Food, Wonderful Food


These are a few of my favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy them.

Sal's Secret Sauce

This is a recipe for a hot/sweet/sour barbecue sauce for chicken or ribs. I got this recipe from my sister, who works in the Rochester, NY, public library. There are several restaurants in Rochester that serve chicken with a sauce like this; the original restaurant is Smitty's. Smitty's was later copied by Sal's. One of my sister's friends worked at Sal's, and stole this recipe. Many of you University of Rochester grads out there will no doubt recognize this sauce if you make a batch.

To serve chicken Smitty's/Sal's style:

You should use enough sauce to pretty well soak the bread. Serve with baked beans and/or macaroni salad. The macaroni salad is good for cooling your mouth down after eating the sauce-soaked bread (although "real men" mix the macaroni salad with hot sauce).

NOTE: This is one of only two legitimate uses that I know of for Wonder Bread. (The other use is to wad it into balls and bait your fish hook with it.) You may be tempted to substitute something edible for wonder bread, something with actual flavor. DON'T DO IT! I've tried this with whole wheat and rye bread, and it just ain't the same. You want to use something flavorless and insipid, an "edible sponge".

OK, let's stop beating around the bush! Here's the recipe:

Sal's Secret Sauce


Put all wet ingredients in a pot, and stir in dry ingredients. Cook slowly until the oranges have started to fall apart, usually 3-5 hours. DO NOT BOIL!



This is derived from the Joy of Cooking's pancake recipe, but has been modified and experimented with considerably.

¾ cup white flour ¾ to 1 cup milk
¼ cup corn meal 1 egg
2 tsp. baking powder 1 Tbsp. oil
1-2 Tbsp. sugar Dash of vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt (optional)

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl; thoroughly mix wet ingredients in a second bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir only until ingredients are thoroughly combined. (Try not to over-stir; it will make your pancakes kind of tough and rubbery.) Cook on a greased skillet or frying pan. (A good temperature on my stove is halfway between medium and medium high.)

The amount of liquid can be varied to make thicker or thinner pancakes. I use about 3/4 cup of milk, which makes very big, thick pancakes; more milk will make them thinner. This recipe is almost infinitely flexible. You may:

You can even take out the vanilla and sugar, cut down on the baking powder, and add salt, pepper, and onion and/or garlic powder, and it makes good breading for chicken, fish, or onion rings.

Corn Bread

2 cups corn meal 1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. baking powder ½ cup oil
¼ tsp. salt (optional) 1 egg
¼ cup sugar
Combine dry ingredients. Combine milk, egg, and oil in a separate bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Pour batter into a greased cast iron skillet; bake at 425° F. until the top of the corn bread is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Mom's Cranberry-Orange Bread

This is my Mom's recipe for cranberry-orange bread. (My mom says this is actually Betty Crocker's recipe, but it's good in any case.)

2 cups flour, sifted 1 egg, beaten
1 cup sugar 2 Tbsp. shortening
1½ tsp. baking powder 1 cup raw cranberries, halved
½ tsp. baking soda Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
½ tsp. salt Water (to make ¾ cup with O.J.)
Blend dry ingredients. Mix in the rest, except the cranberries. Fold in the cranberries. Pour into greased 9×5×3 loaf pan. Bake at 350° F. for about 1 hour.

Apple Küchen

The Ann Arbor area is loaded with Germans. If you want good German recipes, all you have to do around here is go to the nearest church (which will usually be Lutheran) and buy the church cook book. That's where this apple küchen recipe came from: the "Our German Heritage" section of the Bethel United Church of Christ cookbook.

Cake Ingredients:
½ cup sugar 1 egg + enough milk to make 1 cup
2 cups flour 2 Tbsp. butter
3 tsp. baking powder Sliced apples

Streusel topping:
1 cup sugar (part brown) 1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. flour 3 Tbsp. butter

Cream sugar and butter. Sift flour and baking powder together and add to creamed mixture. Add egg and milk to mixture slowly. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Cover with sliced apples. Mix streusel topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top of apples. Bake at 350° F. until done, about 35 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe is also very good with rhubarb instead of apples.

Meat a la Neil

This isn't exactly a recipe; it's more like a set of guidelines for quick-cooking meat on the stovetop. The idea is much like an oriental stir-fry, but the ingredients are somewhat non-typical, and the cooking method is slightly different.

You can use pretty much any kind of red meat in this recipe. I usually use venison, because that's what we have around. Deer heart is particularly good this way; so is tenderloin. Since the meat is sliced thin, this is also a good way to prepare tough cuts where the grain of the meat goes every which-way. The recipe even works for liver: slice it thin and rinse it a bunch of times to get rid of some of the bile, and the marinade will even make liver (sort of) edible. OK, here's what you do:

You may also want to fry some onions after the meat is done, and add the meat and gravy back into the pan to reheat. (This is particularly good if you're cooking liver.)

Now for the Magic Marinade. The basic ingredients are:

The "something sweet" can be sugar, brown sugar, honey, or, weird as it sounds, maple syrup. (I prefer maple syrup.) Someday I'll work out proportions for this, but until then, you'll just have to guess. Other ingredients I frequently add include: Salt often is unnecessary, since the soy sauce has a fair amount of salt in it. (The cheap brands that are basically caramel-colored brine may in fact make things TOO salty.) Other things I've added on occasion include: Feel free to experiment with this; there are probably other things that would also taste good in it.


Corn Meal

If you have a ready source of dried corn, get a grain mill and grind your own corn meal. The corn meal from the supermarket tastes like corn; the fresh-ground stuff, on the other hand, tastes like CORN. The first time I had fresh-ground corn meal, it was a real revelation; the store-bought stuff is always degerminated, and has lost lots of volatile aromatics, so it pales in comparison to fresh-ground. A word of warning though: you have to use the fresh-ground corn meal right away, or it will get moldy, at least at room temperature. So if you grind your own, grind it as you need it.


The McKay household uses LOTS of garlic. I grow my own garlic, but frankly, the stuff from the store is just about as good. However, one of the useful tricks I've learned from growing and preparing my own garlic is to puree massive amounts of garlic all at once, so that you don't have to peel and press cloves when you're cooking. Peel your garlic, blend it in the food processor, put the garlic puree into ice cube trays or into little one-ounce polystyrene containers (available at restaurant supply places, like Gordon Food Service), and freeze. (We sometimes have invited friends over for a "garlic party" to do all this. It's a lot more fun when you have company, and it's a useful excuse to have a party.) If you use ice cube trays, the garlic "cubes" can be put into plastic bags and left in the freezer. Single cubes or one-ounce containers can be thawed and used one at a time; 15 seconds in the Microwave does the trick.

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