Dear Heloise: Being 79 years old, I don't need much and don't really want "things" for special occasions. The very best gift anyone could give me is to invite me for a home-cooked meal. Nothing fancy, just dinner or lunch and someone to share it with me. Like so many people in my age bracket, breaking bread with a friend or family member means more to us than things. We love the interaction with others and the kindness of home cooking.
Billie-Jo H., Olympia, Wash.
Dear Heloise: Please reprint your recipe for corn bread dressing. We love it!
Luci G., Harrisonburg, Va.
Luci: This is a longtime family favorite, and I included it in my book “In the Kitchen With Heloise.” It can be cooked separately in a well-greased casserole dish and served with not only turkey, but also ham, chicken and other entrees. You’ll need:
1 cup broth (see note)
6-8 slices stale bread, torn into pieces
1 ½ cups packed crumbled corn bread
1 stick butter or margarine
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup to 1 cup chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon dried sage, crumbled
(Note: Make the broth by cooking the giblets and neck of a turkey or chicken in water with seasonings, or use canned chicken broth or chicken bouillon.)
In a large bowl, pour the broth over the bread pieces and corn bread. Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the celery and onion until tender. Add them to the bread mixture, along with the eggs, salt, pepper and seasonings. Mix well.
Dear Heloise: I love avocados so much, I decided to grow my own avocado tree and harvest the fruit in my backyard. I got my tree started indoors, but once it reached 6 to 8 inches, I was told to trim it back to about 3 inches. If I hadn't, it would have developed into a skinny, weak plant. My tree has been planted in the backyard and is now 10 feet tall and very robust.
Lucy Y., Long Beach, Calif.
Dear Heloise: Can someone be allergic to MSG? I think I am, but my husband says it's impossible.
June S., Brookside, Del.
June S.: MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate, is a flavor enhancer that is used in a number of Chinese dishes, soups and processed meats. The Food and Drug Administration has deemed it safe to use, but a small percentage of people might have a mild negative reaction to MSG. Symptoms may include headache, sweating, rapid heartbeat, tingling or numbness of the face or neck, chest pain and nausea.
Although researchers haven’t found out for sure that MSG causes these symptoms, it is best to avoid it if you have experienced any adverse reactions.
Dear Readers: Ever wonder where a pimento comes from? They’re sweet red chile peppers, resembling a cherry tomato, and usually are found stuffed into a manzanilla olive to complement the saltiness of the olives. Pimento peppers are a good source of vitamins A, C and B6, and of copper. However, eating a large amount of pimentos can cause an upset stomach.