Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yes, you can adapt old unhealthy recipes to the more health-conscious era today

I admit that at first, I was a little deflated. No blackberries at this farmer's market, after the signs for miles along the road specifically promised me I'd find them there. Out for the rest of the season, the proprietors told me.

Then, on looking further, I found something that replaced my disappointment with joy. Fresh apricots--sometimes considered one of nature's most delightful creations. Years had gone by since I had prepared that special apricot recipe that makes the most average cook look like Paula Deen--a bit time-consuming, yes, but the results are outta-sight good.

So, amid hubby's protests of "I hope we use them up", I smugly placed a pound and a half of fresh apricots on the clerk's checkout table. I had a plan; I knew just how I'd execute it.

I first had to dig out the recipe from the brown-stained pages of my cookbook, Flavor Favorites (circa 1979), containing favorite alumni picks of Baylor U, my alma mater. As my husband says of some of my well-dogeared cookbook relics, "That doesn't represent the way we cook any more." True--many cookbooks on my shelf predate today's "cooking-light" era. You can see this as you leaf through them--recipes that are heavy on sauces and rely on canned and pre-packaged items to assemble it.

However, even yesterday's popular, fat-laden recipes can be adapted to a more health-conscious approach. Fat-free evaporated milk, the lighter Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese, and sugar substitute instead of regular sugar represent adaptations that can make a favorite of bygone days much more suitable to today's healthy-eating needs.

The dough for these baked fried pies is malleable, never sticks to the floured pastry board, rolls out thin, and bakes up into a delightful, flaky pastry to surround the sliced apricots that have been cooked briefly to coat themselves into a light syrup from their own juices. Drizzle a little powdered-sugar icing on top; you have a delicacy that looks as though you purchased it from the most upscale bakery. Best of all these mini-pies freeze superbly, in case you want to sample a few for now and then store them away for later company or an upcoming special event.

So to answer Hubby's concern, yes, we used them up in a heartbeat! One bite into those sweet, juicy mini pies made my find of fresh apricots all the more rewarding--even better than turning up those much-sought blackberries at a roadside stand. Best of all, Hubby took the seeds that emerged after peeling the fresh apricots and planted them in our garden. Now wouldn't that be the most exciting thing ever--if one of them actually decided to grow (to their credit, apricots are said to be even more cold-hardy than peach trees) and some day give us our own apricot orchard!

Baked Apricot Fried Pies

1 pound apricots
1 cup sugar (I use sugar substitute)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I use Neufchatel with less fat content)
1 cup butter, softened (I use no-salt butter)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use salt substitute)
About 1 cup powdered sugar (1 cup when sifted)
evaporated milk (I use fat-free)

Peel and slice apricots. Place in saucepan; pour sugar over. Cook until apricots are tender. Set aside. Blend well the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt. Chill several hours. Roll thin on a floured surface. Cut into 4-inch squares. Place 1 teaspoon apricot mixture in center of each square. Fold square in half; crimp edges. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet; bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and enough evaporated milk to make a glaze. Drizzle over hot pies. Drizzled glaze will harden. Yield: 12-15 mini pies.

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