Grub Americana

The American Diner

Diners can be traced back to Walter Scott, a newspaper pressman at the Providence Journal who, in 1872, left the presses to sell late night coffee and sandwiches from a horse-drawn wagon.

Okra: Ladies’ Fingers of the South

Okra, or ladies’ fingers as the pods are sometimes referred to because of their long, tapered, finger-like shape, is thought by many historians to have originated in east Africa.

Fresh Fig Tart

The sweet tart crust is layered with almond cream, fig jam (either homemade or store-bought) and fresh figs.


The fig was believed to be one of the earliest plants cultivated by the human race.


Persimmon fruit, when ripe, is delicious eaten fresh. But they make wonderful pies, cakes, cookies, and breads.

Yam or Sweet Potato?

Almost all reddish-orange fleshed tubers eaten in the good ole’ US of A are sweet potatoes—not yams.

TV Dinners

Although it was the Swanson Company of Omaha who coined the name “TV dinner,” they were not the inventor of the frozen meal.


The chimichanga is said to have been created not in Mexico but in Phoenix, Arizona.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie was created as a way thrifty housewives could utilize their leftover roasts and meats to prepare hearty, tasteful meals . . .

Why Turkey?

Exactly when and how turkey came to be the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving table remains a time-lost food mystery.

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

This cake is very rich, therefore the following recipe will make one 9-inch cheesecake from which you should get 14 slices.

New York Style Cheesecake

This classic New York cheesecake is the ultimate cheesecake. It’s dense, rich and creamy and so incredibly easy to make.

The Cheesecake Story

The first cheesecakes, known as “plakous,” were simply made using only flour, wheat, honey, and cheese.

Ham and Sausage Strata

This strata needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours or overnight before baking, so plan accordingly.

America’s Favorite Condiment

One of my all-time favorites is a tuna salad sandwich–canned Albacore tuna packed in water with minced celery and onion, hard-boiled egg, a touch of garlic, and lots of America’s favorite condiment, mayonnaise. And though some of you may dislike, even hate mayo, I’m among the majority who wouldn’t think of having a ham and […]

Homemade Mayonnaise

This creamy homemade Mayonnaise can be made in just minutes with fresh ingredients! So easy you may never buy mayonnaise again.

The Club

My first exposure to a club sandwich was at the Rexall drug store next to the supermarket, where I worked after school and weekends. One Saturday the lunch counter waitress (yes, back then drug stores had lunch counters), a young hottie with whom I was totally infatuated suggested I buy the "daily special" to help […]

Icons of Summer: Kool-Aid and Popsicles

While my childhood was one of humble existence, we were not without some of the middle-class niceties of the times, thanks to a an extremely hard working father and a mother with the uncanny ability to stretch a dollar further than anyone I’ve ever known. Growing up, I loved just about everything that summer had […]

Homemade Cake Mix

Why buy boxed cake mix when you can make your very own using simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry?

Cake Mix: Redefining Baking in America

Growing up in the mid-twentieth century, I observed first-hand a number of food innovations and convenience products that directly affected how the American housewife prepared the family meal. Arguably, the one product that brought about the biggest change was the invention of boxed cake mixes. I can remember when every pie and cake my mom […]

My Favorite Breakfast Food – Pancakes

A lady recently asked me, “Chef, what’s your favorite food?” My reply was, “Breakfast foods. Bacon, eggs, omelets, biscuits and gravy–you name it.” Then, after a brief pause, “And pancakes. I love pancakes!” I’m not sure when my affinity for pancakes began. You’d think it would have been as a young child, but I don’t […]

Dutch Baby Pancake

These large, fluffy pancakes are excellent for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dessert at any time.

Double Chocolate Pancakes

These are decadent double chocolate pancakes are a perfectly indulgent way to kick start your day? They would also make a pretty sweet late night snack.

Buttermilk Griddle Cakes

The recipe for these delicious griddle cakes originated with Mrs. Charles Henry Cooper, mother of the famous Hollywood actor Gary Cooper, on their 7 Bar 9 Ranch in Helena, Montana.

Jell-O! The Jiggly, Wiggly American Icon.

Growing up, I was exposed to Jell-O in just about any way and every way one can imagine–molded, sliced, cubed up, chopped up, plain or mixed with fruit, cottage cheese, and all sorts of vegetables. It seems that every grandmother, mother, and daughter had their favorite Jell-O dish and an extreme compulsion to bring it […]

Granny’s Green Jell-O Salad

Granny’s Green Jello Salad (with Cottage Cheese & Pineapple) is a delicious retro dish that my father’s mother made for just about any special occassion including church dinners, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

The Reuben: New York or Omaha Born?

I’m not exactly sure when I had my first Reuben sandwich, although I believe it was at the lunch counter of a Skillern’s Drug Store when I was about 17 years old. What I do know is that it was love at first bite–the nuttiness of toasted rye, the sweet and sour sauerkraut mixed with […]

Sloppy Joes

This homemade sloppy joe recipe is quick, easy, and inexpensive.

An American Favorite – Carrot Cake

Several years ago, I did a stint as executive chef at a busy Texas hotel. Once or twice a month, usually after a busy Friday night, the kitchen staff and I would meet at Evelyn’s Café for a late-night breakfast before going home. Evelyn was known miles around for was her delicious three- layer carrot […]

Tomato Soup Spice Cake

Based on a classic retro 1950s recipe created by the Campbell Soup Company. You can’t taste the soup, just a deliciously moist and fluffy spice layer cake.

Evelyn’s Carrot Cake

Evelyn’s famous carrot cake is so moist and delicious your family is sure to ask for second’s.

Ranch Dressing: America’s Favorite

Although it first began showing up on supermarket shelves in the early 60s where I grew up, I really don’t recall its popularity soaring until some twenty years later while I was cooking in New York City. It was there in the “big city” that I started to think, “Folks are so crazy about this […]

A St. Louis Original: Ooey-Gooey Butter Cake

A few weeks back, I was watching Martha Stewart Bakes during which she made something I had never heard of in my forty-plus years as a chef–a Gooey Butter Cake. It seems this cake was invented during the Great Depression in the 1930s by a German-style bakery located on the St. Louis South Side. And […]

Eggnog: The Yuletide Drink

A couple of weeks ago while putting away the grocery order, my wife discovered the market had included two bottles of eggnog without her knowledge. When contacted about the error, the store manager explained they were given as apology for the unusually large number of out of stock items in our order. So later that […]