Welcome to the day before Valentine's Day, which some of us may prefer to tomorrow.

Today begins with an anonymous request for help with two presents. She asked, "What do I do with a gift I just received: a large bag of organic coconut flour? And I also have a bottle of inexpensive champagne that was a gift. Can I make champagne vinegar and, if so, how?"


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Jane Henegar


Linda Morris has a treasure trove of recipes, including her favorite cookie "because of the crispness. Cowboy Cookies came from the collection of Nancy Reagan."


Cowboy Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 beaten egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup Rice Krispies cereal

Cream shortening and sugars; add egg and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, baking power and soda. Add to egg mixture. Stir in oatmeal, coconut, pecans and Rice Krispies. Form small balls, and bake on slightly greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Yields 6 1/2 dozen.



Martha Eaves sent "a couple of my favorite recipes. The Beef Porcupines are a comfort food from childhood. The Breakfast Casserole is one that I make almost every month for our Sunday School brunch, and it is almost always completely devoured."


Beef Porcupines

2 cups V-8 juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup uncooked rice

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon grated onion

1/2 Bell pepper, chopped

Combine V-8 juice, sugar and Worcestershire sauce in a 10-inch skillet. Stir.

Combine the other ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Shape into balls about the size of walnuts, and place in V-8 mixture.

Cook, covered, on low heat for about 40 minutes or until done. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Breakfast Casserole

1 pound Tennessee Pride hot sausage

9 eggs, slightly beaten

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard, mixed with a teaspoon of water

3 slices bread, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

Brown sausage, and drain. Mix eggs, milk, salt and mustard together. Add bread, cheese, and sausage.

Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, and pour in mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, put pan in cold oven, then turn oven to 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.


* If you don't mix the mustard with some water first, it lumps when you add it to the mixture.

* I use a food processor to make the bread crumbs.

* Preheating the oven made the edges of the final product black and tough. It also prevented me from using a glass baking dish full of cold liquid, so a cold oven is important.

* I also sometimes substitute cubed or diced ham for the sausage. I add a can of chopped chilies when I use ham, because it gives it a little extra flavor. I also like to toss in a can of mushrooms and/or fresh spinach.



Laurice Flasnik, a recent transplant to Harrison from California, read about the chicken casserole with bacon and dried beef and "I immediately recognized this dish as one my beloved grandmother, Danny, used to call Party Chicken. Danny wasn't much of a cook and, like myself, she preferred simple recipes. Recipes for Party Chicken are available online. The basic sauce is 'cream of something' (chicken, mushroom, celery). Some recipes add sour cream; others add mushrooms. A warning is that with the bacon and the dried beef, this dish can be quite salty, so a low-sodium soup is recommended.

"Dried beef is still available at Kroger and Walmart; both Armour and Hormel make it. After all, how could you make that fiesta favorite, Chipped Beef Cheese Ball, without it?"

(Don't worry, readers; we have already asked Ms. Flasnik for that recipe.)

Barbara Mann broadened the party chicken discussion in responding to the question, "Can you make this dish with uncooked rice underneath the meat and sauce?"

"I have made recipes with chicken and rice and a couple cans of soup. They do not include the beef and bacon. Wild rice takes longer to cook. You could fix the rice and put the other ingredients on top. You know me; recipes are meant to be played with."

And here are some of the ways she has played.


Forgotten Chicken No. 1

1 can celery soup, undiluted

1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 envelope onion soup mix

1 soup can white wine

1 box Uncle Ben wild rice (discard seasoning envelope)

3 chicken breasts, or desired pieces

Mix soups, soup mix, wine and rice. Let stand several hours in ovenproof casserole. Arrange chicken on top of mixture. Cover and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove cover, stir gravy and spoon some over chicken and bake uncovered another hour. Serves 6.


Forgotten Chicken No. 2

The pieces of chicken yield juices that help keep the rice from being dry. I have never gotten much crust on the bottom.

2 cups regular white rice, uncooked

1 can each cream of mushroom, chicken and celery soup

1 cup sherry

1 envelope dry onion soup

6-8 pieces of chicken

Mix together the uncooked rice, 3 cans of soup, sherry and onion soup mix. Arrange chicken on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Should get crusty on the bottom.



Pound cakes and their attendant questions, we are pretty sure, will continue to be featured in this column. Mary Ann McInturff offered some baking help. "Susan McWhirter had a question about greasing a Bundt pan for her pound cake. Tell her to try spraying with Pam (original). I have a pumpkin bread recipe that calls for greasing the loaf pans, and I always just spray with Pam with spectacular results. I have also tried this with my chocolate pound cake, which I make in an old-fashioned, not nonstick, Bundt pan, with also very good results. I used to grease (with shortening) and flour and would get the same crust she talked about or else it would stick in places and tear up the outer crust."



The anonymous requester at the beginning of this column has a favorite low-calorie salad. "The only problem is finding the lemon flavored sugar-free Jell-O, and for those who don't like the taste of artificial sweetener, we can't even taste it. Make 2 packages of sugar-free Jell-O using V-8 juice instead of water. Stir in well-drained chopped stuffed green olives and, if you choose, chopped and drained canned artichoke hearts. Chill in refrigerator, and serve on a bed of your favorite salad greens, topped with a generous dollop of mayonnaise."

Shall we toast to the generous dollop as a measure for many good things? Yes, let's.



* Uses for coconut flour

* How to make champagne vinegar



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