I See Red When I Think About My Dad
Did your father know best? My dad usually did. He was quick to criticize and quick with advice, solicited or “un”. But most of the time he turned out to be right. He was also quick to encourage and gave me the confidence to begin putting pen to paper.
My Dad wasn’t known as a handy guy, although he
thought he was pretty good. So he proudly made a workbench and constructed a tool shed from scratch with no plans other than the one he drew up in his mind. But his pride and joy were the large and sturdy picnic table and benches he made in the summer of ’62. He painted them brick red and they served as the centerpiece of our backyard and the hub of the family cookouts he loved to have. When we moved 30 miles upriver to our new “modern” house the table cooled its heels in the 2nd bay of our attached garage until the delicate new blades of spring-green grass could mature for a year. After that it found a home in the sparse shade of a grove of newly planted young trees.
My dad wasn’t much of a chef, but he loved to grill. One my most vivid memories is the image of him standing at his at his gas grill, spatula in hand, flipping burgers and his favorite food, beer-soaked bratwurst. I usually tried to score a burger since he had a tendency to scorch the sausage a little. Games of “Pepper” and “Catch” played out in the background while he confidently cooked the meat to his liking. Once done our large family dined alfresco at the red table with sides of sweet corn and sliced tomatoes from a nearby farm stand and my mom’s homemade potato salad
I remember those cookouts every Father’s Day, and treat my own smaller family to some of those dishes throughout each summer along with lots of other great summer recipes from Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go
that help bring our family together while honoring those who have passed.
What is your dad’s favorite food? If you can’t enjoy it with him this year, make it as a tribute to him.
Image courtesy of africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Green Fettuccine for National Fettuccine Day
It's National Fettuccine Day. Mine will be dotted with prosciutto, but you can sprinkle a little cooked and crunchy bacon over the noodles after simmering them in a parmesan cream sauce, if you prefer that taste. For an extra twist I'm going green by using the recipe from Easy Weekly Meals for College Students
, Week 8. I love spinach and love to use spinach noodles for lots of dishes.
Today I'm going to go naturally green by taking out my old manual pasta maker so my noodles will be fresh. Making my own noodles lets me control all of their ingredients. I'm using an organic flour by Bob's Red Mill and adding a little pureed spinach with the water squeezed out. Even with an old non-electric pasta maker the noodles only take 20 minutes to make from mixing the ingredients to feeding the rolled dough through the machine.
For those who are short on time or don't own a pasta maker, De Boles makes a delicious organic fettuccine that nicely does the trick.
Go green today for your health and the planet, and enjoy National Fettuccine Day.
Peanut Butter Cookies
I have nothing healthy to say today. It’s National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, and I plan to eat mine complete with fat and sugar. Lots of recipes exist for this simple pleasure. Most of them adhere to the basic old-fashioned one I learned in Home Ec class back before supermarket refrigerator cases carried packages of premade dough on white paper microwavable trays.
If you’re in a hurry today and you want freshly made cookies, tubes or trays of premade dough will yield a reasonable result. Alternatively many grocery stores make delicious peanut butter cookies in their on-site bakeries. Publix and Albertsons make especially yummy ones.
If you’ve got the time and prefer to make your own cookies from scratch try this recipe. It yields 3 dozen cookies. Peanut Butter Cookies Ingredients
· 1/2 C Butter
· 1/2 C Peanut Butter
· 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
· 1/2 C Brown Sugar
· 1 Egg
· 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
· 1-1/4 C Flour
· 1 tsp Baking Soda
· 1/4 tsp Salt Preparation
· Preheat oven to 375°.
· Cream first 6 ingredients in sturdy mixing bowl.
· Sift remaining ingredients together and blend into creamed mix.
· Roll into 1” balls and place them about 1-1/2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
· Use a fork to make a criss-cross design on each ball, pressing down to flatten.
· Bake 12 minutes and remove from oven.
· Cook 1 minute and then remove from cookie sheet and serve.
Happy Peanut Butter Cookie Day!
Photo Courtesy of lobster20 / Free Digital Photos
Today is National Iced Tea Day.
Do you like your iced tea sweetened or sans sugar? The way you answer that question can be a tip-off about where you were raised. Sweet tea tends to be a Southern preference, while Northerners tend to drink their iced tea unsweetened.
Patrons of southern restaurants (and some Texan ones, too) will almost certainly be served sweet tea unless they specify that they want it black, without the sugar!
Be sure to specify your preference so you can enjoy your celebration of National Iced Tea Day.
Image courtesy of tiverylucky / Free Digital Photos
Cool and Creamy Root Beer Float
It seems fitting that National Black Cow Day would fall during National Dairy Month, even though the black cows discussed here are of the dessert sort, not the animal-standing-in-the-field type. Black Cow Day is on June 10th this year and the dessert it celebrates is one of my favorites in warm weather because it is both cold and easy to make. So easy that kids 7 and older can make their own—and yours too.
Also called Brown Cow and Root Beer Float, the dessert beverage is made with vanilla ice cream and root beer. Some versions call for adding a bit of chocolate syrup. As much as I like chocolate I’m a purist when it comes to a root beer float and take mine “neat.”
There are many claimants to the title of “Inventor of Black Cows.” I favor giving the credit to Frank J. Wisner of Colorado, mainly because I like the story best. According to this version, he invented the Black Cow in Cripple Creek, CO during the summer of 1893. Wisner made soda waters for residents near to the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company, which he owned. (Just that name alone endears me to this story.) Wisner is said to have taken his inspiration for the drink from the image of snow-capped and black Cow Mountain and he translated the vision into a glass of root beer sporting a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Whether or not it really came from a peek at a snow-capped mountain, the Black Cow can cap off a family meal with lots of fun. Just set out a container of vanilla ice cream, a scoop, a liter bottle of root beer, and some glasses, and let kids of all ages create their own delicious treats. Make this and other recipes from Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go
to keep the budget down and the family well fed.
It's National Dairy Month.
What are your favorite foods? Do pizza, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, or milk chocolate appear on your list? How about butter, cake, doughnuts, breads, or potato chips? If you said yes to any of these items, thank a dairy farmer because all of these foods contain dairy products of one sort or another.
I love dairy products. I guess it’s in my blood. Back in the 1960’s my Dad worked for a company called National Dairy Products Corporation (now morphed into part of Kraft Foods Group, Inc.) And I once met some cows upfront-and-personal on my cousin’s dairy farm where my paternal grandfather was born in County Cork, Ireland. The major lessons gleaned from that experience were:
1. I liked cows better at a distance;
2. Therefore dairy farmers provide an invaluable service.
June is National Dairy Month. I plan to celebrate it whole-heartedly beginning with some chocolate cake and ice cream. If you’ve read any of my posts this will come as no surprise to you.
But what if you have dairy sensitivities of one sort or another? These can include both dairy intolerance and allergies, and according to some sources both are on the rise. Opinions differ about why this is so. The answer may be as simple as having better tools to recognize adverse side effects to foods.
According to Mayo Clinic’s James T. C. Li, M.D., Ph.D most reactions to food are due to intolerance rather than allergy. Intolerance is more likely to make you uncomfortable. The two conditions share many of the same symptoms. Intolerance can be caused by a number of things including food additives like sulfite, food poisoning, the absence of an enzyme needed to digest a food, stress, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease. It makes for discomfort that can range from mild to debilitating. A real food allergy can be life threatening, though. If you or a loved one regularly experience discomfort after consuming a particular food check with your doctor to determine the cause.
If you know you have dairy intolerance or allergies be sure you always read your food labels carefully and do a little research to find out what ingredients are considered “dairy.” Whey, casein, and lactose are fairly obvious, but other ingredients like ghee, lactyc yeast, curds, galactose, and kefir are dairy products too. Many more dairy or dairy-derived ingredients exist and carry names you may not recognize as being dairy. You may also find that dairy products are contained in foods you never associated with dairy like many brands of canned chicken broth (whey,) many types of potato chips (nonfat milk, whey, natural flavor from milk,) and most baked goods. Surprisingly even non-dairy creamer often contains casein! And milk or dairy products are frequently found in processed foods.
If you have been diagnosed with dairy sensitivities or allergies, lots of good food products are available to use as substitutes for dairy products in many recipes. So you can continue to enjoy lots of those dishes. But it’s important to know what is causing the discomfort. If you are lactose intolerant you may be able to eat many other dairy ingredients. But if you are allergic to milk or all dairy, your options may be more restrictive.
Soy cheeses come in a variety of types including nacho, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan. The vegan varieties don’t contain casein. Vegan, non-dairy rice-based American and cheddar cheeses are also available.
Have you ever tried almond milk or almond cheese? I like them both better than the cow-based kind. Sometimes almond cheeses contain casein, though, so be sure you know if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy before giving them a try.
When you have the time it’s safest to make your own food using recipes that call for unprocessed foods like most of those in our easy cookbook recipes
For a partial list of dairy ingredients and dairy-free substitutions visit my Healthy Substitutions
Enjoy National Dairy Month with dairy or dairy substitutions.
Image courtesy of digital art / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Time is Money! Buy Yourself More Time!
What would you pay for more time? Would you pay $3.99? That's all it costs to get more time by having all your meals planned, grocery lists made, and recipes selected for 15 weeks!
Would you pay $3.99 to give that gift of time to a recent graduate, rising college sophomore who is moving from the dorm to an apartment, or other young adult just learning to cook?
Well if you would, "Do it! Do it now!" as Dwight Schrute of The Office
would say. Why now? Because the special Graduation price of $3.99 for Easy Weekly Meals for College Students
ends on May 30th.
If you have any question about the value of the book, check out our Testimonials
page, or the reviews we've received on Amazon
Time is at a premium these days. Buy some before our special sale time runs out!
Image courtesy of digital art / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Red, White, and Blue for Memorial Day.
What do you do to honor fallen troops and loved ones who have passed on Memorial Day?
Many Americans fly flags in tribute to those who live in our memories. I love the site of a long stream of American flags waving all along streets and avenues on holidays like today. And while my flag flies, I like to give it a nod in my food, too.
So I've carried that theme through to the dessert course today with a sweet and pretty healthy treat of blueberry, banana, and strawberry flavored popsicles. They keep your taste buds cool after a holiday barbecue. Find the recipe in Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go
and share a delicious tribute today with loved ones present.
Celebrate Memorial Day With Smoked Chicken
By Colleen Walsh Fong
Summer’s here! Well, not formally. The season officially begins with the summer solstice, which usually falls on June 21st. But Americans tend to use Memorial Day and Labor Day to bookend those lazy, hazy, crazy days.
Memorial Day honors soldiers who died during U.S. military service. Since 1971 it’s been observed on the last Monday in May as part of a 3-day holiday weekend. But it was originally celebrated on May 30th, 1868 to honor Civil War troops of both sides. Soldiers who died in all U.S. wars were included after World War I. During the 20th century it evolved further. People began using the occasion to remember nonmilitary loved ones by leaving flowers on their graves. Over the years a host of traditions for the holiday have developed, including parades, retail sale events, picnics and parties, and annual auto races including the Indianapolis 500. Today citizens mark the holiday by displaying the stars and stripes, wearing red poppies and decorating ancestral grave sites with flowers before beginning festivities.
Are you entertaining guests this Memorial Day? Or making a picnic to enjoy in the backyard, park or beach? If you’re in need of a main course idea, try making this grilled chicken recipe. Grill lots of it and use the leftovers for chicken salad the next day. I use applewood chips because their smoke infuses a rich bacon-y flavor into the meat. Since it’s intended to be served cold, go ahead and make the chicken up to 24 hours in advance and keep it cool until you’re ready to serve it. Smokin’ Chicken Drumsticks Ingredients
• 2 C Applewood Smoking Chips
• 24 Chicken Legs
• 2 Heads Garlic
, cloves smashed and peeled
• Salt and Pepper
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Soy Sauce
• 18”-long piece of Aluminum Foil
• Grilling Basket
or rack, lightly greased with olive oil or olive oil spray Preparation
· Soak applewood chips for 30-60 minutes.
· Heat grill to highest heat. If using a gas grill with 2 burner controls, put both controls on high. If using traditional charcoal, mound coals over to one side of grill.
· Drain chips and wrap in foil, leaving a 1” opening in top of packet. Place foil packet on grill rack, over to one side and directly over hot coals.
· Pat chicken dry. Season with salt and pepper and brush lightly with soy sauce and oil.
· Spread garlic cloves over bottom of grilling basket. Lay chicken legs on top of garlic.
· When chips start smoking place basket on the opposite side of grill from chip packet. Turn off the heat on that side of gas grill.
· Grill chicken about 45 minutes. Check to be sure juices are clear. Skin should be deep brown in color and crispy to touch.
· Move the basket to a cooling trivet and rest the chicken for 30-40 minutes. It will be moist and very tender.
· Refrigerate chicken until cold and serve it when you are ready.
Got leftovers? Make chicken salad. Smokin’ Chicken Salad Ingredients
• Left-over Chicken Meat
, boned and minced
• 1 Scallion
per cup of meat, minced
• 1 Celery
stalk per cup of meat, minced
• Salt and Pepper
• ½ C Mayonnaise
per cup of meat
• ½ tsp Dijon Mustard
per cup of meat
• Pretzel Rolls Preparation
· Mix all dry ingredients.
· Mound mayonnaise on top of mixed ingredients.
· Fold mustard into mayonnaise, and then fold mayonnaise blend into dry ingredient mix.
· Spread on rolls and serve.
How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day?
Image courtesy of piyato / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Do you like saving money on groceries? Here's an Easy
way to keep a few greenbacks in your pocket on grocery day. Buy store brand products.
Most store brands are actually made by the big name-brand producers of foods. Most of the cost savings come from inferior packaging with lower cost or less-extensive artwork. Shoppers who buy the name brand products are paying more for the pretty package.
Hard to believe? Do a little home-based blind taste testing. Buy both a store brand and a name brand package of a few food products, such as cereal, frozen vegetables, and saltine or snack crackers. Prepare both store brand and name brand products for serving, and ask family members or friends to taste them without letting them see which is which. Ask if they see or taste a difference. Or have a family member or friend serve them “blind” to you and see what you think.
When my kids were young we were on a tight budget. They wanted the store brand foods they saw on TV, but I knew I could save as much as 50¢ per box by buying the store brand. Especially when I bought the larger, economy size. So I kept every one happy by buying one box of name brand cereal. Once the cereal was eaten I refilled the box with store brand cereal, and continued this practice for years. They never caught on.
You may like the packages enough to pay extra for them. But for those readers who’d rather spend their money on other things, go for the store brands and you’ll enjoy your food just as well as if you bought the fancy name brands.
Happy shopping and happy savings!