Archive for March, 2011

Dear Readers,

Family photos are cherished possessions.  It is the one thing people scramble to take with them when fire or flood forces them to suddenly evacuate their homes.  The photo album contains a lifetime of remembered events.  It chronicles the history of our families.

The filming and storing of these images have changed considerably in recent years.  “Old school” family photos consisted of taking snapshots with kodak cameras that had a flash attachment where small round bulbs flashed brightly and burned out immediately.  Many pictures had to be re-taken because this bulb was faulty.  Before flash bulbs, most shots were taken outside in the sunshine and were developed in black and white only.  Prints were stored in elaborate photo albums.

The process of print developing was slow and expensive.  Photos were only taken on special occasions and the yearly cycle of images included Christmas, Easter, First Communions, weddings, graduations and vacations.  We had to wait a whole week or more before we could pick up the prints from the corner pharmacy and re-live the occasion.

With the advent of modern technology, digital cameras can snap an image and it can be viewed immediately.  Any mistakes are corrected instantly to produce the “perfect picture”.  Young children are photographed more in their first year than I have for my entire life.  Modern computers make it possible to store thousands of images.  And if that fire or flood strikes a home, occupants need only grab their computer disks.

“Old School” vs. “High Tech” – which way is best?  I’m not really sure.  Families have lost the anticipation and excitement of waiting to see vacation prints.  But vacation snapshots are now very professional looking.  Older pictures were black and white – new ones are in life-like colors.  I have to admit it is quite a joy to see just how blue my granddaughters’ eyes are.

I guess I’ll have to learn to embrace the new photo technology but remember the charm of the “old school” technique.  On thing I do know – family photos are treasures.  And the older the photo, the greater the treasure.

Keep smilin’!

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Mimi Loves Cabbage Soup With Sausage

Dear Readers,

This soup is delicious, easy to prepare and low in fat and calories.  What’s not to like about it?  It appeared in the “Country American Cooking” booklet published by Pillsbury.  A pan of piping hot cornbread would be great with the soup.

Cabbage Soup With Sausage

3 Polish sausages, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I use turkey kielbasa)

1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, sliced

4 carrots, thinly sliced

2-1/2 quarts chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In Dutch oven or saucepan, browned sliced sausages; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings.  Set sausages aside.  Add cabbage and onion to drippings; cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.  Add carrots and chicken broth.  Cover; simmer about 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.  Add pepper and sausages; heat thoroughly.  Makes 9 (1-1/2 cup) servings.  Each serving contains 150 calories and 9 grams of fat.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Kitchen Tips From Mimi

Dear Readers,

I have “The Cook’s Answer Book” torn from the April 1, 1997 issue of Family Circle.  I refer to it often and would like to share a few tips from it with you.  I’ll quote directly from the booklet.

“Q.  Following instructions from an old cookbook,  I threw spaghetti against the wall to test for doneness.  It stuck.  Is it done?

A.  Probably–but clean the wall and use this method instead.  Fish a piece of pasta from the pot and run under cold water.  Bite it:  the pasta should be tender but firm, without a white core; mushy pasta is not nice.  Two more often-heard queries:  Should I add oil to cooking water to prevent pasta from sticking?  Oil is for salads.  Use plenty of boiling water and stir occasionally; nothing will stick.  Oil in the water may coat pasta, causing sauce to slide right off.  Do I rinse cooked pasta or not?  Don’t rinse!  Starch on pasta helps sauce adhere.  The exception:  Do rinse if making cold pasta salad, so pieces stay separate.

Q.  Should I go ahead and carve the roast as soon as it comes out of the oven?

A.  No–let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  During cooking, most of the meat juices retreat to the center, leaving the edges dry and center wet.  As the roast stands, the liquid magically redistributes itself; plus, the meat firms up for thinner slicing.  Also, remember to remove the roast from the oven while it’s slightly underdone; the internal temerpature will continue to rise anywhere from 5 degrees for a thin cut, to 15 degrees for a much thicker piece.

Q.  How do I tell when fish is done?  When the scales fall off?

A.  Gently poke the fish with a fork in its thickest part.  Properly cooked, the flesh just begins to flake easily and is opaque (cloudy or milky)–not translucent or raw-looking.”

Hope these tips are helpful and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s an interesting way to serve cabbage.  The recipe came from the Drew family and was printed in the Family Weekly.

Finer Than Fine Pennsylvania Dutch Cabbage

5 cups shredded cabbage

4 slices bacon, diced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Freshly ground black pepper

1.  Cook cabbage in 2 quarts boiling water for 7 minutes; drain.

2.  Meanwhile, fry bacon pieces in large skillet until crisp, lift out onto paper towels; set aside.

3.  Add brown sugar and flour to bacon fat, blending until smooth over low heat.

4.  Add 2 cups boiling water, salt, vinegar, onion, pepper and the reserved bacon.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Taste; if too sour for your taste, stir in an additional 1/2 cup water.

5.  Turn cabbage into a serving dish, pour the hot dressing over and mix well.  Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Mimi loves listening to music.  It can be any time or place.  I love driving along listening to a song from the 60’s, hearing a beautiful hymn sung by the church choir, and even cleaning house to the sound of country music.  Singing along with Reba McEntire helps me dust with wild abandon!  But can listening to music help your brain function better?  I discovered it certainly can.

Let me quote from the “Health Mailbox” column written by Melinda Beck appearing in the December 1, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of listening to music.

“There’s considerable evidence that listening to music-and making music-can help young children’s brains, and the link between music and brain function seems to persist throughout adult life.

Because music involves many parts of the brain at the same time, it seems to aid the brain’s plasticity, that is, its ability to form new ways of thinking and doing things.  There’s some evidence that listening to music can release endorphins, the brain’s feel-good chemicals.

And even simple forms of making music, such as participating in drumming circles, has been shown to help relieve stress, enhance mind-body coordination, focus attention and counteract loneliness.  Some communities, and some companies, have sponsored drumming circles as a form of recreation and team-building.

Scientists are still exploring all the ways that music affects the brain and listening to music while doing other things seems to provide an added cognitive challenge.

A study from Ohio State University, published in the journal Heart and Lung in 2004, found that when 33 men and women in a cardiac rehabilitation program listened to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” while exercising on a treadmill, they not only reported feeling better but also performed much better on tests of verbal fluency than they had after working without the music.”

So Mimi says to keep the music playing and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This Friday is the first Friday in Lent and for Catholics that means a meatless meal.  Here’s a delicious low-fat casserole made with tuna and capers.  (Mimi loves capers!)  It’s simple to prepare and your family will enjoy it.  I cut out this recipe from a magazine years ago.  Sorry I don’t know which one.

Shells With Tuna & Capers

1 package (16 ozs.) medium shell pasta


1 medium lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 cans (6 ozs.) each tuna in water, drained and flaked

1/4 cup capers, drained and chopped

1 cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

1.  In saucepot, prepare pasta in boiling salted water as label directs.

2.  Meanwhile, from lemon, grate 1 teaspoon peel, and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice.  In 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and crushed red pepper, and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.  Add tuna, capers, lemon juice, lemon peel, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook 2 minutes.

3.  When pasta has cooked to desired doneness, remove 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain pasta and return to saucepot.  Add parsley, tuna mixture, and reserved pasta cooking water; toss well.

Makes 6 main-dish servings.  Each serving contains 395 calories and 6 grams total fat.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Many times women are described as catty, gossipy and even called the “b” word.  Movies and books portray some females as “mean girls”.  But I think we are getting a bad wrap!  For the most part, women generously help other women and it manifests itself in various situations.

A new mother receives support from neighbors in the form of prepared food.  Other moms know what it’s like to be sleep-deprived and still have to throw a meal together.  An at-home mom assures a working mom that she can pick up her child, when there’s an early dismissal due to inclement weather.  You can imagine the relief felt by the working mom.

Sisters look after each other, even when one is disabled and has to transition from her home to a nursing facility.  A concerned neighbor drops off a beautiful potted plant with blooms of “sunshine” to a friend who is going through a rough time.  Teachers brighten up an old institutional restroom with bright pictures of flowers adorning the walls and a pump bottle of fragrant hand lotion near the paper towel holder.

An 80 year old receives a birthday tribute from her tennis partner.  The partner informs other players at a luncheon and leads them in singing “Happy Birthday” to her friend.  I suppose you can guess what was served for dessert.  You’re right, it was a big, delicious birthday cake.

I’ve witnessed all these scenarios and it makes me extremely proud to be a woman.  I kinow whenever I am down and out, there will be lots of “sisters” to help raise me up!

Keep smilin’!

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Short Cut Pepperoni Bread

Dear Readers,

Got this recipe from a calendar and it was originally from the “Philadelphia Homestyle Cookbook”.  I would like to share it with you.

Short Cut Pepperoni Bread

1 loaf frozen bread dough

1/2 lb. Swiss cheese, sliced

1/2 lb. pepperoni, thinly sliced

1 egg

Grated Parmesan cheese

Thaw dough according to package directions and let rise.  After dough has risen, cut in half; roll out each half as thin as possible.  Layer with Swiss cheese and pepperoni.  Beat egg and spread thinly over pepperoni and cheese.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Roll into loaves.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Yields 15 slices.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

“Flavors To Shake the Salt Habit” is the title of an article written by Betsy Towner that was published in the December, 2010 AARP Bulletin.  It lists herbs and spices to use in various food items in place of salt.

Here is a partial list of the foods with these salt-free add-ins:

Roasted beef – bay leaf, garlic, parsley and thyme

Roasted poultry – marjoram, oregano, pepper, rosemary, sage and thyme

Beef stew – bay leaf, garlic, onion, parsley, pepper and thyme

Chicken soup – bay leaf, onion, parsley and thyme

Chili – drilled chili, cumin, garlic, oregano and pepper

Vegetable soup – basil, garlic, onion, oregano, parsley and pepper

Pasta salad – basil, garlic, mint and parsley

Black bean soup – chili pepper, cumin, coriander seed, garlic, onion, oregano and pepper

Lasagna – basil, chili pepper, garlic, onion and oregano

Pasta primavera – fennel, pepper and thyme

Veggie stir-fry – chili pepper, cilantro, garlic, ginger and sesame seed

This seems like an interesting way to cut down on salt in a recipe.  Lowering salt intake is very good for a healthy heart.  I think it is worth a try.

Keep smilin’!

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