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Mary’s Memo – November 24th


Just in time for the holiday season, Best of Bridge Holiday Classics, 225 Recipes for Special Occasions comes to the rescue! In 1975, at a weekend getaway, eight Calgary women friends had an idea: Since a consistent highlight of their decade-old bridge group was the food they prepared and enjoyed together, perhaps they should think about writing a cookbook. This spur-of-the-moment notion was the impetus for The Best of Bridge, which went on to become one of the most successful cookbooks in Canadian publishing. Due to overwhelming interest, the Bridge ladies have a new collection of holiday classics from best roasts and other special entrees to fabulous recipes for holiday buffets and potlucks. As always, the ladies promise you simple recipes with gourmet results. What makes this collection extra special is a chapter on Leftovers devoted to transforming unused food into a second delicious meal and another one on Food Gifts because nothing says “happy holidays” more than a gift from scratch!

One of the entrees is Christmas Morning Wife-Saver, a brunch dish that can be made the night before so you can enjoy the holiday morning as well.


• 16 slices white bread, crusts removed
• Slices of Canadian bacon or ham
• Slices of sharp (old) Cheddar cheese
• 6 eggs
• 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/4 cup minced onion
• 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
• 1 to 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
• 3 cup milk
• Dash Tabasco
• 1/2 cup butter
• Crushed corn flake crumbs

Put 8 pieces of bread in a buttered 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Add pieces to cover dish entirely. Cover bread with thinly sliced bacon. Top with slices of Cheddar cheese. Cover with slices of bread. In a bowl, beat eggs and pepper, Worcestershire, milk and Tabasco. Pour over bread, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, melt butter and pour over top. Cover with cereal. Bake at 350ºF, uncovered, 1 hour. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh fruit. Serves 8.
Source: Best of Bridge Holiday Classics, October 15, 2014 (, $29.95/spiral bound hardback).


Every month there seems to be a new “superfood” that is promoted heavily on the Internet and TV talk shows and endorsed by semi-celebrities. Coconut oil is extracted from the “meat” inside the hard-shelled fruit of the coconut palm. Like lard, it is solid at room temperature and has a long shelf life which makes it attractive for many kinds of food processing and baking. In fact coconut oil is the most concentrated food source of saturated fat, even more so than butter. In the 1980s a media campaign demonized coconut and other tropical oils and blamed them for heart attacks because of their saturated fat. Now the tide has turned so much that proponent’s claim coconut oil is actually downright medicinal. It is said to promote weight loss; prevent heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic diseases. Such grand claims about a food supplement should always provoke a skeptical reaction.
While coconut oil didn’t deserve its bad reputation, it also doesn’t deserve its new stardom as a health food. Don’t buy the hype that it will keep you healthy and slim or that it can treat or prevent chronic diseases. It’s fine to cook with it, though we recommend olive, canola and other non-tropical oils for regular use. It’s also okay to buy foods that contain coconut oil, but don’t think that makes them healthy choices.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, November 2014.


Many people think sandwiches are the best way to eat the leftover turkey (Daddy used to say it was cheaper than bologna) but in Smith and Thaman households today, making turkey soup has become a ritual following the meal. Before the dishes are tackled, remaining meat is cut away from the carcass and refrigerated, reserving some for the soup. The rest is put in a 5 to 6-quart slow cooker, adding water (I usually add 8 cups but the amount depends on the size of the carcass), cover and cook on low heat until meat clinging to the bones falls away. This will take several hours or overnight, depending on when your meal is served. Then broth is strained and what remains discarded. Strained broth is chilled in the refrigerator and solidified fat removed. At this point soup can be made or broth frozen to use later. In a large stock pot heat broth with chopped carrots, celery and onions. Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are almost tender. Then add poultry seasoning, sage, salt and pepper to taste, rice or noodles and cook until rice or pasta is done. Just before soup is ready to eat, add cubed turkey meat and chopped fresh parsley (or dry). For a more decadent soup, add some of the giblet gravy to the broth. Bon Appetit!

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Mary’s Memo – November 17th


There is a how-to book about every subject today, one of the newest being Top 100 Step-By-Step Napkin Folds by Denise Vivaldo (; October 2014; $29.95/spiral-bound hardback). Knowing how to execute a perfect napkin fold is not a skill everyone has but it’s one you can easily and quickly teach yourself with Denise’s help. Like a handwritten thank-you note, napkin folds might be less common than they once were, but they’re always noticed, always appreciated and always in style! Spend an hour or two with this book and you can easily teach yourself a number of folds that will create a table that is timelessly elegynt, retro-funky or up-to-the-minute chic. Denise Vivaldo is a seasoned food professional who has catered more than 10,000 parties. She is founder of Food Fanatics, a recipe development, food styling and catering firm. She’s catered everything from the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball to Hollywood wrap parties. Denise resides in California.

Remember Anne Willan’s One Soufflé at a Time published in hardback in 2013? It’s now available in paperback (St. Martin’s Press, 2014, $17.99). Willan founded La Varenne Cooking School in Paris. One Soufflé at a Time is the story of her life interspersed with recipes, classic French and otherwise, and told in an easygoing, readable text. It is a must read for food historians!
Both of the above books are available at


My poultry preference is dark meat and the only time I can purchase fresh turkey thighs is just before Thanksgiving, Usually I buy three or four to roast during the year. And speaking of turkey, my family thinks I should sell my turkey giblet gravy. So here’s the secret: In addition to the liquid from cooking the gizzard, heart, neck and pan drippings, to make sure there’s enough to satisfy the demand, I extend it with McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix. Just don’t salt until gravy is thickened.

If you’ve noticed, Chief’s fresh asparagus is stored with stems in water. So I decided to do the same in my refrigerator. In a 16-ounce mug, stand a bunch, uncovered, in about an inch of water. Mine stayed in excellent condition until it was cooked. Since there was enough for two meals, I did change the water once. Hopefully, it will work for you.

Popcorn is a good-for-you snack food, especially if it’s G.H. Cretors Organic Popcorn now available at Chief. G.H. Cretors perfected the first popcorn machine in 1885 and it was introduced to the public at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. The 5th generation is now running the company. I have personally tried their cheese popcorn, Skinny Pop (the one available at Chief) and Chicago Mix that is sinfully delicious!


It’s easy to get derailed from your healthy diet when eating in a restaurant but with a little preparation you can minimize the damage. Pegah Jalali, MS, RD, at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell suggests ways to stay on track. Chain restaurants are required to post nutrition information so be prepared. Share entrées with another diner or if no one wants to share, ask for a container with your entrée and box up half of it when it is served. Increase vegetables and decrease starches like fries, baked potato, rice or pasta and substitute steamed vegetables or start your meal with a simple green salad. Avoid food that is fried or prepared with added butter. Control sodium. “The simplest dishes are more likely to be lowest in salt,” explains Jalali. Avoid bread or anything with broth. Skip dessert unless it is special occasion. Make tradeoffs. If you are salivating for a few bites of that decadent dessert, skip the bread and drink water instead of having a glass of wine. If you do overindulge, resolve to make healthier choices next time you dine out.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, November 2014.


During busy times nothing beats a slow cooked meal such as Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff. This was also good reheated.


• 1 lb. cubed beef stew meat
• 1 (10.75-oz) condensed Healthy Request Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 cup water
• 4-oz. reduced-fat cream cheese

In 5 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water. Cook on High setting for 1 hour; reduce setting to Low and cook an additional 7 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving. Recipe makes 4 servings. Source: Adapted from a recipe

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Mary’s Memo – November 10th


Modern Tea, A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage by Lisa Boalt Richardson with photographs by Jenifer Altman has taken beverage connoisseurs by storm. With this easy-to-read, comprehensive guide, you’ll explore tea’s world history, learn essential terms and definitions and appreciate the benefits of tea. You’ll discover how to use tea in your everyday life from shopping, storing, steeping and tasting to using tea in pairings, cooking, cocktails, home health remedies and more. So whether you’re a tea rookie or already a tea guru, Modern Tea is the ultimate guide to help you realize that it is your cup of tea! Certified Tea Specialist and award winning author Lisa Boalt Richardson sips tea no matter what time of day it is. Her philosophy is “teatime is anytime and all the time.” For more information about Lisa, visit Photographer Jenifer Altman’s photos appear in magazines including Martha Stewart Living, Food & Wine and Kinfolk and books: Crackers and Dips and Poor Man’s Feast (Chronicle Books).
Source: Modern Tea, A Fresh Look at an Ancient Beverage, Chronicle Books, November 2014, $19.99/hardback


It is so easy to overcook a chicken breast whether it’s bone-in or boneless. That’s why I’m inclined to replace both in recipes with thighs. Granted, they have more fat but at the same time, they’re more likely to stay moist even when a tad overcooked. Besides, when it comes to poultry, I prefer dark meat. Ignoring my preference, a few weeks ago I tested an recipe for Baked Split Chicken Breast; it was supposed to bake in a 375ºF oven for 45 to 60 minutes so I set my timer to check halfway in-between with an instant read thermometer and it was way over the safe 160ºF internal temperature. Leftovers were shredded and creamed to make meat more tolerable to eat. The only way to make sure any kind of meat is the right temperature is with a thermometer for that purpose. Appearance is not enough to make a determination. Chief has meat thermometers in their housewares section. Mine is a Taylor and I can turn it off when not in use.

My double oven is only a year old and oven temperature likely to be accurate but next time I make the recipe I’ll check internal temperature at minimum time (45 minutes). How to check? In the thickest part of meat without touching bone.


• 2 large bone-in chicken breast halves with skin
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and garlic; sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary and basil. Arrange in a large baking dish and refrigerate at least 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake chicken until an instant read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast is 165ºF. Recipe makes 2 servings.


Most people can get enough magnesium by eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods. Here are some key grocery-shopping tips to keep in mind:

• Foods high in magnesium include beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
• The green color of leafy greens such as spinach indicates a good source of magnesium, which is a component of the chlorophyll molecule that gives green plants their color.
• Choose whole grains when buying bread, pasta or cereal because the process of refining grains such as wheat strips away the magnesium-rich germ and bran.
• Other good sources of magnesium include soy milk, low-fat dairy products, bananas, avocados and fish

Older people are at greater risk of magnesium deficiency, in part because they tend to consume less magnesium from food. Aging also tends to be associated with a decreased ability to absorb the magnesium from healthy foods you do eat, while the loss of magnesium through the kidneys may increase. Other people at higher risk of magnesium deficiency include those with chronic malabsorption conditions such as Chrohn’s disease, poorly controlled diabetes and alcoholism.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, November 2014.


Breakfast has always been seen as necessary to jumpstart your metabolism and fuel your daily activities. Previous research has promoted the fact that breakfast eaters tend to lose more weight and keep it off compared to people who skip the first meal of the day. But two recent studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest breakfast may be a good meal, but maybe not an absolute necessity. But if you’re a breakfast skipper, don’t worry. Breakfast still has value in an overall healthy lifestyle, but it appears not to be your primary meal ticket.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, November 2014.

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Mary’s Memo – November 3, 2014


The Food Substitution Bible, Second Edition by David Joachim (; $24.95/softback), the author has added 1,500 new substitutions for ingredients and equipment, 5 new ingredient guides and measuring tables and expanded existing entries and additional information. This book is 25% bigger than his first edition that won the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) award. In Joachim's own words: "Since 2003, interest in food and cooking has mushroomed beyond belief. Exciting ingredients like agave nectar and XO sauce have circled the globe and soared in popularity. Cooks are even hungrier for information on how to substitute ingredients, equipment and techniques in their kitchen." Whether you're looking to substitute a key ingredient or utensil, create a different flavor or texture or look for a healthier option, you'll find a wealth of fresh and enjoyable ideas that will give you all the information you'll need to improvise with confidence. Find substitutions for apple sauce (try pumpkin or plum puree); carrot (try parsnips, daikon, turnips or celery); lemon juice (try bottled lemon juice, brewed lemon tea, lime juice or white wine vinegar); pastry bag (try a plastic reseal able bag or rolled parchment paper). David Joachim has written, edited or collaborated on more than 30 cookbooks.


Patients with celiac disease can now buy products labeled "gluten free" with confidence that the foods really do have no more than trace amounts of the protein found in wheat and some other grains. US Food and Drug Administration rules requiring gluten-free products to contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten, originally published in 2013, are now binding on manufacturers. Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2014.


Studies have shown that certain pesticides can increase people's risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Now UCLA researchers have found that the strength of that risk depends on the individual's genetic makeup, which, in most pesticide-exposed populations could increase a person's chance of developing the debilitating disease two-to-six-fold. Researchers tested a number of pesticides and found 11 that inhibit the ALDH gene family and increase the risk of Parkinson's and at levels much lower than they are currently being used. The team also found that people with a common genetic variant of the ALDH2 gene are particularly sensitive to the effects of ALDH-inhibiting pesticides and are two to six times more likely to develop Parkinson's when exposed to these pesticides than those without the variant. The results of the epidemiological study appeared in the journal Neurology. Source: UCLA Division of Geriatrics Healthy/Years.


McCormick makes apple pie spice but you can make a tablespoonful by combining 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and a pinch ground allspice. It's a convenient mix to flavor apple pie or sprinkle on applesauce, either homemade or store-bought. I rarely leave Williams Sonoma without purchasing something. While there's still Italian parsley in my herb bed, I bought the Chef'n  Herbsicle Frozen Herb Keeper for $9.95. Container is packed as full as possible with whatever herb you wish, freeze for 24 hours and then use a knife to cut desired amount from the bottom. It's also top rack dishwasher safe! For more information go to The second Chef'n  gadget that caught my attention was a spice cube, also $9.95. Fill 4-cube container with your favorite herbs (do not overfill), flatten lid and place on top of tray, press individual cups to seal and prevent freezer burn. Once frozen, open desired section to release cube. It is also top-rack dishwasher safe. Mine are stored with chopped thyme, oregano, sage and mint.


As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, it is the busiest time of the year for most of us. That's when a slow cooker comes in handy. While you're shopping for gifts, getting ready for company, making holiday goodies or "decking the halls with boughs of holly," let the handy appliance do the rest! May I suggest Allrecipes' Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff. Serve on a bed of noodles, add a salad and have an Ohio-grown apple for dessert and the meal is complete! Having made this already, it gets high marks for family or guests! I added an additional 4-ounce can USA-grown mushroom stems and pieces to the recipe, also reduced- fat cream cheese instead of regular.


  • 1 pound cubed stew meat

  • 1 (10.75-oz) can Campbell's Healthy Request Golden Mushroom Soup, undiluted

  • 1 (4-oz) can USA grown and processed mushroom stems and pieces, undrained

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 4-ounces reduced-fat cream cheese

In slow cooker, combine the meat, soup, mushroom stems and pieces, onion and Worcestershire sauce. Cook on HIGH one hour; cook on LOW setting additional 7 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving. Recipe makes 4 servings. Source: Adapted from, the world's favorite recipe website. Download PDF

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Mary’s Memo – October 27th


Although I bought Not Just Another Cookbook, Classic Recipes, Simple Cooking by Colleen Brethren in Kettering, OH, where she lives, it is also available from Not too many cookbooks are written by a project engineer, but Brethren takes her attention to inventive solutions and combines it with her passion for food. The result is a collection of more than 200 mouthwatering recipes written clearly for the beginner, yet stimulating and daring for the experienced. And because of her analytical mind and attention to detail, there are even instructions about tools of the trade and tips on using them efficiently. Who knew that 40 twists of the pepper grinder equals 1 teaspoon of pepper?! Not Just Another Cookbook is for every bride, or groom-to-be. It’s a gastronomical bible for empty-nesters, bachelors and anyone who loves mouthwatering, inventive and taste-tested dishes


• 4 bone-in pork chops, 1/2-inch thick
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, cut in thin wedges
• 1/2 apricot preserves
• 1 tablespoon Dijon or spicy mustard
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Season chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork and onions and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the preserves, mustard, water, paprika and nutmeg in a micro-safe bowl. Heat mixture in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Pour mixture over pork and onions, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 10 minutes.
Source: “Not Just Another Cookbook” by Colleen Brethren.


If you grew up being taught to clean your plate and still mostly follow that motherly admonition, you’re not alone. A new analysis of 14 studies on portion and consumption habits finds that US adults eat almost 92 percent of the food we put on our plates. And the drive to eat everything on your plate isn’t just an American habit: Researchers found almost identical patterns in Canada, France, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland and the Netherlands.

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2014.


Whenever Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine runs for office, including re-election, Fran DeWine writes a cook booklet. The 12th edition has my recipe for Buffalo Chicken Salad. Fran loves to cook and so do their 8 children. A new recipe in the 12th edition is Fran’s Roasted Vegetables that she prepares for Thanksgiving dinner “They were the first thing to be eaten.” reports Fran.

Be sure sizes are the same so they will cook evenly. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus take less time, she cautions.


• Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
• Turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• Small onions or onion wedges
• Whole cloves of garlic
• Brussels sprouts, whole or cut in half if large

Toss with olive oil. Put on large baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 425ºF for 40 minutes or until vegetable are tender.
Source: Fran DeWine’s Family Favorites, 12th Edition.


If it is candy you bought to pass out, freeze it in an additional freezer bag. I froze leftover candy corn and peanuts last year and it survived in good condition (open the bag while it returns to room temperature). Chop chocolate candies and use like chips in cookies. My Grandfather Smith insisted that candy be served at the end of the meal, not in-between, and I did the same, replacing a regular dessert with a candy bar.


My slow cooker is utilized at least once a week to test recipes, make soup to freeze or a favorite entrée. It’s as essential as any appliance in my kitchen! This week’s Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup can also be made with ground turkey.


• 2 pounds ground beef
• 4 medium onions, chopped
• 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
• 1/2 cup steak sauce (I used Heinz)
• 16-ounces reduced-fat American cheese, chopped (I used unwrapped Kraft Sharp Cheddar slices)

Spray 5 or 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In large skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until brown; drain. In slow-cooker mix ground beef, onions, tomatoes and steak sauce. Cover and cook on high 1 hour; then reduce to low heat for an additional 5 hours. Stir in cheese long enough to melt, stirring occasionally. Recipe makes 10 servings.
Source: Adapted from recipe.


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Mary’s Memo – October 20th


I haven’t tried a recipe in the Junior League of Pasadena cookbook, California Mosaic, that I haven’t liked! Published in 2008, each chapter includes basic recipes that can be transformed into multiple dishes, local histories, places of interest, menu ideas and beautiful artwork. The latest recipe I’ve tried is Apple Brownies made with area grown Bauman Orchards Ginger Gold apples. I skipped the Lemon Glaze to cut calories.


• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• 2 eggs
• 4 cups finely chopped, peeled apples
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
• 1/2 cup dark raisins

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Beat sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add flour mixture and eggs to the creamed mixture and beat until blended. Stir in apples, walnuts and raisins. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared dish and bake 45 minutes or until brownies test done. Let stand until cool and cut into 24 to 30 bars. Store brownies in an airtight container.
Source: Adapted from California Mosaic recipe.


Canned tuna accounts for 28 percent of Americans’ exposure to mercury. You know you should eat more seafood, but you are confused about what types are healthiest and safest. One worry: methylmercury, which can cause neurological damage in fetuses and have harmful effects in children as well as adults who eat a lot of high-mercury fish. A recent Consumer Reports analysis of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) data on mercury in seafood found 20 types of fish and shellfish that are low in that toxic metal. The bad news: Canned tuna, second only to shrimp as America’s favorite catch, isn’t one of them. Consumer Reports found that 20 percent of the samples tested by the FDA since 2005 had almost twice the average level of the toxin the agency lists for that type of tuna. Some had 7 times as much. (Albacore, or white, tuna has even higher average mercury levels than canned light.) Consumers have no way to know how much mercury is in any can. As a result, Consumer Reports experts say that pregnant women should avoid tuna, canned or fresh. They, along with women of child-bearing age, those who are breastfeeding, young children and adults who eat 24 ounces or more of fish per week, should also steer clear of high mercury fish: Gulf tile fish, king mackerel, shark and swordfish. Lowest mercury fish are oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp (most wild and U.S. farmed), domestic squid and domestic tilapia and wild and Alaskan salmon, canned or fresh. Low-mercury fish are Atlantic croaker, Atlantic mackerel, catfish, crab, domestic crawfish, founder and sole, haddock, mullet, Pollock and trout.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, October 2014

Note: My go-to-person at Purdue, Dinah Dalder, MS, RD, CNSC, CD, Dietetics Program Manager, Department of Nutrition Science, reports the following: “The main concern with the canned tuna and mercury content is for children, fetuses and pregnant and women of childbearing age. Others are welcome to be careful of the amount of tuna they eat but moderation is acceptable.”

Personally, I’ll be looking for alternatives to canned tuna and only eating it occasionally in tuna casseroles, where it is extended with other ingredients, not plain.


There are choices throughout the store from fall motif cupcake liners to spicy-tasting Keurig cups! Thinking ahead to holiday baking needs, even if it isn’t on your mind yet, the price is right on sugar and flour. Watch for butter savings (it freezes, you know) because nothing thing is better than butter in baked goods! This is another year of December following Thanksgiving in only a few days. Christmas of 2013 almost did me in and I’m determined that history doesn’t repeat itself in 2014! Roll making is on my October agenda.


In the past when a recipe called for ground beef, I always bought ground chuck. However, I’ve taken a second look at ground beef because it costs less and like you, I want the cheapest best buy. It may have more fat than ground chuck but it doesn’t take any longer to drain it. It’s the cost-perserving that matters. And yes, I took advantage of savings on 2 pounds of ground beef on my 8 weeks of coupon savings card. During the last week of coupon savings, October 30 thru November 5, a 5-pound bag of Spartan sugar is just $1.77, limit 2. That will make a lot of peanut brittle in my kitchen.

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Mary’s Memo – October 13th


The Cook’s Essential Kitchen Dictionary, Second Edition, by Jacques L. Roland is an exciting blend of food history, anecdotes, origins and culture. How often have you found yourself in the middle of preparing a recipe when you come across an unfamiliar term? If you are like most people, the answer is probably quite often. Not recognizing a word and its meaning can diminish the pleasure of preparing a dish. The Cook’s Essential Kitchen Dictionary, Second Edition, has been reviewed, vetted and edited to reflect today’s culinary landscape. So whether you’re looking for an entertaining read or the answer to a specific question, this delightful book offers a unique vantage point to expand your knowledge of food and your appreciation of cooking.

Jacques L. Roland was born in Chamery, France. He is a third-generation member of a hotel and restaurant family, has a degree in culinary arts and hotel management and is a certified sommelier. Roland travels extensively around the world and currently teaches an etiquette, service and wine class. He is also the author of The Food Encyclopedia. The Cook’s Essential Kitchen Dictionary, Second Edition, (; September 2014, $19.95/softback) is available from


No matter which lettuce you choose, filling your plate with no more than 10 calories per cup of greens may decrease your portion sizes of higher-calorie starches and/or proteins, which is a smart weight management tactic. To get the most nutrition per bite, the more colorful the lettuce, the better. Darker-colored leaves are able to absorb more light and synthesize more vitamins as they grow. While iceberg lettuce is extremely hydrating (it is 96% water), other lettuce varieties, such as romaine, spinach, arugula, kale and red leaf lettuce, do contain more nutrients, such a vitamin A, C, K and folate, as well as calcium, potassium and fiber. A word of caution: Collard greens, kale and spinach are high in vitamin K. If you are taking a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin), consume the same amount of greens from week to week, since they can affect how your medication works.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, October 2014.


Ball canning lids have a shelf life of 3 to 5 years. According to Ball representative, company doesn’t guarantee a safe seal if lid is older. You’re not seeing Kerr jars and lids anymore because Ball bought Kerr in 1996. Any Kerr jars you have are now a collectible item. Also, Ball lids are silver, not gold colored. In addition to 5% acidic vinegar, Heinz sells Cleaning Vinegar that is 6% acidic.

There are Tostitos Multigrain Scoops from Frito Lay (no artificial flavors or preservatives and no MSG). I’ll never buy regular scoops again!

Marzetti is making two flavors of Baked Croutons, neither with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or trans fat.


I found Easy Ziti with Sausage and Peppers on Crisco’s website. What I liked best about the recipe was that it makes 5 servings with only 8-ounces of meat. Since Bob Evans, Jimmy Dean and another brand sold in the meat case contain MSG, I used Chief’s own MSG-free Smokehouse brand instead, removing the casing from 3 links.


• 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
• 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
• 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1-1/2 tablespoons Crisco Pure Olive Oil
• 3 links Chief Smokehouse Hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes • Salt & pepper to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon of each)
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley (1 teaspoon dried)
• 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (about 1-1/2 teaspoons dried)
• 2 cups cooked ziti (1 cup uncooked = 2 cups cooked)
• Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Cook onions and peppers in 4 quart saucepan over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sausage; continue cooking until sausage is no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Stir in crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley and basil. Toss with cooked pasta. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese to taste. Recipe makes 5 servings. Source: Adapted from Crisco recipe.


According to The Cook’s Essential Dictionary, Second Edition, it is an Italian phrase that means “to the tooth.” The term is used to describe pasta that is not overcooked or soft, but with a bit of resistance in the bite.

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Mary’s Memo – October 6th


According to the National Pork Board, it marks the time when hogs were traditionally marketed. Today it serves as a celebration to thank pork producers and share their stories with consumers. October Pork Month is an opportunity to refresh the connection consumers have with farmers. Pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat representing 42% of the meat consumed, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Some 81% of the population consumes pork in-home at least once in a two-week period. The top 5 most popular pork products are ham, sausage, bacon, lunchmeat (excluding ham) and pork chops. The recommended internal temperature of cooked pork is now 145ºF unless you’re making this week’s Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin via my niece, Beth. I love using a slow cooker, especially when I’m busy with other things (I’m not always cooking). Original recipe didn’t call for cooking on high at all but if it contains meat, I always start on high for an hour, then turn knob to low for remaining time.


• 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I use La Choy brand because it doesn’t contain gluten)
• 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
• 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons diced dried onions
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 pounds pork tenderloin

Whisk first 6 ingredients together. In a 5 to 6-quart crock pot, spoon sauce over tenderloin. Cook on high 1 hour; reduce to low setting and cook an additional 5 hours.
Source: Adapted from recipe via Beth Trentadue, Rome City, IN.


Recently, another niece wondered why I was so opposed to monosodium glutamate. First sold under the name, Accent, MSG became available as a flavor enhancer when I was a student at Purdue. I never did think it made “one chicken taste like two,” nor did we need another salt in our diet when we already had sodium chloride to season food. But my opposition became adamant when our youngest son, Chris, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at age 39. One thing ALS patients have in common is too much natural glutamate in their systems and MDA at the Indiana University Medical Center advised Chris to avoid any food with MSG. Ever since this time I have avoided it like the plague! It may be the seasoning salt of choice in Asian countries, but it’s the law in the USA that it be listed on the label no matter how much or how little is used in a food product. That’s because there are people who are highly allergic to MSG and could have a serious reaction if they ate it in anything. There are food companies like McCormick, Penzeys, Lays (except for their Cheetos) and Better than Bouillon that are MSG-free. I’d like it removed from all food products! Marzetti has salad dressings with it but brag about their MSG-free products. Campbell’s do the same. Looking for bulk hot Italian sausage for a recipe, Bob Evans, Jimmy Dean and another brand in the meat department all contained it. Chief’s Smokehouse brand is MSG-free so I bought the links and removed the casing. In no way am I trying to force you to go to the lengths I do to avoid buying anything with it, but just letting you know why I personally avoid MSG at all cost!


The healthiest diet is made up of a variety of whole foods, but sometimes, meeting your nutrient needs can be challenging. Making your own shakes and smoothies at home can be less expensive, and you can tailor them to your taste preferences. Because milk and Greek yogurt are great sources of protein, they make ideal bases. For an added boost of protein, make double-strength milk by mixing 1/2 cup powdered milk with 1 cup milk.


• 6-ounces nonfat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup skim or soy milk
• 1 tablespoon peanut butter
• 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth; serve immediately. Nutritional information: 252 calories, 26 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams total fat, 3 grams fiber, 151 milligrams sodium.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, October 2014.

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Mary’s Memo – September 29th


In case you missed it, fall officially arrived on September 23rd (I thought seasons changed on the 21st). Even though the Farmer’s Almanac predicts another cold winter try not to think about it. Instead enjoy fall’s pleasures including warm days and cool nights, mums in abundance (my favorite flower), leaves changing color, football games, harvesting “last of the garden” vegetables and apple desserts.

With those last of the garden vegetables in mind, daughter Mary Ann makes Summer Pasta with Walnuts. Recipe calls for fresh corn kernels but if fresh sweet corn isn’t available replace with frozen corn.


• 8-ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta), uncooked
• 2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
• 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
• 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
• 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
• 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1-1/2 cups seeded tomatoes
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes. Add squash and zucchini; return to a boil); return to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Add corn; cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain well. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (basil through pepper) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture and tomato; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts; garnish with basil spring if desired. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings (239 calories, 28% from fat in each 2 cup serving).
Source: Cooking Light, June 1997, via Mary Ann Thaman


Many foods that you may not think of as being sweet contain a significant amount of added sugar. Examples include ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, flavored yogurt, breakfast cereal, granola and protein bars, bread, crackers and rolls. Added sugar comes in many forms; look for these terms, which are all sugars, on ingredients list: Agave nectar; Barley malt syrup; Beet sugar; Brown sugar; Corn sweetener; Corn syrup; Dextrose; Evaporated cane juice; Fructose; Fruit juice concentrate; Glucose; Fructose corn syrup; Honey; Invert sugar; Lactose; Maltose; Maple syrup; Molasses; Raw sugar; Sucrose; Syrup.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2014.


Some Citrus fruits and juices can affect the absorption of a drug’s active ingredients from your gastrointestinal tract, resulting in too much or too little of the drug getting into your bloodstream. For example, an enzyme in oranges and grapefruits can accelerate absorption of the cholesterol drug atorvastatin (Lipitor and generic) potentially leading to too-high blood levels. And the calcium in dairy foods can inhibit the absorption of certain drugs, including antibiotics, making them less effective. That’s why some drug labels advise waiting several hours after consuming citrus or dairy foods before taking them or even avoiding these foods altogether.
Source: Consumer Reports On Health, September 2014.


You’re probably familiar with baby carrots and baby corn, maybe even baby lettuce, zucchini and eggplant. But did you know there are microgreens and they’re one of the latest culinary trends at upscale restaurants and specialty markets with their rich colors and distinct flavors. Some large supermarkets now carry them, too. A downside is their cost: about $7.00 to $12.00 per 1/4 pound (a little goes a long way).You can grow your own for far less. Supplies, including “microgreen kits,” are sold at gardening stores and online. Microgreens are best used as edible garnishes or as additions to salads, sandwiches and other dishes. They keep for about five days if you refrigerate them in a sealed bag.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 2014.


Marilyn Sachs, retired Extension Educator, Bryan, makes a white chili with only 4 ingredients. That’s “music to the ears” of any busy person or not! Although soup is a year-round food for me, nothing tastes better when there’s a chill in the air than a bowl of hearty soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. When we were a family of six, it was popular fare on football Friday night.


• 6-ounce can of boned chicken or same amount of chopped rotisserie chicken (about 1 cup)
• 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
• 8-ounces Velveeta cheese
• 1 can Rotel Tomatoes

Heat all ingredients together until cheese is melted (about 10 to 15 minutes). Serve immediately.
Source: Marilyn Sachs, Bryan OH.

Note: There is now a Cheddar Velveeta cheese available.

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Mary’s Memo – September 22nd


Whether you’re cooking for two or serving a crowd, Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye makes easy work of creating delicious, satisfying meals, representing cultures from around the world. In this full-color book with more than 80 photographs, you’ll find 200 recipes featuring the best of North American regional cuisine and globally inspired dishes. All the recipes have been created with convenience in mind. While most of the recipes in this book serve from 4 to 8 people and are perfect for families, there are also chapters like Meals for Two and Big Batch Dinners. Along with the recipes, there are handy slow cooker tips and time savers, as well as general slow cooker know-how. Donna-Marie Pye is a professional Home Economist and food writer who has also authored Canada’s Best Slow Cooker Recipes, The Best Family Slow Cooker Recipes, and 300 Slow Cooker Favorites. She has a 20-year career in the food industry working with such companies as Kraft Foods, Ontario Turkey Farmers and Ontario Pork and California Raisins. Donna-Marie shares her kitchen with her husband and family in Waterloo, Ontario. Donna-Marie uses some ready-made ingredients in Creamy Artichoke Casserole. To reduce calories she says that light Alfredo sauce and light mayonnaise can replace regular versions.


• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
• 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions
• 1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
• 1 (10-oz) container Alfredo sauce
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1-1/2 cups croutons, coarsely crushed
• Sliced green onions (optional)

In large bowl, combine red pepper, chicken, Asiago, green onions, artichokes, Alfredo sauce and mayonnaise. Transfer to a prepared 4 to 6-quart slow cooker stoneware. Sprinkle with croutons. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until bubbling. If desired, garnish with sliced green onions. Serve with rice and a crisp green salad. Recipe makes 6 servings. Source: Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye (; August 2014, $19.95/softback).
Cookbook is available from


A meta-analysis of 19 exercise and drug trials comprising more than 339,000 participants found that exercise can be as effective as medications on mortality outcomes, specifically, as secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure treatment (albeit, diuretics were found more effective than exercise) and diabetes prevention. People who exercise have a higher quality of life and improved health compared to those with sedentary lifestyles. Similar findings have been shown in arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illnesses, among other chronic conditions. The World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease study ranks physical inactivity as the fifth leading cause of disease burden in Western Europe but also as one of the top modifiable risk factors, along with smoking. According to John Ioannidis, MD, DSC, director of Stanford Prevention Care Center at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Huseyin Naci, research fellow at the London School of Economics, exercise should be considered as a viable alternative to, or along with, medications. The study is published in the British Medical Journal.
Source: Duke Medicine HealthNews, September 2014


Some Mary’s Memo recipes are tested in my kitchen …. others at the Bryan Chief Supermarket. Red Potatoes & Green Bean Sauté was one of them.


• 1 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and halved
• 1 lb. fresh green beans, cut in half or 3rds depending on length
• 1-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Salt, to taste
• 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (basil makes the dish so don’t skimp)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes; cook about 15 minutes until almost tender. Add green beans and cook about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain well. In same pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add potatoes, beans and salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 2 minutes, or until heated through, tossing to coat. Add basil and toss once more before serving. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from a Deen brothers recipe.


“Is it safe to eat yet” is the question you ask most often when you call me at home. My answer is usually “when in doubt throw it out.” Unfortunately no matter how much I try to do otherwise, I discard food that is no longer usable. As for frozen food, I rarely throw any away even though it may be two years old. Reorganizing my upright freezer food yesterday I discovered two turkey thighs that I bought just before Thanksgiving, 2012. I cooked them in enough water to cover, refrigerated both broth and turkey so today I can remove the fat on top and use broth and cut up turkey in stuffing like I make at Thanksgiving. And yes, I will serve McCormick Turkey Gravy on top. Another option would be to cook noodles in the defatted broth seasoned with dried sage and poultry seasoning, then mix with cubes of meat for turkey and noodles.

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