OUR GOOD COOKS Soule food never gets stale

This Valley native discovered a taste for standards such as cheese grits and creole while living down South.
Recipes make the ideal bedtime reading for this week's Good Cook, Katherine Economus Soule of Poland.
Although a native of Boardman and a graduate of Boardman High School, Soule's moving to Poland was not a simple west-to-east jaunt across Interstate 680. Nor is the culinary expertise of this longtime collector of cookbooks limited to the Greek dishes she learned to make in her mother's kitchen.
Moving around: After earning a degree in marketing at Miami University of Ohio, Soule settled in Chicago. That's where she met Bobby Soule, a native Floridian who was in the Windy City on business from his bachelor's quarters in Alabama. In practically no time the two were dating and, within a year, they had exchanged vows at Boardman's St. John's Greek Orthodox Church, but they were only in town for the wedding. In the seven years since, the couple has moved five times.
The Soules have set up and dismantled housekeeping in Savannah and Albany, Ga.; Elizabethtown, N.C.; and Atlanta. The decision to make the most recent move came about in less than 72 hours when Mr. Soule's employer offered them the opportunity to head to northeast Ohio. Although they've never remained anywhere very long, in the midst of their adventures they have been blessed with the arrivals of two daughters, Ana, 4, and Mary Oliver, 2.
All that time spent south of the Mason-Dixon line afforded Mrs. Soule plenty of opportunity to experience Southern cooking and grow to love dishes such as cheese grits and meals with a creole flavor.
Nomination: Melissa Watson of Poland nominated Mrs. Soule as a Good Cook. The two met shortly after the Soules' arrival in the Mahoning Valley a year ago and quickly discovered their mutual curiosity about food.
Formerly in soft drink sales, these days Mrs. Soule keeps busy golfing, running, and volunteering in the community. Already she is beginning to outline marketing plans for her daughters' preschool's December craft show. But the activity she cherishes most, she declared, is "time spent with family."
As for how she chooses recipes to try, "I'm willing to try making anything," Mrs. Soule said. She explained that while she was growing up, her mother was actively involved in testing recipes for a local cookbook, and often encouraged her to try out some of the recipes and help with the testing process. "That's how she started me on collecting cookbooks."
From there it was a short step to constantly reading recipes, which resulted in a pronounced preference for bedtime reading materials.
Thus, by the time she was married, Mrs. Soule had gained a lot of experience, but that didn't spare the new bride a memorable mistake. "Before we were a month past the wedding, I prepared some fettuccine Alfredo for dinner one night," she blushed, then continued, "but I didn't realize that sweetened condensed milk isn't the same thing as evaporated milk. The pasta was very sweet!"
3medium avocados
2tablespoons lemon juice
1/2teaspoon salt
1/4teaspoon pepper
1cup sour cream
1/2cup mayonnaise
1package taco seasoning mix
2101/2-ounce cans plain or jalapeno bean dip
8green onions, chopped
3medium tomatoes, fresh, seeded, chopped
231/2-ounce cans black olives, chopped
8ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
tortilla chips or rounds
Peel, pit and mash avocados with lemon juice, salt and pepper; set aside. In a bowl combine sour cream, mayonnaise and taco seasoning mix.
To assemble, spread bean dip on a large shallow serving platter; spread seasoned avocado mixture over bean dip, then spread the sour cream mixture over the avocados. Sprinkle chopped onion, tomatoes and olives over all. Cover with grated cheese.
Chill until ready to serve, or serve immediately, with tortilla chips. Makes 20 to 30 servings.
21/2cups elbow macaroni
1onion, chopped
8ounces tomato sauce
11/2pounds ground round
1/2cup chopped fresh parsley
cinnamon, to taste
1teaspoon salt
1/4teaspoon pepper
8tablespoons butter
1/3cup flour
1quart milk, hot
1teaspoon salt
4eggs, lightly beaten
1/2cup Parmesan
Saute onion in butter until golden brown. Add meat and cook until meat is browned. Add cinnamon, a teaspoon of salt and pepper, then tomato sauce and parsley and cook for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil macaroni according to package directions; rinse, drain, and let cool a bit.
While macaroni is boiling, prepare a cream sauce by melting butter in a saucepan. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture is golden in color. Gradually stir in hot milk and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in a teaspoon of salt, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
When sauce has cooled, whisk in eggs, then add Parmesan and mix well.
When pasta is lukewarm, add 1/2 cup of the cream sauce and mix well. Put half this macaroni mixture into a buttered 9- x 13- x 2-inch baking pan. Spread meat mixture over this layer, then spread remaining macaroni over the meat. Spread remaining cream sauce over the top and, if desired, sprinkle with additional Parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting. Makes 10 to 12 generous servings.
1large onion, chopped
11/2tablespoons olive oil
116-ounce can tomatoes, chopped and undrained
115-ounce can tomato sauce
1bay leaf
1teaspoon parsley
1/2teaspoon thyme
1teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon black pepper
2pounds raw shrimp, peeled
11/2-2green bell peppers, chopped
hot cooked rice for serving
Saute onion in olive oil until golden. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, sale and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes, then add shrimp and bell pepper and cook for an additional 10 minutes; be careful not to overcook shrimp.
Serve over hot rice; yields six to eight servings.
1/2head red leaf lettuce
1/2head iceberg lettuce
111-ounce can mandarin oranges, chilled and drained
1medium red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1green bell pepper, sliced into rings
1/2-1cup walnut halves
fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
avocado, sliced (optional)
1/3cup vegetable oil
1/2cup cider vinegar
2tablespoons sugar
1/2teaspoon basil
garlic salt to taste
To make dressing combine vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, basil and garlic salt in a jar; cover and shake well to mix.
To make salad, mix red lettuce, iceberg lettuce, oranges, onion and pepper rings, along with fresh mushrooms and/or avocado, if desired. Toss with dressing just before serving; top with walnuts.
Makes six servings.
1pre-baked 9" pie shell (see next recipe)
1/3cup butter
3ounces unsweetened chocolate
4large eggs
1cup sugar
11/2cups corn syrup
cinnamon, a dash
11/2teaspoons vanilla
11/3cups pecans, finely chopped
Spread chopped pecans in the pre-baked pie shell. In a saucepan over low heat melt butter with chocolate. In a bowl stir together eggs, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. When the chocolate has melted completely, stir it into the egg mixture, mix well, then pour mixture over pecans.
Bake in a preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.
11/3cups flour
1teaspoon salt
1/3cup vegetable oil
3tablespoons milk
Sift flour and salt directly into a 9-inch pie plate. Place oil and milk in a measuring cup, then pour this liquid over the flour, without stirring. Mix with a fork until blended.
Use your hands to press the mixture evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
For a pre-baked pie shell, prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, or if your recipe calls for an unbaked pie shell, pour your filling in and proceed as your recipe directs.
XIf you would like to nominate someone as a Vindicator Good Cook, please send a letter to Mike McGowan, Special Projects editor, The Vindicator, P.O. Box 780, Youngstown, OH 44501-0780 or send an e-mail to mcgowan@vindy.com.

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