Some grandmothers teach you polite skills like knitting. My grandmother, Caroline Simmons of Atlanta, Georgia, was a painter and florist who taught me how to make a martini and perfected Nibble Mix, the quintessential cocktail nosh. Every Christmas, she mailed us a coffee can full of it. Yes, the recipe is so common today that you can buy prepackaged versions, but those pale in comparison to my grandmother’s. The stained recipe card my mother copied out for me specifies the amount of pecans to be “as many as you can afford.” She was a child of the Depression and never changed. MAKES ABOUT 6 QUARTS
Preheat the oven to 275°.
Put 1 tablespoon oil in the biggest roasting pan you have. Rub the oil all over the pan using the cut sides of the garlic halves, then discard the garlic.
Pour the cereal into the pan: about a half of a box of Cheerios, a half of a box of Rice Chex, a third of a box of Wheat Chex, a whole bag of cheddar fish-shaped crackers, several large handfuls of pretzel sticks, and the pecans.
Pour 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil over it all and mix well. Sprinkle generously with seasoned salt and garlic powder and stir.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir well. (I use a metal spatula to get all the way down to the bottom of the pan and turn everything well.) Return to the oven for
Combine the melted butter with the Worcestershire sauce. (The only way to determine the right amount of Worcestershire sauce is to smell it: It should be pungent enough to feel it in the back of your throat.)
Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle the flavored butter evenly over the mix and stir. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Stir again and bake 15 minutes longer, 1 hour in all. Cool and store in large metal or airtight plastic containers. Give away to close friends and family. Make at least one more batch to use up the rest of the cereal. When the Nibble Mix is gone, it’s time to take down the tree and declare that Christmas is over.