Country Cook News – November 8, 2012

Hi Everyone!

I was always perplexed when I saw pecan pie lovers smacking their lips and hovering over the desserts to find their first generous slice of pecan pie. Is all I needed was pumpkin or apple pie offered to me and I was a happy pie eater. But all that changed when Tracy Cothern of Carlsbad, New Mexico, shared with me her family recipe for Best Pecan Pie in the Southwest. Tracy’s rendition of the sweet, nutty delight made me join the ranks at the dessert table eager to dive into a luxuriant piece of homemade pecan pie…topped with freshly whipped cream, of course. I’ve made this pie for many different occasions and given it as samples at my signings, where I was once asked if I’d consider baking and selling them to caterers…yes, this pecan beauty tastes remarkable! Tracy also gave me permission to put her treasured, 3-generation recipe in my cookbook, Pork Chops & Applesauce along with my own recipe for Quick Crescent Pecan Pie Squares.

My mouth waters as I click my way through the pages of Vintage Kitchen Notes. It was only about a year ago that, Paula, the blog’s creator, discovered she loved combining cooking with blogging. One would never know from her enthusiasm for Sunday Suppers, which mostly coincide with a holiday and from her scrumptious choice in recipes, that she’s somewhat of a newbie. She gives credit for terrific recipes where the credit is due, touts cookbooks she finds impressive, and she shares a listing of other food blogs her visitors might find beneficial. One area of Vintage Kitchen Notes has recipes, food and entertaining ideas apropos for every month throughout  the year. Let’s start with Tomato Cheese Tartlets for an appetizer from Paula’s blog, then serve Fusilli with Sausage Zucchini and Cheeses for a main course, a bit of Pasta Salad with Pesto and Peas as a side salad, and then lets go straight to Strawberry Tart + White Sangria or Chocolate Kahlua Mini Bundt Cakes for dessert. Should you have some extra time and feel adventurous in the kitchen, try making Paula’s Dill and Red Onion Bread. Her recipe is similar to a bread my mother used to make and it’s one of those dangerous breads one can’t stop eating.
~~Roll cookie dough between sheets of wax paper, this avoids adding too much flour and the dough won’t stick to the rolling pin.

~~Store chewy cookies in an airtight container along with a slice of fresh bread to keep them moist and pliable.

A free Thanksgiving e-book. Comfy in the Kitchen on Thanksgiving. I’ve got my taste buds set for the Low-fat Pumpkin Trifle on page 58.

Apple-Cranberry Pie has Thanksgiving written all over it. Looks fabulous! Will test the recipe for myself as soon as fresh cranberries are available in the stores.
Apples lower cholesterol and fight artery inflammation, reveals a Florida State University study. Woman’s World Magazine, October 22, 2012, Number 43.

Louise asked: What are your best fool-proof tips for making perfect gravy?

My answer: There is really no secret to making smooth, flavorful gravy, but with gravy, practice does make perfect. Cooking the flour and making a roux are the two most important steps. I use a gravy separator to separate the grease from the broth because gravy can be too greasy. Here’s a You-tube video How to Make Perfect Gravy that will help omit any embarrassing gravy mishaps. Just follow the steps and you’ll be okay.

Cornstarch is my choice for thickening sauces and gravies because the process seems quicker and handier, but it’s best to try all three (before Turkey Day) to see which one works best for you. Here’s some information on thickening gravy with corn starch and arrowroot from that might be helpful. Keep in mind, if you’re having guests who are gluten intolerant, be sure to use cornstarch or arrowroot instead of flour, and let those guests know the gravy is safe for them to eat. Thank you, Louise, for your question and your interest in Ask Cynthia a Question.

Until next time…

Cynthia Briggs
Author of books, stories and recipes that come from the heart.

Bumper Crop: Beginning w/ Apples
Now available at the Kindle Bookstore
Pork Chops & Applesauce
Sweet Apple Temptations


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