Dear Heloise: I just got married, and I’ve never been much of a cook. But now, I’m cooking a lot more because we can’t go out often. We’re saving for a house, so that means I usually prepare our meals here at home. I’ve tried to economize by buying cheaper cuts of meat, but they’re always so tough and stringy! How can I make those cheaper cuts a little less difficult to digest? — Tammy H., Farrell, Pennsylvania
Tammy, try stewing it. It’s a way of making tougher cuts of meat edible. Stewing is cooking the meat on a low, slow boil to make it tender and juicy. Add a little more liquid at the beginning, because the benefit of moist heat and slow cooking will be worth the effort. The more you cook meals at home, the better you’ll become at preparing tender meats. — Heloise
A STICKY PROBLEM
Dear Heloise: When I try browning meat, it always sticks to the pan, and I usually have to take a spatula and scrap the pan to get the meat off before it burns. How can I avoid this situation? — Andrea V., Long Beach, California
Andrea, dry the surface of your meats before browning to keep the meat from sticking to the pan. This also helps to make your gravy better. — Heloise
Dear Heloise: It’s summer, and the last thing I want to do is spend time cooking when I’d rather spend time out by the pool with my children.
We’re having a pool party later this month, and I need something easy to prepare that tastes good and doesn’t take up hours of time. As I recall, you had an olive-nut spread that was delicious and a big hit at a gathering we had last year. I can’t find the recipe, so would you be willing to repeat that recipe in your column? I read your column every chance I get, and I will cut it out and save it. — Judith W., Stanton, California
Judith, this is one of my most requested and most loved recipes. Here it is. You’ll need:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup sliced salad olives (the jar usually says “salad olives”)
2 tablespoons juice from the olive jar
Dash of pepper to taste (but NO salt!)
Mix all the ingredients well and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving. If you are serving a large group, just double the ingredients.
If you enjoy tasty meals that require very little effort on these sunny, warm days, then you need my pamphlet “Heloise’s All-Time Favorite Recipes.” It’s easy to get a copy. Just go to www.Heloise.com or send $5, along with a stamped, self-addressed, long envelope to: Heloise/All Time Fav, at P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
They’re tried-and-true recipes that have been popular with my family for generations and include some new ways to prepare a tasty meal with the minimum amount of effort. It’s always nice to have new ideas for lunch or dinner that the whole family will enjoy. — Heloise