Across The Table From Jane Kaczmarek

Forget the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. There's only one degree between Taste of Home and TV's Malcolm in the Middle mom Jane Kaczmarek. She grew up in Greendale, Wisconsin, where we're located!

1. Halloween’s here! Which candy calls your name?
Mini Snickers and mini Almond Joys are irresistible.

2. You’re such a good cook. Any funny food foul-ups?
I once quadrupled a recipe for guests, but didn’t factor in the longer cook time. People arrived and four hours later were falling asleep—before the chicken was even done!

3. Now how do you avoid disasters?
I have everything done beforehand. Once people arrive, I start talking, have a glass of wine—and forget that I’m in charge of the meal!

4. So do you prefer improvising or sticking to the scrip—er, recipe?
I always start with a recipe to know the portions, then I try to improve it.

5. Leftovers… love ’em or leave ’em?
Love them! I love eating the same thing until it’s gone. After all, you’ve put all that time and effort into cooking it.

6. Any leftovers in your fridge right now?
Um, some molded cheese and funnel cake batter. I adore hot dough with powdered sugar! Mold, not as much.

7. Ever cook from a box?
Yes! Scalloped potatoes, with ham, which I serve to actors I invite over. And I make cakes from a mix.

8. What’s your must-have gadget?
A citrus reamer to squeeze California oranges and lemons. There’s nothing you can’t do with it—well, except sell lemonade for $35 a glass (as my 8-year-old tried to do).

9. Do you have a secret ingredient?
Mayonnaise. I put it on sandwiches, potatoes, frozen green peas—anything! It makes cakes moister if you substitute mayonnaise for oil.

10. Last question: Do you ever miss us here in Greendale?
All the time. Greendale is so friendly. My parents still live in the house they built in 1968. The family across the street offers to help my dad shovel snow. There’s a real sense of community.

Jane’s Cranberry Fluff Recipe

2 c raw cranberries, ground
3 c tiny marshmallows
3/4 c sugar
2 c diced tart apples
1/2 c seedless green grapes
1/2 c broken California walnuts
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. heavy cream, whipped

Combine cranberries, marshmallows and sugar. Cover and chill overnight. Add apples, grapes, walnuts and salt. Fold in whipped cream. Chill. Turn into a serving bowl or spoon into individual cups. Trim with clusters of grapes. Serves 8-10.

Jane is a real Renaissance woman. The seven-time Emmy-nominated actress is a contributor to The Hollywood Cookbook, mother of three, and a formidable fundraiser for various children’s charities.

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