Friday, December 19, 2008

Just eat it

I cringed at a piece of information I read in this month's Parents magazine: "One study conducted for the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that every American wastes, on average, more than a pound of food a day."

I went to the department's website for more information. In 1996, researchers found that up to 20 percent of all food produced annually for human consumption in the United States goes to waste. The value of the wasted food is estimated at about $31 billion per year. These lost resources could have fed 49 million people, the site said.

I'm relieved to say my family definitely does not waste a pound of food per person every day. Not being wasteful is important to us, but it's hard not to waste a little when you have kids. We try to limit the waste by only offering our kids portions we really think they'll eat. It's better to start small and add more if they are still hungry. And we always eat leftovers until they're gone, even if we're sick of them.

Wasting food is not only economically inefficient, but it's also socially irresponsible. You know the cliche "There are starving children in Africa..."? Well, it's not so cliche. I've been there, and I've seen starving children. There are also some in our own country, and even in our own back yards.

Let's all try a little harder, eh?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let the gingerbread man eat cake

This old-fashioned gingerbread pudding cake is perfect for the holidays. Serve it with homemade cinnamon whipped cream, as I did, or with a scoop of ice cream. It tastes delicious, and it's unique.


2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. molasses
1 c. water
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 c. hot water
1/2 c. melted butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, allspice and nutmeg in medium bowl; set aside.

Beat 1/2 cup butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy. Add egg, then molasses. Add flour mixture and 1 cup water. Pour batter into ungreased 9x13 pan and sprinkle with 3/4 cup brown sugar.

Combine 2 cups hot water and 1/2 cup melted butter in medium bowl; carefully pour over top of batter. Do not stir. Bake for 40 minutes or until gingerbread is cracked on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cinnamon whipped cream:

1 c. whipping cream
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Beat ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The king of corn

I'll be darned if this isn't the best creamed corn ever. This is one of those dishes I look forward to around the holidays. My husband's aunt bestowed the recipe upon me after my husband talked it up for our first couple of years of marriage. He wasn't kidding. The whole family agreed Thanksgiving would have been ruined without it.


20 oz. frozen corn (white, yellow or both)
9 oz. whipping cream, divided
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter/spread
Pepper to taste OR a pinch of white cayenne
2 Tbsp. flour

Combine everything except flour and 2 oz. whipping cream in pot and bring to boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Blend flour with reserved cream and add to corn mixture to thicken. Serves 6.

*Note:  over the years, I have been using half milk, half cream with great results. We don't miss the extra calories.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Crazy cranberry craving

This cranberry salsa is addictive, festive and every other wonderful -ive. The red from the cranberries is deliciously complemented by green flecks of cilantro and spread over a combo of cream cheese and sour cream. Serve it with tortilla chips. I'm telling you, this dish gets nothing but praise.


8 oz. cream cheese (I use reduced-fat)
1/2 c. sour cream (I use reduced-fat)
12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
Half a medium onion or 3-4 green onions
Half a cilantro bunch
1 jalapeno or Anaheim pepper, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
Juice of 2 limes

Mix cream cheese and sour cream and spread on platter for bottom layer. Blend everything else in food processor to form top layer. Serve with tortilla chips. Refrain from overindulgence.