Cooper’s Country Store Barbecue Sauce

From my sister, Amanda:

3 cups cider vinegar
2 T crushed red pepper
2 T black pepper
3 T ketchup
2 T salt
3 T sugar
3 T dry mustard

“I halve the red pepper, usuallly. Could probably reduce the sugar.”

This is what my family believe barbecue is supposed to taste like.


Cilantro Chutney

Instructions from my co-worker, Vinu Patel, because you cannot stop cilantro from  growing in our herb bed:

Handful of cilantro.  (The way he held his hand looked like about 2 cups.)

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, 2 if you like it hot.  (That’s too much for him.  He thinks one is plenty if you use jalapeno.  If you use the long, red Indian pepper, use 2.  HE thinks they aren’t as hot.)

Little salt.

Little sugar

Little lemon juice. according to your taste. Less salt than lemon and sugar. (I would start with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp each of lemon and sugar.  He held his fingers about an inch apart when he was telling me)

If you have, a little fresh ginger and little cashew nut.

Taste it and adjust it how you like it.

Curry Leaf

Non-Indian cooks trying Indian recipes for the first time will see “curry leaves” in lists of ingredients.

This is what they look like.

Curry leaves

The stem isn’t edible, but the leaves are.  I love the flavor.  It is very much its own thing, not like anything else.

Curry leaves are available in the refrigerated sections of Indian groceries and are best kept in the refrigerator, but can be stored in the freezer if you aren’t going to use them up fairly quickly.

If they have had time to turn brown, just trash them.  In my experience, there is not enough flavor to do any good if they have dried out.

Garam masala

I have taken to making my own seasoning mixes and garam masala is frequently used in Indian recipes. is a handy website. I found 4 ways to make garam masala there.  One is easy, the others are more complicated and, I suspect have more dramatic flavor.

Here is the easy one:

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
1½ teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Buying it ready made is easy enough, but if you don’t have any in the house and are in the middle of making dinner, this beats running to the store.  Also, if there’s a part you don’t like, you don’t have to have it.  I leave cloves out because Chuck hates them with the heat of a thousand suns.

Ranch Dressing Mix

Back in the day when I ate more processed food, Ranch dressing mix was a staple of my cupboard.  They had a recipe on a packet for chicken strips that my son loved.  You put a packet of mix in bread crumbs, coat the chicken and bake it in the oven.  It was easy, tasty and (I felt) a better choice than fried chicken nuggets from a fast food place. Christopher loved it when I made those for dinner.

I don’t want the salt and MSG that’s in those packets, but I do still like the flavor.  So, this morning I searched and found a recipe at  This is what I modified it into.  It is in a little container in my cupboard and has already been used for vegetable dip.

3 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 Tbsp salt

Stir it up, put it in an airtight jar.

If you want to use this to make salad dressing combine 1 tablespoon mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup milk.

Otherwise use 1 tablespoon in any recipe calling for an envelope of ranch dressing mix.

Sprinkle it on popcorn and you will love me.