George Morgan has been cooking since he was 10 years old and learned to make his first fried egg. Throughout the years, he and his wife Linda have collected recipes, cooked them, occasionally modified them, and shared them with other people.
“Most of the recipes have some kind of memory,” Linda said. Many of them get handed down through generations, she said.
This year, through the Holiday Handbook published by The Facts, the Morgans are sharing over 50 recipes with other cooks, bakers, and food-lovers throughout Brazoria County.
This isn’t their first rodeo. They’ve sent in recipes for the Holiday Handbook in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
“I try not to duplicate from one year to the next,” George Morgan said.
Many of those recipes are filed away on their computer, but not all of them are for the public’s eyes.
“I’ve got one file that’s just family and friends’ recipes,” George Morgan said. “If we like it, it’ll go into a separate file, and those we’ll share.”
Other recipes are shared from their cookbook collection, but that number shrank after the couple lost the majority of those during flooding from Harvey in 2017. They are slowly building that collection up again though, Linda Morgan said.
In addition to the cookbook recipes, they’ll sometimes formulate their own, such as for seasonings, or combine one recipe with another. Linda Morgan, the baker of the two, incorporated a pie crust recipe into one for peach cobbler, she said.
Many of the entree recipes they make are Cajun, Texan, Tex-Mex or Mexican, George Morgan said. A notable exception, none of them are Chinese — while his wife loves Chinese, he does not, so they don’t cook any Chinese cuisine. The exception is one egg roll recipe he likes because it doesn’t require soy sauce, he said.
As far as George Morgan is concerned, however, “a recipe is a guideline,” he said. He often experiments with flavors as he cooks, adjusting ingredients. The Morgans like garlic and cilantro, so he’ll put in what the recipe calls for, taste it, and then add more, he said.
In most cases, Linda Morgan likes to play it safe.
“I’m afraid I’ll mess it up if I don’t follow the recipe,” she said.
She isn’t afraid to try new recipes, though, especially when baking. If they’re about to go somewhere and take a dessert, often she’ll try a new recipe that sounds good, rather than one she’s made before, she said.
Recipe or not, both George and Linda prefer not to use shortcuts, like mixes.
“We don’t usually use mixes unless it’s like a cake mix and I’m making something easy,” Linda Morgan said. “Usually we make everything from scratch.”
“Everything” includes spices and other ingredients: they make their own taco seasoning, and Linda Morgan makes homemade vanilla using Madagascar vanilla beans and alcohol. She often uses vodka, she said. Once she used Jack Daniel’s, which gave the vanilla more of a whiskey flavor that George enjoyed, George Morgan said.
Some ingredients are non-negotiable, including Lamb’s stone-ground yellow cornmeal for cornbread. When this is the case, they don’t mind going out of their way to find the exact ingredients they want, even when those are more difficult to find.
Other ingredients might be homegrown. George Morgan grows peppers and dill, turnips, kale, and tomatoes. They also have citrus trees, including a lemonade tree that produces lemons sweet enough to be eaten right off the branch, Linda Morgan said.
Occasionally the Morgans will eat out at Mexican restaurants, or go to Filipp’s Cafe in Danbury for fried shrimp. More often than not, though, they’re happy to stay in for the night and cook at home.
Because he cooks and she bakes, they don’t always cook together; he might make dinner, and she’ll make dessert. But they always get to sit down and enjoy the food together.
For George Morgan, it’s about enjoying the process and trying new things — and about enjoying the food they make, of course. For both of them, it’s about the end result.
“When you make something and people really like it, it makes you feel good,” Linda Morgan said. “You feel like you’ve accomplished something.”