Monthly Archives: September 2009

Mary’s Memo #2129

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF

When the economy is uncertain, it's even more important to watch every dime. To help you get the most bang for your buck, avoid credit problems and resolve shopping hassles, order the 2009 edition of the free Consumer Action Handbook from the Federal Citizen Information Center.



Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this year's Consumer Action Handbook continues to provide top-notch tips and advice for common consumer issues like buying a car, building good credit and protecting your privacy. Now you'll also find expanded resources for military personnel, the latest facts on buying a home and even more contact information for major companies. Ever bought anything online or by phone and it was nothing like they promised? Turn to the Consumer Action Handbook's sample complaint letter. It shows how to vent effectively about the situation and get the matter resolved. You can get the right address for the company in the Handbook's "Consumer Contacts" section featuring thousands of consumer contacts at businesses, federal agencies, state and local consumer offices and national consumer organizations.



The Consumer Action Handbook is also at your service online at www.ConsumerAction.gov. Search the website to easily access and download all the information in the printed edition, plus keep up with the latest consumer news and product recalls. To get a free copy of the 2009 Consumer Action Handbook call toll-free 1-888-878-3256, weekdays 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time and ask for the Handbook.



REPLACING VINTAGE COOKWARE

If you've broken something that you think is no longer available contact Classic Kitchens at classickitchensyork@comcast.net or call 1-717-840-9537. They may have a replacement for you. Classic Kitchens in York, PA, specialize in vintage Corning, Pyrex, Revere Ware, restored 50s dinette sets and more.



COMING OCTOBER 5: THE THIRD ANNUAL READY-SET-RELAX!

I feel comfortable promoting Bryan's Ready-Set-Relax, sponsored by Community Advocates for Healthy Families (CAHF). I've always stressed the importance of eating meals together, something that a lot of families think they don't have time to do anymore. So one night a year CAHF is encouraging parents and their children to forget about homework, organized sports, outside meetings and any activity that would take a member away from home and make every moment count. Those who live alone needn't feel left out. It's suggested by CAHF that they reach out to other singles by inviting them to an evening of food and fellowship.



Regarding food, involve everyone in the preparation. It's been my experience working with kids that they're more likely to eat something that they've had a part making. Decide the menu ahead of time and assign tasks. The important thing is to "make moments count." Readers outside of Bryan should try this, too, and hopefully instead of being a once-a-year-event, adults and their children will make an effort to break bread together more often during the year. Try it, you'll like it!SEASONAL DESSERTS

When it comes to desserts my choices reflect the time of the year that they're served. Summer's blueberry and peach "sweets" are replaced with fall favorites made with pumpkin or apples like Butterscotch Pumpkin Brownies and Apple Pizza.



BUTERSCOTCH PUMPKIN BROWNIES

3/4 cup unsifted, all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl stir dry ingredients together. In another bowl blend egg, butter, vanilla, sugar and pumpkin. Combine flour and creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and butterscotch chips. Spread in greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Recipe makes 24 bars.



APPLE PIZZA

Favorite pastry for double crust pie
7 cups unpared apples (Jonathon, Golden Delicious or Gala), sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Topping:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick)

Preheat oven to 450F. Roll pastry on lightly floured surface until it fits a 14-inch pizza pan. Place in pan and flute the edge. Overlap apple slices in circles to within 3/4-inch of the edge. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle over apples. To make topping combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and flour and cut in butter until crumbly and sprinkle over sliced apples. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until topping is golden.

Source: Ohio Marketing Program. Download PDF of Memo #2129

Mary’s Memo #2128

WEBSITE ABOUT OMEGA-3 BENEFITS

Hoping to broaden understanding about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, a Purdue University-based international consortium has launched a website and newsletter campaign to educate the public, physicians and veterinarians.



Bruce Watkins, Purdue professor of nutrition and director of the International Omega-3 Learning and Education Consortium for Health and Medicine, said most people have heard of Omega-3s but they don't understand what Omega-3s are, the types of Omega-3s in food and how to use them for better health. "There are different types of Omega-3s needed throughout the lifetime. We're trying to help consumers with information that will help them make good decisions throughout their lives."



Omega-3 fatty acids are found in nuts, oils and fish. Some are essential for retinal and brain development in infants, for instance, and for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults.



The website, http://www.omega3learning.purdue.edu, answers basic questions about what Omega-3 fatty acids do, where to find them and how to ensure a person is getting the right type of Omega-3s. "There's a lot of fundamental information for the consumers and doctors so they can better serve themselves and their patients," Watkins said. Newsletters will go out every other month and can be received by signing up at this site.



BLUEBERRIES, ONE OF THE WONDER FOODS

Unless they're on sale, you'll soon pay a premium for fresh blueberries grown outside the USA. Before they're gone, do make Blueberry Crumb Cake from the Everyday Food cookbook published in 2007. It's no secret that Everyday Food magazine is my favorite food publication and I recommend it highly! Any "foodie" will appreciate a subscription for their birthday or Christmas. Earlier this summer I served Blueberry Crumb Cake at the Bryan Chief and except for those who didn't like blueberries, it was well received.



BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick) at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over, rinsed and patted dry

Streusel Topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In medium bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat until combined. Add flour mixture and buttermilk in alternating batches, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined (batter will be stiff). In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with remaining teaspoon of flour. Fold the berries into batter; spoon into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel Topping. To make topping, combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter until large, moist crumbs form. Make sure crumbs are large so they form a crisp topping as the cake bakes. Recipe makes 9 servings.

Source: Great Food Fast, 250 Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals All Year Long; Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2007, $24.95/softback.



APPLESAUCE INSTEAD OF OIL IN THIS ZUCCHINI BREAD!

In my opinion, too many zucchini bread recipes have too much oil. It does make a moist loaf but all that oil is not good for us! But Nancy Hoene of Bryan replaced 1 cup of oil with 1 cup of applesauce and her zucchini bread was still moist. I know because she shared two slices with me.



ZUCCHINI BREAD

3 eggs, beaten 1 cup applesauce
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Blend applesauce and eggs together. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture until just blended. Spoon into greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let set for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.



KUDOS TO FRITO LAY!

I make no bones about my weakness for potato chips and aversion to MSG. That means I don't eat flavored potato chips because most contain monosodium glutamate. So was I excited while perusing the chip aisle at Chief to find Sour Cream and Onion Baked Lays without MSG and 65% fewer calories. Were these chips made for me or not! I put the bag in the backseat of the car so I couldn't eat them on the way home. Of course they're not the same as eating the greasier kind but for someone who can't stop with a serving, they're a better choice for me. PS: There are also baked Ruffles, Cheetos and Tostitos. Download PDF of Memo #2128

Mary’s Memo #2127

A WEIGHTY PROBLEM

When asked recently what he thought of the national health care overhaul, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic said he was more interested in what is causing health care problems and the skyrocketing costs. Two thirds of the population is overweight and one third of them are considered obese and it's a major reason for chronic ailments that afflict older people. I have visual proof of these statistics every weekend working at the Bryan Chief. Sadly, many of the overweight and obese are not even close to being senior citizens yet!



Some people are naturally thin but most of us have to work at it, yours truly included. When I was wearing size 16 clothes I was as sensitive as the next person about being overweight. Although I knew I should do something about it, in the beginning it was vanity that really motivated me. So if you have a weight problem do something about it by modifying your diet and exercising on a regular basis. It works! When I first started walking in the mid 80's at our local Y, 15 minutes seemed like an hour but the more I walked the less effort it became. So increase your exercising time gradually. It also helped my routine to listen to something while I walked and Broadway show tunes worked for me. The important thing is to get moving! If you can't afford a membership at an exercise facility, walk in your neighborhood. I stress walking because it's the easiest, cheapest and most convenient thing you can do.



LET THE CHIPS FALL

As many of you know, I have a weakness for potato chips and if there's a bag in the house I usually don't stop at a single serving. After I've shamefully polished off a bag of chips, I tell myself that I won't buy them for awhile but when Chief and Rays have a buy one get one free sale I weaken! Another name for my love affair with potato chips is addiction!



When starchy foods that are heated to a high temperature such as in frying, grilling, broiling, roasting, toasting and baking, a carcinogen called acrylamide happens. The chemical first made headlines in 2002 when Swedish researchers detected very high amounts in potato ships and French fries, foods we should limit anyway, and smaller amounts in such staples as breakfast cereals, crackers and bread. Its presence in cigarette smoke and to a lesser extent, in water had been known for years, but no one had suspected that foods contained acrylamide, too. Since then FDA scientists have found acrylamide in many foods, even prunes, soy nuts, peanut butter and coffee. Here's what you can do:



Limit French fries and chips as well as pastries, pies, cakes and cookies, all of which are high in fat and calories anyway.



Boiling, steaming and microwaving are less likely to produce acrylamide. If you toast your bread don't blacken it.



Don't give up cereal or other high carbohydrate foods but do choose ones made with whole gains. The fiber and other substances in whole grains have health-promoting properties, including possible cancer protection.

Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2009.



SO WHAT TO SNACK ON?

Most kids are not going to buy the above information but they may enjoy a healthy alternative to chips, Cowboy Salsa, from Diane Grimes, a Ney shopper at the Bryan Chief. She was there to get the ingredients to make it and shared the recipe. Her grandchildren love it, she told me. Not only is it tasty but it's a way to sneak a variety of vegetables into the diet. More beans and less meat are good for us, too. Serve as a salad or relish.



COWBOY SALSA

3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 small jar diced pimiento
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup or less chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper

Bring to a boil vinegar, sugar, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Set aside and cool. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients and pour cooled vinegar mixture over all. Chill in the refrigerator.

Source: Diane Grimes, Ney, OH.



Fall is approaching and soup sounds better to me when warm sunny days are mixed with cool nights. Can the first frost be just around the corner? We hope not but frost doesn't ask us, does it? So before there's frost on the pumpkins (or tomatoes) make a batch of Herbed Fresh Tomato Soup for your family.



HERBED FRESH TOMATO SOUP

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and quartered (about 5 cups)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon thyme (1 tablespoon fresh stripped from stems if you have it)
2 teaspoons crushed basil (2 tablespoons chopped fresh if you have it)
3 cups reduced fat chicken broth without MSG
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper or to taste

In large saucepot, saute onions in butter until tender but not brown. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and thyme, mashing tomatoes slightly. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil. Reduce temperature to simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Recipe makes 8 servings. Download PDF of Memo #2127

Mary’s Memo #2126

HOLD THE BEEF, LIVE LONGER

The next time a bacon cheeseburger sounds really good to you, maybe reach for grilled fish instead. Red and processed meat are linked to increases in mortality, according to a study led by Rashmi Sinha, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, published in Archives of Internal Medicine March 23, 2009.

The 10-year study involved over half a million people, ages 50-71, who were tracked to determine the effects of red and processed meat on their mortality. Researchers found that both men and women who consumed a low-risk meat diet (less red and processed meat than white meat) had statistically significant lower death rates from cancer, cardiovascular disease and all other causes compared to those who consumed a high risk meat diet. During the 10-year follow-up, there were 47,976 male deaths out of a total 322,263 men and 23,276 female deaths out of 223,390 women.

Source: Duke Medicine HealthNews, August 2009.



TO BRINE OR NOT TO BRINE

Daughter Mary Ann visited friends recently and had really moist chicken breast that had been soaked in a brine solution prior to grilling. The good news is that brining does make meats juicier, providing it isn't overcooked. According to http://www.finecooking.com, brining does enhance juiciness is several ways. First of all, muscle fibers simply absorb liquid during the brining period. Some of this liquid gets lost during cooking, but since the meat is in a sense more juicy at the start of cooking, it ends up juicier. Brined meats typically weigh six to eight percent more than they did before brining, clear proof of water intake. Another way that brining increases juiciness is by dissolving some proteins. A mild solution can actually dissolve some of the proteins in muscle fibers, turning them from solid to liquid. Of all the processes at work during brining, the most significant is salt's ability to cause muscle fibers to unwind and swell. As they unwind, the bonds that hold the protein unit together as a bundle break and water gets trapped between these proteins when the meat cooks. As long as you don't overcook the meat, which would cause protein bonds to tighten and squeeze out a lot of trapped liquid, these juices will be retained.



The bad news is that brined meat is indeed saltier. I asked Carol J. Boushey, PhD, MPH, RD, Associate Professor and Director, Coordinated Program in Dietetics, Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, to comment. "Any food that has additional salt or other sodium containing ingredient added during processing, cooking, or at the table will contribute to an individual's sodium intake," Boushey reported.



Because the hostess used skin on, bone in chicken breasts, I asked Boushey if this could make the meat juicier and she said: "I do believe that both processes independently (leaving the skin on chicken and marinating meat) enhance retention of moisture in the final product when not overcooked."



I choose not to brine because of the additional salt but Mary Ann's friends made a horizontal slit in the flesh of the chicken breasts and slipped a couple sage leaves in that pocket before grilling and that's something I will be doing only with skin on thighs.


ENJOY SUMMER'S BEST WHILE THERE'S TIME!

I do like chilled soup whether it's made with fruits or vegetables but no one else in my family does. In spite of this I dared to serve Chilled Blueberry Soup to Bryan Chief shoppers recently. Most tasters liked it including children and I'm always excited when kids give a thumbs up to what I've made. I used Greek yogurt in the recipe. Chief and Rays carry both regular and non-fat versions and you guessed it, I like regular better, even though it has fat calories. Both kinds contain live and active cultures including Probiotics, the kind we should be buying whether it's Greek or not. Greek yogurt is creamier and thicker than other kinds of yogurt, especially the regular.



CHILLED BLUEBERRY SOUP

2 cups blueberries, washed and drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek regular)

In saucepan, combine blueberries, water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook over low heat, whisking until berries burst and mixture is smooth. Let cool. Transfer to bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until cold. Just before serving, whisk yogurt into chilled blueberry mixture until blended. Ladle into bowls. Garnish each serving with a sprig of mint.

Source: "200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes" by Debra Amrein-Boyes, 2009 Robert Rose, $24.95.



Make something peachy while there's a plentiful supply of USA and area grown peaches available. The season of the year determines what kind of pie I make and it's definitely peach in August! I have a formula to follow for making 8 or 9-inch pies, no matter which fruit I'm using. Also, I don't use foil pans for any kind of fruit pie because foil reflects heat and in order to get the bottom of the crust done, you're likely to burn the top. My choice is glass over metal.



FRESH PEACH PIE (8-inch)

3 cups peach slices
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca (to thicken)
1 tablespoon butter
Pastry for a double crust

Combine peaches, sugar, lemon juice, salt and tapioca. Fill pastry-lined pie plate. Dot filling with butter and cover with top crust. Make slashes in top so steam can escape and crimp edges. Bake in 400F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350F and bake until nicely browned, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. To make a 9-inch pie, add an additional 1/4 cup of fruit, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon (1/4 cup total) Minute Tapioca and a rounded tablespoons butter. Keep other measurements the same. Download PDF of Memo #2126