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Texas Food
Texas cooking has some pretty strong roots. There are so many recipes that are tried and true and continually show up at church socials, barbecues and birthday parties. But you can't always get the recipe from the cook. Many times they will tell you they don't have a recipe or the recipe is in their head. And often good recipes are lost when people move or pass away.

Texas Sheet cake has been around for years. In fact it is not just a Texas favorite. During my visits to Oklahoma and Kentucky I was served Texas Sheet cake. It is absolutely delicious and satisfying to the senses, and it can be whipped up -- start to finish, baking, frosting and all -- in 40 minutes or less. This version uses a 13x9 inch pan rather that the jellyroll pan called for in some versions.

Texas Sheet Cake
2 C Sugar
2 C All-purpose flour
1/4 C Cocoa
1 t Baking soda
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 C Butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 C Buttermilk
1/2 C Canola or other vegetable oil
1 C Water
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 t Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and cinnamon, and set aside.
Stir together the remaining ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stirring until you have a smooth, rather thin batter. Pour into your prepared pan, and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting.

For the Frosting:

1/4 C Plus 2 tablespoons Milk
1/4 C Cocoa
1/2 C Butter
1 pound Confectioner's sugar, sifted (about 4 cups)
1 t Vanilla extract
1 C Chopped pecans
Mix the milk and cocoa in a heavy saucepan (stir, stir, stir). Add the butter and, over medium heat, stir until the butter melts. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the pecans. When the cake is just out of the oven, spread the frosting evenly on the hot cake.

Now let's talk about brisket. I will be the first to say that it takes skill to prepare a good brisket. I have eaten my share of dry brisket and there is nothing worse. Like many people I do not have the time to do a brisket right, outside in the pit just any old day. But there is an alternative. You can make it in your oven. Now, all you die hard pit barbecue fans don't send me hate mail. I said an alternative not a replacement for brisket done right. The oven version is good though, and a great way to enjoy this tasty cut of beef even when the Texas weather is less than cooperative.

Texas Oven Brisket

4 to 6 lb. Fresh beef brisket, well trimmed
1 C Barbecue sauce (your favorite)
1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C Liquid smoke
1 T Garlic powder
2 t Celery salt
2 t Lemon pepper
1 t Salt
1 C Chopped onion
1/2 C Water
Preheat oven to 275°F.

In a large Pyrex baking dish, thoroughly mix all ingredients for sauce. Put the brisket in the baking dish, and turn it over once to coat it with the sauce. Seal the dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Bake at 275°F for 5 to 6 hours. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 1 hour before slicing. Slice across the grain, and serve with sauce. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

I am sure there are many other Texas favorites out there and if you have a favorite, send it to me.

Cooking Tip of the Week

Mash about 6 garlic cloves into 1/2-cup butter, add chopped chives or parsley. Form into logs, wrap in plastic, and freeze. Slice as needed to melt onto meats, vegetables or use as a spread.