Monthly Archives: December 2010

Mary’s Memo #2194


I was puzzled recently when I heard a Consumer Report representative say on TV that cold water gets clothes cleaner. Although I do colored clothes in cold water I use hot water for kitchen linens, also bath towels and sheets. Before I lowered the temperature in the water tank I decided to check it out at Purdue. Here’s the scoop from Linda Bryant, Purdue University Extension.

“Water temperature is crucial to the cleaning of clothing. The general rule still holds true that the hotter the water, the easier and faster the cleaning. The colder the water, the more difficult or time-consuming the cleaning job. If using cold water washing, take time to measure water temperature using a candy or cooking thermometer. For best results, cold water should be 60 degrees or warmer. Temperatures below 50 degrees F are considered too cold to give satisfactory washing results for today’s fabrics and laundry products (detergent and bleach). Always read and follow the garment care label recommendations.”

Source: Linda Bryant, Administrative Assistant, Purdue University Extension, College of Health & Human Services, West Lafayette, IN


A combination of healthy lifestyle factors, including having a normal body weight, minimal belly fat, regular physical activity, limited exposure to secondhand smoke and higher consumption of fruits and vegetables leads to greater longevity, according to a study conducted by Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, MPH, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director of Vanderbilt University’s Epidemiology Center, Nashville, TN. “The important message,” said Dr. Zheng, “is that it is never too late to modify health styles.” People on all levels of health can benefit …. from healthy people, to those with diabetes and hypertension and even people with severe stroke, cardiovascular and cancer conditions. People who practice healthy lifestyles will have concurrent better quality of life.”

Source: Duke Medicine HealthNews, December 2010.


Last spring I tried Chunky Pork and Sausage Chili and even froze a container of it. The past three months I’ve been on an inventory reduction kick so I’d have room for tins of Christmas cookies made with Mary Ann Thanksgiving weekend. That’s when I rediscovered this slow cooker soup from the National Pork Producers. I really liked it and could hardly believe it hadn’t been on a memo. If you were gifted with a new slow cooker for Christmas do make this hearty chili soon!


1 lb. boneless country-style ribs, cut into ¾-inch cubes
½ lb. fully cooked smoked sausage, cut in ½-inch slices
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
(1) 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
(1) 15-ounce can tomato sauce
(1) 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 cup beer or water
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Download PDF of Memo #2194

Mary’s Memo #2193


Only five days until Christmas is a frightening thought if you’re not finished with holiday preparations. Chief and Rays is your best bet at this late date with food baskets, gift cards and last minute stocking stuffers. They also have a wide variety of well known store and restaurant gift cards, Hallmark cards, gift sacks, wrap and ribbon.

Don’t wait until the day before Christmas to do your food shopping. I can tell you it’s a zoo if you do. Even with all lanes open, be prepared to stand in line longer than you like to check out! If you insist on shopping on the 24th, the earlier the better!

And when you’re on the road, be a defensive driver because people out and about on the 24th have a lot on their minds unrelated to driving!
Hopefully you’ve picked up a copy of my holiday recipe sheet. I think it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever done.


We have a bumper crop of cranberries this year, estimated to be the second largest on record, according to Purdue University agriculture economist Corinne Alexander. Because of the weak economy and lower consumer prices, supermarkets have been reluctant to pass their higher costs onto consumers, Alexander said. There will come a time when retail outlets will have no choice but to raise prices, likely within the next 6 to 12 months.

“Although Americans eat very well, spending less than 10 percent of their average income for food, there are many this year who find their budgets tightened by unemployment, minimal wage increases and continued erosion of fixed incomes by inflation,” she said. For these, any food price rise is significant. We should remember those who are less fortunate and share our food bounty.”

Source: Purdue News Service.

Speaking of fresh cranberries, be sure to make Festive Cranberry Upside-Down Cake from Land O’Lakes.


Topping: :

2 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries


1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2/3 cup milk
Chantilly Cream:

1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Heat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle with ½ cup sugar; shake pan to coat. Spread fresh cranberries evenly in pan. To make cake, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Beat ¾ cup sugar and ½ cup butter in medium bowl; beat at medium speed until well mixed. Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed and add flour mixture and milk; mix well. Spread batter evenly over cranberries. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown. Place pan on wire rack; let stand 10 minutes. Run knife around inside of pan to loosen cake; invert onto cake plate. Place whipping cream in medium bowl; beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Add sour cream, powdered sugar and lemon zest; continue beating until mixture is thick. Dollop each serving of cake with Chantilly Cream. Recipe makes 10 servings.

Source: recipe. br>


If you find yourself short one sweet for your cookie plate, White Chocolate Salties from the 1984 Christmas recipe sheet take very little time to make!


1 pound white chocolate or white chocolate bark
1 cup salted dry roasted peanuts
3 cups thin stick pretzels

In microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate on medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring twice. Blend well. Add peanuts and pretzels. Stir until mixture is evenly coated. Spread in lightly greased 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes. Flex pan to loosen and break into irregular pieces.


People on your gift-giving list, especially ones who don’t cook or bake, will appreciate a food gift whether it’s your favorite bread, homemade candy, Christmas cookies or even soup. One year Mary Beth (the recreation daughter) asked for a variety of frozen soups as a gift. She never leaves here without checking out my current supply. It isn’t that she doesn’t know how to make a pot of soup, it’s because cooking is not a high priority thing with her. Download PDF of Memo #2193

Mary’s Memo #2192


Consumer Reports on Health had two outside labs test 21 brands of multivitamins for contaminants and the amount of selected vitamins and minerals listed on the label. They found that two vitamins tested failed to break down properly in a dissolution test. Only one product fell short of its label claims for key vitamins and minerals. None contained worrisome levels of contaminants. Store brands did just as well as national brands, at a lower price. But many people taking multivitamins don’t need to. Despite their popularity, there’s virtually no evidence they improve the average person’s health.

Source: Penzeys One, Volume One, Source: Consumer Reports on Health, December 2010.


Jan Schumm of Bryan was kind enough to share an unusual potato salad recipe with me that her daughter, Katie, had the caterer prepare for her August wedding dinner. Guests gave it rave reviews. The origin of the recipe was Chronicle Book’s From Our House to Yours. Katie reduced the amount of oil in the dressing from 1 cup to 2/3 cup. The name Tailgate Potato Salad doesn’t do it justice. Make it or take it to a holiday party.


½ lb. small sweet potatoes
1-1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
½ lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
¼ cup chopped curly parsley
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted


½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated yellow onion
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon celery seed

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Scrub sweet potatoes with a stiff brush but do not peel. Prick in several places with tines of a fork. Bake just until tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely and cut into ¼-inch cubes. In large pot of water, boil Yukon Gold potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just tender. Drain well. When cool, peel and cut into ¼-inch cubes.

Cook butternut squash cubes in boiling water to cover until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing: In a bowl mix together the sugar, dry mustard and salt. Stir in grated onion and 2 tablespoons of the cider vinegar and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in oil and remaining vinegar. Add celery seed and blend well.

To assemble the salad, in a large bowl gently mix together the Yukon potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and parsley. Add cranberries, red onion and walnuts, then pour the dressing over all. Mix gently. Cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before serving. Recipe serves 6 to 8 people. Note: Dressing can be made ahead up to 2 days, covered and refrigerated. Once dressed, the salad will keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Source: Recipe taken from Chronicle Book’s From Our House to Yours via Katie Schumm McFaddin, Belmont MA, and Jan Schumm, Bryan. br>


This recipe dates back to 1980 but it’s still a favorite among many memo>


15-ounce can pumpkin
1-2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350ºF. For cake, combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs and salad oil; mix well. Stir in flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend thoroughly. Pour into 10x15-inch jelly roll pan greased on the bottom only, spreading evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean; cool completely, then frost.

To make frosting, beat together until well blended *3-ounces of softened cream cheese, ¼ cup softened butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating until creamy. Spread on top of cooled cake. Sprinkle with ½ cup chopped nuts (optional). Cut into 24 squares. Store in the refrigerator.

*Three-ounce packages of cream cheese are no longer available so cut 3 ounces from 8-ounce package. br>


My daughter, Mary Ann, makes “to do” lists for herself, especially when she’s pressed for time. I started doing this, also, and it works. When tasks are completed and checked off, it gives one such a sense of satisfaction! As the days before Christmas gets shorter make a “to do” list and see if this works for you. Download PDF of Memo #2192

Mary’s Memo #2191


If not before, the pressure is now on readers. Hopefully, your home is decorated inside and out and you can focus on food!

I’ve already started making Daddy’s Peanut Brittle. I’m smiling as I type this because everyone who makes it in our family thinks his or her candy is the best. Even my Mary Ann thinks her candy is better than mine! Regretfully, we don’t have the originator to judge it but I’m sure Daddy is happy that several of us are making it to give away.

As you prepare to make family favorites, do use the best quality ingredients you can afford. I can’t emphasize this enough! I’ve never forgotten what one of my food professors at Purdue said: “Girls, there isn’t anything that gives a cookie a better flavor than butter.” Margarine and butter-flavored vegetable shortening won’t do it. Also, I only use pure vanilla extract, not imitation flavoring. Baked goods made with imitation flavoring also lose some flavor they have when frozen. Quality in equals quality out; it’s as simple as that!

Here are a couple more tips on baking cookies. Don’t over bake them. I see a lot of cookie that are too brown on the bottom side. If you’re using a dark cookie sheet, lower the temperature 25 degrees just like you do when baking in glass. Also, nuts will add more flavor if they’re toasted, whether the recipe says to do it or not. To toast nuts, put them in a skillet over medium heat and stir until they start to brown. Remove from heat source and cool.

If a recipe calls for eggs safely assume that large eggs are used, not medium or extra large, unless the recipe calls for a different size (like this week’s recipe). When interpreting a recipe, it does make a difference for example if a recipe says ½ cup chopped nuts or ½ cup nuts, chopped.

One last word and this is about your equipment: Treat it like a good carpenter takes care of his tools. If something burns on a pan take it off right away and avoid grease buildup. Of course I have newer pans but I’m still using bake ware that I’ve had since I married.


Being a chocoholic, I love reading about its health merits. At a time of the year when our consumption of chocolate goes up it’s good to know that a little chocolate is better than none! Read this.

Chocolate helps the heart, that’s the finding of a study published online August 16, 2010, in Circulation: Heart Failure. It found that women who ate about an ounce of chocolate once or twice a week were less likely to develop heart failure than those who ate no chocolate or a lot of it

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, November 2010.


Daughter Mary Ann made a cookie last year that I really liked: Cocoa Snowflakes. The recipe is from Penzeys in 2005. The exterior is crisp but inside the cookie is soft and yummy! These were my favorite on her cookie plate. Make a double batch!


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
1 cup nuts, finely crushed (optional)
½ cup powdered sugar

In medium bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In small heavy saucepan melt butter over low heat, add cocoa powder; blend well with fork or a small whisk until smooth. Remove pan from heat, stir in ½ cup sugar until combined (it will be dark brown at this point). Transfer to a large mixing bowl; add vanilla extract, then eggs, one at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon or hand mixer after each addition. Add flour mixture and nuts, if using, and mix well. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Working with a small amount of chilled dough at a time (keep rest of dough refrigerated), form into ¾-inch balls. Roll in additional powdered sugar. Place sugar coated balls on parchment-covered cookie sheets. Bake 8 minutes. Let cool a minute, and then remove from cookie sheet. When cool, store in an air-tight container to maintain the soft chewy texture of these cookies. If you like a crisper cookie, bake a minute longer, being careful not to burn. Recipe makes about 25 cookies.

Source: Penzeys One, Volume One, Issue One 2005.

Download PDF of Memo #2191