Mary’s Memo – May 25th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


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’S MEMORIAL DAY


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.

PRODUCE FOR STRONGER BONES


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

CANNED FISH VERSUS FRESH


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.

ADVICE FOR FOOD HANDLERS


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.

SPOTLIGHT ON ASPARAGUS


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 cooking.com is a simple, delicious way to prepare it. Note: An inexpensive steamer insert for your saucepan is available in the produce department.

ASPARAGUS WITH OLIVE OIL AND PARMESAN


• 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 cooking.com recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – May 18th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


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.

GRILLED CORN WITH CHIPOTLE BUTTER


Butter:

• 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.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


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.

ZINC: NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT!


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.

ANOTHER “THUMBS UP” RECIPE


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.

GREEN BEANS WITH PECANS AND MAPLE VINAIGRETTE


• 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

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


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.”

BUTTERY DILL CARROTS


• 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 Amazon.com.

WHAT IS FARRO?


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.

NEW DIETARY GUIDELINES RELAX FOCUS ON CHOLESTEROL


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


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.

FROM THE ARCHIVES


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.

FARM JOURNAL WHIPPED TURNIPS


• 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

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


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 Amazon.com 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!

WHY I’M STILL COOKING


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.

“MIND” DIET MAY REDUCE RISK OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE


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.

MEDITERRANEAN GREEN BEANS


Dressing:

• 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

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


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.

LEE BAILEY’S CORN FRITTERS


• 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.

MEDITERRANEAN STYLE


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.

MEDITERRANEAN GREEN BEANS


• 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.

TAKE CHARGE


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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Mary’s Memo – April 20th

THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Ciao Biscotti, Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie By Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, April 2015, $18.95/hardback) is filled with traditional flavors such as Hazelnut or Anise, coffeehouse classics like Cranberry Pistachio, tempting versions such as Browned Butter or Toblerone or savory ones including Mountain Gorgonzola and Walnut.

Domenica Marchetti is the author of five books, most recently The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (also published by Chronicle Books). Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post and many other publications. Her food blog is DominicaCooks.com. Photographs are by Antonis Achilleos, a New York-based photographer specializing in food and lifestyle photos. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Bon Appetit, Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living.
Cappuccino Dunkers are homemade answer to the gargantuan biscotti you find at fancy bakeries.

CAPPUCCINO DUNKERS


• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon instant expresso powder
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• Scant 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted (see below)

Heat oven to 3500F. Lightly coat an 11x17-inch rimmed baking sheet with oil. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, expresso powder and vanilla. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of a standard mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add almonds and mix on low speed to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on medium speed until a soft, sticky dough has formed. Gather the dough on the baking sheet. Lightly moisten your hands with water and use your fingers to pat into a log about 4½ inches wide and 12 inches long. Bake log for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and just set, it should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under the log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the log cool for 5 minutes and then transfer it to the rack and cool 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 3000F. Transfer cooled log to a cutting board and using a serrated bread knife, cut it on the diagonal into 3/4-inch thick slices. Arrange slices, cut-side up, on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are crisp. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely. The biscotti will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container stored at room temperature. Recipe makes 18 biscotti. (To skin almonds, place almonds in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit about 1 minute to loosen skins. Drain and rinse and use your fingers to pop the almonds out of their skins.)
Source: Ciao Biscotti by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, April 2015, $18.95/hardback).

TAKING THE TOWN BY STORM!


On the recommendation of my sister, Ann, and recipe via niece Jennifer, I served Dill Pickle Soup at the Bryan Chief this spring. You do have to like dill pickles to enjoy this soup and I do! For that matter, I haven’t tasted any kind of pickle I didn’t like!

Originator of the soup is the Noble Pig Restaurant in Austin, TX, where menu includes only pork recipes, the soup being one of them. To cut fat calories, I replaced regular sour cream with reduced fat Daisy brand. Because dill pickles are salty, some more than others, I didn’t use any salt in the soup. Note: If you have one, doing vegetables in food processor saves time.

DILL PICKLE SOUP


• 5 1/2 cups Swanson Chicken Broth
• 5 to 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 2 cups chopped carrots (small dice – 2 to 3 large)
• 1 cup chopped dill pickle (about 3 large whole dills)
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy brand sour cream
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 cups pickle juice
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In large pot, combine broth, 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. Although this will break up some of the potatoes, don’t be concerned. Also, you might see some initial little balls form but between whisking and boiling all will disappear! Add pickle juice, Old Bay, pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from noblepig.com recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – April 13th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Eat Right for Your Sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM (The Experiment Publishing Company, February 24 2015, $24.95/softback) was first published in 2014 as a project of the Macular Degeneration Foundation. With 85 delicious recipes that act like medicine, but don’t taste like it, eating for your eye health has never been easier with this indispensable guide.

Jennifer Trainer has written about science, food, art and lifestyle for the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, Discover and more. She’s the author or coauthor of 16 books including three James Beard Award-nominated cookbooks. Johanna M. Seddon is a professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine and the founding director of the Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Genetics Service at the New England Eye Center, Tufts Medical Center. Her research has earned numerous awards and honors. There is a potential link between eating a lot of tomatoes and reducing your risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease and cancer. While the studies aren’t conclusive, tomatoes, which are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, folate, potassium and lycopene, may help promote healthy eyes.

GREEK SALAD


• 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 cucumbers, peeled, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
• 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 3 ounces feta cheese, diced
• 15 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano
• Freshly ground pepper

In a bowl, toss the ingredients gently to blend. Let them sit for 10 minutes before serving. Recipe serves 4 to 6.
Source: Eat Right for Your Sight (The Experiment Publishing Company, February 2015). Note: Order cookbook online via Amazon.com. It’s also available as an ebook.

SEVEN GUIDELINES TO REDUCING THE RISK OF CANCER


1. Avoid excess alcohol intake
2. Don’t smoke
3. Maintain a healthy weight
4. Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a night
5. Engage in physical activity
6. Avoid eating between meals
7. Eat breakfast

Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2015.

QUESTIONS FROM SHOPPERS AND MEMO READERS


Q: What is agave?

A: Agave, pronounced ah-GAH-vee, is a native plant of US, Mexico and Central America. It is poisonous raw, but when baked or made into syrup has a mild flavor.

Q: What is kimchi?

A: Kimchi, pronounced KIHM-chee, a Korean favorite food, is made from fermented Nappa cabbage. If you can get beyond the fermented cabbage image, added to other foods, it takes on an entirely different dimension. It’s enjoying popularity in trendy restaurants around the country. Recently, most Bryan Chief tasters gave a “thumbs up” to kimchi in a grilled cheese sandwich. To keep bread from getting soggy, kimchi was in between 2 thin Cheddar cheese slices.

KIMCHI GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH


• 2 slices Our Family wheat bread
• Softened butter to thinly spread on one side of each bread slice
• 2 thin slices Our Family sharp Cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
• 1/3 cup kimchi (sold in Chief’s produce department), well drained, patted dry and chopped

Heat skillet over medium heat (electric skillet can also be used). Place bread, butter-side down in skillet. Layer kimchi over one slice of cheese. Flip the cheese only slice onto the kimchi-and-cheese slice to complete sandwich. With spatula lightly press sandwich together. Grill until cheese is melted and squishes together. Cut diagonally to serve. Recipe makes 1 sandwich.
Source: Adapted from Two Bowls Internet recipe.

ANOTHER COOKED CARROT RECIPE


Originally this recipe was featured in Woman’s Day Holiday Cooking and Entertaining, Pickled Cocktail Carrots is a winner! Include on a relish tray or serve alone.

PICKLED COCKTAIL CARROTS


• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 2 teaspoons mustard seed
• 2 teaspoons dill seeds
• 2 teaspoons celery seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 large cloves garlic, minced
• 2-pound bag of baby carrots

In large pot, combine sugar, vinegar, 1 cup water, mustard, dill and celery seeds, salt, garlic and carrots. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Store in covered plastic container at least one week to allow flavors to develop. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

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Mary’s Memo – April 6th

HEALTHY SKIN FROM INSIDE OUT


It’s said that you are what you eat, and that is especially true when it comes to your skin. Diet and nutrition can directly affect the health and appearance of your body’s largest organ. Here is a look at how increasing your intake of some nutrients and reducing your intake of others can strengthen your skin. To minimize wrinkles and lines, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that blocks free radicals that damage the skin and assists with tissue repair to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Some of the foods highest in vitamin C include sweet bell peppers, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit and broccoli. Women should consume 75 milligrams (mg) daily, which is easy to achieve with consistent fruit and vegetable intake. “Aim for 5 cups per day of fruits and vegetables, and add them to every meal,” says Bridget Quinn, RD, a dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College. Lack of moisture can cause skin dryness and more prominent lines and wrinkles, and most women (and men) don’t get enough fluids from their diets. It’s important to drink several glasses of water daily, says Quinn, as well as consuming other hydrating beverages (unsweetened coffee and tea) and foods (cucumbers, celery, melon, tomatoes and leafy greens). Other foods and beverages can draw moisture from your skin. “Foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, crackers, candy, chips and soda immediately increase blood glucose levels, causing a spike in insulin levels, which leads to inflammation. This response can worsen overall appearance of the skin.” A diet high in sodium can have the same affect, so limit or bypass high sodium-foods, which typically can be deli meats, canned goods, frozen meals, sauces, salad dressings and condiments. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, April 2015.

BE WARY OF YOGURT-COVERED SNACKS LIKE PRETZELS AND RAISINS


Despite their healthy image, in most cases, the yogurt coating is predominately sugar and fat, with little if any yogurt. A 1 1/2-ounce serving (8 pieces) of one popular brand of yogurt pretzels, for example, contains 7 grams saturated fat, 200 calories and only 40 milligrams of calcium (4 percent of Daily Value). Some snacks now claim to be covered in Greek yogurt, which wouldn’t make them any healthier. A far more nutritious snack is plain low-fat yogurt, which has as much as 450 milligrams of calcium per cup; top it off with raisins or fresh fruit.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, March 2015.

SUGGESTIONS FOR LEFTOVER EASTER HAM


It amazes me that many of you who have my cookbook (now sold out) have never tried some of the recipes I like a lot such as Quiche Without a Crust.

QUICHE WITHOUT A CRUST


• 2 cups whole wheat bread cubes (or white)
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• 8 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups milk (whatever kind you drink)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
• 2 cups Our Family brand Swiss cheese, shredded
• 1 cup cooked ham cut in julienne strips

In bottom of a 10-inch quiche dish or pie plate, toss together bread cubes and melted butter. Spread evenly on bottom of dish. In a large bowl whisk together eggs until well blended; add milk, salt, nutmeg, cheese and ham. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes. Bake in preheated 3500F oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Cut into 8 servings.

I’ve worked weekends at the Bryan Chief long enough to know that ease-of-preparation and relatively inexpensive to make recipes are the most popular. Enter Betty Crocker’s Three Ingredient Lemon Loaf. Because Chief doesn’t carry a 5.3-ounce container of Yoplait Lemon Meringue Yogurt, it was replaced with Dannon Oikos Lemon Meringue Greek Yogurt. To make it more lemony, Betty Crocker White was replaced with Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix. Lemon desserts make me think of spring.

“MY APOLOGIES TO BETTY CROCKER” THREE INGREDIENT LEMON LOAF


• 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Lemon Cake Mix
• 2.3-ounce container Dannon Oikos Lemon Meringue Greek Yogurt
• 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 3500F. Spray 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. For easy removal, line bottom of pan with cooking parchment paper. In large bowl, beat cake mix, yogurt and water for 1 minute with electric mixer on low speed, then medium speed for an additional 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 minutes (check at 45 minutes) or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10 minutes; run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen. Remove from pan to rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Recipe makes 12 servings. A scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh berries on top makes a colorful presentation.
Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker internet recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – March 30th

GADGET WORTH BUYING!


Living alone, I can’t tell you how much produce I throw away so is it any wonder that I didn’t hesitate buying a package of two Bluapples plus a one year refill kit. That said, most households have experienced throwing away tons of spoiled fruits and vegetables and when produce was inexpensive, no one cared. But each Bluapple contains a packet of active granules which absorb ethylene gas continuously in your produce storage space. The active ingredient in Bluapple acts like an ethylene gas molecule “flypaper” collecting the gas and rendering it harmless. No other gasses or chemicals emitted by Bluapple and your food can be harmed. Bluapple will continue to absorb ethylene gas until it’s filled to capacity, and then the packet will need to be replaced. Tear open the used packet and add it to your houseplants, it makes a great fertilizer! Bluapple is made of food-grade polypropylene in the USA without lead-based coloring and dyes and it is BPA-free. The earth-friendly Bluapple is designed to be refilled, and not added to landfills. One Year Refill Kits are available from your local retailer or online. PS: If you log on to www.TheBluapple.com and enter a valid e-mail address and the beginning use date, Bluapple will send you a confidential packet replacement reminder every three months.

A Chef’n Zipstrip was a recent purchase at a cost of $8.00 plus tax. Zipstrip easily strips, collects and measures herbs like thyme and rosemary. Just pull woody stem through a choice of 4 hole sizes. It’s also BPA free and top-rack dishwasher safe.

If not available in a houseware department where you shop, order from Amazon.com.

DIETITIANS PICK TOP TRENDS


Trends to watch in nutrition-driven consumer choices this year will include growing popularity for seeds and nuts, green tea and "ancient grains” such as amaranth, quinoa, spelt and freekah, according to a survey of 500 registered dietitians. The survey, conducted for the journal Today’s Dietitian, predicted that consumers will eat less red meat and continue to turn away from low-fat diets. Kale and coconut will remain popular (accurate for kale, less so for coconut), as will healthy choices like Greek yogurt and avocado. The dietitians also predicted consumers will keep trying gluten-free and wheat-free diets to lose weight (than a genuine need, as in celiac-disease patients). Despite a lack of evidence supporting such regimens for weight loss, the so-called “Paleo diet” will gain in popularity. Also on the rise: misinformation about nutrition, fueled in part by the Internet.
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2015.

ABOUT NEW STORE BRAND, OUR FAMILY


The new store brand at Chief is Our Family. When it comes to any store brand, you may like some while I prefer name brand and vice versa. So I’ve been doing comparison testing of several Our Family products with positive impressions to report about Our Family sliced red beets, cheese slices and cocktail sauce to name a few. As for red beets, I compared Our Family sliced red beets with Freshlike sliced. Eaten uncooked from the cans, the flavor and appearance was the same. Accustomed to buying Sargento thin slices, Our Family Natural Pepper Jack looked and tasted the same. Ditto for Our Family cocktail sauce compared to Cross and Blackwell Zesty Shrimp Sauce that I had on hand. Our Family was brighter red while Cross and Blackwell Zesty Shrimp Sauce was a tad more salty. In coming weeks I will report on more experiences with Our Family products but don’t expect me to give up favorites such as Bush beans, Folger’s coffee, Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise and Arps milk, name brands that I buy no matter what!

SOLD OUT!


Just so you know, my cookbook, “Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It,” is sold out. Many have asked if there will be a reprinting and the answer is no, although a supplement with additional recipes is a possibility but not a certainty.

EASTER SIDE DISH


A Thaman vegetable favorite has always been asparagus. Serving it in a casserole was a way to extend it.

ASPARAGUS CHEESE CASSEROLE


• 2 pounds fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 cup flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1 cup milk (whatever kind you use)
• 2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
• 6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
• 8-ounces shredded, sharp Cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup buttered crumbs

Cook asparagus until barely tender; drain well. Melt butter in a saucepan; blend in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat and add pimiento. In 1½ quart casserole, alternate layers of asparagus, egg slices, sauce and cheese. Top with buttered crumbs. Bake in 3500F oven until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – March 23rd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


First there was Mr. Sunday’s Soups, then Mr. and Mrs. Sunday’s Saturday Night Chicken and now there’s Mr. & Mrs. Sunday’s Sunday Suppers by bestselling author Lorraine Wallace, wife of Fox Sunday News anchor Chris Wallace. Regarding the latest cookbook, it’s the one Lorraine has wanted to write because it’s about the recipes that keep a family going day in and day out, the ones that are good for any occasion from game-day get-togethers to holiday feasts. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, order from Amazon.com or your favorite bookstore.

MID-WINTER BREAK


Daughter Mary Ann says it’s easy to please me: just take me to a supermarket that I had never been in before. Although a trip to Kettering to visit my Mary Beth always includes shopping at Dorothy Lane Markets (DLM), on February 19th, I had a unique behind-the-scene tour with Carrie Walters, Culinary Director and Chef for DLM as my tour guide. I felt like a “kid in a candy store” sampling whatever I wanted in their Washington Square store and the location of the bakery that makes all the “from scratch” bread that is available at the three markets including Oakwood, Washington Square and Springboro. DLM has come a long way since Norman Mayne’s father sold fruits and vegetables in an open air market at the Oakwood location. While Chief customers are attracted to Chief because of their low prices, DLM customers pay no attention to price! I’ve had an opportunity to shop in “high end” supermarkets throughout the country but none compares to DLM!

One of DLM’s many success stories is Killer Brownies. According to Chimene Mayne Ross, daughter of Norman Mayne, she and her siblings came home to a small brown bag on the kitchen counter with a special treat inside. Their father said, “Try that; it’s a killer brownie.” Norman Mayne would use the term “killer” to describe anything over the top, so Chimene and her siblings thought this was his way of describing this big yummy gooey treat. After trying it they agreed that it was a “killer brownie.” Dad smiled and said, “No, really, that is the brownie’s name! We are going to start making these in the bakery, and we are going to call it the Killer Brownie.” And so began decades of growing affection for this big, yummy treat. I have been the recipient of Killer Brownies on several occasions and they are rich and one brownie makes 4 servings for me! DLM ships everywhere so if you’d like to order a gift tin of four Killer Brownies, call Dorothy Lane at 1-866-748-1391. In case you’re interested, the gift tin-of-my choice included 2 blonde salted caramel and 2 blond macadamia nut ones.

CARROTS, WORTH A CARAT OR MORE IN HEALTH BENEFITS!


Bugs Bunny, always depicted munching on a carrot, may have been on to something. Researchers have found that carrot consumption not only helps insure an adequate intake of a variety of important nutrients and fiber but may also reduce your risk of chronic disease. “Carrots are so much a part of our diet that their health benefits may have been overlooked,” says Elizabeth J. Johnson, PhD, a scientist in Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory who specializes in Vitamin A and carotenoid compounds. “They are best known for their beta-carotene content (a form of vitamin A), but are also packed with a range of phytochemicals and nutrients that contribute to optimum health.”

What about raw or cooked? The science is mixed. While cooking destroys some heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C, it helps make others more readily absorbed by the body. Steaming or microwaving carrots, rather than boiling them, loses fewer nutrients in the cooking water. Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness. The bottom line: Eat your carrots however you think you like the taste best …. just eat more of them!
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2015.

Bugs Bunny would give Marinated Carrots a “thumbs up” just like Bryan Chief shoppers did!

MARINATED CARROTS


• 2 pound bag baby carrots
• 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 package Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix
• 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Steam or boil carrots until crisp-tender. Drain and cool. Blend other ingredients except parsley together. Pour over cooled carrots. Marinate for several hours or overnight in refrigerator. Add parsley just before serving. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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