Here we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving, hopefully cultivating in each of our homes the practice of giving thanks. We've got a new request for a Dalmatian cake, as well as several on their second go-rounds: Cornbread made with toasted cornmeal, Cheddar cheese scones, chocolate-covered espresso beans and homemade dark chocolate candy.
It was good to hear twice from Leda Roberts of McMinnville, Tennessee, who first wrote, "My sister, Marilyn Cooksey, lives in Spring City, [Tennessee,] and was a very popular math teacher at Rhea County High School. She is retired now. She has a recipe for confetti veggie salad that is the best marinated salad I have ever tried. And the one teaspoon of water in the dressing does make a difference; I don't know why."
Confetti Veggie Salad
This salad is excellent with barbecue, or most anything else for that matter.
1 can French-cut green beans
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can white shoe-peg corn
1 can tiny green peas
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
3/4 cup sugar (see note)
Prepare salad: Drain and rinse in a colander the green beans, kidney beans, shoe-peg corn and green peas. Add chopped green pepper, celery and onion.
Prepare dressing: Combine vinegar, oil, salt, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, and cool completely.
To finish: Pour dressing over vegetables. Refrigerate salad for 24 hours before serving. Stir well before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Note: I have used a sugar substitute such as Stevia but stirred it in cold, omitting the boiling.
We have three answers to the question about shipping baked goods so they don't crumble.
» First, Shanele Collins wrote, "When my brothers served overseas, my mother would send them cookies, brownies, etc. She would package the cookies inside a Pringles Chip container. She would also cut a small piece of bread on top before closing the container to keep the cookies fresh so they would not become stale."
» Second, Leda Roberts continued the conversation thread. "The request for ways to ship or send cookies jogged memories.
"A few years ago our grandson was in the Marines stationed in Afghanistan for about 15 months. Each month I would make his favorite Oatmeal Pineapple Cookies and send them to him stacked in Pringles cans. The cookies arrived intact after a long journey. It was a blessing to find a way to remind him that he is greatly loved and appreciated. He is now out of the Marines and back in Tennessee, but he still mentions those favorite 'potato chips' that I sent him."
» Lastly, Margaret McNeil of the blog "Margaret's Morsels" is a cookie-shipping expert. The solution has two parts: well-chosen sturdy cookies, well wrapped. Ms. McNeil said, "I don't have any recipes to share; I use old standbys such as peanut butter, snickerdoodles and molasses cookies. But I do have experience shipping cookies.
"My youngest son lives in Germany, so I send him care packages two or three times a year. Sturdy cookies such as bar or drop cookies are best for shipping. Because I ship more than one kind of cookie, I keep the batches separate and use smaller tins for each type of cookie instead of one large tin.
"I place two cookies back to back and wrap them in plastic wrap. Once wrapped, I put the cookies in the cookie tin. Before adding the lid, I cover the top of the cookie tin with plastic wrap. After I put on the lid, I wrap the circumference of the lid with packaging tape to ensure freshness and keep out bugs. For added protection, I wrap each cookie tin in bubble wrap.
"I line the bottom of a sturdy box with bubble wrap, packaging peanuts or a combination of the two. I add the cookie tins and finish filling up the box with more bubble wrap or packaging peanuts. If I don't have enough of either item, I'll use crumbled up newspapers to help insulate the package. For my son's birthday this year, he asked me to send him American candy. I wrapped the packages of candy in colored tissue and filled the box with shredded colored paper to make a festive package."
Mr. and Mrs. Sunday commented on substitutions for alcohol in baked goods.
"We're assuming the question was raised for people who can't have even a drop of alcohol in their diet.
"It's a harder choice than you might think: no vanilla extract, scrupulously fresh citrus (it ferments easily), no long-fermented bread (sourdough), etc.
"You may believe that alcohol burns or evaporates off, but it turns out that it's difficult to make that happen except under industrial conditions. Blame chemistry.
"'Cooking wine' just has salt added to make it unpalatable to drink (and hard to cook with). Nonalcoholic beer has the alcohol mostly boiled off."
Want to eliminate alcoholic beverages from your cooking?
"Answer 1: You're out of luck. We know of no good one-for-one substitute for the flavor of wine/beer/liquor in a dish. The dish will never taste the same, but it can still be structurally similar, flavorful and may remind you of the original.
"Answer 2: Adapting a dish that uses an alcoholic beverage as an ingredient means you have to replace the function of the beverage in the dish. We don't have precise formulae, but cooking to taste works very well. If you've never tasted the original, it helps to cook with someone who has."
As to substitutions, here are a few of their thoughts.
» "Water: Use about as much water as beverage to hydrate and help in heat transfer. Plain water works fine but consider compatible water-like things: stock in a savory dish, fruit juice in a sweet one.
» "Wine contributes acid to a dish, brightening it. Vinegars are a good substitute and are safe as the bacteria that turn alcohol into vinegar are very efficient (greedy eaters). Sour fruit juices work as well.
» "Flavors: For fruit in wine, consider juice concentrates or jellies/jams/conserves rather than juices; you may throw off the balance or make things too sweet as the liquid boils down. For the yeasty taste in beer, toast some baker's yeast (to kill it so no fermentation happens and to improve flavor) or use nutritional yeast. For umami (complexity), try mushroom soaking liquid, fish or soy sauce, Vegemite or Marmite (don't overdo the salt)."
Thank you for reading and writing, every week, every season.
» Dalmatian cake
» Toasted-cornmeal cornbread
» Cheddar cheese scones
» Chocolate-covered espresso beans
» Dark chocolate candy
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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