My friend Marie Nichols and I try to meet halfway one Saturday a year to giggle and gossip. We meet in Maggie Valley, take some of our own food and try to impress each other with a new recipe. She won with a delicious pineapple-coconut pie. We didn’t throw out my curried chicken salad. We have a favorite lunch spot, but there was a very popular festival in progress and we would have starved to death if we hadn’t brought our own.

You remember one of my favorite cookbooks is “Cooking With the Pioneers” by telephone company employees. I visit it frequently. A pumpkin pound cake spoke to me last visit and it’s fall so let’s have one. I reduced the amount of oil by a quarter cup, but I’ll let you decide if you want to use the full cup according to the recipe. We did not throw out the half that’s missing in the picture. We served it drizzled with caramel sauce and dolloped with whipped cream.

I’ve told y’all several times I’d be a vegetarian if not for fried chicken, New York strips on the grill, bacon and roast turkey, but I respect folks who don’t eat anything with a face. Vegetarian chili does not miss ground beef. It could use some good rich beef broth rather than water if you like your chili a little on the soupy side.


Custard Pie

2 (8-inch) unbaked pie shells

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 stick butter plus 2 tablespoons

6 eggs, beaten

1 cup coconut, very firmly packed

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325°

Melt butter; blend in sugar, salt, beaten eggs and vanilla. Stir in coconut and pineapple. Pour equal amounts into the pie shells. Bake 45 minutes or until golden and set. Cool at room temperature.

Vegetarian Chili

3 tablespoons butter, oil or bacon drippings

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon salt

3 ribs celery, diced

1 large, green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup diced onion

2 jalapenos, seeded, deveined and finely diced, optional

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (7-ounce) can diced green chilies, drained

2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1/4 -1/2 cup chili powder

1 can Mexicorn, drained

1 can each of Bush’s pinto chili beans in mild sauce, white beans in mild sauce and black beans in mild sauce. (Do not drain. The sauce adds needed liquid and extra flavor.)

In a large heavy Dutch oven, cook celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir frequently, mind you don’t burn the garlic. Add seasonings. Stir well. Add chilies, jalapenos and tomatoes. Bring to gentle boil. Reduce heat, add beans and corn. Return to gentle boil. Simmer 15 — 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Remove bay leaves. Serve hot.

Cook’s note: about the seasonings, notice the large amount of salt. Add it by teaspoonfuls til it’s as salty as you like. Same with the chili powder, add by tablespoons to taste. Substitute any of the beans or add more to taste. A can of Rotel is good if you like it a little hotter. The options are many. Make it your own.

Pumpkin Pound Cake

1(15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin

1 /4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup oil

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a bundt pan with Pam for baking, or grease and flour.

Combine sugars, oil and eggs; beat well. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Whisk to blend. Add dry ingredients to the oil mixture; mix well. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake one to one and a half hours. Check with a cake tester after one hour. Ovens and pans vary greatly.

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