GINNA PARSONS: Tastes change over the years

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

I’m a firm believer that tastes change as we grow older, and I try to drum this into my children’s heads every day. I tell them there was a time when I turned my nose up at the thought of salmon, squash and fresh tomatoes. Now, I can’t get enough of them.
My children aren’t terribly picky eaters, but occasionally they do draw the line.
We have photographs of daughter Mary at about a year old, sitting in her highchair in the kitchen, spitting out a wad of scrambled eggs. Try as we might, we can’t get her to eat them, even today, and she’s 16. Boiled, poached, fried, scrambled – it doesn’t matter. They’re not passing her lips.
Son Patrick feels the same way about shrimp. And while we don’t have pictures of him spitting out the offensive shellfish, we do have many memories of his refusing to even look at a dish if it had even one tiny shrimp in it.
I’ll admit there was one other food I wouldn’t touch when I was younger: pimiento cheese.
My mother would make it fresh every week and keep it in a container in the refrigerator. She and my sister and father would slather the stuff on crackers, celery and white bread. I gagged at the sight of it.
And then somewhere along the way, I think about 10 years ago, my tastes changed and I came to like pimiento cheese. But only if it’s good pimiento cheese. And by good, I mean the cheese has to be freshly grated, not pre-shredded from a package, and you have to use good mayonnaise, like Hellman’s. It really does make a difference.
My co-worker Leslie Criss made this pimiento cheese for a gathering we had a couple of weeks ago. She got the recipe from the May issue of Southern Living magazine. There’s a reason they call it “Our Favorite Pimiento Cheese.”
Our Favorite Pimiento Cheese
11/2 cups mayonnaise, such as Hellman’s or Duke’s
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated onion
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (8-ounce) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (8-ounce) block sharp Cheddar cheese
Celery sticks and assorted crackers
In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, diced pimiento, Worcestershire sauce, grated onion and ground red pepper until blended.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through to ensure even browning.
Using the small side of a box grater, finely shred the extra-sharp Cheddar cheese. Using the large side of the grater, coarsely shred the sharp Cheddar cheese.
Add pecans and shredded cheeses to mayo mixture, stirring until blended. Serve with celery sticks and assorted crackers. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.