Mary’s Memo #2126


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.


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, 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.


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.


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.


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

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