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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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Books

A Good Pounding!

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By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with jenreviews.com.  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: https://eguidemagazine.com/janies-cakes-finally-oprah-realizes-something-weve-all-known-for-years/ In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past: https://janiescakes.com/  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here: https://www.jenreviews.com/cranberry-pound-cake-recipe/.  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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Food

Smith’s Bar-B-Que Opens in Jacksonville

Smith’s Bar-B-Que had a great Ribbon Cutting on Friday, April 5. Smith’s Bar-B-Que is owned and operated by Gary Smith and has been in business for 11 years. They started in the Exxon parking lot but has now found a home at the Travis Towers parking lot at 558 S. Ragsdale. They serve ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled pork and their famous stuffed baked potato. You can also add beans, potato salad and peach cobbler. They also offer catering with no event being too big or too small. Gary Smith is a culinary school graduate, food service manager and the 1st to obtain his vendors permit from the City of Jacksonville. Hours are Friday and Saturday 11 am until…..

They are at 558 S. Ragsdale in Jacksonville, Texas and can be reached at 903.944.0036.

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Books

Artists in the Kitchen

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By Gini Rainey

I have many passions in my life, mostly leaning toward my right brain, but after working for over 25 years as a business manager/owner, my left brain seems to have shoved a lot of those passions to the side, but trust me – they’re still there!  So, when I come across a cookbook that has wonderful recipes that are paired up with amazing works of art from the National Gallery of Art, you can be sure this is one book I had to have. 

With notable chefs such as Julia Child, Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters creating dishes and menus to compliment the art of Matisse, Pissaro, and Gauguin, to name a few, you can only imagine what a lovely and creative book this must be. 

While using paintings of the obvious subjects, such as Vollon’s Mound of Butter and Jean Simeon Chardin’s Still Life with Game for inspiration, I think the recipes that truly intrigue me are from the chefs who viewed such paintings as Raoul Dufy’s The Basket and Mary Cassatt’s Afternoon Tea Party, let their imaginations run wild and came up with what might have been in the basket or what Cassatt might served at her Tea Party. 

Pablo Picasso’s Le Gourmet was the inspiration for Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Sauce that would make a delicious topping for a bread pudding or a dish of Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla ice cream. To make the sauce, combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup, and 2 ½ tablespoons Scotch whisky in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the mixture just begins to smoke and turns an amber color.  Meanwhile, place 1 ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream in another large saucepan, split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape its seeds into the and then add the pod.  Add 1 cup of butter and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

When the sugar mixture reaches the proper color, immediately stop its cooking by whisking in the cream mixture in small amounts, waiting a few seconds between additions to prevent it from boiling over.  Once all the cream mixture is incorporated, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.  Whisk in ½ cup of butter until combined.  The sauce will keep for several weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  To reheat, place the sauce in a bowl over simmering water.  If desired, add some toasted pecans or add a dash of sea salt to taste, and wow, you have got something really yummy going on there. 

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