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28 December 2013

Texas Trash

"Texas Trash" -- my gift to pass on to the world, but it comes with a story...

A large roaster containing one completed batch of Texas Trash.
This recipe has been around since before I was born and is a Giles family staple. It is NOT your typical "Chex Mix" recipe and I have never found anything like it anywhere else.

My Grandmother, Vida Gray Giles, (born a farm girl in Bastrop, raised in Nacogdoches, transformed into a "Flapper" and finished as a gentle and most loving dear lady anyone would ever meet) was the granddaughter of a Texas Ranger in the Texas Revolution.

That is Gran, nearest the camera.
She was the epitome of strong, kind, and smart Texas women. I do not think she invented this recipe, but she may have named it.

"Gran" always made a batch of Texas Trash for the family visits to Nacogdoches; and with RC Cola or Dr. Pepper for the kids, sweet (mint) tea and beer for the adults, the Trash was the perfect snack for relaxing and catching up. It was a standard for watching football. I also am under the impression that every Bridge Table in East Texas had a bowl of it at center.

When my brother and I were in college, the arrival of a shoebox in the mail, posted from Nacogdoches, meant we had received a half-batch, each, as a "care package." We were lucky if we could make it last more than a few days-- especially with roommates.

I did not keep statistics but I believe there was a correlation between eating Texas Trash while watching football games. Texas Aggie, Texas Longhorn, and Dallas Cowboy victories may be a result of the Giles family tradition. We are not claiming credit-- just saying, "Maybe."

Gran passed in 1994, and my mother kept the recipe alive, but it has now become a very rare treat, and an occasion for reminiscing. So, on the day before Thanksgiving, I asked my mother to direct and observe as I baked up a full batch. The image is of the results.

Since it was perfect, I can now pass it on.

To get your attention, you will need a half cup of BACON DRIPPINGS!

Yep, that means you have to fry (and presumably eat) a lot of bacon. It is just a win-win scenario.

[Frying between 12 and 16 strips of bacon should produce just about 1/2 cup of bacon drippings.  No need to strain, or clarify, but let the sediments settle in the bottom of a container for best results.]

Now for the recipe:

* 1 pound of butter (margarine is okay), melted.
* 1/2 cup bacon drippings, melted.
* 1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce.
* 2 teaspoons garlic salt.
* 2 teaspoons onion salt.
* 3 TABLEspoons chili powder.
* 1 Box Life cereal (the necessary sweetness).
* 1 Box Rice Chex cereal.
* 1 Box Corn Chex cereal.
* 3/4 Box Cheerios (those boxes are really big).
* ~10 or 12 ounces of roasted peanuts (we toss in a can of Planters Peanuts).

* Optional:  Pretzels, most use the thin stick kind.  I consider them mere "filler."  Pecans (instead of peanuts)-- my favorite and in the original version my grandmother made, but that was when we could pick them off the ground and shell them ourselves.  I have grown fond of the peanuts as a substitute.  Some throw in a box of Wheat Chex, but others find they absorb too much of the tangier flavors.  I like them.

Everything you need, except that box of Life cereal,
should be the regular kind and not cinnamon; and
I substituted a generic brand I trust for Cheerios.
* Melt the four sticks of margarine in the microwave, and then pour into a pot. Add the bacon drippings to that pot and heat on stove until all the drippings are liquefied with the butter. Then add Worcestershire Sauce, garlic salt, and onion salt, stirring until well mixed. It is sort of a flour-less roux, and looks like a roux.

* In a large (really big--see picture) roaster, mix the cereals and peanuts, and then carefully stir cereal up from the bottom as you pour over the "roux" so that it is all evenly mixed.

I used a large, flexible, and flat spatula so I could be sure to get all of the cereal off the bottom and bring it up.

If you don't have such a huge roaster, you may wish to do this in batches which fit what you have-- perhaps mixing the ingredients and then splitting (before combining the roux with the cereal-- mixing those only when baking).

Now we are ready to bake.

* Preheated at 300 degrees, bake, uncovered, for 60-75 minutes, stirring all contents from the bottom up, and from the sides in, every 15 minutes. You'll want that spatula I described and similar to the one pictured.

* You can start eating as soon as it cools enough to not burn your mouth.  If it seems "stale" then it isn't done.  Stir and bake for another fifteen minutes.  Sometimes one hour is sufficient, otherwise 75 minutes should do.

My Mom and I scooped a bowlful, each, and then sat and drank her Sweet Mint Tea as we got caught up. That repeated several times over the next two days, and this morning, I filled seven large zip-lock baggies with what was left. I ate most of one bag on the train home, gave three to my brother when he picked me up from the station.

Now that I know I do not have to ration the three bags I still have, I was feeling generous.

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