Thursday, September 28, 2006

Local Flavors: Wedding Favors, Gifts, and More

Giving recipes is a wonderful way to introduce your family and friends to your favorite local specialties. One great way to give local recipes is to assemble your favorites into a local recipe scrapbook, being sure to include recipes from all the great local chefs you know! What sorts of foods are prized where you live? Do you love soul food? Do you make your meals with a Southwestern kick?

Another wonderful way to gift local flavors is through the mail. A few months ago my friend Beth sent me a package of her favorite local delicacies. She lives in Arizona, so she included some fresh ground chipotle (yum!) and a great Blue Corn Muffin Mix. Included in the package were some of her favorite recipes using chipotle. What a great way to give someone a feel for where you live, and the flavors that color your day-to-day life!

Local foods also make a wonderful wedding favor for fall brides.
Wrapping up some beautiful glass jars of spices with a recipe card is an inexpensive way to give your guests something to remember your wedding by, and a taste of your life! Pretty glass spice jars can be found for under a dollar at places like Crate and Barrel and the World Market.

Remember, Secret Ingredients is holding a great contest to give away ten custom heirloom cookbooks! Enter today to win yours, and fill it with your own favorite local specialties! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Make Custom Gift Jars & Labels for Secret Recipes

Sometimes rather than giving recipes as gifts, you can give gifts that celebrate recipes. Making a family recipe book and giving it as a gift is a wonderful way to celebrate recipes. Another one of my favorite ways to celebrate recipes is to make beautiful custom labeled bottles to present to the chefs in my life. Giving them professional-looking packaging for their special recipes is a great way to show them how much I value their recipe, their cooking, and their place in my life.

Making custom labeled bottles and jars is easy to do. There are two components: the label and the jar. Both labels and jars are easy to order online. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.


Creating a label for your special chef is fun! Be sure to think about their product and their personality when designing. For example, take a look at the labels I made for a friend who is a fun salsa chef, and my mom, whose taste is more classic:

I made salsa jars to give my friend James a.k.a. "The Salsa Man" for his birthday.

This label was made to celebrate one of my mother's favorite recipes, Peach Preserves!

In James' label, the design references his hometown in the Southwest as well as his current home in Seattle, and is as colorful and spicy as his salsa and his fun personality! My mother's design is a more elegant, traditional approach, and I included some special uses for her preserves on the label. Personal design touches like these make a really special present.

Once you've designed your label, it's time to print them! In labeling food products, a waterproof label is a must. I use a wonderful online company called Performance Labels and Graphics, which provides waterproof labels in small quantities at great prices. I like this company because not only are their products high-quality, but you don't have to order five hundred!


Choosing the right jar is important for a successful gift. You need to make sure that your jar is both safe and appropriate for the food that it will contain. Glass jars with metal lids are usually universally suitable for canned foods, but be sure to ask the recipient what features the jars they use have, if you need to.

A good source for ordering jars is SKS, which carries a number of great jars for a variety of foods. Make sure that the jar you choose has enough room for your label design.

A tip for giving the gift:

When presenting the gift, assemble one jar and label, but keep the rest separate. In the canning process, jars are often boiled, and if you affix all the labels onto the jars, they'll only come off during the canning process. Give one finished example, and allow the recipient the fun of putting on the rest of the labels!

Be creative, and have fun!

Be sure to drop by the Secret Ingredients website to enter to win one of ten free customized cookbooks! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How to Turn Your Recipes into Meaningful Gifts

The planning, preparation, and consumption of food is a major part of family histories. The recipes that carried your family through the years are precious, and hold in them not only ingredients, but also stories, laughter, and love.

Today we begin our series on Recipes as Gifts. Giving recipes is a wonderful way to show someone you care, and an economical way to make someone feel special during the holidays. Recipes are free, but they carry with them the memories of every time a certain dish was made.

Was there a casserole that you and your sisters and brothers loved when you were younger? Give the recipe to your siblings. Was there a special breakfast that your mother made on Sunday mornings? Give your mother those recipes to show her how much those breakfasts meant to you, and how you remember still the food she carefully prepared. Was there a dish that your friends shared laughs over? Give the recipe to them in appreciation of the laughter that they brought to your life.

Now that we have recipes to give, we need to find the best way to give them. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

~ Write out the recipe on some beautiful handmade paper. Include some relevant ingredients or utensils in the gift package. For example, for southwestern recipes, include some fresh, local spices. For baked goods or casseroles, slip the recipe into a lovely oven-to-table baking dish.

My best friend Beth sent me her favorite recipe and chipotle from Arizona.

~ Write out the recipe and frame it in a shadowbox, using decorative stick pins to secure it in place. Include some sprigs of whole dried herbs that are used in the recipe for decoration. This is a great way tell someone how important their special recipe is to you.

~ Create a beautiful recipe scrapbook, and include all the recipes that are meaningful to you. Don't forget to tell the stories behind the recipes... often those tales are as juicy as the recipes themselves!

When planning your gifts for the holiday season, keep in mind that we're running a contest to give away ten free Heirloom Cookbooks. To enter, visit the entry page and send us a story about a special recipe in your life. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fall Colors

Fall is a season of colors. Saturday, September 23rd was the official start of fall, which means that it's a great time to be cooking with wonderful, colorful fall produce. A few of the crops which are harvested in the fall are Acorn and Butternut Squash, Apples, Belgian Endive, Cauliflower, Figs, Garlic, Ginger, Grapes, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Pears, Pomegranates, Pumpkins, Quince, Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard.

Looking for recipes in your collection that feature these ingredients is a wonderful way to take advantage of fresh produce, and also a colorful and delicious way to bring fall to your table. If you're looking for extra fall recipes, set up your free Heirloom Cookbook test account and browse through the great collection of recipes in our Stock Pot!

The naturally colorful food that we see so much of in fall is not only a beautiful way to dress up your plate, it is also healthy. The pigments most often found in vegetables and fruits are called flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants, which means that they destroy free radicals in the human body. Free radicals are naturally occurring scraps of molecules which can do such damage as kill healthy cells, promote heart disease, and "induce DNA damage that might foster cancer" (Science News). Maintaining a diet rich in naturally colorful foods and the variety of flavonoids that comes with that colorful food, is a wonderful way to treat both your palate and your body!

Be sure to record and save the best fall recipes that you try, so that you can make them again next year. A recipe scrapbook is the perfect way to preserve seasonal recipes.

This week on the Secret Ingredients blog, we're going to be exploring the idea of recipes as gifts. Be sure to check back in, as we have lots of wonderful tips on gifting which are economical and personal ways to give during the upcoming holiday season!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

An Apple A Day

Autumn is the season for apples, and we're seeing more and more fresh, crisp varieties of apples available in grocery stores and farmer's markets. Apples have incredible health benefits, are high in fiber, low in sugar, and are a perfect refreshing fall snack. You can enjoy them fresh, or use them in a pie, a Brown Betty, bake them, or enjoy them in products like Apple Butter, or, my favorite fall treat, Apple Cider. We've even included a favorite apple recipe from one of our customers in an earlier posting, THE Apple Cake! Just remember, when eating apples, that it's a good idea to either eat or include their skins; over half of the vitamin C in an apple is in the thin layer of fruit just below the skin.

Apples are also a wonderful way to lower your sugar intake during the day. Instead of grabbing crackers or cookies, reach for an apple!? In the 1800s, average sugar consumption per person in America was 12 pounds per year. By 1990, Americans were eating 137.5 pounds per year! (Food Consumption, Prices and Expenditures, United States Department of Agriculture, 1991). Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks can help limit the amount of sugar we eat, and replace the empty calories of refined sugar with healthier fare.

Do you have a favorite fall apple memory? If so, send it in and enter to win one of ten free Secret Ingredients cookbooks! We can't wait to hear from you!

(When drinking cider, Center for Science in the Public Interest has this reminder:
"Unpasteurized apple cider is a holiday food that may contain harmful bacteria. Check the label to see if the cider is unpasteurized. If serving cider to the elderly or young or those with weakened immune systems, buy pasteurized apple cider. If you want to buy unpasteurized cider or are unsure if the cider is pasteurized, mull the cider by heating it to 160° F or boiling it if you don't have a thermometer. Serve it warm or cold.")

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Secret Ingredients Contest: Win a FREE Cookbook

TEN lucky contest winners will win a free Secret Ingredients heirloom cookbook!

Do you have a funny or sentimental story about a family recipe? Tell us all about it, and you may win one of TEN free heirloom cookbooks.

The contest starts tomorrow. Tell us your story in 250 words or less, and feel free to include the recipe behind the story… if it’s not a huge secret!

Entries will be accepted until December 1, 2006. Winners will be announced by December 8, 2006- just in time for Christmas! Each free cookbook is valued at $195.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Have Their Cake & Eat It Too: Email Recipe Requests

Email Recipe Requests are a special feature exclusive to Secret Ingredients' online cookbook projects. Recipe requests make cookbook projects so much easier. It will save you time, help prevent carpal tunnel, and get your cookbooks finished more quickly!

Here are some advantages and ideas for using Secret Ingredients' Recipe Requests to make your own cookbook:

The Good Cooks!
Do you have a sister or aunt who is an incredible cook? Now you can ask her for her recipes through the Secret Ingredients website, and you won't even have to type them yourself! Bingo!

Creating a Cookbook with a Large Group of People
We have had several families use Recipe Requests lately to create a family cookbook for birthday or wedding gifts. If you would like to create a cookbook quickly, simply create an account and send your family members and friends recipe forms that they can fill out at their convenience. Usually the more people involved the more quickly your cookbook is finished. That, of course, depends on the number of procrastinators in your group!

A Surprise Gift
If you want to create a family or heirloom cookbook as a surprise gift, but you need to get recipes from the gift recipient... you can! Sending Email Recipe Requests only allows the recipient to add recipes. They will not have access to your cookbook project, and therefore will not figure out your surprise!

To send Recipe Requests simply log into your Secret Ingredients cookbook project. Click on Email Recipe Requests. Add your email addresses, and we will take care of the rest!

If you do not have a Secret Ingredients account, be sure to sign up for a FREE Trial Account today!

Stay Tuned tomorrow for a very special announcement! This week we are launching a HUGE contest and will be giving free Secret Ingredients cookbooks to our winners!

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Family Recipe with a Southwestern Kick: Fried Green Tomatoes

Wanting to get a last minute dose of sunshine before fall officially sets into the mountains of Western North Carolina, I made a last minute dash to the shores of Pawleys Island, South Carolina last weekend. This is the perfect time of year to head to the beach. I was welcomed with perfect weather, less crowded beaches, and no wait at some of South Carolina’s best restaurants. Southern food and South Carolina seafood is hard to beat. It is definitely comfort food for me!

Full of southern soul food spirit, I made these delicious fried green tomatoes last night and wanted to share this recipe with you!

This recipe came from a Secret Ingredients family cookbook I created last spring. It adds a nice southwestern kick to a southern staple! I demonstrated this recipe on the local news in Asheville, NC in July. Not only did the audience love the creativity behind this recipe, but the crew gladly cleaned my plates!

Perfect Southwestern Fried Green Tomatoes

5 tomatoes
1 cup milk
½ cup flour
½ cup yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground chipotle
2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil

In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, corn meal, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, chipotle, and salt. Pour the milk into a separate bowl.

Slice the tomatoes about 1/3” thick. Only keep the pretty, center slices and discard the tops and bottoms.

Cover a large skillet (12-inch) with a thin layer of olive oil. Heat it on medium until hot but not smoking.

Dip your tomato slices into the milk, and then cover them in the dry ingredient mixture. Pat the mixture around them until they are well covered.

Place them in the pan and fry. Resist the temptation to flip them until you see the edges begin to curl slightly up. This will help keep the breading on the tomatoes.

When fried to a lovely golden brown color on both sides, remove from the oil to a paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the tomato slices!

To make a napoleon (2 choices):

1. Add sour cream between each layer of tomatoes. Top with salsa and cilantro.
2. Add goat cheese (heat slightly so spreadable). Top with green salsa.

Note: Your tomatoes do NOT have to be green, but they do need to be hard! Buy the hardest tomatoes you can find!

You will find this recipe in our Stock Pot. Give the recipe a try. I think you’ll find that it is a crowd-pleaser- hands down! Also, feel free to add it to your cookbook project. For instructions on adding Stock Pot recipes to your cookbook project, click herePosted by Picasa

Belly DuJour & A Free Apple E-Cookbook

Belly DuJour, our favorite foodie newsletter, gave us some great apple tips today and a link to Chef Scott Carsberg's (of Seattle's Lampreia restaurant) All About Apples downloadable cookbook.

Click here to check out Belly DuJour's Apple-icious newsletter. To skip to the free apple cookbook download check out this site: All About Apples. The cookbook, filled with beautiful photographs, is absolutely gorgeous.

What is Belly DuJour?

Belly DuJour is a free twice-weekly email newsletter. It is the "definitive insider sourcefor epicureans, gourmands, foodies, gastronomes, bon vivants, hedonists, gluttons, and all-around eating enthusiasts seeking delectable specialty foodsfoodies, gastronomes, bon vivants, hedonists, gluttons, and all-around eating enthusiasts seeking delectable specialty foods."

Click here to sign up for Belly DuJour. It is a Secret Ingredients' favorite!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another Great Recipe Website

Today I found another great recipe site from the one and only Williams-Sonoma. Recipes are categorized by course which is really helpful, and you will find "Basics" under each category. Each recipe has an irresistible photograph. The website is clean, easy to use, and delicious!

Check out Williams-Sonoma Recipes now!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Recipe Showers for the Fall Bride

Looking for a new way to celebrate the new bride? How about a Recipe Shower?

What is a Recipe Shower? At a recipe shower, each guest brings his/her favorite recipes to share with the new bride. This way she will have a new collection of proven recipes from the people she loves to start off married life.

Most brides receive many kitchen gadgets and gizmos, place settings, and pots and pans as wedding gifts. Now she will have a reason to use these kitchen gifts!

Don’t forget that Secret Ingredients can help you create the perfect wedding gift for the bride. Simply enter the Recipe Shower recipes into our website, add some pictures of the bride and her family and friends, and we’ll do the rest! Secret Ingredients wedding cookbooks last a lifetime.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Perfect Wedding Gift for the Fall Bride

Fall wedding season is here! Although weddings are now celebrated all year long, many brides will be walking down the aisle this fall.

Finding a unique wedding gift can be difficult. If you are like me, you always have to buy “the perfect gift.” Something unique. Special. Memorable.

Although it’s very important that the bride and groom get the things they need to begin their life together, how do you find a gift that will be even more meaningful and memorable than silver and place settings?

We have the perfect solution- a Secret Ingredients wedding cookbook! With recipes and photographs, it’s the combination of personal cookbook and scrapbook that makes this gift so great.

How do you create a SI wedding cookbook? Members of the bride and groom’s families contribute recipes and photographs and customize a Wedding Dedication page for the couple. This way the happy couple will be able to celebrate the traditions and family recipes from both families.

Another idea is to gather all of your friends and give your friend, the new bride, a wedding cookbook from the girls.

Check out a sample of a wedding cookbook here. Be sure to click on "Fashionably Late."

Whether you are a family member or friend, our website will help you out tremendously. Click here to set-up an account. Then, send out Recipe Requests to your friends. This is an email that contains a re-usable recipe form, so your friends can enter the recipes they would like to include at a time that is convenient for them. This makes a wedding cookbook project very simple and fun. The recipes will be added to your account, so you can see what’s been added and even edit the recipes.

You will then upload or send us 15 photographs for the cookbook and customize the Wedding dedication page. It only takes the Secret Ingredients team 14 business days to complete your cookbook! The new bride will feel so honored with this gift, and you will feel satisfied knowing that she has been celebrated appropriately!

Set-up a FREE trail account today! No obligations. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Finding New Recipes and Cookbooks Online

As we all know, the Internet is an amazing resource... especially for food and recipes! We have categorized some of our favorite recipe sites to help you organize your online recipe hunting.

3 Huge Recipe Sites

AllRecipes- Allrecipes has more than 30,000 free recipes - all created, tested, reviewed and approved by home cooks worldwide.

Epicurious- Epicurious is the online home of Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines. The website features recipes, menus, chefs, wine, drinks, and cooking demos.

RecipeZaar- This site boasts over 170,000 free recipes. Recipes are shared and rated by users.

Specialized Recipes

FoodTV: Get Healthy- If you are looking for low cal, carb, calorie, cholesterol or fat recipes, this is your answer! You will also find diabetic recipes, a whole grains guide and a fat & calorie calculator.

Southwest Cuisine- The photos on this site make me hungry! This website has delicious recipes, and each one has a photo of the final presentation.

Great Cajun Cooking- From Gumbos to Jambalaya this website covers all of the Cajun favorites. Search recipes by area. From Afghanistan to Sri Lanka and Indonesia, this website covers some culinary territory!

French Selections- You will find most of the French classics on this site. The Dessert recipes look particularly delicious, but then again.. don't they always!

Funky Munky's South African Recipes- Try something new with these traditional South African website. The Funky Munky has even included a list of links to businesses in various countries that sell South African goods.

I know that we barely covered the realm of international cuisine. We noticed that the 3 Huge Recipe sites (listed above) cover most of the other cuisines better than independent sites. If you have suggestions, please let me know and we will continue to post recipe links.

Cookbook Websites

Looking for new cookbooks? These two websites are great resources that will save you money: Why buy cookbooks when you can download them for under $10? You can find cookbooks on this site for any occasion, theme, or specialty. Great value! Cookbooks are heavily discounted on this website. They also have a closeout section.

In my experience you are lucky to find a cookbook with more than 4 or 5 recipes that you absolutely love, although there are classics that are an exception to this rule. That's just one more reason why Secret Ingredients heirloom cookbooks are so great! Our cookbooks ONLY have recipes that you love! Create your family cookbook today. Your family recipes will never go out of style or sit on the shelf.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Minnesota State Fair: Food on a Stick Video

Kate at the Accidental Hedonist, another one of our favorite blogs, posted a link to Belly Dujour's Food on a Stick video from the Minnesota State Fair.

Last week we discussed local food festivals. State fairs are also food festivals of their own sort...

This video is really funny! Who would have known that so many different types of food could be served on a stick!

Click here to see The Accidental Hedonist's post. To find the video simply click the words "on a stick" in Kate's post.

Learn How to Cook Online

If you are like me, you are a passionate foodie and home chef who daydreams about becoming the ultimate chef with the most impressive culinary skills. I have promised myself that someday (in the not-so-distant future) I will make time for official culinary lessons and cooking vacations...

For now, I have found some wonderful resources on the web to help me become the master of my kitchen, and I thought that I would share them with you today.

Julia Child holds up a monkfish on her television show Julia Child and Company in 1979

Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs

In my life experience, I quickly figured out that it pays to learn from the best. Who was the best home chef? No other than Julia Child! She made complicated cooking techniques very do-able with her step-by-step directions and explanations. Today, thanks to PBS, you can access cuts from her cooking videos on the web!

Simply click on "Prime Video Cuts" and search by category, ingredient or chef. These videos show you how to make the most elegant of dishes very simply. They are also entertaining, because the chefs' personalities shine through as they demonstrate incredible recipes. In one of my favorite videos, the "Chocolate Dome Cake with Michel Richard," Michel says, "Yeah. I'm a good chef. My mother is proud."

Note: You can email your favorite videos to friends and family... or yourself!


The eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters has an online culinary academy, The eGullet Culinary Institute (eGCI). Here you will find lessons on an array of culinary subjects from Thai Cooking to Basic Knife Skills to Evolving Cocktails. Each lesson includes step-by-step directions, photographs, and explanations.

Want to see an example? Click here to see a lesson on Basic Condiments.

Although you may access the eGullet Culinary Institute for free, you will need to join the eGullet Society to be able to get full benefit of the website- like posting privileges.

To learn more about the eGullet Society and how it got started, read this Wikipedia article.

Remember that teaching your children to cook is an amazing gift- one that they will use to nurture and nourish their bodies as well as their loved ones. Be sure to document your family recipes and memories. Secret Ingredients will help you create a family cookbook that your family will cherish for generations.

Start today with a Free Trial Account!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Squash Souffle Recipe

Here is another recipe that is perfect for fall. The first time I ate this Squash Soufflé was at a family friend's Thanksgiving celebration. I fell in love with this dish and immediately asked for the recipe. This has become a favorite in my extended family. Rarely are there leftovers!

Squash Soufflé

2 pounds squash, sliced (I slice them in fourths- see above)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1- 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
season salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the squash, onion, salt and sugar and boil until soft. Drain and mash using a potato masher. Be sure to drain well. Extra water will make your soufflé too watery.

Add the butter, flour, milk, cheese, eggs and seasoning salt to the squash mixture. Mix well. Pour the mixture into a greased, round casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt a dab of butter and mix with a handful of breadcrumbs (about 1/2 cup). Top the soufflé with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

You may want to make smaller soufflés to serve as individual portions. I tried this and it turned out beautifully- see above. This is perfect for entertaining! This recipe should make about 6 small soufflés .

Sign up for your FREE Secret Ingredients trial account today to peruse our recipe database, The Stock Pot. Cookbookers, remember that all Stock Pot recipes can be added to your cookbook project at the click of a button. Super easy.

Do you have any favorite family recipes for fall? Please share them with us! Also, if you are interested in receiving a Secret Ingredients brochure via snail mail, simply fill out this form. Our brochures include font samples and coupon codes... You can't beat that!

Also, be sure to check out this article that Jen shared on one of our favorite blogs, So You Wannabee a Domestik Goddess, yesterday: 4 Steps to an Organized Refrigerator. Posted by Picasa

Remembering 9/11 & the Importance of Family

Today is a day of remembrance for all of us. For some of us, it is a day to remember and pay tribute to those who lost their lives on the tragic day of September 11, 2001. For others, it is a day to remember loved ones and memories with them that feel so far away- almost as if they were part of another lifetime.

This day reminds me of how simple and powerful life really is. Although we are a species made up of different backgrounds, opinions, experiences, and preferences, we are united emotionally. When tragedy hits, we are in pain together. We are angry together. And all of us feel the natural pull to what's most important, the roots of life: family, friends, community, and life's beautiful simplicities.

It's amazing how each family on this planet has a story unique to only its members. Yes, we are all affected by historical events, but we are all affected differently. Today it is important to remember how our own families are special; to celebrate the memories we have with each other; to be thankful for life's simplicities; and to share and document our family's history for future generations, so that what's special about your family continues...

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Favorite Fall Recipe: Zucchini Frittata

Last weekend I went back to my home town to celebrate the birth of my sister's second child. While I was home, I decided to spoil my father with all kinds of delicious foods, including this Zucchini Frittata and Daniel's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This recipe is so easy and delicious. Your family will beg for more! Unlike most egg dishes, this one tastes great the next day (if not better). Also, it is the perfect time of year to break out the zucchini recipes. Even non-veggie lovers will love this one. Enjoy!

Zucchini Frittata

3 cups grated zucchini
1 small chopped onion
1 cup Bisquick mix
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
½ tsp margarine
½ tsp salt & pepper

Mix it all up, pour into a buttered 10" pie plate, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes- or until a knife in the center comes out clean. Easy as that!

Don't forget to make plans to celebrate the grandparents in your life. Sunday, September 10th, is National Grandparents' Day!

Secret Ingredients Family Cookbookers:
This recipe is in The Stock Pot. Don't forget that all Stock Pot recipes can be added to your cookbook project with the click of one button. Simple! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Make Cooking Easier for Older Generations

We are on a roll this week, helping you get prepared to celebrate Grandparent’s Day on September 10th.

My childhood friend Sarah grew up in my backyard. (Of course, she likes to say that I grew up in her backyard, but that’s another issue!) We were inseparable in our teenage years and were welcomed into each other’s homes as family.

Sarah and I now live five hours apart, but twice a year we meet halfway at her grandmother’s house. Sarah’s grandmother, Gammie, fixes us a delicious “comfort food” meal while Sarah and I catch up and giggle like school girls!

Gammie is one of the most dignified, elegant women I have ever met. She’s an incredible hostess and cook, and I feel so warm and fuzzy each time I come for a visit! Recently I met Sarah at Gammie’s, but something was different. Gammie had slipped at the grocery store and broken her arm and cooking was very difficult for her.

Sarah and I gladly took over the meal and set out to make things perfectly easy for Gammie who has shown us so much love in the past. However, I was upset to see how difficult things were for Gammie.

I did some research this week, and I have found a list of items that will make cooking and daily life much easier for people suffering with injuries, arthritis, etc. I thought this would be very helpful information for Secret Ingredients’ Grandparents’ week…

  • Grip N Flip
  • Utensils-
    These utensils are perfect for flipping, lifting, and serving hard-to-hold foods.

  • Lids Off™ Jar Opener
  • from Black n'Decker®-
    Lids Off™ makes opening jars effortless and is perfect for anyone who suffers arthritis or weak hands. Now you can open a jar with only one hand!

  • Black n’ Decker Cordless Can Opener-

  • Battery Operated Sifter

  • Sifting is close to impossible for weak hands. This lightweight sifter does all the work.

  • Bag Opener with Magnet
  • The bag opener is ideal for people who find it difficult to open sealed plastic bags.

  • The Spreadboard-
  • The Spreadboard holds bread in place while spreading jam, butter, or whatever you choose. Perfect if you only have the use of one hand.

  • Starfrit Rotato Potato Peeler Express
  • - The Rotato® Express is the amazing peeling machine that peels away potato, vegetables and fruit skins – in seconds – in one fast, easy motion.

  • Toastmaster Chopster

    • Honor your favorite family cook by creating an heirloom cookbook full of family recipes! Posted by Picasa

      Wednesday, September 06, 2006

      Honor Thy Family Cook!

      September 10th is National Grandparents’ Day, and we are celebrating!

      Do you have warm, fuzzy memories of eating your grandmother’s home-cooked meals?

      I will never forget eating wonderful Southern meals every Sunday at my Grandmother Lois’ house. These meals were an act of love! Her family recipes instantly take me back to those days of warm, delicious meals and family laughter…

      Today I hope to inspire you to celebrate the cooks in your family who have shown their love for you through food…
      • Family Cookbook-
        Create a family cookbook to celebrate your favorite cook. Fill it with photographs of the cook in his/her kitchen and the entire family enjoying the food. Document the family recipes so that future generations can celebrate and continue the traditions.

      • Scrapbook-
        Honor each family cook in a scrapbook! We recommend devoting several pages to each cook. Add a photograph of each chef in their own kitchen and include their favorite recipes. Remember to ask each cook for their cooking tips and about their times in the kitchen, as well as stories about memorable “food occasions”.

      • Frame Idea-
        Find a picture of your family cook in his/her kitchen. Also, find a recipe card that has a favorite family recipe written in handwriting. Have the two items custom framed together.

      • Video Camera-
        Bring out the camera and video your family’s cooks in their kitchen. Ask them to talk about their recipes and tell stories about the recipes and special foods. You’ll be so glad you did this! Not only will you have the stories documented but you’ll capture their voice and presence on film. Your video will be cherished for generations!
      I hope this inspires you to celebrate and remember the meals and foods that have been made for you out of love! The times we have with loved ones around the table and in the kitchen are some of life’s most beautiful moments. Posted by Picasa Posted by Picasa

      Saturday, September 02, 2006

      Slow Food USA

      Secret Ingredients and I have recently joined Slow Food USA.

      Slow Food is “an international organization that promotes food and wine culture.” It boasts 83,000 members in over 100 countries and is organized into more than 800 local convivia. The local convivia organize food and wine events and promote local artisans and wine cellars.

      Slow Food “believes the enjoyment of excellent foods and wines should be combined with efforts to save traditional cheeses, grains, vegetables, fruits, and animal breeds that are disappearing due to the prevalence of convenience food and agribusiness.” Read more about their Mission here.

      If you are looking for local foodies, this is a great cause. Check it out!

      Celebrate Your Favorite Foods: Check out Local Food Festivals

      What better way to celebrate the food we love than Food or Drink Festivals! It just so happens that September is an incredible month for food festivals…

      The following festivals take place in September:
      • Apple and Applejack

      • Beer and Hops

      • Black Walnut

      • Cranberry

      • Country Ham

      • Peanut

      • Onion

      • Potato

      • Sweet Corn

      Join in the fun and support your local food community!

      We’ve found the perfect site to help you find food festivals that are up your alley:

      All American Food Festivals-
      Search by State, Month, or Keyword and you will be presented with all the options. Once you find an event that interests you, click the Details button. This is all the information you need to attend: Location, Admission & Parking and Website listing.

      Get festive and celebrate food! Be sure to tell us about any fun festivals that you attend!

      Maybe the festivities will inspire you to create some new original recipes for your Secret Ingredients family cookbook. Posted by Picasa

      Friday, September 01, 2006

      The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever

      My best friend, Beth, is an amazing cook! She is also very generous with her recipes- yay! Beth's chocolate chip cookie recipe is definitely the best way to celebrate the upcoming holiday weekend...

      Yumm-O! Don't these look delicious!

      The story behind the recipe:

      One of the first Secret Ingredients cookbooks I made was a wedding gift for Beth and her husband, Daniel. The pages were filled with recipes from both Beth and Daniel's family members as well as Beth's original recipes. It was a wonderful gift for them to share and explore as they started their life together.

      After they met, Beth quickly discovered that chocolate chip cookies are Daniel's favorite treat. She decided to perfect her recipe by changing it one batch at a time until Daniel said, "This is the one!" This recipe was included in their wedding cookbook...

      Daniel's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

      1 bag milk chocolate chips (use fine chocolate)
      2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
      2 cups salted butter
      1 ½ cups sugar
      1 ½ cups brown sugar
      4 eggs
      1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla
      4 ¾ cups flour
      2 teaspoons baking soda
      1 teaspoon salt

      Preheat the oven to 375˚. Zap the butter in the microwave until partly melty. Put into a BIG bowl... I use my large cooking pot. Add sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking powder, and stir to combine. Add flour, and stir slowly until mixed. Add all the chocolate chips, and stir until combined.

      Cut parchment to fit your baking pan. Spoon out the dough in large clumps (I use a 2 tbsp. stainless steel coffee scoop, and mound the dough in it slightly, as a measure) on the parchment. I fit about 8 cookies per sheet, to give them room to spread.

      Bake at 375˚ for about 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the top browned in places... they will be soft in the center, but cook a bit more out of the oven and firm up as they cool. To cool, lift the parchment and cookies off the cookie sheet and place on a counter. This makes a bunch of glorious cookies, and these cookies freeze beautifully! __________________________________________

      Beth shared this recipe with me several months ago, and it is my absolute favorite cookie recipe. Enjoy!

      Note: You will find this recipe in The Stock Pot. To add it to your cookbook project, simply click the "Add this Recipe" button at the bottom of the cookie recipe!

      Posted by Picasa

      Brighten Up Your Family Lunches

      Jen at So You Wannabeea Domestik Goddess (one of our favorite blogs) has a wonderful idea to brighten up your family lunches!

      Check it out!

       Posted by Picasa