Posts Tagged ‘Hints’


Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs

   Posted by: anj68    in Hints, history, kids

This is a re-release of an earlier story on making natural dyes for Easter eggs. Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

History of “Easter” eggs:
The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. The Nawrooz tradition has existed for at least 2,500 years. The sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

At the Jewish Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes the festival sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.

There are good grounds for the association between hares (later termed Easter bunnies) and eggs, through folklore confusion between hares’ forms (where they raise their young) and plovers’ nests.

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Cold and Flu Season Food-Related Remedies

   Posted by: anj68    in Food, recipe


Photo courtesy of

As we progress into winter, more of us are encountering the cold and flu season.   There are several home remedies that don’t necessarily cure the cold, but they do help with the symptoms.  Below are a pair of recipes that are my favorites.

Alice’s Tea

1 part dried ginger root, shredded
1 part dried licorice root, shredded
1 part dried peppermint leaves

Blend well and add hot water.  It should create a spicy tea that helps the throat and calms an anxious stomach.  This tea is also good for performers (actors and singers) as it is a better treatment for the throat than cough lozenges and calms stage fright.  No lemon or honey will be needed for this tea.

Asian Chicken Soup

One of my family’s favorite recipes for the sick is my Asian influenced Chicken Noodle/Vegetable Soup.  The secret to this recipe is baby/young ginger root that can be acquired at various Asian markets.  It is sweeter than standard ginger and contains vitamins C, B6, B12, A, antioxidants, and beta carotene.  It’s tasty too.

1 quart chicken broth
1 quarter chicken, skinned and de-boned
2 medium sized carrots
2 cloves of garlic
2 pieces of baby ginger, minced or sliced
1/2 cup of pea pods
1/4 cup of green onions, diced
1/4 cup of shelled edemade/soybeans
Rice noodles or rice
Salt or pepper to taste
optional ingredients: red peppers, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, baby corn, mushrooms, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, cabbage, and cilantro

Begin my putting the broth on low heat and cut up the chicken.  Saute the chicken in a separate pan to slightly brown it before adding it to the broth.  While browning, slice up the carrots, baby ginger, green onions, and garlic.  Add these vegetables with the chicken and then add to the broth.  Keep the soup on a low simmer.  Add the noodles or rice and continue cooking until almost done.  Add the pea pods and the soybeans and any other green vegetables.  The rice or noodles should be done, but the green vegetables should be served el dente – cooked, yet crisp.  Season with salt and black pepper.

This dish can become more colorful with the use of the optional vegetables and ingredients as well.  If it doesn’t cure you, it will certainly taste good and make you feel better.

I wish you all happiness in this season and hope for a great new year!

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Seasoning Your Cast Iron Cookware

   Posted by: anj68    in Food, Hints, history, Uncategorized

Cast Iron has been used for several centuries in providing meals to others.  Ideally, they were to be used and handed down to the offspring, who would hand it down to their offspring.  If “hand me down” cast iron is not available, finding used well-seasoned cast iron at garage sales and/or estate sales are the best way to go.  Cast Iron pots include fry pans, griddles, dutch ovens, cauldrons, sauce pots, and grills in all different sizes.  MRF090907013

Cast iron cookware, in my humble opinion, is great.  Once seasoned, cooks can use less oil and they are easy to clean and maintain.  Sometimes, it is difficult to buy used cast iron and it becomes necessary to buy new (pre-seasoned) cookware.  Pre-seasoned does not mean it is seasoned as it should be.  Things will still stick to the “pre-seasoned” new cookware.  Below are some steps I can offer on how to season your own cast iron cookware.  Remember: Pot lids need to be seasoned as well.

1.  If you have a fire pit or barbecue pit, that is ideal.  The heat is intense, but it will get the job done efficiently without smoking up your house.

A.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, use olive oil.  This will take longer (about 10 times) as the fats will take longer to caramelize.

B.  If you eat meat, use lard.  Three seasonings should do the trick.

2.  Using the fire pit or barbecue, coat the interior and exterior of the pot with oil/lard and put onto the fire.  The oils may catch fire and this is expected.  After 10 minutes, turn the pot over so the inside may be done as well; after 10 minutes, pull off of the heat.

3.  Coat again and repeat (3 times for lard or 10 times for olive oil)

4.  Once cool after the final firing, wash with water and cloth only.  Do not scrub your pot and do not use soap.  After you use it for cooking, only light scrubbing with a cloth or natural fiber scrubber with water should be used.  You don’t want to remove the carbons that have been used to season  your pot.

normal__mg_5592If you are one of the unfortunate people who do not have access to fire and can only use a stove, I will warn you that this can be a smelling and messy project.

Preheat the oven for 450 degrees.  Once hot, coat your pot in the oil of your choice (olive oil or lard).  Keep in the oven for 45 minutes and pull out to re-coat the pot.  Repeat for steps 3 and 4, skipping steps 1 and 2.

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Stretching your Food Budget

   Posted by: anj68    in community, Food, giving back, Hints, Uncategorized

In today’s economy, many are making cutbacks in all areas of the household budget.  Anything that can be eliminated is considered.  For many, the days of eating out everyday are gone and are being replaced with brown bag lunches.  It’s hard on a lot of families who were used to living in one lifestyle and suddenly, they need to change the way they live their lives.9017_150093804438_579144438_3443213_6130643_n

Often, the food that is cheap (and highly over-processed) is not good for you as it is often contains unhealthy fillers, high fructose corn syrups, nitrates, MSG, and/or other unhealthy ingredients which can increase behavioral issues with children and adults alike.

In an earlier blog (, I touted the benefits of buying  locally.  It is idea and helps the environment and the community, but can also hurt the pocketbook.  Below are some suggestions at buying good food, which can lead to healthy and tasty meals which help with the budget.

A couple of suggestions.  Consider finding a meat slicer (used or new), chest or upright freezer, food dehydrator, and a “food saver.”   Each of these items as well as some good food storage containers can help keep your food fresh for a longer time period.  Buying in bulk and cutting the items down to family-friendly servings are ideal.

  • A 14 lb. shoulder beef roast at Sam’s Club can cost around $22-$25, but can be cut into 30-40 steaks or 5 smaller roasts.  Roasts can be sliced up for sandwich meat.
  • Buying a whole chicken and cutting it up is significantly cheaper than buying processed chicken.  Remember, some scraps can be used for other things. Chicken backs which are usually disposed of can be used to make broth or stock.
  • Check out the local ethnic food markets for fresh fish and rice at cheaper prices
  • Consider adding more vegetables and fruit to your diet.  It’s not only healthier, but easier on the budget that processed meat.
  • Left over vegetables that may not be enough for a serving, can be used with other vegetables and made into soup, stir fry, etc.
  • By drying fruits, you can have a healthy snack at less cost that can be kept for a longer time.
  • Review the packaging and read the ingredients.  Are you buying a name brand and/or a lot of chemicals?
  • Dried beans are better for you and less expensive than canned beans.  They do require some planning by soaking overnight (24 hours) prior to use, but the higher magnesium, protein, and fibers levels will be much more beneficial.
  • Pay attention to your local store’s coupons.  Two-for-ones are great for saving money especially on items that can be used to offset eating out prices.  Pick up things you go through quickly and that are versatile so you always have items for an easy meal:  rice, pasta, pasta sauce, etc…
  • Get creative with recipes.  Some times, when money is really tight, you can take an inventory of what you have and visit some websites that specialize in recipes with four or five ingredients.  I like  You can do a search based on some of the ingredients you have.
  • Selecting a day where lunches can be made in advance.  For example:  A family size lasagna can be cut up into 12 different servings
  • Be eco-friendly and buy a water container and avoid buying bottled water.  Water is good for you, but the disposable plastic bottles are not good for the environment.
  • Date the items you put into the freezer with a permanent marker on the packaging so you don’t lose it to freezer burn and your money won’t go to waste.

I hope you found these suggestions useful.  There are other locations and resources in other states that can help families that are really struggling to feed their families.  If you are one of these families or people, visit Second Harvest Heartland or your ear food shelf.

If you are one of the fortunate ones, consider donating to an area food shelf and help others who may be struggling.


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