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A very special feature of this section of our web site will be the publication of unique family cookbooks that, heretofore, have only had limited publication and distribution. The first, to be the focus of next month’s Cooking pages, will be the O’Neil/Bligh family cookbook, compiled in 1991 by Lillian O’Neil Diven of Scottsdale, Arizona. Beautifully written, these excerpts will tempt you with their various influences, including English, French, and Canadian. “Prune Whip,” for example, is one recipe that deserves to be rediscovered, regardless of how it sounds. And, this family’s approach to creating “Turtles” will become the favorite of your whole family. You might even try “Lamb Kidney Stew.”

With the winter months upon us, most of us turn to soups and stews for warmth and comfort. One of my favorite recipes for a winter stew was found in the January 1993 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

“Meatball Stew with Winter Vegetables”

Tip: For small families, cool leftover stew to room temperature, then store in a covered container for up to 2 days.

2 medium potatoes (unpeeled) cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 Tbsp. instant beef bouillon granules
1 bay leaf
1 ½ tsp.dried thyme or oregano, crushed
1 tsp. dried rosemary or basil, crushed
½ tsp. pepper
1 recipe Seasoned Meatballs (see recipe, below)
2 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1/3-cup all-purpose flour
*In a Dutch oven bring 4 ½ cups water to boiling. Add potatoes, carrots, onion, bouillon granules, bay leaf, thyme or oregano, rosemary or basil and pepper. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover, simmer for 10 minutes.
*Meanwhile, prepare Seasoned Meatballs. Add sweet potatoes and parsnips to the hot broth mixture. Add uncooked meatballs, a few at a time, to the hot broth mixture. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes more or till vegetables are tender and meatballs are fully cooked. Stir in frozen peas.
*Stir together ½ cup cold water and the flour. Stir flour mixture into hot broth mixture. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Ladle into soup bowls and serve. Make 6 servings.
Seasoned Meatballs for Stew: In a medium mixing bowl combine 1 beaten egg, ½ cup fine dry bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon minced dried onion, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, ¼ teaspoon garlic salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Ad 1 pound lean ground beef: mix well. Shape into thirty 1-inch balls.

To complement the Winter Stew, my family also enjoys an old shaker recipe for Cheese & Sage Bread. This recipe was found in a cookbook called Shaker Your Plate: by Sister Frances A. Carr.

Cheese & Sage Bread

½ cup shortening
1/3-cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated sharp cheese
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon dried Shaker Sage
¾ cup milk
Cream shortening and sugar. Add beaten egg and then the cheese. Sift the flour with baking powder. Add to the shortening mixture. Mix in the sage. Gradually stir in the milk to the desired consistency. Turn into greased pan and brush the top with melted butter. Bake in a 350-degree over for 1 hour

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