Wednesday, September 28, 2011


How much pride would you feel if you and your spouse were sitting in the living room and all of a sudden your child burst in like gangbusters holding a big award with a mile-wide smile on his or her face?

Well, that’s what happened to Shelby the squirrel’s parents in Kathy Stemke’s newest children’s book: “Trouble on Earth Day”. Shelby crashes through the front door waving her first prize ribbon for winning the Earth Day poster contest.  She shows her parents the big poster with the words Rethink, Reuse and Recycle on it. Soon the whole family gets involved with recycling household items.

Shelby hears a homeless bluebird crying in the forest and sets out to help him. The workmen had cut down the bird’s tree and nest. Can Shelby help his new friend and the Earth too?

This wonderful book makes possible a three way dialogue between parents, teachers and students about conserving the Earth’s natural resources; done in a simple to understand fun way.

Besides the whimsical tale featuring Shelby the squirrel, there is a big 22 page supplemental activity section featuring songs, recycling crafts, worksheets, games, and even compound word activities.

Teachers and home-schoolers everywhere will appreciate the vibrant discussions on trees, birds and recycling materials; facilitating the exposition of knowledge to children in a positive, caring manner.

Included in this delightfully interesting book is a history of Earth Day, which will reinforce the young scholars’ understanding of the value of environmental responsibility.

“Trouble on Earth Day” by Kathy Stemke is a fabulous tool for educators and parents, sure to instill superb solid values in young people.

Now what would Shelby’s favorite meal be? One food that always seems to get recycled, to the delight of all, is that big roasted turkey.

Recycled Turkey Hash                                                  serves 6

Adapted from Eating Well for a Healthy Heart Cookbook (2008)

·         2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
·         1 medium apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
·         1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
·         1 teaspoon lemon juice
·         1 tablespoon canola oil
·         1 medium onion, chopped
·         3 cups diced, cooked, skinless recycled turkey
·          1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
·         ½ teaspoon powdered sage
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         Black pepper to taste

  • Cover sweet potatoes with salted water, bring to boil
  • Lower flame and cook it for 3 minutes
  • Add the apple and cook 2 minutes, check for tenderness
  • If not tender, cook a little more, but avoid mushiness
  • Put one cup of mixture into a large bowl and mash it
  • Stir in the sour cream and lemon juice
  • Add the remaining unmashed mixture and stir to combine, then set aside

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium flame
  • Add the onion and cook, stirring until tender, 2-3 minutes
  • Add the recycled poultry, thyme, sage, salt and pepper
  • Cook, stirring as needed until heated through. Perhaps 2 minutes
  • Check that nothing sticks, perhaps add a little more oil

  • Add the reserved sweet potato mixture to the skillet, stirring thoroughly, then let sit
  • Press down on the hash with a sturdy metal spatula
  • Cook until the bottom has a browned crust, about 3 minutes
  • Cut the hash into sections so as to flip the entire hash over
  • Cook until that side is brown, about 3 more minutes

This fragrant delicious turkey hash is now ready to serve. Tuck in and enjoy it. Many folks like this for a breakfast meal with poached or fried eggs atop the hash.  But don’t worry about it, this hash is good anytime.          
Shelby’s mom says to save that turkey carcass, because you can make an excellent broth with it. This broth is great for soup, to boil rice in or cook soaked dried beans in. Shelby’s dad says this is a win-win deal, and don’t forget to put those peels and vegetable and fruit trimmings in your compost bin.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Scampi sounds Italian, and it is; it’s the plural of scampo, a type of Adriatic lobster-like shellfish.   
For generations, Italians have enjoyed the simple classic: gamberi alla casalinga (home-style shrimp), which is a straightforward combination of shrimp sautéed in olive oil with garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice. Scampo was also prepared this way.
In North America, scampi refers to an Italian-American cooking technique for shrimp, using the gamberi alla casalinga concept plus butter and white wine.  Known as Shrimp Scampi, it is one sweet dish.

Shrimp Scampi                                            Serves 6

1 lb (450Gms) Linguini plus salt for boiling
1 1/2 Lbs (750G) large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Salt & black pepper
4 Tbs butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup dry white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 Tbs flat-leaf  parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbs grated lemon zest
Pinch of red pepper flakes


  • Bring a big pot of water to boiling
  • Add salt, the linguine and stir thoroughly
  • Boil the linguine as package directs till al dente (slightly firm)
  • Season the shrimp with salt and pepper

  • Heat a large skillet hot, then add the oil and butter
  • As the butter melts, add the shrimp evenly distributed
  • Leave untouched for a minute
  • Add the garlic and cook it one minute, watch that it doesn’t burn

  • Turn the shrimp and cook them for two more minutes, adjust the flame if necessary
  • Transfer the now pink shrimp to a bowl

  • Put the skillet back on the flame and add the wine and lemon juice

  • Boil the liquid 2 minutes to reduce the sauce
  • Scrape the bottom to loosen any browned bits
  • Stir in the parsley and the lemon zest
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly

  • When the linguine is finished cooking, drain it
  • Dish out the linguine
  • Divide the Scampi over the linguine, toss to combine and serve

If you choose to, you could accompany this luscious Scampi with a salad and crusty bread; which would be good to mop up the sauce.

You don’t have to rent a villa overlooking the Adriatic to enjoy this sensational shrimp preparation, make it soon and enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


It’s awfully hard to think of a healthier food than wild salmon.  There are people who eat this delicious fish every day, for the health of it. Besides the vitamins and minerals in salmon, this lovely fish also contains enormous concentrations of a beneficial, essential component, Omega-3 fatty acids.

These fatty acids are as precious as gold to the body since they do so much good.  They are the MVP of fats, providing excellent control of the body’s normal processes such as cell function, brain function and transfer of information between the body’s cells. These omega-3 acids abundantly found in wild salmon, are outstanding for fighting ever- present inflammation which would otherwise disrupt these functions.

Inflammation is part of our body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, but in the long-run cause very serious problems. Heart disease, arthritis, pre-mature aging, osteoporosis and the list goes on and on; all are caused and/or aggravated by inflammation.

 Regarding the number one killer in the USA, heart disease - intake of omega-3 fat is well known to decrease the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia as well as high blood pressure. As little as one wild salmon meal a week has been shown to increase cardiovascular benefits. Great, let’s make some.

The easiest and most healthful way to prepare wild salmon is to broil it. I usually broil it in a cast iron skillet.  I put a little olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Then I put each fillet in the skillet to get a little oil on it and turn it over. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper some chopped basil and parsley and a little lemon juice and broil for ten minutes without turning.  Some people enjoy it seasoned with jerk seasoning. Salmon has a robust flavour, so you can season it to your choice. Chef Paul Prudhomme has a wonderful commercial product called Magic Salmon Seasoning which I sometimes use.

We usually put our broiled wild salmon fillets on a dressed salad, but you can put them over pasta or rice if you wish. Or try this special wild salmon dish, served on a plate with magnificent side dishes of steamed rice and green beans with almonds.

Salmon Fillet with Spicy Glaze            serves 4


¼ cup of honey
1 teaspoon of oriental 5-spice powder
2 teaspoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon oriental sesame oil
½ teaspoon chili paste (optional but I like it)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 wild salmon fillets, each about 6 ounces (170gms)


  • Whisk the honey, 5-spice powder, soy sauce, sesame oil chili paste and minced garlic
  • Place the salmon skin side down on a platter
  • Pour the whisked ingredients over the fillets
  • Turn the fillets and let marinate 15 minutes
  • Put the fillets in a lightly oiled skillet or broiling pan.
  • Brush on the whisked ingredients
  • Broil ten minutes

There it is- a great tasting wild salmon .This sauce is so fine you could make extra and eat the salmon on steamed rice with the extra sauce.

In case you need a side dish, here is one I like, adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Buttered Green Beans with Almonds

Ingredients                    serves 4

11/2 pounds (680gms) green beans
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of highest quality olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup sliced almonds


  • Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water, about 5 minutes
  • Meanwhile, melt butter, add  olive oil, pepper and parsley and mix
  • Drain beans and place in a warm bowl
  • Sprinkle almonds on top of the beans and then pour butter mixture in
  • Toss well and serve

The fresh parsley in the green beans is wonderful. I hope you will try this and the wild salmon dish. . 

In case you are wondering, I stress wild salmon as opposed to farmed salmon because I have seen the feed that farmed salmon eat and it is mostly grain. The farmed salmon are grey coloured and need a feed supplement to acquire the otherwise natural orange shade.  Regrettably, the all-important Omega-3 fat is not as prominent as it should be; instead the farmed fish features Omega-6 fat which most people get too much of already. So, if it is not wild, I avoid it. Brisling, herring and walnuts are also excellent sources of the vital Omega-3 nutrient.

Friday, September 9, 2011


While grilling yakatori skewers on the bbq grill the other weekend,  I got to thinking about bbq chicken skewers other than Japanese style and considered Turkish Shish Kebab  and Russian Shashlik.  Then I recalled a Thai restaurant located north of Atlanta, Georgia that had Sate Madura on its menu, a most popular Sate because it uses peanut sauce. Since it sounds like Satay, you often see it spelled this way.  The dish was made truly toothsome because of the sauce used.  This Satay peanut sauce is and has been extremely popular all over Southeast Asia and is the national dish in Indonesia, where it originated.  Arab immigrants, who from way back in history put chunks of meat on their swords and cooked them over an open fire introduced proto skewers to the Indonesians. Indonesia developed the peanut sauce introduced by the Spanish and the rest is history. Because of its location and resources (Spice Islands)  Indonesia was influenced by visitors from the Middle East, India, China, Portugal, Spain and Holland; which is why Satay is very popular with the Dutch.
Traditionally, satay refers to any grilled skewered meats with various sauces, and is not necesarily served in peanut sauce. But the peanut sauce is the most renowned  and is often used with non-skewered dishes, even hamburgers.
Chicken satay is not difficult to make, nor is the fabulous satay sauce.  Like the popular Chicken Yakatori, the satay variation is wonderful.
This recipe is adapted from “Favourite Asian Recipes”  Murdock books.

Chicken Sate                   serves 6 or 8

16 bamboo skewers

·        2 lbs (1kg) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
·        1 Tablespoon peanut oil
·        1 teaspoon asian sesame oil
·        1” (3 cm) fresh gingerroot, peeled and grated or minced
·        1 clove of garlic bruised

Sate Sauce:
·        1 tablespoon peanut oil
·        1 onion, minced
·        1 cup (8oz, 250gm) crunchy style peanut butter
·        ¼ cup (60ml) sweet soy sauce, or regular plus a little sugar
·        ¾ tablespoon ground coriander
·        1 teaspoon turmeric
·        1 teaspoon chili paste
·        1 cup (8 oz, 250gm) coconut milk
·        1 teaspoon brown sugar or molasses
·        1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1.      Mix the peanut oil, sesame oil, gingerroot and garlic
2.      Put the chicken strips in a resealable plastic bag
3.      Pour in the marinade, cover and refrigerate 3 hours
4.      Soak 15 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes
5.      Thread the chicken strips onto the skewers
6.      Cook on charcoal grill till cooked through, about 5 minutes or under a preheated broiler
7.      Place the skewers onto a platter

To prepare the Sate sauce:
1.      Heat the oil in a pan
2.      Cook the onion for 5 minutes
3.      Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, coriander, chili paste and coconut milk
4.      Bring to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes
5.      Stir in the sugar or molasses and the juice until combined
6.      Pour the sauce into a serving bowl.

Unless you have a peanut allergy, you will want to try this Satay. Enjoy.

Friday, September 2, 2011


How would you like to more than double the protein, slash the carbohydrate, and increase the vital fibre in your splendid blueberry- pancake breakfast?  Yes, those fluffy pancakes you love can be nutritionally elevated with a simple change that doesn’t make them taste like “health” food.  No kidding.

My BW, the education tipster, loves pancakes.  She likes sour cream on them and syrup and butter as well.  Because of her blood sugar chemistry, I hate it when she bats her eyes and asks me to cook them.  She bought this box of pancake mix; the kind you just add water, stir and bake on the griddle.  I use milk instead of water, but lately have changed this pancake meal to the point where it is very healthy compared to the usual.  

Two things that are normally absent from pancakes but are important dietary components are: protein and dietary fibre.  If you like oatmeal, a great breakfast to control cholesterol, you may be familiar with oatmeal bran, a high-fibre cereal.  I mention it here because I used a little in my BW’s pancakes which increased its fibre.  Some of the commercial pancake syrups, primarily composed of corn syrup products, are very carbohydrate laden and so I replaced these with natural sorghum syrup.  If you don’t care for sour cream with your pancakes, I would urge you to try the newly available Greek style yoghurt, because it is very high in protein and the sorghum reduces the carbohydrates while being capable of sweetening the yoghurt.  Should Sorghum not be available, you could select cane syrup or maple syrup.  

The regular blueberry pancake serving, including ½ cup blueberries and regular pancake syrup has over 100 grams of carbohydrate, some simple sugars;  6.5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fibre.  You may remember that ingested simple carbohydrates stimulate insulin flow which creates fat storage which adds weight gain.

My recipe, using milk instead of water and the yoghurt instead of butter includes 62 grams of carbohydrate, 16.75 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fibre.  If it tastes great, why not choose the optimum recipe?

Pancakes                                                  serves 2

2/3 cup of pancake mix*
1/3 cup of oatmeal bran`
¾ cup of milk (I used whole but you can use skim)

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup Greek style yoghurt

2 tablespoons pure sorghum (can substitute with pure cane or maple syrup)

  • Put the pancake mix and oatmeal bran in a bowl, stir.
  • Whisk in the milk, stir to moisten but do not over-stir
  • Get your griddle hot (375F/ 190C)  Either smear with butter or spray with non-stick
  • Using a tablespoon, spoon out batter for the first pancake
  • Place blueberries atop the pancake
  • Repeat with next pancake and so forth
  • After a minute, look at first pancake, when holes appear, flip

When all pancakes are cooked, divide in two and serve with the yoghurt and syrup.

According to the American Heart Association’s 1999 statistical report, 52% of American adults have abnormally high total cholesterol levels (200mg/dL or higher) and 20% have seriously high total cholesterol (240mg/dL or more).

A substance in oats called beta glucans, a gummy soluble fibre that interferes with the absorption and production of cholesterol, allows more of it to be extracted from the bloodstream. Even if you are not concerned with a problematic blood lipid profile, you may prefer these pancakes because you get more nutritional bang for the buck.

* If you make your pancakes from scratch, that’s good. Just remember we want 2/3 cups worth of dry pancake, including leavening and any sweetener you may use normally and 1/3 cup of oatmeal bran for two servings.   So, no matter how many pancakes you are making, use this 2/1 ratio.

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