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Tailor condiments to your own taste

There are several things to consider when you make your own condiments.

First, you have control over which ingredients to use. If you like less of this or more of that, fine; your wish is your command.

Second, the endless list of preservatives included in commercial products has no place in your product. An important thing to remember, however, is to process the items properly. A small amount can be refrigerated, but a larger amount needs to be sealed in canning jars and processed in a boiling water bath.

Norma Cunningham shares her mother-in-law's chili sauce recipe, which begins with canned crushed tomatoes and is cooked with the remaining ingredients, then refrigerated for storage.

Margaret Taylor's chili sauce is made from fresh vegetables, and the resulting 5{ pints should be processed for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Margaret adds that this chili sauce is the best she has ever made or has tasted anywhere. That's a pretty good endorsement.

Sam Cazee asked for a recipe for squash casserole made with cubed squash, crushed saltines and soup among the ingredients. Elizabeth McKay sends a recipe from the Montezuma Amish Mennonite Cookbook that sounds as if it's just what Sam wants.

Have you ever tasted sweet potato cobbler? Ruby Vaughn wrote for this very Southern recipe. Juanita Washington shares her recipe, noting that it is similar to the one her mother made when she was a child in North Carolina, even though it is attributed to Georgia.

For: Dorothy Hohimer of Beverly Hills.

From: Norma Cunningham of Palm Harbor.

Recipe: "Winter"' chili sauce, her mother-in-law's recipe, dating back to 1910.

"Winter" Chili Sauce

1 large can Progresso crushed tomatoes

cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

{ cup vinegar

2 small onions, sliced thin

{ scant teaspoon ground cloves

{ scant teaspoon ground allspice

{ scant teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Refrigerate when cool.

From: Margaret Taylor of Clearwater.

Recipe: Shortcut chili sauce.

Shortcut Chili Sauce

3 quarts chopped, peeled tomatoes

3 cups chopped celery

2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped green pepper

\ cup salt

2 cups granulated sugar

\ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1{ teaspoons pepper

1{ teaspoons mixed pickling spices

1 cup white vinegar

Combine tomatoes, celery, onions, green pepper and salt. Let stand overnight. Drain in colander, but do not press vegetables.

Place vegetable mixture in large kettle and add sugars, pepper, pickling spices tied in a cheesecloth bag, and vinegar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Remove spices.

Ladle into hot jars; adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and complete seals unless closures are self-sealing. Makes 5{ pints.

For: Sam Cazee of Clearwater.

From: Elizabeth McKay of Tampa.

Recipe: Squash casserole from the Montezuma Amish Mennonite Cookbook.

Squash Casserole

1 cup cracker crumbs (preferably Ritz)

{ cup milk

1 quart cooked squash

3 tablespoons chopped onion

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 eggs, lightly beaten

{ cup butter or margarine, melted (1 stick)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup grated cheese, divided

Bread crumbs

In mixing bowl, combine crackers and milk. Drain squash; add. Add onion, soup, eggs, butter and salt and pepper. Add { cup grated cheese; mix well. Pour into buttered 9-inch square pan or 2-quart casserole. Top with bread crumbs and remaining grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 12.

For: Ruby Vaughn of Palm Harbor and Fred Bays of Clearwater.

From: Juanita Washington of Clearwater.

Recipe: Sweet potato cobbler, Georgia style.

Sweet Potato Cobbler, Georgia Style

3 medium sweet potatoes

Boiling salted (1 teaspoon salt) water

Cobbler dough (recipe follows) or 2 cups packaged biscuit mix

1 cup sugar, divided

Ground nutmeg and ground ginger

1 stick butter or margarine, divided

Boiling water

Peel sweet potatoes and slice very thin. Cook in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes or until slightly softened.

Make a batch of cobbler dough (or use biscuit mix).

Layer half of the drained sweet potatoes in buttered, deep dish or pan. Sprinkle with { cup sugar, nutmeg and ginger. Slice { stick butter over top.

Roll out some of the dough very thin. Cut in strips. Lay across potatoes in lattice fashion. Layer rest of potatoes on top of dough. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and a little more nutmeg. Slice remaining butter over top.

Roll out balance of dough on lightly floured board; cut slits in dough and place on top of potatoes. Cover with boiling water.

Bake at 350 degrees until crust is nice and brown, about 45 minutes. Check several times to see if cobbler is too dry. If too dry, add a little more boiling water.

Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or cold with whipped topping. Also good made with brown sugar and cinnamon instead of nutmeg and ginger.

Cobbler dough:

1} cups all-purpose flour

2{ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1\ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

\ cup butter ({ stick)

\ cup milk

Mix as for biscuit dough.

Recipe requests

Irene Diekmann of Holiday has a cooking question. She has tried several cheesecake recipes, and every one has cracked in the center. Irene has tried a pan of hot water in the oven, and she has let it sit in the oven for 2 hours after baking. If you have a tried-and-true recipe or if you have assistance for Irene, please share.

Robert Salah of Clearwater has used raspberry jam to fill a jelly roll but finds that it is too thin in consistency. Robert would like to have a good filling recipe for this delicious, old-fashioned dessert.

Hummingbird cake is a wonderful, moist cake made with tropical fruit. Donna Waters of Seminole hopes you will send the recipe.

You Asked For It is a reader mail column. If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked For It, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter. Letters without this information will be discarded. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.