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Cast-iron Cooking

How many of us are fortunate enough to have inherited a pan from a grandmother or a favorite aunt? Lodge Manufacturing Company of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, makes not only some of the finest cast-iron cookware around but also includes a line of pre-seasoned cookware. The Historic Preservation Society of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, has put together a great cookbook for cast-iron cooking called A Skillet Full. The recipes are handed down through generations but also include updated versions of many old favorites. Check out Lodge cookware and the cookbook at www.lodgemfg.com or call (423) 837-7181 for information on ordering.

BLACK SKILLET CORNBREAD
1 cup fine white cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 pickled jalapenos, minced
4 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease skillet. In a large bowl combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together the egg and the buttermilk. Stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients. Add corn, 2/3 cup cheddar cheese, and minced jalapenos. Stir in melted butter and mix gently. Pour batter into prepared skillet and top with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from skillet to a cooling rack. Serves 6-8.

SOUTHERN GREENS SOUP
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
4 cups water
1 package Knorr’s dry vegetable soup mix
2 lbs. fresh turnip greens, washed, drained, and chopped
1 can (20 oz.) white beans, drained
1 pkg. Polish sausage, sliced

Sauté onion in oil in Dutch oven. Add water and vegetable soup mix. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add turnip greens and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add white beans and sausage. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until greens are tender. Add more hot water if you want it more “soupy.” Serve with hot cornbread. Serves 4.

JOE RAY WILSON’S PORK LOIN
4-lb. lean pork loin
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 large purple onions, sliced
1 jar mincemeat

Select a nice, lean pork loin and have the butcher saw through the bones at serving-size intervals. Put cooking oil in Dutch oven and place on top of stove on medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 350°. Brown the roast on all sides in the Dutch oven. Generously mound roast with sliced onions. Pour jar of mincemeat over all. Cover and cook in oven 35 minutes per pound (about 2-1/2 hours) until tender. Tip: Mincemeat flavored with rum is best. Serves 6 to 8.

VIRGINIA’S STIR-FRIED OKRA
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 lb. fresh or frozen okra, ends removed and sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3 Tablespoons soy sauce

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high until hot. Combine okra with onion, bell pepper, celery, salt, pepper, and thyme. Add okra mixture to skillet and stir-fry about 8-10 minutes, or until okra is crisp but tender. Add soy sauce to vegetable mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until okra is tender. Serves 4-6.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
Topping
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cake
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups flour, sifted 3 times
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°. In the skillet, cook the pineapple, brown sugar, butter, and salt until the topping thickens slightly. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Combine dry ingredients in another bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients and milk to the mixture, alternately. Add the vanilla. Mix well. Pour batter by spoonfuls over the pineapple mixture in the skillet. Bake for about an hour or until the cake tests done. Turn out onto large plate and cut into wedges. Variation: You can use sliced pineapple “for looks,” but some think the crushed pineapple is better. Serves 8 to 10.

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