From Lovey’s Kitchen: Cooking Lessons: Practice makes perfect

From Lovey’s Kitchen: Cooking Lessons: Practice makes perfect

My name is Lee Ann Flemming. I am honored to begin writing and sharing a weekly food column for The Star-Herald. I’ve been a food writer for 20 years and a retired middle school teacher. My husband Steve and I have been married for 42 years and live in Cruger. We have a son, Steven, a daughter-in-law, Stephanie, and a 12-year-old granddaughter, Leila Rose. In addition to being a food writer, I was also the food stylist for the Dreamworks film The Help. Yes, I made Minny’s cake! When the film’s DVD was released, I was hired by Disney Studios to promote sales of the film’s DVD by traveling to appear on morning TV shows and giving interviews for magazines and newspapers.

For as long as I can remember I have always had a love for food and recipes. I read cookbooks like most people read novels. For my 8th birthday I received my first cookbook called Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook for Hostesses of Tomorrow. I still have it on my cookbook shelf. Under the title is the statement “Simple recipes without mistakes”. It is marked with a large black “X”. The first recipe I tried were peanut butter cookies. I used ¼ cup salt instead of ¼ teaspoon salt as listed in the ingredients. My first culinary attempt wasn’t my best, and apparently I figured it was the cookbook’s fault. I don’t know how on earth my parents choked down those cookies. Luckily I had made them coffee with their biscuits. Unfortunately I had used cold water for the instant coffee!

When I got married I was a pretty good cook. It helped studying home economics in college. However, there were a couple of country style dishes that my husband loved and that I really didn’t know how to make. My first attempt at cooking fried chicken was a disaster. I roasted four chicken breasts for just over 2 hours. All that was left was the crust and bones. The meat just disappeared. They were beautiful and could have graced the cover of any food magazine. I had never made gravy and it was similar to Play-Doh. It wouldn’t come off the spoon. My very patient mother-in-law took me under her wing and taught me how to make chicken gravy and gravy. It took a lot of practice, but I eventually mastered both of them.

As a young bride at the age of 22, my husband and I had just settled in the Mississippi Delta where my husband started farming. I entered the local newspaper’s annual recipe contest. To my great surprise and delight, I not only won one of the categories, but also the grand prize for best recipe overall. The newspaper ran an interview with me and gave me a check for $250 as the grand prize winner. For newlyweds just starting out, it was like a million dollars.

I love shrimp! It’s probably my favorite meal. Mom said when I was little I could eat them faster than she could peel them. When I eat out, the question isn’t what to order, it’s how my shrimp will be cooked. Today I have three recipes with shrimp as the main ingredient. I hope you will try them. Thank you for reading.

AWARD-WINNING RICE SALAD WITH SEAFOOD

2 cans shrimp, drained

1 can tuna, drained

3 cups cooked, cooled minute rice

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped sweet cucumber

1½ cups finely chopped celery

¼ cup diced peppers

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and toss slightly. salt and pepper to taste. Cool thoroughly and serve on leaf salads and garnish with tomato wedges.

STEVEN’S SHRIMP SPAGHETTI

3 pounds raw, peeled shrimp

1 tablespoon of salt

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon of black pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 sticks of butter, melted

12 ounces of spaghetti, prepared according to package directions

8 ounces Velveeta cheese, diced

Place shrimp in a large casserole dish. Add points 2-10. Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and stir in the prepared and drained spaghetti noodles. Add diced Velveeta cheese and stir well. Back in the oven to heat thoroughly. Can be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature about 30 minutes before baking.

LAYERED SHRIMP DIP

2 (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened

1 bottle of cocktail sauce

2 cans shrimp, drained

1 bunch spring onions, sliced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 chopped tomato

1 can chopped black olives, drained

1 pound grated mozzarella cheese

Spread soft cream cheese on a serving plate. Pour the cocktail sauce over it; Layer the shrimp, onion, bell pepper, tomato and black olives. Sprinkle with cheese and chill. Serve with your favorite crackers.

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