The people's voice of reason


When I am doing research for this column or doing any web browsing, I have to pay close attention to what my original search topic was and keep notes of side items I find that I wish to go back to later. I find myself sidetracked and then forgot what I was trying to find in the first place. I am really sidetracked when I am on the app, PINTEREST. I keep going to look at related items that you find when you scroll down the page of the item that caught your eye in the first place. I find myself looking for recipes for air fryers and ending up with a book I ordered from AMAZON about Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House. Do not ask how!

How I ever got to this point, Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Cookbook is a gem. Mary and Jack Bobo acquired a house in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and began to take in boarders in 1908. As it says on the front and back flaps of the book, “Jack Bobo died in 1948 and Mary continued to welcome roomers until a few years before she died at the age of 101”. This cookbook, “is a celebration of the traditional southern dishes that made this particular boarding house an American legend” And “the book includes stories about the people and events that made Lynchburg a small town known around the world and Miss Mary Bobo’s a hallmark of southern food and hospitality”. The book has pictures, stories of the family, staff, and boarders, some that has stayed in the house for over forty years.

The Jack Daniel Distillery now owns Miss Mary’s Boarding House and serves a mid-day meal by reservation only. Each table is cared for by a hostess, ladies from Lynchburg. When the dinner bell rings each guest’s name is called and they follow the hostess to their table. The hostess then makes sure that the bowls are full of food and the conversations among the guests are always flowing.

What makes my book a gem, is hand written on the inside blank page. At the top left corner is the date, Oct 9, 1999 and the menu for the mid-day meal; ribs, chicken in pastry, mac + cheese, beans, fried okra, mashed potatoes, escallop apples, cornbread muffins, sweet pepper relish, and rich chocolate pie. Next to the menu is the handwritten signature, Velma Rives and in parentheses, hostess. At the bottom of the page are the signatures of the twelve people that ate that day. Three of them had the last name, Bobo.

The first recipe is from this book and was served Oct. 9, 1999.


“Velma Waggoner, the boarding house’s singing cook, is the lady who has prepared this dish for many years. It is always a crowd pleaser and one of the recipes most requested by the guest.


One 2 ½ - to 3-pound chicken

Three cups water

One large onion

One rib celery

One-teaspoon salt

¼-cup all-purpose flour

¼-cup water

Salt and Pepper to taste

Two cups all-purpose flour

One-teaspoon salt

¾-cup shortening

¼-cup cold water


1. In a large pot combine the chicken, 3 cups of water, onion, celery, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat until tender. When tender, remove the chicken from the broth and debone.

2. Cut into large chucks. Grease a 9 x 12-inch baking dish. Place the chicken in the dish. Remove the onion and celery from the broth. Blend ¼-cup of flour with ¼-cup of water to make a smooth paste and gradually whisk the paste into the simmering broth to make gravy.

3. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Pour gravy over the chicken to just cover.

4. In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles corn meal. Sprinkle in the cold water and mix until dough holds together and will form a ball. Roll out on a floured board to about ¼ inch thickness.

5. Cut into strips and place over the chicken.

6. Bake at 375 degrees until pastry has browned.

Yield: Six servings.

My mother was good about getting as much use out of the food we had as possible. Living in Turkey, Pakistan and the Azores, variety of foods was limited to the local culture. She would make dishes out of leftovers that we like sometimes better than the first time she served it. One was rice. Rice could be had almost everywhere we lived but we ate the most when she turned it into pudding. Mary Bobo had such a recipe:



3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 cups milk

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups rice, cooked and cooled

Raisins (about 1/2 cup)



1. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until light and lemon colored. Add the sugar and mix well. Ad the milk, cornstarch and vanilla and mix well. Add the cooked rice and raisins.

2. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish and sprinkle with nutmeg. Place in a pan of hot water about an inch deep.

3. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes or the custard has set.

Serves eight.

I had my yearly physical last month and the first thing I did is go grocery shopping. I had lost ten pounds since my last physical, my blood pressure was good, and my cholesterol was good so I bought ox tail, beef short ribs, flavored pork rinds, and Jalapeno Flavored Cheetos.

The ox tail because it was one of those dishes my mother cooked that everyone in the family liked but is not very popular at least among my friends and family. The thick brown gravy and fall-off-the-bone tender meat served over egg noodles was a wintertime favorite. Beef short ribs was one of the first sous vide entrees at the Renaissance hotel. It was easy to prepare and as I remember popular with the guests. Living in Texas for many years, beef ribs and beef brisket are two of my favorite barbecued meats. I have beef short ribs on my short list to sous vide, but I like to tinker with different rubs and marinades and I like the smoke taste. I was watching a cooking show and ground coffee was an ingredient used for the rub. Three different coffee beans were ground and mixed into the rub.



Beef short ribs (at least two ribs per person for an entrée)

1/3 cup coffee beans (a single flavor or a blend of different roasts)

Four to five dried chipotle peppers

1-tablespoon brown sugar

1-tablespoon kosher salt

Two teaspoons of cumin seeds or one teaspoon ground cumin (more or less to taste)


1. Using an old coffee grinder grind everything except the salt and sugar until medium grind. About the same coarseness as kosher salt.

2. Add sugar and salt and mix well. Remove the tough membrane from the meat-side of the ribs.

3. Rub spices all over the ribs and put ribs in a seal-able plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.

4. Cook on a pit or smoker or if needed in oven for 5-8 hours at 200 degrees. Remember, low and slow.

If your favorite coffee is Sumatran Reserve or Kenya AA, you can match the taste in your BBQ. By now, you know that I like to add some heat to the spices I use for any dish. A smooth and mild pepper to use with the ground coffee would be dried chipotle. I also like cumin and I find that it does have a strong taste that many may not like. This recipe is easy to tinker with to suit your taste. Just do not hurry the marinade, let it do its thing. The dried chipotle can be found at Latino market.

This is an appropriate recipe for this month, since July is National Barbecue Month. Also July 4 is National Barbecue Day. And according to the website FOODIMENTARY, the most popular foods for the grill are, in order, burgers, steaks, hot dogs and then chicken.

On July 4th, in 1956, Milton Levine came up with the idea for the Ant-farm. Milton later commented that the most amazing thing about the Ant -farm was it put his three children through college.

Another favorite food holiday this month is July 21st, National Junk food day. It seems that July has another theme running through this month. There are holidays celebrating Pina Coladas, Mijitos, Grand Marnier, Daiquiris, Tequila, and Scotch! You will need the food celebrated on the 26th to keep you going through July, Coffee Milkshake Day.


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