By Ann Cipperly
Years ago I wrote about Duffy Stewart being an organized working mother. With her children now grown, Duffy has developed more ideas for being organized, preparing quick and easy meals for hectic days. Duffy plans to have dinner on the table within 30 minutes of arriving home. “These meals are not fancy,” she says, “but they are good and healthy.
“When I get up in the morning,” she adds, “I don’t quit until bed time. When I am cooking dinner, I have the television on to listen to the news. Otherwise I never watch television.”
Growing up in southwest Alabama about 30 miles north of Mobile, Duffy recalls a happy childhood in the small town and trips to Mobile for Mardis Gras in Mobile, never thinking it was held any place else.
Both parents were good cooks. While her mother was a stay at home mom who did not let the children in the kitchen to help cook, her father taught his two daughters how to make coleslaw and his specialty dishes. Her mother wanted the girls to focus on homework and making good grades.
After high school, Duffy attended business school in Birmingham and then worked at a bank in Mobile. Since she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for a career, she enrolled in Livingston College, which is now the University of West Alabama.
A year later, while she was home for Christmas holidays, her roommate at Livingston called to tell her about United Airlines holding interviews for flight attendants and wanted her to go too. “I went to the interview,” says Duffy. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I had been on a plane one time. There were 65 girls interviewing, and they took the last two, and I was one of them.”
Duffy and her roommate attended classes in Chicago to become flight attendants. Both girls picked Newark, N.J. for their base and later transferred to Kennedy Airport in New York and then other cities.
Duffy and her husband, Leroy, met in high school. While Duffy was attending Livingston, Leroy was a student at Auburn University. They had continued to date over the years and decided to get married. Duffy moved back to Opelika and began commuting to Chicago.
After they were married, she went back to school at Auburn University while continuing to commute three days a week to Chicago as a flight attendant.
Duffy worked at United for 37 years, 20 of those years being international travel. Asian countries were her favorite.
Since she enjoys being busy, Duffy took classes in upholstery, painting and bridge after retiring. When Leroy starting taking real estate classes, she decided to go too.
Leroy, who had managed a small financial company, now sells commercial real estate for Great Southern Lands. Duffy has been a realter for over 11 years and has worked for Berkshire Hathaway for five years.
They have two children; Rob, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., is married and has two children; Philip, who lives in Auburn.
“I have always been conscious of preparing balanced meals for my family,” says Duffy. “Making a healthy meal on a daily basis is really not as difficult as one would think. Since I work long days as a realtor, I usually cook a meat, a starch, and a vegetable when I get home from work.”
For a while, Duffy and Leroy went out to dinner every night, but she thought dining out took more time than preparing a balanced meal at home. She now cooks almost every night during the week, and they enjoy dining out on weekends.
She cooks most of the dinners in cast iron skillets. “While I am cooking a steak in one of the larger skillets,” she says, “I am steaming or braising vegetables in another.
“While I am cooking these foods on top of the stove, I can cook a potato in the microwave. Sometimes, the meat is a pork chop or hamburger steak. With the pork chop, I might have a sweet potato in the microwave while I am steaming cabbage in one of the skillets. With the hamburger steak, I usually cook rice and make mushroom gravy after I drain the drippings from the hamburgers. The braised and steamed green beans go good with these meats too.
“For special occasions,” she says, “I do not mind spending more time in the kitchen chopping and stirring complicated recipes.”
When having guests. Duffy serves warm Empanadas with salsa, as it gives guests something substantial to munch on while dinner is being prepared. It is her go-to appetizer she first prepared for a supper club years ago.
The Greek Salad was given to her by a friend when she was a flight attendant based in Chicago. When her friend spent weekends boating on Lake Michigan, she packed the salad in individual plastic containers for serving.
The Tart Lemon Pie is her favorite dessert accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, while the Crustless Cheese Pie is her easiest dessert topped with fresh fruit or raspberry puree.
The Seafood Stew is one of the recipes she assembled. When she was working first class on flights from New York to San Francisco, the entrée selections included popular cioppino, which was quickly gone before the flight crew could try it.
Duffy decided to create her own recipe. She serves the Seafood Stew every Christmas Eve to her extended family. “It is my claim to fame,” she says.
The Ham Jambalaya is her own version of the recipe she made from having ham leftover at Christmas. It can be tweaked for individual tastes.
Being busy, Duffy keeps a well-stocked pantry. “I try to use what I have on hand,” she says. “One of my pet peeves is finding out while cooking that I have to stop and run to the store for a spice or just one ingredient.
“These days I have a new interest in eating right and trying to eat three times a day,” adds Duffy. “When I am working, time flies and I forget to stop and eat. I am finding that I can eat good and not spend a lot of time in the kitchen.”
Cipperly can be contacted at email@example.com.
Two 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
¾ cup softened butter
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten, for sealing edges of pastry
Preheat oven to 450.
Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add flour and salt . Knead the dough, cover and refrigerate until chilled.
¼ onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 or 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 small pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water pressed out
1 small container cottage cheese
Dash of nutmeg, optional
1 tsp. salt
Sauté onion and garlic in bacon grease. Add spinach and cottage cheese. Mix all ingredients together well.
Roll out chilled dough on a floured board. Cut into 3 inch rounds.
Place 1 tsp. filling on one side of each round. Fold over and seal the edges with a brush of the egg.
Use a fork to press the edges together.
Pierce the top of the pastry with fork to vent.
Brush top of the pastry with beaten egg.
Place on cookie sheet and place on center rack of oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 450. Watch closely and adjust temperature, if needed.
Marinated Greek Salad
3 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. parsley
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ cup olive oil
4 oz. feta cheese, optional
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and onion in a bowl.
Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper until
Whisk in oil one tablespoon at a time. Pour over vegetable and stir to coat. Add the feta cheese or omit if you do not like it.
Cover and chill for several hours.
6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium can tomato sauce
2 tsp. Zatarains concentrated liquid shrimp and crab boil
1 Tbsp. oregano or Italian seasoning
2 large cans tomatoes
2 cans water
1 pkg. sliced frozen okra
Salt and pepper to taste
Shrimp, crabmeat and scallops (as much as you like)
Cook bacon in large soup pot.
Sauté onion and garlic in bacon drippings.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, oregano and crab boil.
Bring to a rapid boil and add okra.
Stir occasionally to break up okra and tomatoes.
Simmer for 2-3 hours. Add more water, if needed.
Add seafood 30 to 40 minutes before serving.
Serve over white rice.
2 cups ham, diced
1 small can tomatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 hot pepper, chopped
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
Brown the ham in the olive oil. Add onions and sauté. Add the peppers and stir all together.
Add rice and water.
Cook until mixture simmers. Turn temperature to low; cover and simmer until rice is cooked.
Braised Brussel Sprouts or Green Beans
Cut fresh Brussel sprouts in half.
Rub a cast iron skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil on a paper towel.
Heat the skillet until hot and pour in the sprouts.
Sear sprouts until lightly browned.
Remove from heat.
Turn heat to low and toss sprouts with a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon pepper, and a half teaspoon of salt and pepper.
Cover and heat on low for 3 minutes.
Tart Lemon Pie
The sweetness of the ice cream and the tartness of the pie make a delicious dessert.
1 medium lemon, quartered and seeded
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup butter, melted
1 unbaked pastry shell
In food processor, combine the first 4 ingredients until smooth.
Add melted butter and process 30 seconds.
Pour into pastry shell. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Crustless Cheesecake Pie
¼ tsp. vanilla flavoring
2/3 cup sugar
Two 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a pie pan. Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
Pour into greased pie pan.
Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for 25 minutes.
1 pint sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
3 heaping Tbsp. sugar
Fresh fruit or raspberry puree or pie filling, optional
Combine sour cream, vanilla and sugar; blend together. Pour over cheesecake.
Put the cheesecake back into oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Top with fresh fruit or other fruit topping
Pork Chops with Tomatoes
4 pork chops
1 medium can tomatoes
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup long grain rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle salt and pepper on chops; then brown on both sides in a heavy skillet. Place a ring of bell pepper, a ring of onion and a whole tomato on each pork chop. Cover and cook on low for a few minutes until vegetables are soft.
Add rice, 2 cups water and liquid from tomatoes. Stir rice and water. Cook on medium until simmers, then lower temperature and cover until rice has finished cooking.
Dad’s Cole Slaw
1 tightly packed head of cabbage
About 1 capful of white vinegar
Salt to taste
Cut cabbage in half and finely shred; then slice an onion and finely slice it. Drizzle on a small about of olive oil and toss with two forks. Add vinegar to taste; toss. Add salt just before serving.
Coq au Vin
1 small chicken, cut into pieces
4 slices bacon
½ cup olive oil
1 medium jar sliced mushrooms (can use fresh)
1 can chicken broth
½ cup Pinot Noir wine
Salt and pepper
Cook bacon. Remove bacon from the pan. Add oil to the bacon drippings.
Mix flour and salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture onto the chicken pieces.
Cook chicken in the oil/drippings on medium until browned on all sides.
Add mushrooms, chicken broth, bacon and wine.
Cover and simmer on low until chicken is fork tender about 30-35