June 30, 2010

Don't Turn Up Your Nose--You Just Might Like It!

Choosing a good cantaloupe can be a guessing game, right? You poke it . . . smell it . . . look at its color. And you think you've gotten a good one. But when you eagerly cut it open, you're sometimes disappointed. Maybe it's not sweet and flavorful. Maybe it was cut too soon--but you can't undo any of that. Or maybe it just never would have been the best of cantaloupes.  (Photo by Sonbeam, Dreamstime.com)

Don't waste it! Instead, pickle it!

I don't wait to make pickled cantaloupe until I get one that isn't perfect. I buy cantaloupes for the sole purpose of pickling them.

Back home on the farm, my mother would plant cantaloupes in the garden. Many of them would ripen at the same time--far too many for us to eat before they spoiled. I can still picture a huge pile of cantaloupes on our porch.

My mother would urge relatives and visitors to p-l-e-a-s-e take some cantaloupes home with them. But there would still be many left. So we pickled and canned them.

I loved bringing up from the cellar a can of pickled cantaloupe when there was snow on the ground!

Recipe for Pickled Cantaloupe

1 cantaloupe, peeled and sliced (Best if it's not overripe.)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

Cook on medium heat until cantaloupe is soft (about 15 minutes).

Delicious warm or cold! Pickled cantaloupe will keep for weeks in the frig because of the acidity of the vinegar. Or, can it in jars so you have some to eat all year long until cantaloupes are in season again.   


June 28, 2010

What's All the Buzz About?

 More Honey Recipes To Buzz About

Honey Mustard Chicken
6 chicken legs and thighs
1/4 cup dark mustard
1/2 cup honey
1 bell pepper, sliced
corn oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
balsamic vinegar to taste
salt and pepper
Season skillet with oil and vinegar. Add onions and bell pepper and saute until tender. Remove from the skillet.
Place chicken in skillet and add garlic. Cook, turning often.
Mix honey and mustard together. Pour it over chicken, onion, and pepper. Brown in oven. Serve with rice.  (Photo by Catia70, Dreamstime.com)

Aunt Arlene's Chicken Cacciatore
1 can tomatoes, drained
1 cup tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup onion
1 medium green pepper
3/4 lb skinless chicken breast, cut in pieces
3/4 cup green peas
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Place drained tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, honey, pepper in 2-3 quart saucepan. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
Heat 4 tablespoons broth in large skillet. Stir fry garlic, onion, green pepper, and chicken for 10 minutes. Add chicken and green peppers to sauce and simmer partially covered 10 minutes. Add peas, balsamic vinegar and cook 5 more minutes. Serve.

June 25, 2010

How Sweet It Is

Honey was common in Bible history.  The ancient Israelites used it as sugar.  It was used in baking, to make a fermented beverage, and sometimes mixed with wine.  It became a symbol for abundance and God's blessing . . . "a land of milk and honey."

One could go on and on about the benefits of honey.  It is one of our most powerful healing foods.

It can kill bacteria and disinfect wounds and sores.  It can boost our energy . . . and build our immunity.  Honey can improve our mood.  It can stimulate our brain for memory and learning ability.  One of the most soothing benefits of honey is that it can even help you sleep!

So go put honey on your shopping list--then come back for these recipes!

Honey-Vinegar Carrots (Even the kids will love this vegetable recipe!)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon butter
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the first four ingredients to a boil over medium high heat.  Add the carrots.  Once it is again boiling, reduce heat to medium.  If the liquid level boils away before the carrots are cooked, add more.  After the carrots are soft, you want the liquid to boil away, leaving a glaze on the carrots.  Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Honey-Vinegar Dipping Sauce for Fish
1 pound  fish of your choice
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cupapple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

In a shallow dish, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in milk and egg.  Add fish and coat with batter.  Bake fish on sprayed baking sheet until golden brown and tender.

In a small bowl, mix together vinegar and honey.   Serve with fish as a dipping sauce.

Tuna Salad with Honey Dressing  (A refreshing change from your regular tuna salad recipe)

Tuna salad ingredients:
3-6 ounce cans tuna
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 sunflower seeds

Dressing ingredients:
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon tarragon leaves, chopped.
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sour cream

Whisk together dressing ingredients.  Add tuna and toss.  Fold in the remaining ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate one hour.  Serve on lettuce.

June 15, 2010

No, Everyone Else Is NOT Doing It!

Not long ago I watched a TV talk show in which women over 25 were having to justify the fact that they were still virgins.  There was also a psychologist present on the show who indicated there had to be serious psychological reasons for anyone having made a conscious choice to not have sex until marriage.  Suggested reasons for this "virgin-sickness"  were (1) being afraid of intimacy, (2) not being able to accept one's sexuality, and (3) having been brainwashed in their childhood regarding sex.  Several others on the show offered ways to "fix" whatever was wrong with these women.

Thank goodness for the Jonas Brothers!  How refreshing for the members of this American Pop Band--who have sold well over 8 million albums worldwide--to have  announced to the world  that they all wear purity rings.

All three brothers  practice abstinence and wear purity rings to symbolize "a promise to ourselves and to God that we'll say pure till marriage."  They claim that their decision to wear purity rings "is just one of our ways of kind of like being different than everybody else out there."

Purity rings (promise rings) originated in the US in the 1990's by Christian groups promoting sexual abstinence.  Adolescents buy them for themselves, or parents buy them as gifts to give to their children.  The rings serve as a visual reminder of a promise made to stay sexually pure until marriage.  Then the purity ring is replaced with a wedding ring.

There are many styles and designs of purity rings available on the market today.  You can find the Christian cross, everlasting hearts, flowers, butterflies, etc.  The rings can be inscribed with sayings like "True Love Waits", "I Will Wait", "Purity." 

June 10, 2010

Frugality, a Good Thing!

 (Photo by Shutterdos, Dreamstime.com)

Webster's definition of  frugalnot wasteful; not spending freely or unnecessarily; thrifty, economical.

My mother had some frugal "procedures" back in the days before I appreciated frugality.  I used to tease her about them.  But now I do them, too!

First, when I use something in a tube (such as hand cream, anti-itch cream, etc), there is always a lot of it still at the bottom of the tube when I can no longer squeeze any more of it out. So I cut the tube in half, making it possible to reach all of the product that is still in the "empty" tube. To close the tube to prevent drying out, I stick one half inside the other half. A tube of something lasts so much longer when you do, indeed, use ALL of it! (If you've never discovered how much cream is wasted simply because it doesn't come out of the tube, cut a tube in half that you think is empty--you may even gasp!) 

Secondly, I collect all the little pieces of soap left when I'm finished using bars of soap. I grate them and put them (plus water) in an empty dispenser bottle. And just that easily, I have a new bottle of hand soap! I've also used it for a few loads of wash.

No big bucks saved here--but hey, it all adds up! If I can buy one less tube every year of everything I use in a tube, I will have saved some small cash.

At the same time that I'm cutting tubes and saving soap pieces, I have the thermostat on my central air set at 74 degrees instead of the economically recommended 78 degrees.This means a higher electric bill for sure.  But I don't care so much about that--I like the house cool!  So call me "penny wise and pound foolish!" 

I'm sure that everyone has at least one thing they do that is uniquely frugal or "penny wise."  What's yours?  Please comment and share!

June 5, 2010

Nutritional Beliefs, True Or False?

There are some old nutritional beliefs that we've all heard of which may not be true after all!

One is that you should drink at least eight glasses of water a day.  I've never wanted to follow this one anyway.  So I'm glad new studies show that unless you live in a very hot climate or do vigorous activities, you just need to drink when you're thirsty.  You don't have to count to eight!

A second one is that foods labeled "reduced fat," "nonfat", or "low-fat" have less calories than the regular versions of those foods.  This is not necessarily true.  Often the lower-fat versions have added sugar or a starch thickener, both of which add extra calories.  Also, often people think they can eat more because the lower-fat version has fewer calories, which defeats the purpose of going lower-fat!

A third nutritional belief that may not be true is that eating instant oatmeal is not as healthy as eating the slow-cooked kind.  However, both the instant and slow-cooked use whole-grain oats. The instant is just finer, but still has a lot of soluble fiber that can help reduce cholesterol.

Fourth, some parents don't want their children to drink chocolate milk because they think it has too much sugar in it.  Chocolate milk does have added sugar, but less than juice, punch, or soda. So if you are substituting these other drinks for flavored milk, your children are actually getting more sugar.  They are also getting less calcium.  So stick with the chocolate milk for less sugar and more calcium!

Fifth, another belief is that you can skip meals to lose weight.  Well, I've tried this one many times!  It's easy for me to skip breakfast because early mornings are so rushed, and I also don't crave breakfast foods like I do some other foods.  However, skipping meals usually results in just overeating at other times. 

June 2, 2010

My Love Affair With Vinegar

Vinegar isn't said to be versatile just because both words start with "v!"

According to Webster, versatile is, adaptable to many uses or functions.

And that's vinegar!  Not only is vinegar non-toxic, environmentally friendly, budget friendly, and all natural. It gives you tasty meals.  And  it can also come to your rescue in the kitchen.

What about those nasty odors?  Vinegar may just have the answer for you!

(Photo from Dreamstime.com)

You can add a small amount of white vinegar to the water when cooking vegetables (such as cabbage) to remove the odor.  This works with fish, too.  Don't worry, you will not taste the vinegar.

Or, you can add 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar to a cup of water.  Boil them in a separate kettle the same time you are cooking foods that tend to have an unpleasant smell when they are cooking.  The vinegar will absorb the odor.

And this idea is even easier.  You can simply place a small container of white vinegar next to your stove while cooking.  Again, the undesirable odor will be absorbed.

So--you didn't follow any of the above tips while cooking.  And now there's that awful odor.  Or, you burned the pot roast, again!

Put vinegar on a dish towel and wave it around the room.  (You probably don't want anyone seeing you do this!)  The odor will disappear.  And if you don't tell, your family will never know what you did to the roast!

You can wash your hands with white vinegar to remove food odors (onions, garlic)  from your hands.

If foods have left an odor on your cutting board, use a baking soda and vinegar mixture.  First, sprinkle the soda and then add undiluted vinegar.  They will bubble and foam.  After 10 minutes, wash.  The odor will be gone!

You may have containers that have stubborn odors.  Fill them with warm water and two tablespoons of white vinegar.  Let stand for several hours.  Rinse.  Then wash with dish detergent.  The odors should be gone.

So go right now and write vinegar on your store list!