Mary’s Memo – June 29th


Virginia Willis is a French-trained chef with Georgia roots. She is also one of the most loved authorities on Southern cooking. So when her doctors told her she needed to lighten up her diet, she wanted to do it without sacrificing any of the flavor or richness that makes Southern food so appealing. The result is “Lighten UP, Y’all, a collection of easy-to-make, chef-approved recipes for your favorite Southern foods. Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, Lighten Up Y’all has all the classics covered from comforting Southern Style Shepherd’s Pie with Grits to warm, melting Broccoli Mac and Cheese to Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie. There’s something to make everyone from five to ninety five happy!

Willis is author of the acclaimed cookbooks, Bon Appetite, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant Y’all; Grits; and Okra. She’s a columnist for, a contributing editor to Southern Living and was named one of the “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know” by the Chicago Tribune. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


• 1 cup shredded 50 percent reduced-fat extra-sharp sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
• 3/4 cup shredded 75 percent reduced fat extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
• 2 tablespoons panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1 3/4 cups 2 percent milk
• 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
• Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
• 8 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni
• 12 ounces (4 cups) broccoli florets and stems

Preheat oven to 4500F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Combine the two cheeses. Mix 1/4 cup cheese mixture, the bread crumbs and the paprika in a small bowl. Set aside. To make the cheese sauce, heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and the flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to hot milk and cook, whisking constantly until sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese mixture and the cottage cheese until melted. Stir in the dry mustard and nutmeg, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets. Drain well and add to the cheese sauce; mix well. Spread the pasta-broccoli mixture in the prepared baking dish; sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.
Source: Lighten Up Y’all by Virginia Willis (Penguin Random House, March 3, 2015. $24.99/hardcover).


Eating a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables such as watercress and spinach, may help lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. These foods are among the highest-ranking items on a new “powerhouse” vegetables and fruits report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scientists evaluated the nutrient density of 6 types of food: Cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, berries and allium vegetables (scallions, leeks onions). They measured how many of a selected list of nutrients could be found in 100 grams of each food, determined a nutrient density score and ranked the foods from highest to lowest. Watercress topped the list with a score of 100, while white grapefruit was the lowest with a score of 10.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.


This week’s recipe from Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton includes the convenience of packaged coleslaw mix combined with fresh fruits and vegetables tossed together with a homemade sweet-sour dressing.


• 1 14-ounce package coleslaw mix
• 1 unpeeled red apple, cored and chopped
• 1 unpeeled green apple, cored and chopped
• 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
• 2 green onions, finely chopped
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s Light)
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

In large bowl, combine slaw mix, red apple, green apple, red pepper and green onions. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, brown sugar and lemon juice. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Dorothy Lane Market recipe


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Mary’s Memo – June 22nd


Salute your sweet tooth with impressive cakes (cupcakes, too) and irresistible ice cream desserts in Cake and Ice Cream. Recipes for Good Times (Chronicle Books, 2015, $14.95/hardback). Cookbook includes people-pleasing recipes as well as tantalizing photographs of each one. Our featured recipe is Strawberry Ice Cream.


• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
• 3 egg yolks
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Prepare a large bowl or pan of ice water, to be used as an ice bath. In top of double boiler or in heat-proof bowl, heat the cream and half-and-half over simmering water until steaming. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until blended, then whisk in ½ cup of the sugar. Whisk in some of the hot cream and then pour the yolk mixture back into the top of the double boiler. Stir and cook over the simmering water until mixture forms a custard and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Immediately set the custard-filled pan in the ice bath and stir the custard occasionally until it cools to room temperature. While the custard cools, mash the strawberries with a potato masher, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon juice, and let stand until sugar dissolves. Stir into custard and transfer to a container. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Freeze the chilled custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours before serving. Recipe mzkes about 1 quart.
Source: Cake and Ice Cream, Recipes for Good Times (Chronical Books, 2015, $14.95/hardback.

QUESTION: I see recipes today that call for ramps. What are they?

ANSWER: According to the 4th Edition of the Food Lover’s Companion, a ramp is a wild onion that grows from Canada to the Carolinas and resembles a scallion with broad leaves. Ramps have an assertive garlicky-onion flavor. It is usually found in specialty produce markets from March to July. Choose those that are firm with bright-colored greenery. Although the flavor of a ramp is slightly stronger than a leek, scallion or onion, it can be used raw or cooked in many dishes as a substitute for any of the three.

QUESTION: What’s the difference between a cantaloupe and a muskmelon?

ANSWER: First, cantaloupe is named for a castle in Italy and a true cantaloupe is not exported. American “cantaloupes” are actually muskmelon. When perfectly ripe. they have a raised netting on a smooth grayish-beige skin. Store unripe muskmelon at room temperature, ripe ones in the refrigerator. Muskmelon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.


Blueberries lower blood pressure, suggest a recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which included 40 postmenopausal women with prehypertension or mild hypertension. The researchers attributed the benefits to polyphenols in blueberries, which may improve blood vessel functioning by boosting nitric oxide production.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, June 2015.


I wanted something red white and blue to serve at the Chief Memorial Day weekend and this recipe got an A+ for taste and eye appeal.


• 1 cup plain low fat Stonyfield organic yogurt
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 banana, sliced
• 1 apple, cored and chopped
• 1 cup fresh blueberries
• 1 cup strawberries, quartered

Whisk together yogurt and honey in bottom of a large bowl. Stir in fruit and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days (yogurt will keep the fruit fresh for 3 days).
Source: Recipe adapted from The Lemon Bowl at


There is a huge selection so how to pick? “Your best bet is to choose yogurt in its most simple form,” advises Alicia Romano , a clinical dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts MedicalCenter. “Start with plain yogurt and then control what you add.” While fat content has traditionally been the focus of yogurt labeling and advertising, Romano says what consumers should really be paying attention to is added sugar. Yogurt naturally contains 6 and 12 grams of sugar in a six-ounce serving (the size of most yogurt containers these days). So anything too far above that is something to be cautious about. Some yogurts have up to 33 grams of sugar. That’s just crazy, Romano says.

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Mary’s Memo – June 15th


Don’t look now but the new darling of the dessert plate is red velvet. It’s popped up in corner bistros, cafes, Starbucks and bakeries across the nation from Sprinkles in Los Angeles to Magnolia in New York. All report that Red velvet is their most popular flavor. Now home cooks can bring this trendy dessert into their own kitchen with Deborah Harroun’s The Red Velvet Cookbook (October 2014, the Harvard Common Press). The first cookbook on the subject, Harroun shares 50 easy-to-follow recipes for everything from red velvet cupcakes to Red Velvet Truffles to name a few.

Deborah Harroun is the cook, writer and photographer behind the popular blog Taste and Tell. Her writing has been featured in Every Day with Rachel Ray and on line at the Kitchen, Huffington Post and Babble. She appears frequently as a sweets and dessert expert on local television in Salt Lake City, where she lives with her husband and three children.

Red Velvet Truffles make the perfect gift or for you to indulge.


• 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
• 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon red liquid food coloring
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine the white chocolate and semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 50 percent power in 30-secnd increments, stirring after each increment, until melted. Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in food coloring. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 4 hours. Roll the truffle mixture into 24 balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until solid, at least 1 hour. Put the cocoa powder in a shallow dish. Roll each ball in the cocoa to coat completely, shaking off any access. Store the truffles in the refrigerator.
Source: Red Velvet Lover’s Cookbook by Deborah Harroun (Harvard Common Press, October 2014, 17.95/hardcover.)


If you grew up thinking of nuts as a not-very-good for you indulgence, there’s a growing pile of evidence that should change your mind about healthy foods. “For a long time, consumers thought that coffee raises blood pressure, eggs cause heart disease, chocolate is an unhealthy treat and nuts make you fat,” says Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory. “However, such conclusions were often based on very little science and several mistaken assumptions. The latest news in nuts’ rehabilitation comes from two studies spotlighting the heart-health benefits of almonds and peanuts, including the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study, which linked nut consumption to a lower risk of mortality, especially from cancer and heart disease. Most such studies, however, have focused primarily on whites from upper socioeconomic levels. One new study, led by Vanderbilt University researchers and involving more than 200,000 people in the American South and in Shanghai, helps broaden the evidence for nuts predominately from lower socioeconomic groups. Many had serious risk factors for premature death such as smoking. “The results from this study are consistent with a fairly large body of evidence but are of some novelty because of the cohorts examined, “Blumberg notes.

Researchers followed US participants for an average of 5.4 years and two Shanghai groups for 6.5 and 12.2 years, during which a total of 14,440 deaths were identified. Questionnaires were used to measure nut consumption among US participants (50% of whose nut intake consisted of peanuts) and peanut consumption among those in Shanghai. (Although peanuts are actually a legume and not a tree nut. Their nutritional profile and health effects closely resemble tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews.) After controlling for more than two dozen variables, researchers calculated that those in the highest one-fifth of nut consumption had a 21% lower mortality risk in the US study than those who ate the least. Among Shanghai participants, those eating the most peanuts were at 17% lower risk.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2015.


One item you’ll always find in my refrigerator is a fresh lemon or two. I also keep Minute Maid Frozen Lemon Juice on hand. So it should come as no surprise that I like Food Network Ina Garten’s recipe for Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette


• 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whisk above ingredients together until well blended.

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Mary’s Memo – June 8th


Icebox Cakes, Recipes for the Coolest Cakes in Town by Jean Sagendorph and Jesse Sheehan (Chronicle Books, May 2015, $18.95/hardback) in its most basic form features crisp cookies or wafers sandwiched between layers of billowy whipped cream or pudding then chilled in the refrigerator overnight. Icebox Cakes includes fantastic flavor combinations such as Old School pairing chocolate wafers with whipped cream, Luscious Lemon with its lemon curd filling and layers of ladyfingers and Salty Milk Dud with its graham crackers and salty caramel pudding topped with billowy mounds of chocolate whipped cream.

A literary agent and author, Jean Sagendorph has worked at the Food Network and Iron Chef America, among others. She is icebox cake obsessive. Jessie Sheehan is an avid baker and recipe developer with a sweet spot for whipped cream and pudding. Tara Donne, responsible for the beautiful how to photos, is a Brooklyn-based food, travel and portrait photographer.


Every day more than half of Americans between the ages of 6 and 64 usually drink soda in amounts that could increase their risk of cancer. That’s according to an analysis of national soda consumption by Consumer Reports and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Why? Colas and other brown soft drinks are often made with caramel color, and some contain 4-mehtylimidazole (4-Mel), a potential carcinogen. Carbonated drinks with caramel color contribute about 25 percent of the 4-Mel in the diets of people older than age 2, more than any other source. The additive is found in a variety of other foods, too, including baked goods, dark sauces (barbecue and soy, for example), pancake syrup and soups. We don’t know what type of caramel color is in those foods or how much 4-Mel, but it’s clear that many people are already getting an amount from soda that is significant enough to cause concern.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, June 2015.


Some people tout alternatives to common white sugar, including agave nectar and honey, as healthier options, but you need to look past the hype at the facts. “Sweeteners such as honey and agave have a ‘health halo’ around them that can make people think they are healthier choices. These sweeteners still should be used in limited amounts. They both are higher in calories than an equal amount of table sugar, although they are also sweeter, so it is possible to use less of them to achieve the same sweetness,” says Rachel Lustgarten, RD, a dietician at Weill Cornell’s Center for Weight Management. She adds, “Both honey and agave contain less glucose and more fructose than table sugar; at one time it was thought that these sweeteners were smarter choices for diabetics. However, we know now that consuming large amounts of fructose can promote fat storage and insulin resistance. The bottom line is to use all sweeteners in moderation.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, June 2015.


Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay may not know best, at least when it comes to your waistline If you try to emulate your favorite celebrity chefs, according to findings in the journal Appettite, those cooking shows may be making you fat. Cornell University researchers reported that women who get their recipes from TV programs and cooked fron scratch weighed 11 pounds more than those who watched but didn’t follow up in the kitchen.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2015.


Recently a Bryan Chief shopper asked me if I used salad dressing or mayonnaise or both. My answer is that Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise is my dressing of choice for everything requiring salad dressing or mayonnaise. When it comes to cottage cheese, my favorite brand is Daisy, Ditto for Daisy Sour Cream. No matter what kind is on sale, I prefer Daisy. Regarding buying organic or inorganic, I buy what is cheaper.


Right now I’m consuming a lot of asparagus from my garden. One of my favorite recipes is Asparagus Cheese Pie mainly because it tastes delicious even when reheated and it takes quite a bit to make it.


• 3 cups fresh asparagus cut into small pieces
• 2 cups (8-ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
• 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 9-inch unbaked pie crust

In mixing bowl, combine asparagus, cheese, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pie crust.. Bake in preheated 3500F oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm. Recipe makes 6 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – June 6th


As informed consumers, we avoid processed foods to eat as healthfully as possible, so why feed Fido generic, mass-produced pet food? When Henrietta Morrison’s border terrier, Lily, developed chronic health problems, Morrison began cooking real food for Lily at the suggestion of her vet. Meals made from fresh ingredients like chicken, rice and vegetable had an immediate effect on Lily’s health and behavior. Her earache and skin problems disappeared and she had more energy every day. Inspired by Lily’s progress, Morrison wrote Dinner for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for a Happy Healthy Dog (The Experiment Publishing Co., January 2015, $12.95/softback). Morrison’s recipes were developed with the help of veterinarians, nutritionists and chefs. Fresh, healthy dog food doesn’t mean breaking the bank, either. Recipes use common pantry staples. In addition there are options for puppies, old hounds and gluten-intolerant dogs and remedies for upset tummies plus nutritional information and calorie count for each recipe. Fruits that are good for dogs include apples, bananas, blueberries, melon, papaya, oranges, raspberries and strawberries I can vouch for this because my Abby loves most of these fruits although she hasn’t had papaya or blueberries. As for vegetables, broccoli, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, lentils, peas, parsnips and spinach are acceptable. Do not feed your dog alcohol, artificial sweeteners, avocado, chocolate, coffee, grapes, raisins or chives, onions and shallots..
Source: Dinner for Dogs by Henrietta Morrison.


Unlike most outdoor grillers, I never cook meat over an open flame but light one side of the grill while cooking the meat by remote control on the opposite side. It does take longer but it is healthier to do it this way. A flame hitting the meat directly can be carcinogenic. When cooking bratwurst, I cook an entire package then store the cooked brats in the freezer and reheat as needed. As for doing vegetables on the grill, I either do them in a container made for that purpose or wrapped in foil packets that are cooked above the flame.


• 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
• 2 cups broccoli florets
• 1 potato, cut into 1/4 inch slices
• 3 tablespoons butter, divided
• Seasoning salt
• 4 teaspoons water, divided

Preheat grill over medium high heat. Rip 3 large sheets of heavy duty foil. Place zucchini in the center of one sheet, broccoli in the center of another, and a layer of potato slices in the center of the last sheet. Dot the top of vegetables in each packet with 1 tablespoon butter, then with seasoning salt to taste. Drizzle 1 teaspoon water each over the zucchini and broccoli packets and 2 teaspoons water over the potato packet. Bring the long edges of the foil packets together, then roll tightly until they nearly touch the vegetables. Roll both ends in towards the center tightly. Grill zucchini and broccoli packets for 8 minutes, rotating 1800 halfway through cooking. Grill potato packet for 15 minutes, rotating 1800 halfway through cooking. Remove to platter and carefully open packets to allow steam to escape before fully opening.
Source: American Butter Institute


Data from the Department of Agriculture show that "you are what you eat" and that is especially true of the brain. “Diet has a tremendous influence in terms of improving brain health; a healthy diet can boost memory and thinking skills and help prevent cognitive decline, “says Richard Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer ‘s Clinic at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. If you want to keep your brain cells healthy, add more berries, nuts, cruciferous vegetables, cocoa powder and spinach to your diet.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, June 2015.


Recently daughter Mary Beth shared her version of a Campbell Soup recipe called Hearty Chicken and Noodle Casserole. She added 1/2 cup light sour cream as well as Mrs. Dash to taste.


• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
• 1/2 cup reduced fat (2%) milk
• 1/2 cup light sour cream
• 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables carrots, green beans, corn, and peas
• 2 cups cubed cooked chicken (can be rotisserie chicken)
• 1 1/2 cups dry medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• Mrs. Dash to taste
• 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Stir the soup, milk, sour cream, vegetables, chicken, noodles, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and Mrs. Dash in 1 1/2-quart oblong casserole dish. Bake in preheated 4000F for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Campbell Soup recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – May 25th


Not everyone is a good conversationalist, but there are times when being one has its advantages. In Conversation Sparks (Chronicle Books, April 2015, $12/95/softback) Ryan Chapman’s indirect-approach-book with more than 350 engaging ice breakers comes to the rescue. What does this have to do with cooking? Some of the trivia is about food. For example, did you know that ketchup was invented by Chinese sailors, and when British travelers first encountered it in Fuji in the early 1500s, the sauce was mostly salted and fermented anchovies. There are many more food facts that were new to me as well as non-food trivia that’s fun to read and guaranteed to generate conversation!


It isn’t a day we add “happy’ to because it is an occasion when we remember the service people who gave their lives or risked them so we can be free. My father served in the Chemical Warfare Service in World War I. My uncles and spouse served in World War II and our youngest son, Chris, was a Physician Assistant in the Air Force. So join me in praying for all military people, living and deceased, because this is the day we honor them.


Potassium, found in many fruits and vegetables, can help reduce the risk of brittle bones and fractures by slowing the loss of calcium from bone, according to a review of 14 studies by researchers at England’s University of Surrey. Most Americans get just half of the recommended 4,700 milligrams of dietary potassium per day. Boost your intake of high-potassium produce, such as baked potatoes with the skin on (800 milligrams in a medium potato), broccoli (460 milligrams per cup) and bananas (450 milligrams in a medium one).
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, May 2015


Data from the Department of Agriculture show that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, good fats that may help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, are comparable in fresh and canned fish. In fact, a USDA study found higher levels of two omega-3s in canned pink and red salmon than fresh. Canned salmon has other merits: A 3.5-ounce serving delivers almost as much calcium as a glass of skim milk if you eat the soft little bones. Canned sardines are another good option. A 3.5-ounce serving contains as much omega-3 as pink salmon. Canned tuna has some omega-3s, but it can also contain mercury. Consumer Reports on Health’s recommendation: Pregnant women should avoid all tuna (canned and fresh), and children and women of child-bearing age should strictly limit their intake.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, May 2015.


For obvious reasons, anyone who works with food should keep their nails short. Also, a tasting spoon is a necessity (this means that a sample of food is taken from the pot and transferred to another spoon from which you actually taste). I even follow the tasting spoon routine at home and hopefully restaurants that I frequent do the same! Be sure you have one towel for dishes and one for hands, not one for both. Always launder towels in hot water. Discuss with your plumber if your water heater temperature is set high enough to kill bacteria. Many of you ask me if it is alright to use foods beyond their expiration date. Usually it is but if you have doubts about it, any reputable food company has a toll free number to call and I encourage you to use it.


Asparagus is very rich in B vitamin folate as well as vitamin C. It contains an abundant supply of inulin, a carbohydrate that feeds healthy and much needed bacteria in our digestive tract. Asparagus has been considered since ancient times to be a detoxifier for the entire water system of the body (kidneys, bladder and urinary tract) and a diuretic.
Source: Jen Hoy, Whole Foods Cooking Expert. Do not overcook asparagus whether you grill or steam it. This recipe adapted from is a simple, delicious way to prepare it. Note: An inexpensive steamer insert for your saucepan is available in the produce department.


• 1 1/2-pounds asparagus, tough ends removed
• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 6 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese
• Freshly ground pepper to taste

Steam asparagus until tender but still crisp (about 6 to 8 minutes depending on thickness). Place on large platter; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan and pepper. Recipe makes 4 servings. Source: Adapted from recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – May 18th


Chronicle Books has a new cookbook series, Recipes for Good Times, showcasing a bite-size collection of recipes culled from their most popular cookbooks. For me, the outdoor grilling seasons starts Memorial Day weekend. Grill Eats & Drinks includes 20 special recipes that will inspire food lovers to take the party outside from alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, quick appetizers and simple salads to great-for-the-grill main dishes. With color photographs of each recipe, you’ll be tempted to try them all! Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter is an appropriate “side.” Chipotle Butter can be made a week ahead and refrigerated.



• 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
• 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, seeds removed & finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the butter, chipotles, garlic, salt and pepper until just combined. Transfer the mixture to a 12-inch piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to roll butter into a log roughly the size of a stick of butter. Place butter in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

• 6 ears corn, husked

Prepare enough coal for a medium-hot charcoal fire, or preheat your gas grill on medium high for 10 minutes with the lid closed. Grill corn for 10 to 12 minutes, turning frequently as bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Serve immediately with chipotle butter on the side. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Chronicle Books, 2015, 14.95/hardback.


Q: When a recipe calls for zest of an orange, lemon or lime, what is it?
A: Zest is limited to outer edge of citrus fruit, no white membrane included.

Q: Can I replace whole milk with skim or regular sour cream with reduced-fat or fat-free in a recipe?
A: Yes, unless it’s to make something where the fat in the milk is necessary for best baking results. Reduced-fat products work well in such things as quiches, frittatas and brunch dishes.

Q: Why include extra gluten in bread when it already has gluten?
A: According to Dinah Dalder, MS, RD, CNSC, CD, Dietetics Program Manager, Purdue University Department of Nutrition Science, her inclination is that additional gluten is added to hold the bread together and give it more structure.

Q: What snack is a good alternative to chips?
A: Like many of you, I have a weakness for potato chips but according to Consumer Reports On Health, a better choice is Calbee Snapea Crisps Original Lightly Salted at 110 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 66 mg sodium, 5 g protein and 4 g fiber. Look for them in the produce department.


This mineral is needed for the enzymes that regulate cell division, wound healing, immunity and other essential functions. Zinc is plentiful in foods, especially meats and seafood, but strict vegetarian diets may not contain much of it. Zinc supplements are promoted to treat colds, improve prostate health and alleviate age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

If you are Vegan or are for any reason not consuming adequate zinc, consider taking a basic multi containing zinc (not a separate high-dose zinc supplement). If you want to try zinc lozenges when you have a cold, start as soon as you have symptoms. There’s no evidence that zinc or any supplement can prevent AMD or cataracts or otherwise protect healthy eyes.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, 2015 Special Spring/Summer Issue.


Original recipe said to toast pecans in the oven but I find that stirring frequently in a skillet is much faster and nuts are less likely to burn. Bryan Chief tasters were impressed with this salad/side dish.


• 3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
• 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
• 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

In medium size skillet spread pecans in a single layer. Over medium heat, stir frequently until nuts are aromatic. Cool and roughly chop. While nuts are cooling, bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding 1 tablespoon salt. When water boils, add prepared green beans and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. In large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper plus maple syrup. Add green beans and pecans and toss to combine. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from Real Simple recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – May 11th


Who says you can’t eat fabulously well on a budget? In her newest book, Good Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners for $10 or Less by Jessica Fisher (Harvard Common Press, September 2014, $16.95/softcover) Fisher shows readers how easy it is to eat well without breaking the bank. In over 200 recipes complete with full color photos she offers a delicious alternative to familiar weeknight take-out with nourishing, from scratch meals that save time and money. As the creator of two very popular blogs, Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats, as well as the mother of six, Jessica Fisher is both a seasoned cook and someone who lives by her hard-won wisdom for budget-friendly cooking. Continuing our “eat more carrots” theme, here is Fisher’s recipe for Buttery Dill Carrots. Although her mom probably added sugar or honey to the carrots, Fisher prefers to let sweet carrots “speak for themselves.”


• 6 medium carrots, peeled & sliced thick on the bias
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
• Kosher salt and ground fresh pepper
• Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place the carrots in a steamer basket in a medium-size stock pot with 1-inch water. Bring water to a boil, cover, and steam the carrots until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain carrots and transfer them to a serving dish. Add the butter and dill and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Toss gently to coat. Recipe serves 4.
Source: Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher, Harvard Common Press. Cookbook is available from


Organic farro (pronounced FAHR-oh) is an ancient hulled grain with a chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor. It can be cooked and used in a variety of recipes such as soups and salads. Farro can also be ground into flour and used in place of wheat flour to make bread, pasta and other baked goods. A member of the wheat family, it is not gluten free. Used in Italy for centuries, farro recently became popular when French restaurants started serving it in hearty vegetable soup. Farro is a common ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes. It can replace rice in pilaf or risotto recipes.
Source: Olive Nation, Your Secret Ingredient.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be updated later this year and cholesterol, one of the most closely monitored ingredients in food due to its links to heart disease, will no longer be listed as a “nutrient of concern.” Apart from this, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report (the basis for the Dietary Guidelines), published February 19, 2015, encourages a dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes and nuts; moderate in low and non-fat dairy products and alcohol; and low in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2015.


Another risk posed by “belly fat”: It may weaken bones and muscle, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Most studies have linked obesity to better musculoskeletal health because of the greater mechanical demands put on bones and muscle simply from having to maneuver a larger body. But when researchers at the University of Michigan examined CT scans of torsos of 8,800 people ages 18 to 65, they found that greater visceral fat deposits (fat deposited around organs in the abdomen) were associated with worse bone density and poorer muscle, regardless of age, sex and body mass index. Visceral fat may infiltrate muscles and bones and thus weaken them, researchers suggested.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, May 2015.


Among the cookbooks I really treasure are ones published by the food editors of Farm Journal magazine eons ago. Their America’s Best Vegetable Recipes is still a favorite. I mention this because it includes a recipe for Whipped Turnips that according to taste-testers was the best turnip recipe they ever tasted! Daughter Mary Ann and I agree! It makes a lot so feel free to halve it.


• 4 cups mashed cooked turnips
• 2 cups soft bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup melted butter
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 4 eggs, slightly beaten

Combine turnips with bread crumbs. (To prepare soft bread crumbs, remove crust from fresh bread; cut or tear into tiny cubes.) Blend in remaining ingredients. Place in greased 2-quart casserole. Bake in moderate 3500F. oven 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until set. Makes 8 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – May 4th


I know how the author of this week’s book feels because Trisha Yearwood, Country Music superstar as well as Food Network contributor, has a brand new cookbook in collaboration with her sister, Beth Yearwood Bernard (Clarkson Potter Publishers; $29.99/hardback) called Trisha’s Table, with introduction by spouse Garth Brooks. My copy was purchased at Costco for $17.99 and it’s also available from for a reduced price plus shipping.

I did make her Kale Soup and although it has a good flavor, when making again I would not wilt the kale in a covered pot for 7 to 10 minutes because it wilts in far less time and not covered! Mine was way overcooked and no longer bright green. Also, recipe said to uncover, add ½ cup Parmesan cheese and heat through for about 5 more minutes. Even at simmering temperature what I added clumped together. Instead, I plan to sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. That said, if you like southern recipes as much as I do, it’s still is a cookbook worth buying. Whether surprisingly virtuous or just a little bit sinful, recipes in Trish’s Table include dairy-free Angel Hair Pasta with Avocado Pesto, low-calorie Billie’s Houdini Chicken Salad, vegetarian Smashed Sweet Pea Burgers and too-good-to-give-up Slow Cooker Georgia Pulled Pork Barbecue and Snappy Pear Crumble to name a few. Her goal is to share food that tastes good and is good for you!


Someone asked me recently why I still like to cook. In addition to doing the memo for Chief, I still prefer my food to what is available in a restaurant. That’s not to say I don’t like restaurants because over the years I’ve eaten in some of our nation’s finest ones, but I can eat healthier and much cheaper at home. Ditto for fast-food restaurants! Keep this in mind next time you’re thinking of taking the family to one. Even with newspaper coupons, it’s hard not to spend less than $5.00 per person!

Don’t get me wrong: Eating out with children is a social experience and I’m for that! A treat for our children when they were young was eating at Brownie’s Drive-In in Bryan, the first one in the area. Children need to learn how to behave in a restaurant (some don’t) and make food choices from a menu. And yes, I enjoyed the break as much as the rest of the family!

Some things that “turn me off” in a restaurant are unclean restrooms, table tops and seats being wiped off with the same cloth, dirty windows and waiters or waitresses without hairnets, soiled aprons and dirty nails. Does this seem persnickety on my part? You bet! PS: At mealtime, look for restaurants with an almost full parking lot.


Following a diet called the Mediterranean-DASH (MIND) diet is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The MIND diet consists of 15 food groups of which 10 are “brain-healthy” and five of which are “unhealthy.” The 10 brain-healthy groups include green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. The unhealthy food groups are red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. Researchers found that study participants whose food intake closely matched the MIND diet, the Mediterranean-style diet, or the DASH diet were at 39 to 54 percent lower risk of AD. However, they found that moderate adherence to the MIND diet was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of developing AD. The study findings were published on line February 15, 2015 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2015.

Bryan Chief customers were impressed with Mediterranean Green Beans, an excellent side dish now and when your garden ones are available. For maximum eye appeal, do not overcook the green beans.



• 1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
• 1 large shallot, sliced
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Stir together olives, shallot, red wine vinegar, mustard and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Whisk in olive oil to form a thick emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste.

• 1 pound fresh green beans, ends snipped

In a Dutch oven or similar size pot, bring enough water to a boil to cook green beans. When water is boiling, add prepared green beans Cook, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes or until bright and crisp-tender. Plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking process; drain and pat dry. Toss together beans and dressing mixture. Serve at room temperature or cover and chill up to 2 hours.
Source: Adapted from June 2014 Southern Living magazine recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – April 27th


I know how the author of this week’s book feels because I’ve been told it’s the reason I wasn’t invited to dinner, even though I’m not or ever have been a professional chef like Bryan Voltaggio, author of Esquire’s Eat Like a Man Guide to Feeding A Crowd (Chronicle Books, Spring 2015, $30.00/hardback). Like Voltaggio, I don’t care if it’s a hot dog or filet mignon, I’ll relish it!

Regarding his book, the author says that having people at your home, eating from great tubs of pasta or hacking a few inches off a foot-long sandwich or slicing steaks you’ve brought in from the grill is every man’s dream. Eat Like a Man Guide to Feeding a Crowd includes 80 recipes, many from world-class chefs, plus party-throwing techniques, time-savers and a few cocktails. Dinner party in two weeks? You’re covered. Spontaneous game watching in two hours? Hungry houseguests on a Saturday morning? No problem. In the author’s own words: “This is a one-of-a-kind indispensable book!”

Bryan Voltaggio is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and co-owner and executive chef of 5 restaurants. He lives in Maryland with his wife and 3 children.

Adapted by the Esquire Kitchen, we’re sharing the late Lee Bailey’s Corn Fritter recipe. Almost every cuisine has a fried-batter breakfast food and in the American South they’re called fritters. Originally concocted by Afro-Caribbean slaves using American ingredients, I personally love corn fritters and made them for many Sunday and holiday breakfasts when we were a family of six.


• Peanut oil for frying
• 1 cup white corn meal
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 cup creamed corn
• 4 to 6 tablespoons milk
• Warm maple syrup for serving

Preheat the oven to 2000F. Pour oil into a heavy saucepan to a depth of at least 3 inches but no more than halfway up the sides. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 3650 to 3750F. A long-stemmed deep-frying thermometer is ideal here. If you don’t have one , just heat until oil shimmers and a drop of batter browns on contact. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt. In small bowl, stir together the egg and creamed corn, then mix into the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, until batter is workable but quite thick. Batter should be thick enough to use a second spoon to urge it off the first and your fritters small enough to cook all the way through without burning the exterior. Working in small batches, drop batter by spoonful into hot oil and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to paper towels to drain. Keep warm in the oven while you make the rest of the fritters, adjusting the heat under the oil as needed, to maintain a fairly consistent temperature. Transfer the fritters to warmed serving plates and serve with maple syrup. Recipe makes about 24 fritters, enough for 6 servings.


Health-wise, Mediterranean style is the go-to way of eating today and this week’s Mediterranean Green Beans, served at room temperature or cold, is nice to have in the refrigerator as a side dish or salad. It’s another “thumbs up” recipe from Bryan Chief tasters.


• 1/3 cup chopped pitted olives
• 1 large shallot, sliced
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 pound fresh green beans, snipped

Stir together olives, shallot, red wine vinegar, whole grain Dijon mustard and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bring a pot of salted water to boiling and drop beans into water and cook until crisp-tender. Plunge quickly into ice water to stop cooking process; drain well and pat dry. Toss together beans and olive mixture. Chill up to 2 hours before serving.
Source: Sothern Living Magazine, June 2014.


Engaging in enough daily physical activity to burn 100 calories can be the difference between a high risk sedentary lifestyle and being moderately inactive. Of course, you’ll want to aim for a greater level of activity over time, but just getting going can pay big dividends. Here are examples of activities that burn about 100 hundred calories, depending on your weight, in about 20 minutes: Walking briskly, gardening, lawn mowing with a power mower, playing tennis doubles, raking leaves, roller skating, shooting baskets and washing and waxing a large car.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2015

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