Nan Naw Zell’s Recipes

4 Generations-Traci, Rhonda, NanNaw Zell, and Alice Harris
Taken at Catfish Cabin (Zell’s favorite place to go)

Nan Naw Zell (aka Joe Zell (Harkey) Tullis) was THE most awesome woman I have ever had the pleasure to know.  She has been gone for years now, but rest assured, MANY of us carry her forward every day to the core of who we are.  She was a marvelous home cook.  She also cooked for years at their local cafe (Splendora, TX, pop.<300), and also cooked at the school lunch room.  She cooked for family events most of my life.  I could write an entire book about her attributes, but for today, I am going to share two of my favorite recipes of hers.  Sometime in the early 1970’s, I came home from UT-Austin and asked her to tell me her recipes so I could write them down.  She chuckled her gentle chuckle, with her shiny glint in her big brown eyes and said “Welllll, I don know about that.  I don’t really have a recipe.  I just make things.”  So I said, OK, let’s make them then.  So we did.  I wrote down approximate measures, how much salt she put in the palm of her hand, the shape of the bowl she used for the dumplings, the thickness of the dumplings as we rolled them out.  I never guessed at the time what a treasure this day would be to me.  So, I want to share it with you a little bit here.  I’m sure the cousins will really appreciate having these some day too. Enjoy!

Chicken & Dumplings

This is the size and shape of bowl she used for the dumplings.  I have carried this size and shape around with me for years, because that is what Nan Naw had!  I even saw to it that my daughter has one.

By the way, I “named” her Nan Naw as a baby myself, and it just stuck for eternity.

The tamale pie had a layer of cornmeal on the bottom of a pie plate, then the the meat layer, and was topped with the final layer of the cornmeal.

Tamale Pie-Texas Style

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