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Jane Henegar

Good morning, esteemed readers. As we navigate the chilly waters of January 2018, there is much more to be stirred up in the kitchen. Teva Watkins is asking for a recipe for a Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo that uses a roux.

The next requests may sound familiar, as they are repeats from earlier columns that still need answering. A variety of readers are looking for old-fashioned hash recipes (well, new-fashioned would be fine too), for basmati rice dishes that have added ingredients and for an easy version of Indian butter chicken.

Finally (and this repeat request may be especially needful in January), readers are looking for the most healthful recipes from your kitchen. Send recipes, yes indeed, but also tips for cookbooks that help and for cooking blogs that may be trusted.

 

FOR THE BIRDS

Roseann Strazinsky opened her recipe file and what she found was, literally, for the birds. This recipe for bird suet seems especially needful in this shivery winter.

Bird Suet

1 pound lard

1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter (see note)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 cups old-fashioned oats

2 cups cornmeal

1 cup raisins

Note: If you use plain peanut butter, add 1 cup of chopped nuts.

Line a 9- by 13- by 2-inch pan with wax paper. Set aside.

In a very deep pot, melt lard and peanut butter over low heat. Be careful not to scorch. Remove pan from heat and add rest of ingredients, stirring slowly until well blended. Pour into the lined pan and freeze overnight in your freezer or cold garage. The next day, remove from pan and remove wax paper. Cut into blocks to fit into your suet basket.

Ms. Strazinsky advised, "I usually turn the pan over onto an old tray and remove the suet from the pan, then peel off the wax paper and cut into 6 blocks or whatever your size needed to fit your suet cage. Pack them into plastic sandwich bags, and freeze till needed. The birds will love you."

Gratitude was also on Ms. Strazinsky's mind. "I want to thank Peggy Flynn for her Christmas Ribbon Cookies and Margaret McNeil for the Slow Cook Pot Roast recipes."

For the last four years, Christmas carolers have come from their church to sing for them, and each year Ms. Strazinsky has invited the carolers in for "a variety of home-baked cookies. I thank Peggy Flynn for her suggestion of packing cookies early for the holidays. There were 50 people in our house with five large platters of cookies." This is a wonderfully generous idea.

 

COVERT CAULIFLOWER

Eve M. bought a huge cookbook called "Practical Paleo" by Diane Sanfilippo. For a busy young mother, it was just too much to digest, so she handed it over to a family member to wander through the recipes and find several that would fit for her growing family. The cover says there are "over 150 easy recipes, all free of gluten, grains, legumes, dairy and refined sugar." Here is the first recommendation from the family, for the family.

Mashed Faux-Tatoes

1 head cauliflower

4 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon herb salt blend of choice

Black pepper

Chop the cauliflower into roughly 2- to 3-inch pieces. You should have about 4 cups.

Steam the cauliflower until it is fork-tender, then place in a food processor. Add the butter, herb salt blend and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth and creamy.

(The cookbook reports that, "My entire family was fooled when I served these up for Thanksgiving dinner, and there were no leftovers.")

 

Requests

Roux-based gumbo

Rehashed hash

Basmati-plus dishes

Indian butter chicken

BEEF BROTH HASH BROWNS

Thanks to Betty Domal for sharing her well-used recipe for a hash brown casserole like Cracker Barrel's, this one using beef broth instead of a cream soup.

Very Much Like the Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

26-ounce package country- style hash browns

2 cups Colby cheese, shredded (or Cheddar)

1/2 cup minced onion

1 cup milk

1/2 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

Dash garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan until cheese is melted. Pour into a greased casserole, and bake in a 425-degree oven 40 to 60 minutes.

 

CRUSTY CORNBREAD

And as a grand finale, here is the first answer to the cornbread question. Betty Domal uses a family-favorite cornbread recipe, "always using the same cast-iron skillet, about 8 inches. I don't use it for anything else, and I keep a note in it that says it is for cornbread only." As did her mother before her, Ms. Donal puts the Crisco in the skillet and puts it in the oven before adding the batter. "My husband laughed about it, until I made it one time without doing this, and he agreed it made a difference."

Country-Style Cornbread

1/8 cup Crisco

1 cup Martha White self-rising cornmeal mix

3/4 cup buttermilk or 2/3 cup sweet milk (buttermilk preferred)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I add it always, but it's useful if buttermilk is extremely acid)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon sugar

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put Crisco in skillet, and put skillet in oven as it heats. Let it get really hot, so that it sizzles.

Put rest of ingredients together in a bowl. Stir to blend thoroughly. Pour the sizzling hot Crisco into the cornbread mixture, and stir well. Pour into the hot skillet. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Variations: You can omit the egg, but I always use it. You can also make into muffins, corn sticks, etc. This bread is so good hot and slathered with butter.

Thanks to all of you, and do come back.

To reach us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com

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