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The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook has recipes for stovetop, oven, grill and campfire

The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook Some people covet their grandmother’s silver or the 200-year-old cabinet brought over by ancestors from the old country.

My heirlooms are the sort that don’t need polishing. Yet they shine with the patina of three generations of family meals. They’ve traveled from Louisiana to California to New Jersey and points in between. They’ve sauteed okra with onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic, and they’ve fried up floured cuts of savory chicken, and fish dredged in cornmeal. Knowing that meals made by my mother and late grandmother have helped “season” my decades-old cast iron skillets is a big part of what makes them my most treasured possessions.

I now use this seemingly indestructible cookware for everything from scrambling eggs to baking. And when it’s time for the annual camping trip with friends, I can be counted on to bring the huge, jet-black skillet that means we’ll have pancakes and bacon cooked over fire. For these reasons and others “The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook” (Oxmoor House, $24.95) is a delight. Nevermind that it helps market the cast iron skillets, griddles, bakeware and even a cast iron grill made by Lodge Manufacturing; it has a chapter devoted to “Nothin’ but Cornbread.”

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"Sesame Street 'B' is for Baking" recipes

Ernie's Corny Corn Relish, "Sesame Street 'B' is for Baking"Ernie's Corny Corn Pudding

1 can (14 to 15 ounces) sweet corn kernels, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup low-fat (1%) milk

3 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup chopped sweet green or red pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.

2. In a food processor or blender, combine half the corn kernels and the milk. Whirl until mixture is a smooth paste. 

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Q & A:Sesame Street cookbooks author has ideas (and recipes) for picky eaters 

Susan McQuillanPicky eaters are no match for nutritionist Susan McQuillan and her Sesame Street cookbooks "B" is for Baking and "C" is for Cooking. The author of several books and numerous articles on diet and nutrition knows that part of the secret to getting kids to eat well and advenenturously is exposing them to a variety of nutritious options as soon as they are able to handle solids. McQuillan, whose own daughter is a teen-ager now, took some time to offer suggestions to the parents of choosy eaters and discuss her latest Sesame Street cookbook.

Q: I appreciate that "B is for Baking" goes beyond the run-of-the-mill recipes for children. (I can't wait to try the veggie biscuits, the carrot puff, and the almond tea cakes made with almonds instead of almond extract). Please tell us about your process in developing the recipes. Did you involve your daughter?

A: My daughter, Molly, is my No. 1 taster, of course, and she also contributes a lot of ideas and helps out with the cooking when she has time. She is older now, just started high school, so I have to rely on younger friends and neighbors when I want a preschool helper or opinion.

Also, I have been contributing recipes to cookbooks and magazines for many years and my job has almost always been to develop family-style recipes that are a little healthier than the traditional version, and also to make sure the recipes are doable for the average family. That means using ingredients that are familiar and readily available in supermarkets. One important way I make the recipes healthier is to include a lot of fruits and vegetables, or recommend that the recipes be served with fresh fruits and vegetables. I also try to keep the recipes as short and quick as possible, though with baking you do usually need to set aside some extra time.

Q: Please comment on the beets in the red velvet cupcakes. What a brilliant way to hide vegetables!

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Healthy dessert recipe: Caramelized Bosc pears with hazelnut butter 

Courtesy of usapears.comWith their coarse, dull brown covering, Bosc pears would be the pears most likely to linger in produce bins without an active publicity campaign.

But this homely cousin of the curvier Comice and the exotic red Anjou pear has an inner beauty that’s worth discovering. Beneath its thinner than-expected skin is a remarkably sweet and succulent fruit. After the first bite, it doesn’t need much help to win you over with its charms.

But getting more of us to take that first bite is the challenge.

Enter the pear-pushing Pear Bureau Northwest, which promotes pears grown in Oregon and Washington. The bureau, whose job is to encourage more pear consumption, routinely calls in chefs to create recipes that demonstrate the ways pears can be enjoyed beyond eating out of hand. Lauded former Portland Chef Matthew Lightner, who is now working to open the highly anticipated Manhattan restaurant Atera, gave our modest pear an expert makeover.

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Valentine's Day: Easy chocolate recipes 

Photos courtesy of Spice Islands

Valentine's Day comes with so much pressure -- what to give, what to wear, what to eat.  But Valentine's Day is supposed to be a day for love. For many that includes the love of chocolate. The lusciously Decadent Chocolate Mousse Pie in the mouth-watering photo is the result of an amazingly easy and amazingly good recipe from Spice Islands. The fact that this four-step recipe has only four main ingredients flavored by the brand's cinnamon powder and vanilla extract might make it even tastier. 

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