Fresh is best no matter the vegetable, meat, seafood or dessert.
Yes, canned and frozen vegetables work well for some dishes, but when it comes to a side dish or even a meatless meal, fresh is my favorite.
One of my latest projects, and my husband says there are always quite a few, is getting my 15-month-old granddaughter to eat fresh vegetables. She likes cheese, so a cheese sauce on broccoli or cauliflower works sometimes, not all the time. I have added apple slices to squash, made an old-fashioned corn pudding and tried baby carrots with cinnamon and honey. Lilly likes cinnamon.
Ann Sharpton and Sonja Sheffield sent some excellent zucchini recipes for readers to try, especially Linda Saxon Nix who requested stuffed zucchini recipes.
While winter squash are making their appearance at supermarkets now, fresh zucchini is still available. Be sure to select the small- to medium-size zucchini; they taste better. I know I am probably a produce manager's nightmare, but I scrutinize vegetables for any nicks or bruises and firmness. A soft zucchini is not a good zucchini. I have been known to ask if they have any more that are not defective.
Lilly, unfortunately, will not touch zucchini or yellow squash, but I am going to see if Sheffield's and Sharpton's recipes will convert her. The recipes contain cheese. After all, a toddler may eat something one day and not eat it the
next; you just have to keep trying. Like I said, this is Mamie's (Lilly pronounces it Maaay-me) project.
"A few years ago my husband and I visited his brother and sister-in-law in Colorado. The first night we arrived, Judie served us stuffed zucchini that I had never eaten," said Sheffield. "It was delicious, so naturally I asked her for the recipe. It actually came from a cookbook titled, 'A Heritage of Good Tastes Historic Alexandria, Virginia.'
"I ordered a used copy from Amazon for little of nothing. It's a nice addition to my cookbook collection," Sheffield said. "This recipe is simple to make and is a nice side dish."
3 large zucchini
1/4 cup diced green onions
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Trim stems from squash, and cook in a small amount of salted water, until barely tender; cool. Cut in half, lengthwise. Scoop out centers, leaving shells (don't scoop out too much). Cook onion in butter. Add squash pulp and cook until like paste. Add sour cream and cheese. Fill shells. Arrange in a baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6.
-- Submitted by Sonja Sheffield
"I am sending two stuffed zucchini recipes," Sharpton said. "They are a little different, so the reader might want to try both."
2 medium zucchini
1/2 pound ground beef or bulk Italian sausage (if using sausage, remove from casing)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon dillweed
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp leaving1/4-inch shell. Chop pulp; set pulp and shells aside. In skillet, brown meat, onion and garlic; drain. Add pulp, crumbs, milk and dill. Spoon into the zucchini shells. Place in greased 2-quart baking dish. Top with spaghetti sauce; sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
-- Submitted by Ann Sharpton
6 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion chopped (about1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup package Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cook zucchini in boiling, salted water in a large skillet 10 minutes. Drain; scoop out insides, leaving a1/4-inch shell. Mash pulp and drain well. Put shells in a shallow baking dish.
Remove casings from sausage; break up meat. Cook sausage in same skillet 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender 3 minutes. Stir in mashed zucchini and breadcrumbs. Spoon mixture into shells; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake in moderate oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until piping hot.
Note: A large (2- 1/2- to 3-pound) eggplant, scooped out and drained or 6 medium-size tomatoes (also scooped out and drained) could be used in place of the zucchini.
-- Submitted by Ann Sharpton
"Here is the 6-egg cake we discussed," said Bev Casey, who asked readers for help using egg yolks after making her chocolate angel food cake. "It is from the 'Fanny Farmer Cookbook 8th Edition,' published in 1947. That was 66 years ago, and it is still a good book. The recipe sounds delish."
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 whole egg
5 egg yolks (1/3 cup)
1-3/4 cups flour
2- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter and add sugar gradually. While beating constantly, add well-beaten egg yolks and whole egg. Mix and sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk. Turn into buttered, floured 9-by-12-inch pan. Bake 45 minutes in moderate oven (350 degrees). Frost with a cream frosting of your choice.
-- Submitted by Bev Casey from "Fannie Farmer's Cookbook 8th Edition"
Old-time fried pies
"Not so long ago, I read one of your columns, and someone was looking for the recipe for the fried pies her mother used to make. This is a version from Southern Living magazine," said Beverly Snyder of Holmes Beach. "I hope this helps."
FRIED APPLE PIES
2- 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 (5-ounce) package dried apples
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1- 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Prepare dough: Stir together flour and sugar. Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 12 to 24 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare filling. Bring apples and water to cover (about 3 1/2 cups) to a boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Remove from heat: cover and let stand 1 hour.
Drain apples; place in large bowl. Coarsely mash apples with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and next 4 ingredients. (A pastry blender does a great job.) Cover and chill 12-24 hours.
Prepare cinnamon sugar: Stir together1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.
Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a Dutch oven; heat over medium high heat to 350 degrees. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 18 portions; shape into balls. Flatten into 3-inch circles; roll into 5-inch circles. Working with 1 circle at a time, spoon 1 tablespoon of filling into center of each circle; brush edge with water. Fold dough over filling. Press edges with a fork to seal.
Fry in batches in hot oil 3 to 4 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. -- Submitted by Beverly Snyder from Southern Living magazine
More Key lime pie
After sharing Betsy Clark's Key lime pie recipe in last week's paper, Rosalie Rosenfeld of Bradenton e-mailed me a recipe that is cooked.
"This Key Lime Pie with Foolproof Meringue meets the concerns of those who prefer to avoid uncooked eggs," Rosenfeld said. "I combined elements from three other recipes about 25 years ago. It won first place, amateur division for Best Cream or Citrus Pie at the American Pie Council's 2000 National Pie Championships in Celebration, Fla. It also won a blue ribbon at the local county fair and first place at a Parents' Day competition at my son's college. It's a must-bring to our potluck Thanksgiving dinners."
KEY LIME PIE WITH FOOLPROOF MERINGUE
1 baked 9-inch pie crust
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 extra-large eggs, separated, whites at room temperature
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Key lime juice
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar and water. Cook and stir until thick and clear. Set aside.
Beat egg yolks slightly. Stir in condensed milk. Add lime juice and blend well. Spread filling in pie crust.
Whip egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Continue beating while spooning in the warm cornstarch mixture. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Spread over filling, sealing to edge of crust.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes. (No, the pie crust won't burn.)
Cool on a rack before refrigerating.
Note: I use Mrs. Smith's 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust with all-vegetable shortening, and Nellie and Joe's Famous Key West Lime juice.
-- Submitted by Rosalie Rosenfeld
"Iowa relatives, more familiar with lemon meringue pie, substitute lemon juice for Key lime juice. That works well, too," Rosenfeld said.
Please send in recipes that use sourdough starter, such as cakes, sweet flat breads and the like. Readers also have asked for faro recipes.
Remember the holidays will soon be here, so send in your recipe requests and also favorite recipes to share with fellow readers.
Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.