Friday, April 30, 2010


Recently I tried some NatureCrops Nutrition Bars
containing quinoa. (It's pronounced “keenwa.”) Delicious! I especially liked the way the quinoa seeds popped when I chewed them. I couldn't wait to try cooking quinoa.

We bought a cup of quinoa seeds in the bulk foods department at Central Market in Plano, Texas. This evening I cooked it for supper. Yum!

DIRECTIONS ON THE BAG: Add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water or broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Yields 3 ½ cups. Serve as a side dish. Add sauteed onions and vegetables.

I don't like to run to the store. Usually there is something on hand that can make a tasty meal. While the quinoa seeds simmered in broth, I found enough vegetables to fill a huge skillet: frozen English peas, broccoli, green bell peppers, corn ; fresh onions, garlic, carrots. I stir fried the vegetables in a small amount of olive oil. After combining the vegetables and the quinoa, I added a generous amount (six tablespoons) powdered green chili dissolved in water, a big shake of black pepper, and a small amount of cumin. Then I stirred that together.

Topped with sour cream and a small amount of grated cheddar in bowls, it was a winner.

Quinoa was cultivated in the Andean region of South America by the Incas. It's been an important food for thousands of years. The greens can be eaten as a nutritious food.

Three and one half ounces of uncooked quinoa seeds contains 368 calories with 7 grams fiber. It's rich in vitamins, especially thiamine, riboflavin, B6, and folate.

The seeds can be toasted and served in salads or with toasted nuts. It is a good source of essential amino acids; therefore vegetarians find it a healthy choice.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

As people throughout the United States are developing a love for Louisiana food, where do they get their recipes?

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a wave of desire for the Louisiana food experience swept across the country with the Louisianans. People began wanting to eat more Cajun food, to collect more Louisiana recipes, and to read more of the lore of Louisiana.

Using the pen name of Jane Riley, I wrote the story cookbook reader, entitled Flavored with Love: Mary Lou's Family and Friends Can Cook

This book is full of heart-warming stories and yummy recipes about and by my relatives and friends who live mostly in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

After Katrina and Rita hit the region, people buying and reading Flavored with Love, Second Edition, begged for more south Louisiana food and experiences.

To meet these requests I interviewed cooks with knowledge of authentic Cajun and Creole food in Louisiana towns such as Grammercy and Donaldsonville to add to the book. I persuaded some of the leading Louisiana restaurateurs to share their tastiest recipes in Flavored with Love. I interviewed south Louisiana people and captured their words the way they spoke them.

Flavored with Love, Third Edition, contains New Orleans influenced cuisine, Mississippi comfort food, and spicy Texas dishes. It introduces a new style of intermingled cooking–La Cusine Texianne®.

Many of the recipes are for the best old stuff that is difficult to find these days. Other recipes explain methods of cooking light food with an accelerated sense of taste. With this book you can serve an authentic Louisiana meal that you prepared without difficulty and fill your house with the distinctive odors of Creole and Cajun food. There is no equal!

Flavored with Love, Third Edition, contains over 300 recipes. There are 320 pages in the third edition with more than 60 new recipes not found in the previous versions. The recipes are in big easy-to-read print so it is possible to place the book on the counter and read it while cooking without smearing it with fingerprints. The book has a lay flat binding, which also helps the book stay open on the counter-top.

With its big 8½ x 11" pages and clever cover, it is pretty enough to place on the living room coffee table. Humorous and poignant stories mixed with the recipes are well loved by all who read them. The stories warm hearts while the food satisfies taste buds.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baked Coon

Soon it's going to be too warm to cook this recipe. We're reaching the end of the "R" months.

Raccoons love city life. A country coon weighs as much as fifteen pounds, but a city coon can weigh as much as sixty pounds. Louisiana country coons are content with acorns, fresh fruit, vegetables, and crawfish. Urban coons prefer the higher calorie diet they find in garbage cans. Country coons sleep in the woods, but city coons reside in outbuildings and abandoned houses.

People try to turn raccoons into pets. Although they are cute, I don't recommend them as pets. Their claws are dangerous. If people feed them pet food such as cat food, the raccoons develop gout, which can be painful for the little fellows.

They are not as clean as we have thought. They don't really wash their food; instead they like to play with it in the water when they can. Furthermore, some of them have rabies, leptospirosis, listeriosis, tetanus, or tularemia. Coon eaters, beware.

In earlier days, raccoons were considered a delicacy. They were popular food items, especially at Christmas in the United States. People in all social circles loved them. Today they remain a well-loved source of food. I know families who enjoy eating raccoons for Christmas dinner. They tell me it tastes scrumptious.
Here is a great recipe for baking a raccoon.

Terry Chrisman shared her mother’s recipe for baked raccoon with me. Since I can’t find any raccoons, I have not tried this recipe. Although it is my policy to try recipes whenever possible—my freezer door is propped closed because of all the food I’ve cooked and stored—I will make an exception in this case. Terry is a distinguished cook, and I trust her. She called her mother to verify the recipe. Because you may find a raccoon you need to cook, I’ll share the recipe with you.

It was one of the first entries at this blog, which now has 370 entries. Also the readers of the Bernice Banner (Louisiana) told me they enjoyed it when I shared it there as a suggestion for Christmas dinner.

Baked Coon by Ann Webb

Dress the coon.
Remove all the glands, especially from under the arms.
Quarter it.
Cover it with pepper sauce.
Lay thick slices of peeled sweet potatoes around the edges.
Pour a little bit of water in the pan.
Sprinkle a cup of dark brown sugar over the sweet potatoes and coon.
Cover the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees until tender.

Terry told me that her mother cooks coon two or three times a year only in cold weather. Her father kills them when he goes squirrel hunting. She said, “He’s supposed to be squirrel hunting, but if he sees a coon, he kills it.”
Baked coon would be a gourmet meal with collards and cornbread on the side.

Flavored with Love: Mary Lou's Family and Friends Can Cook

Aunt Etta's Turnip Greens

The little memoir of Uncle Dan's concern over eating turnip greens is a true story. It appears in Flavored with Love: Mary Lou's Family and Friends Can Cook

It also appeared in the Bernice Banner (Bernice, Louisiana).

Feeling queasy a few months after being married, Etta decided she needed medical help. Uncle Dan took her to the doctor, who informed the young couple that she was pregnant. “Don’t hurt yourself lifting heavy loads and working too hard on the farm,” the doctor cautioned. “Eat a balanced diet.”

As they were walking into the waiting area on their way out the clinic, Dan, exposing his ignorance of the subject, turned around and went back to talk with the doctor another time. “Doctor, I’ve got a question.”

“What is that?”

“Is it all right if I eat turnip greens?” he asked.

My family laughed about this for years.

Etta's Turnip Greens

1. Pick some nice tender greens from the patch down in the damp hollow. The best ones are grown in cold weather with a kiss of frost on them.
2. Wash them thoroughly to rid them of grit and sand. Don’t skimp on the washing.
3. Be sure to pull off the stems and ladybugs.
4. You may want to peel and slice a few turnip roots and toss them into the pot with the greens.
5. Fill a big pot with greens.
6. Cover them with water.
7. Throw in a lump of bacon grease the size of a large egg.
8. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Shake in a tiny bit of red pepper.
9. Add a spoonful of sugar–the size depending on how bitter the greens are.
10. Throw in a douse of pepper sauce, or if you don’t have any, use vinegar.
11. Cook the greens over low heat for hours to make sure they are tender.
12. Cut them before serving.


1 .It’s easier to cut the greens before cooking, but that procedure is unorthodox.
2. Serve the greens with plenty of thin fresh cornbread to sop up the pot liquor. Try cracklin’ bread.
3. A sprinkle of hot pepper sauce would taste good on greens.
4. A ham hock or a small block of side meat could be substituted for the bacon grease.
5. If you want to make a pot of heart-healthy food, try omitting the grease altogether and add low sodium beef bouillon with a few drops of liquid smoke.
6. Greens have been enjoyed with slices of fresh raw onions.
7. You may want to dip some sliced green tomatoes in flour and fry them in a small amount of fat in a skillet to serve with your greens.
8. Sliced ripe tomatoes would be good too.
9. Some people serve peppers–sliced bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, hot peppers–with greens.
10. Linda R., a Louisiana friend, cooks garlic in green leafy vegetables.
11. Frozen greens taste good if they are cooked carefully.
12. Diane, my sister-in-law, cuts cooked fresh greens with a pizza cutter.

FLAVORED WITH LOVE has more stories about Aunt Etta and Uncle Dan. THE COLLARD PATCH is an entire book about cooking greens, primarily collards, and the cornbread to go with them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Home Town -- Those Funny Names of Mississippi Places in Our Neck of the Woods

Join this Facebook group if your heart is in Taylorsville, Mississippi (Smith County)

We natives of Taylorsville (Smith County, Mississippi) have our pride about our town's name. Even though our town is small, we at least have a better name than some of the surrounding communities can claim.

To the east of the town of our origin is Soso. This name was given to that community 125 years ago by Jim Eaton, a Taylorsville post office worker, who thought the community was so so. Those dear people have kept the name and made the best of it. It has become distinctive. The Soso residents received a lemon of a name from a Taylorsvillian and made lemonade out of it.

To the southeast is Sullivan's Hollow, named after Wild Bill Sullivan. The legendary rowdy ways of that community have become internationally famous. We Taylorsvillians cannot help adding the sin of envy over their name to the pride we feel for our own name.

South of us is Hot Coffee, Mississippi. This community supposedly had an inn there that sold hot coffee. Most people have never heard of Taylorsville, but they know about Hot Coffee. Taylorsville is much more significant than Hot Coffee. It's too bad! We have such a respectable name but people don't know about us.

Part of the problem is that there's nothing very original or unique about the name of our town. We share the name with places in Utah, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, and Iowa. In fact, there are two towns named Taylorsville, Mississippi.

We pronounce the word by accenting the first syllable with no emphasis on the "ville." We are very boastful of the name.

Recently I read that it is believed that the original town of Taylorsville was called "Bullace" back in 1898 when a road from Jackson to Laurel was built. How humiliating to have had such an undignified beginning name!

Sources: s_2_23/ai_n29132353/ Index=285673

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Five Prizes

How do you make broccoli salad?

When I compiled and wrote FLAVORED WITH LOVE, which includes recipes from my friends and family, I published two broccoli salad recipes because I liked both of them.

I've been wondering whether some of you have other ideas about making broccoli salad. Send me your recipe at MaryLCheatham at The contributors of the five best broccoli salad recipes will receive free copies of FLAVORED WITH LOVE!

Please send me your recipe by March 30, 2010.

1. Broccoli Salad
1 bunch broccoli (Use only the flowerets.)
½ cup red onion
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup celery

Combine the above ingredients.

1 cup Miracle Whip® (We use the low fat.)
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup sugar

Combine the dressing ingredients and stir the dressing into the salad.

2. Broccoli Salad
4 cups broccoli
½ cup raisins
½ cup nuts
½ cup onion
½ cup celery
½ cup real bacon bits
½ cup light mayonnaise
½ cup sugar
¼ cup vinegar (apple cider or white)

Mix the first 6 ingredients. Make a sauce out of the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar. Pour the sauce over the salad. Toss and chill.

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Crawfish Tortellini Salad

Who said crawfish and collard greens don't mix? This salad from The Collard Patch will prove otherwise. When we cooked this and featured it on KTVE news, the staff had trouble giving the news that day because they kept sneaking over to get a little more of this while they were trying to give the news, weather, and sports.

Crawfish Tortellini Salad
½ cup thinly sliced green onions with tops
1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup small fresh mushrooms
1 cup large pitted ripe olives
1 cup fresh red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
12 ounces frozen crawfish tails
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt-free Creole seasoning
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
1 teaspoon Splenda®
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt substitute to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 cup seedless golden raisins
1 package (14 ounces) cheese tortellini
4 ounces (¼ cup) feta cheese
4 cups tender baby collard leaves, chopped
4 cups Romaine lettuce, torn into small pieces

Place the first 6 ingredients in a big bowl.

Place ¾ cup olive oil in the blender. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and all the remaining powdered seasonings. Blend until it is well mixed. Stir in the parsley and basil.

Pour the blended dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and marinate them covered at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Sauté the crawfish in ¼ cup olive oil and Cajun seasoning about 5-7 minutes. Even though there will be other seasoning mixed with the tortellini, each individual crawfish needs its own spiciness.

You don’t want those crawfish to get lonesome. After you sauté them long enough to catch the seasoning, set them aside to cool.

Cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Cook it al dente. Drain it in the colander and allow it to cool.

Toss the crawfish, tortellini, and raisins with the vegetable mixture.

When you serve the salad, place it over the greens. Garnish it with feta cheese.

Cooking Tips
Instead of crawfish, substitute 1 of the following:
3 cups white chicken meat, cooked and chopped
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
If the feta cheese is a block, cube it.
Cubed ham would be tasty too.

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