Down-home Delights


February 06, 2005|By SANDRA PINCKNEY

When I was asked to write a food story for this new edition I was thrilled, because I am all about food. I traded the TV news anchor desk for a fantastic food journey as host of Food Network's Food Finds. What a dream job ... to travel all over the country and discover the most delectable treats imaginable. Believe me, I've tried them all. I have the five extra pounds to prove it.

Wherever I go, I am asked what are my favorite food finds. There are too many to mention. And that's saying a lot because, when it comes to food, I am very picky. I can't help it. I come from a family of great cooks, starting with my beloved grandmother. She presided over decades of family gatherings that were more like Southern-style feasts.

I may not know exactly how my grandmother prepared her famous dishes, but I certainly know how they should taste. In fact, it's that "taste" that binds my family together to this day. When we get together, and start drifting down memory lane, food is our favorite topic.

My grannie, who lived for 95 years, set the culinary standard for the family. What she did in the kitchen was nothing short of magic. Everything was delicious, and there was always plenty of it to go around.

True to her South Carolina roots, vegetables, fresh from her garden, were the most important course. Greens, squash, tomatoes and corn were cooked minutes after picking in the summer ... then canned for winter. She ground fresh pork to make the best sausage I have ever tasted. Her turkeys were always moist, and the stuffing was out of this world.

Grannie's desserts are the stuff of family food lore. Sweet potato pies with a thin, sugary crust on top; rich blueberry cobblers; and any kind of cake you can imagine. Then there was Grandaddy's cumin chicken, pickled peppers and the chitterlings Grannie made him cook in the basement because of the smell.

Everyone loved Uncle Bill's spaghetti sauce, Uncle Edward's macaroni and cheese, Aunt Esther's summer squash and anything my mother prepared. In fact, my mother inherited my grannie's culinary skills and then took them to a new level.

I lost my dear mother, my best friend, a year ago in December. I find myself going through her cookbooks and the hundreds of recipes she collected.

One of her favorite recipes, and mine, is my grandmother's pound cake, a rich, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth confection. My grandmother would always leave just enough batter out for me to make my own little cake. It's a reminder that the little things in life often make for the sweetest memories.

Sandra Pinckney, a former Baltimore TV journalist, is host of Food Finds on the Food Network.

Sandra Pinckney's Grandmother's Pound Cake

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

1 pound butter

1 pound sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

10 eggs, separated

1 pound sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven 325 degrees. Cream butter. Blend in flour and baking powder until mixture is mealy. Beat egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. On low speed, blend yolk mixture with flour mixture. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Slowly mix until well blended.

Pour into a greased, 8-inch tube pan and bake for an hour.

Grannie's tips: Don't over beat the batter, and have butter and eggs at room temperature.

Per serving: 618 calories, 9 grams protein, 35 grams fat, 21 grams saturated fat, 67 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 258 milligrams cholesterol, 358 milligrams sodium

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