Sunday, December 11, 2011

Butter up your holidays with recipes, gifts
First I’d like to thank lots and lots of readers who contacted me with cornmeal hints for my mom. She’s seeking a coarser ground and I’ve been put on the track of stone ground, Lamb’s brand and reminded of cornbread with milk and sugar, a dish my Cajun grandma called cush cush. Thanks readers, it’s great to know you’re out there. Now, here’s some thoughts on more good eataing:

I was going to read ”Gooseberry Patch Big Book of Home Cooking” on the couch, then type up my thoughts. Great ideas kept flying from the pages, so I had to move to the computer to capture them for you, readers. Between recipes for mint or banana punch and sweet and cinnamon bacon, “Vickie” and “Jo Ann” offer sketches of how cute it would be to wrap up utensils in napkins and a flower and have them sticking out of a flower pot, or bundle them in a vintage pitcher from an antique shop. Have a tired, old quilt? Sew patches of it into pot holders for serving something like cinnamon-pumpkin pancakes. This book is designed for cooks who love company. Make guests feel special by bundling herbs with jute to make a little brush. Place it by a dish of melted butter for vegetables. If was their company, I’d request this:

Bacon & Greens Salsa
8 slices bacon
16-ounce package frozen mixed greens, thawed and drained
½ of a sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ cup frozen corn, thawed
1 serrano chile pepper, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
pork rinds, sweet potato chips
hot pepper sauce
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat 7 to 9 minutes until crisp, remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in a skillet. Crumble bacon, set aside.
Saute greens, onion and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in corn and next three ingredients and cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve warm with pork rinds, sweet potato chips and hot pepper sauce. Makes 4 cups.

All buttered up
Butter Bell is billed as a gift for foodies. L. Tremain offers a range of selections and I’ve got a splash of color in maraschino red. Butter Bell keeps a stick of butter spreadable, on your counter. There’s no need for refrigeration because you spread the butter in a well and invert it into the base, in which you add cool water. That forms an airtight seal. Just change water every three days. I had to be convinced when I first read this, but there is an absolute difference in the taste, texture and enjoyment quality of using butter stored in the crock than pulled from the fridge. I had an honest-to-gosh Butter Bell from this company years ago, but when my Aunt, just returned from France, admired the Le Bistro Bell, reading “buerre,” with royal blue banding, I gave it to her. Years later my friend, a butter aficionado, passed me one fashioned as a glass block, and not of this company’s making, I foolishly tried to melt some butter for a popcorn fix in the microwave, and busted it. Now that I’ve got a real Butter Bell in the house, I’m taking care of it, displaying it next to my flashy red Oster toaster.

WineTime Bar
This sounds like a joke, or a dream. WineTime Bar by Resvez is a gourmet nutrition bar infused with reservatrol than 50 glasses of red wine. This could be one of my shortest reviews ever, but the flavor titles are so long. Chocolate-Rasberry, with dates and almonds, tastes wonderful and is good for you, ditto to Rich Dark Chocolate with dates and almonds. So many bars have natural ingredients but still taste like cardboard. This is more like candy. I had mine with Champagne.

Grandy Oats
Makers of Grandy Oats Organic Granola talk up how their “natural” standards are much higher than name brands’ we may know and enjoy. They aren’t as expensive, either. But the proof is the taste, which is nut-and oat-filled goodness. The cranberry option, packaged in a plastic tub, is so rich that instead of a bowl full, I’m sprinkling it on Greek yogurt and dotting it with honey for dessert. A little will last a long time.

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