Sunday, September 28, 2014

Easy Watering Fix While You're Away

Why ask a friend to water your plants when you're out of town, when all you need to create your own automatic plant watering system is paper towel and a glass? According to Liz Foreman of (who heard of this trick from, the process is simple: Tightly roll a few sheets of paper towel (we suggest using a sturdy brand) at a diagonal to create a thick rope. Then place one end of your paper towel rope all the way into a glass of water, and drape the other end across the soil, a few inches from the plant. The paper towel sucks the water from the glass and deposits it at an even rate on the soil. Watering for a few days: done.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Worcestershire Sauce

Nearly 100 ingredients are processed to make Worcestershire Sauce.  Some of them are red onions, cloves, hot chilies, anchovies, garlic, tamarinds, and shallots.  The sauce is not cooked, but is aged in wooden casks up to two years.  After aging, it is then strained and pasteurized.

Use Worcestershipe Sauce to season tomato sauces, beverages, and soups.  Use in meat marinades, in sauces for meats and vegetables, and in soups.  Add to butter-garlic mixture for garlic bred.  Use in cheese spreads, appetizer dips, barbecue sauce, snack mixes, and gravies, or sprinkle over popcorn.

Storage - store in cabinet or pantry no longer than one year for peak quality.  Shake well before using, as ingredients settle in the bottle.

Worcestershire Round Steak

1 can (16 oz.) tomato sauce
1 cup dry red wine or beer
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 boneless beef round steak (about 2 lbs.)

Mix tomato sauce, wine, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, brown sugar, and pepper.  Pour over steak in shallow glass baking dish.  Refrigerate, covered, 4 hours or overnight; drain, reserving marinade.

Grill or broil steak to desired degree of doneness; heat marinade and serve with steak.  4 - 6 servings.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Horseradish

Available as a fresh root, horseradish can be dried minced or prepared and bottled.  Prepared horseradish is a mixture of finely grated horseradish root and vinegar.

Add grated fresh or prepared horseradish to melted butter; serve over grilled or broiled steak or chops.  Fold horseradish into whipped cream and serve as a condiment with roast meats.  Use to season salad dressings and sauces for seafood and meat.  Mix with applesauce to serve with roast pork or ham.  Use also in pickles and relishes.

Storage - fresh root can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks; unopened and bottled prepared horseradish in a cabinet or pantry one year; opened, in a refrigerator on year; dried flakes in a cabinet or pantry up to one year.

Seafood Cocktail with Horseradish Sauce

1 pkg (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream or sour half-and-half
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
12 ounces cooked, flaked fish fillets or shelled, deveined shrimp
Shredded lettuce

Beat cream cheese in small bowl until fluffy; beat in sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, sugar and dill weed.  Refrigerate several hours for flavors to blend.  Arrange seafood on lettuce on plates or in cocktail dishes; spoon sauce over.  4 - 6 servings.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Ginger

Ginger is the root stalk of a tropical plant.  Available as a fresh root, powdered, preserved, or crystallized, it has a sweet, fragrant aroma.  Ginger root does not have to be peeled before using.

Use to flavor tea, adding a strip of lemon or orange.  Use in salad dressings for fruit and poultry, in marinades, sauces, chutnies, jams, cookies, and cakes.  Rub onto beef or pork roasts before cooking them.  Add to mashed carrots, sweet potatoes, or acorn squash.  Combine with cinnamon and nutmeg in cooking desserts.

Storage - fresh ginger root can be stored up to four weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or cut into chunks, covered with dry sherry in a jar, and refrigerated.  An unopened jar of preserved ginger, and dried, powder, or crystallized ginger in jars can be stored in a cabinet or pantry up to one year for optimum quality; refrigerate an opened jar of preserved ginger.

Baked Trout with Ginger Sauce

4 whole dressed trout (about 10 oz. each)
1/3 cup catsup
1/3 cup sugar
3 - 4 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. soy sauce
4 thinly sliced green onions and tops

Arrange fish in baking dish.  Heat remaining ingredients, except onions, to boiling in saucepan; stir in onions and spoon over fish.  Bake at 350 degrees until fish is tender and flakes with a fork, 20 - 25 minutes.  Serves 4

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Curry

Curry powder is a combination of many spices.  It may have as few as 5 ingredients or as many as 40 or 50.  Turmeric is probably the most common base.  Other ingredients can be ginger, coriander, caraway, cayenne pepper, cumin, fenugreek, dill, mace, cardamon, cloves, allspice, anise, bay leaves, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, poppy seeds, saffron, mint, and juniper berries.

Curry is used in Indian cuisine and a part of the cooking in Indonesia, Malaysia, Jamaica, and West Africa.

Curries can be mild or hot - even extra hot.  Rub onto meats; use in stews, sauces for meats and vegetables, appetizer dips, soups, egg dishes, meat or fish salad mixtures, marinades for meat and poultry, melted butter for vegetables, bread stuffing, and rice casseroles.

Storage - Curry can be stored in a covered jar in a cabinet or pantry up to one year for maximum quality.

Curried Rice with Fruit

2 cups cooked rice
1 cup mixed fried fruit, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. curry powder
Grated nutmeg

Mix all ingredients except nutmeg in medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until hot through; spoon into serving bowl and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Serve with lamb, pork, ham, or chicken.  4 servings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Peach Pudding

A friend brought me some peaches that needed to be used within a couple days so I came up with an idea.  I love Banana Pudding and I love Peaches and Cream so why not make Peach Pudding.  I used my regular Banana Pudding recipe (the kind you cook from scratch) but instead of using bananas I used peaches.  OMGoodness!  This is so good.  It isn't too sweet and you get the slight tartness from the peaches.  I did make one mistake, that wasn't really a mistake but something I would change the next time I make this.  I didn't cook my pudding quite long enough.  It turned out just a little thin and due to this the vanilla wafers softened but their softening they thickened the pudding.  Even so, this dish is delicious.  Now I want to make Strawberry Pudding!  And maybe Pineapple Pudding!  And maybe Cherry Pudding!  Need I add more?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Cloves

Available as whole or ground, cloves are the dried buds of the tropical clove tree, a relative of the myrtle family, which grown in the West Indies and Africa.  The buds are first white, then green, then red.  After they are picked and dried, they turn a dark, reddish brown.  In small quantities, cloves have an aromatic, sweet flavor.  In larger quantities, the flavor becomes quite hot.  Freshly ground cloves provide the most pungent flavor.

Use whole or ground cloves in sweet beverages (mulled cider or wine, fruit punch), in cakes and cookies, and in glazes and sauces for pork and ham.  Also use in chutneys, preserves, pickled fruits, candies, and puddings.  Mix ground cloves and brown sugar or honey into softened butter; serve over beets, carrots, or baked sweet potatoes.  Cloves also are often combined with other spices in baked goods and beverages.

Storage - cloves can be stored in a tightly closed jar in a cabinet or pantry one year for optimum quality.

Clove-Spiced Cider

24 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
4 whole allspice
2 whole cardamom
1 quart apple cider or juice

Tie spices in small piece of cheesecloth; add to cider in medium saucepan.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove spice bag.  Serve hot, or refrigerate and serve chilled.  8 servings of 1/2 cup each.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Resque

Just a reminder for those of you who love to cook, don't forget to check out my book store Book Resque.  I add books daily so the choice is always changing.  Some are old, some are new.  Some are cookbooks, some are even comic books.  Some are educational, some are Very Vintage dating back into the 1800s.  But all are priced low. 

Most of my books are rescued from thrift stores, yard sales, and Estate sales.  I buy as cheaply as possible so I can pass them on to you at an affordable price. 

Each book shows it's own shipping price but when you order 2 or more the shipping weight is combined and the cost will be for the combined weight, not the individual item weight.  

So, check out the site and see how many books you might like to adopt and rescue from the recycle center.

Oh yeah.  Now and then I run across items other than books that need to be rescued so don't be surprised if you spot stamps, lighters, and other old but odd items listed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Caraway Seeds

The black crescent-shaped seeds from the fruit of the herb known as Carum Carvi, which grows in northern and central Europe and Asia and now in America, are the caraway seeds.  Each fruit form the plant has two halves, and each half contains a caraway seed, when used as a seasoning, provides an aromatic addition to many foods and blends of teas.  Caraway seeds can be used whole, or they can be crushed to release more aroma and flavor.

Add crushed or whole seed to rye and other breads, sauerkraut, applesauce, salads, cole slaw, potatoes, onions, cabbage, cheese spread and sauces, and cottage cheese.  Rub crushed caraway seed onto the surface of beef, lamb, veal or pork before cooking; add it to stews.

Storage - Caraway seed stored in a covered jar in a cabinet or pantry will retain full flavor up to one year.

Caraway Bagels

1 loaf frozen rye bread dough, thawed
2 quarts water
Spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp. caraway seed
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt

Place dough in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Let stand, covered in warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down dough.  Dive dough into 10 equal pieces.  Roll 1 piece dough on lightly floured surface to form strip about 1" long; bring ends together to form bagel shape.  Moisten ends and seal.  Repeartwith remaining pieces.  Let stand on floured surface 15 minutes.

Heat water to boiling in large saucepan.  Place bagels in water, 2 to 3 at a time; boil 30 seconds.  Drain on paper toweling.  Place bagels on greased cookie sheet.  Brush bagels generously with mustard; sprinkle with caraway seed and salt.  Bake at 400 degrees until golden, 15 - 2 minutes.  10 bagels.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Chicken

2 - 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
cheese dip
pretzels, crushed (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place a wrack in the bottom of a baking dish (spray both with non-stick).  Slice each of the chicken breasts into 3 equal strips (long)  Wrap each chicken strip in a slice of bacon.  Place on baking rack.  Bake strips about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout.  Remove from rack.  Place in a baking dish sprayed with non-stick.  Pour enough of the cheese dip over each to cover.  Sprinkle with pretzels.  Bake 5-8 minutes or until cheese dip is hot.

Comments:  Somewhere I saw a recipe for bacon wrapped chicken strips but couldn't remember where so I decided to make my own.  My chicken strips were about 1" wide and one piece of bacon was plenty to wrap with.  Don't use pre-cooked bacon.  It will brown before the chicken is done.  For my cheese dip I used a jar of white cheese with peppers giving the dish another taste and the pretzels to add a crunch.  This turned out very well.  You could taste the bacon as well as the cheese and by cooking it on a rack the fat was able to drain making this a fairly healthy dish.  You can also put this in individual baking dishes, instead of one large baking dish, before adding the cheese.   I think Weight Watchers would love this one.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Black Pepper

Black pepper comes from the peppercorn, a fruit (or berry) which grows on a woody plant in the tropics.  As the peppercorn grows, first it is green, then it becomes red as it ripens, and turns black as it is dried.  Black pepper is made form dried peppercorn.  White pepper, which is milder, is the inner layer of the dried peppercorn. 

Black pepper is available whole, cracked, coarsely ground, or finely ground.  Used in small amounts, it is a mild seasoning; in large amounts, it has a predominant flavor.  Whole peppers, ground in a peppermill, provide freshly ground seasoning and a more pungent flavor.

Storage - whole and ground pepper kept in a tightly closed jar and stored in a cabinet or pantry will retain their full flavor up to one year.

Peppered Flank Steak

1 beef flank steak (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns, crushed
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced.

Pound steak until even in thickness; score on both sides.  Mix peppercorns and remaining ingredients; spread over surface of steak.  Roll steak up, beginning at short end; fasten with wooden picks.  Broil steak 6" from heat source for 20 minutes, turning steak one-quarter turn every 5 minutes.  Slice to serve.  6 servings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Olive Oil and Its Uses

Another goodie form Grandparents

Almost every kitchen has a bottle of this gold-green elixir that can dress a salad or sauté vegetables, imparting heart-healthy fat in every teaspoon. But olive oil (regular or light, save expensive extra-virgin for flavoring food) can also help make dirty work a little easier:

Remove paint: Forget the harsh chemicals. To remove paint from your skin, just use olive oil and a little granulated sugar or salt. The paint will come off and your skin will be exfoliated and moisturized, too.

Take it outside!: Olive oil can help you do your yard work. Spritz it onto lawn mower blades in the summer to help keep grass from sticking, and onto snow shovels in the winter so that snow will slide off the shovel more easily. You can use it on other garden tools like hoes and rakes, too.

Polish leather shoes: No need to use that nasty-smelling chemical stuff. A little olive oil and a soft cloth will keep your shoes looking great.

Get gum out of hair: Apply the olive oil to the gum and the surrounding hair; work it through gently and let it sit for a few minutes. Work a comb through the strands until the gum is gone, then wash with shampoo.