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

April 2, 2010

Welcome to April, the month of Dr. John's birth. I'm not going to tell you how long ago it was, but back then very few people had cell phones or iPods.

Easter is here. I recall many happy hours dyeing hard-boiled eggs in various pastel colors. The veteran egg dyers could come up with eggs that were one color on one end and another color on the other end. That was artistic talent then. As I recall, none of the abundant hard-boiled eggs ended up as egg salad. The great majority of them were consumed one at a time by our parents, who just peeled them and added a little salt. I would never touch a "real" Easter egg if there was a candy one around.

It is time for the doctor to go to work.

Lois writes: Dr. John, what kind of gravy goes with biscuits and gravy?

Tradition has a cream/milk gravy to smother your biscuits. My favorite that makes a one-dish meal for breakfast or supper is Sawmill Gravy.

In a two-quart saucepan or large skillet, crumble and brown one pound of pork sausage. Move it around continuously so that it does not scorch. When it is done, there should be about two tablespoons of sausage grease in the pan. If you use a really lean sausage, you can add enough shortening to make two tablespoons full.

Next you sprinkle two heaping tablespoons of flour over the sausage, mixing well as you add it. Let the mix cook a couple of minutes longer, stirring well.

Now pour in a can of condensed milk (don't use the sweetened variety – just regular condensed milk). Stir and stir to keep lumps from forming. The gravy will start to thicken almost immediately. You will have to keep adding condensed milk and stirring until you get the desired thickness.

The only seasonings needed are salt and black pepper, lots of black pepper. You can also use the above method with ground beef, and serve the gravy over toast and call it "SOS" (something on a shingle). It's an old Army favorite. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Steve asks: Doc, what's the secret to a good hard-boiled egg? I have trouble with them coming all apart when I peel them.

Steve: The first thing about cooking eggs anyway is to have them at room temperature when you start to prepare them. An ice cold egg is going to be hard to cook anyway you go about it. Put them out on the counter the night before.

Next you want an egg that is a few days old. The experts say an egg five days old is best for boiling. The fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel.

Put your eggs in the pot in a single layer. Cover them with at least an inch of cool water. Bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for about a minute. Cover the pot and set it off the heat. Let is sit for 12 to 15 minutes. Take the pot to the sink and start running in cold water. Run the water until the eggs are cool to the touch.

Peel the eggs under slowly running cool water at the sink. Dry them and they are ready to use.

According to the size of your egg, it may take a little longer or a little less time with the lid on. You can check by putting in an extra "test" egg when you cook them. After 11 minutes with the lid on, remove one of the eggs from the pot with a slotted spoon and place it in cold water until it gets cool enough to handle. Open it and check for doneness. If there is a green ring around the yolk, it is over done. A little experimentation will put you in the ballpark. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

[The doctor tells his patients to experiment frequently. That is because there are so many variables in the process of cooking food. A setting of 325°F in your oven may be an actual temperature of 350° or 300°. Humidity and altitude also figure into the equation. The manufacturers who turn out foods cooked in large volume have the equipment required to produce the same results time after time. Their product will never get better. But while you are experimenting, you may come up with a whole new process or list of ingredients that could lead you to becoming the next Colonel Sanders.]

Interested Reader says: I have been using the Silk soy milk. I like it just fine. Do you know if you can cook with it like regular milk?

I.R.: In most cases you can cook with the soy just like regular milk. When making gravies, sauces and the like you may have to add additional thickener such as flour or cornstarch to get the consistency you want. Again we are back to "try it and see what happens". Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Loyal reader Forest is back: Hello, Dr. John. I was wanting input on what to prepare in the smoker for Easter, I am doing 40 pounds of Boston butt, the meatloaf and vegetables recipe you sent me long ago, and maybe some Jalapeño (buffalo eggs). I have a decent size family with all the nephews and their families, so I thought you might have a couple southern-style side recipes I could prepare in the smoker. Thanks, John.

Forest: In my part of Texas, ham is a traditional Easter food. You don't have to do a whole ham. I would get a couple of good ham steaks and cut them into about one-inch squares. Then take pineapple chunks and alternate with the ham squares on skewers. Mix the pineapple juice with some of your best barbecue sauce and use it for a baste. You might want to add a little sugar. This will make some great appetizers.

Corn is always good. Get a couple of cans of Mexi-Corn. Drain them well. Place in suitable container, put a few pats of butter on top and warm in the smoker. This looks good and tastes good, too.

Happy Easter to your and yours.

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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