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A holy trinity for diet foods

by "Our Senior Staff Writer"


The small number three has large significance everywhere in life--in the arts, science and the humanities.  Suspense in literature and films juggles time, hope and fear; triptychs are significant forms of pictorial art; and three is a frequently a holy number in many religions. Of more interest, perhaps, the world of nourishment traditionally suggests three meals a day in most cuisines. With the trend running to fewer ingredients in recipes, three comes up again. Gramercy Tavern’s Chef Tom Colicchio calls his three main ingredient recipes “trilogies.”  For instance, he prepares a ragout of asparagus, wild leeks and morels. Also, in ”free-form” ravioli that he bakes, he uses the same three ingredients to make an entirely different dish.


Home cooks tend to overlook a trinity of versatile foods: celery, parsley and the recently popular cilantro. The three fight weight gain on several fronts. They are low calorie themselves and they add terrific piquancy to dishes.  Further, they are easy to use. Toss some chopped celery in the salad, stir fry or pot, or simply serve celery sticks as a vegetable and put them in brown bag lunches.

Celery is at home in gourmet recipes, too. Its ribbed stalks are classic, and its tender leaves curled up deep in the hearts are a culinary treasure. Home cooks too often ignore the pale leaves, and they have marvelous flavor and texture and interesting possibilities in recipes. Happily celery is available year round for a taste of spring, in summer vegetable salads, for tailgate picnics before football games and for hot winter soups, traditional like Cock-a-Leekie or modern in creme fraiche soups.


Celery might be one of the reasons Europeans eat well, but stay slim. Wild celery, called “smallage,” is popular in Europe. In Italy and France the smaller stems and leaves of wild celery are considered a delicacy, eaten with olive oil and pepper. The inner leaves of American celery can be served the same way. Voila! A new and intriguing first course! Versatile celery is one of three ingredients in mirepoix, a famed French base for many, many recipes.

Mirepoix (mihr-PHAW) is a trio of chopped vegetables--carrots, onions and celery-- a good example of three ingredients working together to form something special. In the case of mirepoix, the low calorie mixture is sautéed and then used to season soups, stews and casseroles and also to serve as a bed for meat, poultry or fish that is being braised, a smart method of cooking for health.  While Julia Child’s French cooking has been going in and out of fashion (All that cream!), mirepoix still hangs in faithfully, and for good reason—made with butter substitutes like olive oil spreads, it adds a true, but subtle, flavor to dishes. 


The second underrated ingredient is parsley.  While we recall the curly, tough parsley leaves of our childhoods, Italian flat parsley is now the standard in fine cooking, leaving curly parsley to garnish plates.  The flat leaves of Italian parsley are larger, and although attractive, they are usually used chopped. Parsley is so popular in the Middle East that it is simply considered another vegetable. Parsley and celery are botanically related; and, historically, their names, in several languages, were interchangeable. Now there are several types of flat parsley, including the giant Italian type, Neapolitan, which is often found in gourmet Italian-American dishes. Parsley holds its place in the overlooked trinity since it is a superb health food, versatile, handy and easy to use. It is an easy trick in the challenge of dieting.


Cilantro, once considered a poor man’s herb, entered American cuisine with the popularity of Mexican food.  Today, cilantro shows up everywhere on menus--in salads, entrees, and sauces and especially in salsas. Cilantro is the young leaves of a plant that becomes coriander when it matures and goes to seed. One of mother nature’s tricks on us is that the taste of cilantro in no way tastes like coriander seed. Unlike cilantro leaves, coriander seed was used in Oriental and Mediterranean cuisines long ago. Celery, parsley and cilantro are elements of a dish’s content. The form is up to the cook. He or she might decide to create a Mexican dip, a delicate broth or cilantro-marinated pork roast. Wontons, lettuce or chard wraps are also a popular option. Edible containers, sweet peppers or tomatoes, are great healthy entrees or sides, and their fillings are rich with celery, parsley or cilantro (or all three), along with roasted peppers, rice noodles, pasta, peas, sprouts or other fresh vegetables.


There is a final trinity to keep in mind when cutting calories: The three elements are healthy eating, regular exercise and food for the soul.


How one family keeps in touch

by "Our Senior Staff Writer"


A memorial service for a beloved cousin was the reason for a mini-family reunion, in fact, an exciting meeting of some never-met female relatives. The many ladies of the family found that they not only had much in common, but that also they were intrigued by their various differences.


These women, from the 10-year-old soccer player who adores anchovies, to the preschool expert, the new mother, the archeologist who worked with Leaky, two authors, an enlightened computer wiz and retired professor of English engaged my highest interest. As the group split in the light rain at the motel parking lot, I knew I would miss them.


Indeed, although these relatives were new friends, I knew I would be missing the very special relationship as we all returned to our respective homes in many different states. The next few day, questions (insignificant to profound) ran through my head. Wonder what Emily would think of this salad? What kinds of trees does Meg like down there in Texas? What does Susannah think of the future of the institution of marriage?


I thought that we could create a substitute for the intense, late-night chats we so enjoyed in the motel, and came up with the idea of "The Ladies of the Family's Notebooks." They're five ordinary spiral notebooks labeled with different colors, like Grimm's fairy tales -- the red book, the blue book, etc. Inside the cover of each, I copied the names and addresses of each female relative in the family, including the few who were unable to make the reunion.


Next I prepared an explanation of the project and a simple set of rules to begin:

•   Answer the question put to you when you receive a book.

•   Copy your answer and send it to the questioner. Carbon or photo copies are fine.

•   Ask another question and send it to any woman on the list.

•   No time limits, but keep things moving.


The results of the notebooks are delightful. Women of the family feel in touch. At middle age, I love to hear from the patrician matriarch of the family, from young Emily (the anchovian and only girl on the boys' soccer team), ever energetic Marilyn (she shares my interest in education) and Susannah, the ornithologist who elucidates the activity on my bird feeder and the talented sculptor, Blake, who just happens to be my daughter.


In a Sunday phone call, Jean (the Shakespearean scholar) said she has two notebooks on her desk (and I knew a third was coming to her). She asked if she could start a new one. Of course! By now there were seven or eight notebooks going back and forth, and Jean will have to think of some new colors for titles. The chartreuse book? The periwinkle book? I can't wait to see what is in fashion.


Spring has finally come, summer is close, and things go around: feelings, thoughts, inquiries, personal questions -- and those fascinating colored notebooks of the Ladies of the Family.

A Few Anti-Aging Tips

by Shmarye Primack

Author and

Certified Nutritional Counselor


Reduce the amount of food that you consume. Eat several smaller meals during the day instead of having a major meal near the end of the day. Snack on healthy foods to keep your body burning fuel and prevent sugar spikes that encourage diabetic complications.


Laugh more. Laughter has been said to release chemicals in your body which promote good health. Work up to a good belly laugh whenever you can. (If it doesn't make you live longer, it does make the time that you do live a lot more fun.)


If you are not already using them, give some of those vitamins and supplements a trial run and see if they make a difference. Monitor yourself. Get advice from a medical professional. You just might be surprised by some positive results.


Create an attitude of gratitude. Attitude is everything, and gratitude is one of the best attitudes to cultivate. It makes relationships work with family, friends and even strangers. People who know their efforts are appreciated feel good about themselves and getting along with them is much easier. Appreciating what you have is a great way to relieve stress and that can contribute to a longer, happier life.


Control your intake of sugar and white flour. Diabetes is on the rise and can really be detrimental to your health in ways that can make you age faster, experience slow healing and pain, and die sooner. Monitor your eating habits and cut back on those foods (especially sugar and white flour) that contribute to the problem.


Pray. Studies show that, on the whole, people who have a religious foundation and who attend services tend to have a longer life expectancy.


For more by this author, click here: SURE-FIRE WEIGHT REDUCTION & LONGEVITY PROGRAM

by Shamrye Primack


Have a Tea Party with Grandma

by Kas Winters


Without a doubt, some of my fondest childhood memories are of tea parties with my grandmother. They weren't extravagant in any way, but I always got to choose my favorite tea cup and I had grandma's attention while she poured tea from one of her China teapots and we talked about whatever came to mind. I'm sure we had some sort of cookies or finger foods, but that's not the part that sticks in my memory. Tea parties were  special times for the two of us (and after my sister got a little older, for the three of us). My memories are pure delight.


To continue the tradition, I have tea parties with my granddaughters. As a special treat, I take them, individually, to a fancy afternoon tea at a local tea room. It's a memory maker for each of us.


Have a tea party with grandma. You can make it special or simple as far as the table setting, dishes and food; but make sure that it is a time to relax and be together. Have conversations that involve both talking an listening.


Plan your tea together. Choose the flavor of tea. Make the finger foods, scones, or sandwiches together. Set the table as a team and make it look pretty. Treasure your time with one another.



If you want ideas for having an afternoon tea in style, Brenda Williams, The First Lady of Tea, has a page on this website that features her book on afternoon teas as well as other "tea things" including scone mix, special tea bags and more. To learn the details of an afternoon tea, click here: A Spot of Tea.

Photo opportunities: recycle those old pictures

by "The Family Writer"


"The camera doesn't lie." Oh, how we rune that old saw. However, that's not the end of camera misery. Much worse, especially to packrats (and matriarch and patriarchs of families) who seem to serve as the natural repository of family pictures, are all those irresistible family photographs stuffed into thick and sturdy family albums, various Grandma's Brag Books, smartly wallpapered photo file boxes and the odd shoebox.


In extreme cases, large cartons of ancient pictures of unidentified relatives are not only lost "somewhere in time," but also somewhere in the basement. The abomination of this dumping came to me not too long ago when I found pictures of great, great grandmother (from the rear) with her cow (full side view). There were also such gems as "Abner's goat." and "father's big pig." What to do? As my husband said while looking through stacks of family pictures, "How can I throw out Great Aunt Maud?" Well, of course, he couldn't.


But true to the spirit of the '90's there is an answer: RECYCLE.


While recycling family photographs might take time, the effort is well worth it since it results in a wonderful spirit of productive gifting, a tremendous creative satisfaction and best of all, euphoria in the knowledge that you have emptied shelves and shed boxes.


Here are some possibilities:

Surprise Gifts. Seat yourself comfortably at a table where you have placed the troublesome box, album, stack, etc. to be sorted. Around the perimeter of the table, place a number of manila envelopes, each marked with the name of a soon-to-be grateful recipient of your efforts. LOOK and DECIDE, tossing each photo onto the pile on a envelope. Who best deserves this charming pose of great grandma's wedding? Who will benefit receiving the picture of Elvira's 15th child? Sort the box. Then mail as soon as possible.


The Family History Calendar. Many stores, insurance agencies, brokers, etc. supply free calendars. Collect these. Rent a mindless but entertaining video and spend a night with popcorn, drinks and rubber cement, making kindergarten-type collages from the old snapshots over the top pages of the free calendars. Distribute during the holidays.


Tubal solutions. Make a list of folks to whom you usually give small gifts for birthdays or other occasions. What are their interests? Do they draw or do needlework: Do they deal with maps, charts, blueprints or large pieces of materials? Then look over the supply of mailing tubes available at the post office or mail convenience center.


Buy suitable cardboard mailing tubes and save those that arrive in your mail. Rubber cement the photographs to to recycled, ziz-zag, free form or patchwork fashion, overlapping pictures, over the entire surface of the tube. Mix and match.


When dry, carefully place long strips of clean plastic wrapping tape (wide-width) vertically down tubes to seal all.


 For Aunt Nellie, it's a knitting needle container. For Uncle Jed, a map holder. For rolled lace tablecloths to birdseed, those containers become family treasures.


Support history. Some old photographs have true value, either aesthetically or historically. I've mailed several of this type to historical societies of towns mentioned on the photographers' stamp on the picture. Perhaps someone over in Yuba or Beulah knows who that carpenter is, building the new barn.


Old photographs? No problem. Give them up, in one great way of another.


Just wondering, have you had your picture taken lately?




BOOKS for Women

GIFTS for Women

Religious Gifts for Women











Grandma’s Toy Stove:

A gift for generations

by Kas Winters

When my grandmother was young, her piano teacher gave her a model cast iron stove that came with the new stove of the same design that she had purchased. My grandmother played with it as a child. (Later in life she also played piano as the background for silent movies.)

My mother played with the same toy stove with her friend Millie. Together they prepared imaginary dinners under the apple tree at Millie’s house, which was next door to my mom’s home.

I have fond memories of making mud meatballs and “cooking’ them on that stove when I played house with my friends on grandma’s front porch. It provided many hours of playtime and delightful memories as well.

Over time, the little pots that had come with the stove were lost. One Christmas,  I found some in a catalog and gave them to grandma as a gift for her stove. She found a couple of others that were really little ash trays, but small and cast iron and those worked just fine. 

Years later, my own daughter enjoyed the same toy and now I watch with a special awe as my granddaughters play with my grandmother’s stove. It’s now an antique, but to me the value will always be in sharing it with the generations of girls in my family!


Mom's Night Off

"Mom's" All Purpose Apron

A gift basket for a woman

Sally D. Ketchum


For Sally D. Ketchum's Book,

Super Student/Happy Kid


Other article of Interest to Seniors


Garden Party

    by Sally, the Garden Guru


Grandma's Goodie Bag

    by Kas Winters


The Monster Button

    by Kas Winters


Small Space Gardening

    by Sally the Garden Guru



    by Luanne Torblaa


A Woman for All Ages

    by Eileen Birin


Plain Talk about Husband-Wife Conversation

by Sally D. Ketchum





A Woman for All Ages

by Eileen Birin


    While still living in Chicago, I attended a writing seminar conducted by Dr. Dennis Hensley, author of seven books and more than fifteen hundred articles. The meeting focused on how to be a successful freelancer, and Dr. Hensley made it a point to tell us that he always carried a notebook, camera and recorder with him wherever he went, even on vacations, sometimes to the dismay of his wife and family. He knew there were, and possible even looked for, stories everywhere.

     One story in particular, I have never forgotten can be summed up as follows.

    While on a mini-trip driving the scenic back roads of the mid-west, the Hensleys came across a small town, enhanced with charm and character. They stopped. With camera and notebook ready, Dr. Hensley set out to explore the town's historic treasures.

    He was fascinated by what was once a decorative opera house, art deco architectural style, now in various stages of deterioration, which stood in the town's center. Therein laid a story.

    While inquiring about the old building, Dr. Hensley was delighted to learn there was a senior resident who had recently taken it upon herself to record the history of this turn-of-the-century town, its notable buildings which included the opera house, as well as, some celebrated happenings. She was hoping her memoirs and research would provide younger generations, caught up in fast-paced progress, an American small town experience.

    Dr. Hensley was even more impressed with the woman herself and once back in his motel room made a quick long-distance call with a "hold the press" edict. This woman's article needed to be published in the next magazine issue.

    "Now Dennis, wait a minute," the editor responded. "Why such a rush? Let's wait and see what the lady comes up with and see if we can actually use the material."

    "But you don't understand," Dennis exclaimed, "the woman is 101 years old!"

    This 101 year old aspiring writer lived to be 104 and had seven magazine articles published in the second century of her life. She believed that you live the first 100 years and then write about your life the second century. Mark Twain held a similar belief, but his was a 50/50 split - maybe a bit more realistic

    I don't recall Dr. Hensley ever mentioning the woman's name or the name of the town, but that's not important. What matters is that a centenarian was able to invest her time and years of experience so wisely. Wouldn't it be great if we were all so privileged?

    With the start of each new year, this woman for all ages inspired me to start today fulfilling my own writing dreams and goals. There's no guarantee I'll be granted a second century of life, but one thing's for certain, I'm not waiting. TODAY I start the rest of my life, writing and otherwise.


Author, Eileen Birin

For Books by Eileen click on the links below.


Let's Get Published

Audio CD


Chalkboard Dust


Go Ahead.




Thirty fascinating people share their extraordinary collections


Come, Sit a Spell

Recalling and Writing Memoirs

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