Recipes from the Books
Earlene Fowler

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Benni Harper


Aunt Florene's Banana Nut Bread   -   Grandma Webb's Yummy-Good Peach Cobbler  -   Mary Arnell's Impossible Pie   -   Benni's No-Bake Feel-Good Cookies   -   Yankee Cake  -  Bacon Gravy

Aunt Florene's Banana Nut Bread

Aunt Florene's Banana Nut Bread (a recipe she gave to the Ajo Cemetery Association Cookbook) - Aunt Florene is my mother's only sister. This is definitely a recipe that Dove would have in her personal cookbook. The Crisco and the buttermilk are two things Dove would use a lot.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup mashed bananas
5 tbsp. buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream first 3 ingredients. Add next 4 and then lastly add the bananas, buttermilk and nuts. Bake in loaf pan at 350 degrees for 50 or 60 minutes.

Grandma Webb's Yummy-Good Peach Cobbler

This is the peach cobbler I'm thinking about when I talk about Gramma Dove's peach cobbler. I promise you, it is not like any you've tasted before. Grandma Webb (my Arkansas grandma--my mother's mother) never wrote this recipe down. Like most good Southern cooks, all her best recipes were in her head. We wanted the recipe so bad that one time when my older sister, Mary Edith, and I were visiting her, we asked her to make it. Mary Edith stood next to her with a measuring cup and a tablet and attempted to figure out the recipe. Now, I've never personally made this recipe, but Mary Edith has, and it does come out. But you may have to fiddle with it a little. It's truly the dough that makes this cobbler special. Grandma Webb is in heaven now, but her peach cobbler lives on. This is exactly how the recipe is written down so you may have to experiment. I have no idea what it means to cook the dumplings until they are just about done (but it sure reminds me of something Dove would say!)
1 29 oz can sliced peaches in syrup (or 16 oz if you don't want as much peaches in your cobbler)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. nutmeg (can add other spices if you want)

Combine above ingredients into a 4 quart sauce pan. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook approximately 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the following to make the dough.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
5 oz. evaporated milk
1 cup shortening (Butter Crisco works well)

Add water until the consistency of mush. Put on floured board and knead. Add flour as necessary.  Separate dough in half (1/2 for dumplings and 1/2 for crust). Roll out dough to flatten.
Cut first half in strips and drop into cooking peaches. Cook until dumplings just about done. Put contents in a 6 quart Dutch Oven. Take second 1/2 of dough and lay on top. Cover to the ends. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and nutmeg. Bake in 500 degree oven until crust browns. 

At the bottom of the recipe is written these words so I assume my grandma must have said to put it there. 

John 6:35 "And Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life."

Mary Arnell's Impossible Pie

Mary Arnell was my mother. My dad and her family called her Arnell. I called her Mama. Though Grandma Webb and Aunt Florene (Mama's mother and sister) loved to cook, Mama didn't. She only cooked because she had to. This was a custard pie recipe that she really liked because it was so easy and quick. It was the recipe she contributed to the cookbook of the Women's Missionary Society of Immanuel Southern Baptist Church (June 1978). This was the church where Allen and I met in Sunday School when we were fifteen and where we were married four years later. 
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup coconut
2 tsp. vanilla

Blend in blender. Grease a 10 inch pie plate and pour in.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Benni's No-Bake Feel-Good Cookies

This recipe is one that I've known since I was in junior high school.  I think it was the first thing I ever learned to cook. The next was, of course, tuna casserole.  This works best with real butter but you can use margarine (or oleo as my mama used to call it) if you want.  It tastes best eaten straight from the sauce pan and is especially good (and necessary) on days you are very depressed.  Of course, you'll be even more depressed the next day when you step on the scale...
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk

Put in a sauce pan. Heat on low to medium burner until mixture boils. Take off of burner and add:  

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (both smooth and chunky are good)
3 cups Quaker Oats (not quick cook kind)

Mix. Add more oats if necessary to make thick mixture. Eat some from pan.

Drop the rest by spoonful on tin foil. If in good mood, let husband, children or friends lick the pan. If in bad mood, keep it for yourself.

They are best eaten on the day they are made. They don't keep well. Think of me when you make a batch!

Yankee Cake

This recipe has been in my family for over 40 years.  It was my mother, Mary Arnell's, favorite cake and has always been made best by her only sister, my Aunt Florene.  I mention the cake in my fifth book, Dove in the Window, on page 24 where Benni is taking it to the annual Ramsey Ranch barbecue.  The cake recipe isn't the only thing I stole from my mother's family for my books.  Bennie's last name, Harper, is also my maternal grandma, Muriel Sue's, maiden name and Bennie's first name comes from my cousin, Benny, who is as different from the fictional Benni as can be.  He's six feet tall and a fire chief for the Phoenix Fire Department.  
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup fruit juice
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts
1 cup dates
1 cup jam
4 eggs
2 apples (cut in small pieces)
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves

Mix and bake in three or four 9" pans at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean (about 30 -0 45 minutes depending on your oven and the thickness of your layers).  When cool, stack and frost with caramel frosting.


4 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
salt to taste
2/3 cup whipping cream or evaporate milk
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat butter in saucepan until melted.  Stir in brown sugar, salt and whipping cream.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly to keep from burning.  Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.  Stir in powdered sugar gradually until the icing is thin enough to spread.  Stir in vanilla.  

Mary Edith's Oh-So-Good Bacon Gravy

I am the second of four sisters.  This is my older sister's recipe for bacon gravy.  She is the one who makes it best in our family.  It is a traditional Southern recipe that tastes especially good on homemade biscuits, though canned biscuits are perfectly acceptable!  This is definitely not a low fat recipe so don't give it to your heart doctor.

1/2 lb bacon
6 oz evaporated milk (a staple in every Southern kitchen!)
1 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 cups of water

Cook bacon in large skillet on medium heat.  Set aside.

In a large bowl combine evaporated milk and approximately 2 cups of water. 

Add 1 cup of flour to the bacon grease in skillet and stir (it may look a little lumpy, if not, add more flour).  Slowly pour in milk and water mixture from the bowl, stirring constantly.  If it is too thick, add more water.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until hot and bubbly.

You can crumble the bacon into the gravy or have it on the side.

Serves 4 

Note from Earlene:  Most of the time we have to double and triple the recipe!  The men in our family go nuts over biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  In my books, even Gabe, Mr. Health-conscious, can't resist them!  


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