Archive for August, 2010

Dear Readers,

Tuesday morning is Mimi’s weekly date with her granddaughter.  There are a number of activities she enjoys.  A trip to the lakeside park where we observe the small waves roll in, and then navigate the playground with its twisting slides and swings is a real thrill for her.  Some Tuesdays we travel to the library to browse the bookshelves for favorite books and then rest on tiny chairs to pore over them and laugh together.  A book about “stinky laundry” is a favorite of ours.  We’ve also ventured through the various play sectors at Marbles Children’s Museum in downtown Raleigh.  Emily’s favorite activity is driving the bus and then spending time shopping in the supermarket zone.  She loves to check out the grocery items at the cashier stand.

This Tuesday it was raining, so my granddaughter came to my house, where we did some real baking together not the pretend type. We washed our hands and then she climbed up the step stool where she was level with the kitchen counter.  I had two Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts for us to use.  We were going to prepare strawberry popovers.  Emily used a round cookie cutter to fashion small circles from the pie dough.  Then she sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on the circle and placed a small strawberry slice in the center.  She pinched the dough together to form turnovers.  At times the pinching was hard for her little fingers, so some of the turnovers looked like little packages or purses of dough.  We didn’t mind; it’s about having fun together, not producing perfect pastries.  Each strawberry nugget was lined up on the foil-lined baking sheet.  Of course, Mimi placed them in the oven which was set at 350 degrees.  We baked them until they were browned, about 15 or 20 minutes.  My granddaughter and I had a wonderful time watching them bake as we peered through the lit oven door window.

Emily played with the leftover dough scraps during the baking process.  It felt just like play-doh to her.  When the turnovers were done and after they had cooled, we celebrated with a pretend tea party that featured real pastries.  Emily learned a lot about baking and I’m sure any three year old toddler would enjoy this same activity.  Just purchase some Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts and let your toddler’s creativity blossom with your help!

Keep smilin’!

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A Different Kind of Tuna Salad

Dear Readers,

This is a very tasty salad with tuna and low-fat yogurt.  Got it over the internet in 1998 and it is adapted from “Good Food Afloat” by Joan Betterley.

Lemony Tuna and Beans

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) cut green beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (8-1/2 oz.) green lima beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15-1/2 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1 can (6 oz.) water-packed tuna, drained

Juice of 2 lemons (1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped onions

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl or zip-seal bag.  Cover and chill until serving time.

Makes 6 servings.  Each serving contains 256 calories and 7 grams of fat.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

With the recent financial crisis and economic slow-down, we are continually hearing that consumer credit-card spending should be closely monitored and we should endeavor to save more for retirement.  Banks offer many sophisticated types of checking accounts but are charging more and more fees.  ATM’s are readily available, making cash withdrawals far too convenient for most of us.

Credit and finances had a very different look in the 1950’s.  Let me tell you about how my family’s finances were managed.

First of all, we did not posses a checking account.  It wasn’t necessary then.  Dad got his weekly paycheck from American-Standard cashed every Friday at our neighborhood saloon, Seidenfaden’s Cafe.  No fee was involved but customers were expected to purchase something from the cafe.

Gas, electric, water and phone bills were paid in cash in person at designated locations throughout the city.  The location nearest to us was Speier’s Hardware Store on Barret Avenue.  I can remember accompanying my Dad to Speier’s to pay bills.  There was a lady cashier who took the money and then stamped the bill “Paid in Full”.  If the bill couldn’t be paid in person, Mom purchased a money order from the local bank and mailed it to the creditor.  These money orders were inexpensive, usually costing about 25 cents.

There was no such thing as a credit card.  For purchases of large ticket items such as an appliance or a television, arrangements were made with the store to pay for it in installments.  My Mom also had numerous envelopes designated for various items that were only purchased when there was sufficient cash in them to cover the cost of the item.

Mom kept a cigar box in a kitchen cupboard drawer where she stored cash for groceries, haircuts, church collection envelopes, etc.  Each time money was withdrawn, the amount spent and the purchase were recorded on a tally sheet.  My mother knew where every penny was spent!  She was a wise and frugal money manager and Dad was more than happy to let her manage our finances.

There’s a lot to be said for actually seeing and handling money as it was spent and also observing the pile of dollars grow smaller and smaller.   Maybe our economy would be in better shape, if we returned to a society that used only cash for purchases.  The principles that guided my family’s finances in the 50’s were a lot wiser than we ever realized!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a recipe I received from the Bisquick Recipe Club that is dated July, 1982.  It is easy and good; also the perfect dish to prepare when tomatoes and zucchini are in season.

Impossible Zucchini-Tomato Pie

2 cups chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1-1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup Bisquick baking mix

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 10-inch quiche dish or pie plate, 10 x 1-1/2 inches.  Sprinkle zucchini, tomato, onion and cheese in plate.  Beat remaining ingredients until smooth, 15 seconds in blender on high or 1 minute with hand beater.  Pour into plate.  Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Did you ever realize what an important role color plays in our lives?  It’s what we use to illustrate a sunset, depict a bridesmaid’s gown or even to describe a granddaughter’s eyes.  It also details our emotions.  We can be “green with envy” or experience the “blues”.  Color can excite you, calm you or make you claustrophobic.

In the world of color, various names are given to each individual pigment.  There are the primary colors of red, yellow and blue we learned in kindergarten but there are more specific names assigned to the diverse and distinct shades of each color.  I know of two areas where the names of colors are raised to a whole new creative level:  wall paint and nail polish.

Benjamin Moore describes yellow as “laguna yellow”, blue as “tidal wave” and plain ole beige as “stone house”.  OPI Nail Polish has a set of colors called the “Hong Kong Collection”.  Here are the names of a few polishes:  “A Good Mandarin is Hard to Find”, “Red My Fortune Cookie”, “Bling Dynasty”, “Chop Sticking to My Story” and “Panda Monium Pink”.  My favorite OPI color is “Cha-Ching Cherry” from their Las Vegas Collection.  It sounds like the happy sound coming from a slot machine that has just registered a winner!  These inventive names of the various tones work together to tell a story.

Employees of these companies concoct the names.  But who are these people? Are they young or mature; are they frustrated novelists or hip advertising people?  And how do they choose what to call each hue?  Do they invent these labels in small office cubicles or do they sit around a large table in a corporate boardroom?  And are they sipping wine or smoking some funny stuff?

Well, whoever these people are, God bless them, because they certainly make color and life a lot more interesting for all of us!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Why would Paula Deen love this recipe?  Because it’s chock full of buttery, cheesy flavor.  And you know Paula – the more butter in a recipe, the better she likes it!  This dish is easy to make and tastes wonderful.  It’s great for entertaining because it can be prepared in advance.  It also freezes well.  This recipe is from the cookbook “Recipes for Busy Days” by Miriam B. Loo.

Seafood Pasta

Preparation Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  30 to 40 minutes

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 – 5oz. jars Kraft Old English sharp pasteurized process cheese spread

1 cup half-and-half

1 – 10 oz. package shell macaroni

1 – 4-1/2 oz. can small shrimp, drained

1 – 7-1/2 oz. can crab meat, drained and flaked or

1 – 7-1/2 oz. can Albacore tuna, drained and flaked

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium saucepan, melt butter or margarine; add cheese and half-and-half, blending well.  Boil shell macaroni in salted water until just barely tender; drain.  Mix sauce and macaroni together.  Toss in shrimp, crab meat or tuna, seasonings, and lemon juice.  Put in greased 7 x 11-inch baking dish and bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Read an interesting magazine article about how to clean a sponge.  If you use a sponge in your kitchen, this article is very enlightening.  I’m going to quote it verbatim.

“What Gets a Sponge Really Clean?

We worked with EMSL analytical testing lab in Westmont, NJ, to find out.  Consumers used sponges for a week in their kitchens, and the lab tainted others with three common pathogens:  salmonella, E. coli, and pseudomonas.  We tested six cleaning methods – the dishwasher, microwave, and washing machine: bleach, ammonia, and vinegar soaks – to see which removed the most bacteria.

And The Best Germ Killer Is… The bleach solution killed 99.9 percent of the three bacteria strains from all our test sponges (scrub and regular cellulose), a benchmark based on the EPA’s requirement for sanitization of non-food-contact surfaces.  Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water, and soak the sponge for five minutes.  The microwave and the dishwasher were the next most effective, zapping 99.9 percent of germs from the home-used sponges and from the lab-treated sponges.  However, on the lab-treated cellulose sponges, microwaving  just missed the mark for E. coli (99.83 pecent reduced), and the dishwasher didn’t quite get all the salmonella or E. coli (99.88 and 99.86 percent reduced, respectively).  Put a sponge into a regular dishwasher load, using the “heated dry” setting.  In the microwave, saturate the sponge (we used 1/4 cup of water for scrub sponges and 1/2 cup for cellulose); heat on High for one minute (scrub) or two minutes (cellulose).  Keep an  eye on it.  Clean sponges weekly, and toss shabby ones.

How Did the Others Do?  A five minute soak in full-strength vinegar averaged 99.6 percent bacteria elimination; in full-strength ammonia, 97.0 percent.  The washing machine proved least effective, killing on average 93.0 percent of bacteria.”

I think this article came from a Good Housekeeping magazine.  I cut it out and forget to label it.  Hope you find it informative.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here is the potato pancake recipe mentioned in my blog post “Our Neighborhood Beer Joint” published August 3, 2010.  Mr. Dinkler and Mr. Degner loved these pancakes prepared by my Mom, Alma.  I know our family loved a Friday night meal of potato pancakes and applesauce.

Alma’s German Potato Pancakes

3 cups (6 medium) grated raw potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon grated onion

1/2 cup milk

salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons butter

Combine all ingredients except butter.  Mix thoroughly.  Pour small amounts onto a hot buttered skillet.  Fry until brown, turning once.  Makes 18 pancakes.

Note:  I use a metal box grater to grate potatoes, which have been peeled.  Rinse grated potatoes in cold water to prevent browning and drain well.  Also keep pancakes warm in a 325 degree oven until all 18 are fried.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

In my blog post “The Cranberry Man”, I mentioned Seidenfaden Cafe as the neighborhood bar.  As kids of the 50’s, we referred to the establishment as a “beer joint”.

Let me tell you a little more about Seidenfaden’s which functioned as the news and gossip center of our neighborhood.  In addition to the bar, there was a card room  in the rear of the building.  It was a family business started by Charles Seidenfaden in the 1930’s.  His son, Norbert, managed the bar during the 50’s; then a son and son-in-law took over in the 60’s.  I’m sure the cafe is still family-run.

Patrons could purchase draft beer by the pitcher in the 50’s.  Dad would take a big, empty glass pitcher there to have it filled with ice cold beer.  When we had company, a pitcher of beer was part of the refreshments, along with a platter of sandwiches containing limburger cheese on dark rye bread with thinly sliced onions, and salt and pepper.  A salt shaker was always nearby as many Germans loved salt in their beer.  (By the way, “Seidenfaden” means silver thread in German.)

There were two old German gentlemen who frequented the saloon – Mr. Degner and Mr. Dinkler.  These bachelors lived together on Schiller Avenue, around the corner from our house.  Dad worked with them at American-Standard and also ran into them at the “beer joint”  On one occasion, Dad mentioned that he was having delicious homemade potato pancakes for supper.  When Mr. Degner and Mr. Dinkler announced that they missed eating this wonderful German side dish, Dad offered to bring them a plate full, the next time Mom prepared them.  From then on, every time we had potato pancakes, Mom piled extra pancakes on a plate and cautioned us not to touch them.  They were reserved for Mr. Degner’s and Mr. Dinkler’s supper.  Dad would meet the men at Seidenfaden’s to give them the potato pancakes.  What a treat for them – eating a home cooked meal that reminded them of their home in Germany!

I have a lot of pleasant memories of our neighborhood “beer joint”.  Hope you enjoyed reading about some of them.

Keep smilin’!

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