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Barbecue Shrimp recipe is all hers now

WHO: Sally McFadden, 69, South Pasadena, retired special education teacher and insurance agent and mother of six.

WHAT: Barbecue Shrimp

ABOUT THE RECIPE: The McFadden family fell in love with the barbecue shrimp at Saltwater Cowboys, an old restaurant practically "sinking into the water" in St. Augustine. Every month, they'd take a trip to the historic city. But as the visits became less frequent, Sally McFadden decided to try making the shrimp herself. It took several tries to get it right, but now she has a meal that "evokes memories of St. Augustine."

It's a great dish for picnics, she says. She often brings the shrimp to family get-togethers on Lake Harmony, a favorite vacation spot in Pennsylvania, where she grew up. They eat it under the pavilions, surrounded by old stone cottages from the 1940s.

ON THE SIDE: Coleslaw and crusty bread.

TIPS: Make sure not to overcook the shrimp. If you're serving it for a party, McFadden suggests putting on the shrimp "just a couple of minutes before you eat."

COOKING HISTORY: McFadden has been cooking since she was a young girl. Her mother was often ill, so she was responsible for making dinner for her two younger brothers. She didn't mind because she says she's always liked cooking, calling her love for cookbooks "an addiction."

Once she was married, she'd start making dinner after she came home from work at 6 p.m. "It was kind of relaxing after a busy day," she says. Now, she still likes putting on soft jazz and making dishes that not only taste good, but look beautiful.

KEEPING THE TRADITION: McFadden passed on her love of cooking to her children. One summer, she even orchestrated a cooking competition, sort of an at-home version of Iron Chef America. The contestants? Her six teenagers. The rules? Each kid cooked one meal, and they voted for the best at the end of the week. The prizes? "Silly things like a potholder," she says.

"They thought that was the best thing in the world," she says. "And they would try to outdo one another, let me tell you."

Preserving family recipes is important to McFadden. To celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary, McFadden self-published her own cookbook, filled with family recipes and old photos. Now her kids can enjoy the barbecue shrimp, too — without driving all the way to St. Augustine.

Emily Young, Special to the Times

Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured, or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please email the information to with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.