Americana Cooking with Ruby Dee (podcast)

Mar 17th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured Articles, podcast, the show

In the Kitchen with Ruby Dee

If Ruby Dee Phillipa, lead singer of the Americana roots band Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers, ever invites you over for some home cooking, do yourself a favor and go.

This Grammy nominated singer-songwriter and author spends as much time–maybe more–in the kitchen as on stage; everything that comes from her culinary explorations hit the right note.

She says she was expected to know how to cook, and spent time in the kitchen with her grandmother–Nanny–learning to make traditional fare.

As her interest in food grew, she said she worked her way through the Time Life: Foods of the World series. She admitted that not all of her forays into foreign cuisine were successes, “But that’s how you learn.”

When I visited Ruby at the  home she shares in Austin, Texas with her husband and band mate, Jorge Harada, she taught me how to make apple fritters. The recipe comes from her cookbook Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook, which was inspired by early food memories and regional cuisines she encountered while on tour with the band.

The fritters derive from a childhood memory, are simple to make, and Ruby says they taste like home.

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  1. When was growing up, a favorite dish was what we called mince meat pie. My mother made two kinds of mince pies, one sweet and one savory. I wasn’t crazy about the sweet one but loved the savory one. It was a dish that came from my grandfather, who was from Scotland. My mother always made excellent pie crusts and the filling was basically onions and ground beef (the English version of minced beef.) When I learned to cook, I thought the recipe needed more flair and added mushrooms, but the original family recipe was just perfect.

  2. Lorene’s brown beans
    My mother had a special way of cooking pinto beans that started with a package of dried beans (cleaned carefully because there were always little stones in them) soaked overnight, drained, and covered with clean water. The batch was heated quickly to a boil, and lowered to a simmer. Then she added one or two heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, about 1/2 stick of oleo, a big gallop of ketchup and some salt. Cooked them about an hour which filled the house with that glorious smell. She cooked a pan of corn bread and that was it. By the second day, she might add greens or some kind of beef cooked on top of the stove and we continued eating. Then the third day she’d bake more cornbread and cut up some tomatoes and onions with vinegar and some potatoes “au gratin” without the cheese. Day four was all the left-overs from all four days and we were “encouraged” to finish them up. That’s the way a depression era woman ran her kitchen.

  3. Chris & Barbara–you’re making me hungry!

  4. My mother was German and she made spatzle with cheese and onions. That was always my birthday request, that or potato pancakes. Now my sons love spatzle, but refuse to eat it with the onions, oh well.

  5. […] oil or set off the smoke  alarm (which we did when she made the fritters for me at her home–listen for yourself) is to start them in the oil for about a minute on each side and finish them in the oven at 400°F […]

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