Teresa Thomas Babb
By JANE AMMESON
April 24, 2013
Teresa Babb's mother taught her everything she needed
to know to make delicious eats
Growing up in Hartford, Teresa Babb
never ate TV dinners or went to fast food places - or any restaurants at
"My mom always said she would rather make her cornbread and
beans," says Babb, who still lives in Hartford where she and her husband
have a blueberry farm.
"My mom made me learn to cook because she said everyone
needs to know how to cook. " Home cooking was so essential to the
family's everyday living that when she was 11, Babb made her first complete
meal for the family. With her mom's assistance she made fried chicken and
mashed potatoes, all from scratch. Her mother madethe gravy.
"Back then, it was the women who did the cooking," Babb
recalls. "I didn't have any sisters, just brothers, so when it came to
making meals, I was always in the kitchen helping her. That's how it was in
Babb's parents, Dan and Jestine Thomas, were from the South
- her mother came from Missouri and her dad from Arkansas - so there's a
southern component to the cookery that Babb grew up with. Babb remembers
eating chocolate gravy - a truly down South kind of dish served over
biscuits or toast - every morning for breakfast and when she makes her mom's
recipe for brown gravy, she does so using an iron skillet, heating it up and
sprinkling sugar on the bottom. The heat makes the sugar brown and as it's
cooking she slowly pours water on it so it starts to bubble.
Nothing was measured in her mom's kitchen, it was a handful
of this and a touch of that. Jestine Thomas is also a purist when it comes
to what goes into her cooking pots.
"My mom doesn't believe in using packets and jars of
things," Babb says. "She doesn't like using anything with preservatives or
additives. It's all momma's cooking."
There were also large family get-togethers to prepare for.
Both of Babb's parents had eight siblings, so even close family events can
include 70 to 75 people. And during these times together, the family samples
each other's dishes and swaps recipes.
Babb still loves cooking. She and friends share recipes
(some of her favorites include recipes Sandy Simpson's Sausage Breakfast
Pizza and Brenda Musick's Blueberry Buckle). But even though she's cooked
for her own family for years, Babb still relies upon her mom to carry on one
family tradition she hasn't perfected - her mother's gravy. "Even now when
I'm doing the roast on the holidays," she says, "I wait for my mom to come
over to make the gravy."
Joe Rondone / HP
1 (8 ounce)
package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (14 ounce)
can sweetened condensed milk
fresh lemon juice
graham cracker crust
can cherry pie filling, chilled
In either a stand mixer fixed with a
paddle attachment or using a hand held electric mixer, cream the
cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly
add the milk mixing on low speed until well combined. Stir in the
lemon juice and vanilla and pour into the crust. Place the pie into
the refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight, until well
chilled and set.
Top the pie with the pie filling just
Teresa Babb's cherry cheese pie is a family recipe
she got from her mother, Jestine Thomas.
pound pork sausage
can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
cup frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
teaspoon ground black pepper
tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook sausage in skillet over medium-high
heat 8-10 minutes or until sausage is thoroughly cooked,
stirring frequently. Remove from skillet; drain.
Separate crescent dough into 8 triangles;
press onto bottom and up side of 12-inch pizza pan to form
crust, firmly pressing seams together to seal. Sprinkle with
hash brown potatoes and cheddar cheese.
Beat eggs, salt and black pepper in small
bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add to skillet with
Bake in over for 24 minutes. Sprinkle with
Parmesan cheese and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Let
stand five minutes before cutting into pizza slices.
Cheese Coffee Cake
2 (8 ounces each) packages refrigerated
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
21-ounce can cherry pie filling
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unroll crescent dough and arrange 12 of the
triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the outside edge
of the large round baking stone with points toward the
Lightly flour and roll out the seams making
a 14-inch circle with a 3-inch hole in the center. Combine
the cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg and vanilla and spread
over dough. Top with pie filling. Cut each of the 4
remaining triangles into thirds (starting at the wide end
opposite the point and cutting lengthwise to the point).
Arrange over filling evenly in spoke-like pattern. Press
ends to seal at center and outer edges.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly.
Mix powdered sugar and milk until glaze consistency and
drizzle over coffee cake.
Taffy Apple Pizza
medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup carbonated
1 (18 ounce) packages
refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (8 ounce) packages cream
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup caramel ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put sliced apples into the lemon-lime soda
to soak so they won't brown. Roll cookie dough into a
14-inch circle on a 15-inch baking stone that has been
lightly floured. Bake approximately for 11-14 minutes until
light golden brown. Let cool.
In a bowl, mix peanut butter, cream cheese,
sugar and vanilla. Spread over cooled cookie crust. Then
drain apples and arrange in a spiral to cover entire
"pizza". Sprinkle with cinnamon and pour over caramel
Cut with pizza slicer and serve.
cups sifted all purpose flour, if using self-rising flour
omit baking powder and salt
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
cups fresh blueberries
cup sifted all purpose flour
teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or
Thoroughly mix shortening and sugar. Add
egg, beat till light and fluffy. Sift together 2 cups flour,
baking powder and salt. Add to creamed
mixture alternately with milk.
Spread in greased 11-by-7-by-1½-inch pan.
Top with blueberries. Mix remaining sugar, flour and
cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly.
Sprinkle over berries.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cut into squares and
here to read more about Teresa's mother,
Jestine Thomas, another incredible cook!
Babb is a 1974 Hartford High School graduate.