HOLIDAY CHEER

TV's Lorianne Crook and crooner Jeff Bates team up for a taste of Christmas.

Take glorious TV star Lorianne Crook and rough-hewn singer Jeff Bates, put them together in the kitchen - and you've got a recipe for holiday success.

Lorianne, host of GAC's Lorianne Crook's Celebrity Kitchen, and "Long Slow Kisses" singer Jeff are celebrating the holidays by whipping up a yummy yam casserole followed by some frothy homemade eggnog.

"Can we really do this?" asks Jeff with a chuckle.

"I take it you're not real confident," jokes Lorianne.

But not to worry. Lorianne's an expert gourmet cook - and takes charge by lining up the ingredients, including eggs, sugar, milk and nutmeg, in a perfectly straight row.

"I am pretty much the commando in the kitchen," Lorianne grins.

"Hey, go for it," says Jeff with a grin. "I don't really know what I'm doing."

Turns out that Jeff is being modest. Last year, he cooked an entire Christmas dinner for his mom and dad at their home in Columbia, Miss.

"They are both disabled, and can't get around too well," Jeff begins. "So I promised that I would cook the meal. I made chicken and dumplings from scratch, turkey and dressing, and some vegetables.

"I had stuff all over the place," he adds with a hefty laugh. "But it turned out great!"

Meanwhile, in about 30 minutes, he'll feast on the sweetest yam casserole he's ever tasted. Faking an angry expression, Jeff grabs an egg beater and whips the eggs into a yellow liquid. "You have to look mad when you beat eggs," he jokes.

While they're having fun, they're also working like a well-oiled team, mixing the ingredients together in record time. They pop the casserole into the oven and await the result.

"Wow, that really is good," Jeff raves after taking the first bite.

"It was so easy, too," chimes in Lorianne. "We did it in no time at all."

Now it's time to concoct the holiday eggnog. "I can't wait to learn how to do this," says Lorianne with an excited smile. "My husband just loves eggnog."

Lorianne's husband, TV producer Jim Owens, also loves her homemade cranberry sauce, a staple on the annual Christmas dinner menu. "I make it with fresh cranberries, pineapples and whole pecans," says Lorianne. "I would definitely say it's my specialty."

Lorianne has another specialty, which she proudly shows off - cracking an egg with one hand! "Crack it kind of toward the back end," she explains to Jeff. After a couple of sloppy attempts, Jeff gets it right - and gets a congratulatory handslap from Lorianne.

Jeff 's also in charge of beating the whipping cream into small peaks, but revs the mixer up a bit too high.

"Whoa, you put that on turbo!" cracks Lorianne. Jeff laughs. "Sounds like the passing gear on a '57 Chevy!" he says.

But once they're done, their eggnog passes the test. As the two chefs unwind at a festively decorated table, they clink their glasses in a toast.

"Happy holidays!" Lorianne exclaims. Jeff takes a sip of eggnog and smiles. "I learned a lot today - we'll have to do this again!"

- Bob Paxman

Comments