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Cooking CHEAP, HEALTHY, QUICK AND NATURAL THE EASY WAY!—((watch that salt and sugar too!)) January 6, 2008

duckies at play This is a serene picture, that a friend took many years ago.  I will always cherish this picture.  I always believe that a meal should be peaceful, and unrushed.  Tranquil…  so that the meal gets digested properly.  Relax and   enjoy… I have a treat for you.  Quick,  healthy meal ideas from Riveroflifelisajoy!

Often people ask me to cook for school functions.  I do not offer food for those  occasions. 

 Why you might ask?  Well my mother always cooked very, very simply because my father was a diabetic. 

I do not have a special meal that people rave about….you know what I mean….don’t you?

  So I go to my old stand by….Italian Pastry!  I go to Sapiensia’s Excuse the spelling.

My favorite Italian Pastry is Connolly’s!  (spell check )  I love those…especially  when placed in the cake.

  The cake is vanilla with connolly creme inside and white or chocolate frosting.  This cake I like to purchase for family birthdays! 

It is my terrible little treat….once in a while….pssst but don’t tell anybody!!! LOL!!!!  

I also like another pastry called lobster tail!  That is great too.    I also love a certain other little treat  during the summer  the REAL CHOCOLATE CHIP CONNOLLY ICES!  YUMMY!!!! 

 And  all other natural fresh and delicious icey treats.  I love this stuff!  I do not generally buy junk food for my house.  I do not buy chips too much.  My italian pastry treat is about once every 4 or 5 months or so.  I am not a bing  or secret eater type person….Ya know?

But I love juices.  I love GREEN TEA by TURKEY HILL.  I know,  I know….maybe to much sugar right?  Probably so.  So  I have to cut back on the Green Tea….but it is so REFRESHING!

  I also love Welches Grape Juice.  Grape juice is also good for cleaning your blood with the antioxidents as well. 

I was told to go to Flushing Queens to get the REAL GREEN TEA LEAVES in stead of buying the premade stuff.

  Problem…there is difficulty parking and I would like a suggestion of how to locate the place that sells the REAL Green Tea leaves.

LIPTON TEA MIX HAS  a good GREENTEA MIX… —now that is not very sweet at all.  I think you would have to put the whole dry mix into your pitcher to get that over sweet taste. 

Every culture has it’s “staple” foods. 

 For example some cultures use rice,  or pasta as the basic staple of every meal.  some cultures use flavorings that are totally recognizable to that ethnic group.  Well,  I am African American. 

 But I do not know how to cook those culturaly known meals at all!  Suprised?  Don’t be.

  My parents knew and lived cultural diversity before it became the”IN THING”! 

My mother’s best friend lived with my family from the time I was five years old   until I was fourteen.  Irene passed away when I was fourteen. 

  My father was a practical nurse, and my mother was a stay at home wife.

  My mothers’s friend Irene was Irish American.  She had personal issues that she could not resolve so her children stayed with their father and she lived with us. 

 Irene was a wealth of knowledge of the fine arts,  food,  and creativity!  She and my mother would set about to decorate my parents house every six months!

  Irene and my mother with my fathers financial backing opend up a store on Jamacia Avenue in South East Queens called for Antiques and What Nots!  

Irene also worked in the Post Office, so she would contribute to the household and assist my parents with the bills. 

My mother and Irene were like Lucy and Ethel from the “I love Lucy Show”—they always had creative ideas (((back in the 60’s—that’s right! 

 A black woman and a white woman were best friends!— I did learn so much from that diverse family experience that I will always cherish and never forget!)))

 My family was very middle  class because my father kept two practical nursing jobs from the time I was born, until he died from diabeties at the age of 59.

 So I was fortunate enough to have a happy early start in life.  But my mother did not cook…traditional African American food! 

   My mother was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist!  They do not eat P0rkor pork by products!  They are similar to the Jewish belief in that they keep the Sabbath Holy and do not injestany pork at all.

  If you know anything about the south, a lot of meals are cooked using pork.  Vegetables –especially greens.  I never ate greens or collard greens with pork flavoring until I was an adult and attended a party! 

 My mother did not even make macaroni and cheese.  Not even fried Chicken!   I grew up eating the Irish Ham,  steak, chicken,  steamed, or boiled vegetables, and white mashed potatoes!  Funny— huh!

So read my receipes for simple meals….Please do not expect Soul food from me!  But do understand….I am asking around and people are giving me the receipes to make good macaroni and cheese,  or brown sugar kernal corn.  I will tell you how it goes!

Tonights meal:

Fried fish and onions with egg noodles and vegetables!

How to of Riveroflifelisajoy Fried Fish:

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 cup of “America’s Choice Italian Style Bread Crumbs ( Waldbaums Brand)

4 “Captain Bob Whiting Fillets”   (frozen)  cut up two inches  a piece

1 third of the frying pan  filled with America’s Choice Vegetable Oil (Waldbaums  Brand)

1 large onion cut up in 1 inch slices

How to:

First, pour the  cracked open egg (yolk and all) over the cut up fillets.

Mix and cover all of the fish thoroughly.  Then pour the 1 cup of America’s Choice Italian Style Bread Crumbs over the fish and mix well with a fork. 

 All of the fish should be covered in bread crumbs.

After heating up your frying pan on low,  gently place the fish nuggets in the pan and cover with a lid.  Let brown on each side. 

After the fish nuggets have a golden tint place the chopped up onion in with the fish nuggets.  Keep the flame on low a bit longer. 

While this is cooking,  get a sauce pan and bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Take one cup of  America’s Choice egg   noodles and place in the pan/pot.  Let boil in the water for 5 minutes. 

 Take a bag of frozen mixed America’s Choice vegetables  and pour one cup of vegies in the pot! 

Whala!

In about 10 minutes you have noodles and veggies swirling around each other. 

 After they are completely cooked,  drain and then put in a bowl.

  Pour the America’s Choice Tomato Sauce over the veggies and noodles!

While veggies and noodles are complete—check your fried fish!

The onions should be browning lightly.  The fish can be cooked until crispy! 

Notice….the only salt added to this meal is the salt in the Bread Crumbs which is 430mg!

Also the other salt added to this meal is the Tomato Sauce which is 580mg!

Wow!  That is high for salt isn’t it!

So to decrease your salt intake….You might monitor your salt and look for LOW SALT bread crumbs,  and LOW SALT tomato sauce too. 

I do not add any salt on my own….and I feel that  salt in this meal is way over the limit even for me!

What do you think?

I will keep adding to this blog.

I will let you know of  the next dinner that I create!—Remember Low Budget…does not mean tastless meals!

I have to cook short quick meals…because after a long day at work….my energy is very low.  So I use pasta and vegetables.  I also use alot of brown rice.

  I love salad…which I did not discuss today.  I like fresh green kale or spinarch. 

 I do not buy canned vegetables.. I generally get the quick frozen veggies instead at Waldbaums.  Waldbaums always has a sale—like 10 packages for $10.00!   Great for the single parent on a limited income!  Excellent for life on a shoe string!

 I try to stay with foods that have salt naturally from nature….not additives.

Hope your cooking is cheap, healthy quick and easy!

Till next blog entry…

Riveroflifelisajoy!

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MY GOBBLE GOBBLE POST NOW HOBBLE, HOBBLE—TREK TO THE HOLIDAY SHOPPING SPREE! AND WHAT TO DO WITH THAT OLD LEFT OVER TURKEY?!

Sunflower.jpgI had so much holiday fear that my little family would not enjoy the ThanksGiving Holiday like I always liked to.  One day at work just before the holiday I was outside my job early in the morning and I began wishing my co-workers “Happy Thanks Giving!”

  A friend of mind walked up to me and stated….”I guess you forgot…..I do not celebrate Thanks Giving!”  She leaned closely and whispered it so that no one else would hear.  But I felt that she had shouted that at me. 

 Here I was so excited because my church had donated a turkey and all of the trimmings to me for my family, and because I felt like that old Lewis Carol Story about Scruge….I wanted to shout HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE ROOF TOP!!!!  My friend has a different financial situation than mine. 

But she does not celebrate that holiday because her religious beliefs at her congregation told her that it is kind of “sinful” to celebrate ThanksGiving!  I looked at her hard and I said in a determined voice, “So you are telling me that my soul will be condemmed to hell for celebrating ThanksGiving? 

 She hesitated for a minute and then said,  “Well,  know…because God recognizes that  you have suffered alot in your life and that you have helped alot of people and so he will wait until you understand that you should not celebrate that Holiday because of all of bad things that happened to the Indians.  (my friend is not Indian, or black) 

 So I said….I am black,  I have American Indian  and European in my geneaology too….so I can relate to all sides of this issue.  I have celebrated the Feast of Thanks Giving all of my life.  I do not feel the need to stop celebrating it. 

But I do respect your opinion and religious beliefs…..I have to.  I believe in tolerance….it does not mean I have a total understanding of someones’ culture or lifestyle to be tolerant.

  My friend  gave me a hug….told me that on ThanksGiving she would be spending it on bended knee in her church, and praying.  I told her I would be cleaning the house,  as is my regular for the past NINE years since my husband left my son and I due to his catastrophic illness. 

 I always clean the house and then I put the turkey and the trimmings together.  So we have really never ate the actual feast on Thanks Giving Day!  My friend said great and then she gave me a hug.  She said Good!  God knows your heart. 

You will be blessed for not actually eating on the actual day that PEOPLE OF THE WORLD are eating.  I looked at my friend as she walked away from me that day, and my ThanksGiving Spirit had practically died. 

I felt a deep sickening feeling in the pit of my stomack.  I just did not know how to call out—HAPPY THANKSGIVING as my co-workers arrived to work,  safe and sound.    I still believe in ThanksGiving—don’t you?——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————please commment:

My next little blog is about my left over ThanksGiving Turkey.

I have placed it dismantled into a big roaster pan after we had our first two or three helpings of it.  Then I would take out whatever pieces I wanted and made a type of chopped barbeque  without the barbeque. 

I put  butter,  seasonings, and let it simmer until crispy!  Great tasting.  I put some brown rice with it!  My son ate the rest of his macaroni and cheese, and  baked ziti.  But now,  it is 12/02/07 and the it is time to say good bye to my HAPPY THANKSGIVING!~  

 Sorry little 16 pound promise of a pleasant turkey fragrance throughout the house.  ALL DONE…ALL GONE…..—nOW the next phase is to go toward the birth of the Christ Child.  Christmas Carols and presents gallore! And of course Hannukka!   I have a friend who celebrates both holidays because their is an adopted black child in the family!  I think that is SOOOO COOOL!  WE ARE REALLY ONE FAMILY—!!!!  

 I purchased a Fiber Optic Light Christmas Village for $24.00 in CVS store.  It is so pretty.  It has a bunch of little buildings attached with old fashioned gas lit street lights and people walking in the snow and a man and woman on a full size horse pulled sled.    and I put it on the diningroom table. 

 I always get my tree on Christmas Eve, or a few days before. My son really likes that to be the  begining of his Christmas Holiday and celebration of the Christ Child and me singing for the Church during this time of year.  Last year I sang the Christmas song from Charley Brown cartoon. 

I then sang O’ Holy Night, and Silent Night.  I had a full card of songs.  They never pay me for those opportunities to sing…..but I always believe if I do things like that when I really need a miracle I will receive it from the One Above!

  I have seen it happen in my life.  I will do a blog on miracles soon!

So tonight I say good bye to left over turkey and I will run to the supermarket to pick up some salmon, whiting fish, and chop meat turkey!  I will probably do another bit turkey for Christmas!

please comment what you do with your left over turkey!

till next blog:

riveroflifelisajoy!

Cakes and Cookies My Aunt Ellen Used to Bake! * Holiday Baking!!

dinner-wit-us-steppinhowards.jpgMy grandparents used to live on Pacific Street in Brooklyn New York when I was born in 1961.  My parents had left Brooklyn before I was born and purchased a home in Queens New York. 

 I remember visiting  my grandparents and my Great Aunt Ellen for the holidays.  Sometimes my father would drive into Brooklyn and pick up my mother’s parents and Aunt Ellen.

They would then spend ThanksGiving with us in Queens.  Aunt Ellen would always have “bags of plaid or green with rolling wheels filled with great smelling cookies,  cakes,  and ingredients to help my mother out with the Thanks Giving Feast! 

It was a wonderful time of togetherness!  I was about 5 or 6 when a picture had been taken of everybody at the table from my mother and father to the rest of the family gathered around for the prayer and the meal at the table.  I always knew that this was supposed to be a special time. 

  They were imigrants from Virginia.  My Great Aunt Ellen was a spinster.  She was a member of a 7th Day Adventist church. 

She was well known for her hand made dolls,  her cooking and her baking!  She would cook for church functions  all the time.  But  she made her living cooking every day for a family of a wealthy  Building Designer named Freidman. 

 My Aunt Ellen lived at the Friedman  house on on Argiel Road 6 days a week. She cared for the two daughters, cleaned the house, and cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  She was a devote 7th Day Adventist so she attended church every Saturday.  She was my favorite person to see when I went to my grandparents home. 

I did not realize how special that apartment was until just now.  Because so many of the things that I love to do are threaded by the love and quiet personality I had observed  of my Aunt Ellen. 

She spoke volumes with her actions by constantly being busy.  She did not preach at you…she was just a quiet loving presence.  She went away every year and baked up state at the Religious Retreats of the 7th Day Adventist. 

When she passed it was a difficult time because she represented a era of my life.  She lived long enough to meet my son after he was born, and she was talking to him and even recognized him and everyone else up until her dying moment. 

Aunt Ellen had passed at the age of 86 years old.  She left behind her hand made dolls and her quiet  love for God and his word.  Her bedroom was filled with Bibles and 7th Day Adventist literature. 

The Freidman daugthers were middle aged women and they cried with great emotion at the wake and funeral.  They stated that she was their second mother and they were in mourning for the dear Ellen.

Ellen’s Cakes*

Yellow Cake with milk Chocolate Frosting: 

I would love to sneak pieces and pieces of cake and eat until my stomach hurt!!! She would make a three layer cake with the frosting between the layers.  I loved to eat the chocolate all by itself! The cake was the bonus.  My son  always asks me why do I love chocolate so much.  I think it truly is a comfort food for me.  It reminds me of Aunt Ellen’s baking —I guess.  She would sometimes put walnuts in the milk chocolate frosting.  Every thing Aunt Ellen did was from scratch!  No Betty Crocker for Aunt Ellen back in the 60’s and 70’s! 

Classic White Cake with Coconut Frosting:

I would enjoy this cake also.  It was light and fluffy, and had a pinapple center.  Again all of her baking was done from scratch.  Sometimes if I arrived on the one day she had off from the Friedman’s home,  I would get to see Aunt Ellen in the midst of baking!  (I have come to realize now, that is why I like to cook, and bake so much–when I have time!) I also love to knit, and sew by hand.  I just do not have the time that I would like to devote to handcrafting!

Lemon Pound Cake:

There was no frosting on this cake….but the lemon was strong and the cake was firm but moist.  I remember savoring the tangy lemony taste with a cup of milk!  I did not like milk back then,  but if Aunt Ellen baked something you would certainly expect to see me with a cup of milk!

Vanilla Drops:

These Vanilla Drop Cookies were hard as a rock!  But once you got them in your mouth you kept eating, and eating till they were all gone!   Aunt Ellen used baking soda, baking powder,  yeast, and all of the traditional ingredients.  Sometimes she would have me sift the flour for her baking.  That was my favorite task when helping her out.  She would chide me, or admonish me to do this or do that, or sit down so I wouldn’t spill anything!   She never patted me on the head, or even kissed my cheek.  She was very quiet and just plodded along her course until she finished one project of baking or another.

Chocolate/ Walnut,  and or Chocolat Chip Cookies:

Yes, I saved the best for  last.  These cookies were the best for me.  I would eat, and eat those cookies until my mother would tell me to stop it!  I would sneak back into the kitchen and look inside this special roasting pot that Aunt Ellen would store her completed cookie projects inside of  wax paper,  foil, and little plastic bags. 

 I just loved to smell the flour and odor of baked goods as I would walk into  that kitchen and take a cookie or two.  I would check the kitchen table for evidence of a new baking project —you know ingredients of walnuts already cracked and waiting in little bags or containers. 

 I would then go across to the window and look out and see the elevated train station with people waiting for their train above Altantic Avenue.  I would go back to the living room with my cookies!

Cakes I attempt to make>>>

Now that Aunt Ellen is gone for some years now,  I still find myself loving home baked goods.  I cannot recreate them from scratch but I go to the supermarket and pick up the boxes of BETTY CROCKER or Duncan Hines Cake mixes!  I will list the group I will be making for this ThanksGiving Weekend:

 Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe Classic White Cake

****I have premade White Frosting with rainbow sprinkles for the White Cake.

Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe **Red Velvet Cake

****I will use the premade Ducan Hines White Frosting for the Red Velvet Cake.

Duncan HInes- Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden Cake

****I will use the premade milk chocolate frosting for the Golden Cake.

****Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies

I do not need any frosting on my brownies!

Two more are not cake but something I have discovered that are tasty:

Concord Foods  Apple Crisp-  I purchased this mix in King Kullen,  but I have also purchased it in Waldbaums,  and Pathmark Stores.

All that is needed is simple butter, and Fresh Apples!  You can put icecream on this after it is prepared.  It is great tasting and easy to make too!

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix-  This is the only mix that comes close to the old fashioned taste of Aunt Ellen’s cooking and her bisquits! 

I truly enjoyed reminiscing with you about my love of Aunt Ellen,  and her special quiet ways.

Enjoy your ThanksGiving Weekend,  and the Special People in your lives!