Collecting poptops? We know you mean well, but …

soda can

What makes more sense: Recycling a whole can…? (Photo by Laura Groch)

My boss once gave me an assignment: People were collecting a million poptops from beverage cans and using the money made from recycling them to help a little girl who couldn’t afford dialysis treatments. What a great human interest story! Find out who the little girl was and what was going on. Here’s the phone number of the woman who called it in.

OK, fine. I called the nice lady. Let’s call her Mrs. Smith.

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Cooking up some guilt: What I wrote to ‘Dear Abby’

I’ve read “Dear Abby” for years and years. Handled the column during my newspaper days. But never felt moved to write a letter to her (or her daughter, who now handles the column) until a couple of months ago.

A young woman wrote in worried about her cooking shortcuts. Neither she nor her husband cared for cooking, both worked outside the home, and she was Continue reading

Thrifty/Nifty: Six painless ways to save water in the kitchen

water jug, saving water

Fill a jug with water as you wait for it to warm up (or cool down). Use that water elsewhere instead of sending it down the drain. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Water conservation is a big deal right now in California, but no matter where  you live, we can probably agree that no one wants (or needs) higher water bills. Here are a few painless ways I save water in the kitchen that might work for you:

The first tool in my arsenal is an empty milk jug. Next time you empty a gallon milk or orange juice container (or a half-gallon one, whatever), rinse it out and keep it by the sink. (If you have room, keep a couple there.) Next time you need to run the water until it’s hot (or cold), capture that water in the jugs. Use it later to fill pasta  pots, coffeemakers, the dog’s dish, etc. (Or keep a few filled jugs under the sink to add to your earthquake supplies.)

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Didn’t seed that coming: A new way with pomegranates?

pomegranate seeds on salad

A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds adds a bright touch to this simple green salad. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Cheery, colorful pomegranates are in season and ready to brighten our tables. Pomegranates are especially touted for their antioxidant properties these days, plus they are high in Vitamin C and a good source of fiber, says the POM Council.

But before we start cooking and eating, let’s decorate!

The fruits keep for a long time without refrigeration, so use them in a colorful display on your table or kitchen counter. Feature them in a large bowl or basket, and tuck in greenery, pine cones, cinnamon sticks or the like. Or mound them in a bowl with silver or gold round glass ornaments.

Now let’s talk juice. The flesh-covered seeds, called arils, are beautiful Continue reading

Two simple tips to keep your pantry (or fridge) cleaner

Repurposing lids of various types and depths underneath jars and bottles that tend to drip will help keep your pantry shelves cleaner. Photo by Laura Groch

Repurposing lids of various types and depths underneath jars and bottles that tend to drip will help keep your pantry shelves cleaner. Also, note rubber band around oil bottle, second from left. Photo by Laura Groch

Labor Day now having come and gone, it’s fitting to post something about reducing one’s labors in the kitchen. So, time for a thrifty/nifty pair of hints:

Next time you are ready to toss a jar or container with a sturdy, fair-sized and relatively deep lid, wash it and hang onto it for a while. (Note: Do not save more than three. Just saying.) These make great “coasters” for various bottles and jars that tend to drip and make a mess in the fridge or pantry. Yes, Continue reading

Go healthy: Five (OK, six) ways to trim the fat

pizza, half slice of pizza

Half a slice of pizza is better than none. (And you can also ask that half the cheese be used on it!)

Sorry for the hiatus! Been settling down to my new job. … :<)

So the doctor just told you it’s time to adjust the food intake: Cut the fat and cholesterol, tone down the salt, increase the fiber. But if you love burgers and pizza and ice cream, what’s a person to do?
Well, let’s face it — we know what we must do. But we can make adjustments to help the “medicine go down” a little more easily — and still keep eating (some of) the foods we love.
For most of us, changing our diets isn’t “all or nothing.” Being diagnosed with Continue reading

Look out for loquats

loquats

Loquats are delicate, delicious and a bit difficult to find. (Photo by Laura Groch)

A community church group was selling loquats recently, five yellow, larger-than-a-grape-but-smaller-than-an-apricot fruits for a dollar. So I took home a bag.

They seemed ripe enough, softish to the touch, but I really didn’t know much about them. Taking a knife to them, I was able to pull off the fuzzy peel without Continue reading

Thrifty/Nifty: Salad and sandwich makers, here’s a way to get it together

thrifty, nifty, consumer help, techniques, time-savers, veggies

All together now: Keep your sandwich/salad players in one container to speed your kitchen preparation. (Photo by Laura Groch)

I make a lot of sandwiches, and a lot of salads. Besides your basic greens, I add a lot of veggies to both: onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, radishes. I was forever searching in my fridge for each ingredient, which I had thoughtfully stored in its own little ex-cream cheese or hummus or butter tub.

One day I bought some new containers on sale (of course), in a larger size. Continue reading

Make it milk: Fun snacks for kids

Tiramisu, calcium, milk, dessert, snack, National Nutrition Month

This Tiramisu Parfait is easy enough for children to put together, and it packs lots of nutritious calcium from milk. (Photos courtesy California Milk Processor Board)

Chef Gino Campagna, snacks, zucchini dip, tiramisu parfait, National Nutrition Month, California Milk Processors Board

Chef Gino Campagna offers these recipes for kid-friendly snacks and more at http://www.gotmilk.com.

March is National Nutrition Month, and the California Milk Processor Board is partnering with former Disney Chef Gino Campagna to create kid-friendly — and healthful — snack ideas that youngsters can put together themselves. Kids love snacks, but not all snacks are created equal, especially in terms of nutrition. These recipes were developed to give kids plenty of calcium in each serving. The National Institutes of Child Health report that almost 90 percent of girls and more than 80 percent of boys ages 9-13 aren’t getting enough calcium, needed for strong bones.

“We need to engage our kids in grocery shopping and cooking at a young age so that healthy habits stick with them through life,” says Chef Gino, Master Chef at Piccolo Chef, an award-winning Continue reading

Pesto for St. Patrick’s Day

cilantro pesto, pesto, meatless, vegetarian, St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day

Nothing says green like a pesto sauce! The brilliant emerald color comes from cilantro leaves instead of basil. (Photos by Laura Groch 2014)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! You won’t find a recipe for corned beef or Irish soda bread here today, but I do have a recipe that’s very green. And it’s also kind of Italian, which checks off St. Joseph’s Day (March 19), and it’s meatless, so it works for Lenten Friday meals too.

But I have to warn you, it’s not for everyone. This recipe is for a flavorful pesto Continue reading