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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 .  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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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  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: In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past:  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:  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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Smith’s Bar-B-Que Opens in Jacksonville

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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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Artists in the Kitchen


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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