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Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

What’s for dinner? by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 21, 2022:

The two most often-asked questions in our house are “What’s for dinner” and “Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean or dirty.” The answer to that first question, if it doesn’t include fast food or prepackaged heat-and-eat meals, involves a lot of time and work.

David and I recently made a trip to Greenville, and one of our stops was at Aldi. He rarely goes into the grocery store with me, but this time he made an exception rather than sit in the car in triple-digit temperatures. Besides, he likes to check for sardines and a few other favorites as well as scout out empty boxes for me. On the way home, we discussed how many times you have to handle the groceries – shelf to cart, cart to check-out, check-out to box or bag, bag to car, car to house, house to pantry, fridge, or freezer. It’s no wonder that many of us have become spoiled to home delivery.

As tiring as that first step can be, that is often only the beginning of the work. Several years ago we suffered through an infestation of moths, and I ended up discarding the majority of my pantry stock. After that experience, I store any non-frozen and non-canned food in plastic containers or plastic bags. I’m also a bit OCD about rotating my stock so I use the oldest items first, so putting away my purchases can become a bit of a production.

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Crawfish – Up Close and Personal | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 16, 2022:

Crawfish. The first thing I did before beginning this column was to Google the correct name for these strange looking creatures. According to those who are supposed to know, people north of the Mason-Dixon Line normally refer to these miniature lobsters as crayfish while residents of the West Coast, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas call them crawdads. But since I married a Louisiana boy where they are known as crawfish, that’s what I’ll go with.

Texas wasn’t mentioned in the blog post I used for reference, but in the era before organized play dates and yoga classes for kids, my friends and I sometimes went fishing for crawdads in the drainage ditch near my house. We’d sneak a piece of bacon out of the refrigerator, wrap it around a rock, tie a string to it, and troll the muddy waters. I don’t think we ever caught one – in fact, I don’t remember ever seeing one. I don’t have a clue what we would have done if we had caught one – but if it was good enough for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, it was good enough for us.

As an adult, I tend to avoid the unattractive critters. I love a good shrimp boil, but I don’t get excited when the local restaurants begin advertising that the crawfish are in. I did have some fried crawfish tails once which, as I recall, I enjoyed very much. But I don’t want those feelers and legs rising to the top of my bowl of gumbo or gracing my plate of jambalaya. Maybe it’s the eyes. I’ve had a couple of creepy experiences with the eyes of seafood.

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The slow cooker | by Linda Brendle

Another catch-up post. This one was published in the Rains County Leader on November 4, 2021:

The title of this column probably brings to mind the smell of a pot roast or a soup that has simmered all day while you were at work. I love my crock pot and all the easy meals it cooks, but the slow cooker in this story is me.

I enjoy cooking, and I’m pretty good at it. I can follow a recipe to get anticipated results, or I can adjust a recipe and end up with something completely different. One of my specialties is the creative use of leftovers or produce that is approaching the end of its shelf life in order to avoid throwing away food. That’s what happened last week when David called my attention to four pears that were getting soft and turning brown. A Google search yielded several suggestions such as smoothies, a pear crumble, and several pear breads.

I chose one of the bread recipes and scanned some of the general specs. I smiled at the prep time of 15 minutes. Maybe if I had an assistant who had all the ingredients, bowls, and implements ready for me, but since it’s just me in the kitchen and I’m slow by nature, I always allow at least twice as long as the recipe says.

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Picking Peaches | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 13, 2021:

This city girl had another new experience Saturday – I picked peaches for the first time. I have bought a half bushel at a farmers market and spent hours putting them into bags destined for the freezer, but I had never taken them off the tree.

Connie (across the street) had a bumper crop from her two trees this year. After putting ten bags in the freezer and having a tray full ripening on her counter, she invited me over to pick some. The first thing I learned about picking peaches is that the trees are designed for those of us who are height challenged. No step ladder required like the time I picked figs from Dirk and Pat’s trees.

Strange things sometimes happen while you’re harvesting. Some of the peaches were very close together, and while I was trying to pick a particularly reluctant one, the one next to it flung itself toward the ground. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the poor thing landed on the blade of a mole-chasing windmill and cut itself almost in half. Since the work was already half done, I sliced that one up when I got home, and we had it for dinner.

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Smoothies and leftovers | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 25, 2020:

low-carb-dietSeveral months ago, diets became a popular topic of conversation at our weekly Home Group Bible Study. It’s not surprising since food is the second most important reason for getting together next to the actual study part. Well, maybe the third since we do enjoy each other’s company a lot. Anyway, it seems that, during the lock down, many of us shared a common experience – we ate too much. David and I attacked our few extra pounds by returning to the gym as soon as it re-opened, but going on a diet seemed to be the remedy of choice.

I sometimes got lost in the discussions of the finer points of the various weight control smoothieprograms, but they all sounded like some version of an Atkins/Keto/low carb regimen. One thing they all seemed to have in common, though, was smoothies. When I thought of smoothies, I pictured concoctions invented by body builders consisting of various powders and additives, some of which have been banned by professional sports associations. But David heard fruit and easy weight loss, and he was interested.

“Maybe we should try smoothies,” he said one morning while I was fixing breakfast – if getting out bowls of cereal and fruit can be considered fixing. (more…)

Tales from the Rains County Fair | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 17, 2017:

Tennilles BoothMy table

For the second year in a row I shared a booth at the Rains County Fair with Tennille Case of Tennille’s Cookie Jar. Not only was I right next to all the delicious samples she put out, but I also had the advantage of overflow traffic. My book displays gave her customers something to look at while they waited in line, and she’s a big fan, so she directed them my way.

We had a great location, the same one we had last year. It was right next to the restrooms, so almost everyone who came to the Fair walked right by us at some point during the evening. Even if they didn’t stop, the steady stream of visitors made for great people watching and a nice collection of writing material. Here are a few of the random observations I collected while sitting behind a table, four hours a night for five nights. (more…)

Easiest pasta salad? Right! by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 3, 2019:

Whats for dinnerEvery Friday night for the past several years, David and I have attended a home Bible study with several friends from our church. As the name implies, we meet at the home of someone in the group where we share a meal, praises and prayer requests, and Bible study. On Mondays, I send out a group email that includes the prayer list and a link to the food sign-up sheet for the next Friday.

Early last week, Brenda signed up for the main dish with a notation that said “not sure what yet.” Being the witty writer that I am, I signed up for a salad with the added quip of “something to go with what Brenda makes.” A couple of days later she changed her post to “baby back ribs,” and since I didn’t want to settle for one of my default offerings of cole slaw or broccoli salad, I went to Google. (more…)

Smiles, hugs, and promises | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 30, 2018:

ate-too-much-regrets-nothing-7999720I think I gained about five pounds this weekend. Besides our regular Friday night Home Group that always includes a delicious dinner, we had a family fish fry on Saturday, and a chili cook-off at church on Sunday. I may never eat again!

Home Group met at a different home, and we had to negotiate washboard ruts and water-filled pot holes in the caliche road, but everyone arrived with a smile and was greeted with many hugs. We welcomed a new couple and re-welcomed a couple whose work schedule only allows them to come occasionally. The menu was heavy on desserts, and lively conversation and laughter accompanied dinner. A sweet time of shared prayer followed, and when we finally settled down to Bible study, the discussion was lively and educational. The evening ended as it began, with smiles and hugs and promises to “see you on Sunday.” (more…)

Grabbing the Brass Ring | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 18, 2018:

Grabbing the brass ringThere was a time when a hot date consisted of a stroll on the promenade and a ride on the carousel. To add some excitement to the ride, some carousels featured a dispenser that offered a brass ring. The dispenser was placed so that riders had to stretch, taking a risk of losing their grip and tumbling off their mount, in order to grab it. The reward for grabbing the ring was a free ride, though, so many a dashing young man faced the danger for the chance of winning the admiration of a fair maiden. Brass rings are only available on a few vintage carousels now, but “taking a shot at the brass ring” has come to mean striving for the highest prize, or living life to the fullest. Last week, I shared a booth at the 2018 Rains County Fair with Tennille Case, a very special woman who grabbed her brass ring with both hands and walked away with much more than free ride. (more…)

Changing the Recipe | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 8, 2017:

David and I go to a home group Bible study every Friday night. We meet at somebody’s home and share dinner before we study. I post a sign-up sheet on WikiSpaces every week, and we take turns bringing various parts of the meal. Friday was my turn to bring the main dish. One of the men was planning to order egg rolls from the mother of a co-worker, so I decided to stay with the theme and make teriyaki chicken. I had never made it before, so I went on-line and found a recipe that looked fairly easy and tasty. (more…)

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