Happy Valentine's Day, President's Day and Ash Wednesday.
I've been trying to come up with a symbolic food that would cover all three of them. How about a red (Valentine's Day) cherry (Washington's Birthday) pie with a chocolate cross (Ash Wednesday) on top? Not clever, eh? Do you have a better idea? I'm waiting.
I hope you caught the error in January's column in the Spinach Egg-Drop Soup. I mentioned it being vegetarian, then failed to list the substitute vegetable broth alongside the chicken broth. My apologies -- and thanks to the reader who caught it. I depend on you folks to keep me on track.
I've had lots of correspondence on last month's story about the positive effects of organics and fish oil on Gen, the little girl from the U.P. who was thought to be autistic. Her diet change has turned her whole life around as she thrives and improves, as it has for other family members. Her mother Dana has given me permission to give out her phone number, and would love for others to experience the miracle they have.
Benzie County, listen up -- have you discovered the Benzie Bus yet? This little marvel is just zipping all over the county, making everyone's life easier. It picks me up at my door and delivers me to my destination, tote bags and all. For $1 (seniors), you can go anywhere in the county, so there's no reason to let the bad weather keep you at home. Call 325-3000 and enjoy a comfortable safe ride.
I had my first negative experience with my hybrid car last week. I thought it sounded a little different when I headed out for the bank and grocery shopping, but credited it to it being the coldest day of the year. After getting groceries, I pulled up at the bank window and shut the motor off. Big mistake. I could not get one tiny sputter, so there I sat, blocking traffic. I was punctuating my reading of the car manual by running back to the cars lined up behind me, explaining that the car was stalled. Of course my cell phone was on the table at home. Finally, with some help from the bank, my little car was towed to the garage, and one of the kind employees transferred the groceries to his truck and took me home. It was a learning experience (fuel cells are not cheap) but ended well -- as most frustrations do.
Did you see the bit on Channel 7&4 the other night about Kopi Luwak coffee? By the time the reporters were done, they were definitely a little green around the gills. I had the same reaction when I had my first brush with Kopi Luwak. You may remember about a year ago when we had the lengthy discussion about egg coffee? When I was Googling for information, I stumbled into this Web site and was amazed. In Indonesia, they have little palm civets (a raccoon-like creature) that like to raid the coffee plantations and eat the finest coffee beans. After the beans pass through the digestive tract, growers scoop them up and process them for sale. It is especially popular at Christmas time and sells for up to $500 per pound, packed in an ornate black velvet box. The flavor is described as "robust." That gives new meaning to the word, doesn't it?
I loved all your mail and was so happy to find the lo-cal snacks that our teenager requested. These will be good for all of us whose "weighty" New Year's resolutions are getting a little tiresome. This list is from the AARP magazine and each is only 50 calories, if you stick to the amount.
-- 2&1/2 c. sugar-free Jell-O
-- 2 Hershey kisses
-- 1/2 large grapefruit (no sugar)
-- 12 M&Ms;
-- 1 c. chopped cantaloupe or watermelon
-- 1 fig bar
-- 5 potato chips
-- 1 c. V-8 juice (good hot)
-- 1/2 apple
-- 11 dry-roasted peanuts
-- 7 almonds
-- 10 medium strawberries
-- 15 seedless grapes
-- 16 cherry tomatoes
-- 1&1/2 slices crispy bacon
-- 2 thin slices turkey breast
-- 2 c. light microwave popcorn
-- 6 oz. Light and Fit no-fat yogurt
Now, here's how to burn 50 calories: 30 minutes walking; 15 minutes giggling; 30 minutes kissing
Bet I know your choice.
Since we have such beautiful vegetables all winter now, maybe you'd like to present your family with something tasty and healthy. You can use frozen asparagus if you still have some. It's never too early to think green.
Asparagus Au Gratin
11/2 lbs. asparagus spears or pieces
2 T. butter
2 T. chopped onion
1 T. chopped red pepper (optional)
2 T. flour or cornstarch
1/2 t. salt
1 c. milk
1/2 c. shredded cheese
Clean and cook asparagus about four minutes in boiling water. Drain. Arrange on ovenproof platter.
Melt butter in a saucepan, saute onion and red pepper two to three minutes. Stir in flour or cornstarch until it is well blended, Add milk slowly, stirring constantly until it thickens. If it is too thick, add more milk as needed. Add salt and pepper. Pour over asparagus. Sprinkle with cheese. Put in a 400 degrees oven until cheese melts, five to 10 minutes. Serves six. Leftovers can be served over toast.
Parting shot: "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love." -- Goethe
Edna Shaffer is a local mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who writes about cooking from the perspective of an older adult. She can be reached via the Record-Eagle at 120 W. Front, Traverse City, Mi 49685; or by sending email to: email@example.com