Sunday, July 22, 2012


Oh my gosh! Where does time go by… I really would love to be able to write and post more often…. Time just seems to go on with or without you. I also need to recognized once May come around I really do not have much time to just sit in front of a computer and type. Garden Season starts and Market Season starts in May the two motivators in why I wanted to start this blog….oh but they keep me so busy. Let’s see…. The community garden is going well… everything is planted and looks great. Families have been harvesting lettuce and rhubarb during June. I decided in the winter I was going to play a little bit more with rhubarb and learn to embrace it. I think people seem to love it or hate and because it bitter taste and some people seem turn their nose up at it. I am guessing that might come from a bad childhood experience. I do not have much of a childhood memory of rhubarb, but I guess my Grandpa use to grow it and my Grandma use to bake pies with it. I do hope to grow it one day too. So this was the year for me to embrace and well, I did. This growing season I made rhubarb crunch, rhubarb and apple sauce and the rhubarb coffee cake. The crunch was pretty good but when I made the other two items… it took a back seat. The sauce turned out pretty good, I was making the sauce while I was cleaning out the fridge and I had two apples that had been in there a while so I decided to put them in the sauce and boy did that turn out to be a little treat. Now the coffee cake I just love … I have make a few times and let a bunch of people try and everyone just seems to love it. Here are some interesting facts about the fruit. Rhubarb was considered to be a vegetable until 1947 when a New York court decided it was a fruit for the purpose of regulations and duties. When growing rhubarb it is important that you cut the flowers off the plant to make sure the energy stays in the stalks. The stalks are what you harvest from the plant and they can be red and green. It is important to take the leaves off the stalk because they are considered to be toxic.  

Rhubarb Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13X9 pan
½ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
½ cup chopped walnuts
1teaspoon on cinnamon
Melt butter, mixed butter, sugar, cinnamon and nuts in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Cake ingredients:
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup of butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sour cream
1 ½ cups of rhubarb- cut into ½ inch pieces
Cream butter and brown sugar together, add egg. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mixed sour cream and then add rhubarb. Mix well and pour batter in greased cake pan. Then spread topping on top of the batter.
Bake for 45- 50 minutes, let cool and serve.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I love living and working in Western New York!

The growing season is just amazing in Western New York; it is such beautiful and edible time of year. Our season starts in about May and ends around early November. We live in zone 5 for growing flowers and vegetables. April is a great time to start planting the cold weather crops such as radishes, lettuce, peas and spinach. I am very lucky to have a job takes me all over Erie County which is marvelous county that has a large urban, suburban and rural areas. Today, I went to North Collins to do some Food Stamp Outreach. North Collins is about 30 miles outside the city of Buffalo a town over from the Eden. Eden is another rural town that has many growers and many of the growers are part of a business called Eden Valley Growers. They are a co-op of farmers who started came together so they could pool their fruits and vegetables to sell grocers like Wegmans and ship throughout Eastern States. The Co-op started just over 50 years and is made up of 10 Farmers which are third and fourth generation farms. They start their lettuce early using row covers protecting from bugs and frost and they hope to have lettuce in local grocery stores like Wegamns by the second – third week of May. Fresh local produce at our finger tips! In addition to providing Food Stamp Assistance I have a little job of finding big pine nugget mulch for our community garden. I am not sure if this is a great job for me since every place I have I go to I always buy something. I love going to the garden stores they are always so pretty. I think now is a really cool time to go because everything is ready for sale and the greenhouses are full because it is early to plant many annuls. While I was there I saw the perfect Mother’s Day gift for my mom and I wasn’t even looking. I bought her a climbing Clematis plant. The funny thing is she is has the trellis and a spot to grow the plant but no plant, I bet she knew I was going to buy her one. Then I saw these really cute strawberries plants in a planter, they were so cute I had to buy the plant for myself.  Then of course on my way home I stopped to buy fresh brown eggs from a road side stand. It truly lovely day for a county drive!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Missing in Action... I am back

I am so long overdue for a posting. Life has been busy plus I have been dealing with a three week old cold that seems to be taking all my energy. Although I do believe the cold is my fault, if I would of slowed down and took better care of myself- I feel I would of never caught this cold. Oh yes, by the way I caught the cold from my boss and I am sure there was a bit of karma there as well, every time when he comes back from visiting his grandkids he always gets sick and well I laughed- when I saw him sick on the first day back from his vacation. So you see any way I look at this cold- it is my fault. So hopefully I will learn a lesson from this… but I doubt it- I am pretty hardheaded. At any rate—spring is in the air and it is the start of the outdoor growing season. So many great things to do, feel, eat and see! April is really a good time to start your cold weather crops. I did buy a few things to plant in the garden in April like phlox, pansies, and a flat of perennials, lettuce and onions. I have planted almost everything I bought so for far.  
I went to the whole sale place where I buy all our plants for the Food Bank a few weeks ago- everything was just beautiful. Flowers and plants everywhere and it just puts you in a great mood. Nurseries in general are such fun places to be. Ok, so maybe I didn’t plant almost everything I bought because I keep going to nurseries and buying more, I forgot about the nasturtium I just bought yesterday. This is such an exciting time of year.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shopping Matters…

I wrote for a grant for work, through Share our Strength called Shopping Matters. It is a small grant, but it is something I really believe in and love…. Teaching low income families how to shop healthy on a budget. The object of this grant to educate low income families at the grocery store how to buy healthy food on a budget to me this sounded easy and right up my alley. Shopping Matters provides a small reusable shopping bag, a book, full of tips and healthy recipes and a little calculator to each person. There is also a $10.00 challenge, I will tell you more about that later. So I took a small group of woman with my colleague to Tops on Niagara Street. I wanted to take them to Price rite on Elmwood because I think things are a little cheaper there but one lady in the group complained about Price rite. I take shopping for granted. I do have a budget as I do live on a budget and I do not make great money at my job. Although most people do or should have a budget when doing anything…. I came from a family who always had a pantry full of food on hand and so did my grandparents. I always stock up when things are on sale. I usually do no pay full price for meat. I also have a car and I can go to different stores at different times to buy what they have on sale when I want to… So my three keys issues are that I do have enough money to stock up on items and I can drive to different stores to buy items at different stores. I also can afford to get the Sunday Paper or go on line to get the newspaper. These things all make a difference when making trying to save money. The other thing is time and you have to want to put time and energy in wanting to save money. So now to the $10.00 challenge, I gave each person a $10.00 gift card to buy at least one item from the following food groups; fruit, vegetable, whole grain, dairy and lean protein. This challenge wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. I was thinking that a meal could be purchased with challenge… All of traditional lean protein was at least $5.00 or more. Some of the proteins the women purchased were eggs, dried beans and tuna and lentils, which are all great items- but most low income folks that I know and work with are meat eaters. Even buying a loaf of bread for between $3.00 and $5.00, the woman bought things such whole wheat taco shells and whole wheat pasta. Overall the group loved the challenge and it was a lot of fun. As for me I learned a lot- I take my budget for granted and it is a lot harder then I often think. For example buying the big packs of meat is a lot cheaper, but you need to have the money to buy the large pack to save money and some people just do not have the extra money to buy the club size and large packs of items even though it one of the best ways to save money. It would be great to have a loan program for low income families to give them a jump start to be able to buy bulk items and save money in the long run. The following week I went shopping at Save a lot and was able to but a meal with dessert together for four people for $2.60 a person. Then I did a food demo with the group. We made sugar free jello with bananas ( fruit) and Chicken Stir Fry with Chicken and vegetables over brown rice .

Chicken Sir Fry over Brown Rice

2 boneless skinless Chicken Breast – fat cut off and cut up in small bite size cubes

2 packs of frozen stir fry vegetables or any vegetables of your choice

1 onion – cut up in small pieces

2 garlic cloves- minced

Soy Sauce ( 3 tablespoons) – more in needed

Worcester sauce (3 tablespoons – More if needed)

Olive Oil (about 2 tablespoons)

Cooked Brown Rice

Pour Olive oil in pan let heat up for about a minute, then add onions and cook until clear and then add garlic and cook for about more minutes. Add Chicken and lightly brown on each side- add ½ of the soy sauce and Worchester sauce stir in with meat. Then add frozen vegetables and stir the rest of the sauce. Cook until the vegetables are done. Pour over cooked brown rice.

If you are using instant brown rice, you can cook the rice while you are cooking the stir fry. If you are making regular brown rice – make sure the rice is cooked a head of time before you start the stir fry.

You can use one package of vegetables, I use to because we like lot of veggies. If you do not have fresh garlic you can use garlic powdered or minced garlic.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Super Bowl/Souper Bowl

I think the weeks leading up the super bowl, are often more exciting than actually the super bowl, except when of course the Buffalo Bills are in it– but that hasn’t happened since 1994. The playoff games are full of action and passion. On a side note over two decades ago youth of the Presbyterian Church started the Souper Bowl .The whole idea behind it is, while we are in are in warm home eating lot of food cheering on our favorite team-there are people who do not know where they are going to get their next meal from. The Saturday a week, before the Super Bowl, youth groups have Souper Bowl Service Day and provide service projects at area shelters, dining rooms and food pantries. So the three Saturdays ago a group of young adults from Orchard Park Pres. Church came to the food pantry that I work at and volunteered their time and stocked our food shelves and cleaned our refrigerator. We were able to accomplish so much. Then the day of the Super Bowl the youth hold a collection- they have big soup pots and they ask their members to think about all the people who may not be able to watch the game in a warm home eating everything and anything they want – to donated a dollar, a few dollars or a can soup. This coming Monday, Orchard Park Pres will be dropping up canned soup at our food pantry. Ok back to the Super Bowl… I wasn’t rooting for either team; frankly I didn’t care for either team. I don’t really like Tom Brandy, but I did know that Gronkowski was from Amherst and went to Williamsville North, but he doesn’t even consider Buffalo as his hometown because in his Sr. year of High School his family moved to Pennsylvania and he considers Pittsburg to be his hometown. As for the Giants, I was in NYC the last time these two team went to the Super bowl and I watched the game at the hotel bar in the hotel I was staying at… the party was great. I shopped the entire day before the game started and talked to some many people trying to find a good place to watch the game and feel the excitement after all the Giants are one on NYC teams, I couldn’t find any excitement and that was from the South Bronx to the Village. Then the Giants won the game- and on Monday we shopped once again from lower Manhattan- mid Manhattan through Harlem and at the airport and we couldn’t find one Championship T-shirt - but we did see Tracy Morgan on 125th street. Coming from Buffalo that was a big appointment,,, if the Bills won there would be T-shirts for sale on every street corner and parties lasting weeks. In our glory days you would see people in Bills gear everywhere you go. ( ok, maybe I am a bit bitter) No city should have two teams…oh by the way if the Jets were in the big game, I would have been rooting for them.

Any ways back to my Super Bowl Sunday, I had a great day… I started cooking and cleaning the night before and in the morning. With my friend Judy I went to a card making Super Bowl party until 4:30 and had some much fun, I made five great cards and had pizza and pop. Then I came home and starting cooking for some great food. I made artichoke dip, taco salad, potato skins, hummus, deviled eggs and my friend Debbie made Chicken Wing dip.

The potato skins I used one of Rachel Ray’s recipes and the Chew demo as a guide- they were great and I didn’t have large amounts of guilt from eating them. I used the potatoes that I bought from the my farmer friend in Oct. (yes stored correctly they were still good). The skins are very tender and thin on fresh potatoes.

Potato Skins

4-5 whole potatoes (depending on how many people you are serving)

Olive oil



Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Sour cream

Real bacon bits

1. Poke about five holes with a fork on each potato. Brush olive oil all over the potato and bake on a cookie sheet for about a 45 mins. – to an hour in a oven preheated to 400 degrees.

2. Let potatoes cool, where you can handle them, then take out the insides. I usually save the insides to serve for another meal. You are going to want to leave some potato on the skins esp. when you are using fresh local potatoes since the skin is so tender.

3. Line your skins on the cookie sheet – salt and pepper the potatoes and then sprinkle some cheese on each potato and then had a little sour cream. Then bake for about 5-10 mins. You want to melt the cheese and make sure the potato is warm.

4. Take out of oven and sprinkle the bacon bits on.

5. Serve and Enjoy!

It depends on how much toppings you put on the potatoes – if you need to salt your potato. I didn’t load then up so I felt the potato needed some salt. Do what works best for you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sausage and Kale soup

Sausage and kale soup

Today my friends came over and I made a quick soup for dinner. One of my favorites soups, sausage and kale. I am able to make this deliciously and easy soup fairly inexpensively. I find sausage in the grocery store on sale. I often buy sausage that says use today or freeze, you can get some really good deals. The soup cost about $15.00 for everything and I was able to serve 4 people plus one quart and half left over.

2- 4 pounds of Italian sausage hot- chicken or pork

3- 4 celery stalks- cut into small pieces

3-4 carrots cut into small pieces

1 med onion diced

3 garlic cloves- minced

1 tb. thyme

2 tsp. Pepper flakes- less if you are using hot sausage

12 cups of chicken stock

1 tsp. black pepper

3-4 small potato or 1 large potato

I bunch a kale

Cut the sausage in to bite size pieces and brown, take out of pan and set aside. Dice all you vegetables and set aside. Cook the onions in the same pot that you cooked the sausage pot using the drippings. If you are using a chicken sausage you may have to add some olive oil. Add the garlic, then celery and carrots and cook for about 5-7 mins. Add thyme and red pepper flakes. Add chicken stock and sausage. Last five minutes throw in potatoes and kale.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


The worm lady (I do not think she would appreciate me calling her that)called on Sunday for me to pick up my worms and I was so excited. I went to her home in Lancaster and she gave me a coffee container with little hole on top of it filled with 500 worms. I couldn’t wait to get home to put in the worm factory. I shredded some lettuce so they would have some food for when I brought them home. I get home open the coffee can and put the worms in… that was it…. There was no excitement and there hasn’t been any since. The worms eat very little. I am not ever sure if they are eating the lettuce because they the lettuce looks like the shredded newspaper. The worm lady did give me some food – it looks like wood shavings – she told me it is a left over product from some type of sprits that someone made. The directions did say put the food in the corner and I didn’t put the lettuce there, I guess the reason might be so you can identify the food to see if they are eating. I check the worms every other day, I see a few of them move and that is pretty much it. It will be a week tomorrow… I promise I will keep you posted of any changes.