Local Flavor: Bring Something New To The Table

Christmas is almost here! Here are a couple of dishes to try in order to bring something new to the Christmas dinner table. During “Thanksgiving” dinner at our house, something new showed upon our dinner table. “Cranberries not the ones in the cans, the real ones. Yes, they are still around. Take a sauce pan and fill with water 1 ½ to 2 quarts. Bring the water to a boil, add the fresh cranberries and cover. The cranberries will pop, like popcorn. It only takes a couple of minutes. Add ½ cup sugar or more (to your liking) and then add ½ cup of chopped pecans. Let them cook for 15 to 20 minutes, just below boiling. Then another 20 minutes on low. Let the sauce cool and then serve. The amount of sugar depends on the amount of cranberries used.

The next item is pickled onions. Use a quart Mason jar with a lid for this recipe. Use 5 to 6 medium size white onions, slice them into 3/8 in. slices (remove the centers). Pack onions slices into Mason jar, fill with white vinegar and close jar. Let set a couple of days, serve with meats or just add to sweet items. The onions are great for dressing up a food item and adding taste. They are also good on sandwiches or with leftovers.
I know that we all have old time honored recipes that our families use. My great grandmother, grandmother and mother made fruit cakes using the same recipe. The fruit cake took six weeks to age before Christmas. They were really good, but the cost of candied fruit is so high it’s cheaper to buy a two year old car. One of the ladies at Pulaski Christmas Church lets us use her recipe for applesauce cake. She, Patty Cox, has made it several times for church dinners and it is one of those heavy, old fashioned cakes, that’s full of favor. Here goes!

Patty Cox’s Applesauce Cake
– 2 cans (16.5 oz.) each applesauce
– 4 tsps. baking soda with a pinch of salt
– 2 sticks of butter
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 2 beaten eggs
– 2 tsps. each nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon
– 1 lb. raisins
– 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray Pam or grease the inside of a large tube pan. This makes the cake easier to get out. Soak raisins in boiling water to make them soft and full, set aside. Note: Drain water off before adding to cake mixture when the time comes.
A) Heat applesauce (2 cans) in sauce pan until hot. Add baking soda with a pinch of salt and let cool.
B) Cream butter, sugars (white and brown) and eggs together. Sift flour and spices together adding it to the batter then cream together. Add nuts and raisins (this is a heavy batter, so use the plastic kitchen gloves and mix by hand). Then add warm applesauce and soda mixture to batter.
C) Pour into tube pan. Bake for 1 ½ hours.
D) Let cool. Take out of pan, wrap with aluminum foil.
E) When you slice the cake, cut an apple or two into quarter slices and put in the center hole of cake. This keeps it moist.
F) You can ice the cake with powdered sugar or combine powdered sugar and cinnamon or use cream cheese icing.
Now onto an old favorite of mine!

Pineapple/Cheese
– 1 (20 oz.) can of chunk pineapple (drained) set juice aside
– ½ cup sugar
– 3 Tbsp. plain flour
– 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
– 1 roll of butter crackers (Ritz will do) crumbled. Put in plastic, put a potholder of top of the bag then using your hand push down of the crackers until crumbled.
– 1 stick of butter, melted
Don’t make this dish too far in advance.
A) Mix sugar and flour together
B) Place in layers in shallow glass baking dish.
1. Pineapple
2. Sugar, flour mixture
3. Cheese, cracker crumbs
4. Lay in same order until done.
Pour melted butter over crackers.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins. If it seems to be dry add a little pineapple juice. You can add a number of items. Change or mix cheeses, change crackers to croutons or different crackers. You can add crab or shrimp just before it’s done. This make a simple year around meal.
Until next time!

By Rev. David Hoover