Asparagus

April 25, 1985

At last, local asparagus beds are up and growing. Asparagus is one vegetable that is far better when eaten freshly cut. Shipped in asparagus or the frozen or canned product loses a lot in both flavor and texture.

Edible asparagus was first grown in regions around the Mediterranean Sea. The Greeks and Romans used it for both food and medicine over 2,000 years ago. Asparagus has been grown in America since the 1600’s.

Asparagus is low in calories. A spear, ½ inch in diameter, has 2 ½ calories while a cup of cut up lengths has 30 calories. It contains protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, vitamin A (excellent source), thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.

Asparagus may be microwaved, stir-fried, steamed or boiled in a small amount of water. A short cooking time preserves the green color.

Hot Ham and Asparagus sandwich

Cover buttered slice of toast with a slice of boiled ham. On this place cooked asparagus tips. Cover with homemade cheese sauce or heated undiluted cheese soup.

Asparagus Ring

1 ½ pound asparagus

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

1 cup whole milk

3 eggs, separated

Cut asparagus in 1-inch pieces. Melt butter. Add flour, salt and pepper. Stir until well blended. Add milk gradually and cook until thick. Add beated egg yolks. (First, put 2 tablespoons hot mixture into eggs and beat.) Cool. Beat egg whites stiff and add to milk mixture. Fold in asparagus. Grease ring mold and fill. Bake at 350 degrees for ½ hour or until set. Serve with a cream or cheese sauce.

Asparagus and Dried Beef Sticks

Cook 3-inch spears of asparagus lightly. Wrap in dried beef slices or ham. Spread bread slices with mayonnaise. Place one stalk one each slice. Roll up tightly and fasten with toothpick.

Asparagus with Hot Mayonnaise

¼ cup medium white sauce

½ cup hot mayonnaise

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 pound fresh asparagus

Cook asparagus. Combine other ingredients and serve hot over the hot asparagus.

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Spice it up this Weekend

After a brief break I’m back. Here is a great article about some family friends along with some great recipes for some Indian dishes.

April 1984

In a white, two- story house high on a hill in a small Connecticut town Kaberi Chakraborty from Calcutta cooks Indian style food in her American style kitchen.

Since her home is the second floor of my kids’ New England house, the savory smells from her kitchen often floated down the indoor stairway while I was visiting there in January. Quite often, to my joy, Kaberi also floated down with a plate of choice morsels to be sampled – sometimes there was enough for a whole family of hungry food samplers.

While we visited it was easy for Kaberi and me to bridge the cultural gap with our mutual interests in both food and children – her two and my grandson whom she cares for during weekdays. Her good command of the English language also helped. Most of Kaberi’s past life spent in Calcutta was far removed from my Midwestern life experiences, but we shared together common concerns about home and family.

She and her husband, Phanindra, and daughter Sangeeta, now sixteen, came to the United States 6 years ago. They are of the higher class Brahmins (though officially abolished in India the caste system still exists) and are Hindus. Kaberi’s mother is an actress. He worked in a bank in India, but is an office manager now.

Phanindra and Kaberi’s marriage was arranged by there families. They never saw each other until their wedding day. According to Sangeeta her parents love and respect each other and the marriage is very successful. After coming to America the Chakrabortys were elated to have a son, Somudra, now five years old. He’s one of the fastest and brightest kids I’ve ever seen.

Phanindra loves to play chess with his men friends and he is in the professional class of bridge players. Like most of his American compatriots he helps with the homework. Kaberi is very influential in the daily affairs of the household, presiding over it graciously in her Indian style clothing. The rest of the family wears American clothes and Sangeeta looks identical to any other American teenager.

Here are the recipes Kaberi is sharing with us:

Samosas (Curried Pastries)

Pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup ghee (clarified butter)

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk soured with a little lemon juice

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Filling:

6 large potatoes

1 cup green peas

½ cup raisins

½ cup peanuts

2 teaspoons turmeric powder

4 teaspoons cumin powder

2 ½ teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoons ground red pepper

4 tablespoons oil

Peel potatoes and cut in small pieces. Heat oil in heavy pot, add the potatoes, peas, spices, salt and sugar. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes on low flame with the cover on. Add a little water if necessary. Add the peanuts and raisins. Stir well.

Method: Stir the flour in a bowl, rub in the ghee and add the salt. Stir in the soured milk gradually to form a hard dough which is velvety to the touch. Chill.

Break the dough in pieces. Roll out into very thin circles. Cut in half. Spoon a little filling in the center of each semi-circle. Fold in half to make a triangular cone shape, enclosing the filling. Moisten the edges of the dough with sour milk and press together to seal.

Deep-fry in hot oil for about one minute until the pastry is golden brown. Drain. Serve hot..

**Ghee is butter after it has been slowly cooked until light brown. The clear oil poured off from the milky residue and stored to be used when ghee is needed.

Makes about 25.

Puri or Luchi

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup white flour

½ cup oil

¼ cup water, approximately

Mix all but water. Add enough water to make a soft pliable dough. Knead until smooth.

Divide into 10 small balls. Roll on floured board into a 4-inch circle. Fry in hot oil. Keep warm in oven while frying others. They will puff up and float to the top while being fried.

Red Lentil Dal

1 cup red lentils

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin powder

3 cups water

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 hot yellow or green pepper

Cook first five ingredients until mushy, (approximately 45 minutes). Mix with beater. Fry onion, garlic and pepper in oil. Add to the dal and cook 5 minutes. Serve with rice.

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March

Nothing to exciting is going on right now, so this article seemed appropriate.

March 1982

March is a very trying month. Even though the weather spells winter it is time to plant peas, potatoes, lettuce, spinach and radishes. A few sweet peas will add charm to a fence in the garden.

The wind blows in so much dirt it is useless to start house cleaning before the vegetation has greened. But it is a good time to sew, crochet, or knit; a good time to fill the freezer with food for the busy days when the planting season is on us; a good time to prepare mixes that can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months.

Brownie Mix

4 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1 1/3 cups cocoa

2 teaspoons salt

1 ¼ cups vegetable shortening

Place dry ingredients in bowl and mix. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until it resembles corn meal. Store in airtight container in cool, dry place. Keeps up to six months.

Brownies from Mix: Beat 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add 2 ½ cups Brownie Mix. Beat with spoon. Add ½ cups nuts. Pour into greased 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking pan.

Bake at 350° for 25 or 30 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool in pan. Cut into squares.

Brownie Crust: Make above recipe using 2 cups mix and 1 egg. Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Spoon in batter. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. The bottom will be soft. Remove from oven. Push down bottom to flatten. Cool and fill with 1 quart ice cream.

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Additives

Sound advice as there seems to be more and more additives in processed food all the time. The fourth suggestion is the best in my opinion.

 

March 1983

 

We read so much conflicting information on additives in our food it is easy to be confused. Are they as bad as some knowledgeable authorities tell us? Are they as harmless as other well- qualified sources say?

The final verdict in this dispute over the use of additives in our food is definitely not in. In the meantime you still have to make a decision one way or the other for your own kitchen. Until more guidance is available it might be well to adopt a rational approach to additives by studying the following suggestions:

 

  • Eat a wide variety of food.
  • Read labels. Choose those with the fewest additives.
  • Don’t be fooled by the word “natural”
  • In reducing your consumption of additives, don’t forget to cut down on two of the leading ones, salt and sugar.
  • Use fresh or the least processed foods possible.

 

The farther food is removed from its natural form the more additives it will have. Use “real foods” not their artificial equivalent. Drink fruit juices, not powdered imitations or fruit drinks that are artificially flavored, colored and sweetened.

In conclusion, not all food additives are bad, but when they are used to enhance nutritionally deficient foods so that people buy them instead of plain, simple food such as meat, vegetables, fruit, milk and whole grains they are bad.

We don’t need all those fortified cereals, fatty and salty processed meat, chips and dips, sugary caffeine laden soft drinks or the heat- and- serve, eat- and- run products.

 

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

 

1 ½ pounds carrots

1 cup raisins

Boiling water

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup margarine

1 cup honey

½ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 cups quick oatmeal

2 cups nuts, chopped

 

Grease and flour cookie sheets.

Do not peel carrots. Grate coarsely. You should have 2 firmly packed cups. Pour boiling water over raisins. Let stand 3 minutes and drain.

Mix the dry ingredients. Beat margarine. Add honey and sugar. Beat until smooth. Add eggs and beat well.

Stir in the dry ingredients, carrots, oatmeal, nuts and raisins.

Form into balls and flatten. Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 325° for 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack. Store in a freezer box between layers of waxed paper.

 

Raisin Bread

 

2 cups whole wheat flour

¼ cup white flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ cup raisins

¼ cup wheat germ

½ cup milk

¼ cup honey

¼ cup molasses

 

Grease and flour a 9 x 4 ½ x 3- inch loaf pan. Combine all the dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins. Stir in the wheat germ. Combine the wet ingredients and add to the dry ones.

Pour into pan. Make trench in top. Bake 50 minutes at 350°. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove loaf and cool.

 

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Couponing

March 1981 

Recently, a Wichita TV station interviewed a woman who saved $150 a month on her grocery bill by devoting only four hours a week to collecting coupons and redeeming refund forms.  During the several days she was on the program she gave listeners a crash merchandising course in how to develop the skills needed to cash in on this remarkable bonanza of $1,800 a year.  Since the time she spent couponing produced almost ten dollars an hour it is obvious couponing has housekeeping beat hollow.

After hearing this advice I know that all anyone needs to do to make money at the grocery store is a good pair of scissors, a strong clipping arm, a shoe box file for the clipped coupons, a sturdy container for the mountains of ripped- off box tops and soaked off labels, a large supply of stamps for mailing in the refund forms, and a still larger supply of patience to wait the six to eight weeks until the new coupons, the merchandise, and the money begin to roll in.

Then, I gather, if by then the housewife still believes in the tooth fairy, but hasn’t save $150 a month she can hurry faster, clip more coupons, soak off more labels, and build more shelves to hold all the items over- flowing the kitchen cupboards.

She can get down to work and concentrate on developing strategy for a triple play to catapult her into the big time.  If this triple play succeeds she should end up with 37 rolls of paper towels at a total cost to her of 19 cents.

She will remember to keep car’s gas tank full in order to quickly drive to another store within forty miles that is having a double coupon day where the rewards of this game are doubled.

She will keep so busy buying Uncle Ben’s Converted Brand Rice with a ten cents off coupon she won’t even notice that ordinary unconverted rice is a much better buy.

Now wouldn’t it be great if John Deere, International harvester, or Massey Ferguson woke up and let our farmer husbands in on this dazzling discovery sweeping the country on how to get something for a scrap of paper and ten box tops?

How would you like to clip a coupon that offers a new combine if you’ll just send in three ripped off old combine tops and an acre of land?  Perhaps, John Deere could put out a refund form good for 75 cents on the price of a new plow if the farmer sends in four rusty plow shares and a copy of Home on the Range. Or better yet, how about a coupon good for an eighty pound bag of fertilizer if the farmer just sends in a slightly worn- out farm wife and his 1980 income tax form?

Then if all this couponing actually gets the economy to zooming skyward the federal government might wake up and offer the Arabs a whole bunch of coupons, each good for either a camel or a camera when they send in a tanker of oil.

Won’t it be Utopia? The people smart enough to coupon will be living for nothing and the ones too dumb to coupon will still be keeping house and farming.

Now, where did I leave my scissors?

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Bread Baking

Though weight loss diets have turned on bread again, baking, smelling and eating home made bread is still just as enjoyable.

February 1985

When your children or husband open the back door on a cold February day the aroma of bread baking in the oven is a foretaste of heaven.

Nothing makes a dreary afternoon take wings more than getting out the yeast and activating both the yeast and yourself for an afternoon of bread baking.

Since bread is now in high favor with nutritionists you may bake to your heart’s content without feeling guilty. It has always been a low- fat, high- energy food, but it used to be called “too starchy.” Now bread is considered to be essential in a diet that should be 60% carbohydrates.

In simpler times, bread made from corn, wheat, oats or rye was the mainstay of many primitive societies.

For a long time reducing diets excluded bread, but that has changed and bread is an essential part of all sensible weight loss diets.

Children and teenagers are better off eating bread than snack crackers, pretzels, chips or cookies. Everyone should be a little careful about loading too much butter or jelly on bread, but otherwise, eat and enjoy.

Oatmeal Bread

1 cup boiling water

1 cup oatmeal

½ molasses

1/3 cup shortening

1 cup cold water

1 teaspoon salt

1 package dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

2 ½ cups white flour, approximately

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

½ cup dry milk

2 eggs, beaten

Sprinkle yeast on the ¼ cup of warm water. Combine boiling water, oatmeal, molasses and shortening. Add beaten eggs and yeast. Stir in flour until mixture is thick. Turn out on floured board and knead until smooth.

Place in bowl rinsed with warm water. Cover with warm, damp cloth. Let rise until doubled, 1 ½ hours. Punch down. Divide into 3 balls. Let rest, covered, 10 minutes.

Form into three loaves. Place in oiled loaf pans. Let rise, covered with damp cloth, until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400° for 35 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on rack. This freezes well and is especially good toasted

Bread Sticks

1 package dry yeast

2 cups warm water

½ cup oil or shortening

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

5 ½ to 6 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in small amount of the warm water. Combine shortening, sugar, salt and eggs. Add yeast and rest of water. Stir in rest of flour. Do not knead. It should be a nice soft dough. Chill several hours.

Divide into 60 portions. Form into pencil-shaped sticks 6 to 8 inches long. Place on oiled cookie sheets about one-half inch apart. Cover. Let rise at about 80 to 85°. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown. Cool on rack. Store in metal or crockery container with a lid. May also be stored in a plastic bag.

These keep a long time and are delicious as a snack. We often take them along when traveling They make a nice addition to go with a cup of coffee in a motel room.

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Baking Weather

I’m inside in this snowy weather, which is the perfect weather for baking. I might give the recipe below a try.

February 1979

Every farmer has a story of his own about how the cold, cold January affected his operation; and every farmer’s wife has had her own January struggles – hunting for lost gloves, dealing with manure caked boots dripping on clean floors, and with washing mountains of wet frozen jeans and jackets.

Since the weather has been so bad, it has been a good time to stay home and cook in the warm kitchen, a time to fill the freezer with cookies, cakes and bread, especially if you are agile and quick enough to get the baked goodies out of sight before your ever starving family devours them.

While visiting here from North Carolina our daughter, Melinda, made this carrot cake. The recipe is from the college cafeteria at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, where she worked in her student days.

Employees there are encouraged to bring in any good recipes for the cooks to try out on the customers. This cake proved popular with the students and also with the cooks because it could be baked ahead of time and will stay fresh and moist for several days.

Colonial Carrot Pecan Cake

1 cup oil

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups sifted flour

4 eggs

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups grated raw carrots

1 teaspoon soda

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Combine oil and sugar, mix well. Sift together remaining dry ingredients. Sift half of dry ingredients into sugar mixture. Sift in remaining dry ingredients alternately with eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add carrots. Mix well. Add pecans. Pour in greased and floured 10 inch tube pan or a bunt pan.

Bake at 325° F for about 1 hour. Cool, then remove from pan. Frost with orange glaze.

Orange Glaze

¼ cup cornstarch

1 cup orange juice

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and cornstarch in sauce pan. Add juices slowly. Stir until smooth. Add remaining ingredients.

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