Suzann Ledbetter

Novel Cuisine  

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Novel Cuisine

From the novel Once A Thief.

One of the problems to cell cooking is finding the proper utensils. However, the will finds a way. Convicts become very, very resourceful when necessary. No large bowl? Then take a couple large trash bags, double them up, then take four stacks of books about one foot high each, put them on a table and make a hollow space in the middle. Put the trash bags in the middle of the hollow space to line the space. Roll up the excess part of the bags, and presto, you’ve got a bowl!

If you need a lid, just twist the top of the bags closed. Resourcefulness is a must for us.*

Tater Tot Casserole

By Baby Yard Monster -- In cell recipe

3 cups baked tater tots from Coke Shack (snack bar)
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon salsa
3 tablespoons cheese-spread
Pepperoni or summer sausage

Mix ketchup, mayonnaise, and salsa. Add tater tots and stir. Heat cheese-spread and pour over the top. Place sliced pepperoni or summer sausage on top.

Goozly Pie

By Jane Snyder, Psychiatric Social Worker who single-handedly deals with the mental health needs of a 761-man facility -- At-home recipe

2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, blueberries, cherries, or raspberries
1 cup sour cream
1 unbaked pie shell
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread berries evenly in bottom of pie shell. Mix sour cream, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt together. Pour mixture over berries in pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce to 375 and bake for another 40 minutes or until pie is set and sour cream mixture is lightly browned. Cool completely before serving.

Jail Mix

By Tim Daugherty -- In-cell recipe

2 pkgs Top Ramen (any flavor you want)
1 large bag of M&Ms plain
1 bag sunflower seed kernels
2 boxes of Cheerios
bag chocolate raisins
1 bag spicy peanuts

Crunch up dry Top Ramen noodles and all ingredients into a clean garbage bag. Shake it up. Shake it up. Sprinkle in Top Ramen flavor packs.

* Used by permission. The Convict Cookbook. A charity project by convicts at the Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla, WA. Second edition. Published August, 2004, J.G. Narum. Copyright 2004. ISBN 0-9760825-0-0. Photo by Gary Clark.

Ramey Burke's No-Bake Cookies

Cannot be doubled!

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1 stick margarine
dash of salt

Mix together & boil one minute... timing is everything!
Remove from heat and add:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cup oats

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper. Cool.

Yields about 2 to 2 1/2 dozen.

Southwestern Dining Guide


On a trip to the Southwest these restaurants stood out above all others.

  • Tina's - Socorro, New Mexico - Watch out! When they say 'hot' sauce, they mean it.
  • Mom's Cafe - Alamogordo, New Mexico - Jim Croce said you shouldn't eat at a place called Mom's. In this case, he was wrong!
  • Margo's - Alamogordo, New Mexico - Best Mexican food I've ever eaten - period!
  • Brookville Hotel - Abilene, Kansas - While you're in Abilene, go see the Greyhound Hall of Fame!
  • Lil Abners Steakhouse - Tucson, Arizona - Steak done the right way! Wow!
  • Koko's Cafe - Cortez, Colorado - Great little place. The patio looks out on the mountains. Relaxing.
  • The Rose Cafe - Pagosa Springs, Colorado - A fine cafe in a beautiful little town. Service was great!

Try 'em if you get the chance!

Paul Haggerty's Junkyard Omelet

The two secrets to the junkyard omelet are choosing the proper leftovers from your fridge and using non-stick cookware.

Beat three eggs and a dash or two of milk thoroughly in bowl. Then open your refrigerator and stare inside for five minutes. Find those leftovers that are tasty, colorful and easy to cut into small pieces.
Some examples:

  • Veggies (forget corn, it's the same color as the eggs. Green beans are good, jalapeno peppers are even better. Onion, bell peppers, broccoli, use your imagination!)
  • Deli coleslaw
  • SpaghettiOs
  • Leftover roast beef and potatoes. You get the idea...
  • Cheese, however, is not optional. You must use cheese, (Paul prefers shredded parmesan, but use what you like). Beat it in with the eggs.

Put a dab of butter in a pre-heated skillet. Add mixture, cook, flip. Fold in half, layer more cheese on top, then stick into pre-heated oven for 5 minutes or so, long enough to melt the cheese on top.

Won Li's Meditation Tea

Cut up Reishi mushrooms in very small pieces, then soak in a glass container with two cups of warm water for one hour. After soaking, cover and simmer for five minutes in an 1800s era appropriate pan. Strain. To counter the bitterness, you may want to add a touch of honey or sugar.
Drink slowly ... meditate.

Delbert's "Killer" Guacamole

  • 3 fresh, peeled and pitted avocados
  • 5 pinky-finger-sized green onions (diced fine, greens and all)
  • Lemon - the real squeeze, not the phony baloney stuff
  • l, 1 oz. package of guacamole seasoning (Delbert prefers McCormick' s Mild)
  • 2 diced, medium to large tomatoes

Squash avocado pulp to a paste consistency with a potato masher in a medium-to-large bowl.
Stir in 4 to 6 drops of lemon juice.
Stir in contents of seasoning packet.
Fold in diced onion and diced tomatoes.
Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Leftovers can be stored in a lidded container, but it will not look nearly as appetizing the next day and if you make it right, there won't be any left over, anyhow.

Added bonus: skewer the avocado seeds with toothpicks, Sputnik style, and suspend in a glass of water. Place in direct sunlight and when roots appear, plant in loose soil with half the seed showing above the surface, eventually, like when hell freezes over, you might get your own personal avocado tree out of the deal.

Hannah's Kick-Butt, Belly-warming Mulled Wine

  • 1 cube of sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • l teaspoon of mixed cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 5 ounces Red or Claret wine (Hannah prefers St. James Winery Velvet Red, a concord wine as smooth as its name. Check the winery's website at or email them at and tell 'em Suzann sent you)
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat slowly to a simmer.
Adjust ingredients to make any quantity, i.e., a crockpotful of cheer.
Chunked pineapple, apple, mandarin oranges (drain first, if canned), and/or lemon slices can be floated ontop for a colorful, festive holiday drink.
Warning: heating does reduce alcohol content, but doesn't render it null and void, hence the "kick-butt" in the title. Please do drink responsibly.

Granny Garvey's MOSES in the Bulrushes

  • 1, 14 or 16 oz. can of spinach–undrained
  • 4 to 5 eggs
  • Cooked , crumbled bacon or real bacon bits
Dump can of spinach into a medium to large frying pan.
Cook over low to medium heat until vegetable liquid is simmering.
With the bowl-side of a large spoon, make hollows in the spinach, similar to mashed potato lakes for gravy.
Break eggs into depressions; salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer eggs until yolks are done, then sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
Separate with the edge of a spatula and serve with toast or hot biscuits.
Serves 2 to 4, depending on the size of the diners' appetites'.
And this dish is darn-near healthy, as opposed to the others Hannah and the Gumshoe Gang whip up!

Leo Schnur's Devil's Food Cake

("So good, it will bring the tears to your eyes, I promise you.")
  • 1 1/2 c. sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. powdered cocoa
  • 1/2 c. Crisco
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c. buttermilk milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
In a large bowl sift flour, add sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa and stir together. Add the Crisco and 1 cup of sour milk and beat at medium speed for two minutes. Add vanilla, eggs and remaining 1/4 cup of sour milk and beat until thoroughly mixed. Pour batter into two greased and floured 8-inch round layer pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove from pans to racks to finish cooling.

Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 2/3 c. powdered sugar (10x)
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. powdered cocoa
  • 6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Cream butter, add cocoa and powdered sugar alternately with milk.

Add vanilla and beat until smooth and of spreading consistency. If frosting seems too stiff, beat in milk, one tablespoon at a time, until spreadable. Spread between layers and on the top and sides of cake.

IdaClare Clancy's Special* Iced Brownies

  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter (margarine will work, but it's rather like ordering a diet soda with a double cheeseburger and fries)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • *extremely optional: a tiny pinch or two of dried cannibis

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with butter (or margarine). In a medium saucepan, melt 3/4 cup butter over medium heat. Remove from burner and whisk in the water and cocoa powder until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until well-blended and smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda (and the *extremely optional you-know-what). Whisk flour mixture into the cocoa mixture until blended. The batter will be thin.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Set pan on a wire rack to cool for ten minutes.


  • 1/3 cup butter (or margarine)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the buttermilk and cocoa and bring to a boil, whisking until smooth. Remove from burner and whisk in powdered sugar until no lumps remain. Pour icing over the brownies and spread evenly with a spatula. Chill for at least two hours, or until the icing is set. Cut into squares.

The brownies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to five days. Except there's no possible way they'll still be there in 48-hours, unless the fridge door is chained shut. And I wouldn't bet money on it, even then.

Hannah Garvey's World's Best Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/Snack Sandwich

For each sandwich:
  • 2 slices of toasted bread
  • 1 (or two) large eggs
  • 1 slice of Velveeta
  • Miracle Whip
  • Green pepper, cut in thin strips
  • Diced red onion
While bread is toasting, fry egg(s) in skillet until the center(s) is hard. Salt and pepper to taste.

Spread toast with Miracle Whip, to taste.

Arrange the green pepper strips and diced red onion atop the egg(s). Over that, lay the slice of Velveeta. When the cheese begins to melt, scoop up egg and all with a spatula and plop it on one slice of the toast. Add the second slice and smush it all together, gently. Prepare for your eyes to roll back in your head far enough to scope your brain, at first bite.

Tip: Guys have been known to drool over these one-skillet delicacies. The only problem is, they're also known to request them, at every opportunity, pretty much in perpetuity. Prepare not, lest ye equate tokens of affection with scrubbing cheesy egg-gunk from frying pans.

Hannah Garvey's Childhood Trailer Trash Snack

  • 1 jar Cheez Whiz
  • 1 can Frito-Lay bean dip
  • 1 box Ritz Crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread bean dip on crackers. Add a dollop of Cheez Whiz--not too much, or it'll melt all over the place and once scorched, may set off the nearest smoke alarm.

Arrange crackers on pizza pan, cookie sheet, or a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, if you don't mind picking up "sliders" off the floor as much as you mind scrubbing pizza pans and cookies sheets with globs of scorched cheese stuck on them.

Bake 2 to 4 minutes, until Cheez Whiz is gooey-looking and toasty-brown.

Warning: Give these delights a few seconds to cool, or risk sizzling your soft palate, much like biting into a too-hot slice of pizza!

Rosemary Marchetti's To-Die-For Pina Colada Cake

  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 1 can of Pina Colada Mix
  • 1 can (14 oz.) of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 container of unthawed whipped dessert topping
  • 1 large package of shredded coconut
Mix cake as directed on box, pour into a 9 x 13 cake pan, and bake as per package directions.

As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, poke holes all over with the handle of a wooden spoon (or something similar).

Mix together condensed milk and Pina Colada mix.

Pour mixture over hot cake.

Cool cake completely.

Mix unthawed, whipped dessert topping and all but about 2 cups of cups of coconut. Frost cake with whipped topping/coconut mixture.

Sprinkle with reserved coconut.


Best made the day before you plan to eat it. Good luck delaying gratification for that long. If you smush the frosting around just right, maybe no one will notice the weensy nibbles missing from the corners.

Check back soon for more recipes from Suzann's characters!


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©2004 Team Ellingsworth