Cast-iron skillets make everything better.
You should know something about my sister: you have to be careful what you say you don’t like around her, because chances are, she will find a way to give you whatever it is you don’t like the next time she has the opportunity. She has a mischievous sense of humor that delights in seeing confusion and sometimes terror on your face upon opening a gift. For example, she once gave me a pair of sweatpants for Christmas with the Greek letters of a sorority across the butt, knowing that I am completely not the type to ever be in sorority OR wear sweatpants with anything whatsoever written on the butt. She thought it was hilarious though, and in truth, it was.
So a few years back when we were driving together through the eye of the crappy chain restaurant storm that is downtown Grapevine, I should have just kept my mouth shut. But I saw a Luby’s and I decided to mention to my sister how gross I thought Luby’s was. So of course, for Christmas that year, she gifted me this little gem:
This cookbook contains a recipe for Jell-O that literally walks you through the steps on the box of Jell-O.
The best part of the gift was the inscription my sister placed inside the cover (I’m sure just her clever way to make sure I didn’t immediately sell it to Half Price), “Please remember the cafeteria genre of food: never to be left out, always to cause reaction.” Well put. Bodily reactions, she probably means.
This cookbook is amazing in so many was, and now I realize it’s perfectly suited to this cookbook challenge. My favorite parts of the book are the saccharine quotes sprinkled throughout the book: “I fell in love with my girlfriend over a Lu Ann platter one evening. She said, ‘I love the macaroni & cheese here.’ Then I said, ‘I love YOU!'” — Steven Landry, Austin, TX. Way to go, Steve. Stay classy.
A few other good things about this cookbook:
1. The photos somehow make the food look really good. If you’re into food porn, on pages 95 & 96 you’ll get a full blown spread of some really sexy mac & cheese. I was even considering making that recipe until I read on that the only cheese it contains is 3 cups American. Call me a snob, call me a Bolshevik, call me what you will, but I refuse to put American in my mac & cheese.
2. The servings are all for 6-8 people. So if you’re planning to have a bunch of old folks over for lunch, this is the cookbook for you!
I should mention that most of my friends grew up in Texas, and for them Luby’s is the epitome of comfort food and childhood memories. Jacob and I were planning on having about 6-8 people over to eat brisket last weekend, so I thought, what the heck, I’ll pick a recipe from the Luby’s cookbook, it will be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Herein lies the challenge… what recipe to choose? They all just looked so….. unappetizing to me. So I’ll admit that I took a cop out and chose to make this jalapeño cornbread. I’m sorry, you guys. I took on this cookbook challenge knowing that it would force me out of my food comfort zone, but I’m struggling a little bit with it. We’ll get there if you stick with me, I promise.
The cornbread was fantastic, of course, as are probably most of the things in this cookbook if I could just get over my snobbery. I personally don’t care for Luby’s, but I guess it’s one of those things that make Texas Texas, so I wouldn’t ever want it to go away. I’m glad that there’s a place for cute old people to go every day and talk about what’s on the menu. And spoiler alert: What’s on the menu is condensed soups, American cheese, and butter. Lots of butter.
[Thanks, Kristin! I’ll be sure to cook you up something real nice from this cookbook in a few months when I’m out in California.]