Well, I’ve been to Texas. And while I thought most of my homesickness was rooted in missing Tex-Mex and barbecue, after spending two days at my grandparents’ farm, I realized what I truly pine for is the closeness of family. Save for one excursion into town to eat at San Miguel’s, a wonderful Tex-Mex restaurant where we all had our fill of enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chile rellenos, refried beans, rice, chips, salsa, guacamole, sopapillas and pralines, I spent my trip in the country, enjoying the company of my fun, intelligent, loving family while we shared meals based on the fruit of the land.
My grandparents are getting older, and to save time for the big meal they ordered a smoked turkey from Greenberg’s of Tyler, Texas—hailed by many the aristocrat of turkeys. This is a tender, smoky and succulent bird, so exquisite and renowned that even Oprah lists it as one of her favorite things. I highly recommend it and I could gnaw on the chewy, smoky skin for days. But even though we ordered out for the bird, everything else was homemade—with many of the ingredients sourced from my grandparents’ and other family members’ gardens: the jalapeno corn bread stuffing, the green beans with bacon and almonds, the cranberry sauces, the creamy rice casserole, several salads made with greens and fruit, sweet potatoes, chips and salsa, pecan pie, apple pie and sweet potato pie, and, well, the list goes on and on.
It was a fine, colorful feast. But there’s one thing my grandmother prepares that really makes a trip to her house complete: seasoned oyster crackers. I think the operative word is crack because once you get a bowl of these in your hands, you can’t stop eating them. We even tussled over who got to hold the bowl, but fortunately, she had made enough for everyone. She keeps a stash in a secret location and just when we thought we’d eaten them all, miraculously she’d produce more. Which was fortunate because otherwise fights may have ensued.
These crackers are so addictive, we’d be passed out on the couch, groaning as we unbuckled our belts and massaged our swollen bellies but we’d always find room for another handful of oyster crackers. Heck, I even passed on dessert one meal just to eat more of these herbalicious treats.
I’m glad everything else was so fresh, healthy and splendid, because you cannot survive on a diet of crackers alone. But if I had to choose one thing to eat when I went to her house, it just might be these—if I can wrest the bowl away from the other members of my family.
1 12-ounce box oyster crackers
1/2 cup of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 packet powered ranch dressing, original (do not use low fat!)
Preheat oven to 250 °F.
Mix the oil with the dried dill weed, garlic powder, lemon pepper, and ranch dressing.
Place the crackers in a 9 x 13 inch pan and then pour in the oil mixture. Gently stir until well combined.
Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Will keep in a sealed container for a week.