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McClellan: Reminiscing on 48 years of writing

By Barbara McClellan
Dec. 13, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Well, you have done it again. Just when I was ready to kick the 48-year addiction of visiting with you each week, writing this column, you do two things that just won't let me go.

This past week, I saw several of you around town and you mentioned that you really do read and enjoy the column, and sometimes you cook and try the recipes. Then, my longtime friend Shirley Deteau gives me one of the best recipes I have had in a long time — and I just have to share it with you, so how can I quit now?

I began writing in 1970 to share recipes and to talk about various food products, cooking hints and just to chit chat.

Well, it became a part of my life.

I have been through lots of wonderful editors who try their best to keep me from being hanged for horrible grammatical errors and cooking faux pas. Bless their hearts. From the late, dear Delores Brown, my first editor, to my friend Christina Lane, who has hung in there with me for several years now, I am sure I have put lots of gray hairs on each head.

It's also been a journey from using a little portable Royal typewriter and walking the column into the Longview News-Journal office, faxing it in on an early fax machine to writing on a computer and emailing each week.

What a trip, and I have loved it! So, here I am. In the early years there were baby-birthings, surgeries and tragedies that kept me from writing some weeks. Not to brag (ahem), I think I have written without missing a week for over eight years now.

That recipe Shirley sent, it fills almost all my requirements: It must be good and easy, it must not use too many ingredients or mess up too dishes and pans.

Shirley's Cranberry Cake

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The eggs are the only leavening agent, so do not skip this step. Add the butter and vanilla, and mix 2 more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add cranberries and stir to mix thoroughly. Spread in a buttered 9-inch-by-13-inch pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes until lightly browned, and a toothpick stuck in middle comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting. Makes 16 servings.

Marge Litterski brought this wonderful appetizer to a church Christmas party last week. It was one of my favorites of the way too many delicious things. If you made her wonderful olive relish that I shared with you a year or so ago, you know that she has an eye out for good recipes, and then cooking skills to make them.

Ham and Swiss Cheese Breakfast Roll

1 box of hot roll mix (Fix according to recipe on the box for pizza dough. It fits a large jelly roll pan, about 12 inches by 16 inches, or two smaller pans.)

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard

  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

  • 1 onion thinly diced

  • 1 pound shaved or thinly sliced ham chopped

  • 1 pound Swiss cheese shredded

Roll pizza dough onto the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter over the dough, brush mustard onto dough, and sprinkle the poppy seeds over the dough. Add onion, ham then top with Swiss cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 16-20 pieces, cut into squares.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist and has written three self-published cookbooks. Her column appears in the News-Journal's Taste section each Wednesday. Write her at or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.



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