After the shrimp creole, they were Valentines for life

“It’s not gourmet. It’s just simple.”

That what Ann Low Reego said about the shrimp creole recipe she shared with us, along with a love story to make us smile. This dish really is easy to make, and the results are simply lovely – lovely enough to serve on Valentine’s Day for 47 years in a row. Read the recipe, then read the rest of the story.


Fall in Love Shrimp Creole

Serves 4

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (or more to taste)
  • One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt, pepper, dried minced parsley to taste
  • 1 pound peeled and cleaned shrimp

Melt butter in saucepan. Sautee onion, bell pepper and celery.
Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and spices. Simmer until flavors are well blended.
Add shrimp to saucepan and cook until pink.
Remove the bay leaves. Serve over rice.


The rest of the story

Ann Low was in the beginning of a relationship with a young man in the 1970s when she decided to cook dinner for him. A friend had given her a recipe that seemed promising. “The ingredients were cheap, except for the shrimp,” she says. She served her special presentation over rice, sided by a salad.

The recipe not only turned out great, Jim Reego says Ann’s shrimp creole convinced him to “get to know her better.” One month later, they were engaged. Two months later, Ann and Jim dined on homemade shrimp creole on their first Valentine’s Day together.

On May 3, 1975, they married at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas.

Jim and Ann Reego

Over the years, Ann and Jim moved around the U.S. for Jim’s job: San Antonio, Houston, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis. Thirty-four years ago, they moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, and that’s where they stayed to raise their two daughters. The Reegos are members at Church Street United Methodist Church.

While their friends often fight the crowds to make Valentine’s Day reservations at fancy restaurants, Ann says she and Jim have never missed a February 14 without dining on the recipe she now calls “Fall in Love Shrimp Creole.”

“I love to cook. That’s my love language,” says Ann. Today, she’s likely to serve her romantic entrée with steamed broccoli or a Caesar salad and French bread. “Sometimes we have dessert, sometimes we don’t.” When they do, it might be a heart-shaped strawberry cake or chocolate-covered strawberries.

Seems worth trying, don’t you think?

I made this recipe using ground chipotle pepper instead of cayenne. The sauteeing of aromatic veggies in butter, followed by simmering with spices and tomatoes, produces a dish that’s perfect for a weeknight family dinner as well an invitation to get to know someone better.

Write me at annettespence@holston.org

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