Food Column: From Nebraska with love

Photo contributed. Teresa Gelbman.

By Teresa Gelbman

Besides eating, cooking, reading about food, planning meals, and everything else food-related, one of my favorite hobbies is Postcrossing: sending and receiving postcards from folks all over this amazing world of ours. Not only is it fun to just say “hi,” sometimes we exchange recipes or stamps too. It’s an easy, non-committal way to connect with people. With most exchanges, it’s a one-and-done deal, but there are some that like to, as it’s called in the biz, “direct-swap,” where we agree to send cards to each other on an ongoing basis—basically a pen pal.

Well, that’s great, and all, but what’s this have to do with food, you’re asking? Just hold your horse’s partner; I’m getting there.

I have two pen pals: Dean in Florida and Connie in Nebraska. Dean is nice, and I enjoy writing to him, but Connie and I seem to have a lot more in common. She likes to garden (as do I) and has a great one, complete with chickens; she likes to eat (ditto), and she likes to write letters (ditto again), so we get along pretty well.

 Plus, our birthdays are ten days apart, so there’s that, too.

Over the summer, I wrote to her about our bumper crop of Pineapple guavas, those delicious little sweet-tarty fruits. Being from the Cornhusker state, she’d never heard of nor had one, so I mailed her two dozen, praying they’d arrive safely and not be rotten. Well, they did, and they weren’t. She loved them—in fact, she had friends and family over to try them, so they were enjoyed by all. In return, Connie sent a goodie box containing Nebraska candies, stickers, her favorite Kool-Aid flavor, and assorted pamphlets. She also included two of her favorite recipes along with a bottle of Dorothy Lynch Homestyle Dressing (it’s vegan!) to use in one of them.  

So, I’m sharing her recipes with you all: a Taco Salad and her family’s favorite Strawberry Pretzel Salad. Not too sure how to make that one for my Vegan Husband, Jeff, but I’ll try!

Taco Salad: In a large bowl, combine: chopped head of lettuce, 1 medium onion diced, 1 large tomato diced, 1 cup shredded cheese, 1 can chili beans in sauce and 1 8-ounce bottle of Dorothy Lynch dressing. Cover and chill for an hour. Ready to serve? Top with more cheese and crushed corn chips. 

Strawberry Pretzel Salad: 2-2/3 cups crushed pretzels, ¾ cup butter melted, 3 teaspoons sugar, 1 8-ounce softened cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, 2 3-ounce packs strawberry Jello, large Cool Whip, 2 10-ounce packs frozen strawberries in syrup.

In a 13” x 9” pan, mix pretzels, melted butter, and 3 teaspoons of sugar. Spread to cover the bottom. Bake 10 minutes at 400. Cool.

Combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and Cool Whip, and spread over pretzel crust. Dissolve Jello in 2 cups boiling water, remove from heat, add strawberries. When partially set, pour over cheese mixture refrigerate until set.