I have a Twinkie fan. One of my column sisters takes my side on the Twinkie issue. Peter pulls me away from the Twinkie display.

Let me be fair when I say he pulls me away.

He knows when it comes to Twinkies, I can’t eat just one. He and I know Twinkies are not called health food, it is comfort food. While I don’t eat them for comfort food, I eat them because I love them. They are small and it’s hard for me to eat a small portion of something I love.

Remember the whole spice cake with White Mountain Icing? So I can eat a whole box full in one sitting. For some reason, Peter thinks this is wrong. Here is what my column sister had to tell me.

Hello sister dear,

At our age, you should not be restricted from Twinkies. If you were 20 or 30, that’d be different.

I love movie candy like Milk Duds. I keep a box in the fridge for when the “need” arises, but I sure don’t eat them every day. Maybe you can stash some Twinkies in your freezer?

Love you, M.

Well M,

I think if you read the opening paragraph you have your answer right there. I don’t seem to have the willpower to open the freezer and see a box of Twinkies and still wait for a special occasion. When it comes to Twinkies, stubbing my toe would be an occasion. Waiting for the babies to come in from the backyard would be an occasion. Robocalls would be a comfort occasion.

Get where I’m going with this?

But what would you think if I ate a whole box all at one time at least once every two months? I’ll run this idea by Peter this weekend. I don’t really know why ... I already know the answer. No! But sometimes I don’t hear really well.

n n n

Now let’s have some healthy recipes. Just thinking about Twinkies I think I gained 2 pounds.

Becky in Washington State sent us Southerners this recipe for chicken-fried steak. I wonder how popular chicken-fried steak is in Washington and New York City. In the South, it’s a staple, and a good one too. Comfort food at its best!

Chicken-fried steak

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 4-ounce cubed beef steaks

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1 cup saltine cracker crumbs

2 cups of vegetable oil

1-1/4 cups chicken broth

Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce.

Directions

Combine 1/4 cup of the flour and next two ingredients; sprinkle both sides of steaks with flour mixture. Combine the egg and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a shallow dish. Dip the steaks in egg mixture; dredge in cracker crumbs.

Cook the steaks in hot oil in a large heavy skillet over medium 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, turning occasionally, 15 minutes or until tender. Remove the steaks, and drain on paper towels, reserving 3 tablespoons of drippings in the skillet. Keep the steaks warm.

Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons of flour into the pot, dripping until smooth. Cook one minute, whisking constantly. Gradually add the broth and remaining 1/2 cup milk; cook over medium, whisking constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve gravy with steaks.

Becky,

I might make a run to Luby’s and have that for dinner tonight. I love chicken-fried steak. When I was cooking for a family of six I never made chicken fried steak using broth for the gravy, just milk. And I never added Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce. But I’m sure not opposed to it. Talk about comfort food. And it would seem un-Texan to not serve mashed potatoes with it. And forget about the calories. You could have this dish as often as I can a box of Twinkies!

Thanks Ms. Beck!

n n n

Hello Cute Sister,

Cooler today … Are you going topless? Too cool for me here, today. My 1937 Watkins flavorings cookbook and oven time helps. You should print and keep this in your newly acquired 1864 cookbook.

I’m also enclosing the PDF which shows equal weights/measures.

Love you sis,

M.

(P.S. wasn’t that cute, “when oven is lighted” I don’t have to light my gas oven).

“Temperatures for Baking: Watkins flavorings Cookbook, 1937”

Slow oven: 250 to 325 degrees.

Moderate Oven: 350 to 375 degrees.

Hot: 400 to 450 degrees.

Very hot: 450 to 500 degrees.

For the use of those who have no oven thermometer, there are several practical tests. Set a pan sprinkled with flour in the oven and if it becomes a delicate brown in five minutes, then the oven is slow (250 to 325 degrees). If the flour turns a medium golden brown in five minutes, the oven is moderate (350 to 400 degrees). If the flour turns a deep, dark brown in five minutes, the oven is hot (400 to 450 degrees). If it’s very hot 450 to 500 degrees, the flour turns deep dark brown in three minutes.

A portable oven thermometer should be used when the oven has no regulator. Place it on the middle shelf when oven is first lighted to be easily seen when the door is open. Leave in oven during entire baking period.

Mara,

That is good information for me because I do have to light my oven. It has been calibrated, but I think it is accurate. Or it wasn’t four years ago when I used it. So see, there might be more folks out there like me who have to do it the old-fashioned way. Did I ever tell you I hate my stove?

And yes, I have gone topless a couple of times. I picked up Bentley from the groomers and drove home with him standing on my arm and looking all around. He loved it. And he looked so cute!

If you have recipes or tips to share, or a request, send to Conversations with Gin, P.O. Box 334, Clute TX 77531 or ginscolumn@hotmail.com.

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