Sharing recipes is a source of joy for mother and son
By B.C. Manion
They don’t have a fancy test kitchen, sophisticated equipment or years of formal culinary training, but this Lutz mother and son have big dreams.
They’re aiming for their own cooking show.
Years ago, they would have never pictured themselves having such lofty ambitions, but that was before they turned their hobby into a publishing venture that they hope will lead to bigger things.
Indeed, it already has.
Iris and Michael Raie are scheduled to appear Oct. 15-17 at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. They will be talking about their cooking techniques and recipes and signing copies of their book, “No Place Like Home: Southern Cooking with a Latin Flair.”
The mother and son say their love of cooking is rooted in generations of good cooks in their family.
“My mother was an excellent cook,” Iris said. Her grandmother was too, she said. “My mom grew up in the kitchen cooking. I grew up in the kitchen cooking.”
Michael has cooking in his genes too. “I grew up in a household that cooked. I fell in love with it.”
When he was just 4, Michael said, Iris caught him standing on a chair near the stove frying bacon.
“I came downstairs and I smelled bacon,” Iris said. When she went to see what was going on, she saw that Michael had the task well under control.
“Most boys like playing with cars and trucks, but my love was cooking” Michael writes in the cookbook. “My toys were an Easy Bake Oven, play stove and pots and pans.”
While the mother and son said they have always loved to cook, decorate and entertain, neither expected to turn their passion for making delicious foods into a larger pursuit.
The family used to live in South Tampa, Iris said. They decided to move out to Lutz several years ago after suffering some personal losses.
Michael’s big brother, Scott, who had epilepsy, died suddenly while he was sleeping. That happened in July 1997.
“I almost had a nervous breakdown,” Iris said.
Three years later, Iris’ husband, Jack, suffered a stroke that left him disabled.
The family decided to move to Lutz to begin making new memories, Iris said. Her mother, Lillie Pope, moved with them – and at 85 she was still cooking.
“Shortly after we moved here, we started seeing her decline,” Lillie said. In 2006, Lillie died, and while Iris knew her mother’s recipes by heart, they were not written down anywhere.
Friends encouraged Iris to compile the recipes in a book, and after she’d begun the project she decided to branch out and add her own recipes and some from her friends. Creating the book was a monumental task.
As Iris and Michael made Lillie’s dishes, they had to constantly measure ingredients that for years they’d added by a pinch or a handful.
The project was pricy. Buying the ingredients to make all of the recipes was expensive.
It also was time-consuming. They spent many long days prepping the ingredients, preparing the dishes and then cleaning up afterwards.
Ultimately, they decided to self-publish the book.
Their initial efforts of working with a publisher were frustrating and disappointing. The company did not do much to help them promote the book and its first royalty check bounced, Iris said. Eventually, the company went bankrupt.
She and Michael decided to try again with a second publisher, Tate Publishing & Enterprises, based in Mustang, Okla. The new publisher quickly agreed to take them on, and after making some changes, the new version was released on April 13.
Now the pair plans to self-publish a series of five cookbooks. Once they sell enough volumes they will recoup the money they have paid to the publishing company, Iris said.
Already, they are tasting more success. They’ve been on radio and television programs and will be featured in a podcast, called “The Delicious Story,” produced in Des Moines, Iowa.
They recently taught a cooking class on southern cuisine at The Rolling Pin in Brandon. They demonstrated how to make fried green tomatoes, chicken and dumplings, skillet cabbage and country-fried apples.
They hope the Epcot talks will open many new doors.
Their next cookbook, slated to come out next year, will be called “No Place Like Home: Holiday Creations.” Other books are planned on children’s recipes, desserts and international foods.
Besides tapping into her personal history to recall family recipes, Iris says she sometimes dreams up new flavor combinations. “I’m asleep and a recipe comes to mind,” she said.
Sometimes she researches several recipes for the same dish and then combines portions of the various recipes to create a new approach.
She also enjoys eating foods at restaurants and then figuring out a recipe to mimic the flavors she’s tasted.
The 280-page cookbook features a broad array of recipes, including appetizers, beverages, breads, breakfast items, salads, salad dressings, seafood, entrees, vegetables, side dishes, pies, cakes, cookies and candy.
Specific entries include recipes for guacamole, salsa, fried ravioli, fried green tomatoes, cheese olive puffs, quiche Lorraine, cranberry walnut bread, chicken salad, buttermilk biscuits, Spanish bean soup, collard green soup, baked tilapia, devil crabs, chicken and yellow rice, red beans and smoked sausage, pot roast and picadilla.
The $21.99 volume also includes recipes for fruit punches, an old-fashioned malt, deep-dish peach cobbler, sour cream pound cake and an assortment of cookies and candy.
Sharing recipes is a source of joy, Iris said. She said she doesn’t understand why some people want to keep them secret.
“There was a lady at the church where we used to go and she made the most delicious pickles and the most delicious apple butter,” Iris recalled. “I said, “I would love to have that recipe”
“She said, ‘Honey, I don’t give my recipes out to nobody,’ ” Iris said.
Michael added: “She said, “I’m taking them to the grave with me.”
“And she did,” Iris said. “To me, that is a waste. I would want to share – (so that) our recipes live on.”
For more information about the cookbook go to http://noplacelikehome.tatepublishing.net.
Pumpkin Roll-Up Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3s cup cooked pumpkin
3/4s cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
1 8-oz package cream cheese
Combine cake ingredients, except for the powdered sugar. Mix with an electric mixer. Cover a 12 by 15 cookie sheet with wax paper. Pour cake batter on the wax paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Sprinkle ½ cup powdered sugar on a clean dish towel. Flip cake over on the sugared towel. Remove wax paper and roll cake up in the towel. Unroll the cake when it is cool.
Mix the filling ingredients with the electric mixer. Spread the filling evenly onto the unrolled cake. Roll the cake up again. Sprinkle with remain powdered sugar. Serve after chilling.
Hearty Turkey Chili
2 20-oz packages ground turkey
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced green peppers
1 cup diced celery
3 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
2 1.25-oz packets of chili seasoning mix
2 16-oz cans chili beans, undrained
2 10-oz cans Rotel tomatoes and green chiles (undrained)
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Preheat large saucepan on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Place a little olive oil in the pan and brown turkey for 5-7 minutes, stirring until it crumbles. Transfer to a large soup pot. Clean the pan and coat it with oil to sauté onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Cook for approximately 6-8 minutes. Transfer sautéed vegetables into soup pot with meat. Stir mixture. Add the remaining ingredients to the soup pot. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until cooked and flavors are well blended.
Note: This recipe makes a large pot of chili, which will serve about 10 people.
Optional: Chili can be served with grated sharp cheddar cheese and sour cream.