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Mary’s Memo – July 7th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Wish you could cook fish, roasts or even risotto perfectly every single time? "The trick," says foremost cooking authority James Peterson "is to know when to stop cooking." If you hate worrying about whether your cooking will turn out half-raw or overdone, Peterson's latest book, Done (Chronicle Books, May, 2014; $27.50/hardback), tells you exactly how to know by sound, smell, look and feel when more than 85 of the most vexing-to-cook foods are perfectly done. So if you suffer from too-firm artichokes, rubbery shellfish, raw-in-the-middle salmon and fried chicken, rubbery shellfish, hard cooked eggs with gray yolks, fallen soufflés, runny berry pie, limp bacon, dry-as-dirt turkey, too gooey brownies or greasy buttercream frosting, suffer no more! This book is your salvation in the kitchen.

James Peterson is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author, photographer, cooking instructor and former restaurant chef. He is the author of fifteen books and has won seven James Beard Foundation Awards. He cooks, writes and photographs in Brooklyn, New York.
Order Done by James Peterson via Amazon.com.

HOW ACID LOAD IN YOUR DIET CAN AFFECT YOUR HEALTH


Unless you have sensitive teeth or acid reflux disease, the amount of acid in your system probably isn't something you think about too often, But according to an article published in the December 2012 issue of Osteoporosis International, limiting acid load in your diet may help prevent sarcopenia, a loss of muscle mass and function that raises the risk of fracture, injury and disability in older adults. "On its own, the body is an excellent at stabilizing blood pH," says Alissa Lupu, RD, a clinical dietitian at Weill Cornel Medical Center. "It does so by removing excess acid via urine." However, it appears that an imbalance of proportions of acidic and alkaline foods may contribute to health problems. A balanced diet that consists of a ratio of two parts alkaline to 1 part acid seems to be the healthiest. Alkaline foods include most fresh fruits and vegetables, tofu, almonds, herbs and spices and mineral water. "Foods highest in acid include dairy, meat and poultry, fish, most grains, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine," says Lupu. You may be surprised to learn that some foods generally considered acidic, such as lemons and other citrus fruits, become alkaline once they are metabolized by the body. In fact, adding a splash of lemon juice to your water will make it an alkaline drink. Emphasizing alkaline foods means a diet that is plant-food focused, high in fiber and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But don't rule out acidic foods, either…. your body needs both.

"A meal of vegetables and tofu with a small serving of poultry, meat or dairy would be ideal, Lupu says.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women's Nutrition Connection, July 2014.

HEALTHY SNACKS


There are plenty of snacks available but not all of them healthy. Planters introduced 4 new peanut varieties including Salted Caramel and Cocoa. Do they taste good? Of course they do but reading the label they also contain ingredients I avoid like fructose. As for fat, label says they're processed in peanut or cottonseed oil (Which is it, Kraft?). A single serving of each has 160 calories including 110 fat calories or 1.5 percent saturated fat. Manufacturers think that because a lot of foods are seasoned with sea salt today consumers are more likely to buy it but sorry, folks, it's still sodium chloride and should be limited. When we're blessed with so much fresh produce in the summertime and most of it grown in the USA, doesn't it make sense to replace unhealthy snacks with a wedge of watermelon, a piece of cantaloupe, a plum or apricot? If you still crave something salty, have a bowl of popped corn with not too many calories and loaded with fiber. Another suggestion is to fill Popsicle molds with fresh fruit juice such as lemonade or limeade, orange, cranberry, pineapple, etc. If you don't have regular molds, freeze in Dixie-type cups and insert a wooden stick when juice begins to freeze.

BRINING BEFORE GRILLING


I resisted brining meat for a long time thinking it would increase my consumption of salt but I have to admit that it does make grilled meat more tender and juicy. That said here are the proportions for brining 2 boneless pork loin chops or 2 boneless, skinless breast halves (you can also use bone-in breast halves).

• 2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

Dissolve sugar in water; add salt and stir to dissolve. In a 1.5-quart oblong glass dish add meat to brining solution making sure meat is covered. Brine for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Drain and discard brine, then wipe meat dry with paper towels. I have told you before that I grill over indirect heat, not over the flame. So meat has grill marks, lay meat briefly over flame.
Source: Mary Ann Thaman.

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Mary’s Memo – June 30th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


You don’t need to be a vegan to enjoy recipes from Straight from the Earth Recipes for Everyone by Myra and Marea Goodman with colored photographs by Sara Remington. The book’s diverse and delectable collection of recipes takes you from breakfast and lunch to dinner and dessert. Each recipe comes from either Myra or Marea and their unique voices and styles add a personal, conversational element to this collaborative project. Marea, for instance, has long enjoyed a vegan diet, while Myra, her mother, has not; for Myra, writing the book has transformed the way she eats. She and her husband Drew founded Earthbound Farm on their 2.5 acre raspberry farm. It has since become the largest producer of organic produce in North America. Marea grew up on the farm and learned to cook surrounded by an abundance of fresh organic produce. Myra and her husband live on their original farm in Carmel Valley, California. Daughter Marea lives in Oakland, California.

Since roasted vegetables are a favorite of mine, Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots is an excellent side dish year round.

CUMIN-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND CARROTS


• 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
• 2 large carrots cut into 1/3 to 1/2 inch slices
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spread the cauliflower and carrots in a large rimmed roasting pan. Drizzle the oil over them and toss with your hands until they are coated. In small bowl, blend cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne together with a fork. Sprinkle the spices evenly over the vegetables and toss with your hands until vegetables are evenly coated. Make sure vegetables are spread out in pan and not touching each other if possible. Roast vegetables for 45 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes, then twice more at 10 minute intervals, making sure they remain spread out in pan. The vegetables are done when they are firm but easily pierced with a fork and beginning to turn golden brown. If they need more time in the oven after the initial 45 minutes, keep a close eye on them, stirring every 5 minutes. Serve vegetables warm or at room temperature. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Straight from the Earth by Myra and Marea Goodman (Chronicle Books, April 2014, $27.50/softback).

AVOID FRUIT-FLAVORED YOGURTS


Tufts Diet & Nutrition Letter Editor Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD, says he enjoys “traditional” Greek yogurt made with whole milk. “First of all, ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ yogurt made with traditional cultures with a long history may sometimes be richer in probiotic content,” he says. “These traditional yogurts also generally use less sugar or other sweeteners. ‘Greek’ yogurt means that it has been strained, so that it is more firm and contains less whey. Keep an eye on what’s added to your yogurt, however it’s made; if the ingredients list reads like a sundae, those additions will likely outweigh any health benefits from the yogurt itself. ‘Traditional’ yogurt is usually made with whole milk, and there is no evidence that low-fat yogurt is healthier per se.” Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2014.

WEIGHT WATCHER’S DIET


Of all the diet regimens on the market, Weight Watcher’s in my opinion is the best! This past year my Mary Ann and niece Gina have both lost a significant amount of weight on the diet without sacrificing good-tasting food. Another advantage to Weight Watcher’s is that fresh fruits and vegetables are free and good in-between-meal snacks. Recently, Gina had a recipe for Parmesan Tomato Bites on her Facebook page; I’m sure one that suits her diet regimen.

PARMESAN TOMATO BITES


• 2 tomatoes, sliced
• 1-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese
• 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
• Dash salt (1/8 teaspoon)
• Dash pepper (1/8 teaspoon)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Cut tomatoes lengthwise into approximately 1/3 inch slices. Place on a baking sheet. Top with shredded Parmesan, cheese, oregano, salt and fresh ground pepper (or according to taste). Drizzle with olive oil and bake until center is hot and cheese is melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Source: Gina Decker, Greensboro NC.

HOMEMADE PUDDING VERSUS “STORE-BOUGHT”


Many shoppers buy pudding in cups, especially when it’s on sale. If they knew how good homemade puddings tasted, a lot would opt to make their own. This is especially true of chocolate and butterscotch flavored puddings thickened with cornstarch although arrowroot or flour may be substituted for cornstarch.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING


• 1/3 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2-1/4 cups milk, scalded
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix cocoa with cornstarch and sugar; gradually whisk in scalded milk. Cook in double boiler, stirring until thick; cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Add vanilla extract. Pour into custard cups; chill until firm. Recipe makes 5 to 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – June 23rd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


In case you hadn’t noticed, the egg has been elevated to entrée status or at the very least, showing up on top of a variety of foods. Eggs on Top, Recipes Elevated by an Egg by Andrea Slonecker and photographs by David Reamer is a gem of a cookbook! With two distinct sections, this primer teaches first the classic techniques for cooking the humble egg. From perfectly poached to softly scrambled, each method is clearly conveyed to ensure egg cooking success. Skills mastered, you’ll find you can add an egg to nearly any recipe. Andrea Slonecker’s writing has appeared in the Oregonian’s MIX magazine and Northwest Palate magazine. She has served as executive director of the Portland Culinary Alliance and a chef instructor at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute in Portland, and she's the author of Pretzel Making at Home, also from Chronicle Books. David Reamer is a food and lifestyle photographer whose images have appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and GQ. David cooked for thirteen years before finally trading in his chef’s knife for a camera.

Have you ever poached eggs in milk? Now you can with a recipe from the cookbook. Slonecker likes them on a slice of buttered toast but they can be served on other entrees as well.

MILK-POACHED EGGS


• 1 cup milk
• Salt
• 2 farm-fresh eggs

Warm milk with a pinch of salt over medium-high heat. (Don’t be tempted to add vinegar to the eggs, as you would for water poaching because it will make the milk curdle.) Crack eggs into separate bowls. When the milk is foamy on top and you can see little bubbles starting to break the surface, gently slip the eggs in, one by one, on opposite sides of the pan. If the yolks aren’t quite submerged, use a spoon to delicately baste them with the hot milk. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the milk from boiling; it should be steaming and foamy, but not bubbling. Poach the eggs 2 to 3 minutes, depending on their size. To see if they are done, lift an egg from the milk with a slotted spoon and gently feel around the edges of the yolk. The yolk should jiggle and the white should feel set yet tender. Strain the eggs from the milk using the slotted spoon, and place them on the dish they are destined for.
Source: Eggs on Top by Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books, 2014, $24.95/softback).

WHY TRANS FATS ARE WORSE THAN OTHER TYPES OF FAT


Trans fats, which are made by adding extra hydrogen to vegetable oils, originally seemed like a promising alternative to butter because they provided a similar taste without saturated fat and cholesterol, but they turned out to be even worse for our health than saturated fat. Not only do they raise LDL (bad) cholesterol but they lower HDL (good) cholesterol and might contribute to inflammation. You can avoid them by steering clear of products that list “partially hydrogenated oil” as an ingredient. Some recent evidence suggests that saturated fat might not be as dangerous as once thought, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Source: ConsumerReports on Health, June 2014.

MARRIED PEOPLE HEART HEALTHIER


The largest study of its kind reports that married people are less likely to suffer from a range of cardiovascular problems, from heart disease to circulatory issues. In an analysis of data on more than 3.5 million Americans, average age 64, who’d undergone health screenings by a private company, married people were 5 percent less likely to have cardiovascular problems than singles. Compared to married participants, widowed people were at 3 percent greater risks and divorced people at 5 percent more risk. The correlation between marital status and cardiovascular health was strongest for those under age 50. The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2014.

WHAT COULD BE EASIER THAN THIS TO MAKE!


When the recipe was tested I used a cake mix (Duncan Hines) that weighed more. When I make it again I’ll use a cake mix like Betty Crocker that weighs about 4 ounces less. Knowing memo readers are attracted to recipes with a few ingredients, you’re going to love this dessert!

RHUBARB DUMP CAKE


• 4 cups cut-up rhubarb
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin
• 1 yellow cake mix
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
• 1 cup water

In a 9x13-inch glass baking dish layer rhubarb, sugar, gelatin and cake mix. DO NOT MIX OR STIR! Evenly pour butter and water over all. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 45 minutes or until rhubarb is cooked and top is golden brown. Recipe makes 16 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – June 16th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


The Complete Autism Spectrum Disorder Health & Diet Guide by Dr. R. Garth Smith, Susan Hannah and Elke Sengmueller (www.robertrose.ca; May 2014, $24.95/softback) includes 175 gluten free and casein-free recipes. In May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association provided new diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a term that incorporates diagnoses previously described as separate: autistic disorder, Asperger‘s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. This comprehensive book on ASD will be an invaluable resource for parents, caregivers and health professionals alike, since it combines the expertise of an outstanding author team with years of experience and a range of skills. Autism is making headlines in the news today. The authors clearly explain ASD …. its symptoms, possible causes, promising therapies and available resources that can improve children’s quality of life and help them reach their full potential. One of the diet therapies that families often try is the gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet. Although research is still somewhat divided, some families who try the GFCF recipes report reduced ASD-associated symptoms in children with milk and/or wheat allergies, suspected food sensitivities or gastrointestinal symptoms.

Dr. R. Garth Smith is a medical advisor for ASD. Susan Hannah is a respected health author and a former research associate at the Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University. Elke Sengmuelle, B.A.Sc., RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She runs a private practice, Family Nutrition Counseling and reviewed the dietary information in this book.

THE “EYES” HAVE IT: EAT TO PROTECT YOUR VISION


Generations of parents told their children that eating carrots would improve their vision. But those well-meaning moms and dads probably should have said the same about a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, since they contain the key nutrients that support eye health. “Certain antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamin C and E, may play a role against two common causes of vision loss, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts,” says Jessica Ciralsky, MD, with Weill Cornell Eye Associates. The nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin also have been shown to influence the health of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for clear central vision. Dr. Ciralsky recommends regular consumption of dark leafy vegetables which contain high levels of lutein and also trace amounts of zeaxanthin. Additional sources of zeaxanthin include corn and kiwifruit and egg yolks. While the yolks contain all the cholesterol in eggs, recent research suggest that eating eggs may have little impact on the levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol in your body. For vitamin C, consider adding more strawberries and citrus to your diet. Good sources of vitamin E include nuts and seeds, which also contain zinc, a mineral that is found in large concentrations in the retina and is thought to help bring vitamin A to the eye, Dr. Ciralsky explains. Beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in your body, is most plentiful in dark green and orange vegetables and fruits. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, June 2014.

WHY RED BEETS ARE CALLED HARVARD


When I recently served Mother’s Harvard Beets from my cookbook at the Bryan Chief, a taster asked why they were called “Harvard.” Not knowing the answer, I went to the internet for information. There is only speculation about the origin but in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink food historians had a couple theories. One was that the crimson color of the beets is the same color as the jerseys of Harvard football players. Another story is that a Russian immigrant settled in Boston and opened a restaurant called Hardwood’s but his Russian accent made it sound like Harvard and the name stuck.

MAKE DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE SNACK CAKE FOR DAD


Isn’t everyone looking for easy desserts to make in the summertime? This week’s recipe from Pillsbury is perfect for the fatherin-your-life, especially if he’s a chocoholic. A single serving has 230 calories with only 80 from fat. The only change I made was replacing regular cocoa powder with Hershey Special Dark but if you prefer, use regular.

DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE SNACK CAKE


• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup water
• 3 tablespoons canola oil
• 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• Powdered sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In an ungreased 9x5-inch loaf pan, mix flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt with a fork. Stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and powdered sugar. Sprinkle chocolate chips over batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Cut into 6 servings. Source: Pillsbury internet recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – June 9th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


There’s no reason to settle for leftovers or a hastily thrown together meal when you could be cooking with sumptuous recipes specifically designed for one or two people. They can also be easily scaled up if you’re entertaining. Delicious Diabetes Cooking for One or Two People by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson comes to the rescue with wonderful recipes plus a wealth of diabetes-related information, everything from symptoms, diagnosis and blood sugar control to alternative sweetener information and nutritional therapy. None of the recipes are long or complicated and many are even suitable for those managing other dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy allergies. Berriedale-Johnson is a bestselling author and the founder of the Free From Food Award (food allergy/intolerance). She lives in the United Kingdom.
We selected Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins to share.

WHOLE WHEAT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS


• 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar (this is raw sugar and is available at Chief)
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 small egg (or 2 tablespoons beaten eggs)
• 1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
• 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• Pinch salt
• 1/3 cup blueberries

Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat the sugar, butter, egg and milk. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Fill empty cups with water. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool slightly on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Recipe makes 3 to 4 small muffins.
Source: Delicious Diabetes Cooking for One or Two People by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson (www.robertrose.ca; May 2014, $19.95/softback).

TO IMPROVE YOUR MOOD, SMILE!


The old adage “grin and bear it” has some proven value, as indicated in a 2012 study in Psychological Science. University students who simulated different types of smiles while performing stressful tasks had lower heart rates than students who donned neutral expressions. And a classic study from 1988 found that activating smile muscles made people rate cartoons as funnier. In contrast, just lowering the eyebrows (in effect, frowning) had an immediate negative effect on mood in a 2012 study in the journal Emotion.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, June 2014.

THE RAIN DIDN’T HURT THE RHUBARB


I don’t know if it was the bag of 10-10-10 that I applied where the rhubarb grows in early March but I have the best rhubarb I’ve had in several years! If you have a bumper crop and like easy recipes, you must make Five Ingredient Rhubarb Squares. Before blending the cold butter with the cake mix, be sure butter is cut into many small pieces. Mine should have been smaller when I tested the recipe.

FIVE- INGREDIENT RHUBARB SQUARES


• 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix
• 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
• 1-3/4 cups sugar
• 3 eggs
• 4 cups sliced rhubarb

Heat oven to 350ºF (325ºF for dark or nonstick pan). Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cake mix. In large bowl, cut butter into remaining cake mix, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), blend until crumbly. In bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch pan, pat 2 cups of the mixture. Reserve remaining crumbly mixture for topping. Bake 13 minutes. In large bowl, beat reserved 2 tablespoons cake mix, sugar and eggs with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Stir in rhubarb. Pour over partially baked crust. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture over top. Bake 45 to 50 minutes longer or until golden brown and center is set. Cool slightly before serving. Serve warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator. Recipe makes 16 servings (290 calories, 100 from fat).
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – June 2nd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Juicing machines are a top-selling kitchen appliance. Home juicing, which ten years ago was just a fad among health food enthusiasts, has entered the mainstream kitchen in a big way. Best 100 Juices for Kids by Jessica Fisher brings this revolution home for the kids or grandchildren in the family.

Every parent knows that pediatricians and kids’ dentists decry the effects on children, from bad teeth and sleepless nights to obesity and the risk of diabetes from drinks loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. But what to do? Most children want something more interesting than plain water and something sweeter than a glass of milk.

Cookbook author and blogger, Fisher, mom of six, discovered the answer shortly after she brought home a juicing machine. She experimented with hundreds of flavor combinations and discovered a wealth of recipes that could pass the rigorous six-children-test in her home. In Best 100 Juices for Kids, Fisher shares the tasty, sparkling results. Seventy recipes are for juices, 45 fruit-based and 25 vegetable based. The remaining 30 feature luscious smoothies, including several dairy-free recipes, and “sparklies,” which are club soda-based carbonated drinks, great replacements for artificially flavored and sugary soda pop. For the hot months there are recipes for icy slushes and refreshing juice-based ice pops. Jessica Fisher lives in the San Diego area with her husband and six children that she home schools with plenty of breaks for healthy beverages. Her bestselling first book, Not Your Mother’s Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, added to her reputation as an author with a lot of clever ideas for feeding a family cheaply and nutritiously.

These days everyone’s favorite condiment is salsa and Gazpacho Juice tastes just like salsa in a glass. Feel free to add a few dashes of hot pepper sauce for those who like a little kick. You may also crave a few tortilla chips with your drink.

GAZPACHO JUICE


• 2 medium tomatoes
• 1 medium cucumber
• 1 large red bell pepper
• 1 medium lime
• 1/2 small red onion
• 2 handfuls fresh cilantro

Core tomatoes. Trim the cucumber. Core and seed the pepper. Peel the lime if desired. Juice the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lime, onion and cilantro according to your juicing machine. Whisk to combine. Add water to taste if you or your children prefer a milder juice. Recipe makes 15 to 20-ounces.
Source: 100 Best Juices for Kids (Harvard Common Press, April 2014, 16.95/softback.

SAY GOODNIGHT TO YOUR SMART PHONE


In two studies out of Michigan State University, managers and employees who checked their smart phones after 9 p.m. were more tired the next morning and less engaged at work the following day than those who didn’t use their phones during that time. The phones keep us mentally engaged, one of the authors said, and “make it hard to detach from work so they can relax and fall asleep.”
SOURCE: Consumer Reports on Health, May 2014.

CANNED FRUITS & VEGGIES – NUTRITIOUS & AFFORDABLE


Research suggests that canned fruits and vegetables are on a par nutritionally with fresh and frozen, and can be an affordable way of helping boost your intake of produce. The review, published February 27, 2014, in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, analyzed more than 40 studies comparing canned fruits and vegetables to fresh and frozen varieties based on nutrition and cost. The researchers found that canned vegetables often cost 20 to 50 percent less than fresh and frozen varieties, with virtually no sacrifices in nutritional quality. One caveat: Canned foods are often high in salt, so choose sodium-free products or rinse vegetables thoroughly before consuming them. Also, rinse fruit if it is canned in syrup.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2014.

CRISPS AND COBBLERS


Crisps and cobblers are mainly different in their use of toppings. Cobblers have biscuit dough dropped on top of fruit so it looks like a cobbled street when baked. Crisps have a topping made by combining butter with flour, sugar (either white or brown) and sometimes oatmeal until crumbly. Both are made with a variety of fresh fruits but usually not citrus because of its water content. Thickening in crisps and cobblers is usually flour or cornstarch. This week’s recipe for Peach Crisp was shared by Sister Regina Smith, our retired pastoral assistant at St. Patrick’s Church in Bryan.

PEACH CRISP


• 3 to 4 cups sliced fresh peaches (other fruits can be used)
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ginger
• Pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 cup quick oatmeal
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Mix first 7 ingredients together. Pour into a 9x9x2-inch baking dish. In separate bowl mix together last 4 ingredients for the topping. Sprinkle over fresh fruit mixture. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 45 minutes.
Source: Sister Regina Smith, Perrysburg, OH.

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Mary’s Memo – May 26th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


For me the barbecue season begins Memorial Day weekend and just in time to make outdoor grilling more intriguing is Marinades by Lucy Vaserfirer, the quick fix way to turn everyday food into exceptional fare. How about Grilled Apricot-Ginger-Lime marinated Shrimp or Grilled Raspberry-Chipotle Marinated Baby Back Ribs? Are you in the middle of a busy week? There’s hardly anything quicker to prepare than Basil-Tangerine Marinated Chicken Breasts. Or if company is coming stir up a surprising Beet- Horseradish Marinade, soak some salmon fillets in the marinade for a half hour and bake for an amazing easy dinner with plenty of time leftover to spend with your guests. Recipes range from comforting American, French and Italian marinades to adventuresome and assertive ideas from Mexico, Latin America, Asia and beyond. Lucy Vaserfirer is a culinary educator and blogger. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, she teaches culinary courses at Clark College in Vancouver WA, and at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham OR, and appears often on cooking segments on Portland-area TV. Her previous books are Seared to Perfection and Flavored Butters. She lives with her husband in Vancouver WA.

When you don’t have time to start from scratch and mince garlic, chiles and other ingredients, you can rely on sriracha, the popular chile and garlic sauce (available at Chief), good as a marinade for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pork chops, beef steaks, white fish fillets, shrimp and sea scallops.

SRIRACHA MARINADE


• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 1/4 cup sriracha sauce
• 3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
• 2 tablespoons sugar

Measure the canola oil, srichacha sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar into a 1-gallon zip-top bag and shake and squeeze until blended. Add thighs, pork chops or beef steaks and marinate 2 hours to overnight. White fish, shrimp, sea scallops and squid should marinate 20 to 45 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels, then grill over direct heat. Marinade makes enough for 4 to 6 servings. Source: Marinades by Lucy Vaserfirer (Harvard Common Press, April 2014, $17.95/paperback), available at Amazon.com.

ALL ABOUT BLACKBERRIES


Keep in mind that berries of any kind are very perishable and should be used as soon as possible after you bring them home. Never wash until you are ready to use them. When blackberries were on sale recently I served my version of Taste of Home’s Fresh Blackberry Cobbler. I replaced vegetable shortening with butter and whole milk with 2% (what I had in the refrigerator). It worked fine so use whatever kind you usually buy.

FRESH BLACKBERRY COBBLER


• 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 4 cups fresh blackberries, washed and air dried
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons cold butter
• 1/2 cup milk (whatever kind you use)
• Vanilla ice cream (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in blackberries and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour into 1-1/2-quart oblong glass baking dish. In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add milk and stir into flour mixture until just moistened. Drop evenly over hot blackberry mixture (I had 3 rows). Bake in preheated 400ºF oven until topping is golden brown. Mine took between 20 to 25 minutes (check at 20 minutes). Serve warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home recipe.

One of my Bryan Chief tasters was Dr. Gary Sammons, retired Bryan chiropractor, who told me his mother, Pearl, made 111 Kentucky Fruit Cobbler. It takes less time than the one I made so I tried it over the weekend. The Sammons' serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Cobbler can be made with strawberries, blueberries, fresh peaches, apples, etc. He also told me they cut the 1 stick of butter in half and I followed their recommendation.

PEARL’S KENTUCKY COBBLER


• 1/2 stick butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup self-rising flour
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup fresh fruit

Melt butter in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish in oven. Mix flour, sugar, milk and self-rising flour together. Pour into dish. Arrange fresh fruit evenly over batter. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 45 minutes.
Source: Dr. Gary Sammons, Bryan, OH.

PS: After having everything ready to make the cobbler, I discovered that my self-rising flour use-by date had expired so I made my own by mixing 1 cup flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoons salt together.

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Mary’s Memo – May 19th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


The population of the “oldest old” is expected to triple soon, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So what really counts when it comes to enjoying the extra time on earth? The answer is to have full use of your mental abilities and be free of disabling neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. “Keep Your Brain Young” by Dr. Fraser Smith and Dr. Ellie Aghdassi (www.robertrose.ca, Toronto ON, April 2014, $24.95/softback) addresses the subject and also includes 150 recipes. Dr. Smith, BA, ND, was trained at Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, CA, where he also served as the former Dean of the Naturopathic Program. He is registered to practice naturopathic medicine in Ontario and licensed as a naturopathic physician in Vermont. He is past president (2008 to 2013) of the Illinois Association Of Naturopathic Physicians. He currently resides in Illinois. Dr. Ellie Aghdassi, PhD, RD, is the Program Manager for the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance (TDRA), a Registered Dietitian and a Senior Scientific Associate at the University Health Network. She resides in Toronto, ON. Book is available at Amazon.com.

EGGSTRA! EGGSTRA!


I notice that medium eggs are often on sale at area Chief Supermarkets. These are fine to scramble, fry or make egg salad but not for baking because recipes are developed with large eggs. Large eggs are also my preference to devil because there is more yolk in a large egg. By the way, I cringe when I see recipes calling for ‘hard boiled’ eggs because they should never be boiled! I do 7 eggs at-a-time in a Cuisinart Egg Cooker but when more are needed, set eggs out until they are room temperature, then cover with water; set over medium heat and when water just starts to bubble on top, remove from heat and cover for 20 minutes. Then place pan under cold running water (ice cubes will hasten the process) until shells feel cool; drain and peel. For ease of peeling, it helps if eggs are not fresh-from-the-store. How long should ‘hard cooked’ eggs be refrigerated? It is better to use them within 5 days because with cooking, the shell lost its protective coating.

ALLERGIES


Can adults develop allergies? The answer is yes. People can develop allergies or allergic asthma at any age. It’s likely that some of them had an allergic reaction as a child or adolescent that they don’t remember. Moreover, if you have one allergy, you can progress to others over the years, perhaps as a result of getting a new pet or moving to a region with different trees, plants and grasses. Most food allergies begin the first or second year of life, but they can certainly develop in adulthood, with seafood being the most common culprit. In addition, food intolerances (to lactose in milk, for example) are most likely to begin, or at least become more bothersome, in adulthood. Until fairly recently it was common wisdom that children not be fed highly allergenic foods until they are a year old. But it turned out that there is no evidence that avoiding these foods past four to six months of age reduces the risk of allergies. In fact, it’s now known that early introduction of highly allergenic foods helps promote tolerance of them. If you think you or a family member has an intolerance for a certain food, discuss it with your primary care doctor.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, Special Spring/Summer Issue.

LESS MEAT CAN BE A GOOD THING


You’re going to be seeing more entrees with a minimal amount of meat on Mary’s Memo, mainly to cut cost but also because we don’t need it to be healthy. An example of this kind of entrée is Impossible Buffalo Chicken Pie made with rotisserie chicken. I haven’t found an impossible pie I didn’t like and anything with a hint of Buffalo wing taste will always get my attention!

IMPOSSIBLE BUFFALO CHICKEN PIE


• 2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
• 1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce
• 1 cup reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4-ounces)
• 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (2 ounces)
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1 cup Original Bisquick
• 1/2 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 egg
• 2/3 cup blue cheese dressing

Preheat oven to 400ºF. In large bowl, toss chicken with Buffalo wing sauce until well coated. Stir in cheese and celery. Pour into ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. In medium bowl, mix Bisquick, cornmeal, milk and egg. Pour over chicken mixture; spread to cover. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cut into 6 wedges; drizzle with blue cheese dressing.
Source: 3rd Place Winner Bisquick Recipe Contest 2010.

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Mary’s Memo – May 12th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


With hundreds of recipes for sumptuously mouth-watering candies, chocolates, pralines, crèmes, fudges, toffee and holiday treats, 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes by Jane Sharrock, this candy bible covers everything from the traditional to the exotic. Complete with easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos, it’s a treasure trove of information and inspiring recipes. Most of us are intimidated by the thought of making our own candies, but the author shows us how to master a few basic principles that every candy maker should know.

Jane Sharrock is a third-generation candy-maker who grew up surrounded by good cooks, great food and delicious homemade candies. Her mother and her aunts made cooking look so effortless that it never occurred to Jane that others might struggle in the kitchen. Eventually Jane realized that she had unique training  and not everyone had a Home Economics professor, old fashioned country cook, farmer’s wife and second-generation candy maker as a mother and mentor. Armed with a sizeable collection of old fashioned candy recipes and decades of kitchen wisdom passed from generation to generation, Jane wrote a candy cookbook in hopes of inspiring a new generation of candy makers. Jane lives in Oklahoma and works for the Federal contracting industry. In her free time she enjoys cooking with friends and family.

Because I happen to like layered peppermint bark, that’s the recipe we’re sharing, even though it’s more likely to be served at Christmastime. Dare to be different and make it now!

GOURMET LAYERED PEPPERMINT BARK


• 8-ounces chocolate candy coating
• 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
• 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, divided
• 12-ounces white chocolate candy coating
• 3/4 cup crushed candy canes

In the top pan of double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the dark chocolate candy coating and chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract until well blended. Pour the chocolate mixture onto baking sheet lined with waxed paper, spreading into a thin, even layer. Cool 20 minutes or until chocolate is firm. In top of a clean double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the white chocolate coating, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining peppermint extract until well blended. Pour the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the crushed peppermint candy canes. Cool and break into pieces. Store in airtight container.
Source: www.robertrose.ca, Toronto, ON, May 2014, $24.95/softback.

BUILDING BETTER BROCCOLI


A pair of discoveries, reported in PLOS One, may lead to better broccoli in the produce aisle. University of Illinois researchers, seeking to boost levels of anti-cancer glucosinolate compounds found broccoli and similar vegetables, sprayed the plants shortly before harvest with methyl jasmonate. That natural, non-toxic plant signal chemical tells genes in the broccoli to produce the anti-cancer agents. Unfortunately, testing showed it also accelerated the production of ethylene, which causes plants to decay. Spraying a second chemical recently discovered in plants, 1-methlycyclopropene, was found to block ethylene and prolonged shelf life. The one-two punch, scientists hope, will help protect against cancer while also protecting the broccoli in your fridge.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, May, 2014.

BAKED TOMATOES


It will be awhile before we have home grown tomatoes but in the meantime, Baked Tomato Casserole, is an excellent side dish to serve with grilled meats and fish year round!

BAKED TOMATO CASSEROLE


• 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
• 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
• 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
• 1-1/2 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix
• 1/4 cup butter

Sauté chopped onions in 1/4 cup butter. Mix drained tomatoes, sautéed onions, salt, pepper, oregano and brown sugar together. Spoon into 9x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté stuffing mix in 1/4 cup butter and sprinkle evenly over tomato mixture. Bake in 250ºF oven for 1-1/4 hours. Recipe makes 4 to 5 servings.

An excellent relish at barbecues is Dilled Carrot Sticks. I happen to think that regular carrots have a better flavor than mini carrots.

DILLED CARROT STICKS


• 1 pound medium-sized carrots
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon mustard seed
• 1/2 teaspoon dill weed

Peel carrots into 3-inch lengths. Cook in boiling water until almost tender but not overcooked. Drain; cut carrots lengthwise into quarters. In saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seed and dill weed. Simmer mixture 10 minutes. Add carrot sticks and simmer 1 minute longer. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Drain carrots thoroughly before serving. Recipe makes 3 cups.

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Mary’s Memo – May 5th

HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!


According to Wikipedia, Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for fifth of May, commemorates the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Pueblo on May 5, 1862. Not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day September 16, Cinco de Mayo is observed mostly by Mexican Americans in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. More than ever before, Americans are embracing the food of other nationalities including our neighbor, Mexico. Celebrate the day with Slow Cooker Posole with Pork and Chicken. PS: It freezes well!

SLOW COOKER POSOLE WITH PORK AND CHICKEN


• 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast
• 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, drained
• 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth (I use Swanson’s)
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper to taste
• 1 bay leaf

Place chipotle pepper and water into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into slow cooker. Add the pork, chicken, hominy, green chilies, onion, garlic and chicken broth. Season with oregano, cumin, pepper and the bay leaf. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours until meats are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Allrecipes.com, the world’s favorite recipe web site.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PALEO DIET


The creators of the Paleo diet claim the diet is best suited for our bodies because it is the “unique diet to which our species is genetically adapted through evolution and natural selection.” It is also referred to as the “caveman diet” or the Stone Age diet.” The Paleo diet is said to be based on the diets of our preagricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors who lived more than 10,000 years ago. The diet is low in carbohydrates and high in protein and unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables. It also emphasizes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds plus “healthful fats” from plants including oils from olives, walnuts, flaxseed, coconuts, avocados and macadamia nuts. It excludes refined sugar, dairy, legumes including peanuts, grains, processed foods, salt and refined vegetable oils such as canola, peanut, soybean and corn oils.

The Paleo diet is high in fiber due to high intake of fruits and vegetables, and it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids from seafood, nuts, and flaxseed and walnut oils. However, unlike the Mediterranean diet, it omits dairy, grains and legumes which can be part of a healthy diet. Omitting these food groups may cause a deficiency in certain nutrients including calcium and vitamin D. Also, since the Paleo diet emphasizes animal sources of protein , it can be high in saturated fat if you don’t limit yourself to lean meat and skinless poultry. Science has shown that the diets of Paleolithic ancestors actually varied widely, based upon the geography and climate of their location, so there is no single “best” diet that creators of the Paleo diet claim. The Paleo diet emphasizes some important points that can be incorporated into your diet: eating less processed foods and refined sugars and more fruits and vegetables; however, the Mediterranean diet is a better choice because it is lower in saturated fat and it doesn’t exclude good sources of fiber, such as grains and legumes.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2014.

MORE REASON TO EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES


Scientists have known for decades that a fiber-rich diet protects against obesity and diabetes, but recently a French-Swedish team of researchers discovered one of the mechanism for that protection. The authors expect the findings to influence new nutritional guidelines geared to preventing obesity and diabetes. Simply put, the bottom line is to “encourage people to eat fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in soluble fiber,” says Giles Mithieux, lead study author and researcher at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research. The research team found that soluble fibers in fruits and vegetables are fermented by intestinal bacteria into short-chain fatty acids, which can be assimilated by the body. These acids confer a protective effect… for example, animals fed a fiber-rich diet are less fat than animals fed a fiber-free diet. This protective mechanism seems to come from the ability of the intestine to produce glucose and release it into the blood between meals and at night. Glucose is detected by the nerves in the walls of the portal vein, which collects blood coming from the intestine and sends a nerve signal to the brain. The brain then triggers certain functions that are diabetes- and obesity-protective. Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, cabbage, green peas, corn and legumes including dried beans, lentils or peas.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, May 2014.

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