Simple Summer Recipes

Angie Horn

What’s cookin’ with Angie Horn? We caught up with this savvy author, popular food blogger and expert on the comforts of Southern hospitality to get the inside scoop on her new cookbook, Simple Summer Recipes. SPOILER ALERT: What she has to say is guaranteed to make you hungry!

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett


Q: What’s your earliest recollection of being in a kitchen?

A: Two memories surface when I think of my earliest recollection in the kitchen. A sippy cup with milk and sneaking into a sugar bowl. Apparently, I learned quickly in life that milk and a sweet treat pair well together.

Q: Were there favorite comfort foods that were a staple of your childhood?

A: My parents and grandparents gardened. Many of my food memories come from helping them pick vegetables from the garden, watching my mother and grandmothers can the vegetables. They called it “putting up” the fruit and vegetables. That meant preserving or freezing fruit or vegetables from fruit trees and garden vegetables. I favor many comfort foods because my mother was an exceptional cook, and she enjoyed making our favorite meals.

Breakfast was my favorite meal. Often, my mom or dad would cook bacon and eggs for breakfast. Daddy made pancakes. Mesmerized at the way he would flip the large griddle-size pancakes high above the pan, I eagerly anticipated delving into the hot cakes drenched in Log Cabin syrup.

Mother generally made biscuits. I have fond memories of hot biscuits dipped into ribbon cane syrup. There is a certain technique to eating the thick rich syrup with biscuits. First, you pour the syrup onto your plate, add a slice of butter, and mash the butter into the syrup with a fork. Then you dip a hot biscuit into the syrup/butter mixture. It’s terribly difficult to indulge in only one biscuit with the ribbon cane syrup.

Lunch might be a sandwich or leftovers, but dinner – back then we always called it supper – consisted of meat, bread, and plenty of vegetables. My favorite meats were meatloaf topped with ketchup, baked chicken, or roast cooked in an oblong stainless steel pot with potatoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions. Oh, yes, my family believed in having many vegetables.

I love vegetables, but I’d rather have yellow summer squash cooked with butter and onions any day. Mother liked to make big pots of meat and veggies – like Hamburger Soup, Stew, and Hamburger Pasta with onions – always served with cornbread. Days when I was sick, I recall having her hot creamy chicken soup and crackers. One time, my daughter and I flew into Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas to spend a few days with my parents. I hadn’t been feeling well. When my brother picked us up at the airport, he handed me a tray with hot chicken soup and crackers specially prepared by our mother.

Desserts definitely must be included as my favorite childhood comfort foods. I had three: Chocolate Meringue Pie, Lemon Meringue Pie, and German Chocolate Cake. When I was a young girl, Mother often baked. Her German chocolate cake was the most incredibly good- tasting cake, liberally layered and topped with a thick buttery coconut icing – and I have her recipe! Later on, in my teens, I asked her, “Why don’t you bake German Chocolate cakes anymore?”

“We were all gaining weight, so I stopped baking the cakes,” she replied.

Q: Favorite comfort food as an adult?

A: I don’t think I can narrow comfort foods to only one. Favorite breakfast? Bacon, eggs, and pancakes. Favorite vegetable? Yellow summer squash. Favorite soup? Creamy chicken soup. Favorite dessert? That’s a tough one. Depends on the mood. Chocolate Meringue Pie, Lemon Meringue Pie, or German Chocolate Cake.

Q: What’s the first thing you ever cooked (start to finish) by yourself?

A:The first simplest thing I ever cooked was, most likely, toast. Easy. Quick. Then I learned how to make cheese toast. Mmmm. So good. It’s easy, too. Cut slices of Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheddar cheese. Place the cheese slices on top of a piece of bread. Put into the oven and broil. It’s ready to eat in a jiffy.

Q: So what inspired you to write a cookbook and how did you decide on its theme?

A: Food is comforting. Food, no matter what type of cuisine, is universal. I like to eat, cook, make favorite recipes for family and friends, collect cookbooks, and write about food. Food culture interests me. I especially like to create recipes from ingredients I have on hand – like eggs, seasonal fresh vegetables, and leftover grilled steak or hamburger.  If I’m helping with my grandchildren, I love to cook for them. They love to eat simple and easy things – like peanut butter toast and pancakes.

Simple recipes are in demand. We live in a fast-paced society, so quick and easy recipes that don’t take all day to make come in handy for most families. Inspired by the things I like about food, I included easy recipes of comfort foods, summer favorites, and seasonal fruits, herbs, and vegetables in Southern style for the first of my seasonal cookbook series, Simple Summer Recipes.

Q: How did you go about putting it together and testing the recipes for accuracy and completeness?

A: I’m a food blogger and had previously blogged about favorite and new recipes I made. My family and friends are the honored tasting candidates. When I come up with a new recipe, I know it’s good when my husband says, “That one’s a keeper.” For instance, my Simple Summer Recipes cookbook includes salsa. I like to make salsa from my kitchen garden. If my husband loves it, he’ll let me know that it’s perfect and not to change a thing.

A food blogger friend and I have met once a week for over a year, planning our blog posts, sharing our recipes, and including tastings of our new recipes. We make suggestions of different spices or ingredients that could improve on our recipes in addition to proofreading our blog posts.

Q: Your cookbook’s subtitle “& Foodie Storytime” suggests the inclusion of anecdotes. Are they nostalgic, comical, or do they primarily give the history of the recipes?

A: The “& Foodie Storytime” subtitle relates to nostalgic and comical stories about the cookbook’s recipes.

Q: In a perfect world, every cooking experience would be perfect. Have you ever had embarrassing cooking experiences and were there any witnesses to them?

A: The first thing that comes to mind is when, as a newlywed, I prepared a baked chicken dinner for my husband and a friend he worked with. Their job site was not far from where we lived, so my husband invited the guy for dinner on their break. It was planned, and I had dinner ready for them when they arrived. Before I sat down to join them, I stepped out for a moment – but not out of earshot. I heard my husband ask, “Shall we pray again?” I returned to the dining room to ask why they should pray again. The chicken had baked but had uncooked, bloody pockets! I put the chicken back into the oven and nearly burned it the second time. It was horribly embarrassing.

Q: Let’s say you’re planning a dinner party for three people you most admire from the pages of history. Tell us what would be on the menu and what would be your dinner party’s theme?

A: My dinner party’s theme would be Come As You Are Summer Dinner, and I would invite Jesus, Joseph (Jacob’s son – Old Testament in the Bible), Naomi, and everyone I could possibly invite to meet my three special dinner guests. I would serve the following menu:

  1. cold water as the beverage
  2. cucumber, grape tomato, strawberry slices, walnuts, butterhead lettuce, olive oil and red wine vinegar as dressing
  3. grilled salmon, topped with fresh cilantro and lemon slices
  4. sautéed yellow summer squash with butter and diced sweet onion
  5. grilled red potatoes
  6. multi-grain bread loaf and seasonal fruit jam for the bread
  7. peach cobbler with cream

Perhaps Jesus would turn the water into wine for our dinner, thus making it a most memorable dinner.

Q: How is Simple Summer Recipes connected to your blog, Kitchen Southern Hospitality?

A: Simple Summer Recipes includes some of the recipes from my food blog, Kitchen Southern Hospitality. The cookbook and blog are both written with a Southern flair from my love of Southern cooking and upbringing.

Q: Now that you’ve covered summer, are there plans in the works to cover the other three seasons as well?

A: Yes, I am planning cookbooks for each season

Q: How did you go about finding a publisher?

A: I publish through JoyLife Press, my own publishing company that I began after the publishing company of my first book, Phantom Seven: Secret Heroes of WWII and OSS, closed. My first book was reprinted through JoyLife Press, and Simple Summer Recipes was published through JoyLife Press.

Q: What are you doing in terms of promoting your book?

A: I promote my book through Amazon, my blogs, book fairs, book reviews, and social media – mainly Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Q: Best tip for new cooks?

A: Learn to use what you have on hand, create new recipes from leftovers, and include fresh foods daily.

Q: Best advice to aspiring cookbook writers?

A: First, always write down every ingredient to a new recipe, or you will forget. Next, it’s good to become familiar with other cookbooks with the style of cooking you prefer. But be yourself. Write with your own originality.

Q: If you were marooned on an island for a month (and assuming shelter and safety were assured), what three foods could you happily live on until you were rescued?

A: Assuming I had a way to cook, my three food choices would be eggs, vegetables, and fruit.

Q: When you’re not penning recipes, are there other genres you like to write?

A: I like to write nonfiction and historical fiction.

Q: Are food and recipes involved?

A: Certainly. Whether I’m blogging or writing my Civil War historical fiction series, food and recipes are involved.

Q: What inspires you the most as a writer?

A: Inspiration to write Simple Summer Recipes came mostly from my love of Southern foods, comfort foods, gardening, and preparing meals for my family. Nature inspires me – like sunshine, flowers, organic gardening. Whether in cookbooks, historical fiction, or blogs, food always finds a way into my writing.

Q: What’s next on your plate (so to speak)?

A: A historical fiction series is in the works, beginning with the Civil War era.

Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

A: What you eat can influence your health and well-being. It’s up to you to eat nutritious food for your health’s sake. Choose fresh foods, and eat moderately. Check with your healthcare provider to help you determine the best food and exercise plans for you.

My dad lived until he was 90. My first book, Phantom Seven, is about him and his World War II cohorts. The stories in Phantom Seven are from men who served in espionage. My dad was chosen during World War II to serve in the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. He was known by his OSS comrades as Benny McCoy, but to me he was Daddy.

One thing Daddy taught me was to never give up, “never give in” – Winston Churchill’s famous quote. Daddy taught by example. He learned to conquer the overweight battle by cutting back on unhealthy foods, eating a lot of vegetables, and exercising. He exercised up until his last year of life. He used to walk and run six miles about three times a week. He’d run a mile then walk a mile.

Daddy’s example still inspires me. In his latter years, he once told me he had cut back on eating red meat and advised, “You don’t need to eat a lot of meat.” He liked eating. His favorite dessert was banana pudding. But if he started gaining weight, he stopped eating what was putting on the extra pounds and increased the exercise.

Struggling with being overweight, feeling sluggish, not feeling your best? Try a healthy food plan. Exercise. Never give in to allowing cravings dictate to your health and well-being.




Secrets of the M*A*S*H Mess: The Lost Recipes of Private Igor

MASH Mess082

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

In 1950, a country bumpkin named Igor Straminsky answered his country’s call to duty and, as an unwitting Army private, soon found himself in the most hostile environment the planet could ever serve up. No, we’re not talking about Korea. We’re talking about the men and women of the 4077th who queued up three times a day with plastic trays, growling stomachs, and growing suspicions they’d more likely meet their deaths at the inept hands of their new cook than they ever would in confrontations with the enemy they’d come to fight. “Dear Ma,” Igor wrote home, “Instead of letting me work at something I’m good at, they’re gonna make me do a job I don’t know anything about! Radar, the company clerk here, told me that he thinks the Army does that on purpose.”

Suffice it to say, Igor had plenty of time to hone his craft (such as it was). His stint in a mess tent chef’s hat, in fact, lasted eight years longer than the actual Korean War. When the hit television series M*A*S*H finally bowed out in 1983, almost 125 million viewers tuned in to say goodbye, the largest audience ever for a TV show. Fortunately, Igor’s efforts to please the palate weren’t left behind on a helicopter pad. His alter ego-Hollywood actor/writer/entrepreneur Jeff Maxwell-has compiled the best of Igor’s mess tent magic into a hilarious book entitled “Secrets of the M*A*S*H Mess: The Lost Recipes of Private Igor.”

Testimonial from Colonel Potter: “There seems to be a misconception here. Those recipes weren’t lost! We did our best to hide them.”

Within these wacky pages—which are replete with black and white production stills, “dog-tag” quotes, and letters home—the author not only gives us generous dollops of homegrown culinary advice but demonstrates a talent for memorializing his Army experiences and friendships with his own brand of signature recipes such as Hot Lips Tri-Tips, Radar’s Teddy Bear Turkey Loaf, and Hunnicut’s Homesick Cookies.

As clueless as Igor seemed to be whilst unveiling inventive concoctions such as “Cream of Weenie Soup” or “Hot Potato Pucks”, he shows remarkable clarity in laying out instructions that are fun and easy to follow. Whether you’re mustering your troops off to work or school with “Frontline Flapjacks with Chocolate Gravy”, settling in for an evening flick with “Movie Night Popcorn Shrimp” or dazzling your next book club group with “Forward Marsh Melts”, there’s no denying that Igor knows what it takes to please picky eaters.

Testimonial from Hawkeye Pierce: “Can’t wait to try the recipes. There are several people I’m trying to kill.”

In real life, Maxwell loves to chat about the convoluted journey that took him from the bowels of the Print Department at 20th Century Fox to stand-up comedy to the elation of playing a character with an actual name on a hit series instead of just a credit as “Soldier 1”. The proliferation of candid shots throughout the book suggest the slap-dash happiness of an overgrown kid who has not only found himself at the summer camp of a lifetime but in the thick of new friendships destined to last forever.

Q: Did you know anything about M*A*S*H before you joined the series?

A: Not really. I thought it was something you fed to chickens! Okay, okay, for a short time I worked as a casting director at Twentieth Century Fox and was responsible for casting some of the smaller parts in a film titled M*A*S*H. I saw the movie when it was released and loved it. I knew nothing about the television version or the actors in it until the first day I showed up on the set.

Q: What were your impressions of the film?

A: Robert Altman’s raw, improvisational and bloody approach made me feel very uncomfortable. It also made me laugh which, I believe, is the true genius of both the movie and the television show.

Q: Had you read the novel on which the film was based?

A: Shortly after joining the show, I did read the book and enjoyed it. But don’t you think it would have been a better novel if Igor had been in it?

Q: Did you think M*A*S*H was going to be a huge hit when you first read the script?

A: No. As a matter of fact, the show was getting less than super ratings in the early days. Shortly after I made my appearances, the ratings shot through the roof. Draw your own conclusions.

Q: So what were your impressions of Private Igor?

A: I really liked Igor and thought of him as a person struggling to get used to a job that wasn’t familiar or comfortable. Like everybody else in the compound, he was stuck there. I played him as a mechanic who was forced to trade motor oil for butter fat. The thing I liked most about him is that no matter how tough people treated him, he always tried to be a little funny.

Q: Tell us what inspired you to write a book.

A: Several year before the show ended production, I thought it would be funny if Igor were to write his own cookbook. I had planned to write it during the last season but got involved in another project. Better late than never.

Q: Did you come up with all the recipes yourself?

A: In the book you learn that Igor created them. He didn’t know it but he was really a gifted chef who was forced to cook-by-the-book. Okay, maybe he had a little help from a couple of friends and Mrs. Igor.

Q: And how about you? Are you a good cook?

A: You bet your creamed weenies I am!

Q: Have any of your fellow actors tried the recipes?

A: I don’t know. But I haven’t heard from any lawyers yet.

Q: Do you have a favorite go-to comfort food?

A: I’ve become a major student of the art of smoking food. I am an animal lover, and this will not sit well with many of my respected friends, but I admit to loving smoked ribs. Successfully blending seasonings with just the right amount of smoky flavor to build the perfect flavor profile on a rack of ribs is an art.

Q: Getting back to the show, do you recall a favorite episode?

A; Adam’s Ribs stands out in my mind as one of the all-time greats. The “river of liver, ocean of fish” scene between Hawkeye and Igor is a classic.

Q: Which character was your favorite (besides Igor)?

A: Tough question to answer. All the characters and their behaviors were so integral to the comedy and theme; it would be hard to suggest any one was a favorite. I enjoyed each of them for what they contributed to every episode.

Q: When was it determined the 11th season would be the last?

A: I think at the end of the 10th.Everybody knew that all of the stories had been told. To continue into a 12th season would have put the quality of the writing, acting and producing in great jeopardy. Although there was talk of moving the show to Alaska and re-naming it MUSH.

Q: What was it like on the set that final day?

A: It was warm and fuzzy—kind of like that nice fog you’re in after a big Thanksgiving meal. There was a lot of hugging and a few teary outbursts but, for the most part, surprisingly upbeat. All the agents, however, were sobbing daily.

Q: Was there any talk about you appearing on “AfterM*A*S*H?”

A: If there was, nobody told me. If they had only researched how Igor affected the ratings on M*A*S*H, AfterM*A*S*H might still be on today. But seriously, the stories and humor of M*A*S*H were driven by one of the most powerful, horrendous human endeavors one can imagine. Taking those characters out of the war and putting them in a benign setting for any kind of reunion show would be as wrong as moving Gilligan’s Island to Korea.

Q: Are you still acting?

A: Not really, although ask me and I might. I enjoy bringing projects to fruition and have become very involved with fund-raising, producing movies and selling television shows. Raising budgets for independent films is challenging and exciting. And it can make you nauseous and sweaty even in winter.

Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?

A: Probably that I am an extremely serious person. The secret about comedians is that their desire to be funny is usually born out of difficult childhood experiences. I’m not talking about abuse, but something that makes them feel fragmented from their family and/or peers. Cool kids are not usually motivated to do stand-up comedy. They’re too busy fielding offers from the CIA or Apple. It’s the not-so-cool kids who make their classmates laugh to gain acceptance and to avoid getting beat up by the cool kids. Many funny folks are serious and shy. I guess I have that in my DNA, too.

Q: What’s the oldest, weirdest or most nostalgic item you currently have in your closet?

A: My brother.

Q: Rumor has it that you have a new book in the works. What is it about?

A:  My wife recently endured Breast Cancer and its treatment. I’m planning on writing about the experience and its impact on us as a couple, but mostly how it affected me. I’m going to take the reader on the difficult path of the event while highlighting some humorous moments nobody expects. It will definitely not be a medical textbook or a maudlin tome. Still thinking about putting some recipes in it.

My wife is now doing quite well, by the way.

Q: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?

A: Whether they remember it or not, I’d like them to know that M*A*S*H was a magical moment for everyone connected with the show. I was fortunate to have worked with incredibly talented, vibrant and intelligent people, cast and crew, for nine of the eleven-years the show was produced. I gained life-long friendships and learned a lot about acting, writing, and behavior in the very heady environment of a successful television show. The late Larry Gelbart developed the show for television and wrote most of the episodes in the first four years. Gene Reynolds was the executive producer of the show and directed most of the episodes in the first four years. Larry’s writing genius combined with Gene’s wisdom and incredible talent for the daily maneuvering of a gaggle of high-powered actors was the fuel that allowed the magic to happen on the stage and in our living rooms. And it helped me grow up. Although I’m definitely still a work in progress.

I’d also urge your readers to watch the reruns of M*A*S*H whenever possible. I like the residuals.