Real Cooking

There use to be an old song that played over and over again on the

radio at this time of year; the lyrics went something like, ?Roll out

those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer….?

Being a farm wife and a mother of two, I?m not sure I really relate to

the lazy part of summer. But the crazy part certainly fits,

considering the baseball schedules, summer drama activities and

harvest right around the corner.

Just trying to remember what kid has a ball game which night and at

what diamond in which neighboring town leaves me foggy brained. Do you

think that?s what the lyricist means by ?hazy?? I really didn?t think

so, either.

In any event, I thought this week I would try to find my way through

the fog and try to answer some questions from readers that have been

posed to me over the last six months or so.

The questions concern cooking, follow-ups on some of the items I have

mentioned in this column, updates on guinea pig searches and the like.

One of the most asked questions that I get is, ?Why are my cookies

spreading all over the sheet? I?ve used the same recipe for years, and

the product is just not the same as it used to be.?

I always follow up this question with one of my own. ?Are you using

butter or shortening in your recipe, or are you using margarine??

The fact is that margarine has changed. The brands many of us have

used for years have lowered their amounts of fat and replaced the

content with water.

The ?spreads,? as they are now labeled, are fine for table use, but in

baking they can lead to disaster.

When looking for an oleo to be used in baking, make sure the package

of sticks is clearly labeled ?margarine.? Many of these are the store

brands, not the national brands. And never use tub margarine, low fat

or diet margarine in baking?and expect a good outcome.

As for me, I use butter. The flavor is incomparable and I know there

is no guessing as to the fat content that is so important to a quality

baked good.

And while we?re on the subject of fat, I?m aware that many of us are

always looking for ways to cut unwanted fat out of our diets. But

really, people, some recipes you just can?t fool with.

I remember one good woman telling me, ?I made your recipe, and it

wasn?t the same as when you made it for us the other day.?

Well, after she cut the fat by half, reduced the sugar by half, took

out the nuts and added raisins, and only used egg whites and not the

whole egg, she really didn?t have my recipe anymore. It might have

been healthier, but how could it taste the same?

We had a good laugh over that one.

I welcome receiving correspondence from readers who are practicing

vegetarianism as part of a healthier life-style. I especially enjoy

the delightful notes I receive from Sonda Bruce, who finds ironic

humor in being a vegetarian living in the middle of Flint Hills cattle


I wonder what my vegetarian friends think about the popularity of the

?low carb, high protein? diets that are all the rage now. Anyone up

for a pound of bacon?

Jumping now to another subject, I understand that many of you have

been asking Melissa Bartel down at Kitchen Corner if she is my

infamous ?buddy? who is often mentioned in this column.

She isn?t. Melissa is my dear friend, but alas, not ?Buddy.? And no,

Buddy is not my imaginary playmate?she?s a real, breathing human being

who (I think) prefers not to be mentioned by name.

Recently, Buddy and I searched for the Chamber of Commerce?s medallion

with discouraging results. On the Friday the medallion was found, we

had been out to the Hillsboro sign, where it had been hidden, and had

looked for a good 40 minutes before having to leave to attend to the

duties of work and children.

It was less than two hours later that my nephew, Eric Driggers, along

with a friend, walked into the same area and found the hidden


We, my buddy and I, being law- abiding women, took the extra time to

contact Tracy Isaac at the Chamber office to make sure we could jump

the fence and search the sign area. My buddy and I, being good

citizens, didn?t want to trample the foliage too badly so we held back

in our search of the planted areas.

My buddy and I, being responsible adults who have to work for a

living. We couldn?t spend the time that college students out for the

summer could afford to waste.

My buddy and I, being good sports, want to publicly congratulate the


Disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow.

Now, on to guinea pigs. After writing about our search for guinea

pigs, Diane Jeffrey called from Marion to make me an offer I couldn?t

refuse. She had two young guinea pigs that needed a new home and we

were more than happy to make room for them here at our house. They?ve

settled in quite well and seem to be thriving, eating carrots out of

hand and letting us stroke their slick coats.

That same column also mentioned my search for a new bedspread?one that

I just can?t seem to find. I got a great note from Audrey McLinden,

also from Marion, who does custom sewing, ?I?ll make you a

spread…need drapes, too??

Audrey, as soon as the fog lifts, I?ll give you a call and we?ll put

our heads together.

* * *

I?ve got a new cookbook, Keeping Good Company, and I liked this recipe

for a potato dish that can be served either hot or cold.

New Potatoes in Sour Cream

1 cup butter, melted

10-12 small red potatoes, scrubbed clean

2/3 cup sour cream

2 Tbs. snipped chives or 2 Tbs. dried dill

8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Salt and pepper

Slice unpeeled potatoes very thin and cook in butter over low heat

until tender. Add bacon, chives, seasonings, and sour cream. Heat

slowly for one minute?do not boil or sour cream will curdle.

My tip: when a recipe calls for fried and crumbled bacon, I use

bottled bacon pieces that can be found in the salad dressing section

of the grocery store. Be sure to use the bacon produced by Hormel or

Oscar Meyer, not imitation bacon like Bac-O?s. One bottle produces

about the same amount of bacon pieces that a pound of raw

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