Archive for November, 2009

Dear Readers,

On October 27, I wrote about my family’s experience of gathering and using black walnuts from Cousin Urban Heck’s backyard tree, and how they were an essential ingredient in “Sausage Cookies”.

These cookies were a traditional holiday favorite and we enjoyed eating them for many Christmases.  After Mom died, we tried to find the recipe among her cookbooks but were unsuccessful.  My sisters and I knew that two of my aunts made the same cookies, so we asked our cousins if anyone had the recipe.  Sure enough, our cousin, Joanne, had a copy and mailed it to us.  Here’s the recipe and I hope you enjoy them as much as my family did.

Sausage Cookies

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter

2 – 6 oz. pkgs. black walnuts

3 or 4 cups flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla.  Combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar and add to the mixture.  Fold in black walnuts.  Shape cooky dough into logs about 6 ” long.  They will resemble sausages.  Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper.  Refrigerate overnight.  Slice cookie dough in 1/4 ” slices and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Note:  The “3 or 4 cups of flour” means you start out with 3 cups and if you need more to make the dough stiff enough to shape into “sausages”, just add more.  This recipe can be halved as the full recipe makes about 144 cookies.   I told you my family loved those cookies!

Keep smilin!

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Dear Readers,

My granddaughter does not understand the concept of God and religion.  But she does understand the necessity of saying “thank you” when someone has given her a gift or has done something for her.  It is within this context of thankfulness that she was introduced to prayer, and the importance of thanking God.

When her parents discussed prayers for Emily to say, I immediately tried to find prayers for the very young in various books.  The search was unsuccessful as most of the prayers were too advanced for a 2 year old.   So Mimi did the next best thing by composing a simple little prayer for her.  I made a book for her containing the prayer and pasted in various pictures to accompany it.  She really enjoyed reading the prayer book.  And since it is 2 days before Thanksgiving, I’d like to share it with you.  Maybe it can be your Thanksgiving prayer too!

Emily’s Prayer

Thank you Lord for birds and bees, for pretty flowers and big tall trees.

Thank you Lord for the moon and sun, for eyes that see and legs that run.

Thank you Lord for the food I eat; for watermelon and even a beet!

Thank you Lord for family and friends and rainbow days that never end.


I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a recipe that’s a tradition at our family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  It is “Broccoli Deluxe” and I discovered it in the 1976 Better Homes and Gardens holiday magazine titled “Holiday Cooking and Entertaining Ideas”.  By the way, this magazine contained 248 recipes and sold for $1.50.  My, how times have changed!.  Anyway, here’s the recipe.

Broccoli Deluxe

1-10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped broccoli

1- 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup grated carrot

1 tablespoon grated onion

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup herb-seasoned stuffing mix

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Prepare frozen broccoli according to package directions and drain.

Blend together soup and flour.  Add sour cream, carrot, onion, salt and pepper; stir in broccoli.  Turn into 2 quart casserole.  Combine stuffing mix and butter; sprinkle over top of casserole.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until hot.  Makes 4 servings.

Note:  I always double this recipe as the casserole is small.  Instead of using frozen chopped broccoli, try broccoli florets as they are nicer and there are not as many stems.  I have quadrupled this recipe for a crowd and it works well.  It will fit into a large lasagna pan.  When quadrupling recipe, I use two 16 oz. packages of “Hanover’s “Gold Line” frozen petite broccoli florets.  I also use Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing mix.

I can guarantee you will receive compliments on this holiday side dish!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Reading a book with a grandchild is one of life’s greatest pleasures!  At least it is in my life.  When Emily selects a book and asks “Mimi, will you read this to me?”, my heart sings.  I’m overwhelmed with love when she climbs into my lap and snuggles against me, ready for the story to begin.  The intimacy continues as we experience and enjoy the story together.

I have also found that some books are better written for and received by toddlers than others.  There are so many children’s books available that it is difficult to know what’s worthwhile and what isn’t.

My daughter-in-law introduced me to a book that is an excellent guide for choosing children’s books.  It is the “Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease.  It contains a list of books called the “Treasury of Read-Alouds” which includes the title, author, number of pages, publisher, year published and the age group the book is suitable for.  A one paragraph synopsis of the story is also included.  This treasury categorizes the books into wordless books, predictable books, poetry and fairy and folk tales.

A predictable book is one in which a certain phrase or sentence is repeated enough as to become predictable for the young reader.  A good example is “The Very Busy Spider”  by Eric Carle.  The sentence “The spider didn’t answer.  She was very busy spinning her web”, appears on every other page.

The handbook gives answers to questions such as “What is the purpose of fairy tales?”, “Why do they want to read the same book over and over?”, “Won’t a video do my child as much good as a picture book?”, and when it’s obvious you’ve made a poor choice of a book, “Is it okay to abandon it or parts of it and move on?”.  The author’s answers utilize the results of various studies conducted on children and reading and his own personal experience.

Before purchasing books for Christmas gift-giving, why not check out this handbook for suitable ideas?  After all, reading aloud is a win-win situation for both the reader and the child being read to.  In addition, this activity creates loving memories that last a lifetime.

Keep smilin’!

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It’s Cranberry Season!

Dear Readers,

It’s about 3 weeks until Thanksgiving and 6 weeks until Christmas and this is definitely the start of “cranberry season”.

I’ve collected quite a few tasty cranberry recipes over the years and today will share a couple of my favorites with you.  They’re easy and can be prepared in advance.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 small orange

12-oz. pkg. (3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries

1-1/4 cups sugar

Cut unpeeled orange into eighths.  In food processor bowl with metal blade, place orange, cranberries and sugar; process until finely chopped.  Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors.  Store in refrigerator.  Makes 3 cups

Tip:  To prepare relish in blender, grind half of ingredients at a time.

California Apricot-Cranberry Sauce

1/2 cup dried apricot halves, each cut into 1/4″ strips

3/4 cup cranberry-juice cocktail

1 bag (12 oz. – 3 cups) cranberries

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger

In 2 quart saucepan, soak apricots in cranberry juice 10 minutes.  Add cranberries, sugar and ginger, heat to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until most of the cranberries pop and mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Spoon into serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.  Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Please note that the first recipe came from a Pillsbury “Holiday” magazine printed in 1986 and the second recipe is from an old November issue of Good Housekeeping.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Tips for Preventing H1N1 Flu

Dear Readers,

A good friend recently gave me a list of simple steps to prevent the spread of colds, flu and infections and suggested that I post them on “Mimi’s Motherly Tips”.  These are easy common sense tips to keep in mind during the flu season, especially with H1N1 germs lurking about.

1.  Frequent hand-washing (Many health organizations suggest at least 5 times a day.  In our family everyone has their little bottle of alcohol based hand sanitizer that we use after shopping, getting gas, touching public doors, etc.).

2.  “Hands-off-the-face” approach.  Resist all temptations to touch any part of the face.

3.  Gargle twice a day with warm salt water or Listerine mouthwash.  H1N1 takes 2 to 3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms.  Simple gargling prevents proliferation.  In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one.  Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4.  Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day by blowing the nose hard and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water.  Very effective in bringing down viral population.  (Alternatively, you can purchase saline solution in nasal spray bottle and spray it deep into your nose on a daily basis during cold and flu season.)

5.  Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (lemon and other citrus fruits).  If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.  Generally to keep your immune system  in top form, keep your stress low, exercise regularly, eat good food and get enough sleep.  Another healthy thing you can do is drink a little lemon juice in water twice a day.  Disease does not proliferate in alkaline environments.  Our usual diet makes our system far too acidic.  Even though it is an acid, lemon juice actually shifts our system towards alkaline as it is metabolized.

6.  Drink as much warm liquids as you can.  Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction.  They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

Take good care of yourself and your loved ones, and

Keep smilin’!

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Care For a Casserole? #4

Dear Readers,

Here’s another casserole for your consideration.  It was published in the Times Herald, the daily newspaper for Norristown, PA.  The recipe was submitted by Doris B. Sheppard of Plymouth Meeting, PA.  My family really enjoyed it maybe yours will too!

Clam Casserole

2 – 6-1/2 oz. cans minced clams, drained

1 – 10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 cup milk

1/4 cup melted butter

30 single crushed saltines

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 1-1/2 quart casserole. Set casserole in pan of water and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until knife comes out clean.  Serves 4.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Am in the process of cleaning out the fridge before we leave for a 6 month stay in CA.  It’s not a job I relish; so many decisions to make about what to discard.  But a 6 month absence makes it somewhat easier.  Almost everything but some frozen meat and condiments are discarded.

But have you ever had questions about food safety?  Well here’s a great website that a friend e-mailed to my husband.  It is http://www.stilltasty.com.  It answers a lot of questions about how long you can keep certain foods.  In fact, there are 2 full pages of 25 questions about food safety.

Here are a few sample questions and answers from the site.

Question #1 – Can you safely drink milk after the sell-by date?

Answer:  Yes, milk that has been stored properly will generally remain drinkable for about 1 week after “sell-by” date on the package.

Question #2 – Is it okay to put hot food directly into the fridge?

Answer:  It’s okay to place hot food directly into the fridge.  Just make sure container is shallow enough to allow it to chill quickly.

Question #3 – Can you make bananas ripen more slowly?

Answer:  Yes – once bananas have reached the ripeness you like, stash them in the fridge.  The cooler temperature of the fridge will slow down the spoilage process and keep the bananas tasty for about 5 more days.  The skin may turn dark but that won’t change the inside of the fruit itself.

I found this website to be extremely informative and helpful.  Check it out and see for yourself!

Keep smilin’!

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