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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Great Pathfinder Vege-Corn Dog Cook-Off

Okay, we've been promising this for more than a week 

There are all sorts of recipes out there for corn dogs. Many are complex and confusing. This one uses just three basic ingredients. This recipe has been bumping around Pathfinder clubs for ages. I got it from a Pathfinder director out of California. Let me warn you. If you're expecting beautiful pristine looking corn dogs like out of the box, you're likely to be disappointed. These things are ugly.

The ones made with Loma Linda Linketts or Worthington Vege-Links are well-tested at countless Pathfinder weiner roasts campouts and more than a few corn dog fund-raisers in the church gym during the Saturday night basketball game/family night. We sold them for $3 a pop one night and went through a bunch of the big deluxe sized cans of Big Franks and paid for a campout. People couldn't get enough of them.

I'm going to give you the recipe here and also do a side-by-side taste test for you. Atlantic Natural Foods provided me with a can of Loma Linda Big Franks and a can of Worthington Super-Links, the deluxe versions of Linketts and Vege-links. So let's see how the big boys stack up against the familiar regular-sized veggie dogs.

Here's what you need:
  • A Fry Daddy - For this experiment, however, since the Pathfinders have the Fry Daddy, I used a Wok, which actually worked pretty well and didn't spit and pop, so I didn't have much trouble cleaning the kitchen.
  • Skewers - Finding actual corn dog skewers usually requires a trip to a restaurant supply, which is worth it if you're doing a fund-raiser. You can also use bamboo skewers found in the grilling section at your local Walmart or you can use flat shish-kebob skewers that I found elsewhere at Wally World.
  • Paper towels - Lots and lots of paper towels
  • Very large or very deep mixing bowl - you have to be able to submerge the dogs entirely in the corn dog batter.
  • Wire whisk - For stirring
  • Metal tongs - Sometimes the sticks get suprisingly hot after cooking, especially the shorter corn dog sticks.
Super Links on the left; Big Franks on the right.
  1. All the veggie wieners you can eat -There are the brands I've mentioned and a few others you can find in the frozen section of most stores. Stick to the canned ones from LL and Worthington. They're the best, especially for corn dogs.
  2. 1 box of “complete” (add water only) regular-sized box of pancake mix - This usually surprises people. Cornbread mix just won't do it. If you can, get Krusteaz. It's the best.
  3. 1 Box Corn Meal Muffin Mix - Be careful here. Most muffin mixes use lard which can get you in trouble at an Adventist fund-raiser.  Martha White brand is safe. They use vegetable oil in their muffin mix.
  4. Gallon bottle of Canola Oil - Healthier oils are best. That way you can tell your wife they're made with "mono-unsaturated" oil when she fusses at you for how many corn dogs you ate.) Safflower oil works too. Some like peanut oil best for corn dogs. You just have to watch out for people with peanut allergies. There's always one!

  1. Fill the Fry Daddy - About 3/4 full enough to cover the entire wiener.  Plug it in and let the oil heat up while you make the batter.
  2. Make the Batter -  In the big mixing bowl, dump a regular size box of pancake mix and 1 box of corn meal muffin mix. Pour in water and whisk it up till the batter is smooth and not too thick, not too thin.
  3. Prepare the Weiners - Wiener preparation is the secret to delicious homemade corn dogs. You have to thoroughly dry off the wieners. I use paper towels myself. Wet wieners prevent the batter from adhering to the dog long enough to cook. When cooking for a crowd, have one person in charge of weiner drying. Skewer the dried wieners on the corn dog sticks.
  4. Dip the Corn Dogs - Dip them into the batter bowl and make sure they are thoroughly coated with batter. Lift them from the batter one at a time, letting the excess batter run off.  
  5. Set the Coating - Set each dog gently into the Fry Daddy. Hold the corn dog by the stick, suspended in the hot oil for about 10 to 15 seconds to allow the batter to skin over. Don't let them touch the bottom of the fryer until the outside is firm.
  6. Rotate the Dogs through the Oil - Put them in one at a time and allow the outside to cook enough so that the next dog you put in won't stick to the first one.   I like to put them in from right to left so I know that the one on the left is always the one ready to come out soonest.  Let them cook till they are golden brown.  Don't let them get too dark or they'll taste burnt.
Serving Corn Dogs
When the dogs are ready, I just put them out on a big serving plate next to a couple of open bags of chips and a stack of paper plates. I set out bowls to put the ketchup, mayo and mustard in rather than letting the guys dip straight out of the jars. That way, I don't have to throw away half a jar of mayo because it's "contaminated".  It just costs less to put it out a bit at a time in bowls with a hand-washing obsessed adult in charge of filling the bowls. Also, you don't lose a whole jar of condiment if some dribbly kid dips his weenie in the mustard jar. You learn this stuff if you do Pathfinders a lot.*

The Results of the Test:

I used bamboo skewers with the Super-links and shish-kabob skewers with the Big Franks so I could tell them apart (see picture). And I did my best to give them a fair side by side comparison, both with ketchup and without. To be frank (no pun intended), this old dog (that one I did on purpose) ate my corndogs so fast it was hard to tell. Man those things are good. Ugly as all git-out, but delicious.

I like both types of super-sized vege-weiners almost equally as well. Which one you will like best kind of depends on whether you're a Linkett or a Vege-Link man. Big Franks definitely come off the Linkett family tree and Super-links are pretty much a giant Vege-Link.

I, myself, have always preferred Vege-links as my dog of choice. They have a smoother taste that I prefer when I'm burning a vege-dog over an open campfire.  So I leaned toward the Super-Links in my judging, but only just. My Sweet Baboo, the culinary expert in the family had no opinion at all on which was better, other than that I kind of burn one of her corn dogs.

I'll just say that, your choice of "Super-sized" corn dog is probably going to depend a lot on which regular-sized veggie dog you prefer. Really, guys, it's a corn dog!  It's hard to go wrong with any sort of weiner if you coat it with corn batter and deep fry it.

For you militant vegans out there, yes, I know that this is probably not the healthiest sort of vege-food when prepared corn dog fashion. It is, however, I'd venture to say, the healthiest corn dog out there (unless you can show me some batterless, baked tofu dog on a stick and then I'd be willing to bet it's not nearly as tasty as these crispy beauties).

So I'm going to call it a tie for right now, with me buying regular-sized Vege-links for most of my future corn dogging efforts. There are more of them in the can so it feels like you're getting more corn dogs for your money. But I'm just weird like that. Anyway, enjoy some corn dogs soon. If you help with a Pathfinder club, make you some money. You'll make more every time you do this as word gets around about how amazing Pathfinder veggie corndogs taste.

* No Pathfinders were harmed in the making of this weblog.

Making Meal and Flour with a Blender.

The Old Osterizer in Action
Here's a neat trick for adding a nice nutty touch to your vegetarian potluck dishes.

If you find yourself in possession of a quantity of pecans, flax seed, walnuts or practically any tasty nut sort of thing, you don't have to spend extra buying it in a meal form suitable for cooking. You can do it in your blender.

My first experiment was with a bag of flax seed someone gave me which I had no idea how to use. Someone on my Facebook page told me about this and it works great.

Simply crank up your blender, pour the seeds through the little hole thing in the lid while the blender is going and the blender will quickly reduce the seeds or nuts to a nice consistent meal.

I use pecan meal in all sorts of oatmeal patties and loaf dishes and used to be able to get big buckets of pecans back in Texas. Not so much up here in the Pacific Northwest. So if any of you want to box up some Texas pecans and send me a care package, I would not be unhappy, just so you know.

You can also use your blender to make flour for your multi-grain bread.  Just toss in some oats (rolled or instant it doesn't matter), some rice or other grain and run the blender for a while and it will reduce it all to a nice smooth flour-like texture suitable for baking in bread, noodles or biscuits - pretty much anything you're brave enough to put in your recipes by way of experimentation.

Learning this technique gave my blender a new job now that my daughter sent me a Ninja smoothie making thing. I'd almost decided to retire my stainless steel blender. This gives me an excuse to keep this macho machine on the cabinet and it would be such a shame to hide this beautiful kitchen tool in the cabinet.

Voila!  Flax Seed Meal!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Honeymama's Incredible Sabbath Rolls

Honeymama in the kitchen!
My grandmother got her nickname "Honeymama" from my cousin Jeff. My grandpa called her "Honey" and Jeff's mom called her "Mama" so he, being a confused toddler, put the two words together and she became "Honeymama, which was what she was ever after. The name kind of gave her a mystical aura, especially where food was concerned. She was one of those brilliant cooks who have a knack for making food taste and look almost painfully good. She worked for years in the cafeteria at Southwestern Junior College and her rolls were a campus favorite. Honeymama  taught my wife five secrets to making good wheat rolls and she taught me and I pass them along to you!

The first secret was to dissolve the yeast in warm (not hot) water first.  and to wait till the water bubbled slightly. If the water doesn't bubble a bit, then the yeast is no good and the bread won't rise. Be careful to not make the water too hot or it can kill the yeast and the bread won't rise. If you knead the bread by hand, you don't want dead yeast, because all you'll wind up with is sore fingers and concrete-like bread.

The second secret was getting the right texture.   The proportions below are not exact. Honeymom would put everything together in the bowl with a cup of flour and a cup of water standing by.  As the dough formed up, she would add a touch of flour or a touch of water until the texture was just right. She taught me to pat the dough gently to test it. The texture was supposed to be about that of a baby's bottom, she said. You fingers should stick just a little, but release easily.  The texture was important.

The third secret was patience.  I produced several pans of rolls the consistency of rubber before I learned this lesson. You have to allow plenty of time for the rolls to rise fully. You can't be impatient. Go away and watch a movie or something to give the dough ball to double in size.  

The fourth secret was to let the dough rise twice. Until I came to trust this rule, my rolls were thick and clunky. I was so afraid to punch down and knead the dough after the first rising. I was afraid it wouldn't rise again.  Finally, I trusted my grandmother and low and behold the dough not only rose twice, but the texture and tenderness was markedly improved. 
My Sweet Baboo taught me that you could make the dough the day before and have fresh hot Sabbath rolls for Sabbath lunch. All you have to do is make the dough up on Friday, let it rise once, make the dough into rolls, put them in the pan and put them in the fridge overnight. Incredibly the rolls actually rise the second time in the fridge and by morning all you have to do is set them out in a warm place early in the morning. About 20 minutes or so before lunch, pop them in the overn and they will not only cook, but they'll fill the house with the best smell you can imagine.

The fifth secret is wheat germ. Just add it to the dough when you are making it and not only does it make the rolls more nutritious, but gives them a slight crunchy texture and taste that's amazing.

With a little practice you can get looser with the process and even get a bit creative, but for the first few times, it's best to adhere to the basic recipe.

  • 1 1/2 packages Dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons Water
  • 3/4 cup Evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup Warm (not hot) water
  • 6 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 cups White flour
  • 2 cups Whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Wheat germ
  1. Mix together warm water and yeast. Stir it with a wire whisk then let it sit till it bubbles slightly.
  2. Dump all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. You need a big one to accommodate all the kneading and mixing without getting flour everywhere.  A nice Kitchen-Aid mixer with a dough hook and a bowl shield.  Mix everything up. A dough hook does this nicely and saves you time and energy. There's a reason old-time professional bakers had such huge arms.
  3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add all the wet ingredients including the yeast.
  4. Stir everything together and knead it until it forms dough. Here's where you'll appreciate the stand mixer.  Keep kneading the doug for ten to fifteen minutes. You'll probably need to add a little flour or water to achieve the right constency when you "spank" the dough. If you're blessed with a stand mixer and a dough hook, just leave it running for about 10 to 15 minutes, checking it as you go for consistency.
  5. Once the dough is just right, cover the mixing bowl and set it in a warm place to rise. When it's risen to double it's size (give it a couple of hours), roll the dough out onto a countertop or cutting board.
  6. Punch down the dough and knead it. I usually do this with the stand mixer and give it another five or ten minutes with the dough hook.  
  7. Get out your roll pans. These should be "seasoned" or have a nonstick surface. My grandmother never used her roll pans for anything else and didn't wash them between batches. She just wiped them down with a little oil and stored them. The rolls always just rolled out when they were done and never stuck to her pans.
  8. Pinch off a little handful of dough that will just fit in your curled up fingers. Cup your hand over the dough ball and then roll it lightly around in circles, guiding the dough with your fingers and thumb. Keep gently rolling in round and round till it forms a smooth ball about two inches apart.
  9. If you're not sure of your roll pans, spray them with a little cooking spray to prevent sticking. Then place the dough balls side by side in the pan. Lay down a circle around the edges with the sides of the dough balls not quite touching. 
  10. Cover the pans of unbaked rolls with dish towels. The recipe makes about two pans. You'll need them. People scarf these things down like candy and two pans of rolls will not last long, especially at a potluck.  Set the pans in a warm place to rise if you are going to cook them the same day. If you're preparing for Sabbath on Friday, set them on a shelf in the refrigerator. They'll start rising overnight and be ready to complete in the morning. 
  11. Let the rolls rise until their sides are touching and tops are rounded and sticking up above the edge of the pans. Give them a couple of hours to warm up to room temperature. If you've got a sunny windowsill, they rise really well there.
  12. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
  13. Once the oven is ready, put the rolls in the oven to bake.
  14. When they are almost done, take them out of the oven and brush the tops of the rolls with margarine or butter. Then, put them back in and bake them until the tops are a nice golden brown.
  15. Take the rolls out of the oven and turn them gently over onto a plate. I take a second plate, put it over the bottoms of the rolls and then flip them back over. Put the rolls out and cover them with a cloth till you are ready to eat.  
  16. Don't forget to swipe one while it's hot, butter it and eat it. I know hot, just baked bread is not supposed to be good for you, but let me tell you, these puppies are good for the soul, whatever they might do for your digestion. 
Final note:

It may take some practice, but if you master making these rolls, you'll never have to take home any leftovers from potluck. I've seen family members stuffing their pockets with Honeymom's rolls on their way out the door after Thanksgiving dinners.


© 2015 by Tom King

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mama's Mashed Potatoes

(c) 2012 by Tom King

This is what mashed potatoes should look like.
Here's the recipe for Mama's Mashed Potatoes, which is the perfect companion to Barbecue Tender-Bits. These are Southern style mashed potatoes and they are to die for..........perhaps literally. This is not a low fat dish. However, if you're in the mood to celebrate, they cannot be beat.

One of the benefits of learning to cook your favorite meals yourself is that you can eat well at home without having to fly your mother cross-country every time you want this favorite dish. I learned to cook passably well by helping my wife make meals. She learned from her grandmother and mine and developed her own dishes to a level of artistic skill I cannot duplicate. I can get in the neighborhood, but have yet to match her. She on the other hand can cook right up to the grandmothers' level and, in most cases she goes beyond them. Mama's mashed potatoes are legendary. Here are the basic "secret ingredients". Getting the flavor right is a matter of adding a bit here and a bit there until the taste is right. That's actually the fun part of making this recipe

WARNING:  As I said before, these are not diet taters. They are a treat for Sunday or Sabbath dinner and holidays. Eat these too often and you'll find yourself weighing 300 pounds and coping with bad knees.  You have been warned.


  1. Potatoes (russets work, but red-skinned potatoes are by far the most delicious)
  2. Potato flakes
  3. Small can evaporated milk
  4. Cream Cheese
  5. Salt
  6. Butter or margarine
  7. Garlic powder
  8. Sugar or Splenda
  1. Large pot or boiler (as its apparently called in Louisiana)
  2. Mixing bowl
  3. Mixer (preferably an industrial sized Kitchen-aid, but a hand mixer will do)
  4. Assorted spoons
  1. Boil the potatoes. I cut them up some so they'll cook faster. Depending on your taste, you can leave the skins on, especially with the thin skinned red potatoes. It's better if you boil them in the peels, though. They're more nutritious that way, though the final product isn't the usual pristine white most are used to. Go ahead and peel them if you are concerned about presentation. Avoid the Yukon gold potato variety. They do not mash well, though they make a nice potato salad. It's the red potatoes that make the best mash.
  2. Place potatoes in mixing bowl with 1/2 to 1 cup of the water they were boiled in. Mash the potatoes with the mixer. They'll wind up a little soupy, but that's what the potato flakes are for.  
  3. Add butter, cream cheese and a small can of evaporated milk and and mix it all in. I cut up the cream cheese and butter first and let the hot potatoes melt them before adding the milk.The butter is guesswork, I usually start with a big spoonful and add more in the last step if needed.
  4. Add Garlic powder, salt and sugar or Splenda to taste. The wife has been adding artificial sweetener for some time in the interest of lowering calories. That still doesn't make it a diet dish, just so you know. This step is the critical one. Achieving that Southern mashed tater flavor is all about the blend of ingredients.  You don't need much more than a teaspoonful of the garlic and sugar. Add salt to taste. The mixture will still be a little soupy, but you should be able to taste whether you're getting it right. There should be a light hint of garlic and butter. The cream cheese shouldn't stand out. Somewhere between a block and half a regular foil block of cream cheese works nicely depending on how many potatoes you use to give it a creamy texture.
  5. As you run the mixer, gradually sprinkle in dried potato flakes until the potatoes thicken. You'll know it's right when the mixer starts to leave swirl marks behind as the bowl rotates. 
Because potatoes are not all the same size, absolute measurements of ingredients are not really practical. Mashed potatoes are an art form, like dance or story-telling. It takes practice and the only way you know you've got it right is by tasting it till you get all the flavors balanced just so.

My son Matt is back in Texas and misses his Mama's cooking. So, at his requested, I posted this to go with my earlier post on Barbecue Tender-Bits as these two dishes and a good salad with maybe some broccoli and my grandmother's homemade rolls make up his favorite meal. The next food post I'll do is my Honeymama's homemade roll recipe. Till then, here's a passable wheat roll recipe you can make in your bread machine that are pretty good till the real thing comes along.

I also posted this recipe because really good mashed potatoes are so seldom seen anymore. I figure if you're going to get fat, it's way better to do it with this kind of food than on two dollar hamburgers. Hamburgers fill your belly. Mama's Mashed Potatoes fill your soul!

© 2012 by Tom King

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Homemade Sweet & Sour Sauce

Leftover sauce stores perfectly in a Mason Jar
I adapted this from a Better Homes & Garden Cookbook one day when I was making Chinese Vegetables with Tender-Bits. It's a nice gingery sweet and sour sauce that I like really well. You can play around with the ingredients if you like. I've made it when I was out of some of the stuff I needed, but it came out fine. The key ingredients are brown sugar, conrstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. You can experiment with other things like pineapple juice in place of vinegar, cherry juice off a jar of maraschinos in lieu of syrup or other varieties of sweet peppers. It takes just 10 to 20 minutes once you have everything in the pan and really adds a nice touch to Chinese food.

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 cup McKay's Chicken Seasoning made into a broth
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine vinegar or pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green sweet bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup or cherry juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1.  In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, stir together brown sugar, cornstarch, broth, vinegar, sweet pepper, pimento, corn syrup, soy sauce, ginger and garlic in small saucepan over low to medium heat.
  2. Cook and stir until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble.
  3. Continue to stir for two minutes and then remove from heat.
  4. Leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge in a glass jar for several days. It may gel on you after a few days, but stick the jar in the microwave and add a little water. Heat for a minute and then stir it to return it to its original consistency. If you put it in the fridge while it's warm in a mason jar or small recycle fruit jar, the jar will seal itself and the sauce will stay nice of quite a long time.
© 2015 by Tom King

Sweet and Sour Chinese Veggies and Tender-Bits

Sweet and Sour Chinese Veggies and Tender-Bits
Back in the early 20th century, an SDA missionary doctor named Harry Miller and his long-suffering wife went to China to work among the poor people of that nation. His work came to the attention of Chinese authorities and Miller became the physician of choice to luminaries such as Chang Kai Shek and his wife. An immensely creative man, Millar traveled all over China improving hygiene and the diet of the Chinese. He once fought off river pirates on the Yantze with an oar and a pistol he carried with him on his missionary journies.

Another thing Dr. Miller is noted for is his discovery of how to mass produce meat substitutes from wheat gluten and soybeans. The Chinese made a wheat gluten meat-like substance called seitan as well as tofu from soybeans.  Dr. Miller developed a form of soymilk as an alternative to hard to obtain cow's milk for children and tinkered with ways to produce meat substitutes from gluten and soy. When the Japanese forced missionaries to flee Japan, Dr. Miller returned home, bringing his meat substitute idea with him. Worthington and Loma Linda foods were established based on Dr. Miller's patents for meat substitutes.

Loma Linda's lovely Tender-Bits are perfect to go with a nice pile of rice and Chinese vegetables. It fixes up nicely, especially if you have a wok to cook in. Here's how it works:

  1. Olive oil
  2. Stir fry veggies
  3. Loma Linda Tender-Bits
  4. Flour
  5. Seasoned salt
  6. Rice/Rice a Roni

  • Start the rice following package directions. Rice-a-Roni makes a nice fride rice that is quick and easy to make up and makes a lovely base for your veggies.
  • In a bowl, cut Tender-Bits in half in a bowl.
  • Sprinkle flour and seasoned salt over the Tender-Bits and stir them up till they are covered with flour/seasoning mixture.

  •  Fry the Tender-Bits in olive oil till crisp and slightly brown on the outside, then set the Tender-Bits aside in a bowl.

  • Stir fry the frozen Chinese vegetables until they are ready.
  • Lay down a bed of rice on your plate.
  • Cover the rice with a generous portion of Chinese vegetables.
  • Add Tender-Bits
  • Add homemade Sweet & Sour Sauce, Soy Sauce or other Chinese sauce.

This is really good with Sweet and Sour Sauce and by making it yourself, you can fiddle with the ingredients to suit your own tastes. You might want to increase or decrease ingredients to taste. I tend to go lighter on the vinegar.

The Tender-Bits make this a really delicious dish. It will most surely become a favorite dish and if you make your own sauce, it will give you something to tell everyone at potluck that you made yourself. Not many people make their own sweet and sour sauce.

Have fun.

Tom King © 2015


(c) 2013 By Tom King

Photo borrowed from "It's Gotta be Gluten Free" website
First off, we’re not talking about cattle feed here, though if you’ve got a whole lotta people corralled, this traditional Adventist potluck favorite is one of the best ways to feed them all, fill them up and send them on their way in no time.  It’s suitable for feeding visiting choirs, Pathfinder clubs, youth groups of all sizes and any group that shows up needing to be fed on short notice. 

Every city, state, country and continent has its own version of the venerable haystack.  In Hawaii, they put pineapple and macadamia nuts and stuff in it.  Up north I saw a version made with baked beans.  I’m going to describe the way it’s done in parts of Texas.  If you have a local version, you are welcome to post it here for all of us to share.  A Seventh-day Adventist named Ella May Hartlein is credited with coming up with the recipe in the early 1950s, when she and her family craved tostadas and could not find a Mexican restaurant close to their home according to Wikipedia.  Apparently the Amish and Mennonites have their own versions of the haystack too.  Here's the version I grew up with.

Here’s what you need for Texas-Style Haystacks:

  1. Lots of lettuce (chopped or shredded)
  2. Bags of Tortilla Chips (or Fritos Corn Chips)
  3. Tomatoes - diced
  4. Onions
  5. Mounds of Grated Cheddar Cheese
  6. Sour Cream
  7. Black Olives
  8. Jalepenos
  9. Ranch Dressing
  10. Avocados or Guacamole
  11. Pace™ Picante Sauce (accept no substitutes)
  12. Ranch Style Beans
  13. Loma Linda Redi-Burger, Loma Linda Vege-Burger, Worthington Vege-Burger or Morningstar Farms Grillers Recipe Crumbles

Here’s How to Set the Serving Line:

  1. Place two long folding tables end to end
  2. Chop up the vegetables, put everything in bowls with the proper sized spoons.  The only thing that needs to be heated is the beans.
  3.  Set out the serving bowls in this order on the table.

a.      First stack the paper plates at the start of the serving line.  Use the heavy Chinette ones because a haystack can get pretty heavy.
b.      Second place a huge bowl of chips right after the plates.  Tortilla chips are traditional in Texas, but I’ve seen it done (more expensively) with Fritos Corn Chips – regular sized.
c.      Third, heat up a huge pot of Ranch Style™ Beans with a couple of big soup ladles in them.
d.   Fourth, put a small amount of oil in a skillet and brown the vege-burger. You can make haystacks without the burger, but it makes a nice addition to traditional haystacks.
d.      Fifth, chop up a big bowl of diced tomatoes, and a big bowl of chopped lettuce
f.       Sixth, cut up smaller bowls of chopped onions, sliced black olives and sliced jalapenos
g.      Seventh, grate up a big bowl of grated cheddar cheese. I like the sharp kind myself.
h.      Eighth, prepare a big bowl of guacamole or chopped avocados
i.       Ninth, dish up bowls of sour cream and picante sauces and set out bottles of Ranch Dressing, and Catalina French Dressing for visiting Yankees and Californians.
j.       Flatware, napkins, drinks

Construction Techniques:

You build your haystack according to your own tastes, but for newbies, here’s the basic order of battle.  You can pretty much follow the order of setup, but everyone has their preferences.  Here are the directions for constructing the basic haystack:

  1. Lay down a bed of chips covering the bottom of your plate. Everything else is built on top of the chips.
  2. Scoop hot beans and/or vege-burger on top of the chips
  3. Lay down a bed of lettuce on top of the beans
  4. Spoon tomatoes generously over the lettuce
  5. Sprinkle onions, olives and/or jalapenos to taste over the salad ingredients
  6. Cover with grated cheese.
  7.  Add picante sauce to taste
  8. Decorate with spoonfuls of avocado/guacamole, and ranch dressing (or Catalina French if you must). 
  9. Top with a spoonful of sour cream.  Always save one olive to put on top of your little snowcap of sour cream to complete your mountain of deliciousness.


A haystack is not a “Taco Salad”.  It is a breach of etiquette to call it that or to put the chips on top of the beans.  Everything else can be laid down according to your own personal preference.  Take it easy on the jalapenos if you’re not used to them. 

Haystacks are pretty cheap to make and very filling.  Young people love them and because you make them yourself, little kids can even make their own versions which leave out anything “yucky”.  Haystacks are perfect if you need to feed a lot of people fast and you can leave extra unopened bags of chips and beans in the kitchen and add more to the feast if things start running low.  We always keep extra unopened jars of Pace, blocks of cheese, bottles of salad dressing, lettuce and tomatoes to chop up.  If you don’t need them, you can take them home or store the unopened jars for the next time you need to serve this imminently useful dish for your church potluck.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Vege-Burger Lasagna

There's always a lasagna or two at any Adventist potluck. The folk who bring them usually take home empty dishes they are that popular. You can take a shortcut and buy one of those frozen vegetable lasagna's, but this is a lot better and a lot more fun. Here's my favorite lasagna recipe.

  • Can of Loma Linda Vege-Burger.
  • Onion - diced
  • Green Pepper - diced
  • Mushrooms - sliced
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pasta sauce
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Olive oil
  • Mozarella or Provolone cheese (or both)
  • Sliced olives
Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cook the lasagna noodles according to directions on the box. You can buy noodles that don't have to be cooked before you put them in the casserole dish and they work quite as well and can save you time if you're in a hurry. Drain the noodles if you cooked them.

Step 2:  In a skillet, saute the onions, green peppers, mushrooms and vegeburger in a little olive oil. Set aside in a bowl.

Step 3:  In a casserole dish lay down a layer of noodles.

Step 4: Then add a layer of the sauteed veggies and burger mix,

Step 5:  Then add layer of spaghetti sauce.

Step 6:  Next add a layer of cottage cheese

Step 7:  Now add a layer of cheese.

Step 8:  You're halfway there. Now once more layer noodles, then burger and veggies, then spaghetti sauce, then cottage cheese and finally another layer of mozarella. Depending on how deep your casserole is, you might want to add another layer.

Step 9:  Top with sliced olives and pot into the oven

Step 10:  Bake the lasagna until it looks like this:

Man, that makes me hungry for another lasagna!  Lasagna is wonderful stuff and always welcome at any pot luck. What's even better is that it's almost impossible to mess up. The seasoning is all in the sauce, so you don't have to worry about over-salting or leaving out some seasoning or other. Just don't forget to put the sauce in like I did once and I had to take the lasagna apart and put the sauce in before I could bake it.

Even then, it was delicious and nobody knew I'd messed it up..................except for you guys now and I'm sure you won't tell that story. My kids would never let me live it down.

Bon appetit',

Tom King
(c) 2015