On Christmas, this Dickinson kitchen will be the gathering place for a family reunited
Renee and Steve Casey’s entire family will convene about 9:30 a.m. on Christmas morning for their traditional brunch, consisting of egg casserole, bacon, fruit and sweet rolls, which will set the stage for a traditional turkey dinner later in the day.
Coming together in the Caseys’ Dickinson home is always special, especially because several members of the family shared the same space after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
“After our former home was heavily damaged by the storm, we moved to this house, which at the time belonged to my parents,” Renee Casey said. “My son, his wife and child had the same situation, so we were all living here for a while. A few months ago, my parents moved to their retirement home, our son’s family left, and Steve and I bought the house, so I have a collection of mom’s things and my things in the kitchen.”
Built five years ago, the Harbor Classic home, with its high ceilings, custom arches, flowing open-concept design and traditional styled kitchen, was designed for functionality.
A separate island, wet bar and coffee bar all are within easy reach.
Dark walnut cabinets, with black and gray flecked granite countertops, are offset by an island of ivory cabinets and granite of cream and rust swirls. The wet bar is a combination of both dark and light granite. Pendant lights, a farm sink and stainless Thermador appliances complete the décor, while Travertine floors and backsplash in creamy ivory bring everything together.
Most of the serving pieces and some cookware is by Texas potter Michael Obranovich.
“I have a large collection of his pottery that I keep adding to,” she said.
The wine grotto, breakfast room, family room and library can be seen in all directions. A separate formal dining room is a few steps away.
“There were four siblings in my house growing up, and my mother was a good cook,” Casey said. “Her specialties were meatloaf and cheese grits, but she had a structured meal-planning routine, while I’m more of a spontaneous cook.”
Beef was a familiar staple because both of her grandfathers raised cattle in Oklahoma.
“We had a freezer full of meat at any given time, so steaks or hamburgers were always on the table,” she said.
Now that Casey is retired, she’s focused on planning meals that are heart-healthy, she said.
“When Steve and I were both working full-time, we ate out a lot, but now we’re smarter about what we eat,” she said. “I usually plan dinner meals in the morning, and I might just cook a pot of beans with cornbread, or Steve will do a pork loin on the grill.”
One of the things Casey likes to do best is look at old recipes that have smudges of yams and other food stains, she said. It’s easy to pull up recipes on the internet, but something on paper really speaks to her. She lost most of her recipes to Hurricane Harvey.
“I had three big notebooks, sectioned according to appetizers, main dishes, desserts, that I had collected over the years,” she said. “When I’d start to make something, I’d realize that I no longer had my recipe book. So, my mom gave me hers — a notebook full of all her recipes, many hand-written, encased in plastic sleeves. It’s a real treasure.”
Casey enjoys cooking on her Thermador stove, but is still figuring out some of its features, she said. With salt and two kinds of pepper at arm’s reach, she has core ingredients always handy.
“I like to use a variety of salts, and I use different flavors of olive oils, since I make my own salad dressing,” she said.
Casey’s go-to recipe for any type of occasion is her cornbread salad.
As a teacher and administrator in three Galveston County school districts, her cornbread salad was always a hit on special occasions.
“When we had monthly birthday celebrations, everyone wanted me to bring this dish,” she said. “It’s easy to make and would look good on any holiday table.”
Favorite kitchen items: TimeStack timer, Shun knives, All-Clad cookware
Must-have staples: Good quality olive oil and red wine vinegar, variety of salts (pink, truffle, fennel, saffron)
Collections: Wooden cutting boards
Servings: 6 to 8
2 packages Jiffy cornbread mix (use recipe on box; bake and cool)
1 pound of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onion, chopped
4-5 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups of mayo
1⁄3–1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon red pepper
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
Crumble half of the cornbread into a bowl and add half of the tomatoes. Add half of the dressing and mix gently. Crumble rest of cornbread into the bowl and add rest of ingredients. Fold in rest of dressing and mix completely.