Leaving Home: An Oldie but Goodie
A few years after leaving home, then newly married and living the suburban life in the Dallas “Metroplex”, my neighbors and I would often take turns hosting cookouts. Many an evening was shared with my “alley” neighbors. We were all foodies, so there was always lots of good food to eat and much to talk about.
One evening the talk centered around DiPalma, my favorite Dallas restaurant. DiPalma was a small Italian restaurant located on Lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas with lots of good food on their menu. I can still remember my all-time favorite Chicken Lasagna and their Chicken Salad for lunch. And then there were the desserts…Oh so good!
My neighbor told me her stepmother, LuLu, had written a great cookbook, and she was certain that a recipe for DiPalma’s Chicken Salad was in that book. She found the book, Leaving Home, on her cookbook shelf, flipped through the pages, and sure enough, there it was, smack-dab at the bottom of page 64!
I’m sure I ended up borrowing that book too many times to count. I had quite a collection of copied recipes on index cards. I was constantly raving on and on about how much I loved Leaving Home.
Many of the recipes in the book are what I call semi-homemade. They use canned beans, veggies or soups, but they all work. It was just perfect for me, being fairly new to the cooking world. The recipes seemed so sophisticated but used easy-to-find ingredients and were mostly super easy to prepare.
Favorites from Leaving Home
In addition to my favorite DiPalma’s Chicken Salad, other favorites in the book include the appetizers, various salads, and salad dressings. I recall the simple copy-cat Hoffbrau’s Famous Salad (The “Love it or Leave it” wilted House Salad from Austin’s Hoffbrau Steak House), her Potato Salad (the surprising addition of canned potatoes adding great texture), and Spinach Salad (love love love the dressing).
The recipe for Chicken Breast Wellington was even republished in a Best of Texas cookbook. It’s probably still is considered one of the Best of the Best recipes from ALL of Texas.
The entire book is chock-full of keepers.
Eventually I was presented with my very own copy by LuLu herself. I think my neighbor got tired of me borrowing hers and begged her stepmother to give me a copy. Oh my gosh I was so thrilled when I received it. I think LuLu was thrilled that I was thrilled. After all, who wouldn’t love such an adoring fan.
Still a Favorite
I cannot tell you how many times I have used that cookbook. My copy is totally beaten, battered and stained with who knows what. Total overuse. It even has pencil scribbles on some of the pages, compliments of one of my “artist” children. (I treasure those scribbles now, too.) It’s very 1980s, but every recipe is sure to please because LuLu knew her stuff.
Long out of print, but paperback or plastic comb versions of Leaving Home are still available on Amazon for a hefty price (unfortunately). If you happen to find a used copy of Leaving Home at a decent price, I highly recommend it.
I’ve lost track of my neighbor and her stepmother, LuLu, but Leaving Home still has a special place in my cookbook collection and in my memories. It really is a true Texas treasure.