Mary’s Memo – July 27th


I have no idea how much of my life I’ve spent looking for something but it’s probably more time than I care to admit! During the summer prior to my junior year at Purdue in 1947, I was hired as interim director of the 44 bed Jay County Hospital in Portland, Indiana. It had to be the gutsiest thing I have done in my entire life because I not only planned the meals but bought the food served. Son Tom, Food Director at Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, wants to frame the menus and hang them in his office. So while looking for them, I found an old cookbook of Mother’s that I thought was lost as well as two handwritten recipes I had never seen before. One of the recipes is “Chicken A La Can” and the other “Hamburger Chowder.” Knowing how much memo readers like quick-to-make entrees with a minimum of ingredients, we’re sharing them this week.


• 1 can Healthy Request Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup (this was not available when Mother made it but it’s what I used)
• 1 can Healthy Request Cream of Celery Soup
• 1 can water
• 1 can Minute Rice
• 12.5-ounce can Swanson White Premium Chicken Breast, drained (1½ cups chicken)
• 3 1/2-ounce can French’s Fried Onion Rings

Combine soups and water. Add rice and chicken; stir to mix. Bring to a boil, cover; reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Top with onion rings. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 4 or 5 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1 cup chopped green pepper
• 1 pound ground beef
• 2 cups tomato juice
• 3 to 4 medium-size potatoes, peeled and diced
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1 quart milk

Melt butter in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, celery and green pepper and cook until tender but not brown. Add ground beef and cook until crumbly. Stir in tomato juice, potatoes and seasonings, cover and cook on low heat until vegetables are tender 20 to 30 minutes. Combine flour with1 cup milk. Beat until free from lumps. Stir into soup mixture. Add remaining milk; heat, stirring frequently until thickened…. do not boil. Serves 10.


Being a guru of gadgets, I haven’t bought something made by OXO that I didn’t like! To free up more space in my kitchen, I recently purchased three slender 5 1/2-qt. BPA-free containers to store flour, crackers and oatmeal. I lost the silicone gasket for one and called their toll-free customer service (1-800-545-4411) to see if I could buy a new one and they are sending it gratis. Is there any better customer service than that! Corporate headquarters are in Chambersburg, PA.

Also new for me is an OXO Good Grips Silicone Sink Mat that can be cut to accommodate your drain, depending on where it’s located (mine is in the center). It also has feet that elevate the mat to allow for water flow and aeration. Personally, the biggest selling point is that with heat-safe silicone, pots and pans can go directly from stove to sink. Mine was purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond for $14.95 plus tax.


They are: Watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, romaine lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, endive, chives, kale, dandelion greens, red pepper, arugula, broccoli and pumpkin.
Source: Weil Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.


Trying to maintain a healthy weight? Choose a comedy rather than a sad flick or an action adventure. In recent studies, researchers at Cornell University ‘s Food and Brand Lab found that people who watched the science-fiction “Solaris” ate 55 percent more than viewers of the comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” In another experiment, people ate 28 percent more while watching “Love Story” (sad) compared to “Sweet Home Alabama” (funny). And watching an action movie led viewers to eat 65 percent more calories than they did when they viewed an interview show.
Source: JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) Internal Medicine, March 2015.

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Mary’s Memo – July 20th


Keep in mind that up to half of the bottled water produced in the U.S. comes from the tap and is then purified. And in some cases, safety standards for tap water are more rigorous than those of bottled water. So people with a weakened immune system should consult their doctor to discuss whether filtered tap water or bottled water is best. If you’re otherwise healthy but worried about water purity, try a home filter and reusable bottles. Also, public water is often fluoridated, which helps protect teeth. And with tap water, you won’t add plastic to landfills.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, July 2015.


Study was published on line April 20, 2015, in the Journal of Psychology & Marketing. Researchers randomly gave 120 shoppers a slice of apple, a piece of cookie or no snack at the start of their shopping trip and then tracked their purchases. Those who were given an apple slice bought 28 percent more fruits and vegetables than those given a cookie piece and 25 percent more fruits and vegetables than those given no snack. Researchers recommend having a small, healthy snack, such as a piece of fruit, before shopping.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.


According to the USDA, a lean cut of beef is a 3.5-ounce serving that contains less than 10 grams of total fat and 4.5 grams of saturated fat. The USDA defines an extra lean cut (3.5 ounces) as one containing 5 grams or less of total fat and 2 grams or less of saturated fat. If you are going to eat beef, here is your guide to the healthiest cuts that can help you make decisions while grocery shopping or eating out. Avoid buying cuts labeled “prime,” which are higher in fat than “choice” or “select” cuts. The five cuts of beef that are “extra lean” include eye of round roast or steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, bottom round roast and steak and top sirloin. When choosing ground beef, look for the percentage of fat. The USDA defines “lean ground beef” as having no more than 10 percent fat by weight and “extra lean” no more than 5 percent fat. Ground sirloin is usually the healthy choice; it is usually 90 to 95 percent lean.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.

PS: Beef does cost more so my suggestion is to use a minimal amount combined with other greens and/or vegetables.


I served this salad at the Bryan Chief recently but changed Friday’s version to this one on Saturday. Original internet recipe said the salad served 4 people when a single recipe filled a 3-quart round casserole dish! Considering the fact that recipe makes 8 servings, I also increased avocados to 2 instead of 1. Because cherry tomatoes are often on sale, chopped Roma were replaced with a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved. Feel free to make only half a recipe if this suits your needs better.


4 seedless cucumbers, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
2 Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 cup basil, mint or cilantro leaves or a combination of all
3, coarsely chopped


2 tablespoons Our Family extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Seat salt and ground pepper to taste

Place the sliced cucumbers, cherry tomato halves, avocados, sliced onion and herbs together in 3-quart stainless or glass serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt and a few grindings of pepper. Serve immediately or chilled.
Source: Adapted from 2014 Jen Hoy internet recipe.


When we were a family of six and even now, main dish salads are a refreshing summer treat. On my Meatless Monday the following salad is perfect!


1 package Chicken-Flavored Rice-a-Roni
4 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
12 stuffed green olives, sliced
2 6-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and
chopped, reserving marinade
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/3 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise

Cook rice and cool. Add scallions, green pepper and olives. Add remaining ingredients including reserved marinade. Mix well and chill. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Southern Living recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – July 13th


I have several of Anne Byrn’s Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks. In recent years she’s added all-purpose kinds including the Cake Mix Doctor Goes Gluten-Free and What Can I Bring Cookbook. The latest is Anne Byrn Saves the Day (Workman Publishing, $18.95/softback) featuring guaranteed-to-please recipes for weeknight dinners, quick birthday parties, too hot to cook meals, appetizers ASAP, Super Bowl party foods and book club treats. In addition Bryn shares strategies to end kitchen stress, create a system for meal planning and food shopping to avoid last minute pressures. She also discusses the benefits of a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. From the Too Hot to Cook section there’s Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho and Chilled Cucumber Soup; from Potluck Perfection there’s My Baked Chicken and Rice; Company’s Coming includes Barb’s One Pound Pork Chops; from Last Minute Birthday Party, there’s Lou Ann’s Salmon Croquettes; and in Holiday Foods, Dave’s Ooh-La-La Potatoes. Rescuing Brunch has a recipe for Marion’s Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Nashville Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Finally, being a chocoholic, I couldn’t resist Ole Mis Fudge Pie!

Ann Byrn Lives with her family, cooks and entertains in Nashville, Tennessee. You can subscribe to her newsletter at Cake Mix


A registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition or dietetics, complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice, pass a national exam and do continuing education to keep his or her status. ”Nutritionist” is a non-accredited title without any specific set of requirements. Medicare and some private insurers cover medical nutrition therapy by registered dietitians for patients with health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, July 2015.


“Increased dietary intake of berry fruit has a positive impact on human health, performance and disease,” says Barbara Shukitt-Hale, PHD, of Tufts HNRCA Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory. Shukitt-Hale and colleagues, who have shown cognitive benefits from blueberry consumption, performed a similar experiment with blackberry-extracts. Their study, published in Nutritional Neuroscience, tested a 2% blackberry supplemented diet for its effectiveness in reversing age-related deficit in behavioral and neuron function when fed to aged rats for eight weeks. “The results showed that the blackberry diet improved motor performance on three tasks which rely on balance and coordination. Results for a water maze showed that the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater working, or short-term memory performance than the control rats. These data support our previous investigations in which we have seen improved motor and cognitive performance in aged rats after supplementation with other berry fruits.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, July 2015.


Customers seem very accepting of Our Family store brand and I am, also. I have already mentioned using Our Family cheese products and their cocktail sauce. Add to that list Our Family regular and wavy potato chips cooked in sunflower and/or corn oil plus salt. This endorsement doesn’t include any flavored potato chips because they contain mono sodium glutamate. Although Aunt Millie’s bread is still my favorite brand, Our Family breads and buns are acceptable, especially when any of them are on sale such as 10 for 10. I do avoid any bread with high fructose corn syrup, hidden sugar none of us need! Something I always have on hand is a box of sandwich bags and Our Family ones are your best buy. There are multiple uses for them in my kitchen. When pork chops or Chief’s bratwurst patties are on sale each chop and/or patty is put in a sandwich bag, closed and then stored in a freezer bag. Buns are also packaged this way so that I can take out several or just one. They’re used to store fresh lemons and limes as well.


Bryan Chief shoppers with few exceptions liked Red Coleslaw with Grapes, adapted from a Grapes from California recipe.


• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
• 1/4 cup Our Family extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 large head red cabbage, finely shredded
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
• 6 scallions (green onions), chopped
• 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved

To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar with mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until well blended. Add the cabbage, parsley, scallions and grapes to the bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours before serving. Recipe serves 6 to 8.
Source: Adapted from Grapes from California recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – July 6th


I am appalled at the cost of cookbook magazines but liked one enough in a rack by Chief’s checkout lane, that I paid $12.99 + tax for Sunset’s Best Brunch & Breakfast featuring 124 easy recipes. Cookbooks cost less at one time! Speaking of cost, did you know that Family Circle and Woman’s Day magazines started out in 1932 at 5 cents? What prompted me to buy the Sunset cookbook is that I saw a recipe, Honeydew Relish Salad, made with melon, cucumber pieces, chopped celery, green grapes and celery. Dressing includes white wine vinegar, honey, yellow mustard seeds and salt. Because brunches are my favorite way to entertain, the magazine cover’s eye-appealing Parmesan Toasts with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Eggs drew my attention, also.


Avian Influenza (AI) has reared its ugly head in the US. Although no cases have been reported in Ohio, many consumers are leery of eating eggs. Also, it has caused the price of eggs to surge. AI is not transferrable to humans by eating poultry and eggs that have been properly cooked. To avoid any problems, avoid cross contamination by separating raw and cooked foods. Washing hands after handling raw foods is the key to food safety. Even though eggs cost more they are still a good buy nutritionally.


So says a magnet on my refrigerator door. No one ever told me that cucumbers can’t stand temperatures lower than 50 degrees (no wonder they have rotted so fast in my refrigerator fruit and vegetable bins all these years). “Old dogs can learn new tricks” and they now join tomatoes and bananas on the counter top. Something else you may not know about cucumbers is that they’re a fruit, not a vegetable and the interior can be up to 200F cooler than the outside air, even on a hot summer day, according to the July issue of Shop Smart, your guide to the best deals from Consumer Reports.


Judging by what I see in grocery carts, shoppers buy a lot of soft drinks and other beverages. Most people drink when they feel thirsty, which seems to work. But as we age, the sense of thirst is less acute and the body is less able to conserve water. Some drugs and medical conditions also increase urine output. All that increases the risk of dehydration, which can be life threatening. The color of your urine can indicate if you are well hydrated, says Marvin Lipman, MD, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor. “If it’s clear, you’re drinking too much. If it’s concentrated and dark yellow, you’re drinking too little. It should be in between. Drink plenty of fluids every day and more when it is hot and humid, and if you are physically active. Carry water with you, ask for it when eating out and drink it when you snack. And remember that foods can also be hydrating. Produce such as grapes, melon and tomatoes are 90 to 99 percent liquid, says Leslie Bonci, a dietitian in Pittsburgh. “What’s on your plate and bowl contributes to your total for the day.”
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, July, 2015.


In 1984 President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day. Other ice cream trivia includes the origin of the ice cream cone. Charles Minches is credited with serving the first ice cream cone at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. There is controversy over this because Italo Marchiony of NYC was selling lemon ice cream cones as early as 1896 and applied for a patent months before the St. Louis World’s Fair opened. We do know for sure that in July “we all scream for ice cream!”

This week’s recipe came from Gert Bitler of Adams County, IN., via Mother years ago.


• 1 stick butter
• 1/2 to 1/3 cup slivered almonds
• 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup flake coconut
• 2 1/2 cups Rice Chex, crushed fine
• 1/2 gallon softened vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in a medium size saucepan over low heat. Lightly brown almonds in butter. Add brown sugar ans stir until melted. Add coconut and crushed Rice Chex. Put half the mixture into a 2-quart oblong baking dish. Spoon softened ice cream over crumbs. Top with remaining crumbs. Cover with foil and freeze for 24 hours. Recipe makes 12 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – June 29th


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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Mary’s Memo – June 22nd


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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Mary’s Memo – June 15th


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

Whisk above ingredients together until well blended.

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Mary’s Memo – June 8th


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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Mary’s Memo – June 6th


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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Mary’s Memo – May 25th


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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