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What? No Dancing Girls?

cookbook_junkie[1]By Gini Rainey

Some of the best times I’ve had have been in Irish Pubs (mostly in Nashville), so it should come as no surprise that I picked up “The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook” today while wandering through Barnes & Noble. This sweet 176 page book by Paragon Books Ltd. was printed in 2012 and is loaded up with some really great recipes, some traditional and some new from Christine McFadden, along with amazing photos by Mike Cooper. If reading the recipes doesn’t make you want to jump right into your kitchen for a cooking feast, the photos will definitely draw you in!

Broken down into four sections, the names of some of the recipes are bound to leave you wondering where they came from – or what exactly is in them. Thankfully, the editors precede each recipe with a bit of background that gives you a peek at, not only the cuisine of Ireland, but also the history behind their great eats!

For instance, the name for “Split Pea & Ham Soup” is fairly self-explanatory, but just exactly what goes into “Skink Soup?” Well, “skink” is an old Irish and Scots term meaning “broth,” and this particular version, sometimes also called Irish chicken soup, is made with diced chicken and colorful summer vegetables and has been enriched with cream and egg yolk.

Now, as a child I know that I heard people referring to Welsh Rarebit – but (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) I would swear that they were talking about a recipe that has rabbit in it! Not so! This book has a recipe for the Irish version and it looks absolutely yummy.

With plenty of seaside around Ireland, fresh seafood and recipes making good use of that seafood are plentiful. This book has a recipe for “Garlic & Herb Dublin Bay Prawns” that sounds amazing. There is also a recipe for “Potted Crab” that originated during the pre-refrigeration days that was used for preserving all kinds of meat and fish. More recently, the method has become a way of stretching extravagant ingredients a little further.

What would a book of Irish recipes be without one for “Corned Beef & Cabbage?” Like I said, if the recipe doesn’t hook you, the photo will start your mouth to watering. Irish Stew is another recipe that is so representative of the cuisine of the the land. There is a recipe for “Dublin Lawyer” that gives a nod of the head to the city’s wealthy lawyers and their liking for large amounts of whiskey. Usually made with lobster, it is also just as delicious when made with crab.

Lest you think this cookbook has only recipes using meats and fish, there is a section filled with great ways to prepare vegetables, such as “Roasted Leeks with Parsley,” “Potato Cakes,” “Glazed Turnips,” “Sticky Carrots with Whiskey & Ginger Glaze,” and “Champ,” which is made with creamy mashed potatoes mixed with chives or scallions and piled high in a bowl pubwith a pool of melted butter in the center!

Just in case your sweet tooth is beginning to feel neglected, rest assured that the Irish love their desserts, too. With recipes like “Irish Whiskey Trifle,” “Bread & Butter Pudding,” “Rhubarb Crisp,” or “Irish Cheese Cake,” your own Irish Pub meal will be complete. About the only thing that will be missing is the Irish Step Dancers, fiddlers, and bodhran! Sláinte Gaelach!!!

I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not cooking Irish tonight. We are having a guest for dinner and are going to be grilling steaks. I’ll share with you my grilled steak secret that I learned from my Uncle Eli many years ago. My family generally spent every Sunday with Aunt June and Uncle Eli – the adults playing bridge or pinochle all afternoon, and my cousins Mara & Jane and myself getting into whatever trouble we could find. Everyone always seemed to have a great time and the food was always amazing. Uncle Eli would generally marinate chuck roasts most of the day and then slap them on the grill – cooking them to wonderful perfection. His secret was rubbing the beef with lots of garlic and then covering with soy sauce to marinate. So simple, but so good! The cousins and I could never wait until the meal was served and found ourselves snitching the meat from the platter as it rested prior to slicing and serving.  Try his marinade – I promise – it can make a sirloin (not know for being as tender as other cuts) almost tender enough to cut with a fork!


Duck! Here It Comes!


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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Historically Speaking

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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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 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,, or

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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