Monday , 21 May 2018

Kyra’s Kitchen: Nostalgia

Editor’s note:  This is a special edition of Kyra’s Kitchen promoting an upcoming event at the North Texas History Center ( ‘Catch a Pre-Historic Taste of Collin County’, 9.1.11).  At this special event Kyra will be sampling some of the historic delectables noted below.

On Saturday Sept 17, Collin County Historical Society member and historian Randy Farmer will be giving us a glimpse of our agricultural past while Vicki Day, former Executive Director of the Society, will talk about the foods of our past and how they came to be part of our present cuisine. 
I was delighted to be invited to show how we have adapted those foods to today’s tastes and lifestyles – with tasting samples of course!

As I was leafing through my own collection of old recipes I came to realize how much we owe to those who came before us, those who so generously passed on their collective knowledge of food and cooking to enrich our own.

And so it is with our Texas culinary heritage.

Much of what was learned from the Caddo Indians, [who were remarkably sophisticated], was adapted by the pioneers to create a cuisine that is both modern and delicious.

The Caddo flat bread for instance was the forerunner of our ubiquitous tortilla – and their pecans, beans, corn, squashes, blackberries and honey are still part of our menus.

On Saturday – as  examples  of the happy amalgam of Caddo  and Pioneer foods –  we will taste Blackberry Jam Cake with a modern Twist – Pecan TartsYellow Squash MuffinsCorn Meal Thumb Print Cookies and Baked Tortilla Crisps, all pictured below.  The recipes will be available at the presentation on the 17th.

Of course not all the foods the Caddo Indians and the pioneers ate would find a place in OUR kitchens! There are SOME early recipes you will NOT taste on Saturday!  Quite frankly, although I challenged the TownSquareBuzz staff to help procure many of the ingredients necessary, there was not much cooperation when it came to the following recipes:

Braised Brains [Note: The Caddo were not clear about whose brains.] Curry of Rabbit
Roast Possum
Raccoon Pot Pie
Brunswick Stew [the euphemistic title for Squirrel Stew] and Egg Lemonade

We will also not feature Special Laxative Bread, but if you have a personal interest we will slip the recipe to you in a plain brown wrapper!

To whet your appetite and get you in the ‘mood’ for a Pre-Historic Taste of Collin County, here are a couple of recipes – which will probably be familiar to you – using ‘pioneer’ ingredients.

I look forward to meeting you on Saturday the 17th at 2pm!  Should you require further information, check out

TAMALE PIE [this has been a family favorite for years] ½ package corn tortillas
1 ½ lbs. ground round
2 onions, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic – crushed –or 1 teaspoon from the jar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 can whole kernel corn – drained
½ lb. Monterey jack cheese, grated
1 can Tomato Soup
1 can Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 325.
Butter a 9×12 casserole.
Brown the beef with the onions, garlic.  Stir in the chili powder.
Combine the soup and tomato sauce.
Line the casserole with tortillas.
Spread on half the meat mixture.
Spoon over half the tomato mixture.
Sprinkle on ½ the can of corn.
Top with more tortillas.
Repeat using the rest of the fillings.
Sprinkle on the cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the dish is bubbling.

Note:  You can substitute corn chips for the tortillas.

1 package frozen corn [thawed, cooked according to package directions] ½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon salt
1 can pinto beans – drained and rinsed
1 can black beans – drained and rinsed
1 cup diced red onion
1 tomato, diced

Toss together all the ingredients except the red onion and tomato.
Pile into a serving dish.
Stir together the red onion and tomato and sprinkle over the salad.
Decorate with some cilantro leaves.
Chill until ready to serve.
If desired serve with your favorite salad dressing
About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for’s “Food” section.  She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking.   She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions.  What would you like to have for dinner?

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