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Nice and Easy


By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

It’s a fairly gurpy day in east Texas today.  The sun isn’t shining, and the forecast holds the promise of severe thunderstorms.  It’s a great day for staying indoors and reading a book – and recovering from a nasty, little cold.  I’m tempted to use my dad’s go-to recipe that he would give me when I was a kid.  You know – the old hot toddy treatment?  Dad would make lemonade with a big spoonful of honey in it, heat it up to a nice warm temperature and add a shot of whiskey to it.  It would soothe your throat like nothing else could and make you feel all comfy and cozy while you snuggled under the covers and snoozed.  I remember spending the night with my grandmother one time when I had a terrible cough.  She wasn’t sure what to do for me, and when I told her what my dad would fix for me, she was horrified.  As an adult, I now understand her reaction!

Sometimes the hardest part of writing this blog is coming up with inspiration and days like today are no exception. As you all know, my “library” has about 400 cookbooks that should be able to inspire me for a long time, but every so often I take a run through ebay to see if there might be something new and unique that I just have to have!  So, this week I took a tour and came away with 6 new books.  What’s great about this score is that they were all from vendors who ship free and give the money to charity!  Six books for under $25 is a complete win-win for everybody concerned!

I think my favorite of this group of books just has to be “The Can’t Cook Book,” by Jessica Seinfeld and published in 2013 by Atria Books.  Jessica is a #1 New York Times bestselling author  and also wrote “Deceptively Delicious.”  This 234 page book is geared towards those folks that haven’t become confident in the kitchen and not only contains some great, step by step recipes, but also the kind of gear you will need to overcome your fear of the cookfood-prep process.  There are also lovely photographs of all of the completed dishes that look so delicious!  With recipes that are written in a conversational manner and are fairly easily executed, this book would make an amazing gift for the new bride and groom.

If making Buffalo Wings is too daunting for you, but you love to serve them and eat them, this book has a great recipe that keeps the difficulty level to a minimum and might just be the thing to fix for dinner tonight.  With the disclaimer “Don’t Panic” heading up directions for all of her recipes, Jessica’s Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings are roasted, not fried, giving this dish a healthier twist over traditional Buffalo Wings.   In a small bowl combine 1 ½ teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika, 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of cumin.  Wash and pat dry 2 ½ – 3 pounds of chicken wings and toss in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle the wings with half of the dry rub, toss with your hands, and then sprinkle with the rest of the rub and toss again.  Arrange the wings in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan and roast in  425° until the chicken is cooked through – about 30 to 40 minutes.  I would serve them up with a nice cold beer and enjoy!



A Good Pounding!


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

stretford tyler tx

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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