Archived Story

Culinary Conversation: Give Lou’s homemade energy drink a try for a super boost

Published 11:09am Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reliving the precious memories of our youth doesn’t cost a cent, can be extremely entertaining; and makes us realize the giant strides that progress has implemented into our lies! Although I live but a half-hour drive from my original birthplace, it seems and entire world away. I was raised in an era when fast moving automobiles were a rarity and there were fewer on the road.

Bicycles were in abundance and fashionably clothed men and women guided these vehicles to their destination of choice. These two wheelers were conveniently equipped with either a bell of air horn (or both) to warm pedestrians of their presence. Noxious fumes from gasoline powered vehicles was almost nonexistent!

The odors of that era seemed to consist mainly of freshly baked pies and cookies cooling on the windowsills of the housewives, unless it was during the winter months when the odor of coal smoke permeated the atmosphere. Those were the years when the sound of childish voices was music to the ears. As the little ones played marbles, jacks, tag or hide and seek – almost until the first stars began twinkling in the heavens; and it was safe to do so – for the crime rate was almost nonexistent!

Then came the autumn months when the leaves displayed their glorious array of splendor; the fragrance of ripening apples permeates the atmosphere; and the winds become brisk, yet somehow very delightfully refreshing. This was always the times of the year when Mother’s faithful singers sewing machines sped into action and numerous yards of winter fabric was transformed into warm clothes for the children.

Last year’s garments were passed down to the younger members of the family, and new clothing sewn for those who had outgrown the old. In times of yore, many little ones trudged that well-worn path to school (despite the bitter winds and biting cold) for school busing was non-existent.

Parents (probably?) sent their children to school with sandwiches and some type of fruit and/or baked goods and beverage as kitchens had not yet been established in these establishments of learning. From what I have read, teachers of that early era had the additional duty of preparing and “stoking” the wood stoves of their classroom, to provide the warmth for their students. All of this, in addition to teaching, they must have truly earned every penny they made!

In reply to Mrs. Eileen Adams who requested my recipe for homemade fried potatoes, I always endeavor to bake a few (extra) potatoes to use at a later date. Taking the prebaked potatoes, slice them into the desired thickness. Add to this an equal amount of freshly sliced onion. Season this potato/onion mixture accordingly with desired amount of salt and pepper and a generous sprinkling of parsley. Melt some (reserved) bacon drippings into your iron skillet; add the combined potato/onion slices and fry slowly until onions are softened and golden. (I was pleased to learn that your husband was raised in Upper Michigan, for I have spent many memorable years visiting in Houghton) and those people really have a “knack” for cooking, you never go away hungry!)

**Is there anything as delightful as bittersweet, that delightful, brilliant, fiery orange plant that grows along dusty country roads, and whose berries burst out of their casings like popcorn? Arrange this in a cobalt blue vase on the mantel to brighten the gray days of winter, and you really have a “winner”!

Treat yourself to some of those frozen strawberries that are featured in you grocer’s case, add a bit of ice cream and crème soda; and you have yourself a “cooling treat” that can turn an autumn afternoon into a memorable repast!

Strawberry Soda

3 Tbls. frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
3/4 cup strawberry ice cream
6 oz. chilled crème soda
Whipping cream
Fresh strawberries

Mash your strawberries until well blended with syrup. Now, stir together both the strawberry syrup, one generous scoop of ice cream and approximately two tablespoons of crème soda in the bottom of a 14-in. chilled glass. Feel free to add additional scoops of ice cream, then pour in just enough soda to fill the glass. Garnish this treat with a generous scoop of whipped cream and a luscious big strawberry!

Homemaker’s Hint: I endeavor to keep several old egg cartons on hand. They are ideal for transporting your deviled eggs to picnics, for they can be disposed of after being used.

Timely Trivia: An old time phrase that you rarely (if ever) hear anymore is the term “a case of the cooties.” In past years (and before the invention of insecticides) it referred to a very small parasitic insect that was known to prey on both humans and animals.

**A reader has requested a “reprint” of and “energy” beverage that appeared in this column some time ago. I believe that you might be referring to:

Homemade Energy Beverage

2 cup white grape juice, chilled
1 cup orange/grapefruit juice
2 cloves
1/4 cup candied ginger
One 12 oz. bottle ginger ale, chilled
1 cup apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
Orange slices

Place all of the above ingredients (with the exception of the orange slices and soda pop) into a saucepan and bring this mixture to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, immediately reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for a good five minutes. Then, strain it well and immediately place it into the refrigerator to chill completely. Just before you are ready to serve it, combine the grape mixture together with the ginger ale; the pour this over ice and garnish with slices of orange.

Homemaker’s Hint: To shine up those patent leather shoes, rub them with a dab of petroleum jelly, this really spruces them up!

** In reply to the reader who questioned my opinion as to whether the food we ingest has anything to do with the condition of our skin. As a homemaker, I can only give you my personal opinion but my guess would definitely be yes! I have often envied the healthy glow of farm wives fresh in from the fields, and surmise that their diet probably consists mainly of the fresh fruits and vegetables that they harvest. Compare this to starting an evening with oil-drenched salad, cheese-smothered nachos or a hunk of garlic bread. This might easily go down well and good, but don’t you realize that you’re ingesting a veritable blob of dietary fat that can easily plunge you into an extended period of mental and physical fatigue?

Asparagus & Ham Brunch

6 slices whole wheat bread
1 lb. fresh asparagus, chopped & cooked
5 eggs
4 tsp. Minced onions
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped cooked ham
1 3/4 cups milk
3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Arrange your bread in a lightly buttered 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Layer 1 1/2 cups cheese, asparagus and ham in your prepared dish. Beat the eggs with the milk, onion, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper in bowl. Pour this over the layers. Chill (covered) overnight. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and then bake this casserole for 30 minutes. Sprinkle one cup of cheese over the top. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
**Did you know that for at least two thousand years, asparagus; that tender, edible shoot that happens to be a member of the lily family, has been widely cultivated as both a luxury and a gourmet food? It is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as being quite low in calories. The on, very ticklish problem of this vegetable is that it is very highly perishable and almost needs to be cooked as soon as you get it. Its shelf life in the refrigerator is only one to two days.

A touch of levity: I had just finished selecting a head of cabbage in out local supermarket when a young man came along and started studying the produce very, very closely. As he picked up various head of cabbage, squeezed them and removed loose leaves, I began to thing that he might know something that I didn’t about selecting the perfect cabbage. “What exactly are you looking for?” I asked him. “A good head of lettuce,” he replied.

One hour Italian dinner rolls

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 envelopes dry yeast
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbl. Sugar
Several teaspoons of garlic salt
1 cup milk
2 tbls. Oleo
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbls. Melted oleo
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, garlic salt and Italian seasoning in you mixing bowl. Mix all of this together very well. Heat the milk, warm water and two tablespoons of oleo to 120 to 130 degrees in your saucepan. Add to flour mixture, mix well. Add the egg, mixing at a low speed for just three minutes. Stir in one half cup of Parmesan cheese and just enough of the remaining flour to make a firm dough. Knead this on a floured surface until it becomes quite smooth and elastic. Place into a greased bowl, turning to coat the surface. Let this rise, covered, in a warm oven for about 15 minutes. Punch the dough down. Shape into 16 rolls. Dip each top into mixture of two tablespoons of melted oleo and one quarter cup of Parmesan cheese. Place into greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan or two 9″ baking pans. Let rise in warm oven for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes or until it becomes a very golden brown in color. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

** Breakfast is the meal that really matters the very most! Even when you are in a hurry, there are ways that you automatically switch on you energy and fat burning power. Skipping meals leads to “binges.” Well known authorities will tell you that when you wake up and get started on a new day, you must have breakfast to turn on your thermal switch, moving your body rhythm from low ebb to high tide. Even though your busy lifestyle often makes it necessary to eat meals and snacks away from home, this should become no dietary disaster! Here are some dining-out strategies that should help you meet your low fat standards. Strive to avoid the all-you-can-eat buffets and smorgasbords. Order a la Carte, since full course “bargain dinners” tends to encourage overeating and can also be high in fat and protein. Try to scan the menu before ordering and do not hesitate to inquire about both featured recipes and daily specials. You can also look for restaurants (that are listed by the American Heart Association) as serving low fat meals.

**Do you have a problem with munchies? Always nibbling and getting fatter as a consequence? Then, you might wish to try a bit of bran every day to reduce your appetite for that sinfully delicious but naughty no-no? A weight loss club did a survey and discovered that by taking an extra helping of bran just before mealtime, it greatly reduced their hunger pangs.

**From one of our male readers (Arthur) phoned me with a couple of helpful hints that he asked me to pass on to our readers. He tells me that he makes it a habit to eliminate the itching or pain from a mosquito, bee or wasp sting by squeezing a bit of lemon juice onto it. He also uses it along the baseboard, window and doorsills to repel these little varmints.

Two of our followers (Anna & Vera) phoned me (within days apart) at “wit’s end,” with the exact same complaint. They both related how they were having trouble with their meringues. I (as I related to them by phone) can only guess, but I do know for a fact that meringues can be affected by humidity! Try choosing a very dry day to prepare your meringues, and I think you will find your efforts will be much more successful!

From one of our sports enthusiasts, comes this timely recipe that she prepares every year during football season. Thank you Alicia for thinking of us!

Touchdown Dip

1 can chili (without beans)
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese (cubed)
One or two onions (chopped)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tbls. butter (melted)
1 fresh green pepper (chopped)

Sauté both your onions and fresh pepper in butter and cook until the onions appear very clear. Now stir in both the chili and the soup and blend them together thoroughly. Add the cheese to this, place the pan over at medium heat and keep stirring until it is all melted.

*Note: It is nice to keep this dip warm in your chiffon dish, then serve with a healthy supply of (purchased) corn chips.

You know, it just occurred to me the other day that the art of old fashioned whistling seems to have fallen by the wayside. I remember homemakers whistling while they went about their housework, driving their vehicles to work, waiting for the bus, or riding their bicycles. Little children puckering their lips and trying to mimic the adults. The variety of sounds that poured forth was astonishing and ranged anywhere from bell tones, trills and tremolos to the accomplished cascading warbles.
Now much of this has fallen strangely silent! I guess it has become another “relic” which has fallen by the wayside in this mad rush of modern daytime living! Are we living in such a hurry that we can no longer take the time to enjoy these little eccentricities that reflect our innermost personalities? Spare us this fate, for life was meant to be enjoyed to the fullest!
Pour yourself another cup of coffee, ease down into the cushions of your very favorite lounge, and loose yourself in some relaxing moments of reflection!

This column encourages reader’s recipe contributions and requests, helpful hints and timely trivia. Simply phone them to 683-7266 or mail to 527 Philip Rd. Thank you!

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