Mary’s Memo – December 5th

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis recipe.


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

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

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

Recipe makes 4 dozen.

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Mary’s Memo – November 28th


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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Mary’s Memo – November 21st


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


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


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


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


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

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


Replace the green bean casserole with this colorful casserole.


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

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

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Mary’s Memo – November 14th


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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Mary’s Memo – November 7th


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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Mary’s Memo – October 31th


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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Mary’s Memo – October 24th


Recently former children, now middle aged adults who lived in our neighborhood, recalled coming to our house first because they knew that I was the only one who passed out popcorn balls and they wanted to be sure to get one. Knowing this, a few years ago I made them again. Trick or treaters could choose from popcorn balls with my name on the wrapper or Dum Dum suckers and miniature candy bars. For whatever reason, they chose candy, a surprise to me. Now there is no excuse for making them. During my bake sale chairmanship years, popcorn balls were the first thing item we sold out of. Because October is National Popcorn Month, we’re sharing my favorite popcorn ball recipe.


• 5 quarts popcorn balls

• 2 cups sugar

• 1½ cups water

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• ½ cup light corn syrup

• 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Keep popcorn hot and crisp in slow oven (300ºF). Cook sugar, water, salt and corn syrup to hard-ball stage (256ºF). Add vinegar and vanilla extract; cook to light-crack stage (270ºF). Slowly pour over popcorn; stir well to coat every kernel. Quickly press into balls. Butter hands if necessary. Recipe makes 20 balls.
Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens recipe.


Even better for you is popped corn. However, the more butter flavorings or toffee that are added, the less healthy it becomes. By itself, popcorn is usually a low calorie, harmless snack. It’s actually a whole grain, so it’s a great source of magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. The problem, however, is that it is often made less healthy by the way it’s cooked and what is drizzled on top. Buy plain kernels and add your own flavorings, such as nut butter or mix plain popcorn with dried fruit for a tasty snack.
Source: Weil Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, November 2016.


Your gut does more than digest food. It’s home to trillions of bacteria, fungi and yeasts that make up your gut microbiome. Some of those bugs can cause disease but most are good, helping your GI tract run smoothly by digesting food and metabolizing nutrients. And some research, mostly in animals, hints that the bacteria may also ward off infections, control weight and protect against heart disease.

The research is early, but it’s worth keeping your belly bacteria healthy. How? They thrive on high-fiber foods as well as fermented foods such as sauerkraut or plain yogurt with live cultures, says Gail Cresci, PhD, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.

Certain drugs can harm your microbiome, especially antibiotics. They can kill good bacteria in your gut along with bad. That’s one reason you shouldn’t take those drugs unless they’re really needed. And it explains why about 30 percent of people on antibiotics get diarrhea and 15 to 20 percent of them end up with C, diff.

If you do need antibiotics, ask your doctor whether you should also take pro-biotic supplements. In most cases, however, you probably don’t need a pro-biotic, says Purna Kashyap, MD, a gastroenterologist and an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. “Other than helping with antibiotic-related diarrhea,” he says, “there is no solid research that shows they prevent other adverse side effects.”
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, October 2016.


You may or may not know that the containers fresh mushrooms come in are recyclable. So are all the berry containers. Improve our environment by remembering the 3R’s: Reduce, reuse and recycle.

It is difficult for me to discard cookbooks and one of the reasons I keep them is rediscovering a recipe from the Purdue Tailgate Cookbook published by the Purdue Alumni Association in September 1997. A sorority sister, Ruth Ceisner Skillman (S’49), Indianapolis, IN, was the 1996 winner with Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies.


• 2 cups flour

• 1 cup packed brown sugar

• ½ cup butter


• 2/3 cup butter

• ½ cup packed brown sugar

• 1 cup pecans

• 1 cup chocolate chips, after baking.

Grease 13/9x2-inch pan. Mix crust with pastry blender until fine. Using back of tablespoon, pat into pan. Pour hot caramel layer over crust; spread evenly. Bake in preheated 350ºf oven for 18 to 22 minutes (be sure bottom is done).

Sprinkle with chocolate chips which melt slightly, then spread when soft. Cool completely before cutting into 3 to 4 dozen bars.

My recipe for Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies was a finalist in 1997 when the cookbook was published. The recipe is also in my cookbook.

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Mary’s Memo – October 17th


Now a Food Network star, she was a former staff member of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Her husband is Dean Emeritus at Yale School of Management where he teaches a variety of courses on the global economy. He also serves on several corporate and philanthropic boards. The Food Network star has just written her 10th and most personal cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey (Clarkson Potter, October 25). If you’re still wondering about the name of this couple, it’s Ina and Jeffrey Garten, married 48 years. Order from


It’s now second only to Christmas decorating and it seems that the more gruesome the decorations the better! Personally, I’m not impressed with rest-in- peace signs, skeletons and spiders in a net. Pumpkins are my preference.

When our children were small, we’d not only decorate a large pumpkin but toast the pumpkin seeds. Clarice Moats’ recipe for toasting the seeds is in my cookbook. Since it is no longer available, the recipe follows.


• 2 cups pumpkin seeds (wipe off fiber but to not wash)
• 2 tablespoons melted butter or canola oil
• 1¼ teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients and spread out in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake in preheated 250°F oven for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.


Although are choices are many, the Golden Delicious remains my favorite because of its versatility. No matter how it is used, it holds its shape without getting mushy.
Early this month Bryan shoppers liked Cinnamon Red-Hot Candy Stewed Apples. To take less time peeling the apples, I invested in an apple peeler to make the job a lot faster! Potatoes can also be peeled with it (helpful at Thanksgiving).


• 8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
• 1½ cups water (add Ball Fruit Fresh to water to keep apples from darkening)
• 9-ounce package Brach’s Red Hots

In cast iron pot or Dutch oven combine prepared apples, water and red hots. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, stirring constantly, until red hots are dissolved and apples are soft but not mushy. Continue boiling until ½ cup liquid remains, being careful not to break up apples. The more concentrated the sauce, the more intense the color and flavor. Serve warm or at Room temperature. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Chicago Tribune recipe in 1998.


What’s good for your heart might also be good for your aching knees. High intakes of saturated fat were associated with faster progression of knee osteoarthritis in a new prospective observational study, while consuming more heart-healthy unsaturated fats was linked to slower progression. “Following a healthy diet may be an effective strategy for knee osteoarthritis management, and I clearly more attractive than medications in terms of risk/benefit and more likely to be implementable,” wrote researchers, who included Jeffrey B. Driban, PhD, and Timothy E. McAlindon, MD, both of the Division of Rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center.

Take charge by using oil-based dressings and spreads instead of butter or lard. Eat plenty of nuts, seeds and fish, which are rich in healthy unsaturated fats and other nutrients. Choose extra virgin olive oil, soybean oil or canola oil for dressing, sauces and cooking. Reduce intakes of red and processed meats and foods rich in refined grains, starches and sugars.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2016.


New research (American Journal of Public Health, August 2016) suggests that fruit and vegetables can increase happiness levels. The study followed more than twelve thousand people who kept food diaries, and whose psychological wellbeing was measured. “Happiness benefits” were detected for each extra daily portion of fruits and vegetables consumed, up to eight portions per day.

People who went from consuming eight portions a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The researchers think there may be a connection between optimism and the level of carotenoids (a type of antioxidant present in fruits and vegetables) in the blood.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, October 2016.


People who exercised 4 hours after learning something new had better memory retention on the topic when tested two days later than those who exercised immediately or not at all, according to a study from the Netherlands of 72 adults. Researchers suspect that exercising a few hours after a workout may boost production of chemicals that fuel the formation of new brain cells just when the brain is strengthening the new memories.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, October 2016.

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Mary’s Memo – September 26th


Amid the hoopla and distractions of the 2016 elections, the 2016 elections have so far ignored the one topic that is among the biggest challenges of our time - our food. According to Darlish Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, Dean, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, poor nutrition is the leading cause of poor health in the United States and globally, causing more deaths and disability than any other factor. Nutrition, the number one cause of illness, is largely ignored by the health system. Whether in the current administration or the next one, we need a White House Conference on Nutrition. The last and only such conference was held in 1969 (one that I attended). It was directed and organized by Dr. Jean Mayer, special consultant to the president, who went on to lead Tufts University and found the only graduate school of nutrition in North America, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy. That conference achieved many successes, including improved programs for school lunch, child nutrition and nutrition education; greater access to food assistance including WIC (Women, Infants and Children), consumer protection and information activities for the public and industry.

This is nutrition’s time. More than ever, the public is interested in healthy and sustainable eating, while many across industry recognize that their success depends on being a part of the solution. As we enter the last lap of the 2016 elections, it’s time for food to be a major issue on the table. Source: Tufts Diet and Nutrition Letter, September 2016.


In people at “intermediate risk” for cardiovascular disease, a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms this. The study involved 12,705 people from 21 countries. None had cardiovascular disease, but all were at intermediate risk because of factor such as obesity and smoking. Over the course of 5½ years, people taking statins were 24% less likely to have heart attack or stroke than those taking a placebo. That worked out to be about one less event per 100 people. Statin users had a lower rate of discontinuation due to adverse effects than those taking the placebo. Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, October 2016.


What attracted me to this recipe was the ease of preparation. To make it more flavorful, I used an entire can of La Choy beans sprouts because what am I to do with the leftover sprouts? 1 cup of shredded cabbage was omitted because of the additional bean sprouts. Water was replaced with chicken stock which is richer than broth. Otherwise, the recipe was left intact.


• 2 cups cubed cooked chicken (can be from rotisserie chicken)
• 2 ribs celery, sliced
• 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
• 1 can La Choy Bean Sprouts, well drained
• ¼ cup shredded carrot
• 14 cup chopped scallions
• 32-ounce carton of Swanson Chicken Stock
• ¼ cup dry sherry or water (I used sherry)
• 3 tablespoons Law Choy Low Sodium Soy Sauce
• 4 ounces angel hair pasta, broken in thirds
• 1 14.5-ounce can Swanson 98% fat-free chicken broth
• 1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained

Heat all ingredients in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. When soup comes to the boiling point, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Recipe makes 6 servings.


Although feedback was positive regarding Everything Cookies, I didn’t like the 1 cup of salad oil in the recipe. That was eliminated and replaced with an additional stick of butter. In my opinion, cookies are much better in texture and flavor.


• 3 sticks butter, softened
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 large egg
• 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
• 3 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon soda
• 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 cup quick oats
• 1 cup coconut
• 1 cup Rice Krispies
• 1 12-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together in electric mixer bowl.. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven until lightly browned on top. Recipe makes 6 to 7 dozen.

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Mary’s Memo – September 12th


Eat more berries and cruciferous vegetables, and skip red and processed meats. According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Life style choices are directly linked to one-third of all cancers: excess weight, low intake of fruits and vegetables, lack of physical activity and tobacco and alcohol use. “Reducing your intake of certain food groups while increasing your intake of certain ‘superfoods’ can reduce your risk of cancer twofold,” explains Abby Arday, RD, CDN, CNSC, a dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. “For example, consuming fatty fish such as salmon and tuna instead of processed and red meats, especially charred meats, can help reduce the risk of colon, breast and stomach cancers.” Here are the five food choices that can help lower your cancer risk.

Boost Berry Intake: Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and especially blueberries are well-known sources of antioxidants, fiber, phytochemicals and vitamin C.

Get More Omega-3’s: “Incorporating more omega-3’s into your diet decreases inflammation and can reduce the risk of colon cancer,” says Arday. “Almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, mackerel, trout and tuna contain the highest quantities of omega-3’s.

Choose Cruciferous Vegetables: The Cruciferae family of vegetables includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and collard greens. Cruciferae are excellent sources of fiber, folic acid, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Diets low in folic acid and fiber have been linked with an increased risk of colon cancer.

Limit Red Meat: High intakes of beef, lamb and pork, especially if charred, are linked to increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends limiting red meat intake to less than 18 ounces of cooked meat per week.

Avoid Processed Meat : Salami, pastrami, hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausages, smoked, cured or salted meats have been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2016.


Even as a new Vermont law and food giants including General Mills and Campbell Soup push to label GMO products, a sweeping new scientific report concludes that genetically engineered crops are as safe as conventionally grown foods. “We looked at a lot of evidence and found no apparent health risk,” says Timothy Griffin, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program. He is one of 20 scientists who spent two years reviewing 900 research publications at the behest of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. “We also heard from a number of speakers who talked about research both on potential health impacts and on perceptions…. how people perceive different risks and benefits,” Griffin goes on. “We looked at all the evidence and concluded that there doesn’t appear to be any negative impact. If there had been a clear signal, that would have been a very different story, but there wasn’t.” Nonetheless, he adds, the report struck a cautionary tone. “That doesn’t say there will never be a risk. Policy and regulatory functions need to continue to look at these issues.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, September 2016.


One of this week’s recipes is from the June 1997 Cooking Light magazine via daughter Mary Ann.


• 8-ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta), uncooked
• 2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1½ cups)
• 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1½ cups)
• 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
• ½ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
• 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
• ½ cup low fat buttermilk
• ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• 1½ cups chopped tomatoes, seeded

Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes. Add squash and zucchini; return to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Add corn; cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain well. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (basil through pepper) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture and tomato; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts; garnish with basil sprig, if desired. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Encore for Cajun Cabbage. I really like this recipe and it’s good reheated.


• 3 strips thick sliced bacon
• ½ of a large head of cabbage, chopped
• 1 14.5-ounce can Del Monte Tomatoes Season with Green Peppers and Onion
• 1/3 cup cider vinegar
• 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
• 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven or electric skillet until crisp. Drain bacon, reserving dripping. Stir cabbage, tomatoes, vinegar, Cajun seasoning and Tabasco sauce in hot drippings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer 45 minutes. Before serving, chop bacon and sprinkle on top of cabbage mixture. Recipe makes 6 servings.

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