Mary’s Memo – January 2nd



• 5½ cup Swanson Chicken Stock
• 1¾ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (5 to 6 medium)
• 2 cups chopped carrots (2 to 3 large ones
• 1 cup chopped dill pickles (small dice …. about 3large whole dills)
• ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy brand sour cream
• 1/3 cup water
• 2 cups dill pickle juice
• 1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In large pot, combine stock, potatoes, carrots and butter. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Add pickles and continue to boil. In medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. Vigorously whisk sour cream mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, into soup. This will also break up some of the potatoes which is fine. You will see some initial little balls form, but between whisking and boiling al will disappear. Don’t panic! Add pickle juice, Old Bay, salt (*see below), pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 minutes more and remove from heat.Serve immediately.

*All pickle juice is not created equal so taste before you add salt. You may not need any.

Source: Recipe adapted from

Quick egg drop soup was another 2016 favorite. If you’re looking for a light, easy-to-digest soup, this is for you.


• 3 cups Swanson’s Chicken Stock
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
• 1 medium scallion (green onion)
• 2 large eggs, slightly beaten

Heat chicken stock, salt and white pepper to boiling. Stir scallion into eggs. Pour egg mixture slowly into stock, stirring constantly with fork or whisk to form shreds of egg. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from my daily recipe.


• 1 sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
• 1 5-pound Miller whole chicken
• 1 20-ounce jar Pace medium salsa
• ½ cup butter (1 stick)

It’s no secret that I use my 5-quart slow cooker to make a variety of dishes. It includes this 3-ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken and Salsa. Note: Onions are added for flavor but too fatty to eat.
For easy clean-up, line cooker with Our Family Slow Cooker bag. Spread onion rings in bottom of the cooker. Place chicken on top of onion layer breast side down. Pour salsa over the chicken. Cook on high until no longer pink at the bone and juices run clear, about 4½ hours. An instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thickest part of the thigh near bone should read 165ºF. Remove chicken from slow cooker, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before cutting.

Source: Used with permission of, the world’s favorite recipe web site.


• 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks canned in juice, drained and juice reserved
• ¼ cup water
• 2 cups Minute Instant-Whole Grain Brown Rice
• 2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1½ chunks (about 2 cups)
• 3 cups fresh sugar snap peas
• ¾ cup La Choy Teriyaki Baste and Glaze Sauce
• 1 pound chicken tenders (you need 12 tenders so that each packet has 3 tenders).

Heat a gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 18x2-inch sheets of heavy duty foil. Spray each with cooking spray. Pour reserved pineapple and water ln 4-cup measuring cup. Add brown rice; stir and let stand about 10 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss pineapple, bell pepper chunks, sugar snap peas and ½ cup teriyaki sauce until well blended. Place 3 chicken tenders on each foil sheet. Divide rice mixture and remaining liquid evenly over chicken and vegetables; stir gently. Spoon 1 tablespoon glaze; stir gently. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, and expansion. Fold other sides to seal. Place packs over medium heat. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and vegetables are crisp-cooked. Remove packets from grill. Carefully fold back foil; open one end and spoon onto serving plates. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Pillsbury recipe.

Finally, our last best recipe of 2016 has to be Katharine Hepburn’s Brownie recipe, found among her belongings after she died.


• ½ cup butter (1 stick)
• 2 1-ounce squares unsweetened baking chocolate
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt together butter and chocolate and take saucepan off the heat. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla and bet mixture well. Stir in flour, and walnuts. Spoon into greased and floured baking pan. Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cut into squares and eat out of pan or arrange on serving dish. Yummy and moist.
Adapted from Bon Appetite recipe.

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – December 26th

The 12 days of Christmas are here in my world, ending with the Feast of Epiphany on January 8, 2017. Many of you will be celebrating on the 31st so were featuring appetizers for you to make. We’re also including non-alcoholic beverages, especially for designated drivers because we want it to be a safe holiday.


My all-time favorite vegetable dip was given to me by Mrs. Dale Rupp of Bryan.


• 1 cup light mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons finely mince scallions
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light La Choy soy sauce (gluten free)

Whisk ingredients together. Store in the refrigerator. Dip keeps for several days. Serve with relishes.


• 114-ounce can artichokes, drained well and chopped
• 1 cup light mayonnaise
• 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine in a small, oven-proof baking dish. Bake in 350ºF oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly.


• 3 pounds chicken wings
• ½ cup honey
• ¼ cup La Choy light soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon McCormick California garlic powder

Cut through each chicken wing at 2 joints. Discard tip (or freeze to make chicken broth later). Arrange other sections in 8x12-inch glass baking dish. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in 2-cup glass measuring container. Microwave on high, uncovered, 2 to 2½ minutes or until mixture boils, stirring once. Spoon over chicken wings. Cover with waxed paper. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. Rearrange and turn chicken pieces. Recover with waxed paper and microwave on high an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken is tender and glazed.


• 1 5-ounce can boned chicken
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
• 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon minced onion
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon reduced-sodium La Choy soy sauce
Mix ingredients together until well blended. Chill. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve with crackers. Note: Chicken can be replaced with same amount of canned tuna, if you prefer.


This punch was new to me when I moved to Bryan and so I refer to it as Bryan punch. A word of caution, be sure to make it with Canada Dry Ginger Ale, not Vernor's because it will not taste the same.


• 2 parts white grape juice, chilled
• 1 part Canada Dry ginger ale, chilled

Pour white grape juice into punch bowl. Slowly add ginger ale. Add ice ring made of white grape juice.


• 1 cup water
• 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons red hots
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 46-ounce cans unsweetened pineapple juice
• 8 cups ginger ale, chilled
• 1 quart vanilla ice cream


Resolutions are apparently made to be broken because I resolve each year to waste as little food as possible by not buying foods that are on sale unless I know that they’ll be used within a few days. It isn’t a bargain if it spoils, not to mention the food value it loses in storage.


A few suggestions from Consumer Reports on Health are to turn down the thermostat a few degrees because cooler air is less likely to aggravate your itch. Bathe briefly and use tepid water because the hotter the water, the more skin oils you strip away. Moisturize after bathing, while you’re slightly damp, using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lotion for sensitive skin and stick to fragrance-free soaps.


• 3 pounds chicken wings
• ½ cup honey
• ¼ cup La Choy light soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon McCormick California garlic powder

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – December 19th


Hopefully, your meal plans and grocery shopping is done. These past few weeks we’ve shared tips for making it less stressful. Years ago I was so tired by Christmas Eve that I could hardly stay awake at Midnight Mass. It was then that I realized that I needed to think more about the “reason for the season.” Make a list of daily “to do’s” and stick to it! Whether your family has a brunch, a buffet-type meal, planning early is the key. Mother had baked ham and macaroni and cheese on Christmas Eve. The Thaman’s has soup. As for Christmas day or any major holiday the Smith’s had roast turkey so it wasn’t a once-a-year meat. These are my Christmas memories. It is up to you to create memories for your family.

Soups we’ve made for Christmas Eve include Gumbo, Bay Scallop Chowder and Choucroute. All have been on Mary’s Memo but the Choucroute may be the least familiar. It’s from cookbook I bought in 2001 called Soup Makes the Meal by Ken Haedrich. The author adapted it from a soup he was served at Sandrine’s Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Choucroute, pronounced shoo-KROOT, is French word meaning sauerkraut.


• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
• 1 clove garlic, bruised
• 5 cups chicken stock
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
• 1 large all-purpose potato, peeled and grated
• 1 pound sauerkraut
• 1 bay leaf
• ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt, to your taste
• ¾ pound kielbasa or other fully cooked smoked sausage
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, to your taste
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a good-size heavy enameled soup pot over moderately low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in stock, wine, carrot and potato, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Drain the sauerkraut and squeeze it between your palms to express nearly all of the liquid. Add to the soup with the bay left and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer gently for another 15 minutes. Slice the sausage into ½-inch rounds and cut the rounds in half. Add the sausage to the soup, then stir in the tomato paste and 1teaspoon of the sugar. Cover and simmer gently 15 minutes more, seasoning with pepper and adding more salt and sugar if necessary before serving. Note: If you’d rather, you can skip the wine. Just add stock in its place.
Makes 6 servings.

Haedrich serves the soup with Stollen Soda Bread. Although the dough is sticky, he advises cooks to keep your kneading surface well covered with flour.


• ¾ cup raisins
• ¾ cup pitted chopped dates
• ¾ cup diced figs or apricots
• Orange juice
• Cornmeal for dusting
• 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• ½ cup sugar plus a little to sprinkle on loaves
• 1½ teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
• 3 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
• 1 large egg
• 1½ cups buttermilk
• Finely grated zest of 1 orange
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
• Milk, for brushing on loaves

Put the dried fruit in a medium-size bowl and add orange juice to just cover. Set aside to soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375ºF when fruit is done soaking. Lightly oil a large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices together into a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingers until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Set aside. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk and citrus zests. Drain the fruit; discard the orange juice (or drink it for that matter; there’s nothing wrong with it). Add the fruit to the dry ingredients and toss well, to coat. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, add the buttermilk mixture, and stir briskly with a wooden spoon, just until the dough pulls together in a shaggy mass. Let sit for 3 minutes.

Dust your hands and work surface with flour. Cut dough in half right in the bowl, then place on the floured surface. Knead very gently for 30 to 40 seconds. Either shape into a stubby football, or shape like a stolen; pat into a disk about 1inch thick, then fold half of it over the other half, but don’t cover the bottom half entirely; it should look almost like a pair of pouting lips, the bottom half stuck out further than the other. Before you make the fold, brush any flour off the surface, so it makes a good seal. Repeat for other half of the dough. Place on prepared baking sheet with some space between them. Lightly brush the loaves with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake loaves on the center rack for 30 minutes. Turn the sheet 180 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and bake another 20 minutes. When done, the loaves will be a very dark golden brown color and very crusty. Let cool on a wire rack; they should be lukewarm before slicing.

Download PDF


Mary’s Memo – December 12th


Enjoy your party with guests by ordering ahead relish, cheese and/or meat trays in the deli. They’ll even arrange food on your own serving plates.


Is it okay to eat food that had fallen on the floor? Many people abide by the “5-second rule,” which says that anything is fair game if you pick it up within that frame that time frame. Some allow 10, 20, even 30 seconds to pass before relegating the food to the trash bin. But others argue that no dropped food is safe. Who’s right?

The 5-second rule has actually been put to scientific testing. In the latest study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in September, researchers at Rutgers University dropped four foods (watermelon, plain bread, buttered bread and gummy candy) onto four surfaces (stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet) that were contaminated with bacteria. They let the foods stay in contact with the surface for four time periods …. Less than 1 second, 5 seconds and 300 seconds. Each scenario was tested 20times. Not surprisingly, watermelon, because it is so moist, became most contaminated at all time intervals, while the fewest bacteria transferred to the candy. Carpet had the lowest transfer rates.

The study’s conclusion: “Although we show that longer contact times result in more transfer, we also show that other factors including the nature of the food and the surface are of equal or greater importance. Some transfer takes place ‘instantaneously’ at times less than one second, disproving the 5-second rule.’

Bottom Line: Use common sense. Occasionally eating food that was briefly on the floor is 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 kitchen floor versus the floor near the cat litter box. On the other hand, since it’s hard to judge how clean a floor is, you shouldn’t make eating off of 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 kitchen counters can be even more contaminated than the floor.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, December, 2016.


Count it as one of your meals of the day, at least that’s what I do so additional calories are not added to the day’s total.


Folate, B12 and B6 (pyridoxine) are the nutrients that receive the most attention for improving brain health, due to their well-studied role in reducing homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid, that in high levels is linked to brain shrinkage, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease. However, the remaining B vitamins, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin (B6), not only produce energy, but also reduce homocysteine levels. Deficiency in B vitamins can lead to fatigue, weakness, mood changes, cognitive impairment and emotional disturbances. “It’s important to eat a balanced diet for brain health, in particular for adequate amounts of B vitamins,” says Abigale Arday, RD, CDN, CNSC, dietitian at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell. B vitamins are found in a variety of food groups. Animal products like salmon, tuna eggs, meat, chicken and dairy products contain the highest amounts of riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B5, B6 and B12. Beans and nuts provide significant amounts of biotin, niacin and B6. A wide variety of whole foods is key to meeting all of your B vitamin needs.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, December 2016.


Children love Scotcharoos and the cook appreciates the ease of preparation.


• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup white corn syrup
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 6 cups Rice Krispies
• 6-ounces chocolate chips
• 6-ounces butterscotch chips

Source: Adapted from recipe.

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir well. Add to Rice Krispies in a large bowl. Spread evenly in a buttered 4-inch by 9-inch pan. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together over low heat, stirring constantly until blended. Spread evenly over top of Scotcharoos. When cool, cut into 2 by 2-inch squares.


• Grasshopper Ice is a light, refreshing dessert to serve with a holiday meal.
• 1 pint (2 cups) lime sherbet, softened
• 2 cups thawed Cool Whip
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Cocoa
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Menthe
• Combine softened sherbet with thawed Cool Whip. Add liqueurs and freeze.

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – December 5th

If there is a busier time of the year, I’m not aware of what it would be. At my age, I’m not into buying, gift-wrapping and sending gifts to relatives and friends. Gift cards are my choice for most everyone. Consider a Chief gift card in whatever amount you choose, or select from cards to other major chains, also at Chief. My grandchildren love the concept because they can use it as they like.

If you are parents of young children, our rule was to buy them something to wear, something educational and something for fun.

To steer your children toward science, technology, engineering and math, order the Purdue Engineering Gift Guide. The toys, games and books included in the guide are vetted by researchers and tested extensively by children throughout the community. View the complete list at Gift Guide.


Americans eat about 3 pounds of mushrooms a year, on average, a number that has been rising gradually. While many people use them sparingly, almost as a garnish, mushrooms are increasingly taking center stage in dishes. Mushrooms are fungi, neither plant nor animal, but they are commonly regarded as vegetables and count toward the USDA-recommended two to three cups of vegetables a day. Most popular in North America and Europe are white button mushrooms along with cremini, which when fully mature are called portabella. Specialty mushrooms including oyster, morel and shitake, for example are increasingly available and affordable, thanks to year-round cultivation. Many varieties are available dry.

Because of their dull color, mushrooms are often overlooked as a source of nutrients. Though their nutritional profile depends on the variety as well as where and how they are grown, mushrooms supply some B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, selenium, copper, and zinc. They also contain polyphenols and other bioactive compounds along with fiber and only 20 calories per cup. What’s more, cooking boosts the earthy and aromatic flavors of mushrooms.

Mushrooms have been used medicinally for centuries, particularly in Asia. Some have shown immune-boosting and anti-cancer effects in lab studies. Like many plant foods, mushrooms also contain compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar-lowering and immune stimulating properties. Some of these effects may result from interaction of mushroom compounds with microbes in the intestines.
On the other hand, some wild mushrooms are poisonous and can cause liver failure and death. Poisonous mushrooms can look very similar to edible varieties. Unless you are an expert, don’t eat mushrooms you find in the wild.

While some mushrooms are still cultivated in caves and cellars, today most are grown in specially designed buildings in which all aspects of the environment can be controlled. As a result, cultivated versions of wild mushrooms, which were once considered a delicacy, are now affordable and widely available.

Leave pre-packaged mushrooms in their unopened package. Don’t prep mushrooms until immediately before use. Trim off any woody parts of the stem end, then clean either by wiping gently with a damp cloth, paper towel or soft brush or by rinsing quickly in water. Immediately after washing, gently dry with a paper or lightweight cloth towel. Don’t let mushrooms soak, since they are very absorbent.
We really like a fresh mushroom salad of Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network. It keeps well in the refrigerator.


• 1 pound large button mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced (I do this in my egg slicer)
• 1/3 cup flat leaf Italian parsley
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
• Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
• 2-ounce piece of Parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl mix together the mushrooms and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the oil mixture to the salad bowl and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Using vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan on top and serve.

Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis recipe.


Our Christmas cookies this year include one we hadn’t made for years, Oatmeal Caramelitas from my sister, Ann Trentadue.

• 50 unwrapped Kraft caramels
• ½ cup evaporated milk
• 1¾ cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 2 cups quick oats
• 1½ cups packed light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup melted butter
• 1 cup chocolate chips
• 1 cup chopped pecans

Melt caramels with evaporated milk over low heat. Mix dry ingredients with melted butter. Press half of crumbs in a 9x13 inch baking pan sprayed with Pam. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Carefully spread caramel mixture. Top with reserved crumbs and return to oven and bake 15 minutes longer. Chill for 1 to 2 hours, then cut into small squares.

Recipe makes 4 dozen.

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – November 28th


Since I’ve been there and done that, avoid burning the midnight oil baking and “cooking up a storm.” Do strive to get enough sleep and eat healthy. With that in mind, Curried Quinoa with Cauliflower is the perfect “go to entrée.”


• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
• 1 carrot, cut into ½ inch half moons
• 1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets
• ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
• 5 teaspoons curry powder
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup frozen peas
• 1 cup quinoa

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, spices and salt and cook for another minute. Add 1 cup water, then cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add peas in the last minute of cooking. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions. Mix the curried vegetables into the quinoa and serve. Top with nonfat yogurt and toasted slivered almonds. Source: Adapted from what would Kathy via Mary Ann Thaman.
A second healthy entrée is Rat-A-Stewie. Although I’m not a vegetarian, this dish should please everyone!


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large eggplant, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
• ½ sliced onion
• 2 cups chopped green and red bell peppers
• 1 pound zucchini, unpeeled, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 pound zucchini, unpeeled, cut into bite size pieces (2 medium ones should do it)
• 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
• ½ cup pitted green olives
• 1 tablespoon McCormick Herb Garden Seasoning Blend
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add eggplant, peppers and onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini, tomato sauce, olives, herb seasoning blend and crushed red pepper. Cook until vegetables are done to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve as a stew or over angel hair pasta. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Penzeys One magazine recipe.

Frosted Mince Bars was featured on my first holiday recipe sheet in 1961.


• ¼ cup butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 1½ teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup prepared mincemeat
• 2 teaspoons orange zest
• ½ cup chopped pecans

Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture to creamed mixture. Fold in mincemeat, orange zest and nuts. Spoon into buttered 1½ inch baking dish. Spread in buttered baking dish. Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 30 to 35 minutes. When cool, frost with a simple powdered sugar glaze made my mixing powdered sugar and milk together until the right consistency to spread.

Years ago my sister won a prize for the next cookie, entered in a Lima recipe contest. I wrap each in plastic wrap and tie with narrow red and green paper ribbon.


• 1 cup dark chocolate chips
• 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
• ½ cup rum
• 2½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Melt chocolate pieces over hot but not boiling water. Remove from heat; add corn syrup and rum. Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, sugar and finely chopped nuts; add to chocolate mixture. Let stand about 30 minutes. Then form into balls and roll in granulated. Store rum balls in a covered container for several days. For Christmas sharing, wrap each ball in a square of clear plastic and tie with narrow red or green ribbon. Recipe makes 4½ dozen.

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – November 21st


Although I don’t have a cookbook to recommend, you never pay the full price when it is purchased via Providing you know the recipient doesn’t have it already, a cookbook is an excellent gift for someone who does a lot of cooking. If you know the kind of cooking or baking that she likes to do, focus on that. For example, if she likes to work with breads, there are many new ones that would make excellent gifts for the holidays.


According to a study of 183 overweight or obese people (ages 25 to 65) in the journal, Obesity, portion–controlled meals can help dieters lose weight. All recipients received nutrition and behavioral counseling to help them meet a weight-loss goal of at least 5 percent of their initial weight. Those who consumed packaged, portion-controlled frozen entrées for lunch and dinner (intervention group) lost more weight over 12 weeks than those in the control group, who ate a self-selected reduced calorie diet; 74 percent of the portion control group achieved the weight-loss goal, compared to 53 percent of the control group. The authors concluded that using portion-controlled meals might facilitate weight loss by simplifying the planning and preparation of meals. It also teaches dieters about appropriate serving sizes.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, November 2016.


Substituting plant sources of protein (bread, pastas, nuts, beans, legumes) for animal sources (processed/unprocessed red meat, poultry, dairy products, fish, eggs) could increase your life span. Researchers writing in JAMA Internal Medicine, August 1, 2016, studied diet and health outcomes among more than 130,000 people, two-thirds of whom were women. They found that animal protein intake was linked to an eight percent greater risk for death in people who also had at least one other unhealthy lifestyle risk factor, such as smoking, heavy alcohol intake, being overweight or obese and physical inactivity. Plant protein intake was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of death.
Source: Weill Cornell Medicine Women’s Nutrition Connection, November 2016.


Daughter Mary Ann often makes this soup that includes lentils. It is a recipe she adapted from one of Rachael Ray’s.


• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 pound sausage, bulk or casing removed (can replace with sweet sausage, pork or turkey sausage)
• 2 ribs celery, chopped leafy tops reserved
• 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into a small dice
• 1 sweet pepper, finely chopped
• 1 seeded and chopped jalapenos
• 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
• 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
• ½ tablespoon ground cumin (1½ teaspoons)
• Kosher salt and pepper to taste
• 1 bundle of curly leaf kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
• ¼ cup tomato paste
• 1 cup white wine
• Freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 cup lentils
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 2 cups water

In a soup pot or large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin oil. Add sausage, breaking into small pieces and cook until lightly browned. Add onion, celery, carrots, potato, peppers, rosemary, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cook to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Wilt kale and season the kale leaves with a little fresh nutmeg. Stir in tomato paste for 30 seconds, then add white wine. Cook to reduce by half and stir in lentils, stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the soup until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately or cool, store and reheat. Serve immediately or cool, store and reheat. Serve with chopped celery greens to garnish. Makes 4 servings.
Source: Rachel Ray recipe adapted by Mary Ann Thaman.


Replace the green bean casserole with this colorful casserole.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 8-ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
• 2 10-ounce packages frozen peas, thawed and drained but not cooked
• 114.5-ounce can bean sprouts, drained well
• 1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, well drained
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup
• 1 small can French’s Onion Rings

Sauté mushrooms in butter for 5minutes. Combine with peas, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and soup. Spoon into 1½-quart casserole. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly. Turn off oven. Sprinkle top with onion rings and return to oven long enough to heat topping, about 5 minutes. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – November 14th


There is a long-standing tradition in the Provence region of France that celebrates a remarkable array of massive feasts, fetes and festivals that punctuate the calendar with pageantry. Sometimes beginning with a parade or procession, most of such gatherings culminate with a communal meal.

In My Culinary Journey: Food & Fetes of Provence, published by Yellow Pear Press, October, 2016) author Georgeanne Brennan continues her memoir of living in France, raising goats and making cheese, as she and her young family adapt to the rhythms of a new life, including the discovery of local communal feasts and festivals. She shares charming stories of their personal adventures and experiences over the years. A treasure trove of regional culinary traditions, it is the author’s recipes perfectly paired with her delicious storytelling that best reveals her relationship with traditions and life of Provence, where she has a home for more than 40 years. From comforting and cozy dinners such as “French Shepherd’s Pie with Celery Root and Potato Topping to the detailed recipe for the region’s quintessential signature dish “Bouillabaisse”, My Culinary Journey brings food and culture together with a personal touch and panache.

Georgianne Brennan is the winner of a James Beard and an IACP International Association of Culinary Professionals award. An accomplished cookbook author, culinary journalist and entrepreneur, in2014 she launched her online store and product line, La Vie Rustic …. Sustainable Living in the French Style, which reflects her long-time love affair with France and especially Provence, where she has a home.
Cookbook is available at


Take advantage of reduced prices on supplies for holiday baking. I’ve already bought butter, sugar and flour on sale. Date each item you buy whether it is stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator or freezer.

That said, it isn’t too early to bake Christmas cookies that hold up well in the freezer. Right now there are five kinds in mine.


You should work with your doctor and pharmacist to manage medications to prevent an adverse reaction. For example, if you take an anticoagulant as well as ginkgo biloba supplement, you could be at risk of a serious bleeding problem. Older adults are more prone to adverse drug reactions because they generally take more medications than younger adults, and their kidney function, which normally can clear these drugs from their systems, declines with age, creating a higher risk. To help prevent adverse reactions, periodically/supplement list with your doctor to
confirm that you still need the medications.

In addition, your pharmacist can speak to you about potentially dangerous drug interactions.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, November 2016.


Food and drink go hand in hand with celebrating the holidays. And if you are hosting or helping, one of your jobs is to make sure special meals don’t leave guests with unwanted aftereffects, such as feeling stuffed on rich goodies or worse, feeling sick. The secret to those better morning after’s is smart choices made by you in the planning and prepping of the food you serve.
Source: Consumer Reports On Health 2016.


This is the only chocolate chip cookie that I make. As for the chips, I prefer the dark chocolate ones.


• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
• 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¾ cup pecans, chopped
• 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and Bailey’s and cream well. To mixture, add flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Fold in nuts and chips. Cover baking pans with parchment paper. Drop by teaspoonful’s on to prepared baking sheets. Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove to wire rack to cool. Recipe makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies. Freeze in 1-quart freezer bags.

Knowing you will need a lot of chopped nuts, chop them ahead of time. Another good idea and flavor enhancer is toasting the nuts, whether they be pecans or walnuts. In my view, the easiest way to toast them is in a skillet on top of the stove. Over medium heat, toast until they smell flavorful, stirring often.

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – November 7th


Food Anatomy by Julia Rothman (Storey Publishing, October, 2016, paperback/$16.95) is the third book of her best-selling Anatomy series, popular illustrator takes on the one topic everyone has a relationship with: food. Readers who crave Rothman’s imaginative interpretation of the world get their daily allowance of facts and fun With Food Anatomy, starting with an illustrated history of food and ending with a tasting of global street food. Along the way, Rothman serves up a hilarious primer on short-order egg lingo and a mouthwatering menu of how people around the planet serve fried potatoes and what we dip them in. International tours of place settings and cooking tools, breads and dumplings, and spices and sweets are just a few of the delectable curiosities bursting from this culinary cornucopia.

Award-winning food journalist Rachel Wharton lends her editorial expertise to this lighthearted exploration of everything food that bursts with little-known facts and delightful drawings. Everyday eaters and seasoned foodies alike are sure to eat up! Julia Rothman is an illustrator, pattern designer and author. In addition to working for clients such as the New York Times, Target and Ann Taylor, she has her own lines of wallpaper, stationery, fabric and dish ware. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.


It might be tempting to use your outdoor grill in your garage but don’t do it! Grillers can die of carbon monoxide fumes. Instead, broil in your indoor oven or on an indoor appliance designed for this purpose.


It was new to me that there’s an E-Cloth with blue scrubbing stripes, used damp, removes tough stuck-on-grime and grease on and around stove. The side without scrubbing stripes, used damp, is for general cleaning and light grease and grime. With an E-Cloth only water is used instead of harmful chemicals. For more information about E-Cloths, visit


A preliminary study of a tax of one cent per ounce enacted in Berkeley was the first US jurisdiction to pass such a levy, which adds to the cost of sugary sodas, juices, energy drinks and coffee concoctions. Researchers compared trends in purchases by low-income Berkeley residents four months after the tax was imposed to consumption in neighboring Oakland and San Francisco, which had no such tax. In Berkeley, consumption of sugary drinks dropped 21 percent after tax was imposed, even as the other cities saw a 4 percent increase. Berkeley consumers also drank 63 percent more water, according to results published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, November 2016.


Americans spend billions of dollars every year on unproven arthritis remedies. Everything seems to work for a while, at least in some people, largely because there’s such a strong placebo effect when it comes to pain. Moreover, arthritis pain waxes and wanes, and we tend to blame or credit whatever we are trying at the time. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers help many arthritis sufferers but don’t affect the underlying loss of cartilage. Before taking any supplement for joint pain, consult your doctor for a diagnosis. The pain maybe caused by rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disorder), gout or another condition for which there there’s no reason to think these supplements could help. If you have osteoarthritis, we can’t over-emphasize the importance of losing weight if you are overweight, and exercising to maintain strength and flexibility. Both steps help relieve pain and restore mobility.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, November 2016.


A declining sense of smell, which is natural as we age, can change the way food tastes. This can lead to overeating and under eating, the consumption of more salt and sugar and nutritional deficiencies. Adding colorful foods with varied textures to your plate including crunchy celery, baked sweet potatoes, juicy grapes, may encourage you to eat more nutrient-rich items. If food seems less appealing, pump up flavor with citrus, garlic, ginger, mustard or hot peppers. A poor sense of smell can also create safety problems, so toss refrigerated leftovers after three or four days, keep fresh batteries in your smoke detector if your heater or appliances run on propane or natural gas. And because some illnesses and medications can hamper smell, discuss the problem with your doctor.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, November 2016.


• 12 pieces chicken (light and/or dark meat)
• 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
• 1 8-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces, drained (I use a canned-in-Pennsylvania brand)
• 2 cans Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup
• ¼ cup white sauterne wine
• ½ cup water

Flour chicken. Brown in butter. Arrange chicken in a single layer in a 10/15-inch jelly roll pan. Sauté mushrooms in the same butter used to brown the chicken. Spread mushroom soup on chicken. Spoon mushrooms on top. Pour wine and water mixture over all. Bake, uncovered, in 350ºF oven for 1 ½ hours, basting frequently. Recipe makes 6 servings.

Download PDF

Mary’s Memo – October 31th


When Betty Rosbottom started a cooking school over twenty-five years ago, her soup classes were always the first to fill up. Soup is a universal staple, thanks to the versatility and adaptability to seemingly endless variations. In Soup Nights: Satisfying Soups and Sides For Delicious Meals All Year, Rosbottom presents soups ranging from updated classics to those featuring fresh combinations of ingredients and garnishes. Drawing on her deep knowledge of cuisines around the world, Rosbottom tempts readers with more than one hundred recipes from far and near, from Onion Soup Gratinee, Vietnamese Shrimp and Noodle Soup and Brodo with Asparagus and Gnocchi, to closer-to-home favorites like New England Corn and Lobster Chowder and Louisiana Seafood Gumbo. Well-loved classics such as Chicken Noodle Soup and Gumbo. Well-loved classics such as Chicken Noodle Soup and Tomato Gazpacho are elevated by respective additions sautéed mushrooms and icy cucumber granite. Easy-to-prepare with accessible ingredients, these are recipes that soup lovers will want to make again and again. Practical and helpful cooking tips and market notes are bonus features included with the recipes. She founded and directed the cooking school La Belle Pomme in Columbus, OH and written for Bon Appetit, the Los Angeles Times and Tribune Media Services.


You know that some foods and nutrients are beneficial for your body and the same is true for your brain. Some dietary choices can improve your focus, concentration and even memory, while other choices may have the opposite effect. “Whole, nutrient-dense foods are the best choices to fuel mental functioning throughout your day, and they may also help cognitive decline with age,” says Abigail Arday, RD, CDN,CNSC, a dietitian at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/WeilCornell. Research has shown that certain nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, folic acid and flavonoids, are associated with better brain function such as fatty fish and nuts, dark leafy greens, berries, caffeine and hydration. Regarding hydration, aim for six to10 glasses of water per day, depending on your activity level. If you’re well hydrated, your well hydrated, your urine will be consistently light yellow to clear.
Source: Weill Cornell Medicine Women’s Nutrition Connection, October, 2016.


Granola is an oat-based product that has been touted as a healthy cereal and snack option for many years. Oats are a good source of fiber, iron and folate. They are also complex carbohydrates, digesting slowly keeping you feeling full longer. Granola also contains nuts and seeds which provide protein and healthy fats. However, many granola products are loaded with sugar. The sugar may seem healthier on the label under names like “brown rice syrup” or “evaporated cane juice.” But it’s still sugar and the calorie count in granola products can rise quickly. Look for healthier granola options that contain 200 calories or less per ¼ cup, and contain eight or fewer grams of sugar.
Source: Weil Cornell Medicine Women’s


You’ve heard of the spice cake made with canned tomato soup. Loraine Robinet of Bryan shared a recipe for banana muffins made with Miracle Whip.


• 1 cup Miracle Whip
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 cup mashed bananas (2)
• 2 cups flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt

Beat salad dressing and sugar into bananas. Stir in flour, soda and salt just until moistened. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Recipe makes 12 large muffins.
Source: Loraine Robinet, Bryan OH.


Frosted Pumpkin Drops from my cookbook is a great after-school snack for children or good enough to share with friends.


• 1 cup butter
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup canned pumpkin
• 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup chopped dates
• ½ cup chopped nuts


Cream together butter and sugar. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in dates and nuts. Drop by teaspoonful’s onto parchment cover cookie sheets. Bake in moderately hot 375ºF oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool on rack; spread with frosting. To make, combine ½ cup packed light brown sugar, ¼ cup milk and 3 tablespoons butter. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in1cup confectioner’s sugar and ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Download PDF