Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I don’t need to consult the Farmer’s Almanac this year. It’s going to be a cold, hard winter in Tennessee, and I feel it coming. We have experienced all sorts of disastrous extremes in weather in the past six months, and we’re all preparing, even in the South, for a bit of snow.

Snow is a good thing if you’re inside, warm by the fire, with dinner cooking, and family and friends gathered around. Snow has a way of forcing us to slow down, to stay inside and read, knit, talk, cook.

This menu works on snowy nights, for a beef stew is best when it has time to simmer and let the flavors concentrate. With warm egg noodles, a green salad of your liking and hot bread, it makes for a nourishing meal, as well.

For dessert, a play on the weather make snowballs. They’re little rounds of coconut cake and they’re beautiful presented on a silver platter. It helps to have helping hands to join in as you roll the frosted squares in coconut until they resemble chubby little snowballs.

Then wrap them lightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge or on the back porch until ready to serve.

Five time-shaving meals to prepare when it snows

m Your favorite chili

• Cheese fondue by the fireplace

• Omelets with ham and cheese, thin French beans to the side

• Steamed lobster with melted butter

• Chicken pot pie using a refrigerated pie crust


Vegetable oil spray for misting pan

Flour for dusting pan

1 18.25-ounce package plain white cake mix

1 cup sour cream

cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla or coconut flavoring

2 recipes marshmallow frosting (recipe follows)

3 cups sweetened flaked coconut or thawed frozen coconut

Mist a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray and dust with flour. Shake out excess flour. Set pan aside.

Place cake mix, sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla or coconut flavoring in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down sides again if needed. Batter should look well-combined and thick. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with rubber spatula. Place pan on center rack of preheated 350-degree oven.

Bake cake until it is lightly browned and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.

Run a dinner knife around edge of cake and invert it onto a rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that cake is right side up. Allow it to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare two recipes of the Marshmallow Frosting, using a large saucepan. Place coconut in a shallow pan. Cut cake into 48 squares, about 1 inches each, making 8 slices down long side of pan and 6 slices across. Remove squares and spread each on all sides with some of the marshmallow frosting. Roll each frosted square in coconut.

Place snowballs, as you finish them, in a single layer on large serving platters or in a single layer in plastic storage boxes. Continue process until all snowballs have been assembled. Cover platters with waxed paper or place lids on storage boxes. Place snowballs in refrigerator to chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Serve at once or keep refrigerated until serving time. Makes 48 snowballs.


The preparation time is 5 minutes.

cup sugar


2 large egg whites

1 7-ounce (1 cups) jar marshmallow creme

Place sugar, 2 tablespoons water and egg whites in a medium-size heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, beating continuously with an electric hand mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. (If hand mixer has a cord, make sure to keep it away from the burner.)

Remove pan from heat. Add marshmallow creme and beat mixture with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 minutes more. Makes 3 cups.


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