The Times West Virginian

My Favorite Recipe

September 12, 2012

Powerful poppers

FAIRMONT — Paula Ansberry makes some pretty powerful pepper poppers.

She got the recipe from a friend a couple of years ago. She was a little hesitant to try one. She’s not a spicy food kind of person.

But one tasty bite convinced her, and now she’s made them ever since when there’s a party, picnic, cookout, get together ... any kind of gathering.

“They’re easy, good, and everybody loves them,” she said with a laugh. “They have just enough heat to be interesting. They're not hot at all.

“You can’t even tell they’re jalapeno peppers. I like them, and I don’t like spicy things at all. They’re addicting. And even if you get a hot one,  just get some water, go back and hope the next one isn't hot.”

She brought a couple of platters in to work. and as word of the poppers’ appearance spread, people would stop by, peak in their heads and smile ... and grab one.

The secret is to take all the seeds out of the peppers, she said.

“But with gloves. The seeds are where the heat is. The first time I made them, nobody told me to do this and I burned for days.”

She doesn’t recommend using smaller, hotter peppers. Jalapenos will do just fine.

She browns some sausage (you pick the kind ... pork, spicy, even turkey for the health-conscious), adds some cream cheese and Parmesan cheese, and stuffs the peppers, which have been cut in half.

One recipe of 20 peppers yields 40 poppers. Bake at 400˚ for 20 minutes and that’s it, she says.

“And then you eat them.”

“These poppers are just absolutely delicious,” her husband Ron said with a chuckle. “You put these in the oven and heat goes out of the pepper.”

“Unless you leave the seeds in them,” Paula added with a laugh.

She cooks “an awful lot,” she said. She likes cooking for Ron.

“Cooking is an extension of my love,” she said.

“I love to try new recipes. When we were married, for the first three months we didn't have the same meal twice. It’s OK with him for me to experiment.”

She does this by taking recipes from cookbooks and adding her own twists. Sometimes she’ll do a mash-up of recipes.

“I’ll take what I like from one and what I like from another and merge them,” she said. “For example, one recipe for coconut bread used buttermilk and another didn’t. So I used the buttermilk.

“It’s the best of both worlds. I do that almost every time I cook.”

When asked to bring something to the latest gathering, she’ll probably bring her poppers.

“A lot of people bring sweets. I like to counteract that with something like these.”

Ron likes to eat “anything I cook,” she said with a laugh.

“I like my poppers or little smokies wrapped in bacon. Well, I love everything. I don’t think there’s a food I really don’t like.”

She’s cooked ever since she was a child, growing up on a small farm just outside Findlay, in western Ohio.

“My mother would work in the fields, and I didn’t like to work outside, so I stayed inside and cooked.”

Her father, Clinton Deter, was head baker at a local hospital. Her mother, Jeanette, is also a good cook.

“She’s 95 and lives in assisted living. They had a contest in pie baking, and she won,” Ansberry said proudly.

She learned to manipulate recipes from her parents.

“My mother was straight by the recipe. My father liked flavors, so I learned how to season foods. We used the foods we grew. We had a lot of pork and other things that are no-nos today. But that’s what I grew up with.”

Her sons and stepdaughter all live far away. But she keeps in touch.

“My 4 1/2-year-old granddaughter and I cook over the phone,” she said. “She’ll get her play dough out and ask, ‘How many eggs do I need, Grandma?’ This makes relationships. She’ll remember this.”

She’s a from-scratch cook whenever possible, she said.

She’ll use some modern conveniences, like the microwave, slow cooker or processor, but avoids boxed mixes most of the time. And if she does use them, she’ll add something to make it her own, she said.

She doesn’t even like to bake potatoes in the microwave.

“Lot of people like to nuke them, but I don’t. You can tell the difference. I use my microwave to defrost and heat up things, warm up my coffee. I will do my frozen vegetables in there. But that’s about all I use it for.”

 “She’s a good, old-school cook,” Ron said. “Excellent.”

“He loves my food,” she said. “It’s not fancy, just old-fashioned cooking. It’s really not anything. But if I’m too busy or tired to cook, Ron’s OK with soup and grilled cheese. He’s pretty easy to cook for.

“We have a little saying when trying a new recipe. It’s either a ‘doo-bee’ or a ‘don’t-bee.’”

“We’re both country people,” Ron said. “I grew up in a small farming community outside Fort Wayne, Ind. We all had gardens. You wanted corn, you’d just walk out, pull an ear off the stalk, shuck that baby and eat it right there.

“If the doctors had to depend on us for a living, they’d be on welfare!” He laughed.

While her children were growing up, Paula also insisted on family meals.

“I was big for always having dinner at the table. There’s just something about the table. One person isn’t going here and one there. My kids were very active in school, but we always found time to have dinner together.”

They’ve been in West Virginia since 1998 and Fairmont since 2009.

Ron remembers the time she said she was going to fix him a simple hot dog dinner.

“I sat and I sat and I sat, and I wondered what was taking so long,” he said. “Here she was making a seven-course hot dog meal.

“She’s a fantastic lady and a fantastic cook.”

Every Wednesday through September, Take 5 wants you to take us on a picnic. Submit your summertime recipes to Debbie Wilson at 304-367-2549 or dwilson@ timeswv.com.

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.

1
Text Only
My Favorite Recipe
  • 091912.jessi.polis.debe104_2785.jpg Sweet enough

    If you like something sweet, Jessi Polis has the cake for you.
    Her orange cream cheese pound cake is light, refreshing and just sweet enough to satisfy those cravings.
    This cake is her husband Sam’s favorite, she said.

    September 19, 2012 2 Photos

  • 091212.paula.jpg Powerful poppers

    Paula Ansberry makes some pretty powerful pepper poppers.
    She got the recipe from a friend a couple of years ago. She was a little hesitant to try one. She’s not a spicy food kind of person.

    September 12, 2012 2 Photos

  • 082912.goddard.jpg Sweet success

    People say they go to cookouts and picnics to get together with friends and family.
    They say they like the burgers and dogs, and pasta, fruit and potato salads, and all those other side dishes you can’t have a picnic without.

    August 29, 2012 2 Photos

  • 081512.kim.food.deb.jpg Art of cooking

    Kim Holbert isn’t one of those “Try it; you’ll like it” kind of cooks.
    She’s more like, “You like it; I’ll make it.”
    “If I know that you have a preference toward something, I aim it that way,” she said.

    August 15, 2012 2 Photos

  • 080812.judy.starn.deb.jpg Just home cooking

    Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be tasty.
    Judy Starn learned this growing up on Sugar Lane in Catawba. She was the only girl in nine children of Woodrow and Anna Starn. One brother passed away, so she grew up among seven brothers.
    “I like to cook, but I wouldn’t say I’m a good cook,” she said.

    August 8, 2012 2 Photos

  • 080112.linn.deb.jpg Just plain cooking

    You know those pretty layered salads people put in clear glass bowls, and you have to lift all the layers out at the same time and then spread them out on a plate so everybody can see how pretty it is, and then they go “ooh” and “ahh”?

    August 1, 2012 2 Photos

  • 072512.jpg ‘Just plain good’

    When it’s just too darned hot to cook, or you need something cool and light in a jiffy, Josephine Vespoint has a quick-as-a-wink salad for you.
    Take two cans of pears, and drain and place each pear right side up on a bed of lettuce.

    July 25, 2012 1 Photo

  • 071812 parrish.deb.jpg All about family

    All her life, Alma Hoy Parrish has been about one thing: family.
    She’s put the knowledge she learned at her mother’s knee to good use during her 46-year marriage to Tom Parrish while raising their two children, Mike Parrish and Lori Hill.

    July 18, 2012 2 Photos 1 Story

  • 071112 davis.top pic.deb.jpg Easy and versatile

    There are salads that you ever-so-politely nibble on.
    Not Cathy Davis’ California Tossed Salad.
    It fills a large bowl to the brim. You have to grab it with tongs, lift it to your plate and, as she says it, “dive on in.”
    It’s filling. It’s healthy. It’s easy to make.

    July 11, 2012 3 Photos

  • 070412 picnic 1.jpg Light and fluffy

    Grandmas are probably the world’s best cooks.
    Just ask anybody who’s been lucky enough to have eaten their scrumptious cookies, luscious pies, fluffy cakes and wholesome breads.

    July 4, 2012 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Lifestyles
House Ads