A forever family cookbook: Meet this Southlake family whose old-fashioned comfort food brings smiles to their table

By dani2011dhs@gmail.comMarch 1, 2023No Comments

A forever family cookbook: Meet this Southlake family whose old-fashioned comfort food brings smiles to their table

With the prescience that comes from loving someone all your life, Claire Johnson’s grandfather, A.C. Simmons, insisted his wife Dorothy write down the luscious recipes that brought her family to the table for decades. He turned them into a cookbook that now is falling apart, but the tantalizing goodness that comes from the old-fashioned comfort food is still bringing smiles to the Johnson family.

Claire, who calls Southlake home, had lunch with her grandmother every Wednesday for years, enjoying the bounty of her table until Gramma moved to an assisted living facility. Even then, Claire and Gramma shared lunch on Wednesdays until Gramma passed away three years ago.

Claire Johnson and her grandmother, Dorothy Simmons, made Wednesday lunch together for decades.

“Now I cook from her cookbook to be close to her,” Claire says. “She expressed her love through her cooking.”

Gramma’s mac and cheese is a family favorite; she made it every Wednesday for Claire’s daughters, Jenna, 17, and Lea, 15. Lea used to finish off the whole creamy bowl all by herself.

Claire Johnson, center, and her daughters, Lea, left, and Jenna serve Gramma’s mac and cheese on holidays, but the hot, gooey dish makes an appearance any time comfort food is in order.

The girls, like their mother, have Gramma’s magic touch in the kitchen. Jenna bakes tomato dishes on Tomato Tuesdays, a practice she instituted in 2020. Lea, whose interest in art has left little time for cooking, is the baker in the family, drawing raves from her mother and sister for her lemon bars.

Gramma would serve pork chops with cream of mushroom gravy, relish salad and pecan pie with the mac and cheese. When you need the warmth of good, old-fashioned comfort cooking, take a page out of Gramma’s cookbook. The smile begins at the end of your fork.

The crunch of Relish Salad, a family favorite, makes for a good pairing with the mac and cheese.

Relish Salad – Serves 8

  • 1 can French-style green beans
  • 1 can LeSeur Peas
  • 1 can shoepeg white corn
  • 1 can small lima beans
  • 1 can pimento, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup salad oil
  • ¾ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Drain liquid from canned vegetables. Mix together with chopped vegetables. Combine dry ingredients, salad oil, vinegar and water. Pour over vegetables.

Mac and Cheese – Serves six

  • 8 ounces macaroni noodles
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ stick butter
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces American cheese
  • 2 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • Crushed RITZ Crackers

Cook noodles in boiling water for approximately 8 minutes. Warm milk and butter. Add cheeses and melt, stirring constantly. Mix in noodles. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Top with crushed Ritz crackers. Bake a little longer until the crackers brown.