Books In Real Life, Episode 4: Nowhere But Home

For this month's Books In Real Life we chose... Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer! I love to cook and all of Queenie Wake's delicious meals stood out to me as I read this book. But the most important recipe to her is the one passed down by her mother, The Number One. It plays an important role throughout the story and Alexa & I knew that if we were going to recreate anything from this book - that would be it. 

Luckily, Liza Palmer shared the recipe and meal on the blog, The Secret Ingredient and we used that as a guide for our own cooking session. 

Queenie Wake’s Chicken-Fried Steak and Cream Gravy Serves 8 to 10 or 3 to 4, no one’s judging
4 pounds tri-tip cube steak, run through a cuber twice (to ½-inch-thick)
2 cups all-purpose flour (or enough to dredge your steak)
3 eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning, or garlic powder, garlic salt, Cajun seasoning, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, or simply salt and pepper (We used Adobo!)
2 tablespoons lard (We used butter because we didn't know where to get this)
  • Preheat the oven to 250°F.
  • Set up a dredging station with 3 pie plates or shallow dishes. Place 1 cup flour in the first plate and the eggs in the second. In the third plate, mix 1 cup flour and the seasonings of your choice.
  • Holding a steak by the corner, dip it on both sides, first into the plain flour, then in the eggs, and then dredge in the seasoned flour. (Save any extra seasoned flour for the cream gravy.)
  • Place the floured steaks onto a wire rack over a baking sheet and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Add the lard to a skillet over medium-high heat, melting it to coat the bottom of the pan.
  • When the skillet is hot, add the steaks (working in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan). Fry the steaks for 4 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature of the meat is 160°F.
  • As the steaks are done, remove them to a baking sheet and keep them in the warm oven until you’re ready to serve.
  • Serve them hot with Queenie Wake’s Cream Gravy.
Queenie Wake’s Cream Gravy
3 tablespoons seasoned flour (use leftovers from the Chicken-Fried Steak)
1 cup chicken broth
¾ cup cream (or milk, but why not cream?)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Add the seasoned flour into the same skillet you fried the steaks in and whisk it into the pan drippings, getting all the leftover crunchy bits incorporated.
  • Cooking over medium heat, add the chicken broth to the skillet and whisk constantly until thickened to your liking.
  • Add the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook and whisk until the gravy is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  •  Serve hot with the Chicken-Fried Steak.

It was a little intimidating at first because I tend to buy chicken and turkey most of the time and had never cooked steak before (I was starting to get visions of us huddled around my toilet if I did this wrong!). Plus the two recipes above only cover part of the meal. The Number One consists of: chicken fried steak with cream gravy, green beans cooked in bacon fat, mashed potatoes, a buttermilk biscuit and a slice of pecan pie. We made things a little easier on ourselves by making mashed potatoes from a box, baking Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits and buying a pecan tart to share but there was a still a lot of cooking to divide up. So we drove right in and got started. 

the ingredients / about to dip the steak through flour and eggs

chopping up the steak / Alexa working on the green beans and bacon

Alexa stirring the mashed potatoes / me pouring the gravy onto the steak

And then finally ... 

The yummy finished product! 


Survey time! At the end of every Books In Real Life post, we are going to answer a few questions: 

Anything you wish you'd known beforehand? I expected the cooking to take a while and even though we finished a little quicker than anticipated, I wish we had been able to start earlier. My stomach was starting to growl long before we were able to actually eat it! 

What was your favorite part? There's just something fun about cooking with a friend, while talking and maneuvering around a tiny kitchen like mine. But if I had to choose one moment... Alexa and I were talking and it distracted her from whatever she was making. All of a sudden, I see her grab the pan off the stove and flail about and I had no idea what was going on so all I could do was laugh at her (I'm helpful like that).  

Would we do it again? Yes! It would be fun to cook together again! Or maybe next time, we'll try baking. 


  1. Yum! Looks like you and Alexa had a good time making Queenie Wake's delicious meal!

  2. You guys! This food looks absolutely fantastic!! I am always so intimidated to make chicken fried steak but this looks so simple. I am going to try it. I'm sure my tummy will thank you however my skinny jeans will not. 😄😄

  3. Oh, you were totally helpful and patient with this first time cook! I'm just glad that I was able to entertain you in some way as we cooked together ;) It was really fun! We should probably do it more often.


with love,