Mary’s Memo – October 24th


Recently former children, now middle aged adults who lived in our neighborhood, recalled coming to our house first because they knew that I was the only one who passed out popcorn balls and they wanted to be sure to get one. Knowing this, a few years ago I made them again. Trick or treaters could choose from popcorn balls with my name on the wrapper or Dum Dum suckers and miniature candy bars. For whatever reason, they chose candy, a surprise to me. Now there is no excuse for making them. During my bake sale chairmanship years, popcorn balls were the first thing item we sold out of. Because October is National Popcorn Month, we’re sharing my favorite popcorn ball recipe.


• 5 quarts popcorn balls

• 2 cups sugar

• 1½ cups water

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• ½ cup light corn syrup

• 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Keep popcorn hot and crisp in slow oven (300ºF). Cook sugar, water, salt and corn syrup to hard-ball stage (256ºF). Add vinegar and vanilla extract; cook to light-crack stage (270ºF). Slowly pour over popcorn; stir well to coat every kernel. Quickly press into balls. Butter hands if necessary. Recipe makes 20 balls.
Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens recipe.


Even better for you is popped corn. However, the more butter flavorings or toffee that are added, the less healthy it becomes. By itself, popcorn is usually a low calorie, harmless snack. It’s actually a whole grain, so it’s a great source of magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. The problem, however, is that it is often made less healthy by the way it’s cooked and what is drizzled on top. Buy plain kernels and add your own flavorings, such as nut butter or mix plain popcorn with dried fruit for a tasty snack.
Source: Weil Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, November 2016.


Your gut does more than digest food. It’s home to trillions of bacteria, fungi and yeasts that make up your gut microbiome. Some of those bugs can cause disease but most are good, helping your GI tract run smoothly by digesting food and metabolizing nutrients. And some research, mostly in animals, hints that the bacteria may also ward off infections, control weight and protect against heart disease.

The research is early, but it’s worth keeping your belly bacteria healthy. How? They thrive on high-fiber foods as well as fermented foods such as sauerkraut or plain yogurt with live cultures, says Gail Cresci, PhD, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.

Certain drugs can harm your microbiome, especially antibiotics. They can kill good bacteria in your gut along with bad. That’s one reason you shouldn’t take those drugs unless they’re really needed. And it explains why about 30 percent of people on antibiotics get diarrhea and 15 to 20 percent of them end up with C, diff.

If you do need antibiotics, ask your doctor whether you should also take pro-biotic supplements. In most cases, however, you probably don’t need a pro-biotic, says Purna Kashyap, MD, a gastroenterologist and an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. “Other than helping with antibiotic-related diarrhea,” he says, “there is no solid research that shows they prevent other adverse side effects.”
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, October 2016.


You may or may not know that the containers fresh mushrooms come in are recyclable. So are all the berry containers. Improve our environment by remembering the 3R’s: Reduce, reuse and recycle.

It is difficult for me to discard cookbooks and one of the reasons I keep them is rediscovering a recipe from the Purdue Tailgate Cookbook published by the Purdue Alumni Association in September 1997. A sorority sister, Ruth Ceisner Skillman (S’49), Indianapolis, IN, was the 1996 winner with Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies.


• 2 cups flour

• 1 cup packed brown sugar

• ½ cup butter


• 2/3 cup butter

• ½ cup packed brown sugar

• 1 cup pecans

• 1 cup chocolate chips, after baking.

Grease 13/9x2-inch pan. Mix crust with pastry blender until fine. Using back of tablespoon, pat into pan. Pour hot caramel layer over crust; spread evenly. Bake in preheated 350ºf oven for 18 to 22 minutes (be sure bottom is done).

Sprinkle with chocolate chips which melt slightly, then spread when soft. Cool completely before cutting into 3 to 4 dozen bars.

My recipe for Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies was a finalist in 1997 when the cookbook was published. The recipe is also in my cookbook.

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Easy Eats – Spicy Sausage & Pepper Penne

Easy Eats - Spicy Sausage & Peppers Penne Ingredients About 1 lb sausage (farmers or andouille) 1 small onion, diced 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tbsp cajun seasoning* 1 cup diced tomatoes 2 cups whole wheat penne, dry ½ cup half & half cream Directions Bring a medium pot of well salted water to a boil for the pasta. In the mean time, put a large sauté pan on medium high heat and cook sausage until nicely browned on both sides. Remove sausage from the pan and sauté onions, peppers, and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving ½ cup of pasta water once cooked. Add cajun seasoning, diced tomatoes, pasta and pasta water to the pepper mixture and cook for a couple more minutes until the liquid starts to reduce and thicken. Add half & half and mix to combine. Serve and enjoy! EasyEats_EmailBlock_10_20_sausage

Mary’s Memo – October 17th


Now a Food Network star, she was a former staff member of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Her husband is Dean Emeritus at Yale School of Management where he teaches a variety of courses on the global economy. He also serves on several corporate and philanthropic boards. The Food Network star has just written her 10th and most personal cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey (Clarkson Potter, October 25). If you’re still wondering about the name of this couple, it’s Ina and Jeffrey Garten, married 48 years. Order from


It’s now second only to Christmas decorating and it seems that the more gruesome the decorations the better! Personally, I’m not impressed with rest-in- peace signs, skeletons and spiders in a net. Pumpkins are my preference.

When our children were small, we’d not only decorate a large pumpkin but toast the pumpkin seeds. Clarice Moats’ recipe for toasting the seeds is in my cookbook. Since it is no longer available, the recipe follows.


• 2 cups pumpkin seeds (wipe off fiber but to not wash)
• 2 tablespoons melted butter or canola oil
• 1¼ teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients and spread out in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake in preheated 250°F oven for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.


Although are choices are many, the Golden Delicious remains my favorite because of its versatility. No matter how it is used, it holds its shape without getting mushy.
Early this month Bryan shoppers liked Cinnamon Red-Hot Candy Stewed Apples. To take less time peeling the apples, I invested in an apple peeler to make the job a lot faster! Potatoes can also be peeled with it (helpful at Thanksgiving).


• 8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
• 1½ cups water (add Ball Fruit Fresh to water to keep apples from darkening)
• 9-ounce package Brach’s Red Hots

In cast iron pot or Dutch oven combine prepared apples, water and red hots. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, stirring constantly, until red hots are dissolved and apples are soft but not mushy. Continue boiling until ½ cup liquid remains, being careful not to break up apples. The more concentrated the sauce, the more intense the color and flavor. Serve warm or at Room temperature. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Chicago Tribune recipe in 1998.


What’s good for your heart might also be good for your aching knees. High intakes of saturated fat were associated with faster progression of knee osteoarthritis in a new prospective observational study, while consuming more heart-healthy unsaturated fats was linked to slower progression. “Following a healthy diet may be an effective strategy for knee osteoarthritis management, and I clearly more attractive than medications in terms of risk/benefit and more likely to be implementable,” wrote researchers, who included Jeffrey B. Driban, PhD, and Timothy E. McAlindon, MD, both of the Division of Rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center.

Take charge by using oil-based dressings and spreads instead of butter or lard. Eat plenty of nuts, seeds and fish, which are rich in healthy unsaturated fats and other nutrients. Choose extra virgin olive oil, soybean oil or canola oil for dressing, sauces and cooking. Reduce intakes of red and processed meats and foods rich in refined grains, starches and sugars.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2016.


New research (American Journal of Public Health, August 2016) suggests that fruit and vegetables can increase happiness levels. The study followed more than twelve thousand people who kept food diaries, and whose psychological wellbeing was measured. “Happiness benefits” were detected for each extra daily portion of fruits and vegetables consumed, up to eight portions per day.

People who went from consuming eight portions a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The researchers think there may be a connection between optimism and the level of carotenoids (a type of antioxidant present in fruits and vegetables) in the blood.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, October 2016.


People who exercised 4 hours after learning something new had better memory retention on the topic when tested two days later than those who exercised immediately or not at all, according to a study from the Netherlands of 72 adults. Researchers suspect that exercising a few hours after a workout may boost production of chemicals that fuel the formation of new brain cells just when the brain is strengthening the new memories.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, October 2016.

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Easy Eats – Bacon Cheese Brown Sugar Pork Chops

Easy Eats - Bacon Cheese Brown Sugar Pork Chops


4 boneless pork chops (about ¾-1-inch thick)

4 slices bacon

4 cloves garlic (finely minced)

2/3 cups brown sugar

1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 400º F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment or foil. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and the garlic. In another bowl, mix the cheeses. Set the cheeses aside. Place pork chops in prepared pan, being careful to leave room between the chops. Distribute the garlic/sugar mix evenly over the top of each pork chop. Lay a slice of bacon diagonally on top of each pork chop; tuck ends of bacon under each chop. Bake at 400º F for 35-40 minutes. Top with cheese and bake an additional 5-10 minutes to melt cheese.


Easy Eats – Waldorf Salad

Easy Eats - Waldorf Salad Ingredients

4 cups mixed Salad blends

1/2 cup seedless green grapes

1/2 cup seedless red grapes

1 large apple, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped



1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon celery salt

1 Tablespon dry mustard

1 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons grated/minced onion

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup crumbled Blue Cheese


For the dressing, combine and shake; for the salad, combine all ingredients and toss with the previously made dressing. Serve.


Easy Eats – Squash and Walnut Pie

Easy Eats - Squash and Walnut Pie


1 small butternut squash

2 tablespoons sugar

8 tablespoons ground walnuts

1/4 cup vegetable oil (you can add more)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Wash the squash, peel, remove seeds and cut into pieces about 2 inches long. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the sliced squash in hot oil, reduce heat to medium-low and fry each side of them until golden or a fork can easily be poked through them (add more oil if needed). Place them on paper towel to absorb extra oil. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Place one layer of fried squash on an oven proof plate. Sprinkle 1-tablespoon sugar, 1-teaspoon cinnamon powder and 4 tablespoons chopped walnuts on top of the squash. Repeat the layers. Put it in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve the squash and walnut dessert cold or hot.


Mary’s Memo – September 26th


Amid the hoopla and distractions of the 2016 elections, the 2016 elections have so far ignored the one topic that is among the biggest challenges of our time - our food. According to Darlish Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, Dean, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, poor nutrition is the leading cause of poor health in the United States and globally, causing more deaths and disability than any other factor. Nutrition, the number one cause of illness, is largely ignored by the health system. Whether in the current administration or the next one, we need a White House Conference on Nutrition. The last and only such conference was held in 1969 (one that I attended). It was directed and organized by Dr. Jean Mayer, special consultant to the president, who went on to lead Tufts University and found the only graduate school of nutrition in North America, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy. That conference achieved many successes, including improved programs for school lunch, child nutrition and nutrition education; greater access to food assistance including WIC (Women, Infants and Children), consumer protection and information activities for the public and industry.

This is nutrition’s time. More than ever, the public is interested in healthy and sustainable eating, while many across industry recognize that their success depends on being a part of the solution. As we enter the last lap of the 2016 elections, it’s time for food to be a major issue on the table. Source: Tufts Diet and Nutrition Letter, September 2016.


In people at “intermediate risk” for cardiovascular disease, a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms this. The study involved 12,705 people from 21 countries. None had cardiovascular disease, but all were at intermediate risk because of factor such as obesity and smoking. Over the course of 5½ years, people taking statins were 24% less likely to have heart attack or stroke than those taking a placebo. That worked out to be about one less event per 100 people. Statin users had a lower rate of discontinuation due to adverse effects than those taking the placebo. Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, October 2016.


What attracted me to this recipe was the ease of preparation. To make it more flavorful, I used an entire can of La Choy beans sprouts because what am I to do with the leftover sprouts? 1 cup of shredded cabbage was omitted because of the additional bean sprouts. Water was replaced with chicken stock which is richer than broth. Otherwise, the recipe was left intact.


• 2 cups cubed cooked chicken (can be from rotisserie chicken)
• 2 ribs celery, sliced
• 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
• 1 can La Choy Bean Sprouts, well drained
• ¼ cup shredded carrot
• 14 cup chopped scallions
• 32-ounce carton of Swanson Chicken Stock
• ¼ cup dry sherry or water (I used sherry)
• 3 tablespoons Law Choy Low Sodium Soy Sauce
• 4 ounces angel hair pasta, broken in thirds
• 1 14.5-ounce can Swanson 98% fat-free chicken broth
• 1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained

Heat all ingredients in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. When soup comes to the boiling point, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Recipe makes 6 servings.


Although feedback was positive regarding Everything Cookies, I didn’t like the 1 cup of salad oil in the recipe. That was eliminated and replaced with an additional stick of butter. In my opinion, cookies are much better in texture and flavor.


• 3 sticks butter, softened
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 large egg
• 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
• 3 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon soda
• 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 cup quick oats
• 1 cup coconut
• 1 cup Rice Krispies
• 1 12-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together in electric mixer bowl.. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven until lightly browned on top. Recipe makes 6 to 7 dozen.

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Easy Eats – Glazed Salmon and Broccoli Rice

Easy Eats - Glazed Salmon and Broccoli Rice


1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 head broccoli, florets only, chopped (about 2 cups)

4 pieces skinless salmon fillet (1 1/4 pounds total)

1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges

1 tablespoon olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper


Heat broiler. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and soy sauce. Set aside. Cook the rice according to the package directions, stirring in the broccoli during the last 3 minutes. Let the rice and broccoli stand off the heat until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, place the salmon and onion on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Broil until the salmon is opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes, spooning half the soy sauce glaze over the fish during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Serve the salmon and onion with the rice and the remaining glaze.


Easy Eats – Apple Crisp

Easy Eats -Apple Crisp

Ingredients 2 1/2 cups apples peeled, cored, and sliced 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour 1 cup white sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter, softened  Directions Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Arrange apple slices evenly in prepared baking dish. Sift flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal; sprinkle over apples. Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. EasyEats_EmailBlock_9.15_apples

Mary’s Memo – September 12th


Eat more berries and cruciferous vegetables, and skip red and processed meats. According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Life style choices are directly linked to one-third of all cancers: excess weight, low intake of fruits and vegetables, lack of physical activity and tobacco and alcohol use. “Reducing your intake of certain food groups while increasing your intake of certain ‘superfoods’ can reduce your risk of cancer twofold,” explains Abby Arday, RD, CDN, CNSC, a dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. “For example, consuming fatty fish such as salmon and tuna instead of processed and red meats, especially charred meats, can help reduce the risk of colon, breast and stomach cancers.” Here are the five food choices that can help lower your cancer risk.

Boost Berry Intake: Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and especially blueberries are well-known sources of antioxidants, fiber, phytochemicals and vitamin C.

Get More Omega-3’s: “Incorporating more omega-3’s into your diet decreases inflammation and can reduce the risk of colon cancer,” says Arday. “Almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, mackerel, trout and tuna contain the highest quantities of omega-3’s.

Choose Cruciferous Vegetables: The Cruciferae family of vegetables includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and collard greens. Cruciferae are excellent sources of fiber, folic acid, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Diets low in folic acid and fiber have been linked with an increased risk of colon cancer.

Limit Red Meat: High intakes of beef, lamb and pork, especially if charred, are linked to increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends limiting red meat intake to less than 18 ounces of cooked meat per week.

Avoid Processed Meat : Salami, pastrami, hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausages, smoked, cured or salted meats have been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2016.


Even as a new Vermont law and food giants including General Mills and Campbell Soup push to label GMO products, a sweeping new scientific report concludes that genetically engineered crops are as safe as conventionally grown foods. “We looked at a lot of evidence and found no apparent health risk,” says Timothy Griffin, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program. He is one of 20 scientists who spent two years reviewing 900 research publications at the behest of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. “We also heard from a number of speakers who talked about research both on potential health impacts and on perceptions…. how people perceive different risks and benefits,” Griffin goes on. “We looked at all the evidence and concluded that there doesn’t appear to be any negative impact. If there had been a clear signal, that would have been a very different story, but there wasn’t.” Nonetheless, he adds, the report struck a cautionary tone. “That doesn’t say there will never be a risk. Policy and regulatory functions need to continue to look at these issues.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, September 2016.


One of this week’s recipes is from the June 1997 Cooking Light magazine via daughter Mary Ann.


• 8-ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta), uncooked
• 2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1½ cups)
• 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1½ cups)
• 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
• ½ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
• 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
• ½ cup low fat buttermilk
• ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• 1½ cups chopped tomatoes, seeded

Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes. Add squash and zucchini; return to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Add corn; cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain well. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (basil through pepper) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture and tomato; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts; garnish with basil sprig, if desired. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Encore for Cajun Cabbage. I really like this recipe and it’s good reheated.


• 3 strips thick sliced bacon
• ½ of a large head of cabbage, chopped
• 1 14.5-ounce can Del Monte Tomatoes Season with Green Peppers and Onion
• 1/3 cup cider vinegar
• 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
• 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven or electric skillet until crisp. Drain bacon, reserving dripping. Stir cabbage, tomatoes, vinegar, Cajun seasoning and Tabasco sauce in hot drippings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer 45 minutes. Before serving, chop bacon and sprinkle on top of cabbage mixture. Recipe makes 6 servings.

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