Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mary’s Memo #2251

     Though the method has been used for centuries, the
term hydroponics (hydro, meaning water, and ponics, meaning labor) was coined about 89 years ago by a University of California at Berkeley scientist, who grew tomatoes, potatoes, corn and beans without soil. Today, you can also find hydroponic herbs, leafy greens, squash, eggplant, peppers and other vegetables, as well as watermelon, strawberries and other fruits.
     Growing plants hydroponically has advantages over traditional methods. Since no soil is involved, you don’t need large tracts of land, nor do you get potential problems from insects, fungi and bacteria in soil. Hydroponics also use less water than conventional methods and doesn’t pollute natural
waterways. What’s more, you can produce food anywhere, anytime. There are disadvantages controlling the indoor environment of a greenhouse including the lighting that requires a lot of energy, monitoring everything from temperature and humidity to pH (acidity or alkalinity of a solution) is also time and labor intensive. Hydroponic produce can cost twice as much as field-grown vegetables.
     Most studies find that hydroponic produce has pretty much the same nutritional profile as conventionally grown produce.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness

     I really don’t care who wins the game in Indianapolis on February 5, but whoever is in charge of food is a definite winner with everyone!
     During the Christmas season at Mary Ann’s, we attended a 2-1/2 hour tapas class at Sur La Table in downtown Naperville, IL. For those unfamiliar with tapas, they’re Spanish appetizers. They can be served individually or several can be part of a meal. (More on the tapas class in a future memo.)
     What I am sharing is an appetizer the chef and her assistants had made for us before we arrived for the class. It only takes 3 ingredients: A roll of goat cheese (available at Chief and Rays), enough minced fresh mint to cover it and some kind of seedless red jam drizzled on a serving plate before the cheese is placed on it. Serve with assorted crackers. Our class of 16 polished it off before tapas samples were available!

     I served Sourdough Bread Stuffing with Leeks, Sliced Mushrooms & Chicken at the Bryan Chief the weekend before Christmas. I made enough changes in the recipe to call it my own and although it would be perfect for the holiday sheet, I’ve decided to share it now because it’s going to be my “go to” luncheon dish this year. Besides, a lot of Bryan Chief shoppers already have the recipe so why should you wait 11 months to try it!SOURDOUGH BREAD STUFFING WITH LEEKS, SLICED MUSHROOMS AND CHICKEN
12 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed (I used Pepperidge Farm® brand)1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter3 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only (2 medium)3 cups chopped celery1 pound cleaned and dried sliced mushrooms1-1/2 tablespoons dried sage2 teaspoons dried thyme1 teaspoon kosher salt3/4 teaspoon black pepper2 cups cut-up rotisserie chicken1 quart low-sodium chicken broth plus an additional 1/2 cup2 large eggs1-1/2 teaspoons baking powderPreheat oven to 325 degree F. Spread bread cubes on two baking sheets. Bake until dry and crisp, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer bread to a large bowl. Melt butter; sauté leeks and celery until tender, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms, sage, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about another 10 minutes. Pour mushroom mixture over bread cubes. Add chicken and chicken broth and toss to blend. Stuffing can be prepared to this point, 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Butter a 9x13- inch glass baking dish. Whisk eggs and baking powder together and add to stuffing mixture. Transfer to baking dish. Bake until stuffing is cooked through and golden brown on top, about 1 hour. Recipe makes 12 servings. OUT OF DATE
     If you consume vitamin-D-fortified foods, be aware that the Daily Value listed on nutrition labels is out-of-date and too low. The Daily Value is still 400 IU, but the Institute of Medicine (IOM) now recommends 500 IU for adults through age 70 and 800 IU for those over 70. Many experts believe the new IOM recommendations are still too low. The good
news is that an increasing number of food companies are fortifying their products with the vitamin, which is found naturally in few foods.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2012.
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Mary’s Memo #2250

     No one seems to know who started National Soup
Month but we do know that soup has been around since
about 6000 BC and was first made of hippopotamus. Soup gets year-round attention from me but I’ll admit there’s something especially comforting about a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter day.
     The Sunday before Christmas I finished my holiday baking, a project I told a Bryan friend, Lynette Diaz, about when she was shopping at Chief the day before. She called on Sunday to say she was bringing me her Tomato Basil Soup so that I didn’t have to prepare dinner. That was music to my ears because when I’m working on a kitchen project I end up too tired to fix a meal afterwards so her thoughtfulness, delicious soup and recipe were really appreciated!

1/2 cup diced onion1/2 cup diced celery4 tablespoons butter4 cans condensed tomato soup1 soup can water2 soup cans tomato juice1 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon oregano1 teaspoon basil1 pound cooked, crumbled baconIn a Dutch oven sauté onion and celery in melted butter until softened. Add tomato soup, water and tomato juice. Season with garlic powder, oregano and basil. Stir in cooked bacon. Note: Lynette adds a little more celery than called for in the recipe and if the soup is too thick she suggests thinning with additional tomato juice or water.
Source: Lynette Diaz, Bryan OH.LET’S HEAR IT FOR PRODUCE!
     A diet rich in produce might change the effect of your genes on heart disease, according to a study of 27,243 people published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. Those with a gene predisposed to heart disease but who ate a diet high in fruit and raw and leafy vegetables were less likely to have a heart attack over time than people who had the gene but ate little produce.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, January 2012.GARLIC SUPPLEMENTS
     Garlic supplements vary widely, depending on the age of the garlic and how it was produced. There’s debate about
which form, powder, oil or aged “deodorized” garlic extract, for example, may be best. There is no accepted standard dose. Claims such as “high potency” don’t mean much.
Testing of garlic supplements by found that nearly half had problems such as not meeting label claims or even worse, were contaminated with lead.
Bottom Line: Don’t take garlic supplements. Even if they do lower blood cholesterol or blood pressure or thin the blood, which is uncertain, the effect is small, so the supplements can’t replace medication. In any case, no one knows what form or dose is best.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2012.

     Grandson Gabe Thaman shared this recipe with me
during the holidays, hoping I’d use it on Mary’s Memo. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s an excellent cook because when he was under 10 he could make banana bread with a little supervision from his mother. As an adult he still has a major interest in cooking and is the most help in the kitchen when he visits his aunts or me.

1 quart box of Swanson® low sodium chicken broth1 can Campbell's® Healthy Request® Cream of Chicken soupHalf of a white onion, minced (roughly 1/4 to 1/3 cup)1 cup sliced button mushrooms2 tablespoons butterItalian seasoning to tastePepper to tasteSavory seasoning to tasteDash of garlic powder3 to 4 frozen boneless chicken breasts1 large tube Pillsbury® Southern Style biscuitsCombine chicken stock, soup, onion, mushrooms, butter and seasonings in your crock-pot. Stir mixture until everything is generally combined. Add frozen chicken breasts to the pot, cover, and set on low. Cook for 8 hours. A half hour before you’re ready to serve, remove chicken from pot and chop (it will fall apart at this point), then return to the crock-pot. Turn temperature to high. Open biscuits and cut each one
into quarters. Add to crock-pot and stir to make sure everything is coated. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir again, cover and cook an additional 15 minutes or until dumplings are done. Serve with homemade mashed potatoes and a veggie of your choice
Gabe Thaman, Champaign IL.
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Mary’s Memo #2249

     A recent analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study, a large,
long-term investigation of factors that affect women’s
health, has found a reduced risk of depression among coffee drinkers. Decaf appeared to have no significant effect on depression, nor did tea, perhaps because they were a minor source of caffeine in their diet.
     Coffee contains antioxidant compounds called polyphenols that might help regulate blood sugar and prevent deadly blood clots. In fact, regular coffee consumption was associated with a longer life, mostly due to a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes in a 2008 study of nearly 130,000 people who were followed for two decades.
     Most healthy adults can consume up to 300 milligrams of caffeine daily (roughly three 8-ounce cups of coffee per day); pregnant women, less than 200 milligrams.
Tea is also rich in polyphenols, at least in laboratory studies using cell cultures and animals, have been found to prevent the buildup of artery-clogging plaque and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Fluoride and estrogen-like substances in tea might also bolster bone density, but further research is needed to confirm that benefit.
     Bottom line is that coffee and tea can be a healthful part of your diet, which is easier advice for tea drinkers to follow, since coffee typically contains twice as much of the stimulant as black tea and about four times more than green.


     When it comes to trans fat, found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, it both increases LDL (bad) and decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. High intake has been consistently linked to an increased risk of heart disease. It also might raise the risk of depression, according to a 2011 study of 12,059 adults.
Source for above articles: Consumer Reports on Health, January 2012.


     No one has inquired yet but I did make a mistake in the Candy Cane Shortbread cookie recipe on my annual holiday recipe sheet. Instead of 1/2-ounce canes, the right size is sold in a box of 40 Mini Canes. I bought mine at Spangler’s® Museum Store in Bryan but you can buy them online via the Spangler® Candy website:

     Baked Turkey Salad was a big hit at the Bryan Chief when I served it the weekend before Thanksgiving. I made mine with a turkey thigh, mainly because I prefer dark meat. In an earlier memo I told you that I stock up on fresh thighsfor the freezer when Chief has them at Thanksgiving time. To reduce calories in the salad, I used Lays® Baked Chips instead of regular chips.


2 cups cubed turkey thigh meat1 cup sliced celery1/4 teaspoon kosher salt1 teaspoon grated onion1 cup Hellmann’s® Light Mayonnaise2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1/2 cup chicken broth2-ounce jar chopped pimiento, drained1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese1 cup crushed Lays® Baked ChipsCombine all ingredients except cheese and potato chips. Spoon the salad mixture into 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Refrigerate overnight. Before baking, sprinkle with cheese and potato chips. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Recipe makes 4 servings.     We had Chicken Divan at my literary club’s Christmas luncheon and it reminded me that it was a favorite “go-to” recipe when I entertained years ago. In fact, I served it at our son’s rehearsal dinner before he was married along with Shrimp Casserole that’s in my cookbook. I’ve since revised the recipe to use rotisserie chicken instead of cooking a large one. From personal experience, you’ll get more mileage from a rotisserie chicken that’s stripped when it’s still hot.CHICKEN DIVAN
(3) 10-ounce packages frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and well drainedMeat from one of Chief/Rays Rotisserie BIG Chicken (it should yield a tad over 4 cups cubed meat)3 cans Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted (no MSG in this kind)1-1/2 cups Hellmann’s® Light Mayonnaise2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese2 tablespoons melted butterArrange broccoli in the bottom of a buttered 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Distribute cubed chicken over broccoli. Mix together soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice and sherry and pour over broccoli-chicken mixture. Mix dry bread crumbs and butter together. Scatter over top. Bake, covered, in a preheated 350ºF oven for about 1 hour or until bubbly and very hot. Recipe makes 8 to 10 servings.
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Mary’s Memo #2248

     To celebrate Cinco de Mayo on May 5, Fresh Fruit Salsa from the Fresh Market 25th Anniversary Cookbook, was featured in the 5/2 memo. Bryan Chief tasters gave it rave reviews. You will, too, if you haven’t made it yet.


3 kiwis, peeled1/4 cup hot pepper jelly1 mango, coarsely chopped4 cups fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped2 tablespoons honey1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugarSlice peeled kiwis in half, then in half again to make 4 wedges each. Thinly slice each wedge into a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss carefully to combine. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Recipe makes 10 servings. Source: Adapted from Fresh Market 25th Anniversary Cookbook recipe.Another popular recipe with Bryan Chief tasters was Vegetable Tea Sandwiches in the 6/27 memo. This one was adapted from a Southern Living magazine recipe. I cut calories by using reduced-fat cream cheese. I also used thin Pepperidge Farm® white and whole wheat bread to increase the food value.VEGETABLE TEA SANDWICHES
(2) 8-ounce packages reduced-fat Flavorite® cream cheese, softened to room temperature1 cup peeled, seeded and finely chopped English cucumber (the kind sealed in plastic)1/2 cup minced green onion1/2 cup chopped fresh dill (available year-round in produce department)2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s® Light)1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper48 slices bread (24 white and 24 whole wheat)Stir together all ingredients besides bread. Spread mixture on 1side of 24 bread white slices. Top with remaining whole wheat bread slices. It is helpful to store the sandwiches untrimmed or cut. When ready to serve trim crusts from sandwiches; cut each into triangles with a serrated knife and serve or return to refrigerator until needed. Recipe makes 8 dozen triangles.
Source: Adapted from Southern Living magazine recipe.Two Potato Salad with Toasted Pecans from the 7/11 memo was not only popular with Bryan Chief tasters but a big hit at the Thaman reunion in Kettering Labor Day weekend.
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (2 medium-large sweet potatoes should do it – weigh on scale in produce dept.)1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used 3 medium ones)1/2 cup canola oil1/2 teaspoon zest of lime2 tablespoons lime juice2 tablespoons cider vinegar1 tablespoon packed brown sugar1 teaspoon ground ginger1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1 cup chopped celery1/2 cup chopped red onion1/2 cup toasted pecansBring sweet potatoes to a boil in lightly salted water in large saucepan or Dutch oven until just tender but not overcooked. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and drain in colander. Add russet potato cubes to water on stove and cook until tender (it’s not going to take as much time because water is already heated. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool slightly in colander. Meanwhile in large bowl whisk together oil, zest, juice, vinegar, brown sugar, ground ginger, salt and nutmeg. Add potatoes; toss to coat well. Gently stir in celery and onion. Add toasted pecans just before serving. Salad can be served immediately or
refrigerated until ready to serve. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from recipe.
Zesty Beef and Cole Slaw Soup from the 11/14 memo was popular with Bryan Chief tasters. I have since made it with ground turkey. It’s good but I prefer it made with beef. I also made enough changes in the recipe to call it my own. Under no circumstance substitute canned green beans or corn because they’ll be way overcooked! Although I used V-8® Spicy Hot juice, Flavorite® also makes a spicy juice that is cheaper.ZESTY BEEF AND COLE SLAW SOUP
1 lb. ground chuck1/2 cup chopped onion2 cloves garlic, minced2 cups cole slaw mix1-1/2 cups frozen corn2 cups frozen cut green beans46-ounce bottle V-8® Spicy Hot juice14.5-ounce can Flavorite® Italian-style diced tomatoes1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce1/2 teaspoon dried basilSalt to taste (I used ½ teaspoon kosher salt)Cook meat, onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Drain fat thoroughly. Add all ingredients to a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours. Recipe makes 10 servings. Soup freezes well.
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Mary’s Memo #2247

This is the easiest memo that I do because we’re featuring the best new recipes of the previous year.
     From the 1/24/11, Yolanda Juarez’s Holiday Salad deserves an encore. Use any leftover dressing on other leafy greens.


2/3 cup canola oil1/2 cup sugar1/3 cup fresh lemon juice2 teaspoons finely chopped onion1 teaspoon Dijon mustard1/2 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional for me)       Salad:
(2) 10-ounce bags romaine lettuce1 cup shredded Parmesan or Swiss cheese1/4 cup dried cranberries1 cup cashews1 apple, cubed1 pear, cubedTo make dressing combine in a blender or food processor sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard and salt. Add oil slowly until thick and smooth. If using poppy seeds, blend or process a few seconds. Pour dressing into a container and add apple and pear cubes (lemon juice will keep fruit from darkening). In large salad bowl combine salad ingredients with desired amount of dressing. Toss to coat. Recipe makes 8 to 10 servings.
Source: Yolanda (Jesse) Juarez, Bryan OH.     The next recipe from the 4/11/11 memo comes from my “food friend” in Hilton Head SC, Sally Kerr-Dineen.CHICKEN MARSALA WITH MUSHROOMS
4 Miller boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to about 1/4-inch thickSalt and pepper to tasteAll-purpose flour5 tablespoons olive oil, divided6 tablespoons butter, divided4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (in produce dept.)3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (be sure they are dry so they brown)3/4 cup Marsala wine1 cup chicken broth2 tablespoons Italian parsleySeason chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. In a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add half the olive oil and butter. When butter begins to foam brown chicken until golden, about 3 minutes on one side, turn over and brown about 2 minutes more. Lift from pan and set aside. Melt remaining fat and add shallots. Cook until softened,
then add mushrooms and season again with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until browned. Pour wine over mushroom mixture. Continue cooking until wine turns slightly syrupy. Add chicken broth. Boil until sauce is reduced about half, keeping in mind that you want enough sauce to spoon over chicken. Return chicken to skillet and cook until heated through, turning occasionally to coat in sauce. Add parsley and serve.
Source: Used with permission of Sally Kerr-Dineen

     Because I’m partial to any recipe with mushrooms I’ve picked Fresh Mushrooms and Parsley Salad to share again from the 4/18/11 memo. It wasn’t lemony enough to suit Mary Ann and me so we doubled the fresh lemon juice. Please note that this may serve 8 people at your house but not mine because I can eat this in 4 sittings!

(2) 8-oz. packages of button mushrooms, thinly sliced1/3 cup chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley1/4 cup olive oil (I prefer light type)1/2 cup fresh lemon juiceKosher salt and fresh ground pepper to tasteShaved Parmesan cheese for garnishIn a medium salad bowl mix together the mushrooms and parsley. In a small bowl whisk olive oil and lemon juice until well blended. Add to mushroom parsley mixture and toss until well coated. Using a vegetable peeler shave Parmesan cheese on top and serve. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from Giada De Lautentis recipe.     I’d love to be Ina Garten’s (my favorite Food Network star) next door neighbor so I could be one of her frequent dinner guests. Her Chunky Guacamole from the 6/6/11 memo is the best! Lemon juice keeps mixture from darkening.INA’S CHUNKY GUACAMOLE
4 ripe Hass avocadosJuice of 1 fresh lemon8 dashes of Tabasco® sauce (or to taste)1/2 cup finely chopped red onion1 large clove garlic, minced1 teaspoon kosher salt1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper1 medium tomato, seeded and finely choppedHalve and pit the avocados; scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add lemon juice, Tabasco®, onion, garlic, salt and pepper; toss with a wooden spoon. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocado mixture until chunky. Add tomatoes and toss lightly. Serve with tortilla chips.
Source: Ina Garten recipe.Space doesn’t permit including additional best recipes but look for other favorites next week.
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