Kitchen Adventures: Culinary treasures

-A A +A

Food column by Becca Owsley

By Becca Owsley

Cooking is a family tradition. There are many great cooks in my family, starting with my grandmothers.


These two ladies are not only great cooks but also amazing women.

One was raised on a farm with five brothers and became a mother of three, grandmother to six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The other grew up in West Virginia, worked as a cafeteria cook in area schools and became a mother to two daughters and grandmother to four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Each one has shared recipes that are staples for any family gathering.

The Owsley family favorite recipe is bananas rolled in peanuts, often called croquets. A summer family gathering is never complete without them.

One year before a family cook out, my grandmother, who either didn’t have time to make the treat or wasn’t feeling well, called me and asked me to make it.

Talk about pressure, the responsibility of preparing the family favorite dish. But the responsibility was a gift that was taken gladly.

Having that kind of recipe is as much as an heirloom as any family treasure.

The favorite recipe from my other grandmother was written on paper that resembled a historical document.

Her specialties are desserts. She was once a cake decorator and the family has two favorites: Italian Cream Cake and Red Velvet Cake.

When I stopped by her house to get her recipes, she ruffled through an old notebook and handed me recipes on pieces of yellowed and tattered paper that looked as important as the Declaration of Independence.

I looked down at the papers, looked at my grandmother and then to my mom. Mom offered some sage advice.

“Don’t let your dogs get a hold of those,” she said.

The recipes were scanned into the computer and then placed in a safe place before being returned to the master chef.

In all honesty, when making the Italian Cream Cake, some of the preparation was a guess. Time had smeared some of the ink on the recipe. The ingredients were clear, just when they needed to be put in the mix was smudged.

It also called for one small can of flaked coconut. I guessed half a bag would work.

Thankfully, the cake turned out well so the guess work probably was correct.

These two ladies still are cooking and baking with love for their families and I hope to continue to carry on the family tradition.

Granny’s Bananas Rolled in Peanuts

1 jar peanuts

1 bunch bananas

2 eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

2/3 cup vinegar

1 stick margarine


Crush peanuts finely. Cut each banana into thirds.

To make mayonnaise, beat eggs then add sugar, vinegar and margarine and whisk.

Cook in a pan over medium heat stirring often. The mixture will get thicker as it sits. Drop each banana into mayonnaise then roll in crushed peanuts.

The mayonnaise also can be used in cole slaw or potato salad.


Recipe from Iva Lee Owsley in “Recipes and Reflections” a Cecilia Baptist Church cookbook.


Mamaw’s Italian Cream Cake


1 stick of margarine

½ cup vegetable shorting

2 cups sugar

5 egg yolks

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 small can flake coconut

½ cup chopped nuts (pecans)

5 egg whites stiffly beaten


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, shortening and sugar then add egg yolks and beat well.

Sift flour with baking soda in a separate container.

Alternately add flour and buttermilk to the creamed mixture.

Add vanilla, coconut and nuts. Mix well and fold egg whites into mix.

Pour into two greased and flowered 9-inch pans and bake for 45 minutes.


Italian Cream Cake frosting

8 ounces cream cheese

½ stick butter

1 box powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chopped nuts (pecans)


Beat cream cheese with butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts. Mix well and spread on cooled cake.


Recipe from Margaret Baughman


Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.