BARBARA MCCLELLAN

Barbara McClellan

It’s coming! I don’t just mean “spring forward” that comes with daylight saving time this weekend. Spring, I mean the real thing, is just around the corner with the vernal equinox on March 20.

I am so glad we have a real gardening guru right here in Longview — our wonderful Steve Chamblee, executive director of our remarkable Longview Arboretum. I read recently that he said the same thing that Texas gardening expert Neil Sperry, Steve’s buddy, said about pruning, digging up or doing anything drastic to plants that look like they simply did not survive our most severe winter ever in this area.

I have been out daily looking for signs of regrowth on almost everything and though they fought a hard battle, with the -4 degrees temp and the 6-10 inches of snow, I think there is hope for so many of our beloved plants. I believe the word both used was “patience” with our plants.

Don’t we all enjoy surprises (except with weather). This week Jo Lee Ferguson, who is one of the News-Journal’s award-winning writers, called me to tell me about some things that had been left for me or sent to me at the newspaper office. In this bundle was a group of just what I needed at the time. One thing was a cookbook compiled by the women at Alpine Church of Christ. This was from Kathy Lusk, who said she had three copies and wanted to share. OK, I have many, cookbooks, but each new one is a fun thing to use as a treasure hunt for good, easy, different recipes. This one contained many that I had not seen. It gives me a little jump for joy to see one of mine that someone had tried, enjoyed and submitted to the cookbook committee. Please know, you are free to use and share any of the recipes that are in this column. That’s why they’re here.

Neither of these today are ones that I had seen before. The first was submitted by Jennifer Dicky. It is my kind of recipe — five ingredients and one dish or pan.

Chili Casserole

Ingredients

1 can (40 ounces) chili with beans

1 small can sliced black olives

8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

3 ounces Cool Ranch Doritos, crushed

Steps

Mix all ingredients and place in a greased or sprayed 9-by-13-inch dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 6-8 servings. I did not try freezing leftovers, but it was great the next day.

The next is a recipe from one of Longview’s best cooks and a member of the famous “Campbell kids group,” six of eight whom I had the privilege of teaching at St. Mary’s School many years ago. Without stirring up a wasp’s nest with the Campbells, I think Tesa is often designated as one of the Campbell camp cooks.

Tesa Campbell Wilson’s German Chocolate Upside down Cake

Ingredients

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

1 package German chocolate cake mix

1 stick butter

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese

1 pound powdered sugar

Steps

Combine coconut and nuts and spread evenly in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Mix cake batter according to package directions and pour over pecans and coconut in pan. Heat butter and cream cheese in microwave for about 1 minute until softened. Stir in powdered sugar and spoon over cake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. As cake bakes, the cream cheese mixture will settle on bottom and will make a delicious frosting. Serve from pan. Makes about 12-14 servings.

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— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write her at bayrm12@gmail.com or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606