Country Cook News – June 28, 2013

Hi Everyone!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Shrimp Tomato Stew with Zucchini is one dinner that fills our need for a really delicious, yet easy to prepare, meal that tastes like a gourmet dish. My Aunt Joy gave me this recipe a lot of years ago, in fact, it’s in my book, Pork Chops & Applesauce with a story titled, Savory Memories, about when my aunt and uncle met back in the 1950s. The recipe has gone through its share of changes and updates over the years but I figure that’s what cooking is all about, and I’m sure if my aunt was still with us, she’d be the first to agree with me. I spotlighted this particular recipe because many of you have fresh tomatoes, zucchini and basil in your gardens by now and the fresh, just-picked ingredients will make this dish stand up and take a deserving bow at dinnertime. Serve in a bowl over a small mound of Jasmine rice and you’re good to go.

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GUEST BLOG OF THE WEEK
Skinnysweetsdaily.com is a web site for healthy, lower fat & calorie dessert, snacks and breakfast recipes. We love anything sweet! We have our dedicated followers on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Here are just a few of our most popular sweets: Éclair Cake, Peanut Butter Cookies, Vegan Almond Truffles and the most decadent cake of all, our Amazing Low Fat Chocolate Molten Cake, which won first place in Sept. 2012 for best photo contest. Stay tuned for some exciting new features that will be arriving this September! Sincerely, Pam & Co.

To go with this week’s tomato theme Pam reminded me of an old, old recipe for tomato soup chocolate cake and I found the recipe (with pictures) for it on Mid-Century Menu. Like they say on the Mid-Century site, “it’s really fun to make recipes that call for unique ingredients” and homemakers during the 40s and 50s became masters at it as the Mid-Century site demonstrates.

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AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN
Will hubby let me near the grill to try these Grilled Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary from America’s Test Kitchen? I’ve made a similar recipe in the oven, which turned out delicious. However I think grilling would bring out both flavors more than being cooked in the oven. Note the tip at the top of the page, WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS, about enhancing garlic flavor(s). Helpful info for garlic lovers!

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ARTICLE: HOW TO SLICE TOMATOES
Gorgeous photography offering tips on slicing tomatoes…tomato season is here. How are your tomatoes doing?

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CB’s KITCHEN TIP
NO TOMATO PASTE WASTE: Remove both ends of tomato paste can; freeze. Slide out and cut off just the amount needed.

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GROW THE HEALTHIEST TOMATOES
Now’s the time to start planting tomatoes, and scientists have discovered a way to ensure yours have 60% more vitamin C and twice as many flavonoids (nutrients that lower your risk of certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, infection and cataracts): Skip chemical pesticides. Turns out, the extra effort tomatoes need to ward off pests when chemical pesticides aren’t used creates more of these helpful nutrients. Not a gardener? Choose organic tomatoes at the supermarket. Woman’s World Magazine, June 10, 2013

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CALICO BAKED BEANS
In our family the 4th of July screams Calico Baked Beans so today I’m sharing my mom’s recipe for the American classic. Mom’s recipe has a few twists from the norm using a variety of beans, bacon and hamburger meat, a dash of liquid smoke and a 12-ounce beer. Mom made this for many occasions, yes, it is an old-time favorite, but conveniently, it can be baked in the oven or made in the slow cooker. It’s a dish that travels beautifully and it’s better tasting the next day, that is if you have any leftovers to taste.

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TO USE OR NOT TO USE
I’ve always felt like I was cheating when I used canned tomatoes in my recipes. Then I heard Mario Batali tell his television audience that he used canned tomatoes in most of his cooked dishes (like the above recipe for Shrimp Tomato Stew with Zucchini). He said canned tomatoes are handier to take off the pantry shelf (when you’re in the middle of cooking) and garden tomatoes are just going to cook down anyway. Gotta say, Mario is my kind of cook!
My thought, too, is that it’s difficult for some of us to have enough fully ripe tomatoes available at one time.

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ASK CYNTHIA A QUESTION – MAY 28, 2013
Helen asked: Do you grow your own tomatoes every year?

My answer: When we lived in Washington State I planted tomatoes every year and had great results some years and terrible results other years depending on the weather. Oddly, when we moved to New Mexico where the summers are long and the weather is hot, I couldn’t grow a tomato to save myself. Here in Houston I’m inching into growing tomatoes. This year I planted one cherry tomato plant and it’s already producing enough for snacking and a few to add to an occasional salad. If this plant survives the summer then next year I’ll put in two plants. I guess what I’m saying is that tomatoes aren’t difficult to grow but I don’t have a whole lot of luck with growing them.

Last check: There’s something eating the tomatoes. Can’t find any bugs. I sprayed them with a water and dish soap solution. I’m on the warpath to protect and preserve…

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Happy 4th of July!
CB

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