Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Well-Seasoned Kitchen: Colorado’s Elegant Mother-Daughter Duo Goes National

The Clayton family, especially Sally, has long been known for effortless style and smart sensibility when it comes to home cooking and entertaining. So, when Sally began to suffer from the effects of early-stage memory loss, her daughter Lee Clayton Roper decided to engage her mother in the kitchen, evoking family memories and collecting cherished recipes. The time they spent together led them to begin writing the cookbook that would become A Well Seasoned Kitchen (MLC Publishing, 2009)

Sadly, Sally passed away as the cookbook was entering its final phase and Lee completed it in her honor. More than just recipes, A Well Seasoned Kitchen is a memoir and Lee’s attempt to capture her mother’s recipes before they would be gone forever.

Until now this cookbook, featuring 186 tested recipes, with menus and full-color photos by renowned food photographer Laurie Smith, has been available only in Colorado, where Lee resides, but due to the overwhelming success of the elegant recipes and heartwarming stories, A Well Seasoned Kitchen is going national. The book that was so popular in Denver is now available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and in select retailers in Kansas City, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Knoxville, Memphis, and Little Rock. Retailers in other cities will be added in 2012 when Lee plans to continue traveling across the country, promoting the book. A portion of all proceeds are donated to the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter.

The delicious, easy, and beautiful dishes like Tomato Basil Bisque, Rack of Lamb with Nut Crust, Green Beans with Lemon-Butter Sauce, and Apple Cake (recipe below) helped A Well Seasoned Kitchen win the 2010 Gold Medal for Cookbooks from the Living Now Book Awards. The book features menu suggestions that are perfect for holiday entertaining, from a traditional Thanksgiving meal featuring Oven Roasted Turkey and Apple-Sausage Stuffing to a Snowy Day Dinner featuring Veal Stroganoff and Bourbon Apple Pie. Lee Clayton Roper is currently producing a mother-daughter cooking show that will build on the acclaim of A Well Seasoned Kitchen and air on Rocky Mountain PBS in 2012. The show will feature Lee cooking alongside mother-daughter pairs and sharing cooking stories and kitchen traditions. At the end of each episode, the mother-daughter pair is encouraged to continue cooking together and documenting the process. At the end of the season, the six mother-daughter pairs will reconvene with their home videos and discuss their experiences spending time together in the kitchen.

About the Authors Sally and Lee are everyday home gourmet cooks who’ve always been ahead of their time. Sally earned cooking credibility as one of the first to add a food processor and microwave to her gadget repertoire long before most had even heard of them. Originally from Kentucky, Sally was raised in a home with parents who frequently entertained and a mother who loved to cook. Interestingly, Sally didn’t start cooking until after she was married. Despite that, she made an effortless leap from meatloaf to Boeuf Bourguignon and quickly earned a reputation as a talented cook and gracious hostess among friends and family. Sally’s culinary courage inspired Lee to hold her first dinner party at the tender age of 16. Today, Lee regularly finds opportunities to host family and friends for casual dinner parties with beautiful tablescapes, creative menus and scrumptious meals taking center stage. With any cooking-related questions, friends and family often turn to Lee for her unending kitchen inspiration and encouragement.

Sample Recipe
Apple Cake
My Brother Jim and I always loved this apple cake as kids. Today, I love to serve it at the end of a casual dinner or as part of a holiday buffet. The recipe originally came from Mom’s cousin Mary Pryor in Kentucky.
Serves 8 to 10

3-1/2 cups peeled and chopped tart apples
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup + 1 Tablespoon melted butter, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish or large tube pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped apples and 2 cups sugar. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. In a small mixing bowl, toss together the walnuts and 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Set both aside.

To the apple mixture, add 1 cup of the melted butter and stir until combined. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in the walnuts (and any flour mixture in the bowl). Spread evenly in the prepared dish and bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan to lukewarm.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon of melted butter, the powdered sugar, light corn syrup and milk. Spread over the top of the lukewarm cake. Let cool until the glaze is set before serving.

Make Ahead: Cake will keep for several days, covered and refrigerated.
High Altitude: Decrease sugar by 2 tablespoons, reduce baking soda by 1/4 teaspoon, increase butter by 1 tablespoon and use extra large eggs.

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