Archive for the ‘Food Tips’ Category

Oatmeal Bread with Homemade Oat Flour

August 12, 2012

I was surfing the web for oatmeal pancakes yesterday and found a keeper recipe at Smitten Kitchenthat uses homemade oat flour…what a revelation.  Deb always has great recipes with DIY tips in her witty blogs.   So this recipe for Oatmeal Bread is inspired by made-from-scratch oatmeal pancakes.

I love to bake bread but I hate to knead dough so my food processor really gets a workout…it does such a good job of kneading in half the time.  I’m sure you can find oat flour at better grocery stores and probably pay plenty for it.  Its like buying almond flour versus making your own from blanched almonds.  Your food processor will do the job for a lot less and the results are pretty comparable to store bought.  All that is required is Quick Cooking Oats, not Instant Oatmeal. Whirl them in your food processor until they’re the consistency desired…not too fine but not too course.  Of-course, if you want a finer texture you can always use a coffee grinder.  If you don’t like the results, you can always make oatmeal pancakes or an oatmeal bath balm.

This bread is healthy with plenty of fibre from the whole wheat and oat flours plus its moist with a tender crumb and nutty flavor.  It toasts beautifully and makes a tasty pallet for hot or cold sandwiches.  Think roast beef and mustard…with a beer!!

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Chile with Homemade Turkey Sausage

November 4, 2011

November is Turkey Month and nothing says comfort like this chile made with Homemade Turkey Sausage.  The chile is as easy to make as the sausage and with the spices you’ll never know it is turkey…so flavorful and satisfying on a cold winter’s night…you’ll think its beef.

However, ground turkey is available at most supermarkets so save yourself some time and work.

Beans can be dried or canned but for my money I prefer dried beans and the juice created during the cooking process is far superior in flavor to that of canned beans, which tend to be overly salted.  Use red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, or black beans or a combination.  I prefer red beans with black beans.

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Week #1 Menus – Cooking for One on $100/Month

August 31, 2011

Week numero uno has come and gone along with the shopping and cooking but as promised in my post Can A Single Person Eat at Home for $100 a Month? I’m going tell you what I cooked and ate during the week.

Remember, I started with a fairly well stocked pantry and freezer so I needed to buy only a few pantry replacements, namely dried beans, split peas, oil and can of salmon.   I spent a total of $66.86 this week and will only need to spend about $10.00 each week for the next 3 weeks for milk, greens and fruit.   My neighbor gave me 4 huge, ripe avocados last week, 2 of which made a superb guacamole for the Nachos Grande I served to my card club on Thursday.  That comprised my free acquisitions for the week.  Those freebies add a lot of value to your diet so if you happen upon an over-turned truck of watermelons on the highway be sure to grab one or two.

Food preferences are very individual but for the most part I’ll eat anything except rutabagas.  As far as beverages go, I drink a lot of water but I do enjoy wine and mixed cocktails when my budget allows.  It’s very hot in the tropics so I drink water, at least 2 quarts a day.  It is essential to replacing the fluids lost in perspiring. My only daily indulgence is 2 cups of cafe au lait and a glass of my homemade ginger beer on a really hot afternoon. Drinking commercial pop daily is not healthy for your budget or your body.  Save the pop for a treat.

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Can a Single Person Eat at Home for $100 a Month?

August 24, 2011

Take this poll and see.

If you only have $100 per month to spend on food, what would your meals consist of?  I’ve searched for menus given this spending restraint but could find no menus, only shopping strategies and grocery lists.  My real question is how healthy and well can you eat on $100 per month?  As a single retired person living on a fixed income, its important to keep expenses at a minimum and health at a premium.  Dare say, struggling single-young-people  have the same quest.  To that end, I’ve devised menus for a month of meals that ensure high nutrition, comfort and ease of preparation.  Every week starting Monday, August 29th, I will blog one week’s worth of menus and a shopping list with prices so you can glean how this is being accomplished.  Shopping smart is the key.

Its important to note that certain food staples are necessary to have on hand when you begin creating menus.  A list is provided (below) of staples you should have on hand.  These will last for several months,  for example: a box of salt will last you 4 months or more; herbs, spices, vinegars, syrups and extracts will last at least 6 months;  ketchup, mustard and other condiments will definitely last more than a month.  Unless you love to bake, or dried beans and lentils are your thing, you can allow $10-$20 per month to buy new staples and replenish old ones.  Buying those “Lost Leaders” (sale items that get you into the store so you’ll buy more expensive items) will save a lot of money in stocking your staples for the freezer and pantry.  Once you have your staples you can buy more fresh produce and fish for immediate consumption.

Growing your own herbs and some vegetables will add flavor and nutrition to your diet plus save money.  Making your own condiments and cooking from scratch will also save money.  And, whenever you get a bunch of fresh fruit or veggies from parents or neighbors, its definitely worth the time and effort to preserve, freeze, dehydrate or pickle for future use.  Food Banks are often called to harvest fruit from backyards where the owners cannot deal with the abundance of fruit falling from their trees.  If your neighbor has a lot of fallen fruit and it doesn’t appear they are using it, ask them for it, u-pick it instead of letting the fruit rot on the ground.   Freeze fruit for pies, smoothies, coulis, etc. Make some jam, jellies or fruit butters for yourself and for gifts.  Check out my apple butter recipe and lots of other recipes at

List of staples to have on hand:

  • flour, all-purpose and whole wheat
  • yeast
  • dry milk powder, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk
  • baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, cocoa powder
  • creamed soups (mushroom, chicken, celery, etc) (I also like to make these from scratch and freeze them)
  • canned veggies (tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle chile, roasted red pepper in particular) and fruit (black plums, peaches)
  • various spices & seasonings (the basics: garlic powder, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt, pepper, dried onion, dill etc)
  • various condiments (worcestershire, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, Tabasco, olives, capers etc)
  • vinegar, olive oil and vegetable oil
  • rice, oatmeal and cornmeal
  • peanut butter
  • dried fruit like raisins, prunes, figs, and apricots, etc
  • canned tuna, canned salmon, sardines, etc
  • sugars, white and brown, powdered sugar
  • dried beans, split peas, quinoa and lentils
  • potato flakes, couscous, stuffing mixes
  • pasta

In the freezer and frigerator:

  • chicken broth homemade
  • beef broth homemade
  • homemade breads, rolls, plus store-bought tortillas, English muffins purchased on sale
  • pureed pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet peas, broccoli  and other fresh fruits & veggies frozen before they can go bad.
  • ribs, ground beef, turkey, chicken, sausage, etc.  All meats bought on sale, divided into portions and frozen.
  • nuts
  • ginger root
  • frozen juices
  • butter (real) and cheese bricks bought when on sale

Marinated Turkey with Caribbean Flavors

November 14, 2010

Marinating a turkey was unheard of in my growing-up years but thankfully times have changed and our culinary methods are far more eclectic these days.  There’s a plethora of marinade recipes available from every region of the world so you only need find one that suits your stuffing and your tastes.  This particular recipe is a tweaked version of a Cuban marinade I’ve used on roasted chicken.  It’s packed with flavor and compliments my bread stuffing with chorizo and pine nuts.   more

Pass the Butter and

July 1, 2009

What has to say about:

The Butter Truth

      Claim:   Ingestion of some types of margarine increases the risk of
      coronary disease. 
Back in 2003 we compiled the following comparison chart for various brands of margarine as they were then formulated. Numbers given in grams refer to how many grams of each particular type of fat there are per tablespoon of that brand. (A tablespoon of butter or margarine contains 14 grams.)   Numbers given as percentages represent the impact of one tablespoon of that spread on the recommended daily allowance of that substance.  Margarines sampled were of the “tub” variety. (The same margarines in “stick” form had consistently higher numbers.)

Total FatSaturated (Polyunsaturated) (Monounsaturated)
            Butter11g (17%)7g (36%)00
            I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter10g (15%)2g (10%)4.5g4.5g
            I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light5g (8%)1g (5%)2.5g1.5g
            Parkay8g (13%)1.5g (8%)4g2g
            Fleischmann’s9g (14%)1.5g (10%)4g3g
            Blue Bonnet7g (14%)1.5g (10%)3g2g
            Imperial7g (10%)1.5g (7%)3g1.5g
            Country Crock (Shedd’s Spread)7g (10%)1.5g (7%)3g1.5g

Because butter is an animal product, it contains cholesterol, amounting to 
30 mg per tablespoon or 10% of the USDA recommended daily allowance. 
Margarines, because they are non-animal products, do not. The preceding 
chart says nothing about which margarines contained trans fats (or, if 
 they did, how much) because this information was not always included on 
 product labels back then.

 Since the issuance of warnings and regulations about trans fats in the 
last few years, many margarine producers have reformulated their products. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, for example, now (in 2006) bears a notice on its label proclaiming “NO TRANS FAT,” and the amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat per serving has dropped from 4.5g each to 4g (polyunsaturated) and 2g (monounsaturated) per serving.

Although a great deal of the information given in the e-mail is valid, one 
bit of intelligence is nothing more than hyperbole tossed in by the author 
in an effort to make his point more strongly. The claim that some 
comestible is but a “single molecule away” from being a decidedly inedible 
(or even toxic) substance has been applied to a variety of processed 
foods.  Some of the “Butter vs. margarine” mailings circulated in 2005 had this preface tacked onto them:  Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. 

 Contrary to the claim, margarine was not invented as a turkey fattener.  It 
was formulated in 1869 by Hippolyte Mège Mouriès of France in response to 
Napoleon III’s offering of a prize to whoever could succeed at producing a 
viable low-cost substitute for butter. Mège Mouriès’ concoction, which he 
dubbed oleomargarine, was achieved by adding salty water, milk, and 
margaric acid to softened beef fat. By the turn of the century, the beef 
fat in the original recipe had been replaced by vegetable oils.

In 1886, New York and New Jersey prohibited the manufacture and sale of 
yellow-colored margarine, and by 1902, 32 U.S. states had enacted such 
prohibitions against the coloration of the spread. (Folks got around this 
by mixing yellow food coloring into the white margarine.) In 1950 
President Truman repealed the requirement that margarine be offered for 
sale only in uncolored state, which led to the widespread production of 
the yellow margarine that has come to be the norm.

The URL for this page is

Pass The Butter…Please

June 27, 2009

I received this from my friend, a retired executive chef, Lonny Ritter, now living in Thailand.

This is interesting . . . 

Margarine  was originally manufactured to fatten  turkeys.  When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put  all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their  heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get  their money back.  It was a white substance with no food appeal  so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter.  How do you like it?   They have come out  with some clever new flavorings.. 

the   difference between margarine and butter?  
Read on to the end…gets very interesting!    

Both  have the same amount of calories. 
Butter  is slightly higher in saturated fats at
8 grams  compared   to 5 grams. 
margarine can increase  heart disease in women by 53%  over  eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent  Harvard  Medical Study.   
butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in  other foods. 
  has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few    
only  because  they are added! 

  tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of  other foods.. 
  has been around for centuries wheremargarine has been around for less than 100 years 

And  now, for Margarine.. 

Very  high in Trans fatty acids
Triple  risk of coronary 
heart disease 
Increases  total cholesterol
 and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and  lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol) 
Increases  the risk of cancers up to five fold…

Lowers  quality of 
breast milk. 
Decreases immune response. 
insulin response.

And  here’s the most disturbing fact…. HERE IS THE PART THAT  IS  VERY INTERESTING! 

Margarine  is but ONE MOLECULE away  from being PLASTIC…    

This  fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life  and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is  added,  changing the molecular structure of the  substance).    

You  can try this yourself: 

Purchase  a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded  area.  Within a couple of days you will note a couple of   things:

*  no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it  (that  should tell you something) 
*  it does not rot or smell differently because it has 
no nutritional  value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny   weeny  microorganisms  will not a find a home to grow.  Why?   Because it is nearly plastic .  Would you melt your Tupperware and  spread that  on your toast?   

Share  This With Your Friends…..(If you want to ‘butter them   up’)! 

Chinese Proverb: 
‘When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it,  you have a  moral obligation to share it with  others.   


Beans and Sausage in a Pressure Cooker

May 23, 2009

recipes 020Pressure cookers for homemakers have been around since 1917 when the USDA announced that the only safe way to can low-acid foods was with a pressure cooker.  From then on the National Pressure Cooker company, now called Presto, has engineered and redesigned pressure cookers with reliable safety features for home use.  So long as the rubber gasket around the inside rim of the lid is in good shape and you haven’t lost the regulator (jiggler) or damaged the pressure valve, you can save time when cooking dried beans, roasts and other long cooking dishes.  A pressure cooker is absolutely mandatory if you home-can veggies, meat or fish.  They come in 4 quart and 6 quart sizes and up to the 10 gallon size for canning quarts.   You can find them in most housewares departments and even at garage sales. 

Try this method for chili, corned beef, pulled pork, or octopus.  Flavors have no where to escape, they’re locked in using a pressure cooker.  For more information on cooking  with a pressure cooker, see Presto.

Half full pot

Half full pot

Getting up a head of steam.

Getting up a head of steam.


Valve stem up, pot is pressurized

Valve stem up, pot is pressurized

Soup's Ready

Soup's Ready


  • 2 cups pinto beans, washed and sorted
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper (about 1 tsp each)
  • handful of cilantro, chopped


  1. Soak beans overnight in 2 quarts water.  Drain and cover with fresh water.
  2. Saute ground pork in skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, cook for 3-4 minutes, and transfer to pressure cooker.
  4. Cover pressure cooker, locking lid into place and set jiggler over steam vent.
  5. Once valve stem pops up and jiggler begins to rock, set timer for 40 minutes.
  6. When timer goes off, turn off stove and leave pot to cool down.  When valve stem drops, it is safe to remove jiggler.  If no steam is escaping from vent, open lid.
  7. Check seasoning and adjust if needed.

The “Art” of Boiling Eggs

March 13, 2009

easter-bunnyEaster is just around the corner so you can start practicing the art of boiling eggs right now.  For years the media hype on the ill-effects of eggs put off the daily consumption of eggs.  The fact is, eggs are very healthly.   The secret is to buy farm-fresh eggs that have not been refrigerated and are not more than 7 days old.  A farm-fresh egg has lutein for your eyes, choline for your brain, B12 for your nervous system and are a cheap source of protein for building strong bones and rejuvenating cells.  Eggs have also been proven to help lower bad cholesterol levels rather than exacerbate bad cholesterol levels.  If your local health food store or farmers market doesn’t carry farm-fresh eggs, ask them to do so. 

A tried and true method for boiling eggs:

Cover raw eggs with cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes uncovered.  (Use a timer if you are busy.)   Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes.  Then drain off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs until they are just barely warm.  At this point, eggs may be colored for Easter baskets or an Easter Egg Hunt.

To shell eggs for your favorite dishes, crack the eggs all over while holding them under the cold water.  The shells should come off in a ribbon and the yolks will be lovely and yellow.

easter-eggsTo make your own colors simply use a separate ramekin or tea cup for each color and add 1 tsp white vinegar and 1/2 cup boiling water to each cup.  Then add as many drops of food coloring as needed to make the desired colors.

When I  lived in the South Pacific, only brown eggs were available and dyed Easter Egg was not a cultural tradition in the islands.  But, a lot of ex-pats got together and celebrated Easter with an Easter Egg Hunt, easter baskets and egg exchange.  Obviously, brown eggs would not color so we used felt pens and drew geometric designs, crosses, flowers and such on our brown eggs.  Some of them were quite artistic.  At any rate, we were still able to celebrate our Easter tradition a long ways from home.

Eggs symbolize the rites of spring or new beginnings.  The celebration of spring was actually a pagan festival prior to Christianity.  The Christians adopted the  pagan holidays for church holidays hoping to eradicate the pagan rituals.   However, small elements of those ancient pagan rituals have continued to exist in most of our holiday celebrations today.   So we can thank the pagans for their contribution to civilization and the pagan part of our Easter traditions.

How many ways can you use hardboiled eggs? 

Let’s see!  Drop a comment and tell me what I’ve missed!

  1. Deviled eggs:  add a pinch of curry and sweet pickle relish with the mayo and mustard.
  2. Egg-salad sandwich:  add tuna or chicken, pineapple bits, arugula and/or fresh basil along  with a slice of  tomato or mango chutney.
  3. Salads:  add chopped eggs to a Caesar salad, or wilted spinach salad, add sliced eggs to a Cobb salad, egg wedges to a Chef’s salad or Salad Nicoise.
  4. Creamed eggs:  on toast with parsley garnish for breakfast, or with  ham on biscuits for lunch or a quick supper.
  5. Pickled eggs:  Boil 1 cup water with 2 cups cider vinegar, add 1 Tbsp of pickling spice.  Let cool and pour over shelled eggs in a sterile jar.  Refrigerate for a few days.  To add color to your proverbial “boneless chicken” place pickled eggs in a jar of pickled beets.  They’ll change color within a day.