By Kyra Effren, TSB Food Writer
Dr. Donna Gage came into our lives when we moved to McKinney four years ago. Chappie, my little dachshund, had travelled 10,000 miles from Cape Town to join me in Dallas and after bravely putting up with all that air travel- alone and in a crate – I felt he deserved the best vet we could find.
And we did. Running Paws Pet Hospital is small, personal and caring. Jan and Jose are Dr Gage’s assistants and “family” and they all know every patient by name and temperament!
Chappie came with a chronic skin condition he suffered from for seven years. No treatments in South Africa had helped him and his little tummy was often bloody from his constant scratching. Dr. Gage took scrapings of his skin [Chappie was not Happie] and determined that the condition could be cured.
It took six months, but at the end, Chappie’s coat was clear and there was no more scratching.
I was pathetically grateful. Chappie, not so much. He still objects to the indignities he suffers on his visits.
Along the way, I discovered that Dr. Gage loves to cook – how serendipitous – and when we are not bemoaning Chappie’s refusal to lose a little weight, we talk recipes.
Dr Gage learned her cooking skills as a small child, standing on a metal chair at the side of her Grandma, who she says was her best friend. She learned the Czech recipes of her heritage – such as kolaches – and shared with me her Grandmother’s most unusual method of preparing the famous sauerkraut.
Her Grandmother would shred cabbage on a huge shredder which looked like a mandolin, place it all in a large crock-pot and add salt. The children could then stomp on the cabbage with bare feet to release the juices, the same method used to stomp grapes when making wine, after which it would be allowed to ferment.
Dr. Gage’s Grandmother taught her to make pickles, quilt and tat. When Dr. Gage married, her grandmother was her Matron of Honor. She graduated from Texas A&M – cum laude – with three degrees; a BS in Biomedical Science, a BS in Veterinary Science and a Doctorate in Veterinary Science. I now understand, with those credentials, how she was able to cure Chappie’s chronic skin problems when no other Vet had had any success.
To Dr Gage’s great pride, her daughter followed in her footsteps, attending Texas A&M and recently graduated magna cum laude. She is pursuing a career in education.
Here are two recipes from her Grandmother – and two recipes Dr. Gage devised using healthy ingredients!
GRANDMA’ SMOTHERED STEAK
2-3 tablespoons oil
1 ½ – 2 ½ lbs round steak [with bone] 1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery – chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
Flour, oil, salt and pepper
Salt and pepper the meat on both sides. Dredge in flour.
Heat the oil and brown the meat in the oil then add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook in the over at 325 for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
RAISIN DATE COOKIES
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar – firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups Kroger All Purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup cut up dates
1 cup raisins
Pre heat oven to 375.
Cream together the butter [or margarine] and the sugars until light.
Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and add to the creamed mixture – mixing well.
Stir in the oats, dates and raisins.
Drop tablespoons of the dough 2” apart on a well greased or baking paper-lined cookie sheet.
Flatten the rounds with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.
Bake for about 8 minutes.
Remove from pan and cool on a rack.
Makes about 4 ½ – 5 dozen cookies
DONNA’S ASIAN CHICKEN PEANUT LETTUCE WRAPS
[Note from Dr Gage: “This is my take on PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps and I like my recipe better!”]
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
2 large boneless chicken breasts – fat trimmed, cubed
4 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
Soy sauce* – enough to cover the bottom of the pan under the chicken
2 heaping tablespoons organic apricot jelly
1 cup raw organic peanuts [roasted at 400 for 5 minutes] 1 tablespoon chopped organic parsley
8-10 large lettuce leaves
Heat the oil and butter in the sauté pan. Add the chopped garlic and stir for about 5 minutes.
Add the diced chicken breasts and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the meat is white.
Place the chicken on a cutting board with the chopped ginger and chop into small pieces.
Return the mixture to the pan – add the soy sauce and apricot jelly.
Heat until bubbling and thick.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle the peanuts over the surface of the mixture.
Toss in the parsley.
Wrap in lettuce leaves and serve hot.
Note: you may also add a small can of water chestnuts – chopped – [add with the chopped ginger].
*You may also use ½ the soy sauce and ½ Tamari sauce.
About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com’s “Food” section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?