Monthly Archives: August 2011

Mary’s Memo #2229

USELESS KITCHEN GADGETS
     Now that I’ve just purchased a Cuisinart Juicer and love it, let me share an internet article I just read regarding The 10 Most Useless Kitchen Gadgets, some of which I own (juicer isn’t among them).

     One is an avocado slicer. Mary Ann tried to talk me out of buying one but I didn’t listen and have never used it. Another item considered useless is an ice tea maker. It isn’t because it doesn’t make good tea (it really does) but it takes up too much space, at least in a kitchen the size of mine. It’s been relegated to a shelf in another part of the house and when that happens, it gets very little use. Another gadget deemed useless was a garlic peeler. Over the years I have received several as gifts but still peel garlic by hand because to me it’s no big deal. A pasta measuring
tool was also judged useless. Instead, critics said to eyeball or weigh the pasta (what I do). A spoon rest was considered useless but I wouldn’t be without one on my stove top. That said one person’s useless gadget might be another’s favorite tool. 

     Speaking of gadgets, this is homegrown corn-on-the-cob season and I have my share of corn cutters. That’s because each year brings a better one and 2011 is no exception! The June Ladies Home Journal offers the One-Step Corn Kerneler that with one quick motion easily removes all the kernels from the cob
and catches them in the basin of the container. In case you’re interested their toll-free number to order is 1-800-678-5752 or visit LHJcatalog.com.

WHAT ARE GARLIC SCAPES?

     Garlic scapes are becoming a more popular fresh seasoning. The green stem-like shoots are often removed from cloved heads. They are milder flavored than the bulb and can be used in dressings or dips or as a general seasoning.

THANK YOU, FRITO LAY!
     Frito Lay flavored potato chips including my favorite, Sour Cream and Onion, are now MSG-free. The one thing people with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) have in common is too much natural glutamate in their system. Although I never saw much
use for it from the beginning, I’ve been on an anti-MSG crusade since our son, Chris, died of the disease. I talked to Frito Lay people more than once about taking it out of their products and now there seems to be a trend by many food companies to
exclude it. Best of all, chips taste as good as ever without the controversial additive!

     Although there are a few Johnsonville meat products that are MSG-free, most still have it as well as a lot of salad dressings, chip dips and soup mixes like Lipton’s Onion and Knorr’s Vegetable. I am a strong supporter of Chief’s own Smokehouse brand, not because I’m on Chief’s payroll but because Smokehouse is MSG-free and every bit as flavorful as their competitors’ products!SPOTLIGHT ON SUGAR SNAP PEAS
     Many moons ago when my family was young, an acquaintance of mine said the only vegetables her family would eat were peas, green beans and corn. Except for summer and finding ways to use vegetables from the garden, I avoided serving the same one more than once a week. As “chief cook and bottle washer,” I also thought I had a responsibility to introduce our children to not-so-common types of vegetables as well.

     Before rabbits took over the universe (verify with any gardener), Luke grew both regular peas and snow peas. Snow peas and sugar snaps are both types of sugar peas but with tender, edible pods. Both are eaten whole. The common assumption is that sugar snap and snow peas originated in Asia but they were probably first cultivated in Holland.

     Sugar snaps have a pod more like an English pea with a developed pea while snow peas have a barely discernible miniature pea inside and the pod is flat. To prepare either sugar snap or snow peas, hold the pod just below the stem and grasp the tip of the stem and pull it down parallel to the pod to remove the stem and strings on either side of the pod.

     I was attracted to this week’s sugar snap pea recipe because of its ease of preparation and few ingredients, factors most cooks demand.

SNAP PEAS ‘N’MUSHROOMS
1/2 to 3/4 pound sugar snaps peas(1) 8-ounce package button mushrooms, sliced1 teaspoon canola oil1 tablespoon teriyaki sauceIn a large skillet or wok stir-fry the sugar snap peas and mushrooms in oil and teriyaki sauce until crisp tender. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home recipe.

PROPORTIONS FOR FRUIT PIES
     For an 8-inch pie I use 3 cups of prepared fruit, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca (for thickening), 1/8 teaspoon salt and a tablespoon of butter. For a 9-inch pie, increase the prepared fruit to 4 cups, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) Minute Tapioca, a rounded 1/8 teaspoon
salt and just a tad more butter to top filling. I also add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to berry and peach pies.

     Regarding making a crust, I could not do it without a pastry cloth to roll it. Also, keep the pastry cloth in the refrigerator so it doesn’t get rancid-smelling, especially pie dough made with lard or butter. I launder pastry cloths often in hot water with kitchen
towels and other linens. I don’t think I could make a pie, roll cookie dough or make rolls without a pastry cloth. They’ve been around for a long time because Mother used one. However, she always made pie crust with Crisco while I make mine with refrigerated
lard. Download PDF of Memo #2229

Mary’s Memo #2228

SUMMER PRODUCE MAKES HEALTHY EATING EASY
     Between picnics, barbecues and trips to the ice cream store, it’s easy to get sidetracked from a healthy diet in the summer months. But because there is an abundance of fresh, local produce available, summer is actually a great time to focus on choosing healthier foods. Use these tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center to stay on track with your healthy eating. Fill your plate with the proper portions: ChooseMyPlate.gov illustrates the most recent dietary guidelines for Americans. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and then divide the rest of the space between whole gains and lean protein. Another tip: Choose a delicious recipe. Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bland. Finally, when you’re out and about, it’s sometimes hard to know which foods offer
the most nutritional bang for your buck. Use the My Food-apedia app on your mobile phone to find the nutrition information for more than 1,000 different foods. You’ll find out the number of calories, the amount of added sugar and lots of other information about each of the foods you look up.
Source: The Federal Citizen Information Center, Pueblo, CO.

MAKE THE MOST OF SUMMER’S HARVEST
     I would not have trouble filling half my plate with Sweet and Savory Kale. If you don’t have it in your garden, Chief and Rays carry a bag of kale that is trimmed and ready to use. If you’re using garden kale remove stems, tear and rinse thoroughly. Mary Ann forwarded the recipe to me but had some recommendations. First, it was cooked too long. We
like a green vegetable served green, not olive colored. Also cranberries don’t need to cook as long as the recipe said. She also recommended that I try it and I did, making adjustments that suit our tastes. Recipe called for 1-1/2 cups chicken broth. Rather than have less than a 1/4 cup of broth left I used the entire can. I have increased the amount of kale because 4 cups of kale only made two servings for me and even when the liquid was reduced there is enough for additional kale. The flavor is delicious! Do cook on high heat as original recipe advised because if you do it takes less time to reduce the liquid.

SWEET AND SAVORY KALE
2 tablespoons olive oil1 small onion, diced2 cloves garlic, minced1 tablespoons Dijon mustard1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar1 tablespoon cider vinegar(1) 14.5 ounce can fat-free, MSG-free chicken broth (I used Swanson brand)6 cups Glory Foods Kale Greens1/4 cup dried cranberriesSalt and pepper to taste (I didn’t add any additional salt)1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted      Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in
the onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard, sugar, vinegar and chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. When mixture is reduced in half add kale and continue cooking until vegetable is crisp-cooked, about 5 minutes, adding cranberries last minute of cooking. Season to taste. Use a slotted spoon to serve. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from recipe provided by www.Allrecipes.com, the world’s favorite recipe web site.

ANOTHER WINNER FROM BETTY CROCKER
     Warm Toasted Marshmallow S’Mores Bars was a 2006 Betty Crocker Grand Prize Winning Recipe. Use a food processor to combine graham cracker crumbs and pouch of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix. Caution: Each bar has 310 calories (150 from fat).

WARM TOASTED MARSHMALLOW S’MORES BARS
1 pouch (1lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix1 cup graham cracker crumbs1 cup butter, melted3 cups milk chocolate chips (18 oz)4-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows     Heat oven to 375ºF. In a food processor or large bowl, combine cookie mix and graham cracker crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let set for 3 to 5 minutes
or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust. Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 6 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted (watch closely because marshmallows will brown quickly). Cool 10 minutes.
For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered. To reheat, place individual bars on a microwavable plate. Microwave uncovered on high about 15 seconds to warm. Recipe makes 24 bars.

GARDENING BENEFITS

     In one study, older adults who said they gardened reported eating more vegetables than those without green thumbs.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2011. Download PDF of Memo #2228

Mary’s Memo #2227

OVERCOMING EXERCISE HURDLES
     Slightly more than half of the unsuccessful exercisers in a 2004 survey of 21,750 readers of Consumer Reports blamed a lack of time for preventing them from exercising. Successful exercisers made it a priority. An easy way to begin is by making everyday routines more physically active. For instance, try walking or bicycling to work. If that’s too much of a leap, start parking a few blocks from the office, store or other destinations to get
in more walking, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. A few brief bouts of moderate exercise can be as beneficial as one longer, continuous workout for improving aerobic fitness and maintaining a healthy weight.

     It’s never too late to start exercising for aerobic fitness and muscular strength. If you’re a man over 45 or a woman over 55 and have been sedentary, you should get a physician’s clearance before jumping into a vigorous workout routine. Even for moderate exercise, it’s best to consult a physician first if you have arthritis, diabetes or another ongoing health problem, or if you’ve had symptoms like chest pain, dizziness or shortness of breath.

     Exercise is a proven treatment for diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, peripheral vascular disease and other problems common in older age. Only a handful of health problems make exercise out of the question.
Source: Consumer Reports On Health, July 2011.

PS:
When shopping at Chief or Rays choose a parking place farther away from the entrance rather than an up close spot.

BEWARE OF FAKE FRUIT

     Those plump berries, pomegranates and other pieces of fruit enticingly pictured on the package may be nothing more than sugar-sweetened globs of flour with flavoring, colorings and other additives. You can find fake berries, sometimes called blueberry bits or crunchlets, in a number of cereals, muffins and breads.
Some products such as Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal contain no fruit at all. Others, such as Special K Blueberry Cereal, have a little fruit puree concentrate (mostly sugar) mixed with fake fruit. To avoid this marketing scam, check the ingredients.  Better yet, add your own fresh fruit to cereal and other foods.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2011.

DID YOU KNOW?
     According to Beverage Marketing Corporation, the average American drinks 44.7 gallons of soda every year. Those statistics don’t include me because as I’ve said before, the only soda I consume is in a root beer float that I make now and then. But I am an exception to the rule because pop sales bring people into supermarkets in droves!

CHECK WHAT REVIEWERS SAY
     I didn’t practice what I preach and tried a recipe from Bon Appetit’s web site in July without checking reviews. Had I read them I wouldn’t have touched the recipe with a ten foot pole! Except for the flavor almost no one had a good thing to say about Lemon Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies but they sounded
so good, I could almost taste them! The recipe said to bake for 20 minutes (I didn’t fall for that and neither did reviewers). We’re talking about very small pieces of dough that took only 7 minutes at the most to bake and even then some cookies burned. The messy part was taking small amounts of a dry, crumbly mixture
in one’s palms and rolling it into a ball. Any resemblance to my results and Bon Appetit’s illustration was zilch! Size and thickness were misleading, too, or they had a magician working in the Bon Appetit test kitchen. For the first time since I’ve done demos at the Bryan Chief, I could not serve what I made. The moral to the story is that if all or most of the reviews are negative don’t waste expensive ingredients making the recipe!

SAY YES TO A BUFFALO CHICKEN PIE!
     I love all the Buffalo chicken variations and had I been a judge I would probably have given this Betty Crocker recipe first place. Instead, it was the 3rd place winner in the 2010 Bisquick Recipe Contest. I replaced chicken strips with the same amount of rotisserie chicken and used Heart Smart Bisquick mix rather than regular.

BUFFALO CHICKEN PIE
2 cups cubed rotisserie chicken1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce) 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (use reduced fat kind if available)1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (2 ounces)1 cup chopped celery1 cup Heart Smart Bisquick mix1/2 cup cornmeal1/2 cup milk1 egg2/3 cup light blue cheese dressingHeat oven to 400ºF. In large bowl toss chicken and Buffalo wing sauce until well coated. Stir in cheeses and celery. Pour into 9-inch glass pie plate. In medium bowl, whisk together Bisquick mix, cornmeal, milk and egg until blended. Pour over chicken mixture; spread to cover. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cut into wedges; drizzle with blue cheese dressing. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Betty Crocker. Download PDF of Memo #2227

Mary’s Memo #2226

LEMONS 101


I see a lot more than you might think while I am serving
samples in the produce department at the Bryan Chief.
If you asked me what is always in my refrigerator I would
tell you one thing is a lemon. Bottled lemon juice will never
cut it with me and ditto for the “cutesy” plastic lemons and
limes filled with something closer to bottled lemon juice.
Nothing takes the place of a fresh lemon (or lime). Most of
you look for one that is not blemished and so do I, but few
shoppers hold a lemon in their hand to see which one is the
heaviest. The heavier ones will be juicier. Two heavy lemons
should yield about 1/3 cup. Another tip: For the maximum
amount of juice, zap a fresh lemon in the microwave on
high for 10 seconds.



When lemons are on sale I buy several. Doing this, I risk
having one spoil now and then. Recently a couple told me
they avoid spoilage by freezing fresh squeezed juice in ice
cube trays and then storing in a freezer bag until needed.
A cube is about 2 tablespoonfuls. Good cooks are always
learning so I appreciate hearing suggestions like this.




b>FATTING IN


There are many debates about immigration, but one
thing is clear: Among the things that most immigrants gain
when they come to the U.S are weight and a less healthy
diet. Studies have found that the longer immigrants live
here, the more their diet deteriorates. Immigrants generally
come from countries where obesity is less common, and
thus fewer of them are overweight when they arrive. But as
they begin to eat and live like Americans, their obesity rates
catch up. This happens to nearly all immigrant groups. After
about 20 years, their obesity rates approach those of nativeborn
Americans.



Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter,
August 2011.





HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSINGS CHEAPER AND
BETTER FOR YOU!



“Store bought” salad dressings have a lot of ingredients
that I avoid. Many contain high fructose corn syrup, MSG
and other chemicals that no one needs. I know what’s in a
homemade dressing and it doesn’t cost as much to make,
both definite plusses.



One of my favorite salad dressings comes from the Jackson,
MS, Junior League cookbook, Come On In! It was served
on a salad called Crunchy Romaine Toss but the dressing is
good on any salad greens. I make the sweet-sour mixture
in a blender, adding vegetable oil slowly to make a thick
emulsion. The recipe is also in the Junior League Centennial
Cookbook published in 1996.





GOOD-FOR-ANY-GREENS SALAD DRESSING



1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola



Combine sugar, wine vinegar and soy sauce in a blender.
Start blender, adding vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream
to make a thick emulsion. Store in the refrigerator.
Source: Adapted from recipe in Junior League of Jackson,
MS. Cookbook “Come On In!”



NEVER IN PRINT BEFORE


Mother made what we’ve always called a combination
salad. There was never a recipe for it but it’s made with shredded
cabbage and assorted chopped vegetables and dressed
with a lemon and canola oil mixture. You can make as much
or as little as you want, scaling up or down the amount of
lemon juice and oil. Although we’ve always shredded our
own cabbage and carrots, I made it with a package of Dole®
Classic Cole Slaw Mix when I served it at the Bryan Chief.
Fresh lemon juice in the dressing, Mother’s idea, makes this
salad outstanding! Tasters thought so, too.




MOTHER’S COMBINATION SALAD





16-ounces blackberries, picked over and rinsed
(1) 14-ounce package Dole® Classic Cole Slaw Mix
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 seedless English cucumber, chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
1 container grape tomatoes, halved
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup canola oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste



Toss ingredients together in large bowl. Refrigerate. Recipe
makes about 2-1/2 quarts of salad



P.S.


Two more homemade salad dressings to try include Purdue
Celery Seed Dressing for Vegetable Salads and Purdue
Celery Seed Dressing for Fruit Salads, both in my cookbook,
“Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It.” I had these salad dressings
at Purdue when I was a student …. a long time ago but
they’re still favorites of mine! Download PDF of Memo #2226

Mary’s Memo #2225

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


I could not resist a cookbook called Apple Pie Perfect by Ken Haedrich but apple pie is my pie-of-choice in September, not August. That said I am sharing Best Butter Pie Pastry from this Harvard Common Press cookbook now because it’s a wonderful pastry for any single crust pie. Hopefully you have a food processor to make it. Haedrich cautions us to not over process, or the butter will warm up and melt into the pastry with less desirable results.




BEST BUTTER PIE PASTRY



1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
About 3 tablespoons cold water




Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Remove lid and scatter butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly, 6 or 7 one-second bursts, until the butter is broken into very small pieces. Place the egg yolk in a 1 cup measure and add just enough water to equal ¼ cup liquid. Using fork, blend the water and yolk. Remove the lid of the processor and pour the liquid over the entire surface of the dry ingredients. Don’t pour it into one spot. Pulse the machine again in short bursts until pastry starts to form large clumps. Empty the crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, pack the dough as you would a snowball. Knead dough 2 or 3 times, right in the bowl. Put the dough in the center of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk about ¾ inch thick. The edges will probably crack slightly; just pinch and mold them back into a smooth disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour. Recipe makes enough pastry for 1 deep 9-inch pie.




Source: Apple Pie Perfect, 100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America’s Favorite Pie by Ken Haedrich;
Harvard C ommon Press, $19.95/soft cover.





BERRY GOOD IDEA


This time of year berries are more likely to be grown in the United States and they taste better because they don’t have so far to travel.
Berries, long touted as a super food, contain many important nutrients, such a vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Scientific evidence points out that among the array of nutrients found in berries, polyphenols can help berries protect your heart.
“They are also believed to strengthen the immune system, fight disease and help prevent conditions such as cancer,” reports Lynn Goldstein, RD, a dietitian at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Berries can be eaten any time of the day and are low in calories, a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth and your nutrition needs without adding extra sugar, fat and sodium to your diet.” Berries have also been linked to lowering blood pressure, increased HDL (the good cholesterol) and a reduction in cognitive decline.
Goldstein recommends adding 1 cup of berries to your diet daily.



Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2011.



Now that you know how healthy berries can be it seems appropriate to make a dessert with them. C lafouti (kla-foo-TEE ) is French dessert, usually made with cherries but can also be made with other fruit. It’s part cake-part pudding in texture. My Hilton Head food friend, Sally Kerr-Dineen, recently featured Blackberry C lafouti on her web site: www.ItsAllDelicious. com and gave me permission to share the recipe with Chief and Rays memo readers. She’s also made it with peaches and had equally good results. Her recipe calls for 16-ounces of blackberries. The ones we buy are in 6-ounce packages so buy 3 packages and put the rest on your cereal or eat them



BLACKBERRY CLAFOUTI





16-ounces blackberries, picked over and rinsed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons
½ cup flour, sifted
Grated peel of 1 lemon



Preheat over to 375ºF. Butter a 10-inch round pie plate. Toss blackberries with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, peel and arrange in pie plate. Heat the milk and cream in a small pan over medium heat until just simmering. Remove from heat and set aside. Whisk ½ cup sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until combined. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. The batter will be thick. Add milk slowly and whisk constantly to make a custard. Pour custard over blackberries, if necessary tip plate to make sure all the berries are covered. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the custard is set and slightly puffy. Spoon into serving dishes or cut pie-shaped wedges. Sally says it holds up quite well. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.



Source: Sally Kerr-Dineen at www.ItsAllDelicious.com. Download PDF of Memo #2225