grandma.

I recently got her Stickies in my mind and had to make some. Of course I thought about Grandma as I shaped the dough, flavored it, and slid the Stickies in and out of the oven.

I’m certain my Stickies don’t compare to hers. How many cooks can say their creations live up to the legendary dishes of the family members who came before them? But I’m thankful I can make something tasty that will always remind me of a woman whose life led to mine and who I’m told was as sweet as these warm, sugary, vanilla-flavored biscuit rolls.

Here’s how I suggest you make your own Stickies in seven simple steps.

1. Start with my wife Molly’s simple biscuit dough recipe.

2. Once you’ve formed the dough into a big ball, roll it out on a floured surface.

3. Cover it with vanilla and granulated sugar (you could also use brown sugar for a very different flavor) to your liking. My dad always says you can’t add too much vanilla and sugar, so don’t get too concerned about measurements on this step.

4. Roll the flat dough up by folding it toward you in one long roll.

5. Slice the dough into thin pieces that will remind you of the shape of uncooked cinnamon rolls.

6. Place them an inch or so apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

7. Bake on 425 to 450 for about 10 minutes. Time will vary, depending on your oven. We suggest you don’t overcook them so they come out nice and soft and gooey.

Enjoy, and be sure to share your Stickies with us on social media using the hashtag #FoodieScore!

Sweet & Savory Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is the epitome of the old saying, “It is whatever you make of it.” As long as it involves some kind of chicken and a mixture of other ingredients, it can probably be classified as chicken salad, but all chicken salads are definitely not created equal.

I’ve always preferred a sweet chicken salad with a bit of crunch to it. What I’ve found over time is that grapes add the sweetness I like, while thinly chopped almonds supply the proper crunch. Many folks add celery to chicken salad, which gives you a kind of crunch, but it also alters the flavor to produce a certain “bite” that I’m not always fond of.

After a little experimenting in the kitchen to get just the right mixture, here’s the #FoodieScore chicken salad recipe we have come to love. Sometimes we’ve used can chicken, which works extremely well for simplicity or in a pinch, but we’ve discovered that the freshness of leftover rotisserie-style chicken is even more flavorful and hearty. We’re also fond of boneless chicken breasts that have been boiled, shredded by hand and then incorporated into chicken salad.

This chicken salad recipe, which will serve about 4, is delicious in on simple white bread, on fresh, lightly toasted croissants, or as more of a dip on a plate with your favorite crackers or chips. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Just blend together well)

1 ½ cups (or 12.5 ounces) shredded chicken

1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise

1/4 cup chopped red grapes (any color is fine, but red can add a nice pop visually)

1 tablespoon chopped almonds

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mae’s Sweet Coconut Pie

Coconut Pie 1

My wife Molly’s great-grandmother Mae is 98 years old. She’s one of the kindest women I’ve ever met, and I’ll never forget her sweet laugh and smile. It’s likely Mae is also one of the smallest and toughest women I’ve ever met. Well into her 90s, she mowed her own grass around her home and drove a golf cart through the woods to her church in the mountains of east-central Alabama!

It’s well known in the family that Mae has long championed eating what her body tells her it needs and wants. That mentality tells me her approach to food is deeply spiritual, which fits with the great faith by which she lives her life.

Mae wedding

Aunt Mae (left) traveled to North Carolina in January 2015, at the age of 95, to attend our wedding. (Photo by Ben Earp Photography)

We find great joy in being family with Aunt Mae, as we call her, and we take great pride in sharing this recipe for her Coconut Pie. Molly’s mother recently shared the recipe with us after a visit to see Mae in Alabama, and we tried the pie soon afterward. With each step, and then with each bite, I thought about how much of a blessing Mae’s 98 years have been for all who have known her. She continues to bless us with her example of faith and with her food, including this Coconut Pie. It’s light and sweet inside, with a strong exterior around the edges, just like Aunt Mae.

Coconut Pie 2

We know God made a special woman in Mae. Here’s how you can make her pie.

 

What You Need:

¼ cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk

¼ cup self-rising flour

1 can (3.5 ounces) coconut (About ½ cup)

What You Do:

1. Cream together the butter and sugar in an electric mixer.

2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after both.

3. Add the milk, flour and coconut, and mix well.

4. Pour into a lightly greased pie pan.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until set. In our oven, we needed only 40 minutes.

Slow Cooker Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam

Most everyone loves bacon.

You can easily make a spreadable bacon that you can slather on your burgers and other sandwiches, your breakfast toast, or even crackers for a salty-sweet snack.

If you have a skillet, slow cooker and food processor, you only need the right ingredients and a little time to make this delicious Bacon Jam. We’re sure you’ll enjoy it all the ways we suggested above—and in your own creative uses for all your favorite foods. Let us know what you think!

What You Need:

1 ½ pounds bacon sliced into 1-inch pieces

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

3 smashed garlic cloves

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

¾ cup brewed coffee

What You Do:

1. Cook the bacon until it’s slightly browned in a skillet. (I prefer cast iron for this.) Drain the bacon.

2. Keep about a tablespoon of bacon fat in the skillet, add the onions and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, syrup and coffee and bring to a boil. Scrape fat from the pan to include, then add the bacon to the mixture and stir to combine.

4. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker, and cook uncovered on high until the liquid is syrupy, about 4 hours.

5. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

You can refrigerate the bacon jam in airtight containers for up to 4 weeks. Enjoy!

Foodie Travels: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur, Ala.

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For nearly 95 years, the legend of Bob Gibson’s delicious barbecue and his unique white barbecue sauce have spread across North Alabama. Despite that near-century tradition, however, most casual diners even in other parts of the South know little if any about “Big” Bob Gibson or the white sauce.

When I lived in North Alabama I had the opportunity to sample barbecue across the region—and Big Bob Gibson’s two restaurants in Decatur became my measuring stick for BBQ chicken perfection and, in my mind, the de facto original home of white sauce. (If this is your introduction to white sauce, think of it as a peppery ranch dressing-type condiment with an extra “kick” to it.

Gibson’s restaurants, still operated by his family, offer a full menu of pork, ribs, brisket, sides and other fixings, but it’s the chicken doused in that white sauce that keeps my mind coming back. So it’s fortunate you can also order bottles of the white sauce and have them shipped to your home, which is exactly what my wife Molly did this past Christmas. I couldn’t wait to open the concoction, dunk a few freshly grilled chicken breasts in it and serve them alongside a feast of Southern food favorites.

Obviously there’s nothing quite like visiting Big Bob Gibson’s two establishments in Decatur, but thanks to the restaurant and American parcel services, I can recreate the next-closest thing at home. The sauce even comes with a recipe for Grilled Chicken Breasts using the white sauce. You just coat chicken breasts with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, cook with your desired method and then bathe the chicken in a bowl of white sauce. In my experience, you’ll need about half a sauce bottle for two large chicken breasts.

If you’ve visited Big Bob Gibson’s in person and you taste the sauce on your own grilled chicken at home, it’s almost like you’re instantly transported to North Alabama. And in the vast barbecue world there might be no tastier place to be.

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, 1715 6th Ave. SE or 2520 Danville Road SW, Decatur, Alabama