Wednesday, August 17, 2011

10 years of sharing

For 10 years now, I’ve been sharing my recipes on these pages, and, in the process, sharing my life, I guess.

It all started in August 2001. My co-worker at the time, Heather Wilkerson, was on maternity leave, and for some reason I decided that was a good time to start a food column. Turns out I was right.

I called the column “Can I have that recipe,” and originally I asked readers to send in their recipes and I ran them on Wednesdays along with Associated Press food copy.

The column was a hit immediately. I didn’t get tons of recipes, but I did get positive feedback.

Soon after the first recipe for Cooker Chops appeared on Aug. 15, 2001, people started stopping me in the grocery store or at church or at my children’s school or anywhere else I went to say they read my column. That continues today. I am humbled every time a stranger at Walmart pulls up her cart and says, “Are you that girl who puts recipes in the paper?” Then the person goes on to tell me which recipes she’s tried and which one she’s trying next. Several times, the readers (both men and women) actually have a clipped copy of my recipe in hand, and they are at the store shopping for ingredients.

Once, at Harris-Teeter, a woman asked me where to find an ingredient from a vegetarian recipe of mine she was holding in her hand. I was all smiles the rest of the day. I love, love, love when readers try my recipes. And I love it when they e-mail and tell me how much their family enjoyed a dish.

Every now and then, I get a hand-written note. One was from a dear friend who told me how my mama’s Brunswick stew recipe, which Mama made every year on Christmas Eve, had become a tradition for her family as well. That note is tucked in a drawer in my desk. I pull it out sometimes when I feel discouraged and wonder if anyone reads my column.

Some readers tell me they have tried a recipe, and others say, “I don’t cook, but I cut out your recipes!” I love it when people tell me that because they often go on to elaborate that when they retire they are going to pull out the recipes I’ve published and start cooking!

When I realized a few weeks back that this month marked the 10th anniversary of my column, I started thinking about how the column has changed the way I cook and also tried to think of which recipes have been the most popular.

I’m always trying new recipes at home because that’s how I prefer to write the column now and I also want to make it myself so I can give suggestions on preparing it and so my daughter, Anna, can photograph it. I think her photography has been a positive addition to the column, and it’s also been a good experience for both of us working together.

Many of the recipes I’ve put in the paper have become part of the menu rotation at my house. And, as it turns out, some of our favorites have been reader favorites as well.

When I think of the most popular recipes, I think of the ones I’ve had calls about for reprinting. My recipes for meatloaf and microwave bread and butter pickles have probably been the most-requested as well as my chocolate chip pie. The meatloaf recipe first ran in June 2004. For a year or so after that, I kept copies of that recipe on my desk for people who requested it. My family dearly loves that meatloaf, and although it’s been seven years since it was in the paper, people frequently tell me they still make it.

Orange streusel loaves is another memorable one. I ran that recipe in an August 2005 column. Over the next few days I was flooded with calls from my readers who couldn’t find orange supreme cake mix, the main ingredient in the recipe! Turns out that not all stores stock it, and my readers headed to the ones that did and bought up what was there as soon as the recipe was in the paper. I still love this recipe and have made it many times to take to a family in need.

Other favorite food column recipes of mine and my family include chicken tettrazini, meatball soup, cornbread dressing, pasta salad for a crowd, creamy wild rice with chicken soup, sweet pickle peaches and turkey burgers. I make turkey burgers once a month, at least! Oh, and my husband and I look forward to leftovers so we can make veggie filled ham and cheese pie and to summertime when we can make tomato pie.

I’m hungry just writing this and keeping thinking of good things to go cook. Did I mention chocolate chip cake, turtles, yummy Oreo truffles, chocolate hearts and a delicious slow cooker roast?

Thanks for visiting my food column every Wednesday either in print, on our website (www.wilsontimes.com under Life) or on my blog, http://lisabatts.blogspot.com/.

Please keep reading and keep cooking.

I sincerely love the time I spend in the kitchen cooking for my family and making memories around the dinner table. It’s my hope that the recipes from my columns are met with success in your kitchen as well.

Veggie Filled Ham and Cheese Pie
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fat-free half-and-half or milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese (divided)
  • 1 frozen pie crust (deep dish)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup mixed bell pepper cut into strips or diced
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushroom slices
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • Olive oil for sauteeing
Cook pie crust for 5 minutes at temperature recommended on package. Set aside. Turn oven temperature to 350.

While crust is cooking, saute mushrooms, onions and peppers in a small amount of olive oil.

With a whisk, beat eggs, flour, salt and half-and-half until combined.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese in bottom of partially cooked pie crust. Top with a generous layer of spinach leaves. Arrange sautéed vegetables to cover spinach. Pour egg mixture over all. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until top is golden.

Seasoned Turkey Burgers
  • 1 package ground turkey (the package I buy weights 1 1/3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Mix all ingredients well, making sure to evenly distribute the soup mix. I start out with a spoon and then use my hands. Make into 4 patties.

Cook 3 minutes on one side; flip and cook about 3 minutes on the other side or until cooked through. (I cook mine on a George Foreman Grill.)

Serve on bun with favorite condiments. I use multi-gain sandwich thins.

If you have leftovers, reheat slowly in a skillet.

Lisa's Favorite Meat Loaf
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground round
  • 2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
Combine ground round, onion, eggs and salt. Mix together with ketchup, milk and bread crumbs. (I make bread crumbs with stale white bread shredded on a hand-held cheese grater.) Make sure the loaf is very moist, adding more milk and ketchup if necessary.

Form into a loose, long loaf that almost fills a 9X11-inch dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and drain fat with a spoon.

Spread mixture of ketchup and brown sugar and bake 10 more minutes until ketchup mixture is bubbly.

*Note: When making this meat loaf, I often vary amount of ingredients to make a larger or smaller loaf. I also make a little more sauce because we love it so much. This meatloaf is wonderful with mashed potatoes and field peas.

Read three of Lisa Batts' favorite food columns

1 comment:

  1. I'm still reading and cooking your recipes! Keep it up! Not sure what we would eat if not for you! Jill N.