Fancy Food Products We May See on Supermarket Shelves (Maybe)


Get ready to taste some new flavors, according to the latest from the summer Fancy Food Show sponsored last week in New York by the National Association of Specialty Food Trade (NASFT).

International fusion tastes were evident, especially tastes from India, as were touches of lime added to various fancy food combinations. Also, gluten-free style foods were more prevalent, according to the press materials issued after the show. More than 70 countries and regions reportedly participated in the Fancy Food Show. Continue reading

Gourmet Delish-us @ Under $1 Bargain Stores


Under $1 bargain stores are quite popular these days, especially when the cost of food has risen by 10% in some areas of the country. Many under $1 bargain stores offer a variety of canned food products, some fresh produce, and either frozen or refrigerated items that are good enough to serve guests, let alone your own family.

For example, last week Ruth and I went to visit two of our local under $1 bargain stores, and found quite an exciting variety of foods from around the world. From exotic spices to even not-half-bad wine, the under $1 bargain stores can be a treasure trove for making an inexpensive but impressive three-course meal for four.Continue reading

A Trifle Easy Dessert for Fourth of July


Considering the origins of this country, an interesting dish for a large Fourth of July party would be an American version of English trifle.  Some years ago I made a layered red, white and blue Jell-O dessert for a large Fourth of July party and it was so pretty I remembered to take a picture!

For this year’s large Fourth of July party I plan to add fresh fruit to the trifle mixture and a touch of fruit liqueur (instead of the traditional sherry) to sparkle it up.Continue reading

Super Summer Grilling of Ripe Fruit


If you haven’t pulled the grill out for outdoor cooking this year, now is the time. With Fourth of July just around the corner and the whole summer ahead, grills are bound to get a workout this year.

Summer grilling at home is easier and less expensive than going out to a meat-oriented chain restaurant. And, for vegetarians, summer grilling at home is a wonderful way to cook vegetables and even pastas (in a grill-proof pot with water, silly).Continue reading

More About Our New Decorative Recipe Boxes

We have so many beautiful new decorative recipe boxes that I wanted to finish telling about them before we sell out.  Among the features we consider prior to bringing a product online and into our website are the same attributes you’ll want to consider when buying a decorative recipe box:

1. Size  (a 4 x 6 recipe card box also holds the traditional 3 x 5 recipe cards)
2. Shape (most are rectangular in shape)
3. Quality (is the recipe card box made of wood, tin, or heavy cardboard?)
4. Durability (will the hinges endure, or are they a bit flimsy and bound to break?Continue reading

Disposable Recipe Cards


One of the great things about using Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software is that all your recipes are neatly organized in one place and ready to be printed to use at a moment’s notice.

Sometimes I just print the recipe I want instead of having the family cookbook on the counter. I call these my disposable recipe cards or recipes because I can print them out in any format I choose: full page, half page, recipe card size, whatever is best at the time.Continue reading

Stinky Tale of Hazmat in the House


The sequence of events and facts in the following story are absolutely true. The names have been changed to protect the, well, you’ll figure it out.

****

While I was visiting my dear friend, Ruth, and enjoying tea at her kitchen table, I noticed a rather large gap along the baseboard of her kitchen cupboard.  “My, that’s big enough for something to live in,” I remarked.  Ruth replied, “Oh, yes, I know. I need to fix it one of these days.”Continue reading

What a Hoot: Trailer Trash Theme Dinner Party


Last weekend I attended a most unique dinner party that featured a trailer trash theme. It was the first time I’d even heard of such a thing, and I admit it was a lot of fun.

The hostess had a large back yard, and used it to full advantage. (No, she didn’t haul in an old Airstream for the trailer trash theme party, but it would have been a nice touch. LOL) Continue reading

Father’s Day Grillin’ & Chillin’ Favorites


Time to dust off the grill and pull the patio cushions from storage so that Dad can have his special moments enjoying some Father’s Day grillin’ & chillin’ favorites. I thumbed through my family cookbook to devise the Father’s Day grillin’ & chillin’ favorites menu below. Most of the tastes are strong and guy-oriented, so they are sure to please most anyone who likes bold flavors.

Father’s Day Grillin’ & Chillin’ Favorites Menu
Here are some of the favorites tastes of the Dad-types in our family.  Mix or match as you like, and if you want to add these ideas to your family cookbook, be my guest.Continue reading

Pretty New Recipe Card Boxes & Recipe Card Tins!


I really like the newest recipe card boxes we’ve added to our line. The one shown above is called Calabrian Fruit, a brightly colored recipe card box that features some of the fruits harvested in Calabria Italy, especially the bergamot orange, which helps give Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor.

Some of our other new recipe card boxes are made of beautiful craft woods, and still others feature some great new prints and graphics that are suitable for most everyone’s kitchen.

I’m really excited about our new Recipe Card Tins, though.Continue reading

Empty Nesters: Preparing Downsized Servings


My AARP magazine always has some lovely recipes for twos, presumably for couples who’ve let their fledglings fly from the nest into their own territory. For some new empty nesters who’ve sent their last kid off to college, preparing a reduced amount of food each day can be a difficult adjustment, but one that can be learned.

For example, instead of automatically preparing five sandwiches (including three for unexpected visitors), the empty nester’s household food consumption can probably be cut in half. That’s a large amount of food to be deleted from the shopping list, but in reality, many groceries in the house are for the benefit of children’s appetites and pleasing visitors, not the empty nester.Continue reading

Congratulations Graduates, Now Go Eat Your Cupcakes


President Barak Obama told a Kalamazoo Central High School graduating class: “There is nothing you can’t do.”  With the caliber of young graduates I’ve seen recently who are coming out of high schools and colleges, and even many young students still in elementary schools, I have to agree with him.

The young graduates I’ve noticed are surprisingly savvy for their age:

– They are smart.
– They volunteer.
– They are more patriotic than their counterparts 10 years ago.
– They have a plan.
– They are open to suggestions.
– They like cupcakes.Continue reading

Summer Delights of the Waldorf-Astoria Salad

My dear friend, Ruth, and I had a delightful Waldorf Salad today for lunch. It was full of crisp green apple chunks, chopped walnuts, sliced celery, and plump raisins (which I do prefer to the original recipe calling for grapes–much easier to manage when grapes are not in season).

Waldorf Salad is a classic American dish and is probably in every red-blooded American family cookbook in one way or another. Waldorf Salad is a wonderful budget-stretcher since it is a great way to add non-meat nutritional fruits, vegetables, nuts, proteins, and fats into the daily diet.

According to experts, the first Waldorf Salad was created by the maître d’ at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City around 1893 (before the “Astoria” was added to the hotel’s name).

Although some people think of Waldorf Salad as a fall dish, Ruth and I know that summer has nearly arrived when we semi-competitively break open our respective family cookbooks and produce our own Waldorf Salad recipe. She makes her Waldorf Salad recipe with grapes and no sugar (the classic recipe), and I make my Waldorf Salad recipe with raisins and a slight touch of sugar (the modern recipe).

Since this is my blog, I’ll use my Waldorf Salad recipe for two:

MATILDA’S WALDORF SALAD

1 sweet firm unpeeled apple, cored and coarsely chopped into one inch chunks

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup sliced celery

½ cup raisins (or sliced seedless grapes in season)

3 Tablespoons Best Foods-style mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)

1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 Teaspoon granulated sugar

Shredded lettuce, any variety

Flaked coconut

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar and enough lemon juice to create a fairly smooth dressing. Refrigerate dressing while chopping the apples and walnuts, and slicing the celery. Mix dressing into a bowl with the apples, walnuts, celery, and raisins. Stir until all the ingredients are coated with the dressing. Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce. Garnish with sprinkling of flaked coconut.

Note: Add chopped chicken for a more substantial salad. Other good options include substituting the raisins with dried cranberries, dried pineapple, or finely chopped dates; and substituting chopped almonds for the walnuts.

I have had this Waldorf Salad recipe for a long time, and at least once a year refer to it in my family cookbook. You may want to add this Waldorf Salad recipe to your family recipe cookbook, too (assuming you like it, or course). Just cut this recipe or your favorite version and paste it into your own family cookbook template.

Happy Cookbooking,

Matilda

12 Items Left Over From Spring Cleaning That You Can Still Do Away With

Spring is slowly turning into summer. Where has half the year gone? More importantly, did you get rid of all the items you had planned to discard during your annual spring cleaning? Or did some of them get left on the shelf to deal with another day? I thought so!

If you’re ready to freshen up the kitchen in preparation for summer fun, here are 12 items left over from your annual spring cleaning that you can still do away with:

– Stale spices and old ingredients.
– Plastic containers with microwave cooking scars.
– Dried up tubes of anchovy paste, tomato paste, or anything dried up in a tube.
– The habit of eating the same foods repeatedly because they are “easy.”
– Sample menus from once-visited restaurants that you acquired for “inspiration,” but have never looked at or patronized the restaurant again.
– Recipes that you know you’ll never try.
– Jars of “that looks interesting” exotic sauces that you haven’t used in 6 months. (Donate them to your local food bank.)
– Freezer foods that have been frozen in place for a year. (Either throw the packages away or make a strong pot of soup to share with neighbors).
– Chipped teacups and saucers.
– Dented pots or pans.
– Table linens with stubborn stains and/or tears.
– Old potholders and kitchen towels that are too thin to absorb heat or moisture.

Many of you may be thinking that some of the above-mentioned 12 items are important to keep because they may have been given to you by someone else. Guess what? Even if you let go of the stuff, you won’t lose the memories. And if you are really afraid to let some of the items go for fear of not remembering, take a photograph of them, and then give the item(s) to the local thrift store. That way the photos will jog your memory and appreciation of the items, but they will be long gone….

Happy Cookbooking,

Matilda

6 Actions to Protect Your PC from an Insidious Computer Virus

We recently had a frustrating experience with an insidious computer virus that attacked me (err, my blog). Can you imagine having some “infection” altering or eliminating all the blogs you’ve written on you own website. What a violation!

Yup. That’s what happened. We are trying to recover as best we can from this insidious computer virus attack. It has take many hours of work, and we may have a few glitches left to solve, but we want to take this opportunity to remind you to protect your work and your PC computer from an insidious computer virus with a few simple steps:

Back Up Your System
Be sure to have secondary storage backup so you can recover important files if your computer crashes or its attacked by an insidious computer virus. There are many portable and external hard drives available that can hold your entire computer’s software programs and files. System backups can be set to occur daily at a specific time, thus relieving your mind of that task.

Update MS Windows
If you are running a version of Microsoft Windows, it is a good idea to visit www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com about every three months to collect any updates. The updates sometimes help your computer run better and prevent some insidious computer viruses. If you have an older computer, you might need to do updates like this to load new software.

Defrag
Experts recommend using your disk defragmenter periodically to keep the system dragfree. Found under your “system tool” in your computer, the disk defragmenter will help keep your hard drive organized to allow faster access to files and reduce the chance of a file becoming corrupt, or unreadable.

Empty Your Recycle Bin
Eliminate extra space on your hard drive by emptying the recycle bin. Double click on the Recycle Bin and under “file” and choose “empty recycle bin.” Recovering the extra space may help your computer run faster.

Store Large Files Off the Hard Drive
If you have a large volume of photographs or other large graphics files, move them to the backup drive, or burn archival CDs so the quality won’t fade. Computer hard drives and online storage services can fail or be attacked by an insidious computer virus, resulting in lost photographs. Many other storage devices will work, too, including finger-sized flash drives.

Upgrade Firewalls and Antivirus Software
Use our latest insidious computer virus experience as a reminder to upgrade your own firewall AND antivirus software to protect from unwanted invasions. Surely you wouldn’t want all the loving work you’ve done on your family recipe book to disappear in the dark, would you?

Happy Cookbooking.

Matilda

3 Hints to Know You’ve Achieved Professional Quality Cookbook Making at Home

Our customers are our greatest resource for keeping in touch with the cookbook-making software marketplace at large. What features a few customers may want individually in their software is usually a good indicator of what everyone wants (but might not be voicing their desires). According to our interactions with customers, just about everyone interested in creating a family recipe book also wants to achieve professional quality cookbook making at home.

But how do you know you’ve achieved professional quality cookbook making at home? There are many good indicators that you’ve succeeded. For the record, here are our three hints to know that you’ve achieved professional quality cookbook making at home:

EASY TO DO
Instead of a chore, the project was one you looked forward to doing every day until it was done. You could either type your recipes or cut and paste recipes into pre-determined templates. There were many choices of headings and ways to organize the recipes in sequence.

LOOKS GOOD
The graphics and design options were clear, simple and distinctive enough to reproduce in color or black and white. You didn’t need to worry about how to format the recipes. (A good cookbook-making software will automatically convert your recipes into the design template of your choice). You could add photos and stories about your relatives or about the recipes.

POSTIVE FEEDBACK
Everyone to whom you gave (or showed) a copy of your cookbook loved it. In other words, your target audience was truly impressed that you achieved professional quality cookbook making at home!

We pride ourselves on the fact that we listen to our customers and try to incorporate their ideas into future releases of our Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software. If you have ideas on how to enhance our cookbook-making software to take professional quality cookbook making at home to a higher level, please let us know in our Forum. We can’t promise you a spot on a “Windows 7-I’m a PC”-style television commercial, but we can promise that we will consider your suggestion carefully and do what we can to accommodate your ideas in our next release. Thanks so much.

Happy Cookbooking,

Matilda

Food As Medicine: An Idea as Old as the Centuries

Using food as medicine to keep away disease and sickness is an idea as old as the centuries. Food’s natural nutrients, when consumed in whole foods instead of supplements or packaged processed foods, have been found to be far superior for health. According to experts, this is mainly because the body can absorb and utilize natural nutrients more easily than artificially-prepared tablets that might not be thoroughly digested in the system.

Why else would we have such sayings as “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” With apples in plentiful supply most any time of year, it would be easy to eat one small apple during one’s waking hours to abide by this well-known food as medicine sentiment.

And how about Chicken Soup to cure what ails ye for food as medicine? There have been scientific studies discussing the beneficial effects of using animal bones in food preparation. The gelatin that forms as a result of boiling or roasting chicken bones and beef bones is prized not only for its taste but for its help in easing joint stiffness. I don’t know about that so much, but I do know there’s nothing like a warm cheery bowl of chicken soup when one is feeling less than 100%.

Some food as medicine enthusiasts think certain foods help with specific parts of the body. Such as fish to improve brain function (or at least help sustain it). Carrots for the eyes. Garlic for warding off most anything (including vampires). We all know the positive effects of eating oranges and drinking milk.

So, would it be fair and useful to have a daily “dose” instead of a serving of these foods as a food as medicine prescription for good health:
– 8 ounces of milk
– 6 ounces of orange juice (or one small orange)
– 1 small apple, any variety
– 8 ounces chicken soup with freshly shredded carrot garnish

Doesn’t sound too hard. Everything mentioned is fairly easy to prepare and access. I can see it now: “Recipes Rx: The Healthy Cooking Family Cookbook,” containing illness prevention recipes collected by food as medicine practicing family members. Might be good reading.

Back to the lab….

Happy Cookbooking,

Matilda

What the Fluffernutter!

Ruth and I were reminiscing about the good old days, and she remembered a hideous childhood snack that she adored. I say hideous because in today’s on-the-surface health-conscious society, the old-fashioned delight of Ruth’s recall is too packed with calories and fat to have any redeeming social value.

Secretly, however, those same outwardly “health conscious” types will probably try Ruth’s childhood delight and join the club of Fluffernutter Sandwich fans after reading this. For the unindoctrinated, a Fluffernutter Sandwich is a basic combination of peanut butter and marshmallow crème on white bread.

Not exactly your healthy sandwich. I hear it kicks somewhere between 400 and 500 calories, and about 160 calories from fat. However, we are just talking here about Ruth’s favorite childhood snack (which by the way she had not eaten in years).

The recipe (or assembly technique) for a Fluffernutter Sandwich is pretty easy:

Fluffernutter Sandwich

2 slices white bread
Marshmallow crème to taste
Peanut butter (smooth or chunky) to taste

Position two slices of white bread on the counter. Slather one with a favorite type of peanut butter. Slather the other slice of white bread with your chosen thickness of marshmallow crème. Join both pieces of bread with filling facing one another. Slice if desired. Eat.

Variations: Wheat bread, sliced bananas, honey, jam, shredded coconut, raisins or dried cranberries.

Ruth rummaged through her cupboard and returned with an unopened jar of marshmallow crème. We just had to try a Fluffernutter Sandwich, one more time. As for me? Well, I cut the calories by having my Fluffernutter Sandwich open face!

Happy Cookbooking,

Matilda