No money for cookbooks, try the Niles library

Published 3:33 pm Thursday, November 27, 2008

By Staff
The art of cooking (to me) can be one of the most satisfying and adventurous experiences you can indulge in. You have the choice of creating something from scratch, by combining some of your favorite foods, or by choosing something from a cookbook.
Nationality should not be a hindrance, for these books come in all languages. As for cost, if you are pinching your pennies … they are many times available in areas other than just book stores. Yard sales, flea markets, second-hand stores, advertisements in your newspaper, occasional library sales, etc., etc. For those of you who may not have checked it out. Let me go on record for having made this next statement. For a city the size of Niles, our library is, and has always been, absolutely awesome!
Although I do not know any of the librarians personally, they certainly personify a quality group of employees. They are patient, helpful and seem dedicated to make their patrons visits a pleasant experience! For those of you who may be "shut-ins," activate your television and cruise amongst the various channels, and you can almost always come across a cooking program of interest! There are an untold number of resources available, which are designed to inspire the experienced cook as well as guide the novice through the intricacies of all types of food cookery. Years ago I lived in an area where the neighbor ladies took great delight in sharing recipes with one-another. As the newcomer to that block, I felt very fortunate to have been accepted immediately in a camaraderie … thus fueling friendships that linger to this very day.
I still have pleasant memories of arriving home with my second born (on my birthday) and being presented with a beautifully decorated sheet cake. On one side of the icing it read: "Happy Birthday Lou" and the other side read: "Welcome" to my "First Born Son," thus cementing the neighborhood relationship from the 1950s.
German Dill Potato Salad
4 cups potatoes, cooked peeled and diced
4 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon dill weed
1 cup milk
1/2 cup or more mayonnaise
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
dash paprika
Melt butter over a very low heat, then proceed to stir in the flour, dill weed, salt and pepper. Add the cup of milk, then cook and stir this mixture until it bubbles and begins to thicken. Blend in mayonnaise, onions, then carefully fold in the cooked potatoes. Spoon into serving dish and sprinkle lightly with paprika. Garnish liberally with fresh parsley.
Homemaker's Hint: I find it helpful to score the potatoes with a sharp knife around the center before I boil them in salted water. Use the tines of a fork to spear them, in that score mark, from the boiling water.
Food Facts: You can many times make a considerable saving by buying peak of the season vegetables in quantity, then using them in casseroles and freezing in family sized portions.
I find that a pound of ground beef makes four hamburger patties. The same amount of beef, used in a casserole, can equal four to six servings.
Tomato Rice Soup
1 – 12 ounce jar mild salsa
1 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup brown rice
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup each of chopped zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and lima beans
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons parsley
2 tablespoons instant vegetable flavored broth
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine salsa, tomato juice, rice, onion, basil, oregano, garlic and four cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Now, stir in the vegetables and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat, place the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the rice and vegetables are tender. Top each serving with the cheese.
Homemaker's Hint: Did you know that by holding an elevator button in, or pushing it repeatedly does nothing for the elevator? Its electronic circuitry only registers the first call.
"Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way."
Chicken/Veggie Salad
1 pound cooked, skinless chicken
4 cups romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup torn Boston lettuce
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup cooked peas
1/4 cup cooked corn
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1/2 cup distilled water
Cut the chicken into strips, then cook it with the oil, teriyaki sauce and water until it becomes brown and heated through. Next, combine this mixture with the vegetables. Top with creamy Italian, thousand island or the dressing of your choice.
Note: Romaine lettuce is the lettuce that has long, crisp green leaves that form a loose head. Romaine has three times as much vitamin C and considerably more beta carotene than iceberg lettuce.
Safflower oil is classified as an all purpose dietary oil, as it contains low levels of saturated fats.
Homemakers Hint: Did you know that slices of baked potato skins can be crisped in the oven for a healthful snack?
Food Facts: When you get the "hungries" for something to munch on, but wish to avoid calories, try sprinkling plain popcorn with crushed herbs or spices.
Cranberries seem to be becoming more popular since they are said to be almost a home remedy for cystitis and also to help prevent kidney and bladder stones. They are also believed to contain a natural antibiotic to help prevent urinary tract infections. Commercial cranberry juice is often too diluted to be helpful, so you might wish to prepare your own juice.
Here is a different version of a cranberry bread that you may wish to try for the forthcoming holidays …
Cranberry Orange Bread
1 cup chopped cranberries
3/4 cup orange juice
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Process the cranberries in your food processor until chopped. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together well. Place the syrup and orange juice into your blender for approximately 3-5 minutes until the mixture forms quite a few bubbles. Next, mix this blended orange juice mixture with the flour until it becomes moistened. Fold in the cranberries and pecans. Place this into a 9x5x2 inch nonstick bread pan and bake for 50 minutes at a 350 degree oven. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it. Cool completely before slicing and serving.
Homemaker's Hint: Holidays are just around the corner and money a bit short? Hotels and restaurants often hire extra employees during peak tourist periods. It might be worth your time to check it out.
Timely Trivia: Holidays are just around the corner, which will mean extra mail sorting out. Sealing envelopes can be simpler by placing a sponge into some water, then whisking the stamp over the sponge.
Here's a tasty dish to prepare for the holidays:
1 pound round steak
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons beef flavored powdered broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cup onions
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
4 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups hot noodles
Trim fat from meat, then slice into bite-sized strips. Stir the cornstarch with the milk, then stir in the tomato paste and beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, mustard and pepper and set aside. Use a large skillet to cook the mushrooms, onions and green pepper in water until tender. Remove from the skillet and add the beef to the skillet. Cook this for several minutes until all traces of pink are gone. Remove from skillet. Add the wine and a bit of water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Stir in the milk and cornstarch into this, then add the meat, mushrooms, onions and green pepper. Cook and stir this until it is thickened. Serve over hot noodles.
Homemaker's Hint: You can use this same recipe if you would substitute chicken or turkey in place of beef.
Several readers have asked if I knew of any inexpensive table decorations with a Christmas theme. I invariably trim some very small portions of evergreens, for these do a beautiful job of enhancing your holiday table. They can be placed upon a lovely cut glass platter, or I have used red felt. To top this, arrange a few holiday candles, colorful Christmas tree balls, or even a small crche. Any of these suggestions can make a lovely centerpiece. Place mats are easy to make out of two pieces of clear plastic. Between these two sheets can be placed images you have clipped from Christmas cards, photos of the family or whatever tickles your fancy. Use a paper punch to create the holes around the perimeter, then red or green yarn to lace the plastic together. Note- if you happen to use colorful felt as a base for your arrangement, refrain from lighting the candles.
Spaghetti Sauce with Meat
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons parsley
1 bay leaf
6 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Cook the meat along with the mushrooms, onions, green pepper, carrots, garlic and celery until the meat is browned and the vegetables are tender. Drain off any fat that forms. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, basil, parsley, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf, mix cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water. Stir into the sauce then stir constantly until mixture is thickened. Serve over cooked, hot, drained spaghetti.
Homemaker's Hint: The best known mood-altering dietary is said to be caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and colas. Although a cup of coffee may serve as a welcome eye-opener, too much caffeine is said to cause anxiety and sleeplessness in some individuals.
Food Facts: Because of the high concentration of glutei acid … the natural occurring form of monosodium glutamate … mushrooms are natural food enhancers in numerous dishes.
Blueberry Pie
2 unbaked pie crusts
6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine the blueberries with honey, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon, lemon juice, nutmeg and extract and mix together well. Now, spoon this blueberry mixture into an unbaked 9 inch pie crust. Cover this mixture with a top crust. Slit some vent holes to allow steam to escape, then bake in an oven of 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for an additional 45 minutes until the blueberry filling becomes bubbly.
Food Facts: Blueberries are a good source of dietary fiber, as well as providing vitamin C and iron.
Homemaker's Hint: Food authorities suggest that we look for soft tub or liquid margarine … saying that the softer it is, the less saturated fat it contains.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
few dashes hot pepper sauce
dash pepper
Combine all ingredients in a pan, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat, place a lid on the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until the sauce attains the consistency you desire.
Food Facts: There are many varieties of vinegar and they can be used as a basis for a low calorie salad dressing or can be used to preserve other foods.
Homemaker's Hint: Sending leaves to a landfill can be a time consuming nuisance as well as the waste of a valuable resource. It has been suggested that you instead chunk mulch the leaves by stacking them into an inconspicuous corner of your garden, wet them down and trample them. Throughout the Winter, they will then settle further, compacting into a tight, solid mass. Come Spring, that mass can then be broken up by using your garden fork. Once you have completed this step, all you have to do is then spread it amongst your vegetables, shrubs and flowers and it will serve as a mulch for one season … then gradually decompose to fertilize and condition the soil.
Carrot Coleslaw
1 cup grated green cabbage
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup diced apples
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups alfalfa sprouts
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped tomatoes
Combine all of the ingredients and add the dressing of your choice.
Homemaker's Hint: In answer to the question posed by one of our readers … Yes- cracker crumbs can double as breadcrumbs. However, they do contain more sodium, so be sure to taste for saltiness before using them.
One of our readers has questioned if I happen to have the recipe they use to make homemade finger paints. Here is the one that I have, Beverly:
Finger Paints
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup water
3 tablespoon glycerin
food coloring
Combine the flour and water, then divide the resulting mixture into three bowls. While stirring continually add one tablespoon of glycerin, plus the desired amount of food coloring to each of these bowls.
In response to the mother who wrote me asking how to remove a stain on the bodice of her daughter's jumper: Since you have stated that this stain has appeared from an unknown source, and that you have been unsuccessful with a stain remover – have you considered perhaps just sewing a suitable applique over that area? Either a sewing store, K-Mart, or Wal*Mart may well have something that would cover that area nicely.
For the reader looking for a recipe using up leftover mashed potatoes – here is one that I found to be tasty:
Potato Cakes
4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
4 tablespoons finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon celery or dill seed
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
tiny dash nutmeg
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
Mix the potatoes, onions, green pepper, seeds, celery, parsley and nutmeg. Mix well, then shape the mixture into large cakes. Dip these cakes into the breadcrumbs, then cook in a small amount of oil or until they are browned on both sides. Serve immediately.
For Mrs. N.A. who seeks some information on long grain rice: you can figure that one cup of pre-cooked rice yields two cups of cooked rice. All you have to do to test for doneness is to pinch just a grain of the rice between your finger and thumb and if you feel not hard core when you do so, it is cooked.
**As a field, however fertile, cannot be fruitful without cultivation … then neither can a mind without learning.