Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How's this for a Thanksgiving side, or any time: Simple Apple Cake?

Yesterday I made, with major assistance from my helper, a favorite of mine--Apple Cake, or as my late Italian immigrant mother-in-law called it: Jewish Apple Cake. Mary was a wonderful and tireless cook, her energy and good nature seemed boundless. She showed me how to make this cake and now I'm sharing it with you to serve on or after Thanksgiving.

It's not gooey sweet, it's made with oil and not butter, there are only six ingredients plus the apples, and its both easy and healthy. It's a good cake to serve with breakfast, coffee, or tea. The recipe is below as a thank you to Mary for all she gave us.

Mary's Jewish Apple Cake
as told to me by her

Makes 2 cakes in tube pans
(Ed.'s not: grease and flour pans. I used canola oil.)
3 large apples, cut into pieces. Mix in 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon.
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice and a little water (to make about 1/3 cup liquid)
1 cup oil
Combine and mix for 6 minutes. (Don't mix too long as that toughens the gluten.)
Pour into 2 tube pans, putting a layer of apples between the batter. (Place extra apples on top of cake before baking.)
Do not preheat the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Test with a sharp knife inserted into the middle. The cake is done when the blade comes out clean. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the cake sit on the oven door for 1/2 hour before inverting it on a plate.


Monday, November 25, 2013

A Thanksgiving side that goes with many dishes

If you're like most of us you've done a lot of thinking about Thanksgiving and what to serve. But the truth is that you may not have actually cooked any dishes for that magnificent meal for friends and family where you'll give thanks for some good that has come to  you during the year.

Now, a few days before you sit down at the table, you can make one of my favorites, cranberry sauce. Not the stuff in the can. Instead cranberries made according to the supremely simple recipes below go not only with turkey, but also with pork, chicken, tofu, the dressing, and with yogurt, on pancakes, on sandwiches, and anything you might like to add it to. 

Cranberries are so easy to cook or to blend with orange and honey. They are a Super Food, like blueberries. When you taste these two versions, you won't ever go back to canned.

Recipes from Even You Can Be Healthy
Cranberry Sauce, Cooked with Cinnamon
Serves 6-8
1 12-ounce package of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 whole cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice, not reconstituted or orange juice from one orange
 ¾ cup packed brown sugar or more to taste
Wash cranberries and place  in a medium-sized saucepan with the cinnamon stick, orange juice, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. After 4 to 5 minutes the berries will begin to pop and the sauce begin to thicken. Continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and remove from heat. Take out the cinnamon stick, if using, and pour the cooling sauce into a jar or plastic container and cool. When the sauce has cooled so you can lift the jar or container, put on the lid and place into the refrigerator. Serve with turkey, pork, tofu, pancakes, and just about anything.

No-Cook Cranberry-Orange Sauce
 Make this version at least one day ahead of your planned use so the flavors blend and mellow. This version can be used on many kinds of meats and in plain yogurt.
Serves 6-8    
1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 naval orange or 1 seeded juice orange
1 container frozen orange juice, un-reconstituted
2 tablespoons honey
Wash cranberries and place in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Wash orange and cut into 4 to 6 pieces. If using a naval orange, add the pieces with peel to the blender bowl, food processor, or a bowl for using the immersion blender.
If using a juice orange, cut open, remove the seeds, and cut away the white pith between orange segments. Do not peel. Place the orange segments with the cranberries in the bowl of the blender, food processor, or the bowl for using the immersion blender. Blend or process until the cranberries and orange segments are chopped and blended. There should be no large pieces in the blend.
Add the honey and frozen orange juice a tablespoon at a time. Taste for desired sweetness and add more as needed. Blend after each addition, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides.
When the flavor is to your taste, scrape the mixture into a covered plastic container or a jar with a lid. Refrigerate overnight or until used.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sharing the sight I see everyday till the winter

This is the view I see outside my bedroom window during the glorious fall. I get to see it when I come back from the gym and it's light outside and at times during day when I'm passing by. This is a Japanese maple that I planted there so I could see it from the bedroom and enjoy the leaves from spring when they first emerge as tender green till the fall when they burst into color before they fall off for the winter. 

I'm so lucky to have this view and wanted to share it with you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What do you eat when you don't feel like cooking?

You probably thought I'd tell you to run out to Burger King or what ever the nearest fast food place is. Actually, I am very lucky to have myself covered in those down-days emergencies. I can eat well and somewhat adventurously. My food is healthy and, believe it or not, delicious. And to top all that off, very, very easy.

How do I do that? Let me admit first that I keep my cupboard fairly well stocked. I have the basics: sliced whole grain bread and slices of cheese. My extras were foods were sliced button mushrooms and a stack of apples.

And my trusty toaster oven. I love it.

For my supper the first night I placed a slice of cheese on whole grain bread. During the summer when tomatoes are the gift of the gods, I place a slice of vine ripened tomato on top of the cheese. But what was I to do now that it's late fall?

Of course, nowadays there are apples galore. I had gala and cut off pieces to place on the cheese. Put that in my toaster oven and baked for a while. When the cheese was melted, the bread toasty, and the apples softened, I served it with a glass of milk on the side. You can drink whatever seems right to you: beer, wine, water (but not soda; remember we're healthy).

The next night, I covered the cheese with the sliced button mushrooms. You can sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on the mushrooms and cook until the cheese is melted and the mushrooms softening, adding the drink of your choice. 

Be willing to try new toppings. Raid your cabinets and shelves to find a topping that will bring out the best in that melted cheese. But don't work too hard. This has to be easy. 

A simple recipe is below:
Melted Cheese on Whole Grain Bread with Topping of Your Choice
1 or 2 slices of whole grain bread
Cheese slices, 1 to 2 per piece of bread (Your favorite reduced fat cheese; I often use cheddar.)
Available fruits or vegetables such as apple, mushrooms, pineapple, canned fruits, layers of spinach, and on and on. Experiment! Have fun.
Place bread slices on the toaster oven tray that has been covered with aluminum foil. Place slices of cheese on the bread, according to your appetite. Cover with the topping of your choice. Heat until cheese is melted, the bread is toasty, and the topping is softened.
Serves 1-2

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fatigue doesn't lend itself to a sane life

There I am at the top of this blog with a wide and happy smile on my face. But, the truth is, I've taken time away from my blog because I have been dealing with fatigue, the MS kind, something that has dogged me from the days I had my first symptom. The fatigue comes and goes, and when I'm in the middle of a bout, I have trouble rising up out of my lethargy. 

You probably already know I have multiple sclerosis and have dealt with it for over thirty years. MS fatigue isn't just about being tired. Words escape my ability to describe it. I'm an active,  creative person. But when I'm dealing with fatigue, it grabs me and won't let go, or so it seems when I'm in the midst of it. 

My reason tells me that this will pass and I have to just wait it out. So be patient, rest, eat right. But I can't wait to begin this blog again. When I first started this series, I told you that we'd cover many topics together. So let's do it. Let me know how you're doing. Send me a recipe or two that is healthy and easy to make. Let me know how you're getting exercise in your life. We'll do this together!

I'm eager to give you a recipe during these cold days and I promise I'll do it soon. Very soon.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A little movement, please, instead of banana bread

The other day on Face Book, a friend posted her dilemma. Should I, she asked, go to the gym or stay home and knit. There in lies the problem.

If you have to make the decision every time you plan to workout or exercise, then you're lost. Because I guarantee that most days something more important or inviting will rear its head. Should you walk around the block or watch the news? Should you vacuum the floor or sit down for a few minutes and read the paper? Should you go to the gym and work out on one of the machines or cook that banana bread that has to be made so you don't have to throw away the bananas. And on and on.

And why should you bother with any kind of exercise in the first place? It's a lot of trouble. However, the facts are that exercise has been shown to lessen the severity of just about all diseases and ailments. Harvard School of Public Health lists these benefits:
  • Improves your chances of living longer and living healthier
  • Protects you from heart disease and stroke or its precursors, high blood pressure and undesirable blood lipid patterns
  • Protects you from developing certain cancers, including colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial (uterine lining) cancer
  • Helps prevent type 2 diabetes (what was once called adult-onset diabetes) and metabolic syndrome
  • Helps prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis
  • Reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function among older adults (That means it has an impact in preventing or slowing Alzheimer's.)
  • Relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood
  • Prevents weight gain, promotes weight loss (when combined with a lower-calorie diet), and helps keep weight off after weight loss
  • Improves heart-lung and muscle fitness
  • Improves sleep
That's just a beginning. I heard a young man say today that when he finishes exercising  "you feel life is great. You're ready to conquer the world."

What works for me is to have a regular time and days that I exercise, so that I do it without thinking. And the time of day that works best for me, if the early morning. I do it without thinking and without letting other desires keep me from it.

Why don't you try setting up a regular schedule that works for you?
"After exercising you feel life is great, you're ready to conquer the world."