Monthly Archives: January 2010

Mary’s Memo #2146


Did you know there are mystery novels that include recipes? I wasn’t aware of this but according to Mrs. Von Plessner of Bryan there are several authors who do so. Just before Christmas Kathy gave me a list of the cooking mystery writers. They are: Diane Mott Davidson, also a Colorado caterer; Jo Anna Fluke, owner of the Cookie Store in Minnesota; Katherine Hall Page, a minister’s wife who runs a catering business in New England; Susan Willig Albert, owner of an herb shop; and Laura Childs, a southern tea shop owner. Ask about these authors at your local library, bookstore or order from

Plessner shared the recipe with me for JoAnna Fluke’s Orange Julius Cookies. Enjoy!


1 cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup packed brown sugar
2¼ cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 12-ounce package vanilla chips

Cream butter and sugars together. Add egg and blend. Mix dry ingredients together and combine with creamed mixture. Fold in vanilla chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Cross dough with flour dipped fork. Bake in 350oF oven for 10 to 12 minutes..

Source: Jo Anna Fluke mystery book.


We had a 1985 Mary’s Memo recipe for dinner on New Year’s Eve: Bratwurst with Apple Kraut from the 1985 Better Homes & Gardens Crockery Cooker Cookbook. It’s been years since I’ve made the recipe but
it does have a marvelous taste and I won’t wait so long to make it again! I’m big on slow cookers and consider it a must have appliance. Fortunately they don’t cost an arm and a leg to have one. I have both 4-quart and 6 quart capacity cookers. Bratwurst with Apple Kraut is made in the smaller one.


4 tart Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (3 cups)
1 17-ounce can sauerkraut, drained and snipped4 tart Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (3 cups
1 pound bratwurst links, halved crosswise (use Chief Smokehouse bratwurst without MSG)
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ cup water

In a 4-quart slow cooker stir together apples, sauerkraut, bratwurst, brown sugar and caraway seeds. Stir in water. Cook covered on low heat 3 to 4 hours. Recipe makes 6 servings. Note: We cut the recipe in half and served with cubed boiled potatoes tossed with chopped parsley, a little butter and salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens Crockery Cookbook, 1985.


There wasn’t room for Baked Beans & Kielbasa Stew on the 1/4/10 Best Recipes of 2009 memo but it doesn’t make it less of a favorite so we’re including it this week. It’s a hearty, nutritious family-size recipe and inexpensive to make …. just what we’re looking for in this economy!


3 tablespoons butter (you can get by with less)
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1 14-ounce package turkey kielbasa cut in half lengthwise and sliced in ¼-inch pieces
1 28-ounce can Bush Original Baked Beans
1 15.5 ounce can tomato sauce
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, juice included
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Melt butter in a non-stick 12-inch skillet until sizzling; add onion, bell pepper and carrots. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Reduce heat to medium; add kielbasa, stirring occasionally, until meat browns (about 4 to 6 minutes). Stir in remaining ingredients and continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir about 20 minutes more to blend flavors.

Source: Recipe from


To live to a Biblical old age, stay active. New proof that you’re never too old to exercise comes from an Israeli study that finds people over age 70 live longer and better if they’re physically active at least four times a week. Physically active seniors were 31 percent to 58 percent less likely to die during the study than their sedentary peers, and 72 percent to 92 percent more likely to remain independent while performing the activities of daily living. Even if you are a couch potato, the study has good news. Seniors who started physical activity between the ages 70 and 78 and even between 78 and 85 improved their odds of survival. Physical activity also helped stave off decline in the independent performance of functions of daily living with aging. Among active seniors, 33.3 percent saw a decline between ages 70 and 78, compared to 52.3 percent for the sedentary group. .

Source: Tufts Health&Nutrition Letter, December 2009. Download PDF of Memo #2146

Mary’s Memo #2145


I’m not “over the top” about the greening of America but there are many things that John Q Public can do to improve the environment. We’ve been recycling newspapers, magazines and all kinds of containers at our house for years but an additional thing that I’ve been doing since September is recycling coffee grounds. I saw the idea when I was in a Starbucks, came home and did a Google search and was amazed at the information available..

Starbucks commissioned a study in 1995 to better understand the make up of the organic matter we call coffee grounds. Primary nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Secondary nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur..

Coffee grounds can provide a valuable source of nutrition to your garden. The proper amount used depends on the condition of your soil and what you are growing. Coffee grounds can be applied directly as a top dressing to acid plants like roses, blueberries, hydrangeas, azaleas and even viburnum but don’t add too thick a pile of coffee grounds or mold may develop. Mix into soil of vegetable beds. On plants that don’t appreciate acidity you may need to add a limestone supplement. One more added benefit of using coffee grounds in the garden is that earthworms love used coffee grounds. They will feed on the coffee grounds and in turn aerate and fertilize the soil around your plants. Encircle the base of plants with a coffee and egg shell barrier to repel pests. And don’t throw away leftover brewed coffee. Dilute with water for a fast-acting liquid fertilizer. Try watering your Christmas poinsettia with leftover coffee. One person did this on a scraggly yellow green poinsettia and a year later his plant had lush green leaves.

Moving on, Chief and Rays carry McCormick products and they’ve taken MSG out of all of them. Most roasts are so lean these days that there are not enough drippings to make good gravy. I have no use for the canned or jar varieties or Kitchen Bouquet but McCormick gravy mixes are excellent! Because I do like mashed potatoes and gravy I keep their chicken, turkey and pork gravy mixes in the cupboard. A few weeks ago McCormick’s pork gravy was 4 for $5.00 and I bought 4! I used their turkey gravy mix on sale for 99 cents a package to extend the Thanksgiving dinner gravy.

Regarding product expiration dates, don’t use any product that has expired. When company labels say to use by a certain date they mean it! It’s easy enough for some foods to get shoved in the back of the refrigerator or cupboard but when they do, be sure to check the expiration date and when in doubt throw it out! You can also call the food company’s toll-free number for additional information.

You’re being encouraged at Chief and Rays to use the store brand, Flavorite that is cheaper. I have tried some of their products and often can’t tell the difference between the name brand and Flavorite, especially Flavorite cereals. I also use store brand cream cheese instead of Philadelphia Cream Cheese in many recipes calling for cream cheese. Flavorite chili is good, too.

Like me, though, there will be times when you prefer the name brand over store brand but if you’re trying to save the most money your best bet is Flavorite.


People who lost at least 10 percent of their weight and kept it off for five years or more had fewer TV’s in their homes than overweight people, according to a recent study published in the Annuals of Behavioral Medicine. The study found that people with fewer TV’s also had more exercise equipment in their homes and ate less junk food

If you want to use exercise for controlling your weight as opposed to general fitness, you’ll have to budget more time or increase the intensity of your activity. In a 2009 review of the subject, a panel from the American College of Sports Medicine concluded that to keep the pounds from creeping back on, people who managed to lose weight need to do the equivalent of about an hour of brisk walking 5 to 7 times a week. .

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, January 2010.i>


Sometimes there are three recipes on a memo, other times only two and this week our featured recipe is from Jill Thurmond. She was Chris’s wife and the mother of my grandchildren Gabriel, Noah and Hannah. Mary Ann has been telling me how good these cookies were so we decided to include them in our Christmas assortment. And they’re just as good on a cold winter day with a hot cup of tea. Before they’re baked the balls of dough are rolled in turbinado sugar. If you are not familiar with raw sugar it’s the residue left after sugar cane has been processed to remove the molasses and refine the sugar crystals. The coarse turbinado sugar is blond colored. Raw sugar sold in the United States has been purified. Chief and Rays carry SUGAR IN THE RAW brand grown in Maui, Hawaii.


¾ cup butter (1½ sticks), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup molasses
2¼ cups unsifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter with sugar and molasses until fluffy. Add the beaten egg. Mix together flour, baking soda and spices and add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Shape into balls (I use the smaller Pampered Chef scoop). Roll in turbinado sugar. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper and flatten slightly. Bake in preheated 350oF oven for 10 minutes. Watch so they don’t over-bake. Recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Download PDF of Memo #2145

Mary’s Memo #2144


After over-indulging ourselves on the rich foods last month, most of us prefer the opposite in January. Instead of sugar and spice and everything nice it's time to think about soups and casseroles.

Someone declared that January is National Soup Month (probably Campbell) but no matter who designated it, I'm for soup anytime but especially when it's cold and snow is in the forecast.

That's also why I'm excited about The New Book of Soups created by chefs at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Although it's worthy of your coffee table for all to peruse it's better suited for the kitchen so you'll try some of the new soups created for you by CIA. There are 160 recipes from a number of different traditions and cultures and they're meant for the novice as well as experienced cook with colored pictures and step-by-step directions. Whether it's hot or cold, the first course or the centerpiece of a meal, soup has the power to soothe the soul!

I chose Potato, Escarole and Country Ham Soup to share. Ask the meat cutter to help you find country ham or a suitable substitute. Escarole is a member of the endive family of greens and endive can be substituted for escarole if it's not available.


1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cups diced onion
1 1/4 cup minced leek (white and light green parts)
1/2 cup diced celery 1 garlic clove, minced
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups diced yellow or white potatoes
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 cups chopped escarole (or endive)
1 cup diced country ham (Chief and Rays have Cumberland Gap brand already cubed, and also John Morrell ham)
1/4 teaspoon salt or as needed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or as needed

Heat butter in a soup pot over low heat. Add the onion, leek, celery and garlic; stir until they are evenly coated with butter. Cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are tender and translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the broth, potatoes and thyme. Simmer over medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender enough to mash easily, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprig. Puree the soup. Return the soup to the soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the escarole and diced ham and simmer the soup until all ingredients are tender, another 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in heated soup bowls.

Source: The Culinary Institute of America's The New Book of Soups, Updated and Expanded Second Edition (Lebhar-Friedman Books; December 2009; Hardcover/$35.00).

I served the next entree at the Bryan Chief last fall. The original recipe didn't call for any meat but I used a cup of diced ham and a customer who made it later told me she replaced the ham with the same amount of cooked chicken and that's fine, also. Until Campbell takes the MSG out of their regular condensed mushroom soup, I prefer Campbell Healthy Request undiluted mushroom soup, even though it is more expensive. To increase the nutritive value, I substitute whole wheat pasta for regular as often as I can. MACARONI-MUSHROOM BAKE

8-ounces uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 cups (8-ounces) reduced-fat shredded sharp
Cheddar cheese
1 can Healthy Request undiluted mushroom soup
1 cup Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise
1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup cubed ham
1 cup buttery cracker crumbs

Cook pasta according to package directions. Combine pasta, cheese and next 6 ingredients. Pour into 2-quart lightly greased baking dish; top with cracker crumbs. Bake, covered, in preheated 350oF oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 additional minutes. Recipe makes 6 servings.

Something else that I served at Chief before Thanksgiving was Apple Fritters. Yes, they're deep fried in fat, but just take an extra long walk to wear off the calories! When there were six of us around the table I sometimes made corn fritters for Sunday breakfast and apple fritters will be just as appealing. Serve with bacon or a broiled sausage patty. Yum!


1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

Peanut oil for deep frying (because of the higher smoking point there will be less fat absorption)

Powdered sugar

Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add milk and well beaten egg. Fold in apples. Drop by 1 tablespoon amounts into hot oil and deep fry until brown. Turn and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Source: Adapted from recipe.


Although I'm improving, I still end up throwing some food away before I have a chance to eat it. In this economy I have to do better! My only excuse is that I've always eaten a variety of foods and it's hard limiting how many things I can have at one time. When you're struggling with your food budget take advantage of Chief and Rays specials. The two day sales are outstanding! Plan your menus around the sale items and you'll eat cheaper and better.


Mary’s Memo #2143


This memo is the easiest one I do all year but it doesn't detract from its significance. Many times readers overlook what I consider exceptionally good recipes and this memo gives me another opportunity to zero in on them. I think so much of the "best recipe" sheet that I laminate it like I do the Christmas sheet.

January is National Soup Month and our first "best" was adapted from a Cabot cheese recipe.


2 tablespoons butter
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (2 medium)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 14-ounce can fat-free, MSG-free chicken broth
2 cups milk
3 cups chopped broccoli florets and thinly sliced stems
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cabot sharp Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions and cook, stirring constantly until onion is tender (about 5 minutes). Add flour and stir constantly for another 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Add lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from Cabot cheese recipe.

Cucumber Grape Salad is the grand champion of new recipes tried in 2009. It's so good that I have no trouble polishing off a recipe of it by myself! From the Junior League of Pasadena California Mosaic cookbook published in 2008, Mary Ann introduced the salad to Mary Beth and me Easter weekend. I'm a big fan of Junior League cookbooks and this has to be one of the best in my collection. It's available through and I recommend it highly!


2 cups chopped and seeded peeled cucumber (1 seedless cucumber should be enough for 2 cups chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt (I used regular Greek yogurt)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh dill weed, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dry dill weed)
1 cup seedless red grape halves
Toss the cucumbers and salt in a bowl. Chill, covered, for 1 hour. Drain excess liquid from the cucumbers. Add the yogurt, garlic, scallions, mint, vinegar, olive oil and dill weed to cucumbers. Stir in grapes just before serving.

Source: Junior League of Pasadena California Mosaic cookbook, 2008.

Ending on a sweet note, Zucchini Whoopie Pies take zucchini to a higher plateau!


2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup well shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 8-ounce package regular cream cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Squeeze handfuls of zucchini wrapped in a clean kitchen towel to remove moisture. Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt until combined. Whisk together buttermilk and vanilla. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and beat until well combined. At low speed, mix in flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix in zucchini and walnuts until just incorporated. Spoon 1/4 cup mounds 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets (12 cookies per sheet). Bake, switching position halfway through, a total of 19 minutes for mine. Transfer to rack to cool completely. While cookies are cooling combine filling ingredients at medium-high speed of mixer until smooth. Spread 2 tablespoons filling on flat side of half the cakes and top with remaining cakes, flat side together. Store whoopee pies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to serve. Recipe makes 12.

Source: Adapted from a recipe. Note: I'll miss Gourmet recipes because the magazine went out of business last year. Download PDF of Memo #2143