Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's getting close—

I'm sorry for the hiatus. Two factors are at fault. First, term papers were due December 4; final grades due December 14. Since I had the largest number of students I've ever had in ENG 101, that was a ten day marathon of grading, averaging, posting, and then answering many emails from students requesting grade information. Secondly, my Apple iBook G4 notebook computer had a hinge blow out the back. I took it to the Apple Store at the Mall of Georgia, which was a huge mistake. It seems their "genius" is an idiot. The next day, I took it to Peachmac, in Athens, and it is still there. I purchased Applecare for this machine, and it is still under warranty, but both service departments state that it doesn't cover hinges! I'm doing this on a G4 desktop which was manufactured in 1999. Unlike the iBook, it just plugs along with few problems.

Having declared this month a time to share recipes, especially easy ones, here is one my children call "Judge Fudge." When hubby and I married, he wanted sweets, regularly, so my mom tried to teach him to cook some of his favorites. Alas, he was a lousy student of culinary arts. He does make this one confection, and it is done in the microwave. There are far better fudge recipes around, but I really don't think any are quicker or easier than this:

• 2 packages (16 oz. each) confectioners sugar
• 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 cup butter or margarine
• 1 and 1/2 cups of chopped nuts, optional
• 2 tablespoons vanilla

Mix the sugar and cocoa, making sure there are no lumps in the sugar, in a 4-qt mixing bowl. Add milk and butter, but do not stir. Cook on High 7-8 minutes, or until butter is melted; add nuts and vanilla; stir until smooth. Spread into a well greased 8 inch square dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares. (His honor usually does half batches, with a couple of extra tablespoons of cocoa. The cooking time for that is about 3 minutes.)

For favorite recipes with a real southern history, our local electrical service, JEMC, sells a cookbook known as "Watt's Cookin'." I have my grandmother's copy, which has pages which are golden with age, but I still consult it for many items, including homemade Brunswick stew, which I made last week. Living Jackson reviewed it a while back, so I will include a link to that gem. If you look at the link, my copy has the green cover.

Do try the fudge, if you like quick and easy recipes. If you have an old copy of Watt's Cookin' drag it out and look for something southern. And do not go to the Apple Store at the Mall of Georgia in Buford!

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

’Tis the Season— For Home Cooked

As the weather chills, having a warm kitchen, filled with savory dishes and the aroma of good food, helps the spirit as well as the taste buds. If you are like me, this is a good time to grab up a cookbook or a collection of favorite recipes, and seek out a new dish or a forgotten favorite.

No one has ever confused me with Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray. However, I’m a wife and a mother, so being able to put together family friendly meals and snacks is a necessary part of my skill set. This month, I am going to share recipes and a few tips for fun with food. They are all easy, because everything I cook pretty much falls into that category.

Egg in a Basket

This simple dish makes children of all ages feel special. Take a hardy slice of French bread and cut a large hole in it, about the size of an egg. Heat a non-stick skillet sprayed with butter flavored cooking spray to medium, then place the bread in the skillet. Break an egg into the hole and cook the egg as the bread browns in the skillet. Place the “hole” in the skillet also, and when both sides are brown and the egg is done, slide both pieces onto a plate and serve it solo or with bacon, grits, or whatever you like for breakfast.

This dish has been one of my daughter’s favorites for many years.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

• 1 pound size bag of frozen broccoli cuts
• 1 pound size bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower cuts
• 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
• 3 cans of lowfat/ low sodium chicken broth (14 & 1/2 oz size cans)
• 8 oz of light Velveeta Cheese, cubed
• ground red pepper (optional)

In a small stock pot or dutch oven, place broth, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions. Bring this to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Using a potato masher, mash the veggies to desired consistency. Add the Velveeta cheese cubes, cover and heat for five more minutes on low heat. Stir the soup to blend the cheese with the veggies. Ladle soup into warmed bowls and sprinkle with red pepper (if desired). Remember, red pepper is quite hot, so use just a small amount.

In cooler weather, soup is one of my favorites. This recipe makes about 10 cups of soup and is low in fat and calories. I like it with crackers as a main dish, but it works well as a first or second course. This soup is made with frozen and canned ingredients, except for the onion, which can be omitted if you don’t have a fresh one handy. Once made, you can refrigerate any leftovers for a quick lunch later on.


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