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At My Grandmother’s Knee

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By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

I just spent an hour or so looking through a recipe box that belonged to my Aunt Evie.  It’s one that I painted for her as a Christmas gift back in our leaner days – yellow with red strawberries and leaves twining around the lid.  When she died I received it back – along with a lot of her recipe cards that came from a lot of friends and relatives.  There is boxso much to be learned from looking through stuff like that.  For instance, I had no idea how many different ways she probably prepared eggplant!  With my uncle’s truck farm producing a wealth of that pretty purple vegetable, I know we ate a lot of eggplant during the summer, but it was always sliced, breaded, and fried.  Why, Aunt Evie’s eggplant recipes included spaghetti, casseroles, eggplant balls, and more.

Also, I noticed that many of her dressing recipes call for mineral oil.  I had no idea that mineral oil was consumable – or was that another name for cooking oil many moons ago? One of the recipes of my grandmother’s for a jello salad called for the jello combination to be “livery” before being stirred into the rest of the ingredients.  Gee Grandma, couldn’t you come up with a better description for the consistency? That one kind of left me cold.

hersheyI have a cookbook in front of me today, “Hershey’s 3 Books in 1” that was published in 2008 by Publications International, Ltd., and although it is filled with some mighty good recipes for everything decadent made with chocolate, I’m surprised that it doesn’t include a recipe that my Grandma made every Christmas.  It does have enough recipes, though, for cookies, confections, cakes, brownies, pies, & desserts, to make your teeth hurt from the thought of biting into all that yummy-ness!  With the holidays coming down the road like a Mac truck, this book would make a great addition to your “library” for go-to goodness.

Back to Grandma. Her recipe for Toffee Squares is timeless, and it always reminds me of the great relationship she and my dad shared.  My dad owned a tavern, so he bought a lot of stuff in quantity.  At Christmas his purchases always included a box of Hershey bars that he gave to Grandma, knowing that he would probably score some of her yummy bars.  He would also take her a bouquet of Sweet Peas (her favorite flower) every year on her birthday, as well as do a lot of other things to help her out.

But for her recipe, here’s what you need to do: cream together 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and one egg yolk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Then stir in 2 cups of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Now press this mixture into an 11 x 13 pan.  Bake at 325°, and when done, cover the top with Hershey bars and ¾ cup chopped nuts – Grandma used walnuts, but pecans will work just as well.  Let cool, cut into squares and store in a covered container.  These will also freeze well, so you can get a jump on your holiday baking if your family doesn’t eat them all before they hit the freezer!  Just enjoy, no matter what!



UT Tyler Seeking Participants for 3rd Year of ‘Born to Read’ Program

stanleys bbq tyler tx eguide magazine

Program promotes early language and literacy in young children

The University of Texas at Tyler announced today that it is seeking participants for the third year of the “Born to Read” literacy program, which promotes early childhood literacy in East Texas.

“The purpose of this program is to encourage children’s early language and literacy skills, while also helping parents understand their critical role as their child’s first and most valuable teacher,” said Dr. Kouider Mokhtari, UT Tyler Anderson-Vukelja-Wright Endowed Professor of Literacy Education.

“We provide parents with training and an initial tool kit of books and resources that   help and encourage them to raise children as readers,” said Dr. M. Sathyamoorthy, UT Tyler professor of mechanical engineering, who has coordinated support for the program from the Tyler Sunrise Rotary Club.

The Born to Read program is designed for expectant mothers, parents and legal guardians of children up to 3 years old. The program is free to the first 25 participants who register by Monday, Sept. 30. Participants will be involved in the program through June 30, 2020.

To register or for more information, contact Azalia Perez, or 903.566.7016.

Other program sponsors include Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and UT Tyler K-16 Literacy Center.

A member of the prestigious UT System, The University of Texas at Tyler focuses on student success and innovative research in the more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered. With more than 10,000 students, UT Tyler has facilities in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.


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Book Lovers Events: Hot Summer Signings & More


From book signings to Meet & Greet’s, Tyler  offers every Book Lover a lot of fun things to do. Check out these events:

For more events, check out ‘s entire


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Reading the Kids Back to School


By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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