Monday, June 16, 2014

I’m Still Here…

Happy Monday morning! Just wanted to post a quick note to let you know I haven’t abandoned From Grammie’s Kitchen, although it appears to be the case. I’ve been sidelined by some surgery with chemo to come, so the site will probably be quiet for a while. I’m doing very well and thinking about ways to improve the blog in the future, but first things first, I suppose.  Everyone please hang in there with me (and think good thoughts) – I’ll be back soon! I truly appreciate you all.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today I wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers, Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers, as well as the stepmothers, foster mothers, adoptive mothers and all of those who help in the rearing of our children. You all play a vital role in their growth and development! I hope your day is a very special one.
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Herb Series–Marjoram

This cold-sensitive perennial herb, “origanum majorana”, is a member of the mint family and grows wild in the Mediterranean. Marjoram has a spicy-sweet flavor with pine and citrus tones. It is often used in herbes de Provence, along with savory, rosemary, thyme and oregano, and many times lavender leaves are also added.

Cultivation:

Grow marjoram in full sun in well-drained, fertile soil. It does well in planters and will spread to cover the soil. Harvest often to promote bushy growth. Marjoram grows up to 18” with small clusters of flowers, and normally blooms in July. If you want to keep the marjoram plants over the winter months, simply plant in pots and move  indoors before cold weather.

Uses:

If using fresh marjoram, add the leaves at the end of cooking as heat will diminish its flavors. Marjoram does dry well. Good substitutes for marjoram are thyme or oregano, but they may be stronger in flavor so you would need less.

Marjoram goes well with egg and cheese dishes, soups, salads, chicken and sauces. It is also part of a seasoning blend for sausage, and is used in German and Polish cooking.

Marjoram oil is used to make soaps and cosmetics.

Medicinal Uses:

Various medicines are made from the marjoram leaves, flowers and oils. Marjoram tea is taken for digestive issues, mood swings, diabetes treatment, poor sleep and headaches, just to name a few. Marjoram is an antiseptic with healing and soothing properties, and is said to relieve fatigue, sore throat, aching muscles and joints.
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The new Husband’s Choice cookbook has been chosen, and now it’s just a matter of finding a recipe from that book. Please check back to see what we prepare!
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo & Husband’s Choice

Today is “Cinco de Mayo”, which, of course, is Spanish for the 5th of May. We have seen all the recipes and celebration ideas for the day, but do we know what the celebrations are all about? Of course it’s a day for eating great Mexican foods, but there is a fairly serious background to the holiday.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the May 5, 1862 victory of the Mexican army over France at the Battle of Puebla, a small town in central Mexico. This battle took place during the Franco-Mexican War, which went on from 1861 to 1867. During this battle the loss of French troops was approximately 5 times the Mexican losses. This victory invigorated the Mexican troops, who finally received US assistance after the end of the Civil War.

The holiday, however, appears to be celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico, where it is not a federal holiday. In fact, in many places it is just like any other day. but it is celebrated primarily in the state of Pueblo. Here we celebrate in areas of high Mexican-American population with parades, mariachi music and festivals. And with great food!

Many people think this is a celebration of Mexican independence, but it is not. The Mexican Independence Day is September 16.

How do you plan to celebrate? We’re having a Mexican meal tonight – burritos, refried beans, nachos. Sounds good!
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Here comes the new Husband’s Choice recipe. You must try this one! It’s so incredibly easy and delicious, warm and full of fruity, nutty goodness!

This recipe called for a 4-quart slow cooker, so I pulled out my vintage 1960s model because it was the perfect size. This one, however, does not have the handy-dandy removable crock, so it’s a bit more difficult to clean. I love how they considered ease and convenience in the updating of our favorite small appliance.

IMAG0211Here it is, ready for action.
IMAG0209Ready to “bake”.
SDC10337After 3 hours – yum! Just look at that cherry nutty goodness and try not to drool…
SDC10338Time for dessert!

DUMP CAKE

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple (undrained)
1 (21 oz.) can blueberry or cherry pie filling
1 (18.25 oz.) box yellow cake mix
cinnamon to taste
1/3 cup light tub margarine
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Grease the bottom and sides of a 4-quart slow cooker. Pour in pineapple, then pie filling – do not mix. Sprinkle dry cake mix over top. Sprinkle with cinnamon, then dot with small margarine chunks and sprinkle with nuts. Cover and cook on High for 2 to 3 hours.

Makes 15 servings.

Notes: My changes included using pineapple in juice, a no-sugar-added cherry pie filling and a sugar-free cake mix. We had this with a dollop of whipped topping – delicious! It’s a definite keeper recipe.

The “Fix-It and Forget-It Diabetic Cookbook – Exclusive Edition” by Phyllis Pellman Good with the American Diabetes Association was published in 2005. This big hardcover book is available at Amazon starting at $3.44 (used). Shipping rates vary.

There are hundreds of recipes in this book, from almonds to zucchini. It also includes a weekly menu plan and answers to questions about diabetes. But even someone who doesn’t suffer with diabetes can benefit from the delicious recipes in this cookbook. The best part is that the recipes are easy to prepare, and most of them do not require unusual ingredients.
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So what’s happening this week besides Cinco de Mayo? If you check the “Holidays” page you’ll find listings of daily, weekly and monthly observances. Just a few this week are: 

Tomorrow, Tuesday,  is *No Homework Day, National Teacher Day and *No Diet Day. 
Wednesday will be the Great American Grump Out Day (do you know one or two??) and School Nurse Day. Thursday is VE Day and *No Socks Day. Friday is Child Care Provider Day and Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and on Saturday we’ll observe the Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. So place those bags of food beside your mailbox and help out a lot of folks! Sunday, of course, is Mother’s Day  - it was on May 10 last year, and I posted some information about the history of Mother’s Day if you’d like to go to the archives and read it. Sunday will also be *Eat What You Want Day and *Hostess Cupcake Day.
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Herb Series–Dill

Dill is a feathery plant from the family “Umbelliferae”, the genus “Anethum” and its botanical name is “Anethum graveolens”. It is an aromatic plant with wispy leaves that often grows to 3 feet tall. It is one of few herbs in which both the leaves and seeds are used – the leaves known generally as dill weed. The flavors of the seeds are stronger than the leaves, and are similar to caraway. Dill is most often an annual, but if left undisturbed it may reseed itself for the next season.

Dill is native to southern Russia, western Africa and the Mediterranean region. It has been used for many centuries, being mentioned in the Bible and in early Egyptian writings and was used in Greek and Roman cultures.

Cultivating:

Dill plants do not transplant well, so it is best to grow from seeds in early summer. The plants do well in most soils as long as they are not soggy, and they prefer full sun. Dill plants are good companion plants for cabbage and onions, but not for carrots. Keep watered well, but allow to dry well before watering again.

Start harvesting dill when 4 or 5 leaves have formed on the stem. Keep flower heads removed to extend the growing season. The more you pinch or snip the plants the fuller they will grow, so harvest often.

Try saving the seeds for next year – after flowering let the heads dry on the stem, then cut and dry thoroughly. Remove the seeds and store in paper envelopes or in glass jars. The dill seed is a brownish oval, flat on one side.

Medicinal:

Through the years there have been many medicinal uses for dill weed and seed. There are no known allergic properties to dill, but it’s said that pregnant women should not use it in medicinal amounts – but those dill pickles are okay!

Benefits include – anti-inflammatory (arthritis), anti-bacterial, bone health (high calcium content), digestive care (relieves gas pains and other stomach issues), insomnia, immune system care, headache, hiccups, oral care.

In ancient times burned seeds were applied to wounds, and dill tea was often used. To prepare tea, use 2 teaspoons dill seeds per cup of hot water, steep and drink.

Dill oil (an essential oil extracted from the leaves, seeds and stems) is often used for massage due to its calming effects. Simply add a small amount to a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, peanut oil, sesame or sunflower oil.

Nutrition:

1 ounce of dried dill weed (approximately 2 to 2.38 tablespoons) has 12 calories and contains no fat, cholesterol or sugars. Small amounts of sodium and carbohydrates (in the form of fiber) can be found. It contains high amounts of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and potassium, as traces of several other nutrients.

Cooking Uses:

Dill is a prominent ingredient in pickles, and can be added to many foods including soups, dips, salads and vegetables. It is often used in cooking fish. There are many regions/countries that have dill as a favorite ingredient in traditional foods, including Germany and Scandinavia.

Add dill at the end of cooking as its flavor can dissipate with cooking. Also, it is best used fresh because it loses flavor when dried. Freeze-dried dill, however, will hold its flavor several months.

To dry your own dill place washed stems on paper towel and cover with a second paper towel. Place in microwave and use low heat for 2-minute increments until dry and crumbly. This will not give you the optimum dill flavor in most cases, but it is useable.

To make your own dill vinegar, soak dill seeds in vinegar for several days then strain into clean bottles.

I normally only grow basil in the summer, but think I just might try a packet of dill seeds!
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Check back tomorrow for the holidays and observances for May – you’ll find them on the “Holidays” page.
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Your comment and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!