Best Recipes from Almanac Readers!

Readers' Best Recipes and the Stories Behind Them

Low Country Chowder
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Sample three delicious recipes—a Low Country Chowder, Rocky Mountain Cuban Pork, and Nana’s Funny Cake—all made by Almanac readers!

These recipes come courtesy of our latest and greatest cookbook, The Old Farmer’s Almanac Readers’ Best Recipes and the Stories Behind Them.

What is Readers’ Best Recipes?  For years, you’ve told us that you get your recipes from family and friends, so we invited Almanac readers to share their best recipes—the favorites served at family gatherings, potlucks, parties, and supper tables, the ones that keep folks coming back for more. You’ll love the heartwarming, humorous, and true stories that these cooks tell, too! 

To give you a taste, here are three of our favorite recipes from the cookbook—and the readers’ stories.

1. Low Country Chowder

The Story:

My husband and I were raised near the coast and have always enjoyed Low Country boils. Almost always, there are a number of shrimp, some crab, some sausage, potatoes, and corn left over. These just don’t taste as good cold, and trying to heat crab and shrimp by themselves is, um, well, kinda unappetizing. I hated throwing away the leftovers, so I made this chowder, and it is very tasty! If using ingredients from a boil, there is nice flavor from the seafood boil seasoning as well. You can adjust the amount of soup and milk (or half-and-half) to accommodate the amount of leftover boil ingredients, seasoning to taste before serving.
–Michele Holloway, Augusta, Georgia


2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter
½ onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk or half-and-half
1 teaspoon hot sauce
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 bite-size pieces kielbasa or smoked sausage
4 red potatoes, cooked and cut into quarters
4 to 6 crab claws or equivalent meat from body or 1 can (8 ounces) claw crabmeat (optional)
12 shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined
corn kernels from 2 cooked ears and scrapings from cobs


Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add mushroom soup, milk, seasonings (generally go heavier on pepper), sausage, and potatoes. Cook on medium-low until well blended and small bubbles appear. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Add crab (if using), shrimp, and corn. Cook for a few minutes, or until heated through. Remove promptly from heat and serve.

Makes 4 servings.


Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner.

2. Rocky Mountain Cuban Pork

The Story:

Tampa Bay has a rich Cuban history, and Cuban cuisine was always on the menu at our house. Yellow rice and chicken (arroz con pollo), plantains (plantanos) fried in butter, and black beans and rice (frijoles negros con arroz) were weekly staples. However, my daughter’s favorite dish has always been Cuban pork, made with sour orange juice. We had sour orange trees growing in our yard, and we shared the fruit with family and friends, as they were difficult to find in local stores. When my daughter and her husband moved to Colorado, she missed the food that she grew up on in Florida. Since there was no way to get sour oranges in Colorado, she developed this recipe, which is almost identical in flavor to the original.
–Barbara Vogel, Gibsonton, Florida


½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds lean pork loin, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
4 cups orange juice, divided
1 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
slat and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
black beans and rice (optional)


In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil. Add pork and sear.

In a bowl, combine ¼ cup oil, 1 cup orange juice, and ¼ cup lemon juice. Set aside.

When meat is browned, reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds. Do not burn garlic. Slowly pour in orange juice mixture. Baste meat with a spoon. Continue basting every 15 minutes for 1 hour. When liquid is reduced and thickened, add remaining oil, 1 cup orange juice, and ¼ cup lemon juice. Continue basting every 15 minutes until pork is tender, adding remaining orange and lemon juices as needed when liquid reduces. Serve with black beans and rice, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner.

3. Nana’s Funny Cake

Watch the video below to see how to make this delicious dessert by Mary Lou Knauss from Duncannon, Pennsylvania. 
Click here for a printable recipe for Nana’s Funny Cake.

The Story:

My mother-in-law made this Pennsylvania Dutch recipe for years. She brought it to the family cabin whenever we spent weekends together, and it has always been a family favorite! She shared the recipe with me when I got married, along with some of her other wonderful recipes. It continues to be a requested dessert.
–Mary Lou Knauss, Duncannon, Pennsylvania

What Else is Inside the Readers’ Best Recipes Cookbook?

Oh, my! How about Momma’s Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars, Aunt Barb’s Special Meatball Sauce, Gra’s Barbecue Chicken, Phil’s Chocolate Sauce, and so many more!

  • We cover mouth-watering recipes for breakfast, appetizers, sides, salads, soups, main dishes, breads, and desserts.
  • Our Almanac editors tell how to prepare, store, and substitute key ingredients.
  • We include handy charts ensure proper cooking times, pan sizes, and measurements.
  • And we offer helpful tips and testers’ comments, too!

Don’t these recipes look delicious? Purchase Readers’ Best Recipes and the Stories Behind Them online at the Almanac Store

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