louWe have arrived at that time of year when the warmth of the sun can be extremely conducive in luring us outside to plant our gardens, so gather up your gardening tools and prepare to join me in communing with nature. Homegrown veggies require the most fertile soil that you can give them, so endeavor to choose an area that gets a good six hours of sun daily. Try to place them into a quick draining area spaced far enough apart from the roots of trees that could rob them of their moisture and nutrients. Allow them enough space between rows so they are easy to cultivate.

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Lou Liebetrau: Readers' recipe requests fulfilled this week

Published 4:22pm Friday, June 18, 2010

Ground Chuck on Toast

1 lb. ground chuck
4 slices bread
1 onion, minced
1 tbsp. butter
Dash salt
Dash pepper

Thoroughly mix meat, salt and pepper, then set aside. Toast bread on one side, then spread untoasted side with butter. Spread meat onto side of untoasted bread, then sprinkle with onion and dot with butter. Place on boiler rack, about three inches below source of heat, and broil for about five minutes. Serve with ketchup or mustard.

Food Facts: In reply to a question posed by a reader questioning why fiber is so important in our diet. It is of extreme importance to have fiber because it acts like a sponge in our digestive tract. Fiber absorbs molecules such as fats, sugar and carbs like a sponge, thus preventing them from literally settling on your hips. If contributes calorie-free bulk to foods, thus giving you the satisfaction  of chewing and the feeling your stomach is full.

Homemaker’s Hint: I read an interesting article the other day that coincides with me personal way of thinking. This article stated that often taking a 10- to 20-minute walk can work wonders in eliminating stress.

Pork Chops

6 rib pork chops
2 extra large onions
(1) 10-ounce can tomato soup
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. marjoram

Trim pork chops of excess fat, then place in shallow glass baking dish in one layer. Cover evenly with onions and mix remaining ingredients and pour over pork chops and onions. Bake in microwave for 10 minutes. Turn over and bake 10 minutes until meat tests tender. All to stand for five minutes before serving.

Food Facts: Coffee can keep some people up at night, but did you know that hot chocolate can also send your brain into overdrive? Even though a serving of chocolate does not have as much caffeine as a cup of coffee or even a cola, it can have the same effect on your sleep.

Homemaker’s Hint: When this time of the year rolls around it seems that people tend to flock to their favorite tanning salons, so I wished to pass on to you that article that I came across recently. It suggested that individuals taking medications might develop skin reactions if they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation in tanning booths.

In reply to the reader requesting a good gravy recipe, I offer the following:

Burgundy Gravy

1/2 c. rendered beef fat from drippings of roasted meat
Burgundy wine
3 tbsp. flour
Dash pepper
1 tsp. salt

After removing roasted meat from baking pan, pour drippings into bowl and leave residue in baking pan. Allow fat to rise to surface; if necessary, chill in refrigerator for a few moments, then skim off fat and reserve. Measure one-quarter of fat into pan, then stir in flour until mixture becomes smooth. Heat uncovered in microwave for about three minutes. Add salt, pepper and just enough wine and water for desired thickness. Cook for two to three minutes, stirring at the end of each 30 seconds.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

Homemaker’s Hint: Next to oxygen, water is said to be the most important factor for survival of man and animals, according to a yearbook connected to the United States Department of Agriculture. It stated that a person could do without food for five weeks or more, but without water you can survive only a few days, so water is the single most important substance the health seeker should ingest. Drink it as free from pollutants as possible. Drinking water is especially important for older people who may have lost their sensation of thirst.

Food Facts: Alcoholic beverages are said to contain nothing nutritional except calories.

For the reader endeavoring to duplicate a recipe for a ham/potato dish that can be prepared in a microwave oven, this may be the one you are searching for:

Microwave Ham and Potatoes

2 cans whole white potatoes
1 c. milk
1.5-2 lbs. center cut ham slice
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tbsp. flour
Dash paprika
Dash cayenne

Place milk in microwave to heat for two minutes, then cover and set aside. Place ham into shallow glass baking dish, then arrange potatoes around it. Mix flour, paprika, mustard and cayenne and sprinkle evenly over top of potatoes and ham, then cover with hot milk. Cover top of baking dish loosely with waxed paper, but do not fold over. Bake for at least 10 minutes, then rotate dish and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Allow dish to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I remember years ago when shepherd’s pie was first introduced to housewives. Even youngsters who were not overly fond of green beans seemed to accept this recipe with little or no complaints. If all else fails and at the risk of revealing a closely guarded family secret, cut the beans up to disguise them if necessary.

Speedy Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb. ground chuck
(1) 14.5-oz. can green beans, drained
8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 c. mashed potatoes, cooked
1 c. shredded cheddar

Combine chuck, beans and tomato sauce and place in baking dish. Cover evenly with potatoes, then sprinkle with cheddar. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Note: I found this recipe to be an excellent way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

In reply to a reader who learned her system is low in zinc, I do know that steamed oysters and even crab are said to be rich in zinc. Perhaps you may wish to introduce one of these into your diet? You really need to seek the advice of your family physician, for he or she is the knowledgeable authority to advise you. Thank you for your lovely letter and complimentary comments on the column. I am so glad you enjoy it.

Way sometime back, I made it known to the readers that I was hoping to find a recipe for:

Bacon/Onion Bread

2 slices bacon, diced
2 onions, finely chopped
3 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/4 c. warm milk
2 tbsp./1 1/2 tsp. butter, divided
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Melt  1 1/2 teaspoons butter in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. add bacon and spices, then lower heat and allow to simmer for about five minutes, until bacon is cooked but not crisp. Immediately remove from heat. Place remaining ingredients including butter into bread machine and follow instructions. Set machine to white bread setting. If the machine has a dispenser for adding ingredients mid-cycle, place onion mixture in machine. Otherwise, add halfway through second knead cycle. When finished, remove loaf from pan.

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