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Cox: Dishes are just like my mom, grandmother used to make

‘Country Cooking’

By the editors at Betty Crocker (Wiley, $25.95)

What makes this recipe collection so appealing is that most of the featured dishes are family favorites and authentic.

The 325 recipes are divided into eight main categories: Rise-and-Shine Breakfasts; Blue-Ribbon Lunches and Lighter Fare; Down-Home Poultry and Fish; Country Meats and Mainstays; Fresh from the Garden; Warm Up the Oven; Homespun Desserts; and Icebox Creations. These chapters are in addition to menus, helpful nutrition and cooking information, a glossary of cooking terms and even a metric conversion guide.

The recipes are fast, easy and foolproof. Even though some of recipes are heirloom favorites, all have been adjusted to accommodate the labor-saving resources of today’s modern kitchen. Looking through many of the recipes brought back memories, especially of my grandmother’s country kitchen. The Country Fried Steak with Milk Gravy is almost identical to the way she prepared it. The Wilted Spinach Salad is the real deal as is the Hoppin’ John. I suspect the Chocolate Chiffon Icebox Cake recipe is also the same that was used by my mom when I was a youngster.

More than 80 full-color photos and clear cooking instructions make this collection essential. Whether you want to make a Hot Fudge Cake that doesn’t require eggs, and can be made in less than an hour, or Candied Sweet Potatoes that are reminiscent of family dinners, this cookbook is just one example of why more than 65 million Betty Crocker collections have been sold since 1950.

Three recipes were tested from Country Cooking. Since I have a bumper crop of lemons in my yard, I made a Lemon-Filled Coconut Cake that was moist and absolutely scrumptious. The Avocado-Citrus Salad, which featured lime juice, grapefruit, one large orange and mint leaves, was a perfect pick for a hot afternoon. My third and favorite was a zesty Mexican Beef-and-Bean Casserole.

Mexican Beef-and-Bean Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef

2 cans (15- to 16-ounces each) pinto beans, drained

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 cup mild chunky salsa (I used hot, hot, hot)

1 teaspoon chili powder (I used chili powder from Santa Cruz Chili Co.)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers

Heat oven to 375F.

Cook beef in 10-inch skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown. Drain.

Mix beef, beans, tomato sauce, salsa and chili powder in ungreased 2-quart casserole.

Cover and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered for about five additional minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve.

Tucsonan Larry Cox’s “Shelf Life” reviews of fiction and nonfiction books and his “Treasures & Trends” antiques column run Thursdays in Calendar Plus. For more, go to tucsoncitizen.com/calendar.
E-mail: contactlarrycox@aol.com

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