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Strange Stuff We Eat – Or Don’t

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By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

I was just sitting here, praying for inspiration, and entering a few new cookbooks (yes, I went crazy again this week and bought some more!) into my data base.  One of them, “The Kitchen Sink Cookbook,” got me started thinking about all of the interesting dishes that evolve in families and become standard fare that people outside that family have never heard of, or even eaten.  Take me, for instance.  When my mother and I moved from Moorhead, Minnesota to Tyler, Texas, you can imagine the food culture shock we experienced.  I’ve already shared with you my mom’s interpretation of “Chicken Spaghetti” in my blog entry on May 8th of this year.  If you missed that one and need an “OMG” moment, you can dig back through the archives.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law is a born and bred in East Texas cook and my transition from Yankee food to southern cooking was made less painful because of her pretty darn good family cooking.  However, I had never had a lot of the dishes she cooked, so meals at her house were usually very interesting.  Her chicken spaghetti was amazing and her chicken fried steak didn’t take much of an effort to enjoy, because she served with cream gravy, and being a Norwegian, most everything we eat is either white or we cover it up with a white sauce to make it white.

But, there were all those peas and beans that kept showing up.  The only peas and beans I was familiar with at that time were English peas and green beans.  At her house I learned all about crowders, creams, black-eyes, purple hulls,and fields, and now my lovely ‘English’ peas were being incorporated into a salad along with little cubes of cheddar cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and mayonnaise.  I still haven’t been able to make myself eat any of that.  And, the beans?  Well, now we were having pinto beans and rice, refried beans, and butter beans.  And greens?  I won’t even go there!

I will go to this book, though.  “The Kitchen Sink Cookbook,” written by Carolyn Wyman book and published by Birch Lane Press in 1997, encourages the reader to “put the fun back in your food!” While the recipes are all intended to be used, the author and publisher posted a disclaimer in the introduction that they will not take, or assume any responsibility for their safety or deliciousness.  That in itself is a bit scary, and also what makes this one interesting read.

Among some of the more interesting recipes, and not necessarily ones that I would try to serve my family, are Burger Dessert Squares (yup, it calls for 2 pounds of ground beef), ‘Pooch Pāté’ (made with, you guessed it dog or cat food, but they do allow for a substitution of baby food for pet food), Corn Cob Jelly, Pollen Pancakes (main ingredient: cattail pollen), Black-Eyed Pea Guaca-Jell-O Salad, Chocolate Cricket Torte, Beer Sorbet,  and Tabasco Ice Cream.  Some of the less weird recipes included are Onion Sandwiches, Bathtub Bread, Impossible Cheeseburger Pie, and Apple Lasagne (which is a whole lot like Jewish kugel and is a dessert recipe developed by the North Dakota Wheat Commission).

Lest I gross you out any further, I would love to share with you my mother-in-law’s recipe for Red Beans.  Because so many of my husband’s family seemed to develop gall stones, I used to joke it was because they all ate so much red beans and rice – that is, until I developed gall stones.  Nothing funny about that!  For her recipe start with 1 pound of dried pinto beans – the lighter colored beans are the freshest.  Wash the beans and remove any stones – yes, there are sometimes stones in these dried beans.  Put in a heavy, 4 quart pan, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Drain and re-cover with hot water and add 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings.  Simmer for 2 to 3 hours until tender, adding hot water as needed.  Now, add 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of ketchup.  Simmer on low until ready to serve.  She always serves them up with a big bowl of rice – it helps to sop up all the good sauce.  Now, that’s some might good, East Texas kind of good home cookin’!

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Books

Duck! Here It Comes!

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By Gini Rainey

For those of you who have been paying attention to the general theme of my cookbook collection, you may have noticed a trend towards those written by or about celebrities and or famous people.  That was one of my initial criteria when I started picking them up and mostly still is, unless I come across one that’s weird, unusual, or cheap!  Every so often I’ll go to my favorite eBay store, thriftbooks, just to see if they have anything new that fits the bill.  The cookbook I have in front of me today is one of those.  It’s “Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen” by Kay Robertson with Chrys Howard and was published in 2013 by Howard Books and was written by a celebrity and was cheap!  Score!

So, then I got to thinking “whatever happened to Duck Dynasty.”  I was never a viewer of the series – but I have the T-Shirt that my husband picked up for me in West Monroe, Louisiana on one of his many treks to Florida. I did watch a portion of one episode at one of my daughter’s following a family gathering.  About all I can remember about it was her family never missed an episode and were really into it.  I think that particular episode had some bird-hunting/killing/plucking/slicing/ dicing/cooking involved in it.  My other daughter and her family (who just happen to be vegans) had a hard time sitting there watching all of the carnage and eventually turned to other things to do and talk about.

The Robertson’s have pretty some strong family values and have actually built quite a financial empire over the past 30 plus years with their clothing line – Duck Commander.  Even though she spent a great deal of her time working along side her husband, Miss Kay raised a family and filled them, not only with good food, but also a stern hand nicely blended with warmth and love.

Her cookbook is filled, not only with great, rib-sticking recipes, but also with quite a few biblical references, anecdotes, and family photos.  Sharing that she uses a cast iron skillet or dutch oven to cook most of her recipes, she explains it’s because they can either be used on the stove top or in the oven and they heat up quickly. It’s also not terribly surprising that several of her recipes call for Duck Commander seasoning!

Well, if you’re lucky enough to own a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, here’s a fairly easy recipe to try out on your family.  First, heat your oven to 275° and season about 1 pound of tenderized round steak (tenderized round steak usually comes 4 to a package and I generally cut those in half to make 8 pieces) with salt and pepper and lightly sprinkle both sides with flour.  Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in your cast-iron Dutch oven (or cast-iron skillet, or ovenproof casserole dish) and brown the steaks on both sides and drain off the excess oil.  Add 2 celery stalks chopped in large chunks, 1 onion chopped in large chunks, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 bell pepper chopped in large chunks, 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce to Dutch oven along with the browned steaks.  Cover and bake for 1 ½ hours and serve with steamed potatoes or egg noodles.  You may not be a Duck Commander, but this meal will have you eating like one!

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Books

Historically Speaking

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by Gini Rainey

I was thinking this morning about all the incredible advances in technology that I have seen in my lifetime, and how much my dad would have loved all the gadgets we seem to have surrounded ourselves with the past 50 years. For example, just in my lifetime, I’ve seen telephones go from shared party lines with rotary dials to the incredible iPhone (virtually a computer in your hand) that not only can be used for staying connected, but takes a whole lot better photograph than my once treasured Canon SLR.

So, then I got to thinking about all the advances in the kitchen that have helped make the home maker’s life infinitely easier and how many of the old gadgets that I grew up with are now items of speculation in antique shops and vintage stores.  Sometimes just standing back and listening to people trying to determine their use is half the fun of spotting one “just like we used to have!”

Just for fun – can you name these gadgets?

So speaking of vintage, today I’m looking at The Martha Washington Cook Book and is the product of historian Marie Kimball who received special permission from The Historical Society of Pennsylvania to study the original manuscript that was used by Martha Washington for 50 years and then was passed down mother to daughter for nearly 100 years.  The original cookbook was published in 1940 by Coward-McCann, Inc., and the copy that I have was published in 2005.

With nearly 50 pages of historical background regarding the state dinners at the White House and the meals hosted at Mt. Vernon, Kimball has succeeded to paint a rather lovely picture of Martha Washington, who was the over-seer of all of meals prepared for family and dignitaries.  While we might not find many of the recipes included in the book to be something we might consider preparing, such as Marrow Pie, Lettuce Tart, Roasted Hare, or Stewed Calves’ Feet, Mrs. Kimball has fully adapted Martha’s cookbook for practical, modern use.  All the recipes have been proportioned to the current practice of a formula for serving six people, and she says that all of the recipes have been tested and taste great!

One of Martha’s recipes that jumped out at me was for apple fritters sounds absolutely yummy: Heat 1 cup ale and add ¼ cup white wine and the yolks of 4 eggs, the white of 1 egg, well beaten.  Mix together 1 cup flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon cloves, and ¼ teaspoon mace and combine the two mixtures.  According to Martha Washington “Your batter must be no thicker than will just hang on the apples.”  A little more or less flour may be needed.  Cut the apples into rounds – or what ever shape you please – and deep in the batter.  Drop in deep fat and fry a golden brown.  Drain on a piece of clean linen, (I bet you can use paper towels!) sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and serve.  Oh, my, nom-nom!

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Blogs

Foodie Events: March 31st, Let’s Make Bread Together & Easter Brunch

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Roost Chicken Salad & Deli will open a location in Southside Bank at S. Beckham across from ETMC Hospital.

March 31st-April 1st (all day) – Bread Class & Easter Brunch – Have you always wanted to bake like a Master Chef? The key is simple ingredients, proper instruction, and the right location. Join Chef for a fun weekend experience in the kitchen of Côte at High Hill Farm. You’ll learn the techniques, recipes, and process to baking homemade breads. Cap off your day with a stroll in the vineyard, wine sampling and overnight stay in one of our relaxing bungalows. After a perfect night’s sleep, join us for a special Easter brunch featuring beautiful farm fresh brunch including items from the garden, local food items, and fresh juices.  Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s also available for your enjoyment. High Hill Farm, 12626 CR 217, Arp. Go to highhillfarm.com to make reservations.

Crawdaddy’s Boil-N-Go is now open at 14801 State Hwy 110 S. in Whitehouse. Featuring crawfish, shrimp, crab legs, corn, potatoes with all the fixing, Crawdaddy’s is open Thursday-Friday 5-10pm, Saturday 12 noon-10pm, and Sunday 12 noon-6pm.

April 7th (8am-12 noon) – The Rose City Farmers Market will open soon at it’s 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. The new location will be near the free parking in the Fair Plaza Parking Garage. 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-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.

Quick Dawgs of Texas Opens! You know that building with a cowboy-shaped roof? It now serves hot dogs made with love and care by David Lovelady. “This particular building here is set up to handle hot dogs,” he said. “I’d been looking at different buns, wieners, different chilis, for many months before we started this thing.” The new business features an array of hot dogs, mostly priced between $2-$5, with nachos and meals priced a few dollars higher. The menu — which is still developing — includes all beef, bun-length hot dogs; brisket sausage links; Earl Campbell Hot Links; Frito pie and more. Lovelady said the chili cheese dogs and hot links have been some of the most popular selections. Picnic tables will be added outside the drive-thru soon. Quick Dawgs is located at at 220 SSW Loop 323 in Tyler, and serves all beef, bun-length hot dogs, brisket sausage links, Earl Campbell Hot Links, Frito pie and more.

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