From Tea Cakes to Tamales: Third-Generation Texas Recipes



By Nola McKey
Illustrated by Cora McKown

Celebrating the traditions that connect food and family . . .

Join journalist-turned-culinary historian Nola McKey on a Texas journey—through food! In this collection
of more than one hundred kitchen-tested recipes— breads, main dishes, vegetables and sides, desserts, and more—Texans share their family dishes, handed down through at least three generations, and the stories and traditions that accompany them. With a strong focus on Texas’ cultural diversity—featuring recipes like Czech sauerkraut, Wendish noodles, Norwegian rosettes, Italian pizzelle, Chinese fried rice, Mexican caldo, and African American purple hull peas (cooked with a smoked ham hock)—Nola documents the culinary impact of ethnic groups from around the globe.

But this book is not for foodies alone; history enthusiasts will appreciate the snapshots of daily Texas life captured in the narratives accompanying recipes that span more than a century. Told primarily in the words of today’s cooks, these multigenerational family recollections can take anyone on a delicious trip down memory lane, back to a beloved grandmother’s kitchen or a great-aunt’s holiday table.

A sixth-generation Texan, Nola traces her inspiration for this book to an epiphany she had while baking her grandmother’s tea cakes using a recipe she hadn’t seen in years. The experience convinced her of the value of passing along family recipes and documenting their provenance. To this end, she provides tips for preserving your own family recipes and for recording the heritage surrounding a special dish. She also includes recommendations for Texas festivals and museums where interested readers can learn more about many of the foods and cultures featured in this book.

Illustrated with family photos from the recipe contributors and original watercolors by Cora McKown, From Tea Cakes to Tamales: Third-Generation Texas Recipes promises to become a Texas family heirloom in its own right.


What readers are saying:

A nostalgia rush brought on by her grandmother’s tea cakes prompted Nola McKey to take on a Proustian endeavor—not only did she preserve the tea cakes recipe alongside a photo of her grandma, she began gathering third-generation family recipes and archival portraits from all over Texas. The magnificent cookbook she assembled from these heirloom recipes and poignant photos is both a deeply personal album of Texas families from many cultures and an incredibly valuable documentation of Texas food history.
— ROBB WALSH, three-time James Beard award winner and author of Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook; The Chili Cookbook; and The Hot Sauce Cookbook
Nola McKey’s compilation of time-tested recipes and endearing family histories feeds both body and soul. This celebration of Texas cultures and traditions is destined to become a cherished heirloom in its own right.
— JILL LAWLESS, editor, Texas Highways
Nola McKey’s From Tea Cakes to Tamales: Third-Generation Texas Recipes made me want to do three things right off: 1) read the fascinating recipe stories through the whole darn book all in one sitting, 2) start picking out favorites to make (Nola’s grandmother’s tea cakes for starters!), and 3) wonder what’s taken me so long to do the very same thing with the treasure chest of my own family recipes! Deliciously sentimental, this inspirational book invites the reader into the lives and kitchens of those who created the culinary culture that is uniquely Texas. As the former Southwest Food Editor for Southern Living, this book would have been the only research source I would have needed years ago. Every cook who claims to be Texan should have one. Now it will be a staple in my kitchen – I can’t wait to get cookin’! No, wait... First I think I’ll snuggle up with it for a good read… Either way, From Tea Cakes to Tamales is a must for all who enjoy cookbooks and good stories.
— DEBORAH GARRISON LOWERY, former Southwest Foods Editor, Southern Living
This work from the heart of Nola McKey will speak to anyone who values food traditions passed down through generations. It speaks to family heritage and the memories we treasure of days we helped Grandma in the kitchen and those moments when we broke bread with our nearest and dearest. Finally, those of us who ache for a taste of long-lost recipes will likely find satisfaction in these pages.
— JUNE NAYLOR, coauthor of The Texas Cowboy Kitchen; Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook; and
Cooking the Cowboy Way