The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 7, 2012

Cheryle Finley: ‘Crystal bowl’ predicts new age of cooking

By Cheryle Finley
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — While I think the flying cars in “The Jetsons” would be fun, I’m glad their food pill never caught on.

I like to eat. I enjoy chewing and tasting food. If we took a pill in place of a meal, would we ever take time to slow down during the day? It’s bad enough to have to eat on the run, but never actually eating another meal is one pill I’m not ready to swallow.

The Pillsbury “Quick & Easy Bake-Off” cookbook from 2000 is not very big, but it’s full of great recipes concocted by everyday people. The page I found interesting was “A look into the crystal mixing bowl.” It contains ideas about what the editors think might be in store for cooking in the new millennium. Here’s what they foresaw:

People with evolving taste buds will crave more adventure. Consumers will buy Thai peanut sauce or curry powder to flavor everyday dishes, and heat will take a front burner with the addition of more hot peppers and salsa. Snack foods will hold strong flavors, and dried herbs will add a punch to food.

Convenience foods will fill a need. They aren’t talking about fast-food. Instead, pre-shredded carrots and lettuce will be “in,” as well as seasoning sauces. Long, complicated recipes will be “out” for everyday cooking.

Vegetables will become the stars of our plates, taking center stage over meats and dairy fare. Sauces will be lighter or used sparingly. Prepared salsa, spaghetti and pizza sauces will be used for dipping snacks.

We will cook at the speed of life. New appliances will help consumers cook great-tasting food up to eight times faster.

I’m thinking that was some kind of magic crystal mixing bowl.

It’s hard to find someone to predict what we will be eating in the years to come, but I did find a couple of interesting ideas at

Cobia: This is a little-known fish that’s set to become the next tilapia.

Lab-grown meat: It’s made using less land, and the process produces fewer greenhouse gases. Will it move society toward eating less meat?

Purslane: This is an invasive weed you have probably pulled from your lawn. It’s starting to pop up at farmers markets and tastes great. It’s high in beta carotene and offers more omega 3 than almost any other salad green.

Insects: Almost 80 percent of the world’s population is already consuming high-protein, low-fat insects. Maybe they taste better dipped in chocolate.

A word to the wise about substituting Splenda for sugar: In cooking, the two are virtually interchangeable. But my sister, Sue Joslen, learned the hard way that there’s one big exception. She was preparing a nice dinner for her friends, Barbara and Jody, and all was going great. She had made a pumpkin creme brulee and was ready for the caramel touch on top. She sprinkled Splenda on top of the individual desserts and placed them under the broiler. It didn’t take long for the Splenda to ignite, set off the smoke alarm and ruin her dessert. Just a little tidbit to file for the future.

My husband, Chris, and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary on Sunday. I’m the first one to admit that he’s the one who needs all the congratulations for putting up with me for that long. I wanted to share one of his favorite recipes, and I picked one I don’t fix nearly as often as I should. I believe that the last time I shared the tree salad recipe was in 2007. I received it before that from Miriam Putnam, of Carthage, who said it had originally been prepared by Peggy Morrow. This salad is best if it sits overnight, but the Putnams and the Finleys usually can’t wait that long.

Looking for a different side dish? Look no further than the cheesy potato corn cakes from the Pillsbury “Quick & Easy Bake-Off” cookbook.

My co-worker, Brian Ollenburger, prefaced the apple brickle dip recipe with the declaration that he does not like cream cheese, but he likes this. His wife, Julie, got the recipe from “Taste of Home Ultimate Halloween 2012,” but just because Halloween has passed is no reason not to give it a try.

Julie said she used about half a bag of the English toffee bits because she thought an entire bag would be too much. She used five or so apples instead of the three. Brian suggests letting the dip flavors meld together before serving, so the bits soften a little and you get more caramel flavor. Have a wonderful fall week and happy eating!

Tree salad

1 bundle broccoli

1 small red onion, diced

12 slices fried bacon, crumbled

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup cocktail nuts


1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vinegar

Cut up and combine salad ingredients. Prepare dressing and stir into salad. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yields approximately 12 servings.

Cheesy potato corn cakes

2 cups mashed potato flakes

1 can Mexicorn, drained

3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

In a large bowl, combine first nine ingredients; mix well. Add milk and egg; mix well. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Drop potato mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet. Carefully press each to form 3-inch round cakes. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining butter and potato mixture as necessary. Yields 16 corn cakes.

Apple brickle dip

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package almond brickle chips (7 1/2 ounces) or English toffee bit (10 ounces)

3 medium tart apples, cut into chunks

In a bowl, beat cream cheese, sugars and vanilla. Fold in brickle chips. Serve with apples. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.