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Thank you to everyone who sends comments and questions about Texas Cooking recipes and articles. We appreciate your input. And we will try to answer as many of your questions as possible. Feel free to send your comments and questions to the editors at feedback@texascooking.com .
-Patricia Mitchell

I am originally from Texas, my dad use to own a meat market and can remember when my dad would make brisket on the pit. Needless to say he never passed on the secret of making his brisket great tasting brisket all of that went to my brothers. I would Love to eat some brisket only thing is, is how can I make the recipe (Brisket B to T) that is provided on your website it calls for cooking it on the pit can I use the same temp. in my oven.
Thank you, Chula

Chula --
You're right. John Raven's article ( Brisket from B to T) is just the way to go if you're cooking it on a pit. But, if you want to cook a brisket in the oven, I highly recommend our recipe, Texas Oven Brisket.

I've made this many, many times. It's absolutely wonderful and pretty foolproof. Just get good-quality beef and remember that the bigger your brisket, the longer the cooking time should be, like 4 lbs. - 4-1/2 to 5 hours. 5 pounds, 5-1/2 to 6 hours, and so on. I think you'll be reminded of home when you eat this brisket.
-Patricia

Texas Cooking is Texas Authentic

I was born and raised here at Waco, and I want you to know that I refer to your site when I forget quantities or ratios of authentic Texas recipes. Everything on here is absolutely authentic, I can vouche. Your cornbread recipe is identical to the one my share-cropper grandmother made every single day. Your enchilada recipe is totally right. This is very soothing and reassuring to me~ that some people are truthful and do things right. Thanks!

~Lorna P.
Waco, Texas

Appreciated Fan Mail for June

This site is great. You have so many of the things that I search for on a regular basis....food, recipes, events, history. All of it is great. I'm a true blue born and raised Texan and it is wonderful to see a site like this dedicated to our lifestyle and what makes us "us". I've saved the page to my favorites and I will be checking it CONSTANTLY. I'm really excited to see all of the great things ya'll have on it.

Thanks, Tammi K of Crosby, Texas

Tammi - And thank you very much as well. Thank you for your kind words.

Your web site is one of the best on the internet, I constantly have new ideas for great meals!

Thanks, Tara of Pensacola, Florida

I am very impressed with your tex-mex recipes . Tried the Tamale pie last night , gave it an AAAA +++++ . I plan on making it for our up coming church dinner . Found it to be cost effective ( cheap to make ) but great on flavor . Will try more recipes on this web site .

Mary Ann in Jacksonville, Florida

It has been so great to get more 'Texas' receipes that my friends all rave about when I fix them and most of all want the receipes! There is nothing quite like the foods I find on your site and it brings back memories of the cooking at "Big Mama's House." Thanks for memories for my California Grandkids to be able to find out about their Grandparents.

Nita in Yorba Linda, California

Testing Eggs

My grandmother used to test eggs by putting them in water. If they float they are not good. Is this true? I never know how long to keep eggs in the refrigerater. Thank you for your answer

Delia L.

Delia -- Here is some information I found on a British web site that confirms your grandmother's test, and a whole lot more.

First and foremost of course is the use by date on the carton/box, eggs when purchased should have at least two weeks use by date, preferably three to four. This will depend on the dating structure of the company, I suggest you purchase from the same 'brand' and become familiar with it. They may only put a two week use by date on for example. But eggs that are within a week of their use by date are best used for frying, boiling etc but not for baking.

Inside an egg (at the rounded end) is a small air pocket that is barely noticeable when it has just been laid. But as the egg gets older the air pocket increases in size, this also displaces the egg yolk within it. Ever noticed when you boil an egg that the round end is flat or even dips inwards? That is the sign of a stale egg. Also when fried the white of this stale egg will run all over the pan instead of retaining a tight shape.

So how can you tell before you crack the egg open? Place the egg in a glass of cold water

A fresh egg will sit horizontal at the bottom : these eggs are suitable for baking (but preferably not meringue) and will maintain a good tight shape when fried or poached and the yolk should stand quite high with a good semi circular shape

As the egg increases in age and the air pocket gets bigger it will tilt upwards slightly: these eggs are suitable for meringues, baking and will maintain a reasonable shape when fried or poached, the yolk will be flatter in shape

An egg that sits vertically is stale: these eggs are not really suitable for baking, are best used for scrambling or omelets, will not maintain even a reasonable shape when fried or poached, the white will spread and the yolk will be quite flat. When trying to separate, the yolk will probably break as the egg white that surrounds it will be weak

An egg that floats should be disposed of (carefully!)

Actually, an egg has to be really really old to go bad. Or be exposed to heat. Eggs that are properly refrigerated and stored can last for several months before going "bad." An egg with that much age on it would probably fit into the #3 category, above. I do know that, during World War II, people in New Zealand sent fresh eggs, encased in tins of lard, to their cousins in England who were enduring the blitz. That transport sometimes took many weeks.

So, it looks like your grandmother knew what she was talking about. Thanks for writing, and I hope you enjoy Texas Cooking. -Patricia

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Tres Leches Cake Question

Hi,
I just discovered your recipe for Tres Leches cake - could you tell me how to make the meringue frosting? Also, have you come across a recipe for Lime Flan?

Thanks, Dian

Dian -- Our Tres Leches cake does not have a meringue topping. It has frosting made of whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Here is the link: http://www.texascooking.com/features/sept2002treslechescakerecipe.htm

I know there are lots of different recipes for this cake and, if you have your heart set on meringue, I'm sure you'll be able to find one. In the meantime, try it with the whipped cream topping. It's delicious.

Thanks for writing, and I'll be on the lookout for a Lime Flan recipe. -Patricia

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Weeping Meringue

I used a recipe from the texascooking site, Grandma's Lemon Meringue Pie - I following the recipe exactly and when the completed pie came out of the oven it looked delicious, the problem came when I cut into it to eat it, beneath the piled high golden meringue was a yellow watery mess, it had even eroded the pastry crust! Any ideas on where I went wrong?

Jan

Jan -- There are several factors that contribute to weeping meringue. Although all meringue tends to break down somewhat after baking, the excessive moisture under your meringue was most likely caused by undercooking. First of all, it is important that the pie filling be HOT when the meringue is piled on. Then it all needs to go into your pre-heated 350F-degree oven on a middle or upper rack. Bake the meringue until it is nicely browned -- not just light golden in color. Also, make sure your oven temperature is no higher than 350F. More heat than that will quickly brown the meringue on the outside, but fail to cook it all the way through.

I have heard it said that eggs that are not fresh will cause weeping meringue, but I do not agree. I have used eggs that have been in my refrigerator for a while with no problem.

There is a type of meringue -- Swiss Meringue -- that is cooked prior to being put on the pie and baked. It is quite good, and it is more stable than regular meringue. It is also a lot more trouble to make than regular meringue. And since I have never had the Weeping Meringue Curse, at least not to the extent that you describe, I'm quite happy with a regular meringue.

So, next time you make a meringue pie, have your egg whites in the bowl and ready to whip while you make your filling. As soon as you've poured the filling in the pie shell, make your meringue. It doesn't take more than about 3 minutes. Then pile the meringue onto the hot filling, and put your pie in the oven. I think your problem will be solved. If not, let me know, and I'll give you a recipe for Swiss Meringue.

Patricia Mitchell

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Perfect Iced Tea A Hit In Australia

We are in the midst of summer; the humidity and temp. are high, so my memory drifted to a time when I stayed in Canada and relished the glasses of iced tea in summer. I havn't been able to get that here, and the supermarkets only infrequently have a single-glass-packet of powdered iced tea, sweetened with saccherine--ugh-. With my new PC I was encouraged to surf the net and 'discovered' your very appropiate article on ICED TEA. I am going to make some tomorrow, following your instructions and hints carefully.

Thank you. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Peace-ful New Year.

Ernest S of New South Wales, Australia

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Keeping Your Cheesecake From Splitting

Hi, I just made this recipe from Grandma's cookbook. Delicious except the top split in four ways. I covered it with a cherry topping but how could I prevent this from happening? Thnak you for your good advice and great recipes.
Millie

Millie --
I'm so glad you enjoyed the Very Special Cheesecake. It's my favorite cheesecake, and I've never had it crack like you describe. I remembered something from a cheesecake article in the Texas Cooking archives that may be helpful. A lady named Jennifer Farmer wrote it for us a few years back. Among her instructions is this: " . . . When eggs are incorporated, do not mix any more. Over-mixing the eggs is a contributing cause of cracked cheesecakes. (The leading cause of cracking is over-cooking, so donít believe any one who tells you it is normal for a cheesecake to be cracked; it isnít.) Always treat the batter gently.

If you're interested in the entire article, you can find it at http://www.texascooking.com/features/farmer062000.htm

So, over-mixing and/or over-cooking probably made your cheesecake crack. Also, your oven thermostat may be "off" and causing you to cook at higher temperatures than you realize.

I hope this helps you get to the bottom of the problem. I agree that the Cheesecake is delicious, but I don't blame you for wanting it to be perfect in every other respect, as well. Thanks for writing.

Patricia Mitchell
Texas Cooking Online
http://www.texascooking.com

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How many pounds of green beans are in a bushel????

-Augen

Aujen --

According to the Ball Blue Book -- The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing -- 30 pounds of green beans equals a bushel. A bushel, by the way, measures volume -- not pounds. There are 48 pounds of apples in a bushel of apples, for instance. But a bushel basket is always the same size, whatever it's holding.

Hope this answers your question

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Joan Writes:

I HOPE I AM SENDING THIS TO THE RIGHT PLACE, BUT HERE GOES...I NEED TO SUBSITUTE SOMETHING FOR ALCHOL IN MY COOKING BUT HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO FIND HOW WHAT SUBSITUTIONS TO USE...THANKS FOR ANY ASSISTANCE YOU CAN GIVE ME...JOAN

> Joan --

You can usually substitute an equal amount of liquid for alcohol in most any recipe. You can use your imagination for what to substitute, depending upon what you're cooking. In a cake, for instance, you could substitute an ounce of orange juice for an ounce of brandy. But it can be any liquid appropriate to the dish you're cooking.

I hope this answers your question. Thank you for writing, and I hope you enjoy the site.

Patricia Mitchell

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Dear Texas Cooking:

I consulted this site a few weeks ago - found and used the Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler recipe. It was wonderful.

NOW, I have more peaches and a question regarding preparing & freezing this fabulous recipe for "out-of-season" dessert: The recipe places the peach mixture into an 8-inch square Pyrex dish. I wonder if it would be chemically safe to use a product by E-Z Foil , an 8" square aluminum cake pan that comes with a tight fitting plastic cover. I would follow the recipe up to the last step - the second and final 15 minute baking to be done after thawing. What do you think?

Now that I've taken time to re-read this (as well as taken your time) I wonder how it would work if I cooked up the peaches and froze the prepared quantity in freezer bags - freezing them in the aluminum pans. Later, after thawing the mixture, follow the baking directions in the normal fashion.

Thanking you in advance for your comments & / or other suggestions, I remain

Sincerely, Adrienne in San Antonio

Dear Texas Cooking:

I love your Chile Primer, but it doesn't mention dried Guajillo peppers which I found at my local Mexican market. These were produces in New Mexico. Are they, perhaps, dried New Mexican Reds?

Christine --

According to my chile reference book, "The Great Chile Book," guajillos are a different variety from the New Mexico Reds. Here's what it says:

"Related to the pulla. One of the most common cultivars grown in Mexico. Shiny, deep orange-red with brown tones, elongated, tapering to a point and sometimes slightly curved. Measures about 4 to 6 inches long and 1 to 1-1/2 inches across. Thin fleshed; has a green tea and stemmy flavor with berry tones. A little piney and tannic, with a sweet heat. Commonly used in salsas, chile sauces, soups and stews. Source is mainly north and central Mexico."

Despite what that says, it wouldn't surprise me if guajillos are being grown in New Mexico, too. One of these days we'll update our chili primer to include more varieties. I appreciate your writing to us and hope you enjoy the site.

Patricia Mitchell

Next time you have a question about a recipe, feel free to post your question in our Conference Area or e-mail us at feedback@texascooking.com.

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