Food

Good-bye to NABISCO

Since my toddler days, I can recall my  father, of Italian/American descent enjoying a breakfast tradition of a biscotti and coffee, sitting down at the breakfast table  with Nabisco's Uneeda Biscuits and a cup of coffee.

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As a schoolgirl, we often had Nabisco's graham crackers for our own breakfast.  Newly married, and during my pregnancies,  I ate only graham crackers for those nauseous mornings and later  I mixed graham crackers with formula or my own breast milk for my infants.  Graham crackers and milk were a staple for fast school-age breakfasts and included in the lunch bag as a dessert or snack.  As an adult, I reached for graham crackers on those winter-sick cold-virus days when food was not appetizing.   Or as a sneak low-calorie snack during serious dieting,

When I found out recently that Nabisco has already moved some and is planning to move its food operations to Mexico, I felt like I lost my family friend.   Quoting from the internet,

"This sort of thing seems to be a new trend among corporations.   Produce their product overseas where they can reap bigger profits because they use cheaper labor and usually don't have to deal with unions and I bet there are far less regulations & inspections by government agencies.  Their greed comes at a huge loss for us."

You can say that again - for me, too.  Along these lines, I have had several occurrences with overseas' products.  One was with a prescription medicine I take for a chronic issue.  My health provider sent me a generic brand which was made in a country I never heard of.    I checked into it because it caused itching attributed - according to my doctor - from the added green dye color.  I dropped the insurance company and went back to the brand name.   No more itching.

The second incident was a pair of shoes I ordered online - they cost $79.99 and were on sale for $51.99.  They have a sweet button on my toe line   I wore them on vacation and  developed infected burn blisters in that same sweet button design  engraved on my toes.    I investigated and they were made in China and similar to the children's burn marks from thongs made in China a few years back.  Bad investment.

Also made in China was catnip we purchased for our beloved cat which was packaged in the USA but made in China.  Fortunately for our cat, it was recalled (causing death in cats) before I gave it to him.   I will not buy anything anymore that is made in these unregulated countries - like China & Mexico.

I will not support American companies who are so greedy to take jobs away from Americans which affects our economy negatively and/or sell less regulated products for the same price and lead us down the path to third-world status.

"Mexico offers a certification option, but it doesn't require it. The US does spot checks – on farms and at the border – but requires no standards certification. The main exporters face standards dictated by third-party auditors demanded by American clients. But some growers, they say, do not have direct relationships with the end client in the US. They sell to brokers, and some are more lax than others. That, Usabiaga says, is where the danger to all looms."

GOODBYE NABISCO   untitled (96)  NO LONGER ON MY SHELF

Here is an article  from USA Today "Food Safety From Mexican Farm to Costco to your plate.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/1023/Food-safety-From-Mexican-farm-to-Costco-to-your-plate.

PS - Since Donald Trump called Nabisco out on 8/19/15 speech, the  Mexico regulation articles that were on the internet last night are 'coincidentally not available' this morning.

Marie Coppola August 2015

 

 

Charleston, West Virginia's City Council has a new law governing just how many baby chicks a person can buy. The new law amends a law that had been on their books for five decades. The prior ordinance had stated it was unlawful to sell baby fowl, such as chicks, ducklings, goslings, or turkeys, in lots of fewer than six. Now businesses and breeders can sell just one young fowl.   There was a time when families bought a dozen baby chicks as an Easter present.   No more.

It seems that people buy the fluffy, adorable little chicks and forget that they can grow up to be big, pecking chickens or roosters. A chicken more than doubles it's weight every two weeks until it's full grown. The Animal Shelter in Charleston said that someone brought in a chicken that was given as an Easter gift. Sometimes people dispose of them especially if they are bought in larger quantities because they really only wanted one. It is not recommended to buy more than one since most people don't have the space to keep them. And it saves unnecessary disposing of baby chicks.

Our dad bought us a dozen baby chicks one Easter when I was 12; it was common for families to get them for the kids' pleasure for Easter. Our baby chicks survived the fondling and squeezing that younger kids excel in doing and the chicks more than doubled in size quickly. Dad had to erect a chicken coop in our yard to hold 12 mature roosters.   We had a large wooded lot in the back and if anyone in our development minded the cock-a-doodle doos early in the morning, no one complained. At least, not to us.

I was given the task of making sure the coop was locked every night against predators such as weasels and/or foxes. Although I was conscientious about this, one night, my younger neighbor next door asked if he could play with them and he would lock the coop for me. I said OK, but unfortunately, the young 9 year old forgot to do so. At dawn, the next morning, we found that none of the chickens survived the night invasion, except for one lying motionless in the driveway and the smallest one of the group who had run away, but came back that next morning

I was devastated and guilt-ridden. My mother, who grew up with chickens herself, said the most humane thing was to 'pull' the chicken's neck and put him out of his misery. I begged and pleaded as only a 12-year can do, and my mom, God bless her, said I could stay home from school and see what I could do for the fallen rooster.

The poor thing kinda flopped where he lay and had very little life in him. He could not stand, and couldn't or wouldn't open his eyes. Food was not even an option; he could not have eaten or even put his head up and try. I made a little bed with rags for him - and wrapped them around him as he could not be lifted; I was afraid he would die from the move. Since he couldn't eat, I tried to find some bugs and other things like corn or bread that he liked, but he had no interest at all.

The only thing I could think of was oranges. We always had lots of oranges, and I squeezed some in a bowl. To 'feed' the rooster, I had to nudge his head up and put his beak into the orange juice. He had two choices: he could pick up his beak and gurgle it or he could drown in it. He gurgled. For the next few days, he was given orange juice in this manner. Again, my mom, let me stay home another day, but said I had to go back to school on Monday - that gave me 4 days in total to juice the rooster.

Mornings I would get up before school, juice the rooster, dash home and juice again and then at night. Eventually, the rooster got stronger and was standing - although wobbly - which was cause for a family celebration. When he finally walked, he was given his regular food in addition to the orange juice - and even though he walked somewhat lopsided like a crab, he could walk. He never ran as fast as his brother, but he wobbled along nicely beside him. Always - on a slant, but almost catching up.

Eventually, the two brother roosters were able to inhabit the coop again and I never forgot to lock the coop again. The greatest moment for me was one morning, as usual, the brother rooster would wake us up for school about 6:30 am with his perky doddle doo. A few minutes later, there was this very throaty, uneven, bizarre cock-a-doodle-doo which could not be made by any other animal except a once-wounded rooster. In true Walton Family Style, you could hear everyone laughing from their bedrooms and clapping and shouting that I, indeed, did fix the rooster. My mother never had to remind us to drink our orange juice after this; we learned first-hand the benefits of Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is required for life. The nature of our modern diets leads to a serious lack of this essential nutrient. This situation may be a leading contributor to much of the sickness and chronic disease that the population of the earth suffers.

A study in the Journal of Epidemiology (May, 1992) was reported to show that people who have high blood levels of vitamin C live 6 years longer than those who have lower blood levels. Ref: http://www.cforyourself.com/

You don't have to convince me. I found out first-hand at age 12 just how potent Vitamin C is. It is life sustaining and most necessary nutrient. An animal was nurtured back from imminent death; sustained until strength returned and made an almost full recovery.

© Marie Coppola  March 2014

 

 

"Over the River and Through the Woods" is a well-known Thanksgiving song written by Lydia Maria Child. It was originally written as a poem, entitled "A Boy's Thanksgiving Day and celebrated childhood memories of Lydia Maria visiting her grandparent's house. Although it is sometimes substituted as a song for Christmas, our family never failed to sing this song in our unmelodic voices on our way to Thanksgiving Dinner at Nana and Grandpa's house. Usually driving over a bridge precipitates it and we break into song. It is a tradition that spills over into the grandkids. It goes:

"Over the river, and through the wood, To Grandmother's house we go; The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow. Ohhh"

Over the river, and through the wood—Oh, how the wind does blow! It stings the toes and bites the nose , As over the ground we go."

Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is a traditional family gathering either at our parents, if we still are fortunate enough to have them, or a sibling or whichever family member does the cooking that year. The holiday conjures up memories of other Thanksgivings and more often than not, there is a big stuffed turkey, with lots of vegetables and trimmings. If you are Italian, or any other nationality, there is sure to be favored ethnic dishes piled high. We try to make sure we have room for the pumpkin, apple and mince pies - what is Thanksgiving without the memories of feasts we've shared?

The day, of course, is in gratitude for all our blessings and family members. As we gather round, we are grateful for the gathering and maybe some new additions to the family. There may also be some empty chairs for many reasons that once were filled, and we are grateful for the memories we hold for these family members, too.

We probably all have similar sayings and customs for this "Thank You Day" or "Turkey Day". I always say something which my mother always said when we sit down at 3:00 pm for dinner, "Do you realize how many people are doing this same thing right now?".....and most likely my daughter will say it someday when I'm not around in memory and fun. She does so already.

Here are some of our happenings on this special holiday.

  • After our first blessing, I ask one of the children to say grace. Children love to be part of an adult gathering and they love to say grace. They are thankful for everything, so make sure all the plates are covered against getting cold. The rest of the children want to add their thanks, too, and you get a good idea of what makes these little people the happiest. Anyone who wants to add a prayer, is welcomed.
  • After dinner, we always go round the table and each person tells everyone what they are most thankful for this year. The kids enjoy this part the most. This is always special as some people always joke; some always get very serious; some get emotional; and some articulate beautiful thanks to someone there who especially went the extra mile to help them. This part of the meal - while digesting - and before dessert - is very family-oriented. No hand-held video games, iPods, or cell phones are brought to the table.
  • During dessert, we ask if anyone wants to do the 'Christmas grab bag gift' idea. We started this when the family and kids and grand kids started to number 30. Instead of buying small gifts for everybody, we have a grab bag. Everyone's name goes in the hat and each person picks a name and buys a gift for that person and that person only. We put a price tag on it - one year it was $25.00 and that was a little too much for the teens and kids, so we settled on $15 or $10.

I wish you all a blessed and memorable Thanksgiving ~~~

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 107:1

Marie Coppola November 2013

 


Almost everyone loves pasta and Italian food. If you are Italian or know Italians, they claim to have the 'best sauce' ever. The reason for this is lies with their Mom or Nana. Chances are they learned from one another and the best ingredient in the best sauce are the hands that made them. We all gravitate to certain tastes in foods, and even more so in ethnic families.

What you've eaten all your life is delicious, comforting and 'the best' ever, no one's sauce comes close, even good Italian restaurants. Anthony's mother, down the street may make her sauce quite differently, and yes, to Anthony, hers is the 'best sauce' ever. Some Italians call spaghetti sauce, 'gravy'.

Nana Coppola made wonderful Italian recipes; she even taught cooking class at the parochial school. Her daughters try to emulate the 'best sauce ever' and their sauces are very similar and delicious. It is never exactly like Nana's, but what is missing are the hands, love and memories that she put into it. So, in her memory, here is Nana's recipe for the best sauce ever.

Ingredients

1 pound of chopped sirloin*  (*for variety, add pork chops, sausage or spare ribs)

Couple of cloves of chopped garlic

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 tsp. of fresh parsley or parsley flakes

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup flavored bread crumbs

3 Tbsp. milk

1 egg

2 tsp. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Put above ingredients in bowl and mix well. Shape into meat balls. Cook in small amount of olive oil until well browned; place in large sauce pan or pot. Set aside.

In a large pot, add the next ingredients to the. browned meatballs and/or sausage:

1/2  small can of tomato paste.     Stir and add 1/2 Cup of water.

2 large cans of tomato sauce (two 28 oz. crushed or whole tomatoes) - Italian brands preferred.

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes and/or basil leaf

1/4 teaspoon sugar**

salt and pepper  as desired

Cover and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Stir occasionally.

Prepare favorite pasta. Drain pasta and serve with sauce topped with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

New generations 'tweak' everything and here are some added suggestions:

1) *For healthy low-fat dieters, drain any excess fat from the meatball pan before adding tomaoes.   If  sausage is to be added, simmer the sausage prior for 10-15 minutes to rid of excess fat and then brown with the meatballs.

2) **In lieu of sugar added to the sauce, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red or white wine; this helps reduce acidity and helped prevent reflux.

3) For additional treat taste when serving, add a dollop of freshly made Sicilian ricotta cheese to the finished pasta when serving.  See my home-made ricotta cheese recipe:    http://expertistas.com/2012/11/19/how-to-make-home-made-delicious-ricotta-cheese/aboutme

Yums. Can you smell it?   It flavors the whole house!

©Marie Coppola July 2013

 

 

With all the obesity going on in theUnited States, it is difficult to believe that there are children between the ages of 2 and 10 who "never  want to eat."

That's what the grandparents will tell you. The parents will tell you that they are fussy eaters.  And the kids themselves will say things like ~ "it looks funny," or "it tastes funny in my mouth," or "my mother doesn't make it like that."  Or  "I'm not hungry right now."  They may not be hungry anywhere from  12 to 20 hours later or even 1 to 2 days.

If the parents of the never-hungry child ever leave this problem child  in your care, they'll tell you, "don't force him to eat."   Enjoy him and "don't worry, he'll eat when he is hungry."   Or "I brought a bag filled with what he WILL eat."   The small brown paper bag invariably contains: peanut butter crackers, small boxes of assorted cereals, puddings, applesauce, macaroni and cheese for those REALLY hungry days [but only one cup is ever eaten].  Plus popcorn, and candy - for treats when he does eat.  What!  He eats?  When?  S(he) is so skinny.

Having raised a child who weighed 40 pounds for three years of her life and who never "felt hungry right now," I should have been prepared for the grandchild who was never hungry and didn't eat whenever we did or eat what was prepared for each meal.

My daughter, my little Dumpling, subsisted all those years mainly on dairy products ~ milk, eggs, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, toast, macaroni and cheese and an occasional hot dog.  She subsisted, but she was so skinny, with all her ribs showing, that I'm sure my neighbors and family thought I was starving her to death.   She would only binge on Twinkies, which her grandmother always brought along when she visited and Dumpling would shove the entire Twinkie in her mouth to my mother-in-law's "Oh, she's starving!"  Yeah, right.

Our pediatrician always insisted that she was healthy and his own daughter was 40 pounds for 3 years and not to worry about it.  Yeah, right.  Tell my mother-in-law that.

Being blessed in my life with everything except a child who didn't eat, I guess it was only natural my two grandchildren did not eat or get hungry either.   Because we're Italian, this is especially a bad thing for grandmothers and a minor disgrace.  Italian kids should be chubby and well-nourished with that round, pasta filled-out looking face smeared constantly with spaghetti sauce.  It doesn't matter that they have a weight problem when they get older--that's OK--  kids should eat; mangia, mangia, eat more, look healthy and fill out those pants.  Have some more. Good boy.

You can't fight this 'not eating' thing--it will only make you crazy.   If they don't want to eat--they simply won't eat.   So there are some things you should be aware of if you happen to care for skinny, rib-showing children who have no interest in food whatsoever:

  •  You can try to be nonchalant and just serve them a dish of whatever you made for the meal.  After it is untouched or even breathed on, and the meal is over, you can excuse the child.   He 'has' to get hungry eventually, you think.   Well, he will --- at 11:30 pm, he'll ask if he can have some pancakes or waffles.   Sometimes, he will wake you up to tell you this.  Ordinarily, you would never give in to this--but he may pass out from starvation before midnight and what would you tell his parents?  He's unconscious because I didn't make him what he wanted to eat?  He might come to and say, "Mommy, Nonna wouldn't feed me."  So you make 6 pancakes and he eats all of them, smothered in butter and syrup. You will get a certain relief to see him stuffing his face, but don't get too excited over this--he probably won't eat again until 8:00 pm the next night.  Or the night after that.  Maybe.
  • You could try the "you won't get dessert until you finish your dinner."  This rarely works--they want the dessert, but they don't want the food.  They won't eat the food until late that night when you'll make anything they want to give them nourishment.  And they will remember the promised dessert from two meals ago and ask for it--when it's no longer an option or is long gone.
  • Your well-meaning friends will tell you that you are wrong ~ you should "force them to eat," and it's a battle of wills.  Of course these same friends wring their hands when their own visiting grandchildren do not eat.
  • If a non-eating child's plate suddenly is empty and the food is gone - don't be jubilant. Look under the table or in his pockets.  It's there.
  • Don't presume if a child eats a hot dog one day, that he will eat it the next day or even in your lifetime.
  • Observe carefully how the child's mother prepares and serves the food.  If she makes only scrambled eggs, the child will not have an interest in poached or over-medium eggs.  It has to look just like the mother's.  Don't make eggs with bacon or ham -- he will  look it over more intently than an FAA inspection.  If mommy gives him 'green eggs and ham,' make sure you have food dye in the house.

Hang in there.  Dumpling survived her stick body and has matured into a well-nourished adult who diets now to keep her weight down - she eats everything.

The grandchild is still thin, but he started to really get into food about a year ago and is interested in football and knows he needs to chow down more to make the team.

Me?  I was never a 'never eat' child.  We were a family of 7 and if you didn't nail the food when it was available, it was wait till the next meal.   And we ALL cleaned our plates--nothing was left on them whether we liked the food or not.   And we were all chubby pasta-faced kids whose faces were smeared with spaghetti sauce.

© Marie Coppola Revised March 2015