by Kellie Henderson
Gail Gillespie of Rainsville said she had a hard time gathering recipes to include in this month’s Co-op Pantry, not because she doesn’t cook, but because she still cooks the way she did when she was a little girl in her mother’s kitchen.
“I grew up cooking with Mama, and she didn’t cook much with recipes. I still make some of the same things we did back then, and I’ve even passed some of them on to my daughter. Mama had four daughters. I’m the oldest, and I’m the only one who still cooks most things from scratch the way she did,” says Gail.
But that doesn’t mean she’s the only good cook in the family. She and one of her sisters started a catering business in Rainsville.
“My daughter Tina bakes wonderful cakes and she took my place in the catering business when I married Joe. She’s always working on a cake, and sometimes it seems like she has a wedding cake to do every weekend. The two of them have a great business,” Gail says.
Gail and Joe have been married for nearly 12 years, and Gail says that’s almost exactly how long she’s been retired. “The day after Joe and I married, I went to my job at the sock mill in Fort Payne. I was there about thirty minutes before I decided it was time for me to retire,” she says.
While she may not punch a clock everyday, Gail still finds plenty to do to keep herself busy. “I make most of Tina’s icings for her cakes, and I stay involved with my grandchildren’s sports and community activities,” says Gail.
Gail and Joe built their home in Rainsville to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Her son, Steven Skaggs, and his wife, Pam, have two sons, Cole and Will, ages 10 and 7. Her daughter, Tina, and her husband, Labron, have a daughter, Jordan, 18, and a son, Clint, 14.
Gail cooks for Joe and herself everyday, and she makes breakfast for her children and their families Sunday mornings.
“Joe and I don’t eat much, so sometimes it’s hard to cook for two people. I’d rather cook a lot. I love for somebody to call me up and say they’re coming to the house about lunchtime. I can cook for a crowd in just a little while,” Gail says.
In addition to maintaining old-fashioned meals and cooking methods, Gail still gardens and cans fresh produce to enjoy throughout the year. But she says being with her grandchildren is her greatest joy. “Because I had always worked, it was a sort of culture shock when I first retired. Now it’s so good to be able to do things for my grandkids when I want to. I wouldn’t trade that time with them for anything,” she says.
Gail shares some recipes this month just perfect for the holidays. Her Chocolate Covered Cherries, Tiger Butter, and Garlic and Dill Pretzels are just the sort of treat to have on hand when company comes, and Pecan Cobbler and Rice Casserole are among Gail’s recipes large enough for family gatherings. Gail also offers the Lemon Supreme Cake recipe that was her mother’s.
Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.
Cheesy Grits Casserole
2 cups water
1-¼ cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Covered Cherries
1 cup butter, softened
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar
1 cup quick grits
½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon butter, divided
1/3 cup diced green onions
4 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2-½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350°. Bring water and milk to a boil in a sauce pot; add salt. Slowly add grits. Bring to a boil again, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 3 minutes. Add ½ cup butter; stir until melted.
Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Remove from heat.
In a large skillet, sauté onion in remaining tablespoon of butter. Add Velveeta, garlic powder, and 1 ½ cups cheddar. Add to grits, stirring until cheese melts. Add tomatoes and juice. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheddar over casserole and cook 5 more minutes.
2-½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (10 oz) jars maraschino cherries with stems, well drained
1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (7 oz) bar milk chocolate
8 ounces paraffin
In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Refrigerate mixture until well chilled. With lightly sugared hands, shape a tablespoon of mixture around each cherry. Place on cookie sheets and freeze until firm.
Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a double boiler; melt over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Holding onto the stem, dip each frozen ball into chocolate. Set on waxed paper to cool. Refrigerate. Yields about 4 dozen.
16 (1 oz) squares white chocolate baking squares, finely chopped
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Kathy’s Fruit Salad
White seedless grapes
Red seedless grapes
1 small can crushed pineapple, in syrup.
1 pint strawberries1 (14 oz) container T Marzetti’s peach glaze
3-4 Tablespoons light corn syrup
Combine white chocolate and peanut butter in a glass bowl. Microwave on high 2 minutes, stirring twice. Pour onto wax paper lined 15x10 jellyroll pan, spreading evenly.
Microwave chocolate chips in glass bowl, 2 minutes on high, stirring twice. Pour over white chocolate mixture. Swirl gently with knife. Chill. Break into pieces.
Slice grapes. Hull and slice strawberries. Toss all ingredients together. Keep refrigerated.
Loaded Potato Soup
6 medium potatoes, diced
½ onion, chopped
1 pint heavy whipping cream
½ stick butter
1 can bacon bits
¾ cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper
Cover potatoes and onion with water in a large pot. Cook until tender. Add cream and butter. Stir in bacon bits and cheese, Cook over medium heat until thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Taffy Apple Salad
1 (16 oz) container whipped topping
1 (16 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained well
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut up
4 large Snickers bars, chopped fine
½ cup salted peanuts
1 Hershey Bar
Stir together whipped topping, apples, pineapple, peanuts and Snickers. Place in a compote or salad bowl. Shave Hershey bar over the top. Chill until ready to serve.
Garlic and Dill Pretzels
1 cup canola oil
1 package Ranch dressing mix
1 pound sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 box Uncle Ben’s Rice, regular
1 small box white rice
Brown sausage in a skillet, then remove from pan. Saute onion and celery; stir in broth and soup. Add sausage and all of the rice. Pour all into a covered 13x9 dish and bake at 350° for 50 minutes. Remove
1 Tablespoon lemon pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dill weed
1 large bag pretzel sticks
Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add pretzels. Toss until well coated. Place pretzels on a large baking pan. Bake at 200° for 20 minutes. Take out of oven and stir. Return to oven for 25 minutes. Store in a large airtight container when cooled.
Lemon supreme cake
cover from dish; continue to bake 10 minutes more.
3 cups corn syrup
3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1 crust (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together syrup, sugar, butter, or margarine, vanilla, and eggs. Pour 1/3 of mixture into prepared pan. Lay crust into dish. Stir nuts into remaining mixture. Pour on top of crust. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until center is nearly set.
1 box lemon supreme cake mix
1 cup apricot nectar
¾ cup oil
½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix first four ingredients. Add eggs, one at a time.
Pour into a lightly greased tube pan.
Bake for 1 hour.
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons apricot nectar
Juice of 1 lemon
Mix ingredients together and drizzle over warm cake.
1 cup oat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
½ cup butter or margarine
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold water
Mix together flours and salt. Cut in butter with a fork or pastry cutter. Stir in cold water with fork until dough forms a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 13x9 rectangle.
1 (16 oz) can walnuts, finely chopped
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (16 oz) package phyllo dough
1 cup butter or margarine
1 (12 oz) jar honey
Preheat oven to 300°. In a bowl, toss nuts with sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Cut phyllo into 13x9 rectangles. Keep dough covered with a damp towel. In a greased 13x9 dish, place 1 sheet of dough and brush with melted butter; do this 5 times. Sprinkle phyllo with 1 cup of walnut mixture. Top with 5 more layers of phyllo and butter, then sprinkle with remaining nuts. Using a knife, cut into triangles, cutting only the top
half of dough. Bake at 300° for 1 hour 25 minutes. While baking, warm honey in a small pan. Pour honey over hot Baklava. Cool, then cut completely into small triangles.