Mary’s Memo – June 10th


Pressure cookers are back. Breville even has one that slow cooks or pressure cooks in one appliance. So it doesn’t surprise me that new pressure cooker cookbooks are reintroduced like 225 Best Pressure Cooker Recipes by Cinda Chavich (Robert Rose Inc., April 2013, $24.95). First there were pressure canners and Mother had one to can non-acid vegetables as soon as they were available. The first gift I bought her when I went to work as an Indiana Extension agent was a Mirro brand home pressure cooker. By the 1970s, the popularity of pressure cookers declined in North America and the microwave oven became the preferred way to cook food quickly.

There’s an incredible variety of recipes such as Wild Mushroom and Potato Bisque, Kansas City Pulled Pork Butt and Espresso Chocolate Cake to tempt your taste buds or motivate you to buy a pressure cooker.

Author Cinda Chavich is a journalist, author and former newspaper food editor and senior feature writer. She specializes in food and wine, cultural history, lifestyle and trends. Cinda is also a frequent contributor to national magazines, radio and newspapers. She lives in British Columbia.


You have probably noticed that I pay the extra cost for Campbell’s Healthy Request soups for recipes because I’m anti-MSG. I was happy when Campbell’s stopped using it in their regular tomato soup. But comparing labels, I noticed that both have high fructose corn syrup and Healthy Request has some vegetable oil while regular has none. Both cans are 90 calories per 1/2 cup serving but Healthy Request has 15 fat calories. I will not buy Campbell’s regular creamed soups because they do have MSG but I need to look more closely at the other Healthy Request Soups that I buy. What does all of this prove? Cooking from scratch may take longer but it’s healthier for us.


It’s a question that has stirred up a heated debate. Is it okay to eat food that has fallen on the floor? Many people abide by the “5 second rule,” which maintains that anything is fair game if you pick it up within that time frame. Some allow 10 to 30 seconds to lapse before  relegating the food to the trash bin. The 5-second rule has actually been put to scientific test. In an often-cited, though unpublished study from 2003, a high school student interning at the University of Illinois found that gummy bears and fudge-striped cookies placed on ceramic floor tiles that had been inoculated with e-coli picked up the bacteria in less than 5 seconds so it doesn’t matter how quick you grab it. The Bottom line: Use common sense. Occasionally eating food that was briefly on the floor is not likely to make you sick. But it depends on what you drop and where. There’s a big difference between picking up a cracker from a just cleaned dry kitchen floor versus the floor by the cat litter box. On the other hand, since it’s hard to judge just how clean a floor is, you shouldn’t make eating off it a habit. And if you’re immune compromised or in frail health, it’s best to follow the “zero second” rule. Keep in mind, too, that microbes are not just on floors. Kitchen counters can be more contaminated than floors. Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter June 2913.



This dessert was a favorite during the Truman White House years and it couldn’t be easier to make!


• 3/4 cup of sugar
• 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
• 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup chopped apple
• 1/2 cup chopped dates
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add the sugar mixture and beat until blended. Fold in apples, dates and pecans and stir in the vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased 9-inch glass pie plate and bake for 30 minutes or until brown on top. Cool in the pie plate on wire rack. Cut into 6 to 8 wedges. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Source: California Mosaic, The Junior League of Pasadena California Inc., 2008.

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