Easy cheesecake recipe is no-fail family classic

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, you published a recipe for cheesecake, which you said was very good. Well, it was not only "good" — it was TERRIFIC. As a native New Yorker, I know cheesecake.

I have moved and lost my recipe. Can you republish it? It's the best!

— CHEESECAKE LOVER IN DELAND, FLA.

DEAR LOVER: Thank you for the compliment. I'm glad to oblige. My mother made it — with either cherry or blueberry topping -- and I have fond memories of raiding the refrigerator with her again and again for "just a smidgen" more! We both carried the sweet tooth gene, and I have many delightful memories of her dinner and dessert recipes, which comprise the Dear Abby cookbooklet set. Mama was a talented hostess and prepared them for dinner parties (so have I). For readers interested in ordering the set, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby — Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. In addition to the recipes, there are tips on entertaining, and anyone who hasn't entertained before should be sure to read them. By following the suggestions, even the most nervous first-time host or hostess can be confident.

I hope you will enjoy making this cheesecake for many more years, because I serve it with pride.

ABBY'S CHEESECAKE

CRUST:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)

1/3 cup powdered sugar

CHEESECAKE:

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint dairy sour cream (at room temperature)

1 (21-ounce) can prepared cherry, blueberry or strawberry pie filling

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom of 8-inch springform pan.

3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Pour mixture over prepared crust.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (until center is set).

5. Remove from oven and spread sour cream on top of cheesecake. Return to oven and bake an additional 5 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Spread desired topping on cheesecake.

7. Chill overnight. Before serving, carefully remove sides from pan. Serves 16.

Tip: To minimize cracking, place shallow pan half full of hot water on lower rack of oven during baking. And be sure the sour cream is at room temperature when you spread it on.

DEAR ABBY: I am a senior who is confused by what seems to be a new rule of etiquette that one should never, ever comment on another's appearance. Does it include complimenting someone on a new hairstyle or a new outfit, for example? Please clarify.

— CONFUSED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR CONFUSED: In a work situation, among the subjects that should now be avoided are references to the appearance of a subordinate or a co-worker because they could be construed as sexual harassment. However, in social situations, compliments are usually welcome.

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