Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Barbecue Sauce for Pulled Beef or Pork

Photo: The Heritage Cook
Recently I bought a 2½ pound, bottom round, roast beef. I wanted to try my hand at making barbecue beef sandwiches. Pork shoulder can easily be substituted for the meat,­ if you like, and a beef chuck roast would work too. So look for a supermarket sale.

The challenge is coming up with a healthy, homemade barbecue sauce. As my neighbor, who acted as my taster, can tell you sometimes there is no difference between a cook and a mad scientist! Here is my recipe:

Homemade BBQ Sauce


1 28 oz can tomatoes, crushed (or whole tomatoes, thrown into a blender)
1 small onion
6 cloves garlic
Start with ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Taste the sauce and add more cayenne or red pepper until you get the desired heat.)
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 turns of the black pepper mill
1 teaspoon dried celery
dash of nutmeg
dash of parsley
dash of basil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Optional: 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke (or smoked paprika). The liquid smoke with make it seem like you made BBQ over an open pit, but I never stock it, so I use a teaspoon of smoked paprika, which I always have in my cupboard.

1. Cook your meat at 350 F degrees (a medium heat) ­in the oven, or a crock pot until it is tender. Salt and pepper and add a lot of water, or broth. It will take 2 - 4 hours, depending on the size of your roast. Test the tenderness with a fork.

2. When the meat is so tender, it falls apart, remove the roast from the oven and allow to cool (while you make the BBQ sauce), then shred the meat into bite-size pieces using two forks. Set aside.

The Barbecue Sauce --


3. I didn't have crushed tomatoes, so I threw a can of whole tomatoes into a blender.

4. Out of laziness, I tossed the whole onion and garlic cloves into the blender also. (Usually I dice and sauté them first, but I didn't want to mess with it this time, and the sauce was tasty despite the lack of effort.)

5. Pour the tomato mixture into a sauce pan, then add the rest of the spices/ingredients in order.

6. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

7. Turn off the flame, and combine the meat and BBQ sauce.

Make sure you have lots of spicy sauce! Double or triple the sauce if you use more than 2½ pounds of meat. (You can pour extra sauce into a canning jar for future BBQ chicken or pork dinners.) Serve the BBQ beef on crusty, whole grain bread.

Once you get in the habit of cooking from scratch, you develop a taste for fresh, healthy, unprocessed food. Saving a few bucks is a nice bonus too!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day: Think Green

Photo: Brian Chase via Facebook
It's hard to find people who have the skills to repair things today. For that reason, we've become a throwaway society. Too often, buying a new television, electric blender or watch is cheaper than fixing an old one. It wasn't always the case, and we are creating a lot of garbage in the process. According to the Center for Sustainability And Commerce at Duke University, the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. Much of it ends up in landfills.

That's way I admire savvy individuals who start groups that give us a way to recycle and get more value out of our stuff.

1. Sandra Goldmark and Michael Banta started Pop Up Repair - a traveling team of handymen-and-women who repair worn and broken appliances, jewelry or toys that might otherwise be tossed. Look for Pop Up Repair at greenmarkets around New York City.

2. GrowNYC - sponsors recycling with free Stop 'N' Swap events - You bring portable things you no longer want, such as clean, reusable clothing, books, appliances and toys and swap them for items you do want. You can even show up empty handed. But, unless you're in need, don't! 

3. Freecycle Network - is a grassroots movement of local groups: You get rid of stuff you don't need and/or find stuff you do want, including computers, furniture, clothes and a myriad of practical things. Effort is made to hook up people (who have broken things) with people who can repair things and, if desired, donate the thing (example a printer) to a 3rd party. Marked "wanted" people can post for specific items; or labeled "offer" list their giveaways.

4. PaperBackSwap - lets you trade books you have read with other readers. You mail a book and get a book.

5. SwapaCD - allows you to exchange a used CD, or you can SwapaDVD.

Even merchants are helping save Mother Earth:

6. H&M will accept clothing in any condition - You bring a pile of clothes to the store that you no longer want and are rewarded with 15% off a single item for not letting fashion go to waste. H&M sends the garments (or fabric) off to be recycled.

 I am proud to live in a progressive age with a green focus. 

A majority of New Yorkers take recycling and safeguarding the environment very seriously, and the city is always looking for ways to be more eco-friendly. 

A municipal law may soon pass. It would charge customers 10 cents every time a plastic or paper bag is needed to bag groceries. If it passes, it will effect my pocketbook, not because of my inability to bring a canvas bag to a shop, but because years ago, I bought a trash receptacle designed to use those plastic bags as garbage bags, so for the first time in my life, I will need to buy kitchen trash bags. But if the big picture means less waste going to a landfill, I am willing to adjust. Perhaps, there's a green solution I don't know about yet?

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Greetings

The vibrant colors of Easter Sunday are all around us. 

Just like centuries ago, spring arrives and a new cycle of life begins, including for these chicks, bunnies and daffodils. Sweet!

Easter reminds us to keep on keeping on. Tomorrow will be brighter.
The holiday commemorates hope, optimism and human perseverance.

Life is a journey with ups and downs and many a winding road ... and yet, most of us are hoping for the best, aren't we? Christians believe that God became man so that man could become more like God ... and resist sin -- meaning "to miss the mark" (or fall short). Wouldn't it be wonderful if people all over the world judged a little less, gave a litte more and simply put their time and energy into living a life of greater purpose?

Lots of love and Happy Easter!
Easter EggFlower Basket Flowers 6   Flowers 51  Flowers 26  Easter Egg

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Pure Collection For Perfect British Style

Recently I received a catalog from a British company known for it's pretty separates. From satin blouses to soft, layering camisoles, the Pure Collection crafts clothing using gorgeous fabrics, such as cashmere, silk, cotton and linen. Substainable cashmere is their trademark. 

Expect to find articles that are super comfortable, practical and fashionable. Cute investment pieces, which can go from the office to a dinner out. The skirts, trousers and sweaters will travel well and hold up season after season.

Colors range from useful neutrals like navy, tans and grays to flattering brights and summer pastels. 

The quality is also in the details, with shell buttons, tubular trims and riffled edges. Dresses are often fitted, and sweaters can be fitted or relaxed. Look for denim pencil-or-cotton peplum skirts also.  

If you need to refresh your wardrobe with some contemporary, ladylike style be sure to take a browse. You will like what you see ... and feel!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Egg Thread Soup With Asparagus, Plus

Photo: EverydayHealth.com
This egg thread soup with asparagus came to me by way of Facebook. I have never made egg drop soup, which is what this soup is, essentially. I made it for tonight's dinner, and it was a tasty success, taking 20 minutes from cutting board to finished soup. We like chunky soups with more flavor in my family, so below is my tweaked recipe:  

Egg Thread Soup With Asparagus, Plus


6 cups water
2 large (or 4 small) chicken bouillon cubes
16 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into very small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
1 large parsnip, sliced thin (If you don't have parsnip, leave it out.)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame sauce
extra sea salt to taste
Spices to taste: garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, rosemary, parsley, a bay leaf, and a tiny sprinkle of red pepper flakes
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
Mince a whole clove of fresh garlic and toss it in too, if you have one.
4 large eggs

1. Pour the water into a big soup pot, add the chicken bouillon cubes. 
2. Toss in the sliced and diced fresh asparagus, onion, celery, carrot, parsnip.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and spices.
4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes. I turn the heat off.
5. Whisk the raw eggs into the hot soup, which should cook the eggs.
6. Turn the flame back on if needed, and continue to whisk for another minute or so. 

Egg thread soup is a complete protein and meal. It is a light dish, excellent for meatless Mondays, Lent Fridays, or soup and sandwich night. Quick, easy and "clean-fast" food.  Serve with thick slices of fresh crusty breadYou can also make a pot of pasta, quinoa, or other whole grains to eat with it. Yes, you can also throw the starch into the pot of soup. I keep them separate because I don't like to overcook rice or noodles. Sometimes I put a pound of tofu into the soup. Feel free to toss any complementary leftovers onto the pot!

It's Friday, so we are drinking a glass of wine with dinner. Bon Appetit!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

15 Superfoods To Eat

I eat healthy 90% of the time, but am no different from anyone else. It takes discipline, then extra discipline to stay the nutritious course. Juicing is a popular fad, but I'm not into it. No way. I like to eat. It's not just about flavor, it's about chewing and enjoying different textures. I will always want to eat real, whole foods. I mean, we have teeth for a reason. I intent to use mine daily. Give me protein, carbs, and vegetables. Pass the fiber, please -- I will chew it up! (Lemon, hot water for breakfast, ha!)

So. Here's what I can do. I'm making a conscious effort to work the following superfoods into my meals for the next 90 days. A super food is one that has plenty of nutrients and benefits compared to its calories. It means getting lots of pow per serving, be it protein, vitamins, minerals or dietary fiber.

1. avocados - This one won't be hard. I love guacamole. Avocados are good sources of B vitamins, vitamins C, E, K and potassium. They lower your risk of stroke and heart disease too.

2. berries - Another easy one. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are delicious. Done. I will add blackberries. Berries are antioxidant rich.

3. cauliflower - I already eat it, so I'll try cauliflower in new ways: mashed, grilled and as a healthy casserole. It has loads of vitamins and minerals, plus fiber to prevent cancer.

4. nuts - I eat nuts, but I'm going to grab a handful whenever I crave corn chips, a/k/a, crack.

5. kale - I will cook kale once a week. It has cancer reducing properties and tons of vitamins like beta carotene, vitamins C, K and calcium.

6. oatmeal - Oatmeal will be my breakfast 6 days a week for 90 days. (I have one month under my belt.) Scoop 3/4 of a cup of 1 minute oatmeal into a bowl, add water, a pinch of sea salt and microwave for 90 seconds. Sweeten and enhance however you like. I stir in 5 tablespoons of dry powder milk.

7. quinoa - Contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. I simmer quinoa with a bouillon cube, garlic, onion, celery, and ground pepper. Eat as a hot dish. I drizzle the leftovers with vinegar and eat it cold the next day.

8. tomatoes (cooked) - We get more lycopene, a heart-healthy antioxidant, through the simple act of cooking the tomatoes. I love big, juicy raw tomatoes, but I am going to cook them!

9. beans - Sometimes I buy refried beans, mix them with salsa, jalapeno peppers and top with a layer of cheddar cheese. Microwave until hot and bubbly. Delicious!

10. yogurt (homemade) - For 90 days yogurt will replace my nightly cheddar cheese snack. I will get protein, calcium and probiotics. 

11. ginger  - Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, increases circulation, lowers blood pressure and clears sinuses among other remedies. It will take a conscious effort to add more of this condiment to dishes. I use ginger to make peanut noodles, but that's about it. Send me your ginger suggestions.

12 vinegar - An ingredient I use in sauces and salad dressing. Germans tend to eat vinegar-based foods and have agile minds and bodies at 90. I'm taking a cue from them!

13. salmon - 3 delectable ways: sushi, salmon patties grilled in a pan brushed with olive oil, salmon (like tuna) salad. Fresh or canned, wild Alaskan salmon is low in mercury.

14. cantaloupe - High in vitamins A and C with a satisfying crunch, low in calories.

15. eggs - "The incredible, edible egg" - Good as omelets, or sliced to make a sandwich, with olives, tomatoes and low-fat mayonnaise. Don't use fat-free mayonnaise. It has no taste.

Eating these superfoods won't be difficult at all!

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day

Mark your calendars for one of my favorite days of the year, free cone day from my favorite ice cream makers ... Ben & Jerry's. Look how well they know me! I get an email each and every year, so I don't forget this special day. They even list their nearest store, so I'll know exactly where to go!

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were childhood friends, who opened their first ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. The year was 1978. In 1979, they marked their one year anniversary by giving away free ice cream. It has continued ever since, becoming an international celebration.

Another tasty flavor.
I love Ben & Jerry's for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the premium ice cream, with it's trademark chunks and natural, environmentally friendly ingredients is to-die-for delicious! There is none better! (No genetically engineered milk either.)

If I'm going to eat ice cream, I want the real thing: sugar, whole milk, cream and chunks of gooey goodness. Bring it on boys! But, I limit myself to 2 scoops (when I am paying). On Free Cone Day, Ben & Jerry's give away one scoop, which is generous and certainly enough!

Once I ordered two scoops of Totally Nuts, vanilla ice cream packed with all kinds of nuts, at a Ben & Jerry's only to be told, it was never, ever available at that location. So puzzling and unexpected to hear that I couldn't process the information until the server explained: The shop shared space with a mental health facility.

As suspected, Ben & Jerry's has built their business with a social conscience and a sense of humor. They are good to employees and customers alike. Join us on April 8th by swinging by your local Ben & Jerry's for a free cone. And please, leave a scoop of Chocolate Fudge Brownie for me!

Congratulations Ben & Jerry's ... and thank you for another awe-inspiring year! On my bucket list is a trip to your ice cream factory.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lands' End Has Everything For Spring

Temperatures are rising. Finally, days are balmy! 

If you need to add a few pieces to your spring wardrobe, look no further than Lands' End, a favorite of THE SAVVY SHOPPER for well-made clothing and useful accessories at ultra affordable prices. The retailer just came out with a wide selection of spring, casual smart clothing and shoes for men, women and children. Bright colors and cheerful prints, it's clothing that lets you dress up in comfort, as well as, go from work to play. With style, ease and prices like these, why would anyone look disheveled, or wear pajamas in public? (You know who you are.)
The easiest way to get dressed in warm weather is to slip on a dress. Lands' End has a super cute collection. But dresses aren't all the company offers; there are loose and fitted t-shirts, tanks, polo's, shorts, cotton-button-down shirts, neckties, cardigan sweaters and soft scarves galore. 

Be sure to check out the pretty shoes and jackets also. 

There are quite a few lightweight jackets in different lengths with plenty of desirable bells and whistles like hoods, inside pockets, snaps and zippers. Truly, everything that everybody of every age and gender needs for the spring. Adorable, practical ... and best of all, you won't empty your bank account buying a few quality essentials. 

Hallelujah for spring. It's finally here! 

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