The Inspired Cook

Fall weather reinvigorates creativity

Fall is my favorite time of year. Upon its arrival, I happily say sayonara to those sultry sticky days that have zapped my energy and squelched my desire to go outdoors. For me, fall quenches those dog days of summer and washes over me like a brisk cool shower, leaving me refreshed and revitalized.

My newly found energy inspired me to create some new dishes a couple of years ago. Today I’m sharing one of those recipes with you.

My inspiration for formulating this recipe appeared with the opening of a door: The frozen chops lay lifeless inside my freezer, yearning for warmth. So, I breathed new life into them and transformed them into a mouthwatering stew. By adding southwestern seasonings to the pot, my stew exploded with flavor. Voìlá! My south-of-the-border pork stew was born.


Some say it takes a village

“Happy First Day Back to School,” I chirped to my 6-year-old daughter Zoey as I met her at school as we headed to her first-grade classroom Aug. 21. My enthusiasm was not returned. In fact, it was met with a “Mama, don’t hug me in here,” response.

Sunday, the night before the first day, I had to drop Zoey off at her father’s house. In the back of my mind I was worried about her first day outfit and how her hair would be fixed. She would be staying with her father for the first week of school.

The first day is all about first impressions, and I was worried that her dad wouldn’t meet the standards that I envisioned for her first day to be like. Zoey’s dad and I are “co-parenting,” and raising this little girl has been a joint effort.


The Inspired Cook

Homemade spaghetti sauce, that’s amoré

Do you have a favorite ethnic food? I certainly do. Other than good ol’ down-home, country cooking, my favorite types of food are Italian and Tex-Mex. In fact, these cuisines have been my favorites since I was a teenager.

I simply adore the seasonings that comprise their flavor profiles. You may have noticed that I frequently incorporate them into my food creations.

My passion for Italian food began in 1968, when my aunt Merle first prepared a delectable spaghetti dinner for my family. To accompany it, she served a green salad drizzled with Italian dressing and toast made of thickly sliced French bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with garlic salt.

Yum! I can taste it now!

Almost every time we went to Dallas to visit her and my uncle, my sister Beckie and I would request this meal. As a dutifully devoted aunt, Merle always granted our wishes.


The Inspired Cook

Necessity is truly the mother of invention

Recently, I began to gathering together needed ingredients for a casserole that I planned to prepare for dinner. Disappointment set in when I realized that I only had one can of cream of celery soup instead of two.

This may not be a problem for some people who simply would drive to the grocery store to buy another can. Since I live in the country, driving 17 miles for one can of soup just isn’t feasible.

Instead, I traveled the information superhighway to resolve my dilemma. Within a few short minutes, I discovered that I could make a homemade replacement for cream soup. Using a few recipes as guidelines, I formulated my own recipe.

Since I needed a celery-flavored soup, I had no bouillon or broth with that flavor profile. In fact, I don’t believe there is a commercially manufactured one. So, I made my own thereby salvaging my casserole and dinner that night.


Squashing our garden’s bounty

Most gardens produce an overabundance of vegetables each year, leaving gardeners wondering what to do with it all. Many people freeze or can their harvests while others eat what they can and give away the rest. In addition, some sell their bounties at roadside stands or farmer’s markets.

Last year, Charles, my better half, created a garden that exploded with squash, yellow Crookneck and zucchini, forcing me to delve deeper into my cookbook collection for new recipes.

Today I’m sharing a newly formulated recipe inspired by my need to reduce our squash supply. I discovered the original recipe in an old church-compilation cookbook but have tweaked it to fit our particular tastes. Maybe it will suit yours, too.

Doubly Cheesy Squash Casserole


2-2 ½ lbs. (5-6 medium) Yellow squash, thinly sliced

3 T. Dehydrated onion flakes

1 c. Panko bread crumbs, divided

2 T. Butter, cubed

¼ c. Butter, melted


This week in Canton History...

Canton Herald-Aug. 3, 1961:

The Van Zandt County Genealogy and Local History Library try to preserve all the information we possibly can by archiving the Newspapers.

Sometimes, however, things get lost and that is what has happened to the Aug. 3 and Aug. 10 papers for 1961.

When the papers were sent to be micro filmed many years ago, somehow, these two editions were not captured.

I hope you will enjoy this edition and next week’s edition as they will be from the 1927 and 1928 era…My how things have changed as to what is published in the papers from then till now.

Jan. 7, 1927-The Sunshine Motor Lines, Riter Bros., Proprietors, of this city, will put in a bid to carry mail over the new star route line to be operated out of Wills Point to Canton, Ben Wheeler, and Tyler, beginning February 1, next year.


It is simple

Henry David Thoreau once said “Our lives are frittered away by details. Simplify, simplify.”

Those of you who know me know that I do not take myself seriously. In my writing, I like to express my thoughts and opinions about two important things that affect all of us big time. Our health and happiness, are subjects I do take seriously.

We are making great improvements in most of the areas of health. We are losing ground in diabetes and obesity.

To read the full article, subscribe to the Canton Herald or pick up a copy from one of our vendors.


Property tax burden Is crushing the Texas dream

Governor Greg Abbott wrote an op-ed featured in the Houston Chronicle that expressed his commitment to reining in skyrocketing property taxes. This issue is a top priority of the Governor's special session call.

Everything is bigger in Texas - including, unfortunately, your property tax rate. In fact, Texas has one of the highest effective real estate tax rates in the nation. Only Illinois and New Jersey beat us. Let that sink in. Illinois. And New Jersey. That's unacceptable.

Texas is still the envy of the nation. With our strong economy, overall lower costs of living and high quality of life, Texas remains the best place to raise a family, build a business and create greater opportunity for all.


The Inspired Cook


In my column last week, the address for the Geranium House Tea Room should have been on the corner of Wood St. and Old Tyler Hwy. in Athens.

Serving breakfast foods any time of day

Good day, readers! Have you had breakfast yet, or are you eating it as you read the newspaper?

As for me, well, I’m a steadfast breakfast eater. During all the stages of my life, I have eaten breakfast nearly every single day.

With the primary function of breakfast being to reboot the metabolism by providing an energy source to fuel the body for its daily functions and activities, we can do so by eating a variety of different types of food. Some of the most popular breakfast foods consist of cold or hot cereals, biscuits, breads, meats, doughy cakes particularly pancakes and waffles, and potatoes, mostly fried home-styled and hash browns.


The Inspired Cook

Mexican food tops my faves list

Do you have a favorite type of food? Well, Mexican food tops my list of favorite cuisines with Italian food and down-home country cooking racing neck and neck for second place.

While recently surveying my pantry for needed grocery items, I felt as if I were being watched. And, indeed, I was. An entire basketful of sprouting potatoes had dozens of eyes staring right at me!


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