Key Lime Pie

For Joel.

Key Lime Pie


1 sleeve graham crackers (you will want Nabisco grahams in the red box)

2 T sugar

5 T butter (if you use unsalted, or you really like salt, you also need to add a pinch of salt)

Run the crackers and sugar through a food processor until they look crumbly, but not to the point of dust.  Melt the butter and pour over the cracker mixture until everything sticks together, then add the coconut.  Press into a pie pan and bake for 8 minutes at 350.


1 can eagle brand sweetened condensed milk (the lowfat kind really tastes no different, but if you’re trying to be health conscious, you really shouldn’t be eating pie in the first place…)

1 bag of key limes.

4 egg yolks

1 husband, brother, or combination of the two who don’t pick at their cuticles.

Cut the key limes in half and have someone else handle juicing them.  This task is arduous, boring, and really stings if you have any sort of wound on your finger.  You can use the pre-squeezed stuff, but it really isn’t good.  You want between a half cup and a full cup of juice, which is about 20 key limes or one bag of them.  Mix this with the Eagle brand and the egg yolks until smooth.  Then pour it all into the pie crust and bake it for 20 more minutes at 350.  Refrigerate for a few hours before you serve and, once it’s chilled top with whipped cream.  I’m a bit of a whipped cream snob (it’s homemade or it doesn’t touch my pie).  For that, you just take one small carton of whipping cream and whip it with some vanilla and about a tablespoon of sugar until it’s fluffy and holds its shape, but don’t go too far or it will be sweet butter.


Overall, I am not a fan of superfluous and superlative recipe titles. I hate the word “zesty”, I think it’s bold to claim your own recipe is “perfect” or “the best”, and I don’t know who your Memaw is so I don’t know if I can trust that her coleslaw is the best (and it’s not, this coleslaw is the best).

That said, this cornbread is pretty much perfect and is allegedly attributed to Waylon Jennings, but in our family it’s just “the cornbread recipe” because it’s so good there is only need for one. There are no bells and whistles, though certainly you can add some extras if you’re so inclined. It’s not overly sweet, but Jay has requested it as a birthday cake more than once. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like this cornbread, and I’m finally putting it up here so I don’t have to text a terrible photo of an old cookbook of my mom’s with a bunch of handwritten notes to people whenever they ask for the recipe. Heating the oil in the cast iron skillet while the oven is preheating makes a superb crispy crust, a step that you should not skip.


makes enough to serve about 8

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1 TBSP baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

olive or vegetable oil

Pour enough oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet to cover the bottom of the skillet and place the oiled skillet in oven while it preheats to 425.

Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sugar together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until blended and smooth. Melt the butter and gently stir it into the batter.

Using an oven mitt (from experience), remove the hot skillet from the oven and carefully pour the batter in. This will make a satisfying sizzling sound, and some of the oil might displace and move to the top of the cornbread, but it’s ok. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the top starts to turn golden brown. Invert the cornbread after about 5 minutes and serve it warm with a little butter.


Scent is supposed to be the sense most tied to memory and I completely believe it. A sniff of Armani Diamonds (my signature scent in 2007) puts me right back in my first classroom at age 22 at Friendswood High School. The smell of my high school (not a particularly positive scent) brings back a flood of memories when I catch a whiff on my dad’s jacket. Wet polarfleece reminds me of skiing, funnel cake and beer reminds me of the State Fair, and gardenia reminds me of swimming at my grandma’s house.

The briny smell of a jar of muffaletta puts me at a beach on Lake Ouachita with my family and best friends, eating sandwiches our moms made on the top of a cooler with slightly damp bread, Pringles (they don’t get smashed), seasonal fruit, and an iced down Fresca. My best friend’s dad always made the best olive salad for muffaletta and even still I love happening upon a gifted jar in their fridge. He shared his recipe a few years ago and I’ve tweaked it a little to fit my taste (he’s a green olive purist, I’m all about the black olives mixed in). So, for the sake of my one loyal reader, my brother Joel, here’s the best muffaletta recipe of all time (and I know, I’ve tried them all). I hope you one day get to eat a muffaletta lakeside, in a swimsuit, followed by a boat nap and, if you’re lucky, a trip to the marina for a dip cone.


makes a ton, like enough for the season and to share with your best friends

40 oz. jarred green olives with pimientos (a little more is fine)

1 jar giardiniera (it’s next to the olives)

1 can black olives

3 stalks celery

1 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed OR 1 onion

10 cloves garlic

1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice, about 12 lemons

1 1/2 cups olive oil

1 TBSP dried oregano

1/4 cup finely grated romano cheese

Drain and finely chop all of the olives, giardiniera, celery, onions, and garlic, reserve the jars the olives came in. You can do this by hand, but I use a food processor and do small batches and pulse about 5 times. You want finely chopped, but not baby food. Mix all of the chopped veg together in a large bowl.

Juice the lemons and whisk with the olive oil. Stir in the romano and oregano until everything is well-distributed. Pack the mixture into the reserved jars (and you might need an extra jar or two), and top them with the remaining juices. Refrigerate and let it all sit together for a few days before you first use it. I prefer it on a sourdough or ciabatta bread with provolone, salami, and capicola, preferably lakeside with a Fresca.