Steel Magnolia Series: Louise J. Hunter
Bear with us here because we’re not totally off base on where we’re going with this post. People have been celebrating Mother Nature’s coldest season IN JULY for as long as we can remember (and our daughter’s think we’re old but we ain’t that old)! Christmas in July, you say? Um hmmm, we see you. Some folks are even going so far as putting a Countdown to Christmas on their Facebook posts.
While we could very well go off on a tirade about that blasphemous behavior, let’s stick to the matter at hand. We’re actually featuring some cold weather staples to add to your comfort food repertoire because they are signature dishes from a very special lady who happens to be celebrating her 87th birthday on July 16th.
So if it’s too dang hot to fire up your ovens right now for these warm-you-from-the- inside delights, bookmark this page and ask Siri to remind you to come back to it right about mid November (the spinach casserole would make an excellent addition to your Thanksgiving menu)!
Now, because it’s summertime and we’ve been running around like squirrels in the middle of the road trying to get our ducks in row while our girls were away at summer camp, Ellen and I divided and conquered on the cooking and blogging front. Recently, Ellen highlighted several family favorite grilling recipes. This week, I (Stephanie) will focus on the star cook in my mom’s family, who also happens to be the lady behind the aforementioned July 16th birthday. Words cannot possibly do her justice, but she remains to this day the most glamorous person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I mean, y’all…she showed up for a visit to southern VA from her home in Naples, FL wearing frayed jeans, a crisp white button-up shirt and her deceased husband’s Rolex. She wrote the book on classic style!
Her 87th birthday seems as good a time as ever to introduce her to the SDB Tribe. But one write-up won’t do for my Aunt Louise. Naturally, one should parade around a steel magnolia all week (or longer) for her day of all days. So grab a seat and get ready to be thoroughly entertained, well fed and immersed in all things southern ALL. WEEK. LONG. SDB friends, I am delighted to introduce you to Louise J. Hunter, born in Tennessee, educated in nursing at Tulane, curator and keeper of my family’s genealogy, regent of the DAR and so much more.
I’ve gone long enough and will share details another day from our cooking soiree last fall when Aunt Louise showed Ramsey and me how to make her infamous meatloaf and spicy spinach pepper jack casserole (recipe is straight from the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans). If you’re one of those Christmas in Julyers, you might be ready for this one. For all the rest of us, save these gems for a cooler day and remember Aunt Louise’s 87th if the thought crosses your mind.
Happiest of birthdays to the true lady who tried her very best to teach me — at a young age, might I add — the secrets of being a belle. If I grow up to be half the southern lady that you are, I’ll be pleased as punch.
All My Love 87 times Over,
- 1 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1 medium sized onion, chopped
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 can Hunt's Tomato Sauce
- 1/2 can Hunt's Tomato Sauce
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tbsp mustard
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or molasses (Aunt Louise went with brown sugar)
- Preheat oven to 350. Lightly mix ingredients and form a loaf. Place in shallow pan. While it's starting to bake, get busy on the gravy. Y'all. Don't skip this critical step!!!
- Combine ingredients and pour over meatloaf. Continue baking for 1.5 hours and baste occasionally.
- Serve with white rice. UN-REAL.
- The Lovely Louise was the second yacht my Uncle Lee named after his beloved wife and my aunt, Louise J. Hunter.
- 2 packages frozen chopped spinach
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped onion
- 4 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup liquid from cooked spinach
- 6 oz pepper jack cheese (cut into cubes)
- Cook spinach, drain, reserve 1/4 cup liquid
- Cook onions in butter
- Stir in flour, liquids (milk and spinach liquid), and flavors (pepper, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce)
- Cook until thick
- Add cheese and stir until melted
- Add spinach
- Place in casserole dish and cover with Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
- The Sweet Louise was the first yacht my Uncle Lee named after his great love and wife, Aunt Louise.