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Mary’s Memo #2133

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF

Summer has come and gone but the Consumer Information Catalog has everything you need to keep you going for the rest of the year. To get a copy, call toll-free 1-888-878-3256, weekdays 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time.



Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it's your turn to host the family meal. Item 616T in the catalog includes four simple rules to prevent food-borne illness and keep your family healthy and happy.



Moving on, I've made homemade breads my entire adult life and still love doing it. When I see many breads selling for over $3.00 a loaf at the supermarket, I'm thinking more people should join me and make their own! Although people are counting calories and shy away from a lot of sweet stuff at bake sales, my rolls and bread continue to attract customers.



Bread making is an art but don't be intimidated because anyone willing to try can master it, especially with a copy of 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads by Judith Fertig. Published this month by Robert Rose, Fertig shows the home baker how he or she can achieve incredible results in minutes. She covers everything from basic equipment, making it ahead of time and how to master easy, no-knead, one-bowl breads. Your artisan loaves will have a crisp, darkened crust, a tender and moist crumb and a mellow, toasty flavor. The basic dough will also make delicious rolls, pizza or flatbread.



As you work your way through Fertig's new cookbook, each recipe will become easier to make and by holiday time you'll have artisan-type breads to serve at home and/or to give away as gifts.



Judith Fertig is a talented food writer, cooking instructor and product spokesperson. She is also one of the best-trained barbecue experts in the country and one-half of the famous "BBQ Queens" best selling cookbook duo with Karen Adler. Their latest book is 300 Big and Bold BBQ & Grill Recipes.



Look for 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads (Robert Rose; October 2009; softcover/$24.95) at your favorite book store or order from Amazon.com. Believe me; this cookbook will pay for itself in homemade bread savings!




TRICK OR TREAT TIME

Each year Halloween is becoming more of a reason to celebrate with decorations and food. My neighbors tell me that when their children went trick or treating they made a beeline for our home because I gave away homemade popcorn balls and they wanted to be sure they got one. But when scary things turned up in homemade treats around the country I switched to wrapped candy like most everyone else. Until recently I had no idea how much the popcorn balls meant to neighborhood children. So this year I'll be in the garage with a bowl of commercially wrapped candy but for old time's sake I'll also have homemade popcorn balls and hot spiced cider (for the adults). I can't guarantee that I'll have enough popcorn balls to last through 1 1/2 hours of trick or treating but like earlier days, they'll be available on a first come first serve basis.The only recipe I've ever used is from Better Homes and Gardens so if it works why fix it!



POPCORN BALLS

20 cups popped corn (5 quarts)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Keep popped corn warm and crisp in 225F oven. Combine sugar, water, corn syrup, salt and vinegar in large heavy saucepan. Cook to hardball stage (250 degrees on a candy thermometer). Stir in vanilla. Slowly pour over popped corn and stir just to mix well. Butter hands and quickly shape mixture into even size balls. Recipe makes 15 to 20. Package in plastic sandwich bags and tie with orange paper ribbon.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens recipe.



Frosted Pumpkin Drops will also put smiles on the faces of trick or treaters and adults, too.



FROSTED PUMPKIN DROPS

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar.
Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in dates and walnuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake in preheated 375oF oven for 10 minutes or until cookies are golden. Cool on rack and spread with frosting. To make, combine brown sugar, milk and butter. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Store cookies in plastic container, separating layers with waxed paper. Download PDF of Memo #2133

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