Sunday, August 6, 2017

Got Tomatoes? Freeze 'Em

Got lots of tomatoes in the garden?

No time (or not into) canning?

Freeze them!

Every year I get asked this same question....  

Can I freeze tomatoes???

Yes, you can freeze tomatoes!  You really can!!

Frozen tomatoes have a different texture than canned tomatoes. They are pulpier so they work best in cooked dishes.  

But, if you have tons of tomatoes and no time to can, why not????  It takes only seconds to stock your freezer. 

Here's how:

Wash, drain and dry tomatoes well.
Pop into freezer weight bags.  
That's it!

No peeling, coring or cutting.

Tomatoes burst in the freezer and the peel magically falls off. 

Whenever you need tomatoes, just take some out of the bag.

Discard the peel and core. 

Thaw or not.

Chop or not then add the pulp and the juice to your recipe. 

Be sure to use freezer weight bags. 

They are heavier so they will not break in the freezer. 

Work with Your Body Instead of Against It

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Baker's Dozen Ways to Eat Better - Spend Less

Food prices are going thru the roof but you can eat better and spend less.

Here's how:

1. Weigh the cost of home made vs. convenience foods
Convenience costs money. The closer you stay to basic, from scratch ingredients, the better.
From Scratch
Better, cheaper, healthier

2. Shop less and you'll spend less
If you usually food shop once a week and spend $100 each time, shop every 10 days to 2 weeks instead.

You won't spend $200.  More likely, you'll spend $150-175. The reason is that you'll likely buy less impulse and snack foods.  Plus you'll save on gas and the drudgery of grocery shopping.

3. Shop on Tuesdays
Sounds silly but Tuesday is the day grocery stores are the least crowded.  You'll have the whole place to yourself and check out lines will be short.  You'll make better choices, too.

4. Shop upper and lower shelves
There's a saying in the grocery industry...."eye and thigh sells".

Eye level tempts you.
Thigh level tempts your children.
Manufacturers PAY grocery stores to have their products displayed at eye and thigh levels.

5. Buy what's on sale
A given but still be flexible.
Take advantage of price reductions, specials and unadvertised sales. 
Don't buy salmon when chicken is cheaper.

Home made biscuits are easy
and so much cheaper
6. Make high mark up foods from scratch
Grocery stores are loaded with "high profit" foods.
Salad dressings, macaroni and cheese mixes, stuffing, cake mixes, deli salads, cookies and other foods that fill the shelves in abundance.

It doesn't cost much to make these foods and they can be sold at a huge profit... which is fine for businesses.

But, if you're trying to save on your groceries, you can make these foods better, cheaper and healthier.
Get yourself a cook book or take a cooking class if you need a little help.  You might even ask your mother or grandmother for some recipes.

And, while you're at it, make your own bread.  A bread machine makes it easy.  Paying $5 to $7 for a loaf of bread - especially when your family eats 2, 3 or more loaves of bread a week - is a real budget buster!

Home made soup and chili
are great ways to use up
left overs

7. Never waste food
Make soup from limp vegetables.
Freeze left over stew in meal size portions for days when there's no time (or desire) to cook.
Simmer the bones from Sunday's roast chicken in the slow cooker to make stock.
Grate dry bread for crumbs.
Make bread pudding from stale cake, bread and rolls.

8. Don't buy soda
Soda is NEVER a beverage.... it's a treat - a dessert, actually.
Soda is an empty calorie "food" that costs a fortune and can do more harm to the body than good. Serve soda only on special occasions.

9. Concentrate on good health
Buy good quality, fresh foods from local sources whenever possible. They will taste better and feed your body the nutrients it needs. You'll have better health, spend less on medical care and buy fewer over the counter drugs.

Buy Fresh - Buy Local
10. Go easy on processed food and junk
Chips, dips, lunch meats, packaged cookies, hot dogs, smoked sausage, white flour products, packaged cereals, prepared frozen breakfast sandwiches .... I could go on and on.

Processed food and junk may be fun to eat but they're horribly expensive when you consider the zero to low nutrition they provide.  Plus they are full of preservatives, nitrates, sugar, starches and fillers.  The cleaner you eat, the better.

11. Plant a garden
Start small. 
A few herbs and a tomato plant are all it takes to get growing.  Add other plants as you have the time and ability.
You'll be amazed at how much money you can save not to mention the fresh, air, exercise and delicious good taste that you'll be getting for free!

12.  Buy the right size
Bigger is not always cheaper.  
The best selling size is so always check unit prices in addition to package prices.
It may be cheaper to buy 2 small packages of an item than 1 large package.

13.  Buy what you need  
If you wind up throwing away food because you've bought too much, you've wasted your hard earned money.
Even if it's cost more per pound or package, if you only need a little you'll be saving money in the long run.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cold Soup for Hot Days - Chilled Red Pepper Soup

It's too hot to cook.
Maybe too hot to even eat.
But, no, not really. 

Come dinner time and they’ll all be hungry.

It may be too hot to cook but it's never too hot to eat.

How about a chilled soup?
Refined.  Refreshing.  Yummy.

Keep a jar of roasted red peppers on your pantry shelf and some cream or evaporated milk in the fridge, and you can whip this up without breaking a sweat.

A wonderful starter for a grilled steak dinner.
Lovely for lunch.  
Perfect to pack for picnics, polo or the races.

Purists will want to roast their own red peppers which is always OK if you happen to have the grill going but turn on the oven?   In this heat?   No thank you.

You'd pay a small fortune for a tiny cup of this incredible tasting - so easy to make cold soup at any fancy restaurant or trendy bistro.  Once you see how easy (and inexpensive) it is to make, you won't want to waste your money!

All your gourmet pals will be whispering that you must have learned the recipe at a fancy cooking school.    

It's just panache in a flash!

Chilled Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Use a stationary or immersion blender to puree the soup.
The food processor does not get it smooth enough.
Can be made a day in advance.


Makes 4 (half cup) servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking not required


1 (12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers (water or brine 
packed - not vinegar packed – drained but not rinsed)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (room temperature)
3/4 cup light/coffee cream/half & half or 1 (12-14 oz) can evaporated milk (undiluted)

Puree everything together until very smooth.  Chill.

Optional garnish – Sprinkle with some finely minced fresh chives if you happen to have them on hand or in the garden.

Karla's tip: Roasted red peppers are sometimes called "fire roasted" red peppers. Whatever they're called, they're mild bell peppers and have a slight smoky taste.   Do not use hot peppers.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Healing Spices

Fill Your Life With Good Taste
And Good Health

Long ago, spices were brought to Europe from far off places on the backs of animals and in wagons. They were so important to the Europeans, that adventurers sailed the seas in search of shorter, cheaper spice trade routes.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Cinnamon and nutmeg laced
home made apple pie -
Now that's good medicine!
Today, modern transportation has made the treasures of long ago so much cheaper that we take spices for granted.  

We've forgotten that in addition to flavor, spices are also healing and medicinal.

The most familiar spice in American cuisine is cinnamon.  We love the taste in gooey breakfast buns, homemade apple pie and luscious coffee cakes but, in addition to good taste, cinnamon relieves allergies, eases pain, slows bacterial growth, controls blood sugar and helps you relax after a hectic day.  That's a pretty impressive. 

When we think of cayenne (red) pepper we think of spicy chili, jambalaya and bloody Marys but we rarely think that cayenne is lowering our cholesterol and triglycerides with every bite.  Cayenne is used topically, too, in warming ointments that are rubbed on the body to ease arthritis or sports injury pain.

Who know good health could taste this good!!
Ginger (as in ginger ale) is best known for settling upset stomachs and bringing down fevers but this healthful spice also helps prevent arterial plaque.   A favorite ingredient in pan Asian recipes, you can feel healthier for each bite of Thai, Chinese or Japanese food you enjoy.

Less common to American cuisine are cardamom (fights bronchitis), cloves (prevent clots), fennel (breaks up coughs), fenugreek (controls blood sugar) and turmeric (fights cancer and Alzheimer's disease) but they are none the less healing spices, worth their weight in gold.

Add some healing spices to your kitchen pantry to spice up your recipes and bring good health to your table.


Honey Cayenne Thai Salad Dressing
Especially good over a cold cellophane noodle salad.

Makes about 3/4 cup

1/3 cup lime juice (2 to 3 limes depending on size)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Whisk everything together.  Refrigerate to blend flavors.

Karla's tip: Thai fish sauce is a bottled condiment available in the oriental food sections of most grocery stores.

Cardamom Coffee
Add a haunting lemon-lavender taste to your morning brew with a pinch of ground cardamom.  Sweeten to taste and add milk, if desired.

Spiced Up Veggies
Sprinkle cooked orange vegetables (like carrots, winter squash, pumpkin or sweet potatoes) with pumpkin pie spice for a healthy dose of cinnamon and cloves. Drizzle with a little melted butter, honey and or brown sugar, if desired. 

Spices add health and good taste
 to all your cooking
Ginger Lemon Tea 
Per cup: Put 1 (3 inch piece) of crystallized ginger into an 8 oz. cup of water and microwave till steaming. 

Add a thin slice of lemon and, if desired, sweeten with honey or raw sugar.

For an extra treat (and extra dose of good health) nibble on the ginger when you're done sipping.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cool as a Cucumber - No Can Pickles!

Love the idea of canning but can't stand the thought of spending the day over a hot steaming kettle?

Then this recipe is just for you!
It's an oh so easy, no canning required, solution to home made pickles.

Just like Granny's but much, much easier.
Old fashioned comfort food that whips up a small, modern family, size batch in no time flat.

And, if you use a canning jar to store these pickles, they'll think you went to an awful lot of work and trouble.... just the kind of recipe I like!!

"Un-Canny" Quick Sweet Pickles
Real "Bread & Butter" pickle taste without canning!

Makes about 1-1/2 cups pickles

1 pound pickling cucumbers  (See Karla's tips below)
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

Wash cucumbers well under tepid running water.  Drain. 

Trim about 1/4 inch off each end of each cucumber removing both the stem and blossom ends. Discard trimmings. 

Slice cucumbers 1/4 inch thick.  Put slices into a heat safe bowl. Cover slices with boiling water.  Let sit, lightly covered, at room temperature 2 hours.

Drain cucumbers. Do not rinse. Pack slices into a canning jar or other heat safe container with a tight fitting lid.

Combine remaining ingredients in a pot. Cover. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, to dissolve sugar. 

Pour boiling liquid over cucumber slices. Cool slightly and cap. 

Refrigerate at least over night before eating to allow flavors to develop. 

Keeps several weeks in the refrigerator.  Do not store at room temperature.

Karla's Tips:

It is important too use "pickling cucumbers" when making pickles. If you use "salad cucumbers" the pickling brine will not penetrate the cucumber properly. 

Pickling cucumbers are not waxed.
Most grocery store cucumbers are called "salad" cucumbers.  

Salad cucumbers are waxed to prevent moisture loss.  
The wax on salad cucumbers may not always be visible.

Pickling cucumbers are small (about 4 inches in length or less) and stocky.
Their seeds are small and tightly connected to each other.

Salad cucumbers come in all sizes, shapes and lengths.

Upscale grocery stores sometimes stock or can order pickling cucumbers.  Ask if you do not see them.

Farmers' Markets are usually the best place to get pickling cucumbers.

Friday, July 7, 2017

8 Easy Ways To Dish Up Good Health

Don't scare them with good nutrition
Just put the food on the table .......

What they don't know will help them!

If you're in charge of the grocery shopping and the cooking then you're in charge of what the family eats.  It's time to dish up a little good health.   Here's how:

1.  Sneak in whole grains
Add a little wheat germ or whole wheat flour into quick breads, yeast breads, and pancakes. Serve whole wheat or part whole wheat pasta.  Add a little dry, old fashioned style oatmeal to meatloaf.  Crumble a slice or two of whole wheat toast to sprinkle over vegetables and casseroles.  Serve brown rice instead of white. They'll never know the difference.

2.  Keep dinner light
Your family doesn't need to eat a heavy meal at night then go to sleep. Soups, salads, eggs, vegetarian pasta even pancakes make delicious fare will let them (and you) sleep better.  Better sleep makes everyone happier and healthier.

3.  Serve raw fruits and vegetables every day
Salads, sprouts, lettuce and tomato on sandwiches, freshly squeezed juices, gazpacho from raw vegetables, fresh lemon juice spritzed on cooked fish - choose whatever you like. The important thing is to have some raw fruits and vegetables each day.  Raw produce provides enzymes that your body needs.  Cooking, processing, and packaging destroys enzymes.

4.  Get out of your rut
There's a whole world of delicious eating out there!  A good rule of thumb for meals is to serve a protein, a starch, two vegetables (one yellow or orange and one green) and a fruit.  Put them together in different ways.  Casseroles, crepes, soups, salads, pizza, dessert - have fun.

5.  Update and experiment
Reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt in recipes.  Add new ingredients like dried fruit, nuts and seeds.  Start slowly and in small amounts.  See if you like the results then go from there.  Keep quiet about your healthy changes and your family won't notice a difference.

6.  Reduce sugar but don't use artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are poor substitutes for sugar, don't satisfy your sweet tooth and are linked to lots of health problems. 

Read labels and choose low sugar or no sugar foods.  There's tons of them out there right next to your usual brands. Breakfast cereals, pasta sauce, juice, canned or frozen vegetables, salad dressings  - everything.   Serve low sugar desserts like baked apples, unfrosted cakes and home baked pies with reduced amounts of sugar.

7.  Stock the house with healthy (or at least healthier) snacks
The world is full of junk food (and there's plenty of opportunities to eat it) so concentrate on good foods at home. Baked chips, whole grain crackers, low salt pretzels, salsa, fresh veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, pudding, yogurt - you know what's good for them. All they really want is something quick to grab.

8.  Skip soda
Soda should never be served as a beverage - not even diet soda.  If you don't buy it, they won't be drinking it - at least not at home. 

And while you're at it, skip all those sweetened soft drinks including bottled iced tea and lemonade.  Home made iced tea and lemonade is better tasting, low (or no) sugar and you'll save a bundle on your grocery bill.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cool Off This Summer with Icy, Watermelon Slushies!!

Summertime is here!

What could be better than settling into a comfy chair with one of my watermelon slushies!

Easy to make.   Healthy to drink..... even with a dash of spirits!  

Prep them now and tuck them into your freezer.  When you're ready, they're ready.

Ah, the lazy -  hazy days of summer!

Watermelon Slushies
Makes 2 1/2 pints (5 cups)

1 (3-4 pound) piece watermelon (any variety)

3/4 cup sugar (other sweeteners not recommended)

Juice of 1 fresh lime (about 2 tablespoons - bottled OK)

Gin, vodka, rum or Virginia dessert wine.

Remove rind and seeds from melon. Discard.

Puree the red/pink part in the food processor or blender.  You should have about 4 cups puree.  A little more or less is OK.

Put 1 cup puree into a microwave safe bowl.  Stir in sugar.  Microwave until sugar dissolves.  Cool.

Stir into remaining puree. Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze till firm - about 8 hours. Longer is OK.

When frozen, remove cubes from trays and pulse a few times in the food processor to make it slushy then let the slush whirl for a minute or so until it comes together into a nice, sherbet like consistency.

Make sure there are no large chunks of ice. It takes a little longer than you think but not so much longer that it melts.   Serve immediately or pack into a freezer container and freeze for later use.

At serving time, spoon into tall glasses. 

For the adults, drizzle with a shot of gin, vodka, rum or Virginia dessert wine.  

Skip the alcohol for the kiddies.

Garnish with a spring of mint or a paper umbrella. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Super Easy ( & Super Tasty) Way to More Energy Now!!

Dragging around?
Need more energy?
No medical reason?

It's time to take a look at what you're eating!

While you may be eating good nutritious food, it's possible that you're eating too many foods with a high glycemic index.

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale of how rapidly the carbohydrate in food is released into the blood stream and put into storage by the body.

Foods with a high GI (70 or more) get gobbled up and stored quickly as body fat.

Foods with a low GI (less than 55) are used for energy immediately.

Simply by eating foods with a low GI index, you'll have energy now - when you need it.
Foods with a lower GI are often an easy swap.  Eating All Bran cereal instead of Grape Nuts. Choosing brown rice instead of white.  Enjoying premium ice cream instead of the cheap stuff.  Eating corn chips instead of fruit roll ups.  
Here's a link with 100 commonly eaten foods to get you started.  More complete lists are available (many for free) on line.


Power Porridge

Tastes like fancy oatmeal.
You'll never know the difference but your body will.
Both buckwheat (GI 45) and rye (GI 34) are low on the glycemic scale.  Adding them to oatmeal (GI 53) lowers the overall GI to a mere GI of 44 per serving.
Serves 2 to 4

1/4 cup cream of buckwheat cereal
1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal (not steel cut,instant or quick cooking)
1/4 cup cream of rye cereal
2 1/2 cups water

Mix everything together in a small pot. Bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes (uncovered) or until it's the consistency you like. Serve with power toppings.

Power Toppings:
(Choose any or all. Must have raw foods daily to unlock enzymes.)

Fresh apple
Raw cranberries
Walnuts, pecans, sun flower seeds, and/or pumpkin seeds
Wheat germ
Milk (any type - cow, soy, coconut, rice or almond)
Sweetener - Maple syrup, brown sugar, agave, honey
Bee pollen

Go easy on the brown sugar, honey and maple syrup which will boost the GI.

Artificial sweetener is not recommended. It zaps energy.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

How to Create Miracles!

Miracles happen everyday and to all sorts of people.

Miracles are moments of grace. 
Back stage passes. 
"Get out of jail free" cards. 

Miracles happen at the point where everything comes together and you stop fighting the life you were meant to live.

You don't have to be religious or belong to a church for miracles.

When you're you're on the right path, miracles flow like water. 

Creating miracles is much easier than you think.
All you have to do is get out of your head and open your heart!
Miracles need space to enter your life.  If you're closed tight, they can't get in.

There are hundreds (thousands!) of easy ways to create space for miracles.

No special training or studying needed!
Isn't that miraculous?  

Here's a few ideas to get you started.
You'll think of many more.
Yes, they all seem too ridiculously easy to work.

The idea is to get out of your head and open your heart.  
That's all it takes!
Yes, really!!

1.  Celebrate someone else's success.

2.  Do something to help yourself.

3.  Say no the next time you feel like a door mat.

4.  Do the thing you hate first.

5.  Pray for what you want but be prepared to hear the answer.

6.  Plant a garden.

7.  Sit quietly by a pond or a stream.

8.  Take a warm bath.

9.  Get a massage - even a mini one.

10. Take a casserole to a sick friend.

Seems unbelievable.
Can it really be that easy to fill your life with miracles?

All you have to do is open up the space by opening up your heart and miracles will find their way into your life.   Isn't that miraculous?