Category Archives: Cooking


I made Fourth of July Sparklers for a treat at the symphony orchestra outdoor concert tonight. Easy, easy treat to make. You will need:
A 10-oz bag of pretzel rods (I used Snyder’s of Hanover)
A tub of white icing
3 bottles of patriotic sprinkles (1.75 oz)
Cover a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Break the pretzel rods in half, if desired. Empty a bottle of sprinkles onto a plate. Open the icing tub, remove the seal, and nuke icing about 15-20 seconds. Stir well. 
Dip the broken end of each pretzel in the tub down to the bottom, remove, and allow to drip back in the container. Roll the icing portion in the sprinkles. Place on the waxed paper. Repeat with remaining pretzel halves. When complete, chill in the refrigerator an hour or so.
You can do all the little broken pieces in the bag too. 
You can keep the pretzels whole if you want, but they don’t have the same sweet/salty balance. We liked them better broken in half.


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Holiday Weekend Deals

I got some great grocery deals today, combining sales or BOGO and coupons. This is what I snagged:

Mueller’s pasta, BOGO and 55c/2 coupons: 52c each box
Dial soap pumps, $1 each and 35c coupons doubled: 30c each
Chinet plates 72 ct, BOGO: $3.20
Kraft shredded cheese, $2 each and 55c coupons: $1.45 each pkg
Reynolds Wrap non stick foil: $2.99 and 75c coupon: $2.24
Al Fresco sausages, $5.49 (regular price), $1/2 store Q and $1 mfr Qs: $3.99 each
Coleslaw BOGO: 65C

The Chinet plates are for our three away-from-home picnics this weekend; the cheese is for the freezer; the pasta is for hot-day salads; and I’m glad to finally get a good deal on non-stick foil. I’ve been wanting to try it.

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Basic 7 Smoothie

Some time ago I read online that there are seven foods we need to eat every day. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the article seemed to have good reasons for each food. And they weren’t trying to sell anything. So I wrote them down and sometimes I read through the list and plan to eat them all in one day.
What are the seven? 
Tomatoes (or papaya, guava, pink gr.fruit, watermelon)
Walnuts (or almonds, peanuts, macadamias)
Spinach (or romaine)
Oats (or flax seed, wild rice)
Carrots (or sweet potato, butternut squash, mango)
It’s hard to keep up with making sure I actually eat all of them in one day. And then the other day I wondered if I could make a tasty smoothie using all seven ingredients. I thought that would be an easy way to eat them each day. Using my Vitamix, here is what I came up with. 
Seven Things Smoothie
1/2 c yogurt
1/2 c watermelon cubes
8 raw almonds
One handful fresh spinach leaves
5 small kale pieces, optional
1 T flax seed (or 1/4 c oats)
2 slices mango (or 1/2 carrot)
1/4 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 banana, for thickening
6-8 ice cubes
Start on low speed, work up to full speed and blend for 2 minutes. YUMMY!


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Today’s deal: fresh strawberries at Aldi.

I bought three big flats, holding eight boxes each, or 24 boxes total. Each box contains one pound of berries. My cost? $6 for 24 pounds. 25c a pound. That’s not a joke.

Most are going in the freezer for smoothies.


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A Valentine Dinner

I always try to make a heart-themed dinner for Valentine’s Day, but the day almost escaped me this year. Somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 this afternoon I realized what day it was, and that I needed to get busy.

My usual approach is to make a heart-shaped meatloaf, but we were all out of raw ground beef. So I thought a bit and came up with this menu:

Shepherd’s Pie
Tossed Salad
Berry Cobbler a la Mode

The Shepherd’s Pie is made with leftover beef roast, leftover potatoes (turned into mashed potatoes for the top “crust”), carrots, peas, and gravy from leftover stock. At the last minute I sprinkled paprika through a heart cookie cutter to garnish the top.

For the tossed salad, I added artichoke hearts and sliced beets cut into hearts with a tiny cookie cutter.

The berry cobbler was made with raspberries, the only fruit I had in the freezer. I baked it in my heart pan, and then we used up the last few tablespoons of vanilla ice cream in the freezer.
I also dropped a few drops of red food coloring into our water pitcher to make every bit of our meal festive.

I decorated the other family members’ place settings with a red heart topped with a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup (their favorite).

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Just after Christmas we bought a new Vitamix blender.

I first saw the Vitamix while I was in high school many decades ago. We watched a demo at the county fair, and I was very impressed. What I remember most was that he threw in whole eggs, shell included. The Vitamix ground it up so finely that when he passed around samples of the smoothies, we couldn’t detect even the tiniest bit of egg shell in there.

Ever since then, I have wanted my own machine, but the price always made it out of reach for us. I have been saving extra grocery money for a long time now, and when we saw them at Costco (the Costco discount makes it more affordable) just before Christmas, we knew the time had come.

I’ve been playing around with it for a week now and I love it!

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Cookie Tree

We celebrate the Professor’s Swedish heritage every year at Christmastime by having a Santa Lucia dinner. This year we celebrated the feast on Christmas Eve. Our menu always includes Swedish meatballs, a seafood dish, lingonberries, and flatbread. The other many dishes vary from year to year. This year, I set out trays of assorted cookies for dessert, and the showpiece was a towering cookie tree.
Sometime during this past summer in my garage sale ramblings I had found a set of graduated cookie cutters for making the tree, and I thought Santa Lucia was a great time to try it out. It worked beautifully: the recipes for the sugar cookie dough and the glaze used for icing the layers were very tasty.

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