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If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc

March 4, 2008

One of the doctor's greatest pleasures comes when he gets feedback from his readers. The only way I know if my message and treatments are getting out to Texas-style cooking fans and those poor folks who don't eat Texas-style is from the letters I receive.

Since I have been writing this column, I do not recall a single letter criticizing my opinions or prescriptions. I have had a few letters that have said nice things. That's what keeps me going on here. Here is a sample of what my nice readers can do.

A while back I had a letter from Aggie stating that her husband's cornbread recipe has "Gone away". I gave her what I thought were reasonable things to try to cure the problem. Then I get a letter from Marilyn giving her Mother's cornbread recipe which she (Marilyn) wrote down. Writing down an unrecorded recipe is a wonderful way to preserve family tradition. If you have an unrecorded recipe you ought write it down; it won't be around forever. Here's what Marilyn had to say:

Regarding Aggie's husband's problem with cornbread, she didn't mention the use of liquid. My mother's cornbread recipe used buttermilk, but I have seen many recipes using regular sweet milk. Mom also used oil, versus shortening. Her recipe, which I had to write down as she made it, is as follows:
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Combine dry ingredients; add egg, buttermilk and oil, mixing well. Pour batter into a well-greased, pre-heated cast iron skillet. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Yummy, hot from the oven with butter!

Another faithful reader, Ron, sent me his favorite recipe for North Carolina Barbecue Sauce -- Western North Carolina to be exact.

Western North Carolina Barbecue Sauce
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • 1-1/3 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Cook over medium low heat for at least 30 minutes, then place in refrigerator for 2 days.

Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature and process through a sieve to remove red pepper seeds. Transfer to a plastic squeeze bottle and the remainder to one-quart glass jar. Store in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature before using or put it in the microwave till warm.

Ron says this sauce is primarily a basting sauce or mop. He adds that, even with the sugar content, it does not tend to burn.

If you have a favorite family recipe you would like to share with the Texas Cooking family, send it to me here. If we get it kitchen tested, it might show up in Grandma's Cookbook with your permission, of course. I have a policy of not printing the last names of my readers to protect their privacy as much as I can.

Let's call Nurse Goodbody and see what is in the waiting room that needs the Doctor's attention:

Forest is getting ready for the season. He says:

Hello Doctor John: I have gotten some cherry wood and white oak from some firewood I got a couple months back. I have a New Braunfels Silver Smoker and was thinking about getting the smoker greased and ready for one of my usual family getogethers this summer. What type would make the Boston Butt taste the best? I used your advice about using plenty of sea salt, and last time I used oak and it tasted pretty good. Would it make a huge difference in the taste by using cherry?
Hi Forest: In my opinion the oak would work best with the pork. Fruit woods like cherry, apple, plum, etc., will have a milder flavor. They are favored for chicken and lighter meats. You know, you can combine two or three different woods and get a personal favorite flavoring. The best cooking ideas come from trying different things. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Rita needs a Cajun cake recipe:

I ate this cakes at one of our seafood restaurants and it was so, so good and really moist. The cake is called Cajun Cake, and it's made with pineapple, pecan and coconut icing. Can you give me a list of all the ingredients to make this wonderful cake? Thank you so much.

Hi Rita: Here you go:

Cajun Cake
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1-1/2 cups flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar, salt and baking soda. Add the eggs, pineapple and juice. Mix at low speed until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tests done. Have topping ready when cake is done.

To Make Topping: In a saucepan, combine milk, 3/4 cup sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add pecans and coconut and combine. Remove from heat. When cake comes out of the oven, pour on the topping and carefully spread on while cake is still hot.

Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

That Cajun Cake recipe sounds so good, the Doctor is going to the pantry and see if he has all the ingredients. Somebody light the oven, cake batter is coming.

[Editor's note: For a bundt-style version of Cajun Cake, see Cajun Cake in Grandma's Cookbook.

If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc
end article

Traditional Texas Food Articles
By Dr. John, Ph.B.

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