Monthly Archives: September 2011

Mary’s Memo #2233

     Imitation crabmeat is typically made from Alaska pollock, a mild-flavored white fish, which is minced, rinsed and strained. The resulting paste, called surimi, is blended with sugar, salt, binders like egg whites and starch flavorings and other ingredients. After cooking, it’s cut into various shapes resembling crab leg meat and other shellfish like lobster and shrimp. Orange dye is also added to make to look more like shellfish. Some imitation seafood contains small amounts of real crab and other shellfish. Imitation crabmeat provides good quality protein though not as much as other seafood because of its fillers. It’s comparable in calories to real crabmeat (80 to 90 calories per three ounces, on average) but has much less cholesterol. Because it’s very low in fat, imitation crabmeat is a poor source of omega-3s. Some companies add these heart-healthy fats but the levels are still below that of real crab meat. That said imitation crabmeat costs much less than the real thing. And because it’s precooked, it’s ready-to-eat and less perishable than fresh fish. Moreover, it’s considered a good environmental choice by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. You can use faux crab in any recipe that calls for real crab, such as
seafood lasagna, soups, quiches, noodle and rice dishes, stirfries and sushi rolls. Mix with a little mayo and chopped celery and bell pepper to make a “crabmeat” salad.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 2011.

     For many adults, weight gain occurs gradually over
many years, which makes it difficult to pinpoint food choices that are responsible for excess pounds. By examining dietary choices made by more than 120,000 study participants, the majority of whom were women, researchers have zeroed in on the foods that are associated with the most weigh gain over a period of 20 years. The top five foods linked with the most weight gain are potato chips, other potatoes, sugarsweetened beverages, unprocessed meats and processed meats. Increasing consumption of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt was associated with the least amount of weight gain. Study findings were published in the June 23, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2011.

     Including olive oil in the diet may help prevent strokes in people over the age of 65, according to a study published inthe June 15, 2011 issue of Neurology. Researchers in France examined dietary patterns and medical records of 7,625 people and categorized them into “no use,” “moderate use” and “intensive use groups,” depending on how often olive oil was used in cooking, as a dressing or with bread. After a five-year follow-up period, those who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as a dressing had a 41% lower risk of stroke that those who never included it in their diets.
Source: Duke Medicine HealthNews, September 2011.

     You might think with a collection of cookbooks as large as mine that I would have stumbled onto a meatloaf recipe as good as Mother made but no such luck! What I do know is that Mother’s meatloaf mixture was moist enough that it could not be formed with one’s hands. I do remember her using enough wax paper to shape the loaf and then slide it off into a baking pan. I get the moist meatloaf part; it’s the flavor that’s challenged me all my cooking life.
     Just before I started working on the recipe part of this memo, I had a meatloaf sandwich made with  Barbecue Meatloaf, a recipe I made this summer in the slow cooker and froze in individual servings to eat as needed. No, it doesn’t taste like Mother’s meatloaf but it’s moist and definitely has a barbecue flavor.

2 lbs. ground chuck (or close to it)1 can condensed tomato soup, divided1 egg, slightly beaten1 cup crushed Ritz® crackers2 Tbsp. honey1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, divided2 Tbsp. dried minced onions1/2 tsp. kosher salt1/4 tsp. pepper1/2 cup water2 tsp. prepared salad mustard2 Tbsp. packed brown sugarCombine ground chuck with half the tomato soup, egg, cracker crumbs, honey, 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, onions, salt and pepper. Mix well and form into a ball. Place in 5 or 6-quart slow cooker sprayed with non-fat cooking spray. Combine remaining soup, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, the water, mustard and brown sugar. Whisk together and pour over the meat loaf. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from www.recipe4living recipe. Download PDF of Memo #2233

Mary’s Memo #2232

     Next Monday, September 26, is National Family Meal
Night. I’m telling you a week ahead so you can make plans now to observe this annual event. I have always emphasized the importance of eating meals together as a family. You may think it’s impossible to do but the rewards are worth the effort for more reasons than one! First, you’ll eat healthier if meals are planned and not eaten on the run. Second, it’s the one time of the day when families can communicate together. Third, it sets a good example for your children to follow when they’re adults. As parents, it is the right thing to do!

Q: What’s the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?

A: Let’s set the record straight. In the US we’re likely to be buying sweet potatoes, not yams, no matter what the sign or can says. Although sweet potatoes and yams are similar, they represent different plant species. Over 150 species of yams are grown in South and Central America, the West Indies and part of Asia and Africa. The sweet potato belongs to the morning
glory family and is native to tropical areas of the Americas including the US. Yams contain more natural sugar and higher moisture content but they’re not as rich in vitamin A and C. That said sweet potatoes can be substituted for yams and vice versa.

     There is an advantage to a refrigerator portfolio because in good times and bad people have to eat and they seem to buy certain foods over and over again. Mitch Schlesinger, CFA, managing director of FBB Capital Partners in Bethesda, MD, says it makes sense, especially in volatile markets, to invest in food company stocks because those companies tend to have stable recurring cash flows, which give them business
stability. Even though store brands are getting more attention, shoppers tend to come back to brand names as soon as they can.
     Thomas Cameron, chairman of Ridgeland, SC based Dividend Growth Advisors, says to choose stocks that have increased their dividend every year for the past 10 years by a minimum average of 10% a year. For example, McCormick, which makes household seasonings and spices that are sold at Chief and Rays, has increased its dividend an average of
more than 13.4% a year for 24 years. If anybody cuts the dividend, it is an immediate sell.
     I love to use my slow cooker. Even when it makes a lot of servings, I freeze leftovers in portions to eat later. Such was the case with Slow Cooker Pepper Steak. The original recipe was made with a piece of sirloin steak cut 2-inches thick. Mother made something similar with round steak but not in a slow cooker. It’s my opinion browning meat before it’s slow cooked seals in the juices. Recipe said to cut meat in serving portions. I prefer it in one piece and cut before serving. Cornstarch was added as a thickening agent but hardly thickened at all so I added Minute Tapioca to one of the containers that I reheated from the freezer and the sauce consistency
was much improved. Since 3 tablespoons soy sauce is used, I omitted 1 teaspoon of salt called for in the recipe. Here’s my revamped version.

2 lbs. beef sirloin cut 2-inches thick (watch for a sales)Garlic powder to taste3 tablespoons canola oil1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon1/4 cup hot water2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca1/2 cup chopped onion2 large green bell peppers, roughly chopped(1) 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes with liquid (cut tomatoes up a bit)3 tablespoons soy sauce1 teaspoon granulated sugarRub garlic powder generously on both sides of meat. In a large skillet over medium heat add oil. Brown meat on both sides and add to cooker. In a medium bowl mix bouillon with hot water until dissolved. Stir in onion, bell peppers, stewed tomatoes, soy sauce and sugar. Pour over meat. Cover and cook on high setting for 1 hour; reduce to low setting and cook an additional 7 hours. Cut into 6 pieces and serve sauce
on the side with mashed potatoes. Recipe makes 6 servings
Source: Adapted from recipe on

     Although we have apples throughout the year they do taste best shortly after harvesting. Our family loved chunky applesauce made with apples from a miniature Golden Delicious tree we had for many years. Peel and core apples and cook in just enough water to keep them from sticking. When tender break up apples with a spoon until chunky. Add sugar to taste (but not a lot) and apple pie spice or flavor with cinnamon candies. Download PDF of Memo #2232

Mary’s Memo #2231

     It’s a rarity for me to print a pie crust recipe one month and the filling another but I did receive Ken Haedrich’s Apple Pie Perfect Cookbook in July so I featured his Best Butter Pie Pastry in the August 1st Mary’s Memo because it could also be used for a quiche. I think apples in September and October so I reserved one of his apple pie recipes for now. The cookbook
author’s wife prefers Apple Crumb Pie for her birthday rather than cake.

1 recipe Best Butter Pie Pastry, frozen (be sure to use a deep 9-inch pie plate) FILLING:10 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (a mixture of firm-textured and soft apples is best)1/3 cup granulated sugar1/4 cup packed light brown sugar3/4 cup raisinsJuice and grated zest of 1 lemon1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/4 cup all-purpose flour  OATMEAL CRUMB TOPPING:
1 cup all-purpose flour1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)2/3 cup packed light brown sugar1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces     To make filling, mix apples, sugars, raisins, lemon juice, zest and nutmeg. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Sprinkle the flour over the apples and mix well. Turn filling into frozen pie shell, smoothing it with your hands to even out. Place pie on a large, dark baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and bake on the center oven rack for 35 minutes. While pie bakes, make the crumb topping. Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor, pulsing several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry mixture. Pulse the machine repeatedly until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Refrigerate. After 35 minutes, remove the pie from the oven. Reduce temperature
to 375ºF. Carefully dump crumbs in center of the pie, spreading them over the entire surface with your hands, patting down lightly. Return pie to oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, an additional 35 to 40 minutes. Loosely cover the pie with aluminum foil during last 15 minutes to keep the top from browning too much. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.
Recipe makes 9 to 10 servings. Source: Apple Pie Perfect by Ken Haedrich; Harvard Common Press, $19.95/softback.

Q: What’s the difference between feta and goat cheese? A: Goat cheese was originally made with pure white goat’s milk but today goat cheese may be 50% goat’s milk and 50% cow’s milk. Goat cheese has a distinctive tart flavor. Feta cheese has been made in Greece and other Balkan countries for centuries. Like goat cheese, originally it was made with sheep or goat’s milk only, but now large commercial producers around the world, including the United States, also use cow’s milk to make feta. In 2005 the European Union granted Greece Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for its Feta cheese. The action forced other European countries that produce tons of feta cheese to rename what they make. The pressure is on for our country to stop using the name Feta, also. The flavor of goat cheese is described as tart while feta is tangy. Try both of them and see what you think.


     How many children check the cookie jar when they arrive home from school? Don’t disappoint them. Colorado Ranch Cookies from The Junior League of Denver’s cookbook, Colorado Colore, are sure to please!

2-1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon salt1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter1 cup packed light brown sugar1 cup granulated sugar2 cups rolled oats (not instant)1 cup dried cranberries3/4 cup flaked coconut1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds3 eggs, beaten1/2 teaspoon almond extract     Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix flour, baking soda and salt together. Beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in large mixing bowl until creamy. Stir in oats, cranberries, coconut, almonds, eggs and almond extract. The dough will be quite stiff. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto parchment
covered baking sheets. Bake cookies for 10 minutes or
until light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Recipe makes about 6 dozen. Download PDF of Memo #2231

Mary’s Memo #2230

     I couldn’t find any information about who started Better Breakfast Month. It’s logical to think it was a cereal company but I’m not sure. What I do know is that it’s been scientifically proven that academic performance is definitely improved when students start the day with a healthy breakfast.
     But students are not the only ones that should start the day with breakfast. It behooves everyone, young, old or in between, to add at least whole wheat toast, fruit juice (not a fruit drink) or fresh fruit to that morning coffee. If breakfast improves academic performance in school, it makes sense that it will make anyone better at his game, whatever it may be!
     Since we’re in such a hurry weekdays, save this Sausage Brunch Casserole for a weekend breakfast. Recipe calls for processed Swiss but other shredded cheese can be used.


6 slices white bread (I prefer Pepperidge Farm)1 pound bulk sausage1 teaspoon salad mustard1 cup shredded Swiss cheese3 slightly beaten large eggs1-1/2 cups milk (whatever kind you use)3/4 cup evaporated milk (may be fat-free)1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste1/4 teaspoon pepper or to taste1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauceFit bread into bottom of a buttered 2-quart oblong baking dish. Brown sausage; drain off excess fat. Stir in mustard. Spoon sausage mixture evenly over bread; sprinkle with cheese. Combine eggs, milk, evaporated milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over cheese. Bake in 325ºF oven for 30 minutes
or until set. Recipe makes 6 servings.


     Soup is a year-round food for me but a lot of people think soup when fall sets in later this month. I was on a mission looking for something in the basement and came upon Country Cupboard Soup from the Pork Information Bureau, vintage 1995. Yes, you’re likely to find recipes in some form in every room of my house except the bathroom! It did sound good and I had everything to make it without leaving the house.


2 boneless pork loin chops, cut into small cubes (mine were 1-inch thick)1 teaspoon canola oil1 cup thinly sliced carrots1 cup thinly sliced potatoes1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 tablespoons sugarBlack pepper to taste4 cups water(1) 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice1/4 teaspoon dry oreganoDash or two of Tabasco SauceHeat oil in Dutch oven and brown pork, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook gently for 30 minutes. If desired, serve with cornbread. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Pork Information Bureau recipe, 1995.

     Here’s news that might settle the nerves of heavy coffee drinkers: Two new studies suggest that high coffee  consumption might be linked to reduced risks of the most aggressive form of breast cancer in women and lethal prostate cancer in men.
     Some research has hinted at a protective benefit for coffee against breast cancer, but a 2010 analysis of more than 500 studies of coffee and cancer failed to support such a conclusion. Now scientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute may have found an explanation: Coffee may significantly reduce the risk of only one type of breast cancer … the most aggressive. This is non-hormone responsive subtype, as opposed to the other major subtype, ER-positive hormone-responsive estrogen receptor form.
     Men who love their coffee can perk up at a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Kathryn M. Wilson, ScD, and colleagues looked at data on 47,911 men in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study who reported their coffee consumption every four years from 1986 to 2008. During the study period 5,035 cases of prostate cancer were reported, including 642 fatal or metastatic cases.
     Men who consumed the most coffee, six or more cups daily, had nearly a 20% lower risk of developing any form of prostate cancer. The inverse association with coffee was even stronger for aggressive prostate cancer: Men who drank the most coffee had a 60% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer, and even drinking one to three cups per day was associated with a 30% lower risk. Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, August 2011.

     Your risk of developing heart failure is lower if you frequently eat baked or broiled fish, but higher if you eat more fried fish, according to a study reported online May 24, 2011, in Circulation: Heart Failure, and American Heart Association journal.
     In an analysis of data from more than 84,000 postmenopausal women, those who ate the most baked/broiled fish (five or more servings per week) had a 30% lower risk of heart failure compared to women who ate less than one serving per month.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, August 2011. Download PDF of Memo #2230