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Cooking family meals since fourth grade

By Staff | Nov 13, 2015

GWEN TAYLOR scoops homemade lemon sauce on a slice of her made-from-scratch angel food cake. She said angel food cakes were made often as she grew up, since they always had plenty of eggs on the farm.

TERRIL – Gwen Taylor said her kitchen feels like home to her.

Not because it’s actually in her home, but because she has spent so much of her life there.

“I’m the oldest of nine children,” Taylor said, “so I learned to cook because my mom was busy with babies or laundry or the big garden she had.

“Mom grew the garden and I cooked it up. There were four boys born after me, and they were big eaters.”

Taylor said they ate simple fare back then, with big pots of goulash or basic meat-and-potato meals.

THE TEXTURE of a homemade angel food cake is something that appeals to Gwen Taylor.

She carried that cooking into her married life, marrying someone who also enjoyed a basic meat-and-potato regimen.

She said she has long since expanded her repertoire of recipes and kitchen delights.

“The grandkids love it when I bring them the cake they wanted for their birthdays, and I think Roland (her husband) is my number one fan of the food I make,” she said.

Taylor grew up preserving food from the garden, learning that skill from her mother.

She has a large garden today, and preserves corn, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes and various kinds of pickles, including sweet, dill, bread-and-butter and especially lime pickles, which her grandchildren request.

ANGEL FOOD CAKES are Gwen Taylor’s signature creation, often baking them for birthdays and holidays. She enjoys serving the cake with homemade lemon sauce, though she also likes it with strawberries or raspberries.

Taylor said they reared their children, one son and two daughters, on home-raised beef and pork.

“Today we have what we call natural beef , with no shots being given to any of them,” she said.

Her signature creation is a made-from-scratch angel food cake.

“One of the secrets to that is to have the eggs at room temperature, otherwise the cake won’t be as high,” she said.

Taylor said when she worked in town she used to use angel food cake mixes, and thought they were fine.

But she said the texture from a homemade cake is so much different, and it’s something she prefers.

However, she said she didn’t know if most people would notice the difference.

“Growing up, we had a farmyard flock of about 50 chickens, so we always had plenty of eggs,” she said. “Making an angel food cake is a good way to use them.”

Taylor said when she prepares this cake, it takes a dozen egg whites. Instead of throwing the yolks away, she freezes them and gets them out later when she wants to make a pound cake.

She said pound cake was something they ate often growing up on the farm because they also had lots of eggs and milk to make that and homemade ice cream.

“Back then it was pretty special when you got ice cream from town,” Taylor said.

Taylor found a recipe she liked for the cake, then tweaked it a little to give it a taste she wanted it to have.

One of those tweaks was adding almond flavoring.

Taylor said the hardest part of cooking over the years was learning to downsize meals after their children grew up and left home.

“I’ve cooked for a family all of my life, and I’ve learned that cooking for two people is tough,” she said. “It’s easier to cook for a family.”

One of her prized recipes came from her aunt, when Taylor was 12 years old.

It’s called Lazy Daisy Cake. She said it’s a special recipe because it came from her aunt, and they enjoyed it often while growing up.

Her favorite part of cooking, she said, is having her family enjoy it.

“Some things take a lot of work, and it’s so nice to see the family enjoying it,” she said.

Angel food cake

1 1/2 cups sugar (divided)

1 cup all-purpose flour

12 egg whites

1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl sift together 3/4 cup sugar and flour.

In large bowl beat egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, almond flavoring and salt until soft peaks form.

Slowly add 3/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold flour/sugar mixture into egg white mixture until thoroughly combined.

Pour into ungreased tube pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden and dry.

With cake still in pan, invert pan on wire rack and let cool completely. Remove from pan and place on serving plate.

Lemon pudding

(For pudding or sauce)

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups boiling water

Grated rind of one lemon

1/4 cup butter

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup lemon juice

Mix sugar, salt and cornstarch in medium pan. Add rind and water.

Cook until thick while stirring.

Simmer for 10 minutes. Add butter.

Mix yolks well and add lemon juice.

Temper this by adding a little hot mixture at a time. Mix well.

Add all to hot mixture and cook a little longer to use as a sauce.

(Note: For pie, use 6 tablespoons cornstarch instead of 4; pour into baked pie shell and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 18 minutes. Top with meringue and brown.)

Quick vegetable salad

1 16-ounce can whole corn, drained (in season, can use fresh corn)

1 large tomato, chopped

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

1/3 cup chopped green pepper

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all vegetables in large bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl and gently blend into vegetables.

Chill 15 minutes before serving.

Spicy pretzels

Taylor said she bags some of this up and gives as gifts to her family around the holidays.

1 regular-sized bag of pretzel sticks

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 package ranch dressing dry mix

3/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning

Gallon-sized plastic bag

Place pretzels in gallon bag.

Mix cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, garlic powder, ranch seasoning, chipotle seasoning and canola oil together and pour over pretzels.

Let rest. (Best if left overnight, but a couple of hours will work.)

Spread out on large baking sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 40 minutes.

(Note: Flavor can be kicked up by doubling the seasonings.)

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