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OUR GOOD COOKS Her talent had many teachers



Published: Wed, July 18, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



This Struthers grandmother credits many people from throughout her life with teaching her the various elements of good cooking.

By SARAH A. CART

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

As this week's Good Cook, Grace Pape of Struthers, reflected on how and when she learned the culinary arts, she observed, "I have been inspired by so many people throughout my life. I've listened a lot."

Specifically, she recalled, she learned "the art of cooking, but not measuring," from her maternal grandfather; "the art of good pasta" from her mother; how to make a perfect pie crust from her high school home economics teacher; and "soul-cooking" from watching Emeril Lagasse on television.

The oldest of three sisters, Pape lived in Lowellville until she was 12, at which time the family moved to Struthers. She graduated from Struthers High School as Grace Listorti and often helped out in the neighborhood grocery store her parents owned and operated.

She first met Armand Pape when her parents paid a visit to his parents upon their arrival in this country from the Listortos' hometown in Italy.

In time, the two teen-agers who met that day were married and raised a son and two daughters. In the years since, the family has grown to include six grandchildren ranging from 4 to 11 years of age.

Discovery: Pape's talents were brought to The Vindicator's attention by Dr. Jenifer Lloyd of Poland. "Grace is a godsend," Lloyd declared as she described how Pape has provided childcare and more for the Lloyd family since Lloyd was a student in high school.

Now Pape helps care for Lloyd's sons, J.D. and Kent Dunne, ages 12 and 9, and often has dinner for the family on the table when Lloyd and her husband, John Dunne, get home at the end of the day.

"I couldn't do what I do without Grace," concluded Lloyd, a nationally recognized dermatologist who practices locally. In response, Pape noted, "Jen is like a daughter to me, and J.D. and Kent are like two additional grandsons." In fact, the Dunne boys taught her how to use a computer, "and now I keep all my recipes on one."

Special event: A lifelong member of St. Nicholas Church in Struthers, Pape and her husband coordinated the church's annual festival for 10 years. "That included taking care of all the food booths," a stimulating responsibility for this avid collector and reader of cookbooks.

To relax, Pape enjoys sewing craft items and "making costumes for the kids." She also loves to iron, explaining that, for her, it is a therapeutic task that affords her time to metaphorically "clean my attic."

For the past nine years she has also collected pieces of Dicken's Village and now has them on year-round display in her living room, a little bit of Christmas in July.

When time and budget permit, she relishes the opportunity to spend time at Disney World. "When you're there, you're a child again," she confessed, "and it's fun to watch the kids experience it."

Pape is delighted to share the following recipes with the Vindicator's readers, including one for red clam sauce that is "John Dunne's favorite, made with no garlic." She noted by way of encouragement, "Everything I make is very simple."

SUMMERTIME CAKE

1 yellow cake mix, plus ingredients necessary to make it

1 (15-ounce) can crushed pineapple

1 (3.9-ounce) box French vanilla instant pudding, plus milk necessary to make it

1 (small) tub Cool Whip dairy topping, thawed

Ground nuts or coconut, optional

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, baking it in a 9x13-inch pan.

Upon removing the cake from the oven, prick holes with a fork in the top of the cake. Spoon the pineapple (and the juice) all over the top of the cake and then let it cool for about 45 minutes.

When the cake is nearly cooled, prepare the instant pudding according to the package directions.

Before the pudding sets, pour it over the pineapple and let it set in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. When pudding has set, top with Cool Whip. Sprinkle with nuts and/or coconut if desired.

GRACE'S CHICKEN

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts cut into 2" pieces

Salt & amp; pepper to taste

Flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dry

11/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Oil for frying

1/4 cup Marsala, white wine or sherry

1/4 cup melted butter

Lemon slices

Place chicken between sheets of waxed paper and use a meat mallet to pound and flatten it until thin.

Salt and pepper to taste. Dust in flour.

In a bowl mix together eggs, cheese, lemon juice and parsley. Dip dredged chicken pieces in this batter, then saute chicken in hot oil until golden brown on all sides. Lay chicken pieces in a baking dish with sliced lemon between layers. Mix the melted butter and wine, pour over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Wonderful over rice. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

HAM & amp; BEAN SOUP

1 cup ham, cut into small cubes

21/2 cups water

2 cups chicken broth

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup diced celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach

2 medium potatoes, cubed

1 small can stewed or chopped tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans

1 cup cooked elbow macaroni or ditalini, optional

Salt & amp; pepper to taste

In a stock pot combine ham, water, broth, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes and boil slowly until tender.

Add tomatoes, spinach and beans. Return to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste, and cooked pasta if desired (if you add the pasta, continue to simmer until pasta heats through).

Serve with a crispy green salad and crusty Italian bread.

GRACE'S RED CLAM SAUCE

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1/2 red pepper cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 small can diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

1 (61/2-ounce) can clams

1/2 cup white wine

8 ounces pasta (spaghetti or linguine)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Salt & amp; pepper to taste

Grated Italian cheese

In a saucepan heat oil and saute onions and pepper until just tender. Add tomatoes, chicken broth and juice from the canned clams. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. When pasta is almost done, add clams and white wine to sauce (you only want to heat the clams through; if they cook too long, they become rubbery).

Drain pasta and spoon onto dinner plates; spoon sauce over pasta and top with grated cheese and fresh parsley.

Enjoy with an Italian green salad and hot crusty bread.

SAUSAGE & amp; PEPPER SAUCE

1 pound sweet or hot Italian bulk sausage (turkey sausage also works)

1 medium onion, sliced or chopped

1 large red pepper, cut into strips

1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips

1 cup fresh mushrooms, or one 4-ounce can

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoons snipped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried

A favorite short cut pasta (ziti, penne, bow tie, etc.) or polenta

Grated cheese

In a large skillet, cook the sausage until no longer pink. Add onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce and tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Add basil. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Pour sauce over pasta or polenta and top with grated cheese.

XTo nominate someone as a Vindicator Good Cook, please send information to Michael McGowan, Special Projects Editor, The Vindicator, P.O. Box 780, Youngstown, OH 44501. Or you may e-mail us at McGowan@vindy.com. Nominations should include a contact number for the nominee and the person making the nomination.




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