Good morning, surely a glorious November morning.
As you pull out all the recipes -- and probably all the stops -- for the holidays ahead, we ask you to look for answers to the following challenges: a hearty vegetarian substitute for turkey, a cheesy cheeseburger casserole, whole wheat breads tried and true and the East Brainerd Elementary School icebox cookies discussed in these pages in the last few years.
• Mary C. called to ask for something to go with several vegetable casseroles for Christmas dinner. Some, but not all, her guests are vegetarians, and she wants a hearty bean dish to fill them up.
• Tricia from Walden has lost her recipe for cheeseburger casserole which she made before and loved.
• Johnio Love wants a well-tested whole wheat bread.
• And a former student who loved those icebox cookies from her elementary days wants to make them at home. (As with all faraway memories, one has to wonder whether they will taste as good as memory has recorded.)
Now, down to new business. Elsie Keith of LaFayette has a well-tested recipe for yeast bread.
She wrote that "I have been using this bread recipe for years. It was on a bag of White Lily bread flour. I encourage anyone who has tried baking bread or rolls and was not happy with the results to keep trying until they find recipes that they like. When I make yeast breads, I use bread flours instead of all-purpose."
White Loaf Bread
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
13/4 cups milk (dry milk reconstituted and 1 percent both work well)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons shortening (may substitute vegetable oil)
53/4 to 61/4 cups White Lily bread flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl and set aside
Heat milk, sugar, salt and shortening until warm (105 to 115 degrees). Shortening does not need to melt.
Beat in 21/2 cups flour, using a mixer; beat until the consistency of cake batter.
Stir in enough flour to make a fairly stiff dough. May use a dough hook or knead with hands. Do not make a really stiff dough as the bread will be dry. Turn out on floured board and handle lightly, shaping in a ball.
Place dough in greased bowl, turning so greased surface is on top. Cover with damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place only until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Punch down to remove air bubbles. Turn out on lightly floured surface. Divide in half and let rest 10 minutes.
Flatten to remove air bubbles. Roll one half into a rectangle about 8-by-14 inches. Roll tightly in jellyroll fashion from the 8-inch side. Seal seam and ends by pinching edges together. Do second half of dough and place in two greased loaf pans.
Place loaves in warm area and allow to rise 45 to 60 minutes or until sides of loaf are even with top of pan. If allowed to rise too much, dough will fall during baking.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. When dough begins to brown, cover with foil.
Remove from pans and allow to cool on wire racks. Slice with an electric slicer or knife only when cool.
Bread freezes well and is delicious.
Sarah Miller is up next, with some great ideas as well as one more authentic Brunswick stew recipe. She has made this recipe "for 30 years and we still enjoy it. Makes a gallon so we freeze it in 2 serving packages for later." She noted, from her Soddy-Daisy kitchen, that this recipe takes time but that most good cooking does.
"Created in Brunswick, Ga., enjoyed all over the world"
1 (3-pound) chicken or chicken breasts
1 pound lean roast beef
1 pound lean pork
3 medium onions
4 (16-ounce) cans tomatoes
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
11/2 (14-ounce) bottles ketchup
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
11/2 cups chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 stick butter
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 (16-ounce) cans small lima beans
2 (16-ounce) cans cream-style corn
1 (15-ounce) can small English peas
4 medium peeled and diced Irish potatoes
1 tablespoon chili powder
Place meat in large, heavy pot. Season with salt and pepper. Add onions and cover with water. Cook until meat falls from bone (several hours). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Tear meat into shreds and return to stock.
Add tomatoes, Worcestershire, ketchup, Tabasco, chili sauce, dry mustard and butter. Continue to cook on low for one hour, stirring to prevent sticking. Then add vinegar, limas, corn, peas, potatoes and chili powder. Continue to cook on low until thick.
Makes one gallon. Serve with barbecue or seafood (boiled or fried shrimp, oysters, or crabs) or just on its own with a piece of hot cornbread.
Miller continued her letter with some good ideas. First, she talked about cast-iron biscuit and cornbread cookery. My only question is: Who could ever be satisfied with just seven biscuits?
She recommended the Lodge Factory in South Pittsburg (a favorite of my husband's as well). "Take a nice little ride to the Lodge Factory in South Pittsburg and buy yourself a biscuit pan. It is a cast-iron pan with round indentions to hold seven biscuits. I use it for biscuits and cornbread.
"Go on line to www.SmokiesInformation.org and order several bags of their stone ground cornmeal. Take your new cast iron pan, rinse it out, (NEVER wash with soap) dry and put about 1/2 teaspoon (or more) of butter in each indention. Heat the pan in a 425-degree oven until butter is melted and pan is hot. Follow the recipe on the package and fill each indentation three-quarters full with batter. The whole recipe makes enough to fill the pan. Bake as directed. Have some butter at room temperature and butter yourself a round of cornbread as soon as it comes out of the oven. Store the meal in the freezer so it doesn't become rancid with time."
Next topic: Warming pizza. Sarah Miller says: "Use an electric griddle to warm up pizza (if it is frozen, just put a sheet of aluminum foil over the pizza) turn griddle to about 220 degrees and allow the pizza to warm. You get the most wonderful crispy crust you have ever tasted."
And finally, using cooked sausage, she says: "I keep cooked drained sausage bits in a Zip-Loc bag in the freezer, wanting pancakes but not having the facility to cook sausage, I mixed about 1/2 cup of sausage bits into the pancake mixture and then added the liquid. Cooked on the griddle, the pancakes were absolutely wonderful. A bite of sausage in every mouthful."
When Mary C. posed her vegetarian main dish question, she was getting ready to shop for Thanksgiving dinner. In a pinch, before you all sent your recipes, a friend produced this one. Mrs. C. found it in the cookbook by Helen Corbitt in the collection of her parents. Corbitt, the legendary Neiman-Marcus chef, praises the recipe: "I can always serve this when I am unsure of my guests' likes and dislikes for I have found that everyone laps it up."
Kidney Beans Italianesque
2 tablespoons (or more) onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound provolone or Bel Paese cheese, grated
6 cups red kidney beans, drained
1 canned pimiento, chopped
1 (No. 2) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry sauterne wine
Sauté onion in butter. Add grated cheese. When cheese is melted, add beans, pimiento and tomatoes and mix.
Add wine and cook until cheese, wine and tomatoes are thick. Put in casserole and bake 45 minutes to one hour at 300 degrees. Goes well with dark rye and pumpernickel bread.
This week, as in every week, I learn something new from you all. When our South Carolina family surprised us with a visit, this morning I pulled out Bread Basket cinnamon bread, homemade almond coffee cake, pumpkin chocolate chip bread given by a generous friend. The long tall grandson said no to each offering, looking instead in the freezer for his stash of Toaster Strudels. But no matter; I have more culinary tricks up my grandmotherly sleeve and won't relent until he is a little bit wider than he was when he arrived. It may take a few of his also-favored Hot Pockets (pepperoni pizza version) to accomplish this task, however.
I learned growing up at my mother's table that food is love. But I will not rule out prepared frozen food, pulled out of the microwave and delivered to those we love.
What's your rule for loving food? Tell the rest of us; I'll be watching.
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