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Dear Readers,

Here is some very useful information for making substitutions when cooking.  This info is quoted verbatim from the March 10, 1998 issue of Family Circle magazine.

“In-a-Pinch Substitutions

It can happen to the best of us:  Halfway through a recipe, you find you’re completely out of a key ingredient.  Here are some substitutions.

1 square unsweetened chocolate – substitute 3 tablespoons cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons flour (for thickening) – substitute 1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup cake flour – substitute 1 cup less 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder – substitute 1/4 tsp. baking soda + 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar + 1/4 tsp. cornstarch

1 cup corn syrup – substitute 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup additional liquid used in recipe

1 cup milk – substitute 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water

1 cup buttermilk – substitute 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice + enough milk to make 1 cup

1 cup sour cream (for baking) – substitute 1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar – substitute 1 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon lemon juice – substitute 1/4 teaspoon vinegar (not balsamic)

1/4 cup chopped onion – substitute 1 tablespoon instant minced onion

1 clove garlic – substitute 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups tomato sauce – substitute 3/4 cup tomato paste + 1 cup water

1 tablespoon prepared mustard – substitute 1 teaspoon dry mustard + 1 tablespoon water”

Hope you find these substitutions useful.

Keep smilin’!

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Healthy Tips Mimi Has Found

Dear Readers,

The November, 2009 issue of  Good Housekeeping’s “Good Health” column reported on at least 12 good tips for staying healthy this winter.  Three of these tips really appealed to me so I am sharing them with you.  (These are direct quotes from the column.)

“Keep your toes warm.  Give this one to Mom:  Catching a chill can jump-start a cold, say researchers at Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre.  Plunging the feet of volunteers into cold water triggered the onset of cold symptoms in 10 percent of subjects, while there were far fewer colds in the ‘toasty toes’ control group.  Cooling the feet, explain researchers causes constriction of the blood vessels in upper airways, which may reduce defenses against vexing viruses.

Pop in some earbuds.  Music seems to raise levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), one of the body’s primary defenses against germs.  When researchers from Australia’s Monash University subjected students to the tension-filled task of preparing an oral presentation, participants who worked to the soothing strains of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’ not only enjoyed a drop in stress symptoms, but also had a surge in IgA.  Singing in a choir has a similar immune-boosting effect, German research has found – all of which just might translate to fewer colds.

Enjoy a drink.  Spirits aren’t just good for your heart.  “Having one or two drinks a day is associated with less risk of getting a cold,” says Cohen.  Red wine may be particularly protective, report researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela and the Harvard School of Public Health.  They found that, compared with nondrinkers, those who drank two glasses daily had about half the risk of coming down with a cold.  The reasons for the lower risk are unclear, but it might be the anti-inflammatory action of the resveratrol in red wine.  But don’t start drinking if you don’t do so already.”

In conclusion, here is Mimi’s take on the above tips.  Put on a snazzy pair of warm winter socks, turn on the radio and hoist a glass of red wine.  Sounds like fun to me.  What do you think?

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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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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Dear Readers,

The flu season is quickly approaching; Mimi got a seasonal flu shot this week.  Thoughts of an H1N1 epidemic are becoming more real, even in church.

In fact, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued guidelines for the celebration of Mass during the coming months.  We have been asked to refrain from shaking hands with fellow worshippers during the Sign of Peace and just say “Peace be with you”.  In addition the reception of Holy Communion from the Cup will be suspended.  Priests, deacons and Eucharistic ministers are asked to wash their hands before and after Mass.  (I hope they have always done this.)   These guidelines go into effect the first Sunday in October, but parishioners were already abiding by them this Sunday.  So now at the Sign of Peace, we all just smile at each other and give a peaceful greeting.  I will miss the handshake because it is a nice way to connect with each other but for now it seems to be the safest thing to do!

Recently visited Yale’s campus and they are gearing up for the H1N1 virus by providing hand sanitizing stations at numerous locations, including the cafeteria and library.  There were Purell hand sanitizers on the counter at the local AT&T phone store in a shopping center.  New Haven, CT has decided they would rather be safe than sorry and I don’t blame them one bit!

For more info on correct handwashing, please read my blog “Washing Germs Down the Drain” located in the March, 2009 archives on the right side of this website.

In the meantime, remember to sneeze into your sleeve.  Keep your hands  away from your eyes, nose and mouth.  Stay home when you are sick and get a flu shot now.  Mimi sure is giving lots of motherly tips today!  Stay well and

Keep smilin’!

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Shakers and Movers

Dear Readers,
We’ve all heard the term “shakers and movers”.  But today Mimi has another type of “mover” on her mind.  Oh you know who you are!  You love to change room settings and are regularly moving furniture from one place to another.  There is one hazard involved in this operation:  furniture indentations in the carpet.  Well, how to get rid of them?  Mimi has a tip – actually a real estate agent in PA gave me this solution and it actually works!  Just place ice cubes in the indentations and let them slowly melt and then dry.  Amazingly the carpet springs back to life!  You may have to do this more than once.  Give it a try!
 
Have a funny story my Dad told me about moving furniture.  He shared a big bedroom upstairs with his two brothers.  Each boy had his own bed and Dad’s was nearest to the door at the top of the stairs.  He had a habit of running up the stairs in the dark and would take a flying leap into his bed.  It was such fun!  You know where I’m going, don’t you.  Grandma was spring cleaning one afternoon while the boys were at school and moved all the beds in different locations.  But she forgot to tell my Dad.  Needless to say, he never leapt into a bed again!!!
 
Keep smilin’

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