Monthly Archives: March 2010

Mary’s Memo #2155


The American Dietetic Association says a nutritious diet, not pills, is the best way to promote health and reduce the risk of disease. In a new position statement, the dieticians' group stated: "The best nutrition based strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is to wisely choose a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods." Citing concerns that consumers lack information on the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements, the association called its membership to keep abreast of research findings on supplements and help educate the public. The position paper added: "Additional nutrients from supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs as specified by science-based nutrition standards."

Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, February 2010.


What you eat and drink is a big factor in the health of your teeth and gums. Your mouth naturally teems with bacteria. The ones in dental plaque (a film on your teeth containing bacteria) are the chief element in producing tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontal disease. In fact, tooth decay, known as dental caries, is classified as an infectious disease. Tooth enamel is constantly losing and regaining minerals. Your own saliva, which contains minerals and other chemicals, promotes remineralization. Sugars, any kind, are changed into acids in the mouth, producing an environment in which bacteria erode the teeth permanently. Tooth decay is uncommon among those who avoid sugar.

Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, March 2010.


Next Sunday is Easter. I like to think that when it comes early, warmer weather follows. Whether I'm right or wrong, you'll have to admit it's a happy thought! Some of you are already planning a brunch or dinner to celebrate the occasion. Others are responsible for taking a side dish, salad or dessert to someone else's meal. Chief and Rays is ready with all the foods you'll need for this special day and many will be on sale.

First things first, though. Easter eggs are surely a symbol of Easter. I cringe when people say "hard boiled." That's because they should never be boiled but hard cooked. Boiling toughens the egg white and risks overcooking the yolk. If you don't have an electric egg cooker put room temperature eggs in an appropriate size saucepan (the more you're cooking, the large the pan), cover with water, bring to a visible boil, remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Chill immediately under running cold water. Refrigerate until decorating time. Coloring eggs at Easter is believed to have originated with a North African tribe more that 500 years ago. In Poland and southern Russia, eggs were decorated by painting patterns and polka dots, each design having a special meaning. Egg hunts started in Germany but the most famous egg hunt of all is at the White House in Washington on Easter Monday, a custom started by first lady Lucy Hayes, wife of Rutherford, during his presidency.

Ever since daughter Mary Ann told me gelatin salads are a "my generation thing" I feel like I have to apologize when I share one but I'm doing it anyway. Orange Sherbet Salad partners with ham for dinner or a ham sandwich later.


1 6-ounce package orange gelatin
1 3/4 cups boiling liquid (reserved pineapple juice plus water)
1 pint orange sherbet
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, drained saving juice
1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges, well drained
3 to 4 sliced bananas

Dissolve gelatin in boiling liquid. Add sherbet and stir until melted. When mixture starts to thicken add fruits. Pour into 2-quart oblong glass dish. Chill until set. Recipe makes 12 servings.

The above salad is versatile enough to go with Ham and Swiss Cheese Brunch Dish.


12 slices white sandwich bread (I prefer Pepperidge Farm)
3 4-ounce cans mushroom stems and pieces, drained
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound chipped deli ham
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
6 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup lightly buttered soft bread crumbs

Arrange 6 bread slices in 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Saute mushrooms in butter. Alternate layers of ham, mushrooms and cheese. Cover with remaining bread slices. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper and mustard until well blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over top. Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake in 325F oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Recipe makes 12 servings.

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL! Download PDF of Memo #2155

Mary’s Memo #2154


St. Patrick’s Day is over and that’s my cue to replace green theme table decorations with Easter accessories. I’m excited about new cloisonné Easter egg napkin rings that I got with Williams Sonoma gift cards given to me. It may not work for you but setting an attractive table adds to my meal enjoyment. I did it when we were a family of six and I am still doing it!

I’m always on the lookout for attractive linens and accessories. Kohl’s Department Store has affordable items for every holiday or season and it’s one of the first places I look. Yes, I have a hankering for places like Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table but you don’t have to go to high-end stores to get what you need. Like all stores, however, they have end of season sales, also.

In this economy more meals are being eaten at home. Plan theme menus and decorations on weekends when you have more time. Get the family involved. I know from experience that when children are involved with food preparation they’re more likely to eat what they’ve helped prepare.


Michelle Obama has made this a major project and I applaud her for doing so! I can talk until I’m blue in the face and some of you may listen but it takes a high profile person like our first lady to call attention to what is definitely a problem in America. Obesity in children transcends politics and more power to Michelle Obama if she inspires kids and their parents to do something about overweight and obesity. And while they’re at it, children need to spend less time on Facebook and more time on their feet exercising because physical activity and healthy eating go together. Limiting TV is also advisable.


Even though I think the price of Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications ($9.99 plus tax) is outrageous, I weakened after perusing the pages of the second printing of their Ultimate Slow Cooker issue. For one thing I love the slow cooking concept and I found many recipes from Mexican to Thai that I’ve made or plan to make. How could I resist a recipe called Kickin’ Chicken Chili and the taste was as appealing as the title! Chief and Rays didn’t have a 16-ounce package of frozen peppers and onion so I used fresh. I had my choice of boneless skinless breast meat or thighs and when given a choice I usually choose thighs.


2 pounds skinless, boneless thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (I prefer light-type)
1 16-ounce jar green salsa, also known as salsa verde (Chief and Rays carry the Pace brand)
½ of red, green and yellow bell peppers cut into thin strips
½ medium sweet onion cut into thin slices
1 15-ounce can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic, undrained
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (optional but I used)
In a large bowl toss the chicken pieces with cumin and salt. In large nonstick skillet cook chicken, half at a time, in hot oil over medium heat until browned on both sides. Drain off fat. Place chicken in 5 or 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in salsa, fresh pepper and onion mixture, beans and undrained tomatoes. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2½ hours. Serve in bowls and top with shredded cheese. Recipe makes about 9 cups. Note: Starting mixture is thick but when cooked I’d call it hearty but still a soup.

Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Slow Cooker recipe.

Finally, let Cauliflower-Pea Salad “green up” your St. Patrick’s Day menu. This recipe was in a Chicago Junior League cookbook published in 1983.


It’s spring cleaning time and in the early 70s Mrs. Arthur Spletzer Sr. (Clara) of Bryan introduced me to her homemade cleaner for cabinets and woodwork. I haven’t made it for years but decided to try it again on my kitchen cabinets. It’s an inexpensive alternative to commercial cleaners and contains only natural ingredients..

tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart of hot water

Combine ingredients. Apply mixture with a soft cloth, wrung out as dry as possible, to either cabinets or woodwork. Keep water hot while you work. No need to rinse, just wipe dry. Download PDF of Memo #2154

Mary’s Memo #2153


I love any recipe with Reuben in the title. It may not be Irish but corned beef is, at least in this country. Before I visited Ireland I thought corned beef and cabbage was the national dish but it isn’t. At a restaurant I was told the combination “is an American thing.”

Three River’s cookbooks, all 4 volumes, are among my favorite community cookbooks. Published by the Child Health Association of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, the second edition includes a recipe for Reuben Quiche. You can start with a “store-bought” crust or make you own. When it comes to “store bought,” the best one on the market is Pillsbury’s refrigerated crust. There are 2 in a package.

Corned beef is available in the deli and I asked that it be sliced as thin as possible for this recipe. Instead of light cream I used undiluted evaporated milk


1 “store-bought” or homemade 9-inch pastry shell
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
8-ounces very thinly sliced corned beef (from Chief or Rays deli)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¾ cup, squeezed and drained sauerkraut (more flavorful in this recipe if not rinsed)
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1 teaspoon grated onion
½ teaspoon dry mustard

Preheat oven to 375F. Sprinkle caraway seeds over unbaked crust. Prick crust and bake for 7 minutes. Fill pie shell with corned beef. Spread mustard over meat, top with sauerkraut and cheese. Mix eggs, evaporated milk, onion and dry mustard together. Pour into pie shell and bake for 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Three Rivers Cookbook 11.

For more information about ordering copies of books published by Child Health Association of Sewickley, Call 1-800-624-8753 or E-mail Cookbooks should also be available from


A diet that is very high in protein, particularly meat-based, results in too much calcium extracted from the body by the kidneys in the urine. Six ounces of animal-source protein will meet daily guidelines. Excess sodium intake also increases calcium loss. The recommended daily intake of sodium for older adults is 1,500 milligrams. The vast majority of salt we consume comes from processed foods including baked goods, canned soups and vegetables, condiments, frozen dinners and many cheeses.

Regarding beverages, excess caffeine is believed to contribute to bone loss, so limit coffee consumption to less than 4 cups a day. Too much alcohol also can deplete bones. New guidelines recommend that older adults limit their intake of alcohol to one drink or fewer per day. Eliminate soft drinks altogether because in addition to caffeine, they are loaded with sugar and empty calories.

Weill Cornell Medical College Food & Fitness, March 2010.


Sometimes when I’m looking for an old recipe I find one that I haven’t fixed for years like Whipped Turnips. This is really an “oldie” from the Farm Journal Country Cookbook published in 1972. The recipe serves 8, perfect for families and not expensive to make. Give it a try. Cut ingredients in half to make 4 servings.


4 cups mashed, cooked turnips
2 cups soft bread crumbs
¼ cup butter (½ stick), melted
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 eggs, slightly beaten

Combine mashed turnips with bread crumbs. Blend in remaining ingredients. Spoon into buttered 2-quart casserole. Bake in preheated 350oF oven for one hour or until set.

Source: Farm Journal Country Cookbook, 1972.

Finally, let Cauliflower-Pea Salad “green up” your St. Patrick’s Day menu. This recipe was in a Chicago Junior League cookbook published in 1983.


1 small head cauliflower, broken into small pieces
1 20-ounce bag frozen peas, thawed and drained
6 ribs celery, chopped
1 bunch of scallions with tops, chopped
1 teaspoon dill weed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Enough light mayonnaise to bind (about ½ to ¾ cup)

Combine all ingredients. Toss lightly. Refrigerate overnight. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Soupcon 11, published by the Junior League of Chicago, 1983.


Use these strategies to limit the damage of oversized restaurant meals:
Get just an appetizer or two or share the entrée. Take half the food home and have the extra wrapped up early so there’s less temptation.Avoid value meals. You may get more food but the extra calories, saturated fat and sodium will probably hurt your waist more than help your wallet. Order water. Americans’ average caloric intake has risen nearly 15 percent in the past 20 years and about half of the increase comes from sweetened drinks. Download PDF of Memo #2153

Mary’s Memo #2152


Fleischmann’s yeast just sent me a condensed booklet based on Nancy Baggett’s new cookbook “Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads,” published by John Wiley & Sons. Baggett makes homemade bread baking amazingly easy without any special equipment, no mess and of course, no kneading. I love baking bread and don’t mind kneading it, although now that I have a Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook, I let the mixer do a lot of the work. It’s only when a recipe calls for larger amounts of flour that I have to do any kneading at all. No-knead bread isn’t as fine textured but if you are a beginning baker, the concept will have more appeal than it does to me. Judging by the recipes in the condensed booklet, detailed step-by-step directions are included. I can’t imagine anyone having a problem making bread from this cookbook, available now wherever books are sold.

A common dilemma for families these days is cooking for vegetarians and omnivores at the same time. I know because I’ve dealt with the problem in my own family, especially at holiday time. In their new book, “Double Take: One Fabulous Recipe, Two Finished Dishes, Feeding Vegetarians and Omnivores Together,” authors and longtime friends A.J. Rathbun and Jeremy Holt show how it’s done. Each recipe begins with a common base. Then the food is divided in two; one half is finished with meat and the other with unique vegetarian flair. The result is easy to prepare and delicious no matter what you eat! There are even appetizer recipes with and without meat.


18 large button mushrooms (the bigger, the better)
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup bread crumbs
2½ tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup loose pork sausage

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 2 medium- size casserole dishes. Prudently, so you don’t destroy the caps, remove the stems from the mushrooms. Finely chop half the stems and set aside. Use the rest to make stock. If, after removing the stems you think that you’ll need more room for the stuffing, you can also scrape out the gills. Put mushroom caps in each of the prepared casserole dishes, making sure the mushrooms are gill side up. In medium size bowl, combine mushroom stems, garlic, bread crumbs, basil, oregano, pepper, salt, Parmesan and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Stir well. Transfer half of the stuffing to a separate bowl and add uncooked sausage into the mixture. Using a clean spoon, place the sausage-free stuffing into the mushroom caps in one of the casserole dishes, making sure that each mushroom is stuffed with an equal amount. You may need to use your fingers to pack the stuffing into the mushrooms. Place sausage-mushroom stuffing into the mushroom caps in the second casserole dish. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil over the mushroom caps in both casserole dishes. Cover each casserole with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil ands bake 10 more minutes (take this time to make “meat” and “no meat” labels for your serving platters).

Source: Used with permission of Harvard Common Press, publishers; $16.95 paperback.


And don’t think albacore tuna is better because it’s more expensive. Albacore contains more mercury than regular tuna, the kind that’s on sale at Chief and Rays quite often.


2 5-ounce cans water packed chunk tuna, drained
1½ cups cottage cheese
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons minced onion
4-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
2 eggs, well beaten
2 cups coarse soft bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
1 2-ounce jar chopped pimiento, well drained
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Spoon mixture into 1½-quart casserole. Sprinkle top with cheese. Set in a shallow pan of hot water and bake 1 hour in a preheated 350oF oven.


Sustained physical activity over a lifetime is critical to the physical and mental health of women, according to a report from the Women’s Sports Foundation. The review of more than 2,000 studies in girls and women showed that a physically active lifestyle promotes a better quality of life, enhances mood and lowers risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. One study has shown that the direct and indirect costs of chronic health conditions resulting from sedentary lifestyles are about $150 billion. The report called for “greater and better opportunities for all Americans to become more physically active.”

Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Food & Fitness Advisor, March 2010. Download PDF of Memo #2152

Mary’s Memo #2151


Since Betty Crocker Impossible Pies were introduced I've been a fan of them and can't recall one that I haven't liked. The problem is that regular Bisquick has trans fats that we should avoid because they raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDH (good cholesterol). But General Mills also makes HeartSmart Bisquick and it is trans fat-free. Happily for me, I found that it can be used interchangeably in Impossible Pie recipes! Fresh asparagus was on sale when I put it to the test at home and at the Bryan Chief. Note that this is a meatless entree and perfect for Lenten meals.


2 cups fresh asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese, if available (sharp Cheddar may also be used)
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup HeartSmart Bisquick
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1 percent but skim will also work)
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Layer first three ingredients in a buttered deep dish 9-inch pie plate. Whisk together remaining ingredients and spoon over asparagus mixture. Bake in preheated 375F oven for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Homemade biscuit recipes usually call for hydrogenated shortening like Crisco. I found a recipe on the internet that called for melted butter instead. I also added a generous amount of shredded sharp Cheddar cheese to the batter and it's become a favorite quick bread.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup milk (whatever kind you have on hand)
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375F. In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Stir in melted butter and milk just until moistened. Fold in cheese. Spoon onto parchment-lined baking sheet (I used the larger Pampered Chef scoop). Bake in preheated oven for about 10-11 minutes or until brown around the edges. Serve warm. Recipe makes a dozen.

Source: Adapted from recipe, the world's favorite recipe web site. INCLUDE BARLEY IN YOUR DIET

Adding barley to your diet can lower your cholesterol and thus reduce your risk of heart disease. The FDA allows this health claim, similar to the one for oats. In one USDA study people with mildly elevated blood cholesterol saw their levels drop significantly when they ate a heart-healthy diet that contained the equivalent of about half a cup of barley flakes a day. Barley is the best source of beta glucan, a soluble fiber known to lower cholesterol. It also contains another soluble fiber called pectin, along with iron, selenium, zinc and some B vitamins. Look for hulled barley, which retains its nutrient-and-fiber-rich bran.

Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2010.

When one of my Purdue mentors, Dr. Gertrude Sunderlin, shared this barley casserole recipe many years ago, we didn't have rotisserie chickens at the supermarket but we do now so when I need cooked chicken for a recipe rotisserie chicken is the way to go!


1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups quick-cooking barley
2 cups fresh button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 can Campbell's Healthy Request mushroom soup
3 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups chicken broth without MSG

Melt butter in large skillet. Saute chopped onion. Add barley and stir until golden. Add remaining ingredients. Spoon into 2 1/2-quart casserole and bake covered in 325F oven for about 1 1/2 hours (check after one hour). Recipe makes 8 servings.


While some people may need supplements at certain stages of their lives, nutritional deficiencies are uncommon in the US. "Almost all of us get or can get the vitamins and minerals we need from our diet," says Paul M. Coates, PhD., director of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health. Major health organizations for cancer, diabetes and heart disease all advise against supplements in favor of a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Unlike pills, those foods contain fiber plus thousands of health-protective substances that seem to work together more powerfully than any single ingredient can work alone.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, February 2010. Download PDF of Memo #2151