Want more celery for free? Don’t throw the end away after cutting off the stalks! Regrowing celery is very simple and a fun project for all, especially for children.
Simply remove the bottom end of a bunch of celery, cutting about one inch up from the bottom. Place the cut off piece, bottom side down, in a shallow tray with about 1/2 inch of water in it. Place the tray in a sunny location or under bright lights. It will begin to regrow from the center in very little time, usually ranging from overnight to up to two days.
After some time, your celery should sprout roots. With that, it will be very thirsty, so monitor the water level daily to be sure it doesn’t run dry. Also, wash the container now and then to prevent algae from growing, which would not be healthy for the plant.
After roots are established, many people will plant their new celery plant in their garden, allowing it to grow much larger. If you choose to keep it indoors and in water, it would be best to feed it with some plant food to support its growth. The celery can be harvested whenever you want.
It’s fun and rewarding to see food grow from a scrap item that would have been thrown away. This is a wonderful activity for children to help teach them where food comes from and hopefully inspire them to do a little gardening of their own sometime.
The following is a video demonstration of how to regrow celery
I have made fermented food products for many years, especially yogurt. I raised my children on homemade yogurt and the whole family ate it on a regular basis. So, I’m familiar with culturing foods.
I recently got introduced to kombucha and have realized the value in it for its probiotic qualities. I purchased a scoby and my kombucha has been thriving for a good while now and I’ve been drinking it everyday! Yum!
I’ve seen many posts online with the question about making kombucha with less sugar. Those questions are usually answered with scaled down recipes, but still calling for the same ratio of water to sugar to tea bags. To me, that’s not answering the question. Well…here’s your answer!
Since I drink it daily (maybe about a cup to 1-1/2 cups a day), I thought I’d try less sugar. It always seemed to me that 1 cup of sugar per gallon of water (the standard recipe) was more sugar than would be truly needed. NOTE that the standard recipe may be right IF your gallon batch of kombucha lasts a month or more, without fresh tea being added, as in a continual brew.
So…to my continual brew of kombucha (this is plain kombucha, not the soda pop type with fruit juice added) I started using HALF the amount of sugar that the original recipe calls for. I’ve been doing this now for a couple weeks and my scobies (note that’s plural) are multiplying and thriving in my jar. Even the original scoby is still alive and thriving. They seem to be extremely happy, even though the sugar content of the brew has been reduced. My kombucha tastes perfectly fine to me and I feel good that it has less sugar in it.
I am adding freshly made tea/sugar mixture to the jar as needed, maybe 4 cups every few days with the reduced sugar and I have noticed nothing negative happening in the jar. The taste is the same, the scobies are multiplying and thriving, and all is well.
SO…For those of you who want to subject yourself to less sugar in your kombucha, it appears that HALF the recommended amount of sugar is fine as long as you continue to add to the batch as you drink it. Note that this recommendation is for plain kombucha. It is not the brewed drink made with fruit juice and double fermented, yielding a soda pop-like beverage. I suspect it may work well with that recipe too since fruit juice has naturally occurring sugar in it, but I have not tried it, so I cannot guarantee it will work.
Here is the ratio of ingredients that I now use:
1 gallon (16 cups ) filtered water : 8 black tea bags : 1/2 cup sugar
8 cups filtered water : 4 black tea bags : 1/4 cup sugar
4 cups filtered water : 2 black tea bags : 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups filtered water : 1 black tea bag : 1 tablespoon sugar
I am not including the complete directions here on how to make kombucha. I’m assuming the reader already knows how to brew it. If not, please just do an internet search for how to make kombucha and you’ll find countless sites with complete directions online. Simply cut the recommended amount of sugar in half and your brew should be just fine and you’ll consume less sugar along the way. YES, the sugar is needed for the culture, but the ratio of 1 cup per gallon is more than is needed for the culture to thrive.
I don’t normally write such a post, but this one is warranted. We shopped at the Walmart store in Carroll, Iowa yesterday (October 29, 2016). We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, so of course, I purchased a number of items that needed to be weighed at the register.
When checking out, I didn’t watch the prices as the cashier rang up our items (my mistake). It wasn’t until this morning that I actually looked at our receipt. What really caught my eye was the fact that I saw the price for the ONE honey crisp apple that I bought. I’ve never tried one and since they’re expensive, I just bought one to try. I noticed that the ONE apple cost $3.60. “What??” I yelped! I looked at the weight and according to the receipt that one apple weighed 1.35 lbs. I have an accurate digital kitchen scale. I weighed the apple and it weighed less than 8 ounces. Hence, I was charged more than double what I should have been for that one apple. (Note that at the store, I put the apple was in one of those produce lightweight plastic bags that you can grab from a dispenser, which I had removed after bringing the food home. So the “tare” weight was not added in, but there’s NO way that little plastic bag weighed over 8 ounces. I’m sure it weighed way less than an ounce.)
Then I got out the eggplant that I purchased and have not yet cut in any way. It too rang up for a lot more weight and cost than it should have. Then I checked other items that we had not used, and they ALL weighed more on the receipt than they actually did…way more…sometimes double the weight or more.
I called the store and spoke with someone in customer service. She said they check their register scales every other day. She got the register number from my receipt and said she would go check the scale right away.
This may be an innocent problem, but I’ve heard of such schemes in the past (where stores alter their scales to show items weighing more than they actually do) and I know from reading online that the law has cracked down on such things. I don’t know if this was deliberate or not, but knowing how Walmart does their best to make as much money as they can, any way they can, I suspect that they might deliberately calibrate their scales so they overcharge customers on items that must be weighed.
So…it’s time for all of us to check this out and make it known to any store that overcharges that you caught them in the act. We could go back to that store and easily prove our point by carrying the items back to have them reweighed. However, we live in a different town and that store is about 30 minutes drive from here (country driving, so we’re talking about 30 miles one way). If I lived closer, I’d carry the produce back and have customer service weigh them again and prove my point. I’m estimating I was overcharged $10 to $15 or more (total) on the assortment of produce I purchased that had to be weighed. Because of the cost in gasoline and time factor in going back to the store, I’m opting to make this event known to the public this way, and absorbing the loss rather than driving back to the store. I doubt I’ll ever purchase anything that must be weighed at that store again. AND I’ll watch prices on items as they’re rung up at any store I shop in from now on.
I hope this helps you as a reader in some way, if nothing more than making you aware that such things can and do happen and that we should ALL watch the monitor as items are being rung up at any cash register. As I’ve learned, it pays to watch.
There were a few holidays where I would literally stay up all night baking to meet orders due to be picked up the next day. Easter was one of those holidays. I had countless orders for hot cross buns. If you’ve never tried these rolls, you’re missing something! The recipe is below, followed by a video demonstrating how I make them.
Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns Makes 12 Buns
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 oz (4 Tbsp) butter
15 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 oz (2-1/4 tsp) RapidRise yeast1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup sweetened dried pineapple, finely chopped
1 egg white, beaten
2 Tbsp water
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120-130°F.
Meanwhile, place flour, sugar, yeast, salt, lemon peel and nutmeg in a mixer bowl; combine dry ingredients. Add warmed liquid mixture and eggs to flour mixture. Stir to combine ingredients. Add currants and chopped dried pineapple. Mix with stand mixer (or hand knead) on low to medium-low speed for 8 to 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Scrape sides of bowl, coat dough with nonstick spray, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
On a lightly floured board, with a knife, cut dough into 12 equal size pieces. Roll dough pieces into balls and place them in a greased 9×13″ baking pan. Place on the rack in the middle of an oven that was warmed by only the light bulb and a pan of boiling water placed on the bottom rack (or cover the pan and allow the buns to rise in a warm place of choice). Allow buns to rise for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.
Brush rolls with a mixture of one beaten egg white and 2 tablespoons of water. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Pipe a cross on each bun with vanilla glaze.
To Make Vanilla Glaze
Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl, adding only a small amount of milk at a time. Add enough milk to make it a piping consistency. Adjust consistency if needed by adding more milk (if too thick) or powdered sugar (if too thin). Place in a piping bag with a small round tip and pipe a cross (or other design, if desired) onto buns.
We love salads…BIG salads. Whole meal salads are what I’m referring to here. These are complete meals in a bowl and not just with a little lettuce, tomato and cheese. These salads are filled with assorted vegetables, protein sources, and fruit. What’s even better is the fact that they are totally flexible in what is put in them, so they can be tailored to individual likes and dislikes as well as what’s available at the moment. These salads are better (to us) than any salad we can get in a restaurant because they’re made the way WE like them, with ingredients WE prefer! You too can build a better salad, YOUR way. The following are the basics of how I build a better salad…
Start with a lettuce bed of mixed greens. Use a mixture of assorted greens as the foundation of your salad. Use whatever you can get and mix them up…iceberg, Romaine, green and/or red leaf lettuces, arugula, baby kale, spring mix, spinach, red or green cabbage, etc. Get creative!
Add a big assortment of fresh veggies. Again, get creative. Use what you have available to you and don’t be afraid to try something new. Suggestions include: cucumber, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini squash, celery, red, green, and/or yellow bell pepper, fresh broccoli and/or cauliflower, lightly steamed (and cooled) asparagus, jicama, red or yellow onion, scallions, chives, minced garlic, lightly steamed (and cooled) green beans, roasted (and cooled) Brussels sprouts… Explore the produce isle of your favorite grocery store and let your imagine run wild!
Add a protein source (or two…or three). I always add thawed frozen green peas to our salads. They make a nice addition to any green salad and are packed full of protein. They’re for starters. From there, I add garbanzo beans (to my salad), diced cheese, assorted nuts of choice, and sometimes sliced hard boiled egg. If you’re a fan of meats in your salads, thinly sliced grilled steak or chicken breast would be a flavorful addition. Grilled salmon would be a prized addition, too. Whether you add meat or not, there are plenty of options to choose from so that your salad will provide enough protein to meet anyone’s needs.
Build a Better Salad
Add fruit for color, sweetness and eye candy. We started adding fruit to our meal salads after my husband returned from a trip to Hawaii with his college jazz band. He found that restaurants there added fruit to their salads and he really enjoyed it. Thanks Hawaii! Good fruits to include are fresh or canned pineapple, chopped fresh apple, blueberries, strawberries, tangerine (Clementine) sections, grapes (seedless would be preferred). Even diced pear would make a good addition! Try fresh raspberries for added sweet/tang!
Dress your salad…but don’t overdo it. Dressings are added to salads for flavor, moisture and binding properties. The problem with dressings is that many people simply add too much. This can make salads unhealthful to eat. The veggies and fruit are not the culprits. It’s the dressing. The above salad suggestions would go well with just about any dressing you choose. Just strive to go light on the dressing and still enjoy the wonderful flavors of the vegetables, fruits, and protein foods you used to construct your meal. If you can’t taste the other components, then you have too much dressing. Make it your goal to avoid using too much dressing. This will keep your salads healthful and calorie-controlled.
We usually use oil and vinegar as our salad dressing. The ratio will vary according to individual tastes, but a general rule of thumb is 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. A lot of flavor variation can be obtained by using different vinegars at different times: red wine, apple cider, tarragon, raspberry, and rice vinegars all lend different flavors to a salad, so experiment. Added herbs can also bring a new flavor to your salad. Suggestions include: oregano, dill, parsley, and tarragon (used individually, not all in the same salad). Get creative!
Here’s a video showing the construction of the salads in the featured photo. Enjoy! Judi
My mother was a first generation American. Both of her parents were from Italy. Since I started cooking at a very early age, she taught me how to make homemade marinara / spaghetti / tomato sauce (whatever you want to call it) when I was in elementary school. Really! After all these years I had not put this recipe in a written form. I thought it was about time I did that, if for no other reason than to pass it along to my children. So, lucky you! You get to share in this recipe too!
Below is the recipe, followed by a video where I demonstrate making it. Of course, it’s very flexible with the seasonings. Feel free to adjust to your taste.
Homemade Tomato / Marinara / Spaghetti Sauce Makes About 2-1/2 Quarts (No worries…freeze the extra in small containers)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried garlic powder)
1/2 medium onion, chopped (or 1 to 2 Tbsp dried minced onion)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled, left whole or finely grated (recommended, but optional)
2 (28 oz) cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can tomato paste
1 (12 oz) can water (or more if needed)
1 tsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 to 2 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Bay leaf
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
Preheat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and vegetables (garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrot). Stir and saute the vegetables until they start to soften. Add the remaining ingredients; stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low to low and cover the pot. Allow sauce to simmer gently for about 2 hours or more if you want a thicker sauce. Stir sauce occasionally as it cooks so it does not burn on the bottom. Taste after 30 minutes and adjust seasonings, if desired. Continue cooking until sauce is thick and flavors are blended well. Serve with pasta, stuffed cabbage or peppers, chicken cacciatore, Swiss steak, and use on pizza, or in any dish calling for a tomato-based sauce. Cool extra sauce and freeze in small containers, enough for one meal at a time.
Note: If you want to add ground beef or sausage to this sauce, brown the meat in the pan you plan to cook the sauce in. Drain excess fat and proceed as directed. If a little fat is left in the pan, you can omit the olive oil.
If you want to add meat balls to the sauce, it is best to prepare the meat balls and precook them before adding them to the sauce. This avoids having excessive fat in the sauce. Add them to the sauce after combining all ingredients. Allow the meat to simmer in the sauce as it cooks.
When time is short, this sauce cooks well in a slow cooker. Simply place all ingredients in the slow cooker early in the day, and cook on low until supper time. You’ll have homemade sauce, ready to go!
Pie season is here! Apples have fallen off the trees and the pumpkins have been picked. Snow will be falling soon, and ovens will be hot, filling homes with delightful aromas of fresh baked goods, casseroles, breads, and other delicious goodies.
So, it’s time to share the recipe I used at my bakery for a traditional apple pie. I sold literally hundreds of these pies over the years and had MANY orders for them at Thanksgiving. The recipe is below, followed by a video showing how I make the pie. Some extra tips are also included in the video.
Traditional Apple Pie (My Bakery Recipe) Makes 1 Pie
6 to 8 tart apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp butter
Prepared pastry for one 9″ 2-crust pie
In a medium bowl, combine apples, sugar, cinnamon and flour. Pour into a crust-lined pie pan. Dot with butter. Place top crust over pie and cut slits in top crust. Flute edges. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour, until bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool 1 to 2 hours to set up before cutting. Refrigerate if pie will not be eaten right away.
*Note: If you prefer very tender fruit filling, the apples may be cooked briefly before being used in the pie filling.
Pumpkin pie is a staple dessert in the fall, especially at Thanksgiving. When I had my bakery, I literally sold hundreds of pumpkin pies made with this recipe over the years. They were favored by many and this same recipe has long been used by my family also. I’m sharing it with you!
Below is the recipe, followed by a link to my video showing how to make it. (The pie crust is left for another video/post.)
Pumpkin Pie Makes 1 each 9″ Pie
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
(regular is preferred, but low-fat is acceptable)1 unbaked pie crust (9″ preferred)
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Stir in the pumpkin, then eggs; combine well. Whisk in the evaporated milk and mix until well blended. Pour into a fluted, unbaked pie crust.
Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 50 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 1 to 2 hours. Serve and refrigerate leftovers.
Note: If your pie pan is smaller than 9″ and you have too much filling, simply bake the extra in a greased bowl. Enjoy it as pumpkin pudding!
I love bell peppers, any way they’re fixed…raw, added to a salad, sauteed, and stuffed. Here’s a recent recipe I’ve developed that’s quickly become one of our favorites! The recipe is below and that’s followed by a video showing the making of this delicious vegetarian dish. Enjoy! Judi
Meatless Stuffed Peppers
Makes 3 Servings
3 bell peppers, washed, tops and cores removed
1 can beans of choice, rinsed and drained
(or 1-3/4 cups cooked dried beans of choice)
1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 to 1/3 cup diced fresh tomato
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped vegetable of choice
(ie fresh or frozen kale, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash), optional
2-3 tsp dried minced onion*
1/2 to 3/4 tsp garlic powder*
1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried basil leaves
1 to 1-1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 to 3/8 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Tomato sauce of choice
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Prepare bell peppers and place them in a deep casserole dish that has a lid; set aside. In a food processor, coarsely process 2/3 to 3/4 of the cooked beans, leaving the remaining beans whole; set aside.
In a large bowl, add the prepared beans, cooked rice, diced tomato and other vegetable of choice, the herbs, and salt and pepper. Add grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Stir to combine. Spoon in tomato sauce until ingredients bind together, using about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce.
Spoon filling into prepared bell peppers. Place another tablespoon or two of tomato sauce on top of the peppers and place about 1/3 cup of the sauce around the peppers in the bottom of the casserole dish. Place lid on casserole.
Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes, until peppers are tender and filling is very hot. Remove from oven and put the peppers onto serving plates. Spoon sauce from the bottom of the casserole onto peppers as a garnish. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
*If preferred, fresh onion and garlic may be used. Use 2 or 3 large cloves garlic, minced, and about 1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped onion. Saute briefly in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil until barely tender. Add to mixture as per instructions above.
We’ve all seen our favorite chefs at work on TV. Most of them use extra virgin olive oil. Why? Because it’s one of the healthiest oils to consume. However, they rarely say what brand they’re using (unless they’re being paid to advertise for that company).
Good quality olive oil can be one of the healthiest oils to use. It helps correct blood cholesterol problems and is high in vitamin E and antioxidants, fighting harmful compounds in the body. Olive oil plays a vital role in the Mediterranean diet, which we know is very healthful.
So…when we get to the grocery store, choosing which olive oil to buy seems about like choosing a breakfast cereal! There are MANY to choose from…too many. It’s just too confusing. So, I’ve done some research to help us all pick the best olive oil from the array we have to choose from at the moment.
It’s important to know that not all olive oils were created equal. In fact, MANY that are typically on our grocery store shelves are not healthful oils at all. Many have been “refined” (a process that involves heat and/or chemical solvents), have been on the shelf for extended periods of time and hence are not fresh, or are older oils that have been blended with fresher oils to mask their rancid flavor. Yuk!
Because eating old or rancid oils is actually damaging to health, I decided to put together a list of things to look for to help you choose which oil is best among those that are available to you at the moment when shopping. There may be higher quality oils out there in wherever-land, but they’re not the ones you’re looking at for the moment when you’re starring at the huge array on the grocery store shelf. You NEED to know which one to choose NOW! Copy this list and carry it with you the next time you shop for olive oil.
First, it’s important to know that ANY extracted oil is highly perishable. Light, heat and oxygen can interact with the oil and cause it to age or even spoil, creating compounds that are harmful to our health. So, keep this fact in mind as you make your way through the steps below.
When at the grocery store…
Put your “blinders” on! First thing, DON’T look at the price right away. IF you shop for price only, you’ll probably choose the cheapest oil on the shelf. Mistake #1. That oil is very likely refined and not the most healthful. That’s not what you want!
Choose oil in a small dark glass bottle (or packaging that shields the oil from light). Unless you’re going to use a LOT of oil FAST, go for the small size…one that you know you can use up in a relatively short amount of time. Be sure the bottle (glass, not plastic) is dark, helping to protect the oil from damaging light. Otherwise, if you know you need a lot of oil and will be using it up quickly, opt for oil in a large can.
Be sure the cap is sealed and air tight. Well, duh. This should be a “given.” However…it’s worth checking because you never know what you might come across in a grocery store.
Choose “extra virgin olive oil.” Extra virgin is the highest quality olive oil. Now…DON’T take the front label on the bottle for it’s word. Turn the bottle over and look at the ingredients list. It should only say “extra virgin olive oil.” It MIGHT list refined oil and extra virgin olive oil. If it does, put it back on the shelf. It’s a blend of less-than-healthy refined oil, most likely mixed with fresher oil to improve the flavor. Not your best option.
Look for “first cold pressed” or “mechanically pressed.” This is the natural way to extract oil from olives. Otherwise it was probably extracted using heat and/or chemicals, which is not desirable and not the healthiest oil around. Choose a naturally extracted oil.
Some bottles say “organic.” Organic options in most any foods are good. However, “organic” alone with regard to olive oil is NOT the only thing to look for. Check out the other components before deciding that it’s your best option.
Look for quality seals on the label. Not all oils will have them, but they are helpful in ensuring the oil was produced according to set quality standards. Some seals you might see include:
COOC (California Olive Oil Council)
North American Olive Oil Association
International Olive Oil Council
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin…DOP in Italian)
PGI (Protected Geographical Indication…IGP in Italian)
Look for an expiration date or “best by” date. Try to select one with at least a year left before it expires. The further out the date, the fresher the oil. Freshly produced olive oil will last up to 2 years from the time of harvest, IF kept under ideal conditions (which is often not the case). AND we don’t know the time lapse from harvest to production and many dates are based on production dates, so there is some mystery here. So…the more time left in the dating, the fresher the oil.
Look for the producer and place of origin of the olives. Ideally, it’s best to find an oil from olives that were grown, processed and packaged in the same location. However, that would RARELY be found on our grocery store shelves. Just note that oil will be freshest and of higher quality under those circumstances. That translates into less transport time, less chance of spoilage due to less-than-ideal conditions along the way, etc. However, MOST if not all of what we’ll typically find on our grocery store shelves will not meet this criteria. It’s good to look for it anyway. IF you manage to find one…latch onto it!
NOW…After having looked for oils that meet the above criteria…it’s time to compare prices. Now you’ll know you’re getting the best deal on your olive oil AND the most healthful option you have to choose from at the moment.
When you get home…
TASTE the oil when you get it home. Ignore the color because the color will vary depending upon the variety of olive used and when it was picked. The color does NOT reflect the quality of the oil. When tasting, the oil should smell and taste like olives, and should have a slight bitterness and possibly pepperiness. This indicates the presence of the polyphenol compounds…the healthful compounds that we WANT in the oil! Hopefully the oil you selected will meet this criteria. If not, it’s back to the drawing board the next time you shop for oil.
Store your oil wisely. Store it away from light, heat and oxygen (close the bottle quickly after using it). Use it up quickly…don’t try to store it for a long time.
Get the most health benefits from your oil. Use the oil unheated as much as possible to get the most health benefits from your carefully chosen product. When using it to cook with, heat it the least amount possible to keep from destroying the polyphenol compounds and breaking down the oil (which is not healthful).
Here’s a video that I produced on this subject. Hope this helps!! Happy eating, Judi