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December 3, 2010

The good doctor has his "Happy Holidays" sign out for all the good little boys and girls out there. If we can get through Christmas and New Years, then we are free to roam until Valentine's Day. Whew!

From Bob who has a "new" barbecue pit: A friend gave me a homemade barbecue pit made from oilfield pipe. It has been used many times, however, it has been five years since it was in use. What do I need to do to get this grill ready for use? The cooking grates are rusted, but don't appear to be cracked. Should I replace them?
Hi Bob: First thing is to go through and sweep out all the mud dauber nests, bird nests and rats' nests. Build a big fire in the thing and get it real hot. Let if cool off and wire brush off everything you can. When you get the grates as clean as you can, give them a coat of cooking oil. Fire the pit again and let everything warm up and then just cool natural. That should put it back in great shape. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John
Harold is charcoal shopping: Do you have a recommended variety of charcoal or is all the charcoal is the same?
Harold: The brands of charcoal have a lot of differences. Some burn hot and fast, some not as hot and slower burning. I have good results with Kingsford. The charcoal brickettes are mostly clay. Some folk swear the brickettes are harmful for human consumption, but I don't think they will hurt you. Sometimes you can find natural chunk charcoal, which is made from natural wood. This would be the best if you can find it. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John
Claire needs a Cajun Recipe: Recently I was in New Orleans. I had Cajun cake, and I thought it was the greatest. Do you have a recipe?
Claire: Sure do.

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 (2 sticks) 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 flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar, salt and baking soda. Add eggs, pineapple and juice. Mix at low speed until well blended. Pour batter into prepared 9x13-inch pan and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until 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 while the cake is still hot.

Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Editor's Note: Readers may also want to try the recipe for Cajun Cake in Grandma's Cookbook.

Alan has a zesty question: Is orange peel and orange zest the same thing? I have a recipe that calls for one orange zest (zest from one orange). I found a jar of orange peel at the grocery store. Can you tell me if it is the same and how many teaspoons equal one orange zest?
Hi Alan: The "zest" of citrus is the thin, colored, outer layer of peel. The white layer underneath is bitter and you don't want to use it. Zest is best fresh. You can get little "zesters" or graters in the kitchen department of most stores. These just take off the outer layer of peel that you want.

I don't think the bottled peel is of much use. I find it nearly tasteless and somewhat bitter. Learn to get and use the fresh. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Vivian is creaming things: How can you tell when butter and sugar are the right consistency when recipe calls for them to be creamed? Thanks.
Hi Vivian: The mix will be creamed when you can no longer see any patches of sugar or lumps of butter, and everything is mixed together well. Make sure the butter is at room temperature when you start. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John
Maryjayne wants to be a judge: I want to know how one becomes a food judge. I am especially interested in the barbecue competitions. Thank you.
Hi Maryjayne (nice name): Run a Google search for "barbecue judging school", and you'll get a whole list of people who run the schools.

As for things other than barbecue, the best way to get started is to volunteer to judge any cooking contest that comes along. After you get a couple under your belt, so to speak, invitations will start to come in. Good judges are at a premium.

Just remember to mind your manners and follow the instructions given you. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

This wraps up another year of asking Dr. John about southwestern and Texas-style cooking. The doctor is looking forward to continuing his practice. You know what they say, "Practice, practice, practice until you get it right." Only doctors are allowed to practice on paying customers.

Happy holidays to all!

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

Traditional Texas Food Articles
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