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Dang! Summer’s On Its Way!

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By Gini Rainey

It’s days like these that absolutely drive me crazy, living here in east Texas.  One day the temperature is in the 30s and the next it’s in the 80s.  This is no secret to any of you who know me, but I believe my body was meant to live where the temperature is cool all the time and where the humidity stays below 50%.  That being said, today, looking out the window at the day, it’s very gray and gloomy and just shouts “comfort food!”  But, the temp is in the mid 70s with humidity knocking on 70% and this girl, who is a member of the Secret Sweaters Society, can’t keep the secret any longer and is sweating like crazy!

So, what do I do to lower my body temperature?  Well, looking at the cookbook that my sister gave me for Christmas helps a bit.  “The Scandikitchen,” written by Brontë Aurell and published by  Ryland Peters & Small in 2015, is filled with some wonderful recipes and photos of the homeland of my ancestors.  I know that there are those of you who are reading this right now (my husband-the leader of that band) who wish we would just get on with the warm weather, but I feel totally cheated this winter because we didn’t have any snow or ice days.  I seem to really thrive on that kind of weather – in the winter, but in the summer I can totally get my hot weather game in gear.

But, I digress!  (what else is new?)  This cookbook is absolutely lovely and I must say, I will definitely be trying some of the amazing recipes that are included.  However, I do believe I will have to invest in a conversion chart because the measurements are all metric, and I was one of those who dug her heels in when the government was suggesting we embrace that system.  Opening this book, though, I expected to find “10 ways to prepare lutefisk and like it!”  Thank goodness I was totally disappointed, however there are some recipes using reindeer! (sorry Santa!)  But!  The amazing desserts absolutely grabbed my attention!  They make full use of lingonberries, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, and my all-time favorite, raspberries, (oh, and hazelnuts!). I know that I will be making some amazing desserts using these recipes.

I have to tell you that the intro to the Dinner Section is so representative – and myth busting – of this entire cookbook.  I quote, in part, “Scandinavians are simple folk…of course, you can go out and eat expertly prepare New Nordic food made from foraged ingredients harvested by maidens in the moonlight – but, this is not what you will find in our kitchens at home. Here, you will find good food made with a lot of love and tradition that will fill your belly!”

So in that tradition, tonight I am preparing a bit of Beef Stew.  I started by browning, in a Dutch oven and with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, one pound of bite-sized pieces of very lean beef, dredged in flour (left over beef roast works equally well).  Then I added about 6 cups of water and one medium onion, chopped.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer, covered, for about 3 hours and then add 6 cubed medium potatoes and 3 sliced carrots.  Bring back to a boil, add a cup of water and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the veggies are fork tender – about a half hour.  Now, mix ¾ cups flour with 2 cups water (use a whisk or a covered bowl and shake like crazy!) and stir into the stew broth.  Salt and pepper to taste (always taste what you are cooking along the way – just to be sure the blend of spices is correct) and serve with crackers or biscuits.  Yum, yum, yum!  Some good comfort food eating is going to be happening!

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The Cookbook Junkie

This Is To Die For!

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By Gini Rainey

When my mother passed away on July 4th, 1977, I hadn’t been exposed to very many funerals here in the South, and I really don’t remember that I had attended that many before we moved to Texas, so I wasn’t sure what type of etiquette was called for.  I do know that we were inundated with food the day that she died, the bulk of which was bowl after bowl after bowl of butter beans.  If I’m not mistaken, we were presented with at least five bowls worth – big bowls – maybe you could even say very large bowls.  I know it was partly the lack of sleep and the grief process, but my sister and I started taking bets on what type of food was being delivered when the doorbell rang.  Of course, as the day progressed we knew for sure the next dish of funeral food would be butter beans and most of the time we were correct. To make matters worse, we all left the next day to fly to Minnesota for mom’s burial, leaving a refrigerator literally packed full of butter beans.  When we returned 5 days later, you can rest assured that our disposal got quite a workout.

So today I would like to share with you THE definitive book about funerals.  I wish I had read this book prior to 1977!  Apparently butter beans, along with tomato aspic, are two of the primary foods necessary for a Delta funeral.  After reading this book, I’m pretty sure some of us have been doing it all wrong, and “Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral,” written by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, can help us overcome that hurdle so we can all become the perfect food-providers when the time comes.  Printed by Miramax Books in 2005, this book is just one of the many guides that Metcalfe and Hays have written to help everyone (or at least those who really care) put on their best Delta (Mississippi) Etiquette to safely (and correctly) be part of just about any social situation imaginable from weddings and baby showers, all the way to funerals.

Although most of their wisdom is gleaned from their tri-state region of LA-ARK-Miss, I would imagine you could manage anywhere if you use their book for your own funeral food etiquette.  They also, so very charmingly, have included lots of recipes that are interspersed throughout their tongue-in-check chapters that are cleverly named Dying Tastefully in the Mississippi Delta; The Methodist Ladies vs. the Episcopal Ladies; Who Died? Stuffed Eggs, Etiquette, and Delta Pâté; I Was So Embarrassed I Liketa Died; Suitably Boxed: Meringue Shells, Pecan Tassies…and You, just to name a few.

I love how Metcalfe and Hays have taken a serious subject like death/funerals and put a nice, fresh twist on facing the final curtain.  They even managed to sneak in several references to death like “to die for” and “dying to get in,” so you might find yourself dying of laughter reading this book.  Just in case you might want to use some of the recipes, don’t worry, you won’t need to wait for someone to pass on to glory for you to try them out.

When it comes to pimiento cheese, I’m pretty sure that you will find a divided audience.  People seem to either love it or hate it.  I get a craving for it about once a year, so I’m surprised to find that these ladies, who refer to it as Southern Pâté, included six variations of it in their book.  The recipe that stands out for me is called Beer-Cheese Pimiento.  To make it, using a food processor, blend together 8 ounces grated extra sharp cheese, 8 ounces grated red rind cheese or mild American cheese, 2 cloves of fresh garlic, 1 ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, ½ tablespoon salt, ½ tablespoon dry mustard, ½ cup beer – not “lite,” several splashes of Tabasco, 1 small jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, and mayonnaise to taste.  After blending, add ¼ cup pistachio nuts – or more to taste – and finish blending.  This will make about one quart of PC – more than enough for lots of sandwiches or to eat with chips.  Wondering what to do with the rest of that beer?  Well, drink it of course and enjoy!

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Foodie Events: June 14th – Rosé All Day

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Foodie Events

Every Saturday (8am-12 noon) – The Rose City Farmers Market is open at its new location at 236 S. Broadway Ave., just a half block north of Front St. in the parking lot of Bill’s Unclaimed Furniture. The market is open from April to November. This is across from “Moss, Where Flowers are Fair” and ETX Brewing Co. There is free parking in the Fair Plaza Parking Garage across the street. The Rose City Farmers Market is a family- and dog-friendly community gathering place, providing locally-grown produce, herbs, wood oven breads, pastries and granola, jams, pickles, locally roasted coffee, cheese, artists and artisans, live music, and sometimes even yoga. They are open every Saturday, April through November, 8am-12 noon. For more info on the market or to apply to be a vendor, contact (903)539-2875, info@foodcoalition.org, or foodcoalition.org.

Tyler Farmers Market is located in the parking lot of the Broadway Square Mall located at 4601 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler. The Tyler Farmers Market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 7am-2pm. They feature seasonal items under a big white tent.

June 12th (5-9pm) – Cause an Effect – Dine Out – Make dinner a selfless act and dine at Chipotle, 4751 S. Broadway, Tyler. Mention Bethesda to have 50% of your purchase donating back to the clinic. Donations support programs of providing medical and dental care to the working uninsured or underinsured. For more info go to facebook.com/events/785259894992898.

June 14th (7:15-9:15pm) – Rosé All Day: A Wine Tasting – Come to Cork, 109 E. Grande Blvd., Tyler for this pairing night featuring Rosé wines and exquisite food. Cost is $55. RSVP to Cork.

June 17th (3-10pm) – Fathers Day Shrimp Boil will be held at The Grove, 3500 Old Jacksonville Hwy., Tyler. Celebrate Dad with boiled shrimp and all the sides (sausage, corn, potatoes, onions, and bread) plus live music outside on the lawn. Tickets are $20-$25 and available on Facebook at @TheGroveTyler.

June 20th (7-10pm) – Vintner’s Dinner: Mediterranean – This Mediterranean inspired meal will be sure to transport you to another world. Come join in for this wonderful Summer night of food and wine. July 25th (7-10pm), the Vintner’s Dinner: A Taste of Alaska will be held. This dinner is full of classic Alaska flavors and paired with our exclusive and adventurous wines. These will be held at Kiepersol, 21508 Merlot Ln., Bullard. RSVP by calling (903)894-3300 or go to kiepersol.com, Other Vintner’s Dinners will be September 26th, South of the Border; and November 28th, Fall Harvest.

News

Pazzeria By Pietro’s is coming to Downtown Tyler at the 118 W. Erwin St. This will be a hand-thrown pizzeria which will sell pasta and other classic Italian fare. There are several locations in this small chain that is based out of Marshall, Texas. A sister restaurant, Pietro’s in Longview. Rosaria Filippazzo, along with her husband, Rose Filippazzo co-founded Pietro’s Pizza in the Longview Mall. Her devoted attention to detail and ability to know “what the customer wants” shows in her dedication to her family’s success.

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Books

Eat It – It’s Good for You!

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By Gini Rainey

Now that we are a week down the road from Mother’s Day, I would imagine things around your  house – and kitchen – have pretty much returned to normal.  We’re past breakfast in bed for mom or a meal at her favorite restaurant, and if your kids are anything like my kids were, you’re starting to hear “I don’t like that” or “why don’t we ever have what I like to eat” at meal time.  As a young mom on a limited budget, keeping a family of four food-happy seemed to be a daily struggle – trying to please everyone – that I nearly threw my hands up in the air and said, “Let them eat cake!”

However, being the ever-resourceful person that I was, I came up with a plan.  I sat the four of us down, gave everyone five pieces of paper and asked them to write down their favorite meals.  When they were done, I put all the papers into a bowl and with my calendar in front of me, we drew them out one at a time and entered them in the Monday thru Friday boxes for a month.  Then, I patiently explained to the girls that this was how it was going to be – Mom’s Cafeteria Calendar would rule our daily menus, and if one of us didn’t like what was going to be served, just be patient, because ‘something you will like’ would come along soon.

I will admit that one of my favorite meals to prepare is spaghetti, and I will also admit that I generally would make it on Wednesdays, which were a nightmare for the Taxi Mom.  This was a meal I could prepare ahead of time and have dinner on the table in the least amount time.  In later years, the girls told me they always knew what we were having for dinner after dance lessons, because we ALWAYS had spaghetti on Wednesdays.

Well, all of this is to say that Dom DeLuise put together a great cookbook filled with his Mama’s recipes, as well as some from his friends and celebrities. DeLuise, the quintessential Italian wrote, “Eat This…It’ll Make You Feel Better!” It was published in 1988 by Pocket Books and is filled with some really terrific recipes and photographs of, not only Dom and his family, but also the likes of Ronald Reagan, Ricardo Montalbon, Anne Bancroft, and Burt Reynolds. There are also lots of tales about Dom and his friends that are written in such a great way it’s like you can almost hear him talking off the page.

While we often think of Italian cooking as being hearty and loaded with calories, nothing could be farther from the truth with this cookbook.  The majority of this book leans towards a healthier cooking/eating style and reflects Dom’s attitude about natural flavors, i.e. “Salt may be good for melting ice in your driveway, but let’s face it, it is not very good for you.”

Well, here’s a dish that sounds really yummy and is good for you, too.  Broccoli with Rigatoni by itself sounds great, but can also be augmented with chicken and mushrooms for a heartier version.  In a large skillet, heat 8 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter and gently brown 4 minced garlic cloves.  Add a bunch of broccoli that has been separated into florets (reserve the stems for another use) and stir gently until the pan gets very hot.  Add 1 cup of chicken broth, cover, and simmer just until the broccoli is al dente.  Meanwhile, cook one pound of rigatoni until al dente and then add to the skillet, along with ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil.  Mix thoroughly and put on a hot serving dish and sprinkle with another ½ cup fresh basil, pepper, fresh, chopped parsley, and grated romano or parmeson cheese. Serve with crusty bread and a tossed green salad.

Mangia!

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