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In The Kitchen With Vera: Ring in the New Year with festive food

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The holiday season is really not over until after the New Year, and maybe getting in the kitchen and getting creative is more in your wheelhouse after the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and presents is out of the way. 

Vera Stewart suggests starting a new family tradition of doing something after Christmas and before New Year’s Day to actually enjoy the time without a lot of distraction. 

Stuffed crown roast looks amazing in pictures, but would you ever attempt such a feat?  Vera will show you on this week’s show how to do it step by step and how you can truly feel celebrated in the privacy of your own kitchen.  https://www.veryvera.com/recipes/recipe/crown-roast-chestnut-pear-stuffing/

Vera’s Crown Roast. Photo by Chris Hall/WierStewart

Little tips like getting to know the butcher come in handy when you set out on a project like this but in the end, it pays off for you and your company. The stuffing recipe can be used throughout the year with chicken and pork.

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The Yule Log could most definitely become a New Year’s Eve tradition instead of Christmas. https://www.veryvera.com/recipes/recipe/yule-log/ The art of creating this masterpiece is highlighted in a REEL on Vera’s Instagram @veryverastewart but also in the show that airs at 12:30 p.m. Thursday and again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on WJBF-TV.

Vera’s holiday tea towel. Photo credit: Chris Hall/WierStewart

Since a tea towel is a significant part of the actual presentation to this completed dish, Vera has designed a tea towel with the recipe in her handwriting to commemorate this celebrated family tradition and share it with you.  Towels are available online at www.veryvera.com/store. — from Vera Stewart’s team.

Adventures with Vera’s Cookbook continued

Since the title “Julie and Julia” has already been taken and those are neither of our names, I need to come up with a clever title for my adventures in making Vera’s recipes.

My latest adventure through Vera’s cookbooks came two days before Christmas.

I had narrowed my choices down to either her coconut cake or her red velvet cake. Both sounded intimidating. Since Vera had sent me an email saying the caramel cake I made for Thanksgiving Day was the hardest of the layer cakes to try, I knew I could conquer either one.

My husband threw a third suggestion into the hat — Vera’s carrot cake —  like I really wanted to make the cake she beat Bobby Flay with knowing that my in-laws were going to be trying it out. (A wave to my in-laws because they are probably reading this).

Anyway, Bret said he liked red velvet, so that’s the cake we decided on. Besides, it’s a beautiful red, one of the colors of the Christmas season. It seemed the natural choice. https://www.veryvera.com/recipes/recipe/red-velvet-cake/

Red velvet cake fresh out of the oven. Staff photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

If you follow the recipe, you cannot fail with this one. I promise. The oven temperature wasn’t quite even on this so one layer was done before the others. The old toothpick trick said the individual layers were done even though they looked more than moist. I took a chance on it because my caramel cake was slightly dry.

Note to self: stop watching cooking shows on Food Network because you do not have a blast chiller. A chest freezer doesn’t work.

That being said, the only glitch with the red velvet cake was that  I tried to put the cream cheese icing on a little too soon. The cakes just weren’t cool enough Dec. 23. At least, they didn’t crumble apart. I’m grateful for that.

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I spent Christmas Eve making some additional frosting to hide the error of my ways. What could’ve been a disaster turned out well after the fact — not perfect, not professional, but not bad at all.

Because decorating is one of my favorite parts of Christmas, I decided to decorate my cake with pecans. That was also part of the hiding tactic. My daughter Allie had suggested the “naked cake” look. I’d never heard of that trend. As I stared at images I’d found through Google, I realized my sad-looking red velvet cake could’ve fit that bill well, but I was determined to make it look pretty. I made extra frosting and slathered it on.

Not perfect; not professional, but filled with love. And my husband liked the way this red velvet cake tasted. That’s all that mattered. Staff photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

Anyway, I’m still not quitting my day job and opening a bakery, but this cake was a hit. And they weren’t just being nice this time. I’m my own worst critic, and this cake was really good.

I started back on my Weight Watchers plan to prevent too much damage.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the Features Editor for The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected] 

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