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By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

I was going to take a ”blog-writing day” off in honor of Easter, but just got through face-timing with my nephew/godson who – I’m sure in jest – said he needed to go sit in front of his computer and wait for an email to come through that would link him to his favorite cookbook blog.  Gee, I sure would hate to let that young (I use the term loosely!) man down!

(Random aside – aren’t facetime and Skype wonderful? I love being able to connect with family and friends that I don’t have the good fortune to see on a regular basis!)

Anyway, if you’re looking for a cookbook reference in this blog entry, I hope you won’t be disappointed.  I’ve been thinking about how to bring this stream of consciousness into the blog, but didn’t really have a reference cookbook to share.  So, being forewarned, I will share a couple of great food ideas at the end, but first I would like to tell you yet another randolph“growing up in Minnesota” story.

My great grandfather was Randolph M. Probstfield, and he and his family were considered the first white settlers of the Red River Valley, establishing their homestead in what was eventually to become Oakport Township, just outside the present-day towns of Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN.  He was a great supporter of education and experimental farming, but also was one of the founders of the Farmers Alliance movement and served Minnesota as a state senator.  So, politics and agriculture were huge influences in the family, and when his grandson, Raymond Gessell came along, not only did Raymond serve as a state representative for Minnesota, but, among other endeavors, he also raised champion bantam chickens.

So, where all of this is going will now connect together for you!  Bantam chickens produce much smaller eggs than regular chickens, and one thing I remember from visiting the farm as a kid was that my Uncle Ray and the other farm relatives, Aunt Josie and Aunt Nellie, would dye the banty eggs and have them in a huge bowl on the dining room table.  Not just a dozen or so, but dozens of them, and we would eat a pile of those eggs when we went out to visit as well as take a lot of them home with us, and if I’m not mistaken, my dad would also have a bowl of them at his tavern for the customers to enjoy!

Well, as we all know, at Easter, there are always way more eggs around than you can possibly eat as just hard-boiled, so what to do with this wonderful bounty?  Well, of course deviled eggs or egg salad comes to mind, so here are a few variations on the standard deviled egg to help you use up those seasonal blessings.  They will also work well for the upcoming picnic season. Of course, you will need to adjust the ingredient measurements depending on the quantity of eggs and personal tastes, so I won’t even attempt to give you exact quantities.  After you’ve peeled, cut in half, put the yolks into a bowl and mashed them along with mayo, instead of using salt, try substituting celery salt.  This really puts a neat taste into the egg.  Be sure to sprinkle in a small amount at first, and be sure to taste as you go along until you find the perfect amount for your taste buds.  Another way to change it up is by adding sweet pickle relish to the yolks, again tasting as you go along.  If you like the taste of curry powder, add a small amount of that to your yolks.  If you like  bit of a kick, try a small amount of cayenne.  The possibilities are endless.  This is one way you can take control of those eggs and make them your own!

By the way, if you would like to read up a little bit more about the man who showed the Department of Agriculture that tobacco, among other things, could be grown in the Red River Valley of the north, follow this link http://probstfieldfarm.org/farm/about/ .  He was a true renaissance man in every sense of the word and one of the people I would most like to share an extended conversation with.

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Books

Back, Again!

By Gini Rainey

I must apologize to anyone out there who might still be interested in reading my blog! I know I’ve been away a very long time and before that I was sporadic at best, but it wasn’t my fault.  My muse just up and left me – and left to my own devices, well, you see what happens? Nothing!  Our family has been on a very bumpy ride for the past two years, beginning with my father-in-law’s failing health and death at the ripe ol’ age of 101+, followed by a rapid deterioration of my mother-in-law’s mental acuity and death this past November at two weeks short of 98.  It seems like most of my spare time was spent with many trips to their home and the support of my husband and children. 

With the ensuing dismantling of their household and sale of their home shortly before Christmas, I think we all walked away from their house totally stunned with loss.  While there were times I felt like my mother-in-law didn’t care much for me in early and middle marriage, the last year we had her, she never failed to light up and call me be my name when I came into the room or tell me that she loved me when I left. 

And even though there really wasn’t anything of hers that I really wanted (after all I’m loaded up with memories), I walked away with one of her very few cookbooks (this lady kept most of her recipes in her head) “Recipes and Remembrances,” a cookbook that was put together by First Baptist Oak Cliff, Dallas in commemoration of their Centennial Celebration.  One evening, as I was leafing through, it secretly hoping I would find something she had written in it (after all, isn’t that what makes a cookbook even more special?), I found a recipe for Microwave Peanut Brittle.  Next to the recipe she had written “Good” and had indicated “made in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup.” 

Then when my muse showed up this morning and kicked me in the pants and told me firmly to “get over it and get on with it,” I decided that this would be an excellent cookbook with which to get back on track and this recipe might be a great thing for all of you football fans to whip up for Super Bowl Sunday! 

This recipe couldn’t be easier and who doesn’t love the crunchy goodness of peanut brittle?  It’s hard to resist ‘just one more piece’ and it’s oh so yummy!  So, to make this confection in under 15 minutes, put ½ cup white corn syrup, 1 cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup raw peanuts into a bowl (or as Martha said, “a 4cup Pyrex measuring cup”). Do not stir.  Cook on high for 4 minutes in your microwave – then stir.  Cook on high for 4 more minutes and stir again.  Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir. Cook on high for 1 minute and stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Stir quickly as the soda foams; then pour onto a buttered cookie sheet.  Spread thin and let cool.  When cool, break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container and watch it magically disappear! 

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Donuts: My Favorite Food Group

Donuts for Breakfast Tyler TX

A Fork & Spoon Blog: Eating Donuts In Tyler TX

By Tena Jerger

I love breakfast. I love everything about breakfast, from donuts to  eggs to pastries – breakfast is, in my opinion, the most versatile meal and also the most tasty. I could eat “breakfast” twice a day with no problem.

One of my favorite breakfast foods is the All-American donut – glazed, creme filled, apple fritters, cake-style donuts – what’s not to love.

Here are a few of my favorite haunts and my picks at each location.

The Donut Place, located right next to Green Acres Bowling Alley in Tyler, TX,  has the best glazed donuts I’ve had in a while. Their standard glazed donuts are slightly bigger than some other places too! Get a few dozen, trust me, you are going to want more than you’d normally eat.

Shipley’s Do-Nuts, located ironically next door to Planet Fitness on the east Loop in Tyler, has a great selection but the Creme-filled donuts are pure heaven on earth. Stuffed full of thick marshmallow-style creme, then fried perfectly and glazed with a nice soft and slightly crunchy glaze, these “do-nuts” will make you happy. They also have a drive-thru but I try to walk there after my Planet Fitness workout. Two creme filled and a glazed is my Saturday morning reward for working out. It is total yummy in my tummy! 

While there, watch for the Devils Food Donut – if you are a chocolate lover, this is absolutely heavenly! Picture this: chocolate dough glazed donut filled abundantly with warm chocolate filling…it is every chocolate lovers “dream donut”.

Apple Fitters are fantastic at Star Donuts, located on Broadway next to Bergfeld Park in Tyler. They are fresh, slightly crunchy on the outside yet doughy and soft on the inside, loaded with glaze and cinnamon. Oh, and they huge! What’s not to like.

Sugared out? Star Donuts and Croissants, located at Troup Hwy. in Tyler has all the normal selections plus a unique boudin kolache. That’s right, boudin sausage placed inside of the bread dough, then baked. It is a little spicy but not too much and the bread helps collect the, um, juices so that you never miss a bite of yumminess. These kolaches are big, served piping hot with a packet of yellow mustard.

Got a favorite? Comment below with your suggestions. I’d love to try it out….like, seriously, would LOVE too!

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Forks & Spoons Blog: Poch’s Rice Café, Tasty Soup and Eggrolls

By Hungry Guest

It’s hard to choose a single restaurant dish to review; Tyler has so many good restaurants with so many good things to eat!  But one of my go-to lunch favorites is Peking Soup and an egg roll at Poch’s Rice Café in the Tanglewood East Shopping Center.  Poch’s Peking Soup is a bowl full of clean, understated flavors.  Starting with a clear vegetable-chicken stock that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours, Poch’s adds shrimp, chicken and small strips of beef, along with broccoli, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms, and water chestnuts.  The vegetables are barely cooked through, still retaining bright colors, crispness and fresh flavor that you’ll enjoy with every bite.  The result is a warm, savory dish of lean protein and vegetables that fill you up, but won’t leave you feeling like you killed your diet for the week.

Pair this with one of Poch’s eggrolls (they’re the best in town, the staff is quick to tell you!).  The eggrolls are a delicious mix of cabbage, onion, celery, carrot, and meat, wrapped inside a light pastry and fried just long enough to soften the ingredients and blend the flavors.  This aromatic mixture goes great with a little Chinese mustard or some of the sweet sauce that the eggrolls are served with.

So there you have it; one of my favorite lunch combos!  Try a bowl of Peking Soup and an eggroll at Poch’s.  They’re in Tanglewood East, at the corner of 5th street and Loop 323 East.  You may become a regular there, too!

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