Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring blooms

These are my lilac bushes in the backyard. Each bush is a different variety and when they are in full bloom about mid-May, they are just stunning.

And this is a bloom on the magnolia tree in the front yard.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Southern Living's 1001 Ways to Cook Southern

The Southern part of the United States is well known for its down home style of cooking. Boiled peanuts, cornbread, black-eyed peas, buttermilk biscuits, delicious cakes, pies, and the list goes on. This cookbook is one of the newer ones in my collection and one I really love. It's another one of those grand books that you can just get lost in, not only with the recipes, but the notes laced throughout its pages.

There is the testament on page 825 that states, "Southerners can't stand to eat alone. If we're going to cook a mess of greens, we want to eat them with a mess of people." Or, over on page 709, "It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." There is a quote by Mark Twain that I found amusing! "The North thinks it knows how to make cornbread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite a good as Southern cornbread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it."

Many of the classic Southern recipes come with a mini article called Taste of the South that explains just what makes them Southern.

As with other cookbooks I have featured here in the past weeks, it is impossible to choose one or two recipes to adequately showcase this wonderful cookbook. But here are two that I'm sure you will appreciate.

Rosemary-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all the ingredients in a ziploc bag and gently shake until the tomatoes are well coated. Transfer to an aluminum foil-lined jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until tomatoes begin to burst.

Maw-Maw's Chicken Pie

4 cups chopped, cook chicken
1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken in a lightly greased 12 x 8 inch baking dish.

Whisk together soup, broth, and cornstarch; pour mixture evenly over the chicken.

Whisk together flour, buttermilk, and butter; spoon batter evenly over chicken mixture.

Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Note: Try replacing some of the chicken with chopped vegetables, or stir a cup of shredded cheese into the soup mixture.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Junaluska Joy

The Junaluska Joy cookbook is another old one in my collection, dating back to 1982. It was a publication of the Junaluska Historical Society in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

There are many recipes that I love in this one. The one I have made most often over the years, Chicken Pie, has always been a favorite of my two sons. Here it is, along with a wonderful muffin recipe that is also a crowd pleaser.

Chicken Pie

1 (3 to 4 pound) chicken
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/4 cups broth
1 can Cream of Celery Soup
salt and pepper to taste
1 pie crush recipe for two crust pie

Cook chicken till tender. Remove from broth and when cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces. Cook vegetables in the chicken broth for 20 minutes. In a large baking or casserole dish arrange chicken pieces on bottom. Melt butter and pour over the chicken. Arrange cooked vegetables over the chicken. Combine broth, soup and salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables and chicken. Cover with pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until crust is nicely brown.

Note: Other vegetables may be used. I always add sliced mushrooms.

Abilene Country Club Muffins

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat eggs. Add other ingredients in the order given, beating well after each addition. Fill greased miniature muffin pans 3/4 full and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly brown. These freeze well.

Yield: 3 to 4 dozen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

10,000 Tastes of Minnesota

Another favorite in my huge cookbook collection - for those new to my blog, my cookbook collection numbers well into the hundreds - is 10,000 Tastes of Minnesota, a product of the Woman's Club of Minnesota, copyright 1990.

It was probably the beautiful color photography on the cover and inside the pages of this book that first caught my eye. Throughout the pages are notes on the projects of the Woman's Club through the years. For example, in 1924, a group of Woman's Club members called on Mr. T. B. Walker to urge him to keep his extensive art collection in Minneapolis. Three years later, The Walker Art Center was formed in the city. Another note states that civic contributions have been made by The Woman's Club since it's beginning. On a yearly basis, monetary gifts are given to a variety of non-profit, charitable, arts and public affairs organizations. In addition scholarships are awarded for higher education.

But make no mistake, this book is filled with excellent recipes.

Here is just one.

Beef and Artichokes

1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds beef, cubed
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp. dill seed
2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained
1 (16 oz) can small onions, drained
1 (8 oz) can mushrooms, drained

Combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic in plastic bag. Add beef cubes; shake to coat.

Heat oil in skillet; brown beef.

Combine tomato paste, wine, water, bouillon cubes and dill seed. Stir into beef. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Add more wine and water, if necessary during simmering. Stir in artichoke hearts, onions, and mushrooms and heat through. Serve over rice or noodles.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dealing with Social Security - A word of caution

I lost my Social Security card years ago. Recently, I had business to take care of through the Social Security Administration.

Yesterday I went online and THOUGHT I WAS ON THE REAL SOCIAL SECURITY SITE. I went through the process on this site of applying for a replacement card. I used a credit card for the $19.95 fee, giving not only my credit card number, but other personal identifying information - including my social security number. That should have been a red flag there that the government would charge me $19.95 to replace my card. I looked at the URL at the top of my screen and it said something to the effect of "online support Social"

This morning I went in person to the local Social Security office to take care of my business there. When I finished taking care of that business, I told the woman, "I applied online yesterday for a replacement card. Is there any way you can give me the card now or do I have to wait for it to be mailed to me." I knew by the look on her face when I said that, that there was something really wrong here. She explained that the only way you can get a replacement card is to come in person to the office and answer certain questions under oath. She went on to say that they have had this situation come up in the past. She asked me to bring in any mailings I get from this online company and they attempt to put an end to these kinds of businesses. Only a card issued by the REAL SSAN is valid and they do not deal with third parties.

I came home and immediately called my credit card company. There was an authorization yesterday for a company called "Free Loader. . ." for a charge of $29.95. (Note that I was told on the website the fee would be $19.95)

I explained to the customer service representative at the credit card company what had happened and that I felt this charge was fraudulent. He made a note of it and told me to call back when the charge shows up on my account.

Bottom line, I THINK I have cleared this matter up. No sooner had I hung up from speaking to the credit card company than my phone rang again. This time it was the phony company that I handed over my personal information to. She began explaining that there is a disclaimer on their site that they do not represent any government agency and their fee. . . At this point, I interrupted her quite sternly and told her I felt her company had misled me and I did not want to do business with them. She said they would issue a credit for the charge. I thanked her and hung up.

I also asked my credit card company to issue a new card to me with a different number.

Yes, I am embarrassed and hurt over what has happened. I am usually VERY careful about things like this and don't often get "taken." But I wanted to share this with my readers in hopes of spreading the word about the kind of scams out there. Please feel free to pass this on to anyone you know that is "Social Security Age!"

The Home Economics Teachers Cookbook

Now this one is a real oldie but goodie! I started collecting cookbooks before I was married and this is one of the first I acquired. Its pages are yellowed. Some pages, those with my favorites, are smeared from many years of use. There is an old saying, “If you want to know the best recipes in a cookbook, look for the dirtiest page!”

Many of the cookbooks in my collection are compiled from recipes submitted by members of various groups. I find these cookbooks especially good since people are only going to submit their very best recipes.

There are so many superb recipes I could include here. I think I’m going to have to include two! The first one, Sweet and Sour Beef Balls, is one I have served to company, as well as family, too many times to remember.

1 ½ lb. ground beef
2 eggs
3 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup oil
9 slices canned pineapple, diced

1 ½ cup chicken broth
3 large green bell peppers, chopped
1 small can bamboo shoots
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. soy sauce
¾ cup pineapple juice
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. ginger
¾ cup vinegar

Shape ground beef into walnut-sized balls. Combine eggs, flour, salt and pepper; dip meatballs into flour mixture. Brown in hot oil in skillet. Remove meatballs. Keep warm. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add pineapple. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Add meatballs. Simmer for 15 minutes. Yield: 6 servings. Serve over rice or noodles

The next recipe, Sweet and Sour Turkey, is an easy and delicious way to use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas.

1 large can pineapple chunks
1/3 cup vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ cups cooked, chopped turkey
one large green bell pepper, cut in strips
¼ cup thinly sliced onion

Drain pineapple, reserving the juice. Combine reserved juice, vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce and salt. Cook over low heat until thickened and clear, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add turkey. Let stand for 10 minutes. Place green peppers in enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add green peppers, onion and pineapple to turkey mixture and heat through. Serve over rice or noodles. 4 to 6 servings.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Applehood and Motherpie cookbook

It is probably not far from the truth to say that every cook in the Rochester area has a copy of Applehood and Motherpie in their kitchen. A production of the Junior League of Rochester, Applehood and Motherpie has been revised and updated several times since its first publication in 1981.

Western New York is known for its apple orchards. Many of the recipes in this book feature apples.

I have never been disappointed with any of its recipes. It is not uncommon to go to someone’s home for dinner, compliment them on the meal and have the hostess say it came from Applehood and Motherpie!

One nice feature with this one is the way it will stand like an easel. Simply open it up, bend the bottom half of the binder back and place it on your counter for easy reference as you prepare your recipe.

Here is a Roast Pork Loin with Apple Topping that is sure to please.

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground sage
4 to 5 pound pork loin roast


1 ½ cups applesauce or minced apple
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon salt

Mix together the flour, salt, mustard, caraway seeds, sugar, pepper, and sage.

Rub this over the surface of the pork.

Set fat side up in roasting pan. Bake for 1 ½ hours at 325.


Mix ingredients for the topping and spread over roast. Bake one hour more, adding water to pan if necessary.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The best ever coleslaw recipe

Until now, I truly believed my own coleslaw recipe was the best. Rarely would I go to a restaurant and eat their coleslaw. It was either too mushy or too watery or just plain tasteless.

Then I discovered the Down Home With the Neelys cookbook. If you are a Food Network fan, you have probably seen their program.

Their cookbook is loaded with over 100 tempting recipes. The two that caught my eye are their barbeque sauce and the Sweet and Spicy Slaw. Yesterday I made both and used the sauce on my chicken cooked on the grill. I highly recommend both.

The Neely family owns two popular barbeque restaurants in Memphis and Nashville.

Here is their Sweet and Spicy Slaw recipe on page 90 and 91 of their cookbook.

1 small head green cabbage
1 small head red cabbage
4 carrots
1 medium yellow onion
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt

Cut the cabbages into quarters and remove the cores. Peel the carrots and onion, and slice them into pieces that will fit through the feed tube of a food processor. Fit the food processor with the large holed grater attachment, and push the cabbage, carrots, and onion through the feed tube to grate. In a large bowl, toss the grated cabbage, carrots, and onions to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and cayenne. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Toss the dressing with the coleslaw, and season with salt and additional pepper to taste. Cover the slaw with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring has come to the North Country!

My daffodils and hyacinths have bloomed!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

One Big Table, A portrait of American cooking

My son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Marisa, gave me an Amazon gift certificate for Christmas. I used it to buy this cookbook and what a fantastic cookbook it is.

It is not just a cookbook, but a history of American cooking. It is one of those books you can truly curl up on the couch and get lost in. . . as I have done on more than one occasion!

Ten years ago, Molly O'Neill, a well-known cookbook author set out on a cross country journey to investigate reports that Americans had stopped cooking at home. As she traveled highways, dirt roads, and coastlines, gathering recipes and stories, it soon became apparent the dire predictions about the end of American cuisine were vastly overstated. From Park Avenue to trailer parks, from suburbs to isolated outposts, home cooks were following their family histories into delicious meals. One decade and over 300,000 miles later, One Big Table is a celebration of these cooks, a delicious portrait of Americans at the table.

As much as the recipes that I found, the stories and countless vintage photos really caught my attention. I've always enjoyed baking bread. I've come a long way since the first loaf I ever made decades ago that would be better off used as a baseball bat than a loaf of bread. I found a big section on the history of bread making in this country.

There is a section on the "Social History of American Stoves" that I loved. It is hard to imagine in this day of $10,000 gourmet stoves that the first measure of status and wealth was a fireplace for cooking.

So how do I choose one recipe from the over 600 presented here for this posting? There was no easy answer. However, because I use fresh kale a lot in my own cooking, I found this roasted kale recipe unique and appealing.

Allison Martin's Roasted Curly Kale (from Bar Harbor, Maine)

This can be served with shellfish, pork, or chicken

2 pounds curly kale rinsed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the ribs from the kale and tear the leaves into bite size pieces. This should yield about 4 cups of kale.

Toss the kale in a large bowl with the olive oil, pine nuts, and salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and roast for 2 minutes. Toss. Roast for 2 more minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

If cooking and baking are your passion and you enjoy the "story behind the recipe", then I highly recommend this book.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Joy of Cooking

If you can only have one cookbook, let it be "The Joy of Cooking." Just this week, I had a chance to chat with the young mother directly across the street from me. She was holding a package that had just been delivered by UPS. She proudly held it up and proclaimed, "My Joy of Cooking cookbook!". . . AND, to satisfy my ego, I must tell you that she also told me her oldest child, Ariel, age "three and a HALF" thinks that every white car they see is "Sherry's car"! (My car is white)

Anyway. . . a brief history of the Joy of Cooking. It was first written in 1937 by Irma Rombauer. This was a time when domestic help was becoming a thing of the past and women were returning to the kitchen. The Joy of Cooking served as a means to making cooking more socially acceptable, fun, and easy and turned cooking from a chore to a joy. Over the coming years, Irma and her daughter, Marion, continued to revise the cookbook to meet changing needs and in 1953 a new volume was published which brought about the transition of Marion's stewardship of the project. In 1975, Marion published a new edition and that one was the biggest seller of all the previous ones. By this time, Joy had become an institution in America's kitchens.

Today, Marion's son, Ethan Becker, has taken over the reins and the 1997 edition is the one I own. In 2006, the 75th Anniversary Edition was published.

What makes this cookbook unique and extraordinary? It is both a teaching tool as well as a collection of recipes. It has an extensive reference section. If you find an ingredient or term in a recipe from another source that you don't understand, chances are you will find a thorough explanation of it here. I like the detailed coverage in each chapter. In the grains chapter, for example, each grain is explained with the information you need for choosing, cooking, and the benefits of that grain. The same is true for fruits, vegetables, stocks and sauces, and throughout the book.

In over 1000 pages, how can I possibly choose one (or even more) recipes to properly showcase this fine cookbook? That is impossible. But here is one recipe I think everyone would like.

Fresh Fruit Kuchen:

Kuchen is the generic German term for cake, but in America it refers specifically to a breakfast pastry.

This recipe uses peaches. However, apricots, plums, cherries, raspberries, or blueberries can be used.

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 2 inch round pan.

Whisk together: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

In a large bowl, beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy: 8 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup sugar.

Beat in one at a time: 2 large eggs

Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Scatter on top: 2 cups peeled and sliced peaches and 1/4 cup chopped pecans.

Combine and sprinkle over the fruit: 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Bake until top is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand to room temperature before serving.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Moosewood Cookbooks

What? You don’t know about the Moosewood Cookbooks? What a shame!

I think there are over a dozen of them now. The three that I have are The New Moosewood Cookbook, copyright 2000; Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health, copyright 2009; and Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, copyright 2001.

The Moosewood Restaurant, an all-vegetarian establishment in Ithaca, NY, is the inspiration for these cookbooks. Check out their website here.

Not too many years ago, the common belief was that vegetarians were weird people. I must admit, I was once of that mindset. Not anymore. For health reasons and for honest to goodness great taste, vegetarian cuisine has come a long way. While I will never be totally vegetarian, I do incorporate a lot of these recipes in my everyday cooking.

Where do I begin in choosing recipes to share with you here? There are just so many great recipes in these books. Even as I sit here typing, I can’t decide which ones to include. I think I will go with recipes geared toward encouraging non-vegetarians to try it.

This first recipe, from The New Moosewood Cookbook, is a pasta and marinated artichoke hearts dish. It is quick to put together and really delicious.

For every 2 people:

½ lb. pasta
1 6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
black pepper

While the pasta cooks, drain the artichoke marinade into a serving bowl.
Cut the hearts into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.
Add the drained, cooked pasta to the bowl, and toss. Serve immediately, passing the parmesan and a pepper mill.

This next recipe is from the New Classics cookbook. This book has a variety of recipes for strudels in the Showstoppers chapter. I was intrigued by these and chose this Kale and Red Pepper Strudel. It makes a very good, eye-catching dish that won’t disappoint you.

Serves 6
Preparation time: one hour
Baking time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: 15 minutes


1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
4 to 5 cups rinsed, stemmed, and chopped kale
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups diced red bell peppers
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 12 oz. cake of firm tofu
1 cup Neufchatel, at room temperature
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


½ to 2/3 lb. filo dough
3 to 4 tablespoons oil or melted butter
Note: how much filo dough you use depends on the size of your baking dish. A good rule of thumb is to spread 8 layers on the bottom, followed by 8 more on top. The more layers you use (within reason!) the more puffed and beautiful the dish will be.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 10 x 14 inch baking dish.

Cook the onions in the oil on low heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, kale, and salt.. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until the kale wilts, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to prevent sticking, if needed. Stir in the bell peppers and rosemary. Cover and cook on low heat until the vegetables are tender, about ten minutes.

While the vegetables cook, combine the tofu, Neufchatel, grated cheese, flour, and parsley in a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. When the vegetables are ready, drain them if any liquid remains, and stir in the tofu-cheese mixture. Add black pepper to taste and set aside.

Lay the filo dough on a dry surface and cover with a clean, lightly dampened towel. Place a pastry brush and a bowl of the oil or melted butter within easy reach. Arrange two sheets of filo pastry in the prepared baking dish, allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Lightly brush the top sheet with oil or butter. Repeat three more times for a total of 8 sheets.

Spread the filling evenly over the filo in the baking tray. Fold all four sides of the filo up over the filling to make a border and brush with oil or butter. Top with the remaining filo, two sheets at a time, brushing each layer with oil or butter. Tuck under the edges to fit the baking dish.

Bake until golden and puffy, about 45 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Important: Unoiled filo becomes brittle once exposed to the air, so work quickly or keep a damp towel on the not-yet-used filo while you work.

If you don’t want to deal with the filo – and I admit, it is tedious to work with! – you could make this into a pie and use pie pastry.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fan Fare

Fan Fare is a cookbook published by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1981, featuring recipes from members of the RPO and one I am pleased to have in my collection.

Throughout its over 300 pages are recipes to suit every taste. There are quite a few here that have become my favorites. Among these is the Chicken Suisse. I like it not only because of its taste, but because it is quick and easy to prepare, yet nice enough for dinner guests. Serve this over rice with a colorful salad on the side and you’ve got a real winner.

3 whole chicken breasts, halved and boned
6 slices Swiss cheese
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
¼ cup white wine
garlic and onion croutons
¼ cup melted butter
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and cover each piece with a slice of Swiss cheese. Combine soup with wine and pour over the chicken and cheese. Crush enough croutons to cover the top of the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle all this with melted butter. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour.

Serves 6

Another favorite is Round Steak Pie. This is a delicious one dish meal that everyone will like.

1 lb. round steak, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons oil
1 8 oz. can of tomatoes, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
½ cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 10 oz. pkg. Italian-style vegetables
1 6 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup all purpose flour

Sour Cream Biscuit Topping:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk

In a heavy skillet, brown steak cubes in hot oil. Stir in tomatoes and juice, onions, water, sugar, salt , pepper, and Worcestershire. Cover and simmer about 1 ½ hours. Stir in Italian-style vegetables and mushrooms. Mix sour cream and flour together and add to meat mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Transfer this to a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with sour cream biscuit topping. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is lightly browned.


In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is consistency of coarse crumbs. Stir in sour cream and milk until ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Pat or roll dough to an 8 inch circle. Cut into wedges and place on top of meat in casserole.

Serves 4 to 6

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An old favorite

I grew up watching Dinah Shore on TV. How many of you are old enough to remember her variety show from the 1950’s, the one where she ended the show with the catchy jingle, “See the USA, in your Chevrolet. . .” and then blew a kiss to the audience? Yeah, sounds pretty corny these days, huh?

In 1983, she published the Dinah Shore Cookbook. Used copies are available for sale online.

This is a collection of recipes she gathered from everywhere. As she says in the Introduction, “Most people go sightseeing, seek out historical monuments, or go antique shopping when they visit a new place. I go restaurant hopping. I get to know more about those people and places historically, socially, and culturally by their cuisine and attitude toward it than in almost any other way. Food is people to me, sharing and socializing on the most convivial level. Dining together. . .is a personal way to get to know someone better.”

A quick look at the Table of Contents shows the book covers everything from Openers, Soups, Salads, Meat, Casseroles, to Cakes, Cookies, and Pies. This may sound like any other cookbook. But once you wade into this one, you soon realize, this is no ordinary cookbook. She frequently writes a short blurb for a recipe, explaining where she found it or memories it brings back.

My all time favorite out of this book is her Meat Ball Soup. I have made it over and over through the years and never tire of it. It is not a dish you can whip up on the spur of the moment, but well worth the time to put it together.

1 lb. ground beef
½ cup uncooked rice
4 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. savory

2 qts. Water
1 bunch scallions, sliced (white part only)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small carrots, peeled and sliced
3 to 4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
¾ tsp. Tabasco

½ bunch parsley, minced
2 eggs
juice of one lemon
red pepper flakes
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine meat, rice, 2 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, paprika, and savory. Mix lightly but thoroughly. Form into one-inch balls, then roll in flour.

Combine water, scallions, green pepper, carrots, tomatoes, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper in large kettle. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add meat balls, cover, and bring to boil again. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add Tabasco, cover, and simmer 40 minutes or until rice in meat balls is cooked. Add more water if needed to keep it soupy. Add parsley during last 5 minutes of cooking. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Beat eggs with lemon juice. Add a little hot liquid to egg mixture, then slowly stir into soup. Heat and stir until soup thickens slightly and becomes creamy throughout.

Serve immediately in warmed soup bowls with red papper flakes and Parmesan cheese on the side, and with chunks of French bread and salad.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, April 4, 2011

A new focus for Sherry's Place

I’m going to try something new with Sherry’s Place. You all know I am a collector of cookbooks and my collection numbers well into the three digits. I’ve often joked that I could stack all of them together and have enough to form two columns reaching from the floor to the ceiling of my kitchen!

I have everything from the basic cookbooks found in most kitchens, to regional cuisine, vegetarian, to those focusing on bread, cakes, heart-healthy cooking, or recipes from famous inns. It is not uncommon when I travel, to find me in a bookstore, checking out cookbooks from that region.

I don’t just collect them. I use them. I love finding a new recipe to try.

So, for awhile, I’m going to feature a different cookbook here and post a recipe or two from it. Let me know what you think. You may just find a treasure that you can’t live without!

The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking, Over 600 Essential Recipes Southerners Have Enjoyed for Generations, by Louis and Billie Van Dyke, copyright 2005, is an extraordinary cookbook. It is one of those that just jumps at you from the shelf at the bookstore, screaming, “You can't live without me!”

Billie and Louis write, “Southern food means different things to different people. But what epitomizes Southern food is the ability to take modest fare – whatever you have on hand – and turn it into a veritable feast. “

It was very difficult finding just one recipe to share with you from this cookbook. I finally settled on Glorified Grapes.

1 10 oz. pkg. toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 oz. Roquefort cheese
1 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound seedless green or red grapes, washed and dried

Preheat the oven to 275°. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted. In a food processor, coarsely chop the toasted nuts. Spread them on wax paper or on a platter. In a small bowl, preferably with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, Roquefort cheese, and cream. Beat these ingredients until they are smooth. Roll the grapes in the cheese mixture and gently press the cheese mixture around each grape. Then roll the cheese-coated grapes in the toasted nuts. Place the grapes on a wax paper-lined tray. Chill until ready to use. Any extra cheese mix can be frozen and reused.

Yield: 12 to 13 servings.

Just a few of the many tempting recipes you’ll find in the cookbook, and that I especially like, are Chicken and Dumplings, page 90, Yams Louie, page 209, President Ronald Reagan’s Favorite Beef Stew, page 219, and Sweet Potato Bread, page 150.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

De-cluttering, Part 2

You just never know what you will find when you start getting rid of clutter. I was in my backyard shed this afternoon. It is big enough for things to get pushed to a back corner or up in the loft in a corner and forgotten.

My father died over 7 years ago. I still had his last set of x-rays that were taken. . . think I can toss those. There is a strip of drywall, left over from one of the projects he worked on here in my house and insisted that I keep.

I found a single burner hot plate that I didn't know I had. That will stay.

Once I cleared out several boxes of junk. . . empty Miracle Gro boxes, broken or cracked flower pots. . . the list goes on, I found I have plenty of room for the things in my house that I want to keep but don't need to be in the house.

There were still boxes of things up in the loft that I couldn't easily get to. Those will remain a mystery for now.