Cooking with Lady Smokey: Hot Sauce & Grandmothers



This title makes me laugh because neither of my grandmothers would have ever enjoyed hot sauce. The idea for this post started long ago- about a year and a half ago to be exact. It was a hot day in June and Grant and I had driven all morning- through Tennessee and up into the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. The occasion for our trip was the wedding celebration of Dolan & Ali Marie!

Ali Marie & Dolan Geiman Wedding

What a happy day it was! It was during this auspicious occasion that I snapped the photograph below of this beautiful lady known as Betty Hanger.

Dolan's Grandmom

Betty Hanger is Dolan’s maternal Grandmother. She was so warm and genuine and made me feel so welcome and comfortable. I knew she must have a million great recipes to share. I kept begging Dolan to send me some of Betty’s recipes. The day I received some of them in my inbox, our friend Traci was in my kitchen and we were making a big batch of hot sauce. Not just any hot sauce but Traci’s soon-to-be-world-famous, Double T’s Hot Sauce! It is already famous in Nashville.

Hot Sauce

Traci showed up with a basket filled with a variety of hot peppers she had just picked up from the farmer’s market. We gloved up, seeded them and then roasted them up on the grill.


Bowl of Peppers

Grilling peppers

Next, she blended the peppers with vinegar, lime juice, sea salt, and sugar. This was one of her best batches yet!

Grilling Hot Peppers
However easy I just made this whole process sound, it takes time. Lots of time. So, as we waited for the peppers to roast to perfection, we drank a bottle of wine and talked about our Grandmother’s recipes and we planned our big Betty Hanger/Grandmother dinner for the following week. Traci got excited and rounded up some of her Gan-Gan’s recipes. The only trick was, we needed the recipes to all go with the hot sauce because we were quite eager to try it. Believe me, we put some Double T’s on everything. Oh, except the cookies. Here is what we came up with…


We made Traci’s Grandmother’s slaw, better known as Gan-Gan’s Slaw. The key to this recipe is the secret Southern ingredient, pickle juice! Grant made it just right, according to Traci. It was delicious and I’m not usually a huge fan of mayonnaise in slaw but it only calls for a little and the pickle juice cuts the creaminess and evens it all out. It provided a nice cooling element to the meal (at least until we put Double T’s on it!).

Cole Slaw

Gan-Gan’s Cole Slaw

(recipe by Juanita Stamps Greenfield)

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 6-8 radishes
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp of dill pickle juice
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Finely chop the first six ingredients and then blend together with ¼ cup of mayonnaise. Add pickle juice. Salt & pepper to taste, cover, and refrigerate. Best when refrigerated for several hours or overnight.

Grant came up with a simple grilled chicken that was a perfect canvas for Double T’s! His recipe went something like this…

Grilled Chicken

Salt & Pepper Grilled Chicken

Serves 4-6

  • 6 chicken thighs (or 1 whole chicken or part thighs and part breasts…)
  • 3 Tbsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp cane sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3-4 cups cold water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pinch of cane sugar

In a large bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients into the warm water to combine. Add to the cold water. Mix well. Add chicken. Marinate for 8-24 hours. 1 hour before grilling, pull the chicken from the brine and pat it dry. Combine olive oil and last 4 ingredients into a paste. Rub the chicken with the paste and let it sit for 1 hour. Grill chicken evenly on both sides to cook through. Grant also threw some beautiful locally grown organic bell peppers on the grill to accompany the chicken.

One recipe Dolan sent from Betty was actually his Aunt Pauline’s recipe for Arroz Con Pollo, or as Dolan knew it growing up, “Rose Compolio.”

Here is the recipe as we interpreted it…

Arroz Con Pollo

Aunt Pauline’s Aroz Compollo: (arroz con pollo)

  • 1 pound rice, uncooked and washed
  • 6 or 7 bay leaves
  • 1/8 tsp of caraway seeds
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • Optional: a handful of olives and a cup of raisins

Boil the remaining ingredients in 2 quarts of water to form a broth. Cook the rice (dry) for a few minutes in a big pan until it is just slightly brown. Add the broth to the rice and cook on medium heat uncovered until the rice is soft and cooked and has absorbed the liquid.

Dolan’s Grandmom said Aunt Pauline would always have some fried chicken cooked and ready to go so she would put the fried chicken on top of this rice mixture.

Side note on Arroz Con Pollo: We elected not to add olives and raisins for this dinner but with some of the leftovers, I added in lemon stuffed olives and organic flame raisins, along with some grated Monterey Jack cheese and then stuffed this mixture into some Poblano Peppers and baked in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. It was delicious!

Stuffed Peppers

A couple nights later, Grant used the last of the Arroz Con Pollo to make a tasty Jambalaya by adding some chicken Andouille sausages.


But, I digress in leftover tangents- back to the Hot Sauce Grandmother Dinner. Both my grandmothers lived in Virginia. Mama (pronounced, “Maw-Maw”) lived in Virginia Beach and she cooked city food. Nana lived in rural Virginia and she cooked country food. Nana was the best cornbread baker in the world! She was famous for her cornbread, at least in our family. She made a pan just about every day. Her cornbread was the perfect texture, thin and crispy around the edges, and NEVER sweet. Since Nana passed away, my Mom continues Nana’s corn bread legacy. Because of this, I have always been opposed to sweet corn bread. It just never seemed right, although, Traci brought me this recipe from her grandmother for, “Corn Light Bread” which calls for flour and cornmeal, no egg, a little sugar, and is baked in a loaf pan. It’s perfect because it allows me to enjoy a little lighter version that’s a tad sweet without having to choose a recipe that is against the way my Nana made her cornbread because it isn’t cornbread, it’s corn light bread. This, to me, is almost like a cornbread cake. The recipe Traci has is sort of hard to read and the directions were not very detailed so I added quite a bit of improvisation. I also substituted butter in the place of the vegetable shortening. Here is my version.

Corn Light Bread

Corn Light Bread

  • 2 cups corn meal (I used medium grind but we all decided fine might be a better choice)
  • 1 cup White Lily flour
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 2 ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Make a well in the middle with a spoon and pour the melted butter in. Add buttermilk. Mix thoroughly. Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until done.

To end this meal, we used one of Betty Hanger’s cookie recipes called, Cherry Winks. Her version looks like this:

Cherry Winks Recipe

I decided to alter the Cherry Winks recipe to try to make them a little more natural and since one of our dinner guests doesn’t eat wheat, I used brown rice flour in place of the all purpose flour. My recipe went like this…

Natural Cherry Winks

Cherry Winks for the Modern World

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • ⅔ cup dried cherries
  • 2 ¼ cups brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ sticks butter
  • 1 ¼ cups cane sugar
  • 2 ½ cup cereal flakes (I used Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise gluten free flakes)

Heat oven to 375. Stir together vanilla and almond extracts, eggs, milk, and dried cherries in a small bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes to soften dried cherries. Meanwhile, stir together flour, baking powder and soda in a bowl. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg mixture in and mix well. Add flour mixture and stir. Drop rounded spoonfuls of cookie mixture into crushed cereal flakes to coat. Place a dried cherry in the center of each cookie, if you wish. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

I’ll close this post with some music from a man named Jonny Corndawgthat Traci and I listened to as we made hot sauce. Turns out, like Dolan, Jonny was also raised in rural Virginia. He has a brand new album out that you must listen to. Enjoy!



More Betty Hanger recipes soon. For now, happy eating and don’t forget to support your favorite artists and musicians! They are hard at work to make our world more beautiful.

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