Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Zeke’s Dress(ing)

My mom, dad, sister and I moved from the Ford to C-Town so long ago, grocery stores weren’t supermarkets yet. All the produce, canned goods, meat and candy was tucked into a very small space. A video store could easily take up the space one of our groceries did.

They were fun places, too, filled with people who remembered your name and brought the groceries to your house if you couldn’t get out.

The one my parents mainly used when we moved to town was called Crady’s. (I think it’s a lawyer’s office now.) They had a great candy counter, and gave us a bag full of the sweet stuff each month when Mama paid our grocery bill. (Yep, we charged the groceries, and paid like clock work.)

They also had a butcher counter. The woman who worked back there could grind hamburger or cut a steak or roast as well as my granddad, and that’s saying a lot!

The woman’s name was Evelyn, but everyone knew her as Zeke. When we’d lived in C-Town for a little while, we stopped driving home to the Ford each Sunday for church and started going to a local church.

Zeke and her family were members of that church. Zeke had two sons and a daughter, and our families became good friends.

Some of my happiest memories have that family as part of them.

Zeke went from being a butcher to the local tag agent, so everyone in town knows her. She has a great laugh, not a timid twitter. It just booms with joy. She rarely meets a stranger (one of my favorite qualities in a person) and makes anyone she’s around feel as if they’re home.

Zeke’s daughter, Lesta, has always been a good friend. We spent a lot of time together in high school and went to the same college. Lesta taught me how to make pinto bean sandwiches and to love Coca-Cola. (Mama always like Pepsi best.) Zeke had soft serve butter before there was any such thing. She set it on the table long before the meal while our mama kept it cold (and hard) so it wouldn’t go bad.

Zeke put her potatos in with her roasts from the moment they started cooking so they came out brown and soooooo good! She served wonderful Sunday dinners, which I got to share more times than I can count.

Zeke introduced me to avacado. And Mexican food. (Not at the same time.)

She loved and took care of her mother-in-law until she passed away.

Just to be very honest, Zeke is one of those people who lives her religion 24/7. If you don’t have a Bible, all you have to do is look at her life. She lives what it says.

Back in the day, our families would get together with the Hagbergs and the preacher’s family and a few others and we’d have a pizza night. The women would make sausage pizza, using Bisquick for the crust. (Makes a great breakfast, too.)

And they’d have a big salad with it. Zeke was nearly always in charge of the salad. I’ve never tasted anything as good as her salad dressing. Olive Garden would be jealous!

I’m going to share Zeke’s salad dressing with you today from our church cookbook.

Zeke’s Salad Dressing

1/4 C vegetable oil
1 C vinegar

Here’s the hard part–
To taste:
salt and pepper
celery seed
Italian Seasoning
garlic powder

She doesn’t give measurements on the seasonings because she doesn’t measure. She eyeballs it. Now I’ve watched Zeke make this dressing a bunch of times, and I still can’t get it to taste the way hers did.

I probably just need more practice. 🙂

Zeke isn’t the tag agent anymore, but her granddaughter is, and Zeke still works at the tag office several days a week.

Like my daddy says, “She’s quite a gal.”

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Happy 4th of July!!!

Happy Independence Day!

Wow, it’s been a day or two since I’ve been here. I could do a whiney-hiney, but I won’t. LOL. Instead I’ll share another 4th of July picture I found online.

Need something to keep a little one occupied today? There are some great 4th of July coloring pages at Apples 4 the Teacher. Check it out. 🙂

Our kids are all coming today to share our celebration with us–Lord willing! What are we having? The same thing we have every 4th. FRIED CHICKEN!!!

Yes, I fry chickens every 4th of July. Today it’s FOUR FOR THE FOURTH! I love good fried chicken, but it makes such a mess, I try to only make it once a year.

I started doing chicken for the 4th years ago when the boys were little and we still lived in Pryor Creek. After all this time, they won’t let me stop even though the 4th is usually the hottest day of the year. Oy!

One year we packed up our chicken and went to OKC and visited the WWII museum, the zoo and the Omniplex, which I understand has been renamed Science Museum Oklahoma. We also visited a museum full of war memorabilia. Maybe the Infantry Museum? It’s been a long time and we haven’t been back. Mostly, I remember how much G-Man enjoyed that place and how much the kids didn’t. LOL.

If you haven’t been to Science Museum Oklahoma, you should go! I had a fantastic time, and my boys loved it. All my boys, including the big one.

After we moved home to C-Town, I kept frying. One year we had both my dad and G-Man’s on the 4th. They loved it. I loved it . . . once I was through frying. 🙂

I learned how at Mama’s (and Grandmother’s and Aunt Phyllis’s) knee. Here’s how we do it:

Soak the cut up chicken in salted water for a few hours before you start frying.

  • Into a brown paper bag put a few cups of flour, salt, plenty of pepper. (I add a teaspoon or two of garlic powder for another layer of flavor.)
  • Put a pan with an inch or so of vegetable oil on to heat.
  • Take the chicken out of the water, one piece at a time, shake off the water and drop into the sack of flour. When you have three or four pieces in the bag, shake it up and carefully place in the heated oil.
  • Cover with a lid and fry until almost done, then remove the lid and turn up the heat just a little to get the chicken crispy brown.
  • Turn the heat back down as you start your next pan of chicken.

Warning: Don’t get the oil too hot in the beginning. The chicken will get done on the outside and stay uncooked in the  middle. Nobody likes that!

I also make Ina Garten’s potato salad. It’s not Mama’s salad, but it’s sooo good. (This is from


  • 3 pounds small red potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, milk, or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion


Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. (As the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing.) Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

BTW: In a slightly different version of this recipe, she calls for fresh tarragon as well as dill. If you raise your own herbs, it makes it even better! Or maybe you can’t tell tell the difference. LOL.

How are you celebrating? Going to the lake? Having a wienie roast? Gonna blow up your world with M-80’s?

Why not share your fun with us?