About: A LITTLE OF THIS…..A LITTLE OF THAT

About: A Little of This... A Little of That

Hi!  I’m Barbara.

Welcome to A LITTLE OF THIS…..A LITTLE OF THAT

A little bit about me.

I am a wife, mother, cook, newly assigned family special occasion baker, e-book reader, crazy hockey fan, dog sitter, lover of all things crafty, semi-gardener, master schedule planner, travel agent (not professional), and Pinterest junkie.

I have been retired from my career as a Paralegal for more than 10 years and I love being home.  Believe me, I did all the rushing, juggling with kids and their schedules while working for more than 20 years so I know what it’s like to take care of a family on restricted time.  Our kids were in soccer, than traveling soccer (you parents who experience this understand how time consuming this sport is), baseball, and four years of Competition Marching Band/Color Guard, and Indoor Color Guard with our daughter. I sewed flags and costumes, and my husband and I chaperoned the band every weekend for competitions.  Again, this meant every Friday night or Saturday, from noon to midnight, being on the run.  When my daughter graduated High School and we had all our weekends free again my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Now what will we do with our time?”.

With all three out of the house we truly became empty nesters.  That meant learning to cook for two again (that’s a hard one); learning about yourself and what interests you; and learning how to be a couple again.

This year has been crazy for us.

  • I made the cake for the bridal shower for our future daughter-in-law;
  • Our daughter graduated college;
  • Planning the rehearsal dinner as parents of the groom (and we made 14 flower arrangements for all the women attending);
  • The Wedding;
  • Our son’s graduation from medical school;
  • Two graduation parties;
  • A “jungle theme” baby shower cake for a family member;
  • House sitting for my sister’s six animals while they were on vacation;
  • Furniture/apartment shopping and moving our daughter to NJ for Graduate School;
  • Taking a last hoorah vacation with her to Myrtle Beach;
  • Visiting my Aunt and family in Arizona; and
  • Taking a much needed two week vacation with my husband to Hilton Head Island, SC.

And NO, this is not typical or usual in any way shape or form for us.  We usually take one vacation a year and generally it’s in the fall but for various reasons this was our whirlwind year.

So now that things are starting to settle down again, I wanted to start this blog, which like my life, will be about a little of this…a little of that.  My interests will range from healthy cooking to decadent, sinful deserts. To places we’ve traveled and what was the good (and bad) of it.  To my novice undertakings in gardening, to helpful tips (I’m currently interested in safer cleaning methods since I sneeze and cough every time I use a commercial product), and whatever else gains my interest.   And I will try out a lot of things I find and give you my personal opinion on the results.  Something I’ve been doing for my own family for years.

I’m not a professional blogger or photographer so this will be a learning experience for me, but I do love to make the people around me happy and I do this through going the extra mile to learn new things in new areas.  I hope you enjoy your visit with me and come back often. If there is something out there that you’d like me to try let me know by email at bmoyer0325@gmail.com.  Your feedback is most welcome.

You can also follow my boards on Pinterest.

Yams – The Sweet Potato’s Non-Related Doppelganger

yams

Well here we are approaching the end of ABC to XYZ in Foods. The good news is in January 2015 we are going to start all over at the beginning of the alphabet with new foods and information!  So pay attention to Yams, Xanthan Gum, and Zucchini.

Wait, what is going to happen next week? More good news: through the next eight weeks, I will be sharing with you stories, food and customs of the Holiday Season. Hopefully you will learn of customs, foods and bits of information about how others celebrate their holidays. The stories may rekindle memories of Christmases gone by with the hope for a better next year.

XANTHAN GUM (food product) >> Is a microorganism that is grown under laboratory conditions. It is used to replace gluten in cooking. Xanthan Gum helps achieve a good texture when using with gluten free flour. It is especially good in thickening up batters. It is an excellent product for use with people who have Celiac Disease, which is an allergy to wheat or gluten. At first it appears to be a little pricey, but you get a lot for your money.

YAMS >> Are often confused with sweet potatoes. They are two different types of vegetables. Sweet potatoes are quite popular in our southern states and have a texture similar to a baking potato. Their skin colors can vary from white to brownish-black color.

Actually, the yam is not related at all to the sweet potato, but they are often used as substitutes for each other. A true yam is a tuber from a tropical vine. I find the best visual identification is that sweet potatoes taper to a point at each end and are not large in size. On the other hand, yams can grow to over 7 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds. Sweet potatoes need to be handled with care and have a short shelf life, whereas a yam can be refrigerated for up to six months.

Yam Salad

A Year-Round Favorite

• 4 medium yams (about 1 ½ lbs.)

• 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• ½ tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper

• 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

• 1 small onion, chopped

• ¼ cup chopped parsley

Place yams in boiling water. Bring back up to boil, reduce heat. Cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain.

Cool potatoes, remove the skins (they will slip right off). Cube yams; place in glass or plastic bowl. Mix together oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour over yams. Blend in green peppers, onion and parsley. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

ZUCCHINI >> Is considered a small summer squash. It has a similar shape to the cucumber. Zucchini is usually served cooked and cucumbers are not. A real treat is to stuff zucchini blossoms and fry like a tempura or pan fry. Zucchini can grow as long as 3 or 4 feet, but those that large are fibrous and not appetizing to eat. There is an overwhelming production of zucchini in both home and commercial gardens. All that I know is that zucchini can be found on every menu in every restaurant while in season. Zucchini has no cholesterol; it is high in protein and carbohydrates. It is low in calories, fat, fiber and sodium. You can make everything from an appetizer to dessert with zucchini. There are a million-trillion ways to prepare zucchini, so make your choice and “mangia.”

bette banjack author of yamsSee you next week to start our Holiday fun!

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net. Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking. Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

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About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Jams Jellies and JellO

Jams Jellies and JellO

What’s the Difference Between Jams Jellies and JellO?

JELL-O – Is one of the most familiar food names around. Prior to the early 1900s, preparation of gelatin was a somewhat time-consuming and difficult task. It is almost never confused or included in the same breath: Jams Jellies and JellO.

When Jell-O first hit the market, it came in strawberry, orange and lemon flavors.

After changing ownership several times, it is now a trademark of Kraft Foods, Inc. Ready-to-use, ready-to-make Jell-O was first advertised to the general public in 1902. There have been Jell-O milestones along the way, from sugar free in 1923 to Jell-O Jigglers in the ‘90s.

Jell-O is the Utah official state snack, in lime flavor. I had always thought that the red flavors were the most popular, but I may be wrong. Utah and the area around the state is called the “Jell-O Belt.”

JAMS & JELLIES – Are best known for their fragrance and rich fruit taste. The making of jams and jellies began centuries ago in the Middle East, as cane sugar grew naturally in that area.

“Jelly” comes from the French word “gelee,” which means to congeal. The Spanish brought the preserved fruits to the West Indies. Seventeenth Century American settlers prepared fruit with honey, molasses and maple sugar. Apple paring were used to thicken the fruit.

The average kid eats the average of 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by high school graduation. On a tablespoon-for-tablespoon basis, jams and jellies have about half the calories of butter or margarine and zero fat.

The easiest way to get them is to go to the store and purchase your jams and jellies. But it is a lot more fun to whip up a batch or two. All the ingredients are easily accessible year-round, including the fruit. Never double up on making batches; only make what the recipe calls for, one batch at a time.

Grape jelly was a favorite in the U.S. Army during World War I — so popular, in fact, that it was produced for commercial use in the States following the war. The most popular are grape jelly and strawberry jam.

Here are some of my quick and easy recipes. May I make a suggestion? The next time you go shopping, get the supplies (don’t forget jars & lids) and on some snow day make a batch.

Grape Jelly

• 3 cups bottled grape juice

• 1 package powdered pectin

• 4 cups sugar

Combine grape juice and pectin in a large saucepot. Bring mixture to a rolling boil. Stir in sugar and return to rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam off if necessary; cheesecloth wrapped around wooden spoon works very well. Pour hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leave ¼” head space. Adjust lids. Process 15 minutes in boiling hot water bath. Yields about 5 half-pints.

Strawberry Jam

• 2 quarts crushed strawberries

• 6 cups sugar

Clean strawberries. Combine berries and sugar in a large saucepot. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thick, about 35 to 40 minutes. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼” head space. Adjust lids. Processing 15 minutes in boiling hot water bath. Yields about 4 pints.

bette banjack author of Jams Jellies and JellOLet me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens - Jams Jellies and JellO

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Ketchup – a Classic American Condiment

Ketchup - a Classic American Condiment
Ketchup is found in 95 percent of American households, with every man, woman and child consuming at least four 14-oz. bottles each year. File photo

KETCHUP – Is also spelled catsup or catchup, depending on the manufacturer of your preferred brand.

It is believed that this tomato-based condiment originated by way of Asia. It is considered the most important condiment in America. It is found in 95 percent of our homes with every man, woman and child consuming at least four 14-ounce bottles each year.

Regulated by law, ketchup has to be made of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, spices, flavorings, onions and salt with garlic being optional. It takes approximately one day to process ketchup from pickling to the bottling.

As wine has good years, so does ketchup. Due to the tomato crop, 1983 was one of the best years. A bottle of ketchup should be discarded after about four months, if it lasts that long. After that time, the ketchup will not hurt you, but will start to lose flavor.

This recipe by Daphine Metaxas Hartung is quite close to the real thing, but made with tomato sauce and not fresh tomatoes.

Homemade Ketchup

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 ½ teaspoon salt

• ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

• ½ teaspoon mustard seeds

• ¼ teaspoon celery seeds

• pinch of cayenne pepper

• 3 ¾ cups (30 ounces) canned tomato sauce

• 2 tablespoons mined onions

• 1 clove of garlic, minced

• 4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons light corn syrup

• 4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

• 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a dry blender or food processor, place the sugar, salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, celery seeds and cayenne. Process until the mixture is almost powdered. Put the tomato sauce into a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Pour tomato sauce into a non-aluminum pot. Add the powdered spices. Add to the pot the minced onions and garlic. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. When the sauce is thick enough like spaghetti sauce, remove from the heat and add the corn syrup, vinegar and lemon juice. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer. When cool pour into clean ketchup-type bottles and refrigerate. Makes about two 14-ounce bottles.

KUKU NA MICHUZI – Is a wonderful dish from Kenya that translates to chicken and sauce. The secret of this dish is to make it with the least amount of liquid.

My friend, Jayne Musonye, gave this recipe to me. Her family had position enough in Kenya to have domestics and a cook. When she was not to be found, her mother always knew she could be found in the kitchen with the cook. Her mother would always complain, “If you do the cooking, why do we have a cook?” Jayne’s only answer was she loved food and cooking it.

Kuku na Michuzi

• 1 medium whole chicken, cup in pieces

• 2 to 3 tablespoons corn oil

• 1 chopped onion

• 2 medium size tomatoes, chopped

• 1 chopped green pepper

• 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

• dash of cayenne pepper

• salt to taste

• stock/water

In a heavy pot, heat corn oil on a medium heat and add chopped onions. Saute the onions until they are translucent; add the chicken pieces and brown them slightly, making sure all sides are browned. Add all the other ingredients but liquid. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure that the chicken it not sticking to the pot. As you go along, add about ½ cup of liquid to prevent sticking and continue to simmer on low heat. Make sure the chicken does not fall into pieces, which means that you are overcooking the chicken. Serve over white or brown rice.

 

bette banjack author of Ketchup

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens Ketchup

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Lettuce – American Diet Food of Choice

Lettuce - American Diet Food of Choice

Salads have become the icon of dieting, but some can have more calories than a three-course meal. Dressing is where a lot of calories hide out. File photo

LETTUCE – When I was a kid, the only kind of lettuce available seemed to be iceberg lettuce.

Over the years, other varieties have been added, such as bib or leaf lettuce. There is romaine, which has the largest amount of vitamins and minerals, with iceberg offering the least nutrients. Lettuce is low in calories, fat, fiber and sodium, with no cholesterol.

Since apples, pears, melons and bananas release certain gases that cause brown spots to form on lettuce, do not store them near it. Always get rid of slimy lettuce, as it is caused by bacterial decomposition and not at all good. Lettuce will stay fresh and crisp for up to three weeks if you wrap it in plastic and store in the refrigerator. The colder the storage, the longer the lettuce will keep.

Way back when, the only thing to do with iceberg lettuce was to make a salad. I do recall my mother making lettuce soup once in a while.

I never thought much of lettuce; it was the condiments that you add, especially the dressing. Today, salads have become the icon of dieting. Salads can have many more calories than a three-course meal. Dressing is where a lot of calories hide out.

Grilled Lettuce Wedges

An unusual way to prepare your lettuce

· Small to medium head of iceberg lettuce

· Peanut or sesame seed oil

· Light sprinkle of salt and pepper

· Salad dressing of choice

Quarter head of iceberg lettuce, brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on grill, flat side down. You can use an electric, gas, charcoal or a stovetop grill or pan. Brown on all sides until a little crispy. Serve with your choice of salad dressing.

LEMONS & LIMES – More likely than not, purchased lemons and limes are often waxed. So before peeling or grating, scrub them to remove the wax with a stiff brush.

Skins of lemons and limes contain oils, which can be removed by zesting or grating. Once you get to the white membrane under the skin, you will find it to be bitter, so best not to use.

Look for firm lemons and limes heavy for their size. Lemons will keep for four weeks and limes up to eight weeks. Once cut, wrap tightly in plastic and store in refrigerator and use as soon as possible. Deeply colored fruit is the best and has better flavor than pale ones.

Lemons and limes are egg-shaped, with the exception of the Key limes, which are small and round, and a true lime. The egg-shaped, green-colored limes that we see the most are an actual hybrid.

You can freeze grated peels, but they may lose some of their flavor.

Because limes are small and travel well, the eighteenth century British navy brought them aboard their ships. This helps prevent scurvy, a painful vitamin C-deficiency. It is believed that is how British sailors got the nickname of “Limeys.”

Fresh-squeezed lemon and lime has the most Vitamin C. Not the first or best choice, but bottled lemon and lime juice is handy to have in your refrigerator.

bette banjack author of Lettuce

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens Lettuce

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Milk – the Perfect Food

Milk - the Perfect Food
Milk is a staple of the American diet, especially among youth. File photo

MILK – Once considered the “perfect food,” it is extremely high in fat according to today’s standards. When the fat is removed, it is a highly nutritious food.

Milk has the ability to strengthen bones and an excellent source of calcium. The amount needed by each person depends on age, sex and other contributing factors of one’s health.

Raw milk is not processed in any way; it is right out of the cow and difficult to find. Most milk on the market today is pasteurized for all the health reasons we know about. Most milk is homogenized, which is when the milk is processed so the cream will not separate. When I was a kid, you had to shake the bottle of milk really good, as the cream always rose to the top.

Milk is available in whole milk, low fat, no fat, skimmed, reduced 1 percent, reduced 2 percent and buttermilk.

It is best to buy milk in treated cardboard cartons. Milk is sensitive to light and loses much of its nutrients shortly after purchasing in plastic jugs or bottles. The container should be tightly sealed and refrigerated so that the carton feels cold to the touch.

Check the date on the carton. Never leave milk standing at room temperature and never pour unused milk or cream back into the original container. This can contaminate the fresh milk in the container. I suggest not freezing milk. When defrosted, the molecules clump together, it is no longer smooth and becomes strange in looks and taste.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

• 1 cup boiling water

• 6 tablespoons butter

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 2/3 cups instant nonfat dry milk*

In a blender, food processor or shake jar, thoroughly blend together all ingredients. Will keep in refrigerator in covered container for up to one week. Use in recipes calling for sweetened condensed milk. Makes 2 cups.

*Instant nonfat dry milk is a good item to have in your pantry

MELONS – Are a vine fruit that is excellent for your health. Not only are they good for you, they taste good, too.

All melons have of small amounts of protein, fat and fiber, which make it ideal for low-calorie diets. The fleshy fruit of melons are hidden behind a protective rind. Wash the rind while the melon is whole and uncut.

Watermelons are hard to stack and needs a lot of space to store. The Japanese are known for square watermelons. When the melon is small (young) it is placed in a box and kept on the vine to grow. The watermelon takes on the shape of the box. They are unavailable to date in the United States. It may be a fun project to try. Take a small sprout and see what happens.

Some of the favorite melons are small round ones, such as: cantaloupe, muskmelon, crenshaw, honeydew and carney. If you buy a cantaloupe anywhere near Lancaster, you most likely will be getting a muskmelon. Muskmelons are somewhat larger and rougher than a cantaloupe.

bette banjack author of Milk

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens Milk

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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From Noodles to Nuts, Cooking in ‘N’

From Noodles to Nuts, Cooking in ‘N'
A few cultures have claimed to be the first to create the noodle, including the Chinese, Arabs and Italians. Now, noodles have spread to cooking in almost every culture. Pictured here is Pho, a Vietnamese noodle dish, at Bamboo House of Noodles in Westtown Township. File photo

NOODLES (PASTA) – Can refer to moist or dried strips of a flour and water/egg combination. Noodles come in every shape and size you can think of, such as thin, square, coiled, long and short.

Chinese, Arab and Italian cooks all claimed to be the first to create the noodle. Food historians believe that the noodle was discovered in several parts of the world around the same time. The word noodle comes from the Latin meaning nodus or knot.

When I was a kid, the all combination of flour and a liquid was called a noodle. I do recall spaghetti noodles were a rare commodity at our dinner table. At that time, only the Italian ladies in town called noodles by the term pasta.

With the popularity of everyone cooking today comes the highly acclaimed and popular usage of the term pasta. You can, of course, make your own pasta and noodles. But they can also be purchased in different forms, such as dried, refrigerated, frozen and fresh packed.

NUTS – Are simple dry fruits with one seed (rarely two). The wall of the nut, known as the shell, becomes hard at maturity.

A most common allergy is to the peanut. Actually, the peanut is a member of the pea family and grows in the ground. It is unrelated to nuts. Those allergic to peanuts may not be sensitive to other nuts. To distinguish peanuts from nuts grown on trees, the latter are called “tree nuts.”

Nuts are grown all over the world. In the United States, most tree nuts are grown in Georgia, California, Texas and Alabama. Nut trees are cultivated in Pennsylvania, but due to the shorter growing season they are smaller in size with a stronger flavor.

At one time peanuts were only grown for use as hog feed. The tree nuts grown in the United States are almonds, black walnuts, English walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and pecans. Nut farmers know that the right soil and drainage is most important when it comes to the trees. Also important is the spacing of trees in rows to cross-pollinate each other.

Nuts are highly endowed with protein. They are also high in calories, fat and fiber, but have no cholesterol. Raw and roasted nuts are low in sodium, but nuts processed with salt are high in sodium.

If nuts are in shells, keep them that way until ready to use. Open nuts in shells with your fingers or a nutcracker and not your teeth. Nuts are a great source of energy. Stored in an airtight container, nuts will weather the winter and summer.

Iced Nuts

1 ½ cups blanched nut halves

½ cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. butter

½ tsp. vanilla

butter for pan

Line baking sheet with foil. Butter the foil and set aside. In heavy skillet, combine nuts, sugar and 2 Tbsp. butter. Over medium heat, carefully stir constantly until sugar melts and turns a rich brown. Remove from heat – immediately stir in vanilla. Spread mixture over prepared baking sheet. Cool completely. Break into small clusters. Store tightly covered. Makes 2 ½ cups.

bette banjack author of NoodlesLet me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens Noodles

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Onions and Cooking Oils

onions
French onion soup is one of many delicious dishes that feature the uber-acidic onion. File photo

ONIONS – Have a strong and pungent odor, which becomes sweet when cooked. Cooking the onion gives it a crisp texture.

Onions are made up of fleshy layers with an inner core. Scallions and green onions are harvested at an early stage of the growth of onions.

Onions date back to 5,000 B.C. alongside figs and dates. In 1493, Christopher Columbus introduced the onion to North America while on a trip to Haiti.

In early Egyptian burials, onions were placed in the eye sockets of the dead. It was believed the strong scent of onions would bring breath back to the dead. Later on, in the Middle Ages, onions were so important, they were used to pay the rent. Onions were often given as gifts during the Middle Ages.

Onions are used worldwide. They are rarely eaten on their own but instead used as a side dish or a part of a recipe. It is considered to be the cheapest and most widely available vegetable.

We all know that peeling onions will make you cry. This is due to the fact that when the cells are broken open, gases escape. When the gases (sulfuric acid) reach the eyes, tears are produced. Chilling the whole onion and the knife you use helps prevent inflammation and tearing of the eyes.

Sue’s Onion Soup

(A killer soup originated with my friend, Sue Kuhn)

• 4 large white onions, sliced thin*

• ½ pound butter or margarine

• 2 cans beef broth

• 1 can beef consommé

• light sprinkling of garlic powder

• shredded Mozzarella cheese

• bread

Saute onions in butter/margarine until just tender. Add garlic powder as cooking.

In a large pot or slow cooker, add beef broth and beef consommé. Bring to a slow slimmer and add onions to the liquid.

The secret of this onion soup is to simmer the entire mixture for 24 hours. You can cook it several hours at a time, but it does need to be cooked for a long time.

Place in serving bowls and sprinkle with cheese; if you cover the bowls for a short time, the cheese will melt from the heat of the soup. Serve with a crusty or dark bread.

*Slice the onions with an electric meat cutter; it makes nice thin slices and saves your fingers. Just make sure that you know how to use an electric meat slicer.

OILS FOR COOKING – Are in a liquid state at room temperature. There are many types of edible cooking oils.

Oil is easily flavored by immersing it with aromatic herbs, spices and seasonings. Garlic and onions preserved in oil need to be watched closely, as they can become rancid. Currently, olive oil is the most popular in cooking and using directly on foods such as salads.

There are many different types of vegetable oil: along with olive oil, there is soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil and peanut oil, to name a few. A favorite oil of mine is sesame oil. Sesame oil is to flavor food and not to cook with.

bette banjack author of onionsLet me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens  onions

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Peanut Butter, Pumpkins and What to Store in your Pantry

Pantry
The pantry is the go-to spot in American households to find a quick meal to prepare at the end of the day. File photo

The PANTRY — is an area set aside to house food provisions and related food items. It can be an entire (small) room, a closet, cabinets or shelves.

With our busy schedules most dinner meals are decided late in the day, shortly before it is served. So it is important to have ingredients at hand. I have broken down pantry items down to where they are stored.

Shelf Items — baking powder, baking soda, bread crumbs, broth, brown sugar, cereal, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, coffee, cooking sprays, cornstarch, flour, granulated sugar/super fine sugar, nuts, olives, olive oil, onions, pancake mix, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, rice, tea, vanilla, vegetable soil, vinegar, yeast (dried), creamer.

According to your family likes and dislikes in food, here are several ideas you can keep on hand. If you can think of something I have not mentioned, just add it in and let me know so I can add it to my pantry.

Extras — canned beans, canned & sun-dried tomatoes, canned tuna, canned artichoke hearts in water, capers, crackers, dried fruits, jam & jelly, honey, salsa, pesto, pizza shells/tortillas, pizza sauce, roasted red peppers, hot chocolate drink, maple syrup, hot or sweet cherry peppers, pickles.

Refrigerator/Freezer — butter, cheeses, mustard, eggs, fruits, juices, ketchup, mayonnaise, milk, salad dressings, salad greens, yogurt, frozen fruits and vegetables, ground meat, skinless chicken pieces.

Spices/Seasonings/Herbs, Fresh Or Dried — basil, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, regular salt, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, pepper corns, oregano, rosemary, sweet paprika, thyme, chives, garlic, nutmeg, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, allspice, chives.

Another item, which is really optional, is bread. If you do not have bread on the shelf or in the freezer, if you have flour and yeast you can always make your own.

PEANUT BUTTER — can be found on most pantry shelves. It can be traced back to 15th century Africa.

The Chinese have enjoyed adding crushed nuts into sauces for centuries. “Peanut porridge” was served to soldiers during the Civil War. Dr. Harvey Kellogg pioneered peanut butter as we know it today. His experiments leaned towards developing a vegetarian protein for his patients who had bad or no teeth to be able to chew their food.

There are other nut butters, such as almond, cashew and hazelnut, but peanut butter is the most popular by far. Peanut butter can be found in 75 percent of homes in the United States.

PUMPKINS — Actually are a two in one product, the flesh and the seeds. Seeds are best when roasted plain in the oven. If desired, sprinkle with seasoning after roasting.

Early settlers consumed pumpkins on a regular basis in soup, pies and even pumpkin beer. Today, pumpkins are most popular starting before Halloween through Christmas. Pumpkins are not pliable if not cooked before eating; usually it is baked or boiled.

bette banjack

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

apple

Editor’s note: Bette Banjack, a longtime food columnist for The Phoenix, has decided to return. Readers may remember her column “Neighborhood Kitchens,” which ran from 2003 to 2006, or her weekly local television program, “Downtown Kitchen.” This is the first edition of her new weekly column, “ABC to XYZ in Foods,” through which she will explore foods one letter at a time.

APPLES – When Eve handed Adam THAT apple, I’m sure they had no idea what they started. Today, there are 2,500 varieties of apples in the United States alone. It would take us forever to name all of them here.

My personal favorite is the Winesap. Apples can be kept handy to eat in your briefcase, backpack and handbags. “Eating an apple a day” does have its merits, as it helps the body maintain health and fights off so many bad health issues.

Look for apples that are firm and brightly colored. Store apples in the refrigerator; if not, it only takes a few days to lose their crispy crunch. Apples should not be peeled until they are ready to be used. The browning process can be slowed down by dipping slices or whole cut apples in a solution of lemon juice and water.

There are 200-year-old apple trees still producing good apples. The average person in the U.S. eats about 65 apples annually, which equals approximately 22 pounds.

In honor of my return to The Phoenix Reporter & Item, I created this tasty and easy apple cake.

Good Morning Apple Cake

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup oil

1 cup flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup raisins

2 cups chopped apples (approx. 3) – core, but leave skins on

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use electric mixer if possible. Beat eggs until thick and light. Combine sugar and oil, pour in egg mixture at a medium speed. Combine flour and dry ingredients; add this dry mixture to egg mixture along with vanilla. Combine nuts, raisins and cake batter. Pour into 9 inch buttered pan. Bake 45-55 minutes. Remove from the oven; cool. Can be served warm.

ARROWROOT STARCH – It has long been used in making glazes for fruit pies. Because of the superior thickening ability you only need to use half as much as if you were using flour. It is excellent in stir-fry sauces as the sauce is clear and shiny.

ASPARAGUS – This is my very favorite vegetable. The spring is the best season to eat and prepare them. In 17th Century France, it was thought to be an aphrodisiac. When buying asparagus, look at the tips — they should be fresh and tightly closed.

Even though you can eat the entire spear, the tough bottoms should be removed. Simply bend the stalk — it will naturally snap off where the tough ends and the tender top starts. You can use a vegetable peeler on the bottoms to remove tough skins and prepare as tops.

Fresh asparagus are much better than canned. The best way to prepare fresh asparagus is to steam or boil — drain. Try and cook while spears are standing up with tips out of the water in a few inches of water. You can purchase special steamers to allow spears to stand up keeping tips out of water.

bette banjackGood food for a good life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Cooking and Baking Made Easy with Quinoa and Quick Breads

quickbreads
Cooked quinoa, left, and uncooked quinoa, right. Because quinoa plumps up some when cooked, a little goes a long way, so you get more for your money. File photo



QUICK BREADS – Are just like their name suggests. Quick breads use baking powder and/or a combination of baking soda as a leavening agent, which requires no time for the batter to rise, whereas yeast bread takes a long time to rise and needs to rest between the risings.

Make sure that the baking powder and baking soda and your yeast are used within the date indicated on the container for excellent results. Quick breads usually have a much heavier texture than yeast breads as they include fruits, nuts and additional added goodies. The following recipe includes a usual combination of apples and cheese.

Apple-Cheese Sandwich Bread

• ½ cup shortening

• 2/3 cup granulated sugar

• 2 eggs

• 1 cup ground, unpeeled (seeded) apples

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• ½ teaspoon salt

• ½ cup grated American cheese

• ¼ cup finely chopped nuts

• milk (if needed)

Cream together sugar and shortening; set aside. Beat eggs; add ground apples with the juice. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry mixture alternately with egg mixture to creamed mixture.

Add cheese and nuts. If apples are not juicy, add a small amount of milk. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for one hour in a greased standard loaf pan. Makes one loaf.

Cool loaf of bread completely on rack, slice thin. Cream cheese makes a wonderful filling — or how about trying ham salad?

QUINOA – Was called “chisaya mama,” translating to “mother of all grains,” by peoples of the Andean area of South America as far back as 6,000 years ago.

Quinoa was scorned by settlers to that area who considered it food for the peasants.

This grain has more protein than any other grain. Grains tend to be used in side dishes instead of main dishes. Quinoa is soft and can be bland, which means it can be incorporated with almost all foods.

To use on a more daily basis, add quinoa to soups and pasta dishes. It’s also great in stuffing. It needs to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place, as it will spoil quickly.

Quinoa is gluten/wheat free. When we get to the letter “W,” we will be taking a look at wheat-free diets and how they help those with wheat allergies.

Because of a natural protective coating, quinoa can have a bitter taste. Rinse thoroughly before using, washing away the residue.

Quinoa cooks quickly and you must be careful not to overcook, as it will be really mushy. It is a somewhat pricey grain to purchase. Because it plumps up when cooked, a little goes a long way, so you get more for your money.

bette banjackLet me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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