Good morning, readers. As part of the 2020 request cleanup, please remember we still seek stuffed mushrooms and any and all recipes using goat cheese. Finally, here's a repeat invitation to share with the rest of us the best of 2020 — in all food categories, that is.
Mary Ahern Flynn began with a delightful reminiscence.
"Like many people, my family and I spent a lot of our time at home in 2020. We expanded our garden with plants from the local hardware store (deemed an essential business) and planted some long-expired seeds found in the garage. Turns out some 7-year-old seeds will still sprout. We had some modest success growing peppers and cherry tomatoes. There was an abundance of rosemary and mint (already well-established from previous years) and a fair amount of basil. The blueberry bushes didn't produce much, but it was exciting when we did get a berry or two.
"I dusted off my bread machine and made bread whenever I could find yeast in the stores. Then I found old yeast in the back of our kitchen cabinets. Turns out old expired yeast is less effective than old expired seeds. The bread produced was edible, but not exactly soft and fluffy. It's lucky no one chipped teeth on a few of those loaves. Occasionally I would toss some rosemary into the bread mix. Mint from the garden went into pitchers of iced tea and cold cucumber soup.
"But what we enjoyed the most didn't come from our own garden. A retired gentleman in our subdivision had a large, well-tended garden full of tomato plants, and he designated one row for neighbors to help themselves. His garden became a destination on our daily walks. All summer long we enjoyed big, fresh, juicy tomatoes, courtesy of our generous neighbor."
So there's a lovely prescription for surviving pandemics. Grow things, think beyond the expiration date, celebrate the abundance nature provides, and be neighbors who share.
Martha Eaves included this sheet cake among four of her favorites.
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift flour and sugar together in bowl.
Heat butter, marshmallows, cocoa and Coca-Cola together.
Pour over flour mixture.
Add beaten eggs; mix well.
Put soda in buttermilk, and add vanilla.
Mix all together.
Pour into greased 9- by 13-inch pan or 2 round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, depending on the pan used.
Remove from oven, cool and frost with icing.
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 box powdered sugar
1 cup broken pecans, toasted
Bring to boil the butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola.
Pour over powdered sugar, and beat.
Add pecans, and spread on cake.
From Flintstone, Georgia, and the kitchen of Pat Pelfrey came what she described as "my go-to bread recipe. I mix it up and go to bed. It's ready to finish the next morning. It can also be shaped into rolls or bagels."
No-Knead Artisan Bread
There are only 4 ingredients needed for this delicious bread, plus parchment paper for baking.
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
12 ounces or 1 cups cool water
In a large bowl, preferably with a lid, add flour, salt, yeast and water. Stir to combine; use hands, if necessary, to get it all mixed. No kneading necessary, or needed. Cover bowl, and let the dough sit out on the counter 8 to 12 hours (overnight is good). If it sits out a couple of hours longer, it won't hurt.
For a round loaf, get your baking pan (a 4-quart cast-iron Dutch oven is perfect or a cooking pot with a lid that can withstand high oven heat) and using parchment paper, fit it inside the pot and shape it to the pot. Remove the parchment paper from your cooking pot, and set it into a similar-size bowl. This is to keep the dough from spreading out too much while you get it ready to bake. The folds in the paper will give character to your bread while baking.
For the resting phase, wet your hands with water and loosen the dough from around the bowl, placing it on a floured surface and folding it 4 to 6 times. Pull the dough from one side, and fold it to the opposite, turning the dough as you do this. This takes the place of kneading. Take the dough from the bowl, and place it into the bowl with the parchment paper formed to fit the baking pot. This way, when the cooking pot is heated enough you can pick up the paper holding the dough and drop it into the hot pot.
Let the dough rest for 1 hour. After the hour, place your baking pot, with the lid on it, into the oven. Start to heat the oven to 450 degrees. When the oven and pot are at 450, carefully remove the pot and set it on the stovetop. Carefully remove the lid, pick up the dough by the paper edges and drop it carefully into the hot pot. With a knife or scissors, cut two or three slashes in the top of the dough.
Put the lid on it. If some of the parchment paper is sticking out, that's OK. It won't burn. Carefully put the baking pot or Dutch oven back into the hot oven. Bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes until golden brown or a bit darker.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven, tip the pot over and the bread will fall out easily. Remove the parchment paper, and throw it away. Cool bread on a wire rack, and enjoy.
I usually mix this up about 8 or 9 at night, and it's ready to prep and bake to have for lunch the next day.
For a long loaf, put parchment paper on a cooking sheet or jelly-roll pan and after shaping the dough into a long roll let it rest for 1 hour. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
A.H.L. sampled this delight in New Orleans, and her family reproduced it for holiday giving. "We prefer serving it with Scoops." Those miniature bowl-shaped tortilla chips are perfect for hearty bites of this substantial dip.
Warm Black-Eyed Pea Dip
2 to 3 cans black-eyed peas
1 (8-ounce) block pepper Jack cheese
1/2 Vidalia onion
1/2 stick butter
Tabasco to taste
Dash of Worcestershire
Mix together, and heat gently. Serve warm. You may vary these ingredients according to your taste.
If you noted Clifford Burdette's pineapple dessert last week, it was entirely original with him. The reference to the Brass Register, Georgia Avenue's once-and-wonderful restaurant, was connected to the previous recipe. Just to clarify.
Thank you all for coming, and please come back.
* Stuffed mushrooms
* Recipes using goat cheese
* Best food memories of 2020
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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