A cherished box of recipes and entertaining are at the center of this Dickinson kitchen
Getting to spend a lot more time in their Dickinson kitchen is one of the many perks of retirement for Deb and Wally Deats.
Deb Deats prefers cooking on her new Wolf six-burner stove, while Wally likes to fire up the Big Green Egg, just a few steps away on the patio, to make pizza or grill oysters.
The couple’s kitchen, extensively remodeled in 2008, was spared damage from Hurricane Ike that same year. But Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was a different story.
Base cherry wood kitchen cabinets and appliances have been replaced, some of the Travertine backsplash tweaked, but all the granite, cabinet hardware and porcelain-tiled floors were salvageable.
The open-concept den, sitting room, dining room and kitchen area, with elevated ceilings in varying heights, provide spaciousness and a natural flow.
The dining room table, with iron pedestal, and three curio cabinets weathered the storm, but all dining chairs are new, as are the porcelain wood grain floors.
“We had time to remove important collectibles from the curio cabinets before Harvey, and now they’re back in their rightful place,” said Deb Deats, whose treasures include her father’s German beer steins, Limoges china pieces, and pottery, as well as Wally Deats’ family’s crystal.
As for culinary skills, their talents differ somewhat from each other.
Deb Deats most likely inherited her culinary skills from her parents, who were resourceful in the kitchen, she said.
“My mom was a great cook, and always made festive meals during the holidays, like standing rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, mincemeat pies and chocolate-covered almond toffee,” she said. “My dad loved to knead and bake bread, so I got my love of baking from him. He also liked making crepes, doughnuts and sourdough pancakes. My mom was actually a feature writer for the Fulton Sun in Millersburg, Missouri, and I still have a copy of the article she wrote featuring my dad making sourdough rolls.”
Wally Deats remembers his mom’s apple pie and bread dressing, but hasn’t been able to duplicate them, he said.
“I grew up eating her dressing, so it’s kind of a benchmark for me,” he said. “She wasn’t much of a cook, but as long as I could make a fried baloney sandwich I was happy.”
Aside from the dining room, the couple also likes to sit at the bar that divides the kitchen and den. A fireplace is nearby, so a lit fire on a chilly night provides a warm atmosphere to enjoy a glass of wine and some nibbles.
When planning meals, Deb Deats likes to thumb through a cherished box of recipes until she centers on one that grabs her, she said.
“I’ve been using the recipes in that box for 35 years, so they are pretty tattered and torn,” she said.
One of those food-stained pieces of paper is a handwritten recipe for Marinated Shrimp, also known as “Dirty Shrimp” to some, but it’s always a hit with everyone, she said.
The Deats agree the best thing they like about their kitchen is its functionality, especially when it comes to entertaining family and friends.
“We have four children and four grandchildren between us, so the openness of all our adjoining rooms works really well when we’re all together,” Deb Deats said.
Favorite gadgets: Nespresso VertuoLine coffee maker and a nut grinder and ceramic oyster shells from The Kitchen Chick
Favorite spice: Texas Black Gold garlic powder
Heirloom items (from Wally Deats’ mother): 60-year-old ladle, vintage ice chipper fork, potato masher
Marinated Shrimp, aka ‘Dirty Shrimp’
2½ pounds medium-size Gulf shrimp, heads removed, deveined, left in shells
For the marinade:
1½ cups vegetable or grape seed oil
¾ cups white vinegar
1½ tablespoons salt
2½ tablespoons celery seed
1 (3.5-ounce) jar capers, non-pareil (partially drain the capers before adding)
2-3 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
2 cups red onion, roughly chopped
4 ounces Zatarain’s or Crab Boil (pouch or bag)
2-3 tablespoons peppercorns
1 large lemon cut into 8 pieces
Add Zatarain’s, peppercorns and lemon to 2 quarts of water. Bring to boil. Add shrimp, turn off heat and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain. Discard lemon pieces.
Mix together oil, vinegar, salt, celery seed, capers, Tabasco and red onion.
Put shrimp into large glass container and add marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring every few hours. Do not drain. Peel and serve with red sauce. Shrimp will keep for 2 to 3 days, if it lasts.
1 (12-ounce) jar Heinz chili sauce
½ lemon squeezed
1-2 tablespoons of horseradish, to taste
1-2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Chill and serve.