Taste of Tammy Wynette: Country star’s cookbook yields delicious dishes

FRANKLIN LIVING MARCH-APRIL 2024

I spent a lot of my childhood visiting my Grandma Dorothy (Dolan) learning to cook and listening to many interesting stories. She was a great cook and loved country music. She instilled in me a love for both. I can remember her playing records on her 1970 model turntable in the console cabinet.

Two of my grandma’s favorite country singers were George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Her love for Tammy Wynette came from all the things they had in common. Tammy was born just across the Alabama state line on a sharecropper farm in Itawamba County, Mississippi, and my grandma was born on a farm in Mt. Hope, Alabama. They both liked being able to come in and cook because that gave them a break from picking cotton. Both cooked vegetables from their gardens and learned to cook from their mamas, aunts and other family members.

If you haven’t heard, Tammy was recognized at the 2024 Grammy Awards for the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in Los Angeles in February. What a great honor for Tammy’s family who were in attendance to receive the award.

In memory of the anniversary of her passing, April 6, 1998, and in honor of her birthday, May 5, 1942, I would like to share some of my favorite recipes from Tammy’s one and only published cookbook, “The Tammy Wynette Southern Cookbook.” Of all the cookbooks in my collection, this one is by far one of my favorites.

If you love old country music and Tammy Wynette, you should be sure to visit the Red Bay Museum.  It has tons of items donated by Tammy’s family and friends. Tammy came to Red Bay often to shop, go the movies and visit friends and family. I was fortunate enough to attend the 80th Birthday Celebration in her honor at the museum and meet her daughters, Georgette Jones and Jackie Daly.

SPINACH PIE

Tammy received this recipe from a hotel in California where she ate while attending a country music award show. 

INGREDIENTS:

1 can of spinach (or fresh if desired)

4 eggs

1/2 c. Monterey Jack Cheese

1/2 c. cheddar cheese, Shredded

1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 c. fresh bacon bits

9-inch pie shell

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine spinach and eggs and stir in cheeses, the whipping cream and the bacon bits.
  2. Mix together and pour mixture into the 9-inch uncooked pie shell.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Place pie in oven and cook until firm. Use toothpick to check. If toothpick comes out clean, pie is done. Cool and slice.

HAZEL’S HOT DOG MIX

This recipe was shared with Tammy by her cousin, Hazel Hall, who was from Red Bay. Tammy tells in the cookbook that Hazel was like a second mother to her, and she spent much time at her home. She considers her the second best cook next to her mother, Mildred Lee.

INGREDIENTS:

16 oz. package of shredded kraut

1/2 c. ketchup

1 tsp. paprika

1 medium bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chili sauce

Juice of one lemon

1 medium chopped onion

1/4 c. sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Drain the juice off kraut then mix with other ingredients.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for one hour before using.
  3. This makes a delicious dressing for hotdogs. Will keep for over a week.

BANANA NUT LOAF

Tammy considered this a classic recipe and delicious served with fruit salad. Yields: one loaf.

 INGREDIENTS:

2/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 c. mashed ripe bananas

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/3 c. soft shortening

3 Tb. buttermilk

2 c. sifted self-rising flour

1/2 c. chopped nuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Grease an 8.5-inch by 2.5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Mix sugar, shortening and eggs thoroughly.
  3. Stir in buttermilk, mashed bananas and flour.
  4. Stir in soda.
  5. Add chopped nuts.
  6. Turn batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake 50-60 minutes.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE

This recipe was taught to Tammy by her mother, Mildred Lee.

INGREDIENTS:

1 c. cake flour

1 1/2 c. egg whites

2 1/2 Tb. cold water

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 1/2 c  sugar, divided

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Sift flour and 1/2 cup of sugar together.
  2. Place egg whites in a large bowl and add salt and water. Whip until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add cream of tartar to egg whites and whip until mixture stands in peaks.
  4. Whip in remaining sugar.
  5. Fold in part of the flour mixture.
  6. Add vanilla and remaining flour mixture.
  7. Pour batter into ungreased angel food cake pan.
  8. Bake 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees.
  9. Invert cake pan until cake is cool.

OLD FASHIONED TEACAKES

Yields: 5-6 dozen.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 c. margarine

3 eggs, beaten thoroughly

2 c. sugar

1 Tb. vanilla

1 tsp. baking powder

4 c. self-rising flour

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Soften margarine to room temperature.
  2. Beat margarine with eggs, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Add baking powder to flour and sift together. Slowly add into the margarine mixture.
  4. Roll out on floured board and cut with cookie cutter.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees until as brown as desired.

*McCollum note: I always use real butter instead of margarine in my recipes.

RED VELVET CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 c. plain flour

3 Tb. cocoa

2 eggs

2 oz. red food coloring

1 c. buttermilk

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Tb. white vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Sift together flour, salt and cocoa.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. When well creamed, beat in whole eggs one at a time.
  4. Blend well and add food coloring and vanilla.
  5. Mix buttermilk, vinegar and soda.
  6. Add buttermilk mixture alternately with dry ingredients to cream mixture.
  7. Blend at low speed on electric mixture between each addition.
  8. Grease and line two 9-inch cake pans.
  9. Pour in batter and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees about 30 min or until lightly browned. Don’t overbake.
  10. Let cool before frosting.

SIMPLE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

INGREDIENTS:

2 c. self-rising flour, sifted

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 c. shortening

7/8 c. buttermilk

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cut or rub shortening into flour and soda until particles are as fine as coarse crumbs.
  2. Add buttermilk and stir in with fork.
  3. Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead till smooth.
  4. Roll dough out about 1/2-inch thick and cut with floured cutter or juice glass.
  5. Place on lightly greased baking sheet and refrigerate until morning.
  6. Bake in preheated 450-degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
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