Birthday dinner by the book—a gift that keeps on giving

Red Beans and Rice, and Corn Bread.

Dorothy, my mother-in-law, is an inspiration to me in many different ways. She respects her son and his household, she is an amazing guest who claims to love ironing and laundry, and she is a doting and beloved grandmother who puts cat faces on every card she sends to the kids. Dorothy raised her three children alone, after losing her husband at a young age. She lived frugally on a military survivor’s pension, but spared nothing when it came to her kids’ welfare, education and health. She put her energy into her family, knitting them sweaters, being their den mother, and preparing them delicious food, made from scratch.

When my husband went away to college he asked for, and received, copies of favorite recipes. Hand written, and now laminated and placed in a notebook, we have Dorothy’s recipes for most all of Doug’s favorite childhood meals. Many of them have the name of a town (Quantico or Florissant or Hannibal) where she first tried the dish, along with that date (1962, 1950, 1973), and sometimes with a comment like, “Doug’s Birthday 1975, Very Good!”

This is the book that I go to when it’s Doug’s birthday, to get out the recipes for Red Beans and Rice, and Waldorf Red Cake (Louisiana, Mo, Aunt Margaret, 1961).

Happy Birthday, Doug!

Dorothy’s Red Beans and Rice (as copied from recipe book, below)

  • 1 lb. red beans

Bring to boil in 1-1/2 qts. water, set aside for hour or over nite is OK.


  • Ham hock — or bone — or several slices bacon
  • large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. red pepper (or less taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1 can tomatoes (2 cups)

Bring all to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours.

2 thoughts on “Birthday dinner by the book—a gift that keeps on giving

  1. What a wonderful gift. I treasure my grandma’s recipe book, as much for the sight of her handwriting as for the recipes. I also have Mom’s file box of recipe cards, Happy Birthday, Doug.

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