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Uncle Phaedrus: Consulting Detective and Finder of Lost Recipes

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Science Fiction Novel

-----Original Message----- 
From: margaret 
Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:32 PM
Subject: something I was reminded of today

Hi Phaed,

When I read your exchange with the reader inquiring about a "Squire Ma"
cake, it reminded me of a science fiction novel I read a long time ago.
The plot was an "after civilization collapsed" story and it was about a
religion developing from a grocery list.  Is this enough to jog your
memory or could it possibly give you something to research?  The novel
was popular and was reprinted several times but that is absolutely all I
can remember.  Now that I've thought of it I can't get it out of my
mind.  Seems like the title had two words only and one of the words was
a name.


Hi Margaret,

Sounds like "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter M. Miller

"...acclaimed SF classic 'A Canticle for Leibowitz' opens with the accidental excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled by the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: 'Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma.'"


You're right!!  Boy you're good.  And I was way off.
Thanks very much.

Ranch Burgers

From: stacey 
Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2012 1:37 PM
Subject: ranch burgers

My mom had a recipe for ranch burgers but has lost it.  It was a hamburger 
mixture of hamburger, chili beans, cheese whiz, and a few jalapenos and 
this was placed in a homemade roll, then baked.  
I'm not sure if all ingredients are here and have no idea of measurements.  

Thank you

Hello Stacy,

See below for the closest that I could find. The difference is that this has chili powder rather than jalapenos. You could add those if you wish.


Ranch  Burgers

2 lb. ground chuck
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 (8 oz.) jar Cheez Whiz
2 (15 oz.) cans chili beans

2 pkg. yeast
2/3 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shortening
2 eggs
4 to 4 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large mixer bowl.  Add milk, sugar, salt, 
shortening, egg, and 1 1/2 cup flour.  Blend 1/2 minute on low speed. 
Beat 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. 
Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.  
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 
about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. 
Cover; let rise in warm place until double, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  
Brown hamburger and onion, seasoning with salt and pepper.  
Drain hamburger. Sprinkle chili powder on meat and mix well.  
Add cheese spread.  Stir in chili beans and simmer for 15 minutes.  
When dough is ready, set oven on 400 degrees. 
Divide dough into fourths.  Roll each fourth to approximately 
10 x 14 x 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into 6 squares.  
Place 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling on each square. Pull up opposite corners 
and pinch together at center top.  
Place pinched side down on baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 
12-15 minutes.  Brush with butter.  Makes 20-24 buns.

Steak & Ale Thousand Island Dressing

-----Original Message----- 
From: Kevin 
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 11:57 AM
Subject: Lost recipie request

Steak & Ale Thousand Island dressing.

I've searched the internet to no avail.
I even emailed the company that bought the remains of the chain, but no

Thanks for all your hard work, and your site!!!


Hi Kevin,

Well, it looks as though you've already covered all the bases. I had no success locating a copycat recipe. There are requests for this dressing on several message boards, and no one has had any success. All I can add are some bits that I found on various message boards, posted by former Steak & Ale employees.

The dressings were proprietary. They were not made at the local restaurants, but were made at either a central commissary or by a vendor who made them expressly for Steak & Ale. If made by a vendor, the vendor would have had a contract that required them never to give out the "recipe" for the dressing. Steak & Ale corporate would also be the only ones to only have the recipe if it was made at a central commissary. Either way, it would have been a commercial recipe for making gallons of it at a time from commercial ingredients, not a usable home recipe.

The outside vendor that made it, according to a message board post from a former employee, was "Brother's Produce" I believe this company is in Houston or Dallas. Their website is: Brothers Produce
"Before Steak & Ale went out of business, they got their dressing from Brothers Produce Distribution "

Another message board post says:
"The dressings were propriety items so no one actually knew what was in them but Marzettis dressing that you find in the Produce sections of most grocery stores was an approved vendor if you ever ran out."

In other words, Kevin, if one of the local Steak & Ale Restaurants ran out of the company-supplied dressing, then Marzettis dressing was an approved substitute. This sounds like something to try...
Marzetti's Salad Dressing

There is a message board with a lot of discussion and posts from former Steak & Ale employees here:


Highland Park Cafeteria

A few weeks ago, someone wrote to me regarding a recipe for deviled crab from Highland Park Cafeteria in Dallas, TX. I had no success locating that particular recipe , but I thought that I would post the recipes from Highland Park that I did find.

Highland Park Cafeteria Coconut Icebox Pie

2 cup milk      
2 oz cornstarch
1 cup sugar     
2 tb butter
3 beaten eggs,separated     
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract  
1 tsp gelatin
cold water  
pinch salt   
6 tb sugar
1 cup shreaded coconut    
whipping cream
9" baked pie shell

In a double boiler scald milk. Combine cornstarch with sugar and add to milk. 
Cook and when thickened add butter. 
Add egg yolk and lower heat and cook till very thick. Remove and add vanilla 
and coconut extracts. In a separate 
bowl combine gelatin with cold water to dissolve and pour into custard.  
Whip the egg whites with sugar and salt 
and fold into custard. Pour pie into shell and cool. Top with whipped cream 
and toasted coconut.
Highland Park Cafeteria- Dallas Tx 
Chopped Spinach Salad with Horseradish
Serves 4.

1 lb spinach, very thoroughly washed and completely dry
2 T mayonnaise (approximately)
1 t lemon juice
4 T grated horseradish
2 hard boiled eggs
Lettuce leaves for serving

Chop the spinach extremely fine. Add lemon juice then just enough 
mayonnaise to allow the spinach to be molded 
into a genteel mound for presentation (see picture); divide into 4 serving 
portions and place a spinach mound 
on top of a lettuce leaf, using a large spoon for shaping. Duplicate the 
shape of the spinach with a 1 T mound of horseradish on the side. 
Grate or finely chop hard boiled eggs and distribute evenly on top of 
the salads.
Squash Casserole a la Highland Park Cafeteria
8 servings.


2 lbs yellow summer squash, coarsely chopped (about 4 c)
1/2 c onion, finely chopped
4 T melted butter
2 t sugar
1 t Kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c cracker crumbs, coarsely crumbled (made from saltines)

Method: Boil water sufficient to cover the squash in a large saucepan. 
Dump them in and cook till just tender, 
about 10 minutes. Drain and cool. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix beaten eggs, salt, sugar and onion and pour over squash; 
add melted butter and salt and pepper to taste, then 1 c cracker crumbs. 
Mix gently to combine, then turn into a lightly greased 3 qt casserole. 
Cover with additional 1/2 c cracker crumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes 
until lightly browned on top.