My mom, Neta Joyce McCulloch Thompson, died last Monday night, January 27th. Having been in pain most of her adult life, she is now released from that, but it doesn’t make it easy for her to be gone. I miss her. While getting ready for the memorial service on Saturday, something crossed my mind and I thought, “I have to remember to tell mother about that…” and in an instant it hit me, I couldn’t. No matter how prepared we think we are for a parent’s passing, when it happens, it is far harder than one can imagine.
My mom was a good cook. Her mom was too. When visiting mama McCulloch, for breakfast we would have homemade jam and fresh biscuits, ham, and sausage, and bacon and eggs. There was always some kind of cake, made from scratch of course, and cookies, and candies. Dinner time would have a table spread with any variety of meats and vegetables. She also would cook up anything my grandfather happened to shoot, like squirrel and dove. Though I only sampled the dove, my younger sister remembers well, getting up early one morning to see four legs sticking up out of the pan on the stove, a raccoon raiding the garage, my grandfather had shot. My mom learned from the best, though there was never any wild animals cooking in our kitchen, just the best fried chicken ever.
Mother was definitely a product of her generation of cooks. Though she cooked a lot of things from scratch, she took advantage of the quick products that showed up on the grocery shelf. Pillsbury was a prominent product in our lives, from the Orange Danish Rolls we had every Sunday morning for breakfast (seriously, we did) to the crescent rolls she wrapped around hotdogs with a little slice of cheese and mustard, our Pigs in a Blanket. Loved them. But the best Pillsbury recipe was her prize winning Colossal Crescent Cheeseburger.
She entered the Pillsbury BakeOff contest in 1973 and was selected as one of the 100 finalists, who were then flown to California to recreate their recipe for a panel of judges. Bob Barker was the MC for the contest, host of The Price is Right (which my mom watched every day of her life, even after Drew Carey became the host). She won a stand mixer and a range oven. Know what that is? A stove with two ovens. Fancy! She also won $100 and her flight to CA. Though she didn’t make it to the top five, she had a great time and was honored to have been part of the contest.
While going through pictures for my mom’s memorial, we found her notebook of memorabilia from the BakeOff. We found an article that ran in the local paper, we lived in Tullahoma, Tennessee at the time, in which she referred to herself as a “lazy cook.” Though my mom was far from lazy at anything in her life, I guess to her, using convenience products was a shortcut that got thrown into the lazy category. I know she didn’t love to cook, as she had so many other interests that kept her busy, but she had some standout dishes that I still remember well. She enjoyed having people for dinner and making something beyond the “lazy” category at those times.
Oddly, she never taught us to cook. My sisters and I all learned in Home Ec classes the basics of cooking. When I left home my signature dish, okay, the ONLY thing I could make, was chocolate chip cookies, but they were the best chocolate chip cookies around. However, I married young and out of necessity learned to cook far more than chocolate chip cookies. And unlike my mom, I do love to cook. I give her credit for this though, because cooking was such a part of our lives. From a grandmother who showed me the beauty of a big spread, to the times spent with extended family around the dinner table, and my mom’s incredible ability to make some fantastic dishes, I became a foodie. I think there is nothing better than a good meal with friends and family and wish that more people took the time to slow down and just enjoy the art of cooking.
I did teach my three sons to cook and they are the primary cooks in their families. I love that in today’s world that a man doesn’t have to be a chef to cook, but can cook for family and friends, just like mom’s always were expected to in the past. My younger sister turned out to be the best cook in our family and her daughter, Sierra, follows in her footsteps, as do my boys in mine. Here’s to the fourth generation of McCulloch cooks and here’s to my mom. And for you, her recipe for Colossal Crescent Cheeseburger.
Saute onions, if using; brown meat and add seasoning packet and optional chile powder; add optional green chile
I used this Penzeys Taco seasoning powder instead of a small package. I used 6 Tbs.
This is how your spokes will look
Place last four in middle
Press them out to look like this
Pile your meat and cheese in the middle; wrap spokes up around mixture
It will look like this
Seal it up; brush with milk or water and sprinkle with sesame seeds
And VOILA! Colossal Crescent Cheeseburger!
Below is the original recipe, however, I upgraded this when I cooked it this past Sunday for the Super Bowl gathering I attended. I used organic grass fed and finished bison, mild cheddar cheese, 1/2 a cup of sautéed onions, some green chile, about 1/4 of a cup, and 1/2 tsp of chile powder for good measure. Whichever way you make this, I hope you enjoy!
- 1½ pounds ground beef
- 1¼ ounce package taco, chili or sloppy joe seasoning mix
- 1 cup water
- 2 8 ounce cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
- 5 Slices American Cheese
- sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray pizza pan or large cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- In large frying pan, brown ground beef; drain fat.
- Stir in seasoning mix and water.
- Simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 10 mins.
- Separate crescent rolls into 16 triangles.
- Arrange 12 triangles in spoke fashion around pan.
- Press remaining triangles in center of pan to cover hole and press to seal.
- Pile meat in center.
- Top with cheese slices.
- Bring dough up over meat and seal the seams by pinching together and using a bit of water or milk to smooth dough.
- Brush with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, until golden brown and crust is no longer doughy.
- Use Bison instead of ground beef.
- Add ½ cup sautéed onions to beef.
- Add ½ tsp red chile powder.
- Add ¼ cup chopped green chiles.
- Pile 3 ounces of grated, mild cheddar cheese on top of meat mixture.