Lillian Kurtz suggested her husband, Earl, for a good home cook to profile because his hobby is year-round vegetable gardening. The garden supplies most of what they eat.
It turns out, there's not much that he doesn't grow, as I found out. The best part is that he loves to share the harvest (and his enthusiasm) with friends and neighbors.
Name: Earl KurtzAge: 75Family: Wife, Lillian; and dog, Mitzi
Occupation: Retired Navy chief radioman; and from DuPont
Residence: Goose CreekQ: Have you always liked to cook? What sparked your interest?
A: I have always had an interest in food and in my travels around the world, an increased interest. I spent six years in Europe (1967-73). Every country has a different take on food. I've been all through the Pacific, too: the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong; and Panama.
Q: Your wife says you cook a lot from your garden. How large is your garden and when did you start?
A: 125 feet by 19 feet, but it seems to be getting wider.
I started gardening in 1973. It's a great form of exercise and relaxation. One of the biggest joys of gardening is that I get to share the excess.
Q: What are you growing now and the rest of the year?
A: Corn, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans (butter, lima and field peas), peppers, yellow and zucchini squash, acorn squash, cantaloupes, okra and herbs.
Green and wax beans, green peas, sweet onions, carrots, red and Yukon Gold potatoes, cabbage (red, regular and Chinese), collards, kale, rutabaga, turnips and lettuces.
Also, blueberries, and Asian pears and pecans.
Q: You must eat a lot of vegetables and not spend much money on food.
A: It used to be we would get two steaks for dinner. Now we get one nice steak and it's enough for both of us.
Q: You have developed some of your own recipes. For example?
A: I have a book of recipes on the computer, with 15 or more categories. Most all of them I've developed. Some I've copied and changed. There are several hundred recipes.
If I do one thing in cooking, I try to eliminate white flour and sugar and substitute whole wheat flour and honey.
Q: Also, you have cooked for clubs and churches. So you know how to cook for a crowd. How did you get into that?
A: Friends ask me to help and it just carried on from then.
Q: What's the largest group you've ever cooked for? What did you prepare?
A: For the Elks, a drug-awareness fundraiser, a spaghetti dinner for 600.
A favorite recipe:Ratatouille
Ingredients1 cup sliced onion
1 cup yellow or green pepper strips
1 cup red pepper strips10 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Parmesan cheese4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons dried basil¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced thin
2 cups sliced zucchini3 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
DirectionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, saute onions, peppers and garlic for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Combine cheese and spices and set aside. Arrange half each of the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and peppers into a 9x13x2-inch pan misted with nonstick spray.
Top with half of spice mixture. Repeat with remaining vegetables and spice mixture.
Cover and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.
Note: Can be refrigerated and then cooked. Vegetables may be varied.
If you would like to sug- gest a good home cook to be profiled, email email@example.com with “Good Cook” as the subject line. Briefly describe the person's talent and how you know him or her, and provide their phone number or email address so we can contact them.
Cool off with cucumber soup
Before getting to today's recipes, I have a special request. For an upcoming story, I'm looking for people who like and eat Spam.There are probably more of you out there than will admit to being Spam fans. But let me just break the ice.I have relished fried Spam with eggs for breakfast in the past (other than it being a tad too salty). Occasionally, I hit Vienna sausages and corned beef hash. I have no shame in satisfying a craving for sardines in hot or mustard sauce.So, if you're a Spam fan and will talk about it, please call me at 937-4886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Cool as a cukeNew on the menu at Grace Episcopal Church's Tea Room this spring was cucumber soup. It was delicious. So we asked for the recipe, of course.The soup is a welcome one for the 90-degree-plus days that have arrived on our doorstep. Thankfully, the hot-hot weather showed up late this year. There's probably no turning back now.Kady McMurray, a member of the tea room kitchen staff, kindly sent the recipe, which she credits to “friends in the Upcountry.”Cucumber SoupMakes about 6 servingsIngredients2 large cucumbers1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon pepper1 teaspoon sugar3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice3/4 teaspoon leaf chervil2 teaspoons chopped chives2 cups sour cream2 cups milkDirectionsPeel and shred or process cucumbers and place in a large bowl. Place a smaller bowl over the cucumbers in the large bowl and weight with two cans of soup (this is key for peak flavor).Refrigerate for 2 hours. Do not drain. Whisk other ingredients until smooth and fold in cucumbers.Serve chilled.Kady's postscript: “ 'The Amazing Grace' cookbook contains some of our most popular tea room recipes as well as many others from our parishioners. It can be purchased in Gifts of Grace in Hanahan Hall (at the church, 98 Wentworth St.). Call 576-9562 for hours or to reserve a copy.”Hooked on sauceBetsy Monahan admits she is “hopelessly addicted” to Chick-fil-A sauce and asked if any readers could offer a recipe that mimics it.Soraiya Wilkins, who works at SPAWAR Charleston, passes along this from the Internet.It doesn't specify tomato- or mustard-based barbecue sauce, so I'm guessing it's tomato because that is more prevalent outside South Carolina.Here goes:Ingredients1 cup Ken's Steak House Honey Mustard Dressing, Dip & Spread 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce Who's got the recipe?A Ladson reader has heard of barbecued lima or butter bean casserole, and is looking for a recipe.If there's a recipe you've lost, have memories of, or a dish you are just wondering about, email food@postandcourier or call Food Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.