Singer recovers from brain injury through cooking

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - You'd be hard pressed to find a hat Ruby Dee Philippa hasn't worn.

The front woman of the Austin-based band "Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers" has worked on fishing boats in Alaska, run three Seattle restaurants and has now written a cookbook.

But nearly five years ago, she was in a devastating scooter accident.

Philippa said, "The driver of a car didn't see me and pulled right into the road where I was. I went head over heels and woke up five hours later in the hospital."

Philippa suffered a moderately severe head injury which affected the area of her brain that controls language.

She said that while performing, "I would be in the middle of a song and forget. What's the next line? What's the next word?"

So to exercise her brain, Philippa started writing.

First stories, then recipes which she found more cognitively challenging.

She explained, "There are no substitutes (for words). Cinnamon is cinnamon. Beef is beef. You can't come up with something that means the same thing. So that was really good. That helped a lot and after a few months, I realized I think I might have the makings of a book here."

Ruby's Juke Joint Americana Cookbook is a blend of cultures, just like the variety of music she loves.

There are mouthwatering recipes like baby back ribs, fiesta stuffed chicken and an entire chapter devoted to Thanksgiving dinner.

Now, when she's not heating up the kitchen, Philippa's still red hot on stage with her lyric sheets always by her side.

Philippa said, "I'm not 100 percent and I probably will never be, but that's all right. What I have left, I'm so grateful for."

If you order Philippa's cookbook from her website, she will autograph it and include a bonus recipe.

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