Where do I begin with my story? All my adult life, I have loved cooking and gathering recipes from family, friends and other sources. I didn’t cook much as a child, but I observed some fabulous cooks in my lifetime.
When I entered college, I studied Hospital Dietetics. I loved this area because it combined two things that I thought were very educational and challenging, science and food management . At the time, when you finished your four years of college, you had to do an internship. My only choice was in St. Louis, Missouri. I had a husband in law school and a two-year old child. So I had to by-pass this part of my goal. Later, I got a second degree in special education and I taught. But to this day, I have never felt that my first degree went unnoticed. Until this day, I use some of the information constantly.
So jumping light years ahead, after much prodding from my husband, Pat, my children, Craig, Celeste and Charlotte, and other family members and friends, I decided to compile all of my favorite recipes into some sort of organized chaos.
First and most importantly, to my husband, Pat, I want to thank you for encouraging me to do this “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE”—at least in my mind. Pat was the one who taught me to fry my first egg and ate my lousy first-time biscuits. When I first tried to make homemade biscuits, I did not have baking powder on hand. I thought to myself, what could one small teaspoon matter. Needless to say, I produced twenty-five of the flattest biscuits you have ever seen. Trying not to hurt my feelings, as he could see I was on the verge of tears, he took the butter and covered eight of the biscuits, stacked them one on top of the other, and ate them with a big smile on his face. Little did I know that I had discovered the first flaky biscuit! ANOTHER MILLION DOLLAR IDEA THAT GOT AWAY!
Pat was very supportive of my time in putting these recipes together. He did roll his eyes when he saw that the finished product was 12 large binders full. I would guess well over 2000 recipes.
Through the years, Pat has been quite a challenge when it came to preparing new and exciting dishes that I thought he would eat, considering his limited idea of what “good food” encompassed. Here was an Italian gal trying to prepare food for a man who didn’t eat cheese, but loved beets, anchovies and sucking the heads of squirrels—GO FIGURE!
I thank you, Pat, for your love and support through all the ups and downs in my life—NO QUESTIONS ASKED! I love you with all my heart and soul.
Secondly, I want to acknowledge my handsome, successful and loving son, Craig. He, in his own right, has become quite the chef. In his bachelor days, I worried whether or not the young ladies he dated could or would cook. He would respond to me with, “Hey Mom, they can make a mean bowl of Rice Krispies!” UGH!!! A Mother’s Nightmare!
Then along came Nicole, a God-send. She is a beautiful, intelligent and lovely young lady who also has great culinary skills. She is not afraid to try things and does a great job, entertaining. She could be a clone of me. I try to warn her of the hazards of that! Of all their creations, the best are the four beautiful granddaughters they have given us. Courtney, Tyler, Savannah and Blair are our beautiful little GRAND PEEPS.
Thirdly, I want to thank Celeste, who was always after me to do this book, especially on the computer. Since this project was a surprise and, at the time, I was very not very savvy on the computer, I did everything on my old Smith-Corona. All my kids freaked out when I told them that. No fear, all has been downloaded to the almighty computer.
I give Celeste the credit for making me turn my recipes into something both healthy and appealing to the eye and mouth at the same time. This was very challenging, but well worth the effort.
Although Celeste’s strong points at the time were not culinary, she has evolved into a most excellent cook. I give that credit to her handsome, charming and loving husband, Joe. Celeste set out to trap the man through his stomach mode. Worked quite well, since all Joe ate were frozen TV dinners.
Celeste and Joe have just recently given us our eighth GRAND PEEP, Baby Sophia. Truly a blessing from God. So happy for them.
Last but not least, I want to thank my baby daughter, Charlotte, for pushing me to go beyond the cookbook and do the Geaux Ask Alice. At least once a week, she would call me and say, “Mom, what can I cook for supper tonight and if you have a picture, send it.” Well, look at the monster she has created.
Charlotte is married to Al. He is the most handsome and caring husband and father. They have my other three adorable GRAND PEEPS, Ava Grace, Aidan and Luke.
So one day, Charlotte said, “Mom, why don’t you post the menu and pics on Facebook. You would be amazed at how many of my friends would like that.” So I figured what would it hurt. Well, I started on February 15, 2012 and within 6 months I had over 1000 followers. This just blew my mind.
At first, I just didn’t know what to expect from the site and then all of a sudden, I had the best time, communicating with my followers. We shared recipes, ideas, stories and just general conversation. So I spread my wings and am trying to soar with this.
I also want to thank my family members and friends who shared their recipes and ideas with me over the years. I like to think of myself as a sponge when it comes to learning new techniques in cooking and entertaining.
As I pondered through my vast collection, I realized that many of the recipes had no set agenda to them. I had to actually sit down and make a real life recipe. Many of the recipes were handed down by mouth, written with a few little words and practically no ingredient amounts. Everything was pretty much a guess or done by taste, which, by the way, is the real way to cook. Make it taste and look good—that’s all that matters. In the long run, I must say it was fun. I found recipes that I hadn’t used in years. I found some recipes with ingredients that have disappeared because of new innovations. PAM, the non-stick spray, is a great example of that. Who knows in years to come, someone will look at my recipe and say, “What in the world is PAM?” I found a recipe from my husband’s grandmother which was from one of her fabulous desserts. Two of the ingredients were a perfect example: (1) Use real cow’s milk, not store bought milk. (2) Use a 5-cent bag of marshmallows! Now, when you figure that out let me know!
I finished the original project on April 4, 2000, which was my birthday and presented it to my kids on Mother’s Day of that year. It was the best present I could have given myself.
I want to say from the start that I do not take credit for all the recipes that I have in the book or posted on the Blog. Some recipes are handed down from family and friends, some have been collected from cooking classes, other chefs, authors, newspaper and magazine clippings and God only knows where some came from. Many of the recipes are my original concoctions that I have developed over the years.
Personally, I do not believe there is a true, original recipe. I think every time a cook prepares an item, even though following a recipe, that person will change an ingredient or two or add something new. This is good because we are all adding a little of ourselves to the mix.
I must say, I really enjoyed doing this project. As I would type a certain recipe, it would bring to mind a family gathering, a special occasion or just the faces of those who have gone on and left us with fond, fulfilling memories. Once again, I want to thank my family members , who pushed me to do this project. I also have to thank Melody Dupre, my personal everything. She kept me sane and made me laugh when I wanted to take a spatula and ram it down my throat. She has taught me so many things.
I could not end this without thanking my grandmothers, Mary Marino Palazzo and Myrtis Boise McCabe Conerly, my amazing mother-in-law, Ruth Grace “Teacup” Wilbert Morrow and my incredible mother, Julia Alice McCabe Palazzo. These were the most influential people in my life when it came down to cooking “Good Food!”
Hopefully, this will be handed down as my legacy to all my children, grandchildren and all other generations to follow. In today’s fast pace of life, we have a tendency to eat out a lot or sit in front of the TV while eating, forgetting the most important thing—FAMILY!
I am not sure how far this new project of GEAUX ASK ALICE will travel, but I have had a ball doing it and met so many fascinating individuals. I hope I have given each of you a little push into gathering the family around the table and enjoying each other.
The one and final thought I would like to leave with you that I learned from those magnificent women is, “No matter what you serve, if you surround your table with love, everything will taste good.”
So my recipes and my site, Geaux Ask Alice, are my gifts to those I love and it is to you that I dedicate this with my whole body and spirit.
PASS IT ON TO THOSE YOU LOVE!
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY!
MAY GOD BLESS!
Mary Alice Palazzo Morrow
Aka-Al, Alice, Mom, Momma and Grammie