By Karin Glendenning
Community News Writer
Lynn Cooper was the daughter of a Navy pilot and thus, lived all over the country, from California to Texas and up and down the east coast, as well as Morocco when she was growing up. She said she learned to cook from her mother who cooked “really good basic food,” and today enjoys trying new recipes. She is an escrow agent with Milligan Reynolds and sings in her church choir, one source for good recipes, she said.
She said that she gets most of her recipes from her friends. “Here in this neighborhood, we do lots of things together,” she said. She often prepares quiches and freezes one so she’ll always have something ready to share for a group meal.
Mrs. Cooper has two sons, Gavin who lives in Asheville, N.C., and Drew, who lives in the Virgin Islands. She said she recently visited Drew and enjoyed celebrating her birthday with him and his friends in the islands. “We had such good food down there,” she said.
“I love to grill as much as anything,” Mrs. Cooper said about her cooking preferences, adding that she also likes to fix desserts (a few of which are included below). Two of her favorite meats are pork loin and flank steak. “I marinate them in a spice rub of salt, pepper, onion and garlic and coat with Teriyaki sauce for from 20 minutes to overnight before grilling.”
She recommends using John Boy and Billy Sauces that she buys at local grocery stores. She said she often takes a pork loin to parties, wrapped in foil and kept hot in an oven in the sauce until serving. With it she said she usually serves a good salad or marinated tomatoes, which are sliced and sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. “I cook nothing without garlic,” she said. Another favorite accompaniment is a rice casserole that she can make ahead.
Though she has downsized to a townhouse, she said that she can still cook everything she wants in its roomy kitchen. The recipes she shares with readers today are ones she prepares often and have proved to be very popular.
(Mrs. Cooper said this is an old family recipe. It came from her grandmother from Scotland. Today she is the only one in her family who prepares it. It keeps well in the freezer and is wonderful spread with cream cheese, she said, adding that she recently sent 15 loaves of Raisin Bread to her son, Drew, in the Virgin Islands.)
1 large box raisins
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
Pour boiling water over raisins and baking soda and stir. Let stand until cool. Cream sugar, oil and eggs. Add salt and vanilla. On low speed of mixer, add flour and liquid from raisins. When completely mixed, add raisins. Pour into 5 greased mini loaf pans. Bake at 250 for 20 minutes, then increase heat to 300 and continue baking for an hour or until browned and tooth pick inserted into cakes comes out clean.
SODA CRACKER BARS
(Mrs. Cooper said she uses Premium Saltines and broke them into pieces instead of cutting into bars. She served this during the recent Houston Museum Antique and Garden show and they were a big hit. The recipe comes from a Sweet Adelaines’ cookbook.)
1 cup butter (no substitutions)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 12-ounce package milk chocolate chips
Pecans or walnuts, chopped
Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Cover with soda crackers. Crackers must be close together, but no overlapping. Place butter and brown sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Pour mixture over crackers. Bake in preheated 400 oven for 3 to 4 minutes or until crackers float. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Allow chips to melt. Spread chips and sprinkle nuts on top. Chill. Cut into bars as soon as chocolate frosting has set.
BEST EVER CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 16-ounce can Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For cake, mix dry ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and add sugar. Add dry ingredients and syrup. Place in greased 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. For icing, mix all but vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and beat with a spoon until it thickens. Pour icing over hot cake, spreading quickly and let cool.
SPINACH AND EGG PIES
(Mrs. Cooper said this recipe freezes beautifully. She often makes one pie for herself and shares the other with a friend.)
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1 package Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
2 cups grated Swiss cheese or 1 cup Swiss and 1 cup cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 deep dish pie crusts
Mix eggs and cream. Add other ingredients. Pour into pie crusts and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
RED WINE VEGETABLE SOUP
(Mrs. Cooper said she got this recipe from Beth Finlay. She said you may also substitute chopped chicken and white wine for the ground beef and red wine. She said she frequently uses a broasted chicken from the grocery store when making the chicken version. She also said she adds pepper, garlic and onion powders and seasoned salt during the beef browning process.)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bell pepper
3 ribs celery, chopped
28-ounce can tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
2 large potatoes
2 16-ounce packages frozen mixed vegetables
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups water
Hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire, to taste, optional
Brown beef in butter. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and cook until soft. Add all other ingredients and simmer 4 to 5 hours. Freezes well.
(Mrs. Cooper said she usually substitutes olive oil for the butter in this recipe and uses lite cheese.)
1 large onion
1 bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium diced zucchini, or combination of zucchini and yellow squash, or any other vegetables you like
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can sliced black olives
Oregano, garlic, onion powder, seasoned salt, pepper and red wine to taste
12 ounces cooked spaghetti noodles
1 can mushroom soup
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Saute onion and green pepper in butter. Add next 4 ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Butter a 2 quart casserole and layer as follows: spaghetti, sauce and cheese. Repeat. Pour mushroom soup over top of casserole and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes or until casserole bubbles.