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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bye bye American (Hershey Bar) Pie....

I haven’t written in the blog much the last couple of months. It’s not that we don’t love you, we do. My father (Tracy) started the descent downhill that cancer causes, late in the summer and passed away last week. Having our family around us to celebrate Dad gave me an opportunity to work through my grief by cooking for everyone. Normally this is something I do well that I would attempt to turn into gourmet fare. In the case of my Dad however, I felt like it was a great homage to him if I cooked the foods he loved rather than the foods I love to cook.

My Dad was a child of the convenience age. His mother was a fabulous cook and he was also raised with a housekeeper and cook who made sure they always had wonderful, well-prepared food. Dad could do the gourmet thing with the best of us. His coming of age into adulthood however was marked with time in American lives when we were learning to shortcut. The war had taught us to ration our fresh meats – which left us with Spam which my father loved – and then science was giving us a variable smorgasbord of chemically infused wonders. We are only today beginning to understand the depth of damage we’ve done to ourselves with foods prepared with trans fats and saturated fats designed to taste good and have longer shelf lives.

So to honor my Dad, my family and I prepared an early Thanksgiving dinner featuring Dad’s favorite side dishes. My aunt made my grandmother’s curried cauliflower (cauliflower drenched in cream of mushroom soup and curry seasoning), my youngest niece prepared sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (her specialty which Dad loved), my eldest niece prepared string bean casserole complete with the French fried onions, canned cranberry sauce and I topped it all off with my Grandmother’s Hershey Bar Pie (something my Dad took to covered dish suppers and always amazed a crowd with his cooking prowess.)

The Famous Bosworth Family Hershey Bar Pie

(shhhh, this is a secret family recipe, don’t let it get out how simple this is or you’ll ruin us…)
6 Hershey Bars with Almonds
1 regular sized container of Original variety Cool Whip (defrosted but cold)
1 Keebler Graham Cracker Crust (must have the plastic lid for self sealing)

Melt Hershey Bars in microwave, I think it took me 2 minutes at about a 60-70 power, stab with a spoon occasionally to see if they are melted so you don’t overzap them.

Let the chocolate sit for a few minutes so it’s not scalding hot, you don’t want it to melt the Cool Whip.

Fold chocolate into Cool Whip until thoroughly mixed.

Scoop into pie crust.  Place the plastic lid on top and crimp the metal pie pan around the lid.

Put in refrigerator.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cuppa' Love


As we sat around the table at my in-laws beautiful and serene mountain home enjoying a bounty of garden fresh food, one of her neighbors walked in with a huge bucket of freshly collected peaches. My mind began to spin with possibilities.
After dinner I headed into the kitchen and started pulling out bowls as my mother-in-law grabbed the basket and started scrubbing and gently suggested I involve the girls in a cooking lesson with our fragrant fruits.
There is that basic recipe you learned at the hands of your mother and know it so well that it’s easy to pass along – and is one that the kids will remember as well. Except this time I forgot the details of a key ingredient and had to scurry to the web to look up which flour to use…
The girls took turns measuring out sugar, flour and milk. Em stirred while Kate proudly watched the fruit cook on the stove top. The oven was watched anxiously until our golden brown crusted dessert was ready to come out. My sometimes finicky eaters finished our cobbler quickly and it never had the chance to see a refrigerator. It was all a very satisfying evening. Special thanks to my mother-in-law, Jo Anne, who reminded me to take moments to teach the girls things I take for granted.
Classic Cuppa Cobbler
½ cup of butter
1 cup of milk
1 cup of self-rising flour
1 cup of sugar
6 or 7 chopped peaches
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup of Brown sugar
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Combine chopped peaches with butter in a large sauté pan, stirring as the butter melts and the peaches cook. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, pinch of salt. Cook until peaches are soft and surrounding syrup is thick.

Mix flour, sugar and milk until all lumps dissolved. Pour into greased casserole dish. Pour fruit & syrup mixture on top – as evenly as you can without mixing/stirring together.

Bake for about a ½ hour at 350 degrees or until top has a light golden crust peeking through the fruit.

Great with ice cream or cold whipped cream.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dad and the Spicy Sausage

I’ll say it out loud. Dad has cancer. Part of me thought if I didn’t say it out loud, it would not be true. And it is the cancer that is normally not fatal, but in his case it will be. It is skin cancer. I’ll apologize to my doctors now that for evermore I will make them look at every mole and freckle.

In Dad’s case the cancer is in his neck area and has spread to the nodes and muscle and organs surrounding. They tried to treat the cancer with radiation and chemo. The radiation took out his taste buds and the chemo killed his appetite. In the end, the doc said that they threw their best treatment at the cancer and the cancer just laughed. During the process, Dad has lost an incredible amount of weight, his appetite and the ability to taste anything.

One of our guilty pleasures around the house has been sausage gravy on biscuit -- very simple meal that we really delight in. I remember my mother’s version of this dish growing up. We had friends in the military that my parents had gotten the term “SOS” from and that’s what we always called it. Mom would mix the flour in with the cooked sausage and thin with milk and add additional seasoning as needed. My mother was not one for home made biscuits (sorry Mom, I’m outing you) so we usually served on toast.

In our immediate current family however, Rob and I are constantly competing with each other for the best biscuit title, so lack of fresh homemade biscuits is not an issue here. We are usually trying to school each other in biscuit making. The sausage gravy is a different story. We agree that the best gravy is easily made from the locally produced sausage from GMC and the peppered country gravy mix made by the local Southeastern Mills company located blocks from our house.

I fixed the left over’s from yesterday’s biscuit and gravy breakfast and took them over to Dad this morning. He said “very spicy.” Then he looked at me and said, “that’s a good thing. I can taste it.”  

Rome’s Best Sausage Gravy

1 lb. GMC sausage
1 package Southeastern Mills Old Fashioned Peppered Gravy Mix

1 2/3 cup of water

Milk to thin


Cook sausage thoroughly over medium to medium high heat. Sprinkle gravy mix over sausage and mix in to coat sausage in mix. Slowly pour in cold water and stir as you pour. You’ve effectively made a rue with the sausage fat and the gravy mix and that should keep the gravy from clumping. After it’s all mixed in, if it still needs thinning, add milk as needed to keep from watering down further.
 

 The biscuit recipe is top secret. Rob might be reading....

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Real Men DO Eat Quiche



I know this is not a new concept or new idea. I mentioned to a friend of mine, who is the General Manager of GMC/Value Mart in Rome, that we were using their store made sausage to make a really good crustless quiche. I think without even thinking about it, he quickly said, “I do not like quiche.”

Well. Of course I responded that he would like mine!  That’s an awfully insistent and self-centered point of view I know, but honestly I think he would. I know he is a fellow foodie like Rob and I. He has always been great about offering cooking tips and recipes, as is his brother Kirk who manages the meat counter. And this recipe features the sausage that they make there at the store and with their very own sausage being the star – how could he not like it?

This crustless quiche recipe is super easy, very creamy and reheats well.  Rob and the girls just pop their piece in the microwave on day 2 and it’s a no fuss breakfast. And of course I’m determined to take some over to Shane to get him to try… and like. Proving once again that I’m right.

Tracy’s Supereasy Crustless Sausage Quiche That Shane Will Love

5 eggs
1 ½ cup of half and half
1 pound GMC store made breakfast sausage
2 cups cheddar cheese mix
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
Whip eggs and then add in half and half and whip a little more. Mix salt and nutmeg in with egg mixture. Be sure to go easy on salt, the sausage will add quite a bit.

Cook and drain sausage.

Use cooking spray to prepare pie plate and then sprinkle bottom of pie plate lightly with bread crumbs or corn meal – whichever is handy.

Spread sausage out in bottom of pie plate. Cover with cheese. Pour egg mixture in on top.

Bake for about 25 minutes on 350 in a pre-heated oven. Test to make sure it springs back slightly for doneness before removing. Occasionally this recipe will take longer; it really depends on the size of the eggs so test before removing. Should have a nice light golden tone to the top when removing.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Dad's Day Pudding




The Father’s Day Banana Pudding was a struggle. I (Tracy again) am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to preparing food. If you know me than you’ve probably already guessed that.  I was attempting to not only make an old family favorite, something I’ve been making for more than 20 years and can probably make blind folded, but to also sneak some protein into my ailing father’s diet. My goal here was to produce some wonderful pudding that is one of the hubbie’s favorites and get my dad to eat something of value – something he doesn’t do a lot of these days.
So I decided to sneak in some protein powder. I have some in the house from my previous diet but have never used it to cook with. I tasted it first on my finger to be sure that I remembered that it was tasteless, I didn’t want to add anything unpleasant to my famous banana pudding, but rather I wanted Dad to eat it with a reckless abandon that I have not seen in him lately.
So my pudding was cooking beautifully when I added in a quarter cup of soy protein powder and all hell broke loose. Not really, but the pudding  became very gritty as the stuff did not seem to want to dissolve.  After beating it fruitlessly with a whip, I added some more liquid and broke out the emulsion blender. That did the trick but now I had a thin, frothy mess, ala Marcel from Top Chef. No worries, it’s a pudding, it will thicken in the frig. Wrong.
At some point, peeking in on the pudding, Rob pointed out that it was not coming together as I’d hoped and suggested freezing it before delivering to Dad or sampling here at the house.  The perfectionist in me kicked into high gear. I drained all of the bananas and Nilla wafers, reserved, and then put the thin runny custard makings back into a pot, heated and started to stir. Still not coming together, I added an egg yolk and then a few moments later, VOILĂ€! I had pudding again! YEAH, I’d saved the day!!!
Now reassembled, it’s all ready to head over to Dad’s where I’m hoping he’ll never have a clue that I added in all that protein. Unless he actually reads our blog, and then it’s all over….

Page Family Banana Pudding 
(sans extra protein....)

About 3.5 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
3 cups of milk
1 tablespoon or vanilla
6 bananas
1 box of Nilla’s

In heavy bottom pot, use whisk to mix flour, sugar and salt. Beat egg yolks, add milk into egg yolks and then mix liquid into the dry ingredients in the pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. When reaches a nice thickened consistency, add vanilla and turn off heat.

Layer Nilla wafers, slice bananas and spoon pudding over, lasagna style. You should be able to get about three layers. Chill until you can’t stand waiting anymore and dig in!
The original recipe called for the whites to be turned into a meringue for the top. I prefer beating some heavy whipping cream and adding just a little bit of sugar or Spenda and then using this for the topping. It’s great with no topping as well.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BBQ We Stayed Home For...



We'll make no bones about it, I am a BBQ snob (Tracy). All the way through and through. Rob and I have centered vacations around finding that really great, out of the way, talk about for years BBQ joint. We (meaning mostly Rob) watch Drive-In's, Diners and Dives religiously for ideas on haunts and hang outs.  And the one thing our town lacks is the really great, dine-in, write-home-about BBQ restaurant.  We have tried unsuccessfully to lure Uncle John's and Log Cabin closer into town, we've planted seeds with Summerville's Armstrongs and I begged Woodstock's Bub-ba-Q, all to no avail.

Thanks to Shane at GMC Value-Mart and Rob's persistence, our best BBQ may be at our home. Recently when I was photographing out at GMC for an article in Enjoy! Magazine -- I was introduced to the meat counter at this slightly out of the way grocery store. Rob was in tow within the week as we went back to explore and now we have a new weekly habit. The managers, Shane and Kirk, have been more than forthcoming with recipes and hints. We two already experienced cooks have really learned a lot. Our most recent venture -- BBQ Pulled Pork with a homemade potato salad. Following Shane's advice, Rob loaded up his smoker and smoked the butt for four hours last night and then wrapped it in foil and it hit the fridge overnight. While we were off gallivanting on the Silver Comet Trail today with the kids and the bicycles, the pork was back in the oven at 200 degrees. When we got home it was perfectly paired with homemade potato salad and the meal was incredible. We are still working our way through all of the different BBQ sauces that GMC carries, today we sampled Sweet Baby Ray's and Stubbs. Yummy. My tummy is very happy.

Tracy's Homemade Potato Salad: 

1 egg yolk
1.5 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Coleman's mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3 gold potatoes
2 stalks chopped celery


Chop and boil the potato, skin on.
While the potato is cooking, whisk egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and salt. Very slowly, almost drop by drop, add oil and keep whisking. It's important to whisk so that the oil doesn't separate out. Whisk until all oil is incorporated and until mayo is lighter in color.  Chill and reserve.
Drain potato, add rice vinegar, sugar, celery and enough of the mayo to coat nicely. Chill until serving time.