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Columns December 19, 2017  RSS feed

Cooking Country

Sherry Matney

Well we’ve made it folks. Less than one week until Christmas Day!! We have cooked our way through Halloween,

Thanksgiving and now Christmas. Paul and I have three sons, three daughters-in-law, twelve grandchildren, four grandchildren- in- law, and seven great-grandchildren. This year two of the unmarried boys are bringing their girl friends but a couple of the grands can’t make it so the numbers will all even out. On December 26th, no one is coming until then, we will have 31 family members, including us, and all will be hungry. Nine will go home that evening but the rest will be here most of the rest of the week. Once they get here there is little time to cook so to get ready as much as I can, I cook as many favorite dishes as possible ahead of time. So already in my freezer are gumbo, cowboy stew, brisket, and the fixing for a shrimp boil. It doesn’t really sound like Christmas food but it is what they like. Also, several of the boys really love fried okra so that will be part of our Christmas dinner on the 26th, as well as some purple hull peas frozen from last summer. Cakes and pies are a must and those that I cooked earlier have already been eaten so its time to do some of those favorites too. A couple of my granddaughters love Key Lime Pie and some of the grandsons like cheesecake. I always have Spicy Crackers on hand as well as Chex Mix. Amazing how fast it disappears, not because I’m such a good cook but because they will eat anything when they are hungry. Candy is something I simply cannot make with any success but still I try. There are some shortcuts that help my poor abilities. My friend, Cheryl, told me about using Betty Crocker Home Style Fluffy White Frosting Mix to make divinity, so this year I’m giving it a try. Another favorite is Pretzel Turtles. Even I should be able to pull those off. So here goes with a couple of easy candy recipes. Good luck and Merry Christmas!!

Easy Divinity

1 package Betty Crocker
Homestyle fluffy white
frosting mix
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup boiling water
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil. Beat dry frosting mix, corn syrup, vanilla and boiling water in small bowl on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed, in a countertop mixer, about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed. Stir in nuts. Drop mixture by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake 5 minutes; remove from oven. Let stand about 4 hours or until candies feel firm. Turn candies over and allow to dry at least 12 hours. Store in airtight container. 5 to 6 dozen candies.

Pretzel Turtles

20 small mini pretzels
20 chocolate covered caramel candies (Rollo)
20 pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place one Rollo on each pretzel. Bake 4 minutes. While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzel. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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