Friday, October 30, 2009

Sweet treasures

Foy Allen Edelman has assembled quite a collection of stories and recipes in "Sweet Carolina: Favorite Desserts and Candies from the Old North State" from the University of North Carolina Press.

For more than six years, Edelman traveled across the state collecting recipes for cakes and pies and all sorts of goodies. Along with the recipes, she also recorded stories not only about the recipes but about a way of life generations back.

Edelman calls her cookbook adventure a treasure hunt. "I've been seeking out local cooks and recording their recipes, cooking experiences and stories."

She tells about a man who mixed cakes with his hands until he bought a mixer, about celebrations that wouldn't be special without a glorious cake, about families who used fruits and nuts from their yard to make cakes and pies, about mothers who made collections of their recipes to pass on to the next generations.

Edelman talked to 104-year-old Nollie Ridenhour Zimmerman of Rowan County about her recipe for Chest Pie. Zimmerman got the recipe while listening in on a conversation on a telephone party line. Edelman also explains that chest pies are named for pies that were kept in a pie chest.

Lu Ann Thompson of Granville County shares her recipe for Grandma's Pie. "The recipe was given to me as a wedding gift. When she gave me several pie recipes she prefaced them by giving me a quote that said, 'Love is eternal. Let's keep it that way.'"

"She loved to cook. When she made pies, she might make ten. It was quite a day's ordeal in that she would make the crusts," Thompson continued. "After she would bake them, she would put them on cooling racks, and they would stack up four, five, six high. There was always pie on the stove for anyone to eat, because it was a home that people were in and out of a lot -- neighbors, family, whatever..."

If you enjoy the traditional recipes of your mother or grandmother, you would enjoy reading the little stories that accompany these recipes. And if you cook, you can recreate some of Granny's favorites, including Blackberry Cobbler, Scuppernong Grape Pie, Fried Apple Pies, Black Walnut Pound Cake, Lena Belle's Seven-Layer Chocolate Cake and Icing or maybe Pecan Divinity or Grandma Davis' Blueberry Biscuits.

Edelman plans to put together more collections of main dishes, vegetables "and everything else good that lands on a North Carolina table."

Brown Sugar Pie

“This was one of Grandmama’s (Kate Capehart Bell’s) recipes, but I believe the handwriting to be that of her dear friend Louise Sandridge of Windsor. I’m sure Grandmama tried the pie and asked Louise for the recipe. It tastes somewhat like a pecan pie and was probably carried to many after-church lunches and covered dish suppers.”
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the eggs well. Blend in the brown sugar, butter and vanilla extract until the filling is smooth. Fold in the pecans. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 35 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and set.
Serves 6 to 8.

Mary Charles Pawlikowski

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caramel corn

Although caramel popcorn is good all year long, it’s around Halloween when recipes start popping up for the delicious snack.

I've made it a few times, but I had never seen a microwave version of the recipe that incorporates a paper bag! Yep, a paper bag.

What makes the paper bag so wonderful is that you throw away the ooey, gooey mess that's left behind when the caramel popcorn is ready to eat.

I air-popped my own popcorn, but you can also use bagged microwave popcorn if you prefer. Make sure you pull out any unpopped kernels before mixing in the caramel.

The caramel sauce mixes up quickly and cooks in the microwave in under five minutes for a quick and easy treat.

The original recipe suggests transferring the cooked popcorn into a large brown bag, then pouring the caramel sauce over the popcorn. After reading reviews of the recipe, I decided to mix mine in a bowl before transferring to two small bags (I didn't have a large paper bag.) My way worked fine; I'm sure the other way would, too.

If you have a Halloween party or fall carnival coming up, I encourage you to try this treat. And don't hesitate to mix in some other goodies, including peanuts and chocolate chips.

Microwave Caramel Popcorn
  • 4 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 lunch-size paper bags
Place the popped corn in a large bowl.
In another large, microwave safe bowl, mix brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Cook for 3 minutes in microwave; remove and stir. Return to microwave for another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in baking soda; this step is not optional.
Pour syrup over popcorn and stir to combine.
Place half of popcorn in a paper bag. Fold down top. Microwave for 1 minute; take out of microwave and shake. Return to microwave and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds. Be careful not to let the popcorn burn during this last cooking time.
Pour popcorn on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or buttered. Let cool.
Repeat with remaining popcorn.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fruit of the Spirit

As I read through White Oak Hill Free Will Baptist Church's new cookbook, "Fruit of the Spirit," I kept thinking of recipes I could make for homecoming at my own church in a few weeks.

The 160-page, three-ring binder book is packed full of casseroles, salads and desserts like the ones I'll find on the tables of the Free Will Baptist church I attend. And that's a compliment.

Quite often, I'll get calls from readers who want to purchase a local cookbook, usually a church cookbook, for a bridal shower gift, and they want some direction on where to buy one. They want to be able to share recipes from our region. This cookbook has the variety of recipes that would get a young couple cooking or provide some variety for those of us who have been cooking for years.

I wanted to make a salad to go along with my easy Sunday lunch, so I made Earlene Pitts' Fruit Salad. I knew it was similar to another recipe I make, but this new one uses vanilla pudding instead of cornstarch and sugar. It was so easy! I also added something new to this salad: strawberries. It was a delicious addition to our meal and was also good as leftovers Monday.

As you read through the 478 entries, you'll find recipes for salads similar to the one I made and casseroles made with broccoli, potatoes, squash or sweet potatoes. There's even a turnip casserole in the book!

Many of the main dishes are simple meals you can make after work including Green Pepper Steak, Walking Taco and Chicken Honey Nut Stir Fry. Others, such as Country Style Chicken Kiev and Chicken and Broccoli Braid, you can save for the weekend when there's more time to cook.

Of course, there are plenty of desserts. I'd love to try Marie Dew's Blueberry Tart. Her recipe is marked with a cross, indicating the recipe was submitted in her memory.

Judy Alford's Crunchy Brownies have mini chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, pecans and toffee bits mixed in. Don't you know that's delicious!

"Fruit of the Spirit" is a project of Women Active for Christ and costs $15. To purchase, call Teresa Medlin at 235-3287 or Sue Keeny at the Bailey church at 235-3868.

Proceeds from the book will benefit mission projects.

Fruit Salad
  • 1 (13 oz. ) can pineapple chunks (drain and reserve juice)*
  • 1 (6 oz. ) can mandarin oranges (drain and reserve juice)*
  • 1 (3 oz.) package of cook and serve vanilla pudding mix
Cook juice with 1 package of vanilla pudding (not instant) until the pudding clears, stirring constantly. Cool. Add pineapple, mandarin oranges and any other fruit in season (peaches, pears, melons, strawberries or grapes). Refrigerate.
*I used the next biggest size of both pineapple and oranges because I couldn’t find the smaller size cans. I used all the juice from each, so I had a lot of syrup to mix with the fruit. I added in two diced apples, a sliced banana and a cup or two of sliced strawberries.

Earlene Pitts

Chicken Honey Nut Stir Fry
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots, diagonally cut
  • 2 ribs of celery, diagonally cut
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
Cut chicken into thin strips and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine orange juice, honey, soy sauce, cornstarch and ginger; mix well. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and celery; stir fry about 3 minutes. Remove vegetables and set aside.
Pour remaining oil into skillet. Add meat; stir fry until chicken is no longer pink. Return vegetables to skillet; add sauce mixture and nuts. Cook and stir over medium high heat until sauce is thickened.
Serve over rice.

Pam Deans

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Season for soup

I love soup season.

I cook soup all year, but it's the cool days of fall and the cold days of winter when I really love the comfort that a pot of soup brings to my kitchen and my soul.

Although I have plenty of go-to soup recipes that my family requests, I also try new recipes.

A few weeks ago, when the temperature cooled down, I pulled out a recipe I wanted to try and started experimenting. The result was a delicious hamburger soup packed with vegetables and rice.

It was yummy.

This is one of those recipes you can easily put your stamp on, especially with your choice of vegetables.

I used onions, canned tomatoes, carrots, butter beans, garden peas and corn. The butter beans were frozen, the carrots were fresh, and the rest were canned.

You can also use brown rice, long grain rice or wild rice.

The original recipe suggested potatoes, but I didn't want both potatoes and rice in the soup, so I chose rice only.

If you like garlic, add that to the ground beef while it's cooking. A little oregano would probably be good as well.

I love the extra flavor the Worchestershire sauce added, so don't miss that. I also decided at the last minute to squirt in some ketchup. I remembered how Mama would sometimes add ketchup to her soup and always to her Brunswick stew. It added an extra zest, I think.

This is an easy soup to make and certainly a good way to warm up the family this fall.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup with Rice
  • 1 pound reduced fat ground beef
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 to 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter beans
  • 8 1/2 oz. can garden peas, drained
  • 8 1/2 oz. can corn, drained
  • Two 14 oz. cans reduced sodium beef broth
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
Brown ground beef, seasoned with pepper, and drain fat. Pour into large soup pot and add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and rice is cooked.