I’m a word person, and I read and hear a lot of things that bother me. When I read books, I catch myself mentally substituting correct words for incorrect ones, and sometimes I rearrange entire sentences in my head. This can be especially annoying if a book has a really good storyline but the writing is atrocious.

Americans often mutilate our language, and sometimes we are just lazy. Certain things — often the wording found sale fliers — amuses me. Especially the ones that say things like “shoe sale — buy one get one free.” This apparently is seen as a generous deal, but think about it. How much good is just one shoe going to do? Even worse are the “baby sale” ads. These stores might be selling baby clothes, baby furniture or other baby accoutrement, but they are going to be visited by the FBI if they actually are selling babies.

I make my share of errors, spoken and written, so I don’t go around correcting people, but here are two examples just begging for responses: The first is “I’m going to ‘unthaw’ something for supper.” I guess that means you want to go out to eat, because if you “unthaw” something, most likely it will be frozen by meal time. The other, and much more common one is “Itch my back.” In that case, I just can‘t resist asking, “Why, does it scratch?”

Having said all of this, I hope I do not receive a mountain of copies of this column next week, with errors circled and corrections in red.

Most of us have earned our culinary degrees in the “kitchen of trial and error.” But often it seems that trial-and-error recipes become favorites. You just have to remember which parts were error for the next time.

Today we have recipes that I hope will help out a couple of readers. The first two, salmon or tuna loaf and creamed peas, go together, and the end product is a healthy and delicious entree. White sauce can be pretty bland, so I like to add a packet of George Washington golden seasoning powder (located in eight-pack boxes in the bouillon aisle). And with or without the golden seasoning, I always add a bit of nutmeg to white sauces — I like the little added oomph it gives to the flavor.

With Lent on the horizon, these two recipes also provide a quick and delicious substitute on meatless days.

Rosa Weber of Onalaska, recently diagnosed with celiac disease, has requested gluten-free recipes and tips for coping with the disease. I’m including a recipe for barbecued baby back ribs, to show that gluten-free doesn’t mean flavor- or variety-free eating.

The recipe is from livingwithout.com and is contributed by Rob Landolphi, a chef and an expert on gluten-free cooking. He also is the author of the “Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook.” The website says these ribs “are perfect for summer grilling,” but as more and more people take to the idea of grilling year-round, they’re not just for summer anymore. The website adds the following advice: “The key to success is to cook them slowly at low temperature, allowing the dry rub to tenderize the meat. After coating ribs with rub, refrigerate overnight to let flavors set. Roast in the oven four hours; finish on grill, brushed with Plum Sauce.”

We could spend an infinite amount of time on our current requests, but it would be nice to have a few more to add to the mix.

Salmon or Tuna Loaf

4 ounces canned eater-packed tuna or salmon, drained (reserve some liquid)

2 slices Village Hearth light bread, crumbled

1 well beaten egg

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped pimiento

Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients well, adding some of reserved liquid if necessary; press in sprayed, small baking tin(s) or muffin cups. Place tins in larger pan and add water to come about halfway up side of tins. Bake 30 minutes. Can be shaped in small loaves and cooked in microwave. Top with creamed peas.

Creamed Peas

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dry mustard

Dash of white pepper

1 cup warm low fat or fat free milk


1 packet George Washington golden seasoning powder (located by bouillon)

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Pinch of nutmeg, to taste

Add peas to a pan of salted, boiling water; reduce heat to medium or medium low, and simmer until done to your liking, 5 to 10 minutes. Or cook them to desired doneness in microwave. Drain well.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Combine flour, salt, white pepper, nutmeg and dry mustard; whisk into melted butter until you have something resembling a spreadable paste. Stirring quickly with a wire whisk or slotted spoon to prevent lumps from forming, add warm milk all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in seasoning and nutmeg if using. Remove from heat; add peas and stir to coat. Ladle over salmon or tuna loaf.

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs with Plum Sauce

6 pounds pork ribs

For the rub:

3 tablespoons allspice

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon dry mustard

For the plum sauce:

½ cup plum jam

½ cup white vinegar

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons minced garlic

4 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon minced sweet onion

½ cup plum wine

Heat oven to 200 degrees. Prepare dry rub by combining all ingredients except ribs in a medium bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended. Using hands, massage rub on both sides of ribs until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the plum sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients except wine in a saucepan over medium heat until sauce boils. Add wine; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.

To cook: Place ribs on a sheet pan and bake 4 hours. Remove from oven; cool slightly. Heat grill to medium or medium-high. Brush ribs with plum sauce; place on heated grill. Cook 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, brushing with plum sauce each time.(Recipe from livingwithout.com)

Makes 6 servings.

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Send requests, recipes and/or cooking tips and techniques to Alice P. Clark at Reader Exchange, c/o La Crosse Tribune, 401 N. Third St., La Crosse, WI 54601; or email readerexchange@lacrossetribune.com.


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