Category Archives: Stress-free entertaining

Appetizers VI/Polenta-based

I hope that everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday season and that the New Year finds all of you well and happy. Appetizers know no season.

As we continue with the appetizer theme, I will offer some that are all are gluten-free and can be made vegan. [By the way, did you know that Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies are vegan?]

Today our base is polenta:

Pictured below are:
Cooled stiff polenta with sautéed peppers , onions and parsley,  made into patties and lightly fried. They are topped with hummus,(see previous post),
Herbed mashed potatoes,
Herbed sour cream or cream cheese, (silken tofu or vegan sour cream can be substituted),or
Baby corn marinated ,and broccoli dipped, in Italian salad dressing
Pepperoni and provolone
I also show stiff polenta wrapped in turkey bacon,( you can use vegan bacon) and
Wrapped in cheese.

I also show the marinated baby corn and dipped , cooked broccoli wrapped in cheese, as well.

Polenta can make delicate to hearty appetizers

Polenta can make delicate to hearty appetizers

Polenta is basically cornmeal, not to be confused with grits, which are…grittier. Grits use a courser-grind of cornmeal.
Polenta can and has been confused, however, with ” mush“. which is cornmeal cooked in water and salt  alone,(basic polenta). In the southern parts of the U.S., it is usually cooked to full stiffness, cooled, then sliced and pan-fried; it is often served with syrup.

(Shortly after I moved to Kentucky, I left polenta and a pan of sausage sauce at a dinner at church.Before I could get back down to the kitchen, the women there had taken my sauce and added it to someone else’s barbequed cocktail wieners.They  misunderstood me as I had rushed out …they thought that I was bringing caramel sauce back for the “mush”.  What I made  was eaten very quickly by the Locals, who were glad to see ‘mush’ offered, but I was advised that I should have fried it before serving! My sons wondered who cooked like me when they ate the wieners.)

Polenta often has cheese or herbs added to it while cooking.One can even add well-cooked vegetables to the mix; common ones are onions, peppers, broccoli.

You can , in some areas, buy polenta mixes or pre-made polenta in tubes, which are often in the freezer case of your supermarket.

Making it from scratch is easy:

Basic Polenta

1 part corn meal (not self-rising!)
4 parts water

which means  use one-half cup of water to two cups of water; one cup of cornmeal to four cups,(one quart), of water;  two cups of cornmeal to  eight cups,( two quarts),  of water, etc.

Add at least 2 tsp. salt per cup of cornmeal

Bring the water to a boil and slowly add the cornmeal to keep it from lumping. (I advise using a wire whisk.)

You can add parsley, grated cheese,(I always add a little  grated Parmesan), plus onion or garlic powder, saffron , turmeric or any savory herb that you would like at this point; add any well-cooked vegetables at the end.

Stir continually over a medium high heat until your polenta is at a desired consistency…you want it very stiff to make appetizers.

You can leave the polenta for a few minutes if the heat is on low and you get right back and whisk it thoroughly. (Many Italian cooks would consider that last statement heresy, but it works.)

It’s a little more work but they should be made ahead of time and chilled. They could be made days ahead of time.

I have a few more samples to show you.I hope they inspire your own tatses.

 

Appetizers V/Stuffed Cold Cuts, Tofurkey/Marinated Mozzarella, Tofu

These heartier, filling "appetizers" should be used to fill a spot when a meal is missed.

These heartier, filling “appetizers” should be used to fill a spot when a meal is missed.

In Appetizers IV, I gave a few heartier version of what is a bit more than an actual “appetizer” should be, and here are a few more! These should be used more as a latter offering to take the place of a small meal, rather than as a pre-meal appetite-whetter.

Using Hummus as I spoke about in my last post, I added to it sautéed peppers in some cases, peppers and onions in others and sautéed mixed vegetables in others.

Simply take over-lapping layers of finely sliced deli turkey or chicken,( oven-roasted, mesquite or Cajun are best), roast beef,(add a little prepared horseradish sauce to the mix), or spiced ham. Add a dollop of prepared hummus and fold the ends of the meats over the top, close with a toothpick. If you can get Tofurkey, (soy-based meat substitute), or Seitan,(a wheat-based one), large enough and thin enough, it should work as well.
I used the same principle here with cooked Spinach leaves, You could substitute romaine or endive, instead.

I first blanched the Peapods, (plunge then into boiling water until just wilted),or you could steam them until tender. Slit the top without going through to the bottom and fill with humus prepared as you wish.

The Cheese Balls are fresh Mozzarella that I purchased at my local grocery store. I drained them,(they come in small tubs of brine), and marinated them in a mix of olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar,(you could use any type, but I suggest if not balsamic, then apple cider vinegar.
(Any nut oil would work well, too, instead of olive.) To the mix I added: garlic, salt, basil, marjoram, parsley, rosemary and black pepper. You could use “Italian Seasoning”, which is basically the same mix, and/or add oregano.(or use any combination of the above.) let them sit is a tightly –sealed container for at least days in your refrigerator. Turn the container twice a day. These will last for weeks in your refrigerator, so they are easy to make ahead. You can add black olives to the container as well. Drain to serve. (You can use the marinade to mix with Neufchatel or cream cheese to fill the olives, or use for other, upcoming appetizer recipes.

Use cubes of firm Tofu for a vegan-version.

I do hope his series is giving you ideas and courage to serve your guests and families.

 

Appetizers IV-Stuffed Mini-Peppers/Hummus/Fresh Fruit

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

 
Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute
Mini-peppers are now readily available in most supermarkets in the U.S. I find them in bags of red, yellow and orange mixed. They have a very sweet and gentle flavor and are beautiful in salads or sautéed in butter or oil and added to any vegetable, pasta, grain or rice dish. Roasted gently in the oven, they can be slit and seeded, then stuffed and made into lovely, somewhat heartier, appetizers. Fresh fruit served with these is a bit of a respite from the heaviness of them.
[TIP: To keep non-citrus fruit fresh,dip them in citrus-fruit juice,(lemon or lime are very tart; I like to use pineapple or grapefruit juice), or any citrus-based soda, such as lemon-line (Sprite) or Mountain Dew.]

The peppers above are just a tiny example of what one can do with the darling vegetables.
Above I have some meat-filled with taco-ground beef and cheddar cheese. Others are filled with cream cheese with parsley chives, onion powder and topped with crumbled bacon.
One has spiced pork, (cooked pork ground with a hint of cloves and nutmeg, or you can do herbed pork with fennel, parsley and chives). You can use finely chopped beef mixed with prepared horseradish; top with a cherry tomato half.

Sauté tiny shrimp with leeks, (shallots or chives), thinly sliced celery and cooked spinach and use the mix to stuff some.

The others are stuffed with Roasted Chickpeas [Garbanzo beans], or hummus.
You may use canned, cooked chickpeas, (or to cook your own, see my August 24, 2012 post: You Know Beans.)

Place cooked beans on a baking sheet and roast in a 375F oven for approximately 10 minutes, stir to turn and cook for about 8 more. Crush these and mix with crushed pistachios, almonds, preferably smoked…or my new obsession, wasabi almonds. Fill the roasted peppers.

If you don’t know hummus, it is a food made from ground chickpeas and usually tahini, which is a roasted sesame-seed paste. You may use any of the prepared bands, as hummus has become quite common as a dip in the U.S., and much of the rest of the Western parts or the world, (the East always knew its glory.) There are many brands,(beware, one does not mix as well with other foods as it contains a great deal of chili powder in its ‘regular’ formula).Many types are to be found with roasted garlic, tomatoes, etc. You can use these, but I make my own with a slight change; I use sesame seeds instead of tahini. Feel free to try this using canned chickpeas.

My Hummus [Vegan, gluten-free]
½ pound of chickpeas cooked in a slow-cooker with
1 Tbsp. of Olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. finely diced onion
½ tsp white pepper
3X water to cover the chickpeas
When the chickpeas are soft, reserve some water and drain the rest. I run them through a food processor, then add:
2 Tbsp olive oil,
salt to taste
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½-2/3 cup white sesame seeds
I process them again until completely smooth, and add more of the reserved cooking water if too dry.
For the peppers in the photo, I added chopped, sautéed vegetable mixed, as described in “Appetizers II”.

I do hope that you try any of the above combinations, or any of your own.

 

Appetizers III Savory Fruit/ Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan-optional

“Savory” and “Fruit” may not come to mind as being compatible, but when it comes to appetizers,the combination is perfect. Sweet and spicy or tart, plus pairing of textures, give a surprise spark to the taste buds and leave  guests wanting to experience more.

Stuffed dates, figs  and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising  appetizers

Stuffed dates, figs and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising appetizers

The stuffed dates, figs, apricots and grilled fruits above are quite easy and quite eye-catching.

To start, the easiest:

Grilled fruit:
Heat butter in a frying pan until slightly brown. Add slices of firm fruit, such as pineapple, peach, pear, plum,  apple, apricot.

On high heat, brown quickly on each side.You may sprinkle with spices, such as nutmeg or cloves, or you can go  hot, with a little white pepper, ginger, Indian  hot pepper, (be careful!) or paprika. Sugar is unnecessary as the caramelization of the fruit sugar in the pan-frying makes them particularly sweet.

Skewer with a toothpick.

Stuffed Dried Mission figs: slit, filled with hazelnut-chocolate spread,(Nutella), a smoked or wasabi almond, glazed walnut or any of the suggestions below.

 Stuffed Dates and Apricots
With a short,sharp knife, slit the fruit and open the cavity gently with a dull knife, (or a clean finger!), and insert any of the following:

sweet coconut, with or without nuts, or dried fruit bits,(mango, pineapple, crasins, cherries,(dried or Maraschino),

or with sweet cheese [ricotta, mascarpone or Neufchatel mixed with honey, sugar, stevia or other sweetener, plain or with the options of  nuts and/or spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, etc. Silken tofu or “vegan cream cheese” can be used as well.]

Top these with a piece of dried fruit or  nuts.

These will also have to be skewered or placed in candy paper cups, or , easier, mini cupcake papers.

 

Note: Pre-made sweet coconut can be used or prepared with stevia or other sweetener as I suggested in the NuNaturals promo post of September 11, 2014.  Although I developed those recipes with  the product  in mind, ANY stevia product or sweetener of choice can be used. (I found that wasabi almonds are a fantastic mix with sweet coconut…I can’t get enough of the combination!)

Please see all of the September 11 post for more (sugar free)  sweet appetizer ideas.
Again, please feel free to use
  ANY sweetener of your choice.

It’s crunch-time for the holidays.I will post again in a day or two to get in as many appetizers as I can before most of the holiday season.

 

 

Appetizers(III) vs. Party Foods

I have found confusion among some people concerning the difference between “Party Foods” and “Appetizers/Hors d’oevres.”

Appetizers are party foods, make no mistake, but not all party foods are appetizers. There is a time and a place for both. Dips, nuts, cheese boards and rolled sandwiches are wonderful party foods, but do not belong where you would serve appetizers.

Appetizers and Hor d’oevres are usually used in a less casual atmosphere, but they don’t have to be “stuffy”. I hesitate to use the rather old-fashioned terms “Cocktail Party” or “Open House” because I have found them to be something negative in people’s minds, just as I found the term “Dinner Party” is to many. That was one topic I suggested on my shared blog “Four Foxes, One Hound” here on WordPress and nearly everyone seemed to have thought that they had never been to one or that they have to be terribly uncomfortable experiences. A dinner party does not have to be a formal affair with oyster forks and starched collars any more than an “Open House” needs to mean pseudo-sophisticates making inane conversations.  Any time there are guests for dinner it is technically a ‘dinner party’; some are just more formal than others. Appetizers can be served at any of them.They are especially  handy when some guests will be arriving some time before  the others.

An “Open House” is a drop-in, casual  party that are usually held on weekends, often during any holiday or holiday season when many folks have other obligations and cannot stay for any length of time at one function. The host(s) simply state a starting time and are prepared to have guests in and out for several hours,(at least 4-5), or for most of the day.These are often held on a Saturday mid-day into the late afternoon or on a  Sunday  afternoon into the evening.Some are bold enough to hold them on Christmas Eve. New Year’s Eve  Open Houses usually go until the wee hours of the morning. Drinks are served, and usually a punch is kept going and the food will be light hors d’oeuvres.

[“Cocktail parties” are early evening affairs where hors d’oeuvres are served along with…you guessed it, “cocktails”. I don’t know if they are ever held under that name any more.]

Appetizers/hors d’oeuvres need to be one-two bite individual servings, without sauce and never to need any ‘work’ on the part of the guest, (no dipping, layering or cutting, for instance.) They are to be used to lead into a meal, or be served at a late gathering/lead into a function afterward, not to substitute for a full meal, as “party foods” often are.

You will find a variety of just how much or how little work you feel you want to do in this series.

Please try one more complicated one at a time if you feel you don’t have the time or the skill…you do have the skill. Try them when you aren’t pressed for something to serve and you’ll find you can easily follow my instructions. Most can be made in advance or have make-ahead components which can be put together closer to serving. Have fun trying them for yourself or w family and friends when you don’t have to worry about making an impression and you’ll gain confidence and knowledge in the making of all of the recipes and ideas I offer, which I hope will inspire more ideas of your own. A few will need to be served warm, so chose these to serve in your home; others can be taken to be shared elsewhere.

I will be back in a few days with more, but will leave you with a few adapted party-foods-turned-appetizers:

This "Party Food" can be made into mini appetizers

This “Party Food” can be made into mini appetizers

Baked Brie en Croute: (more complicated; vegetarian)
1: Make Old World Crust, [“You Can Make Pie Crust and Savory Pastry/(Vegan)/Chiffon
November 2013 Archive]
OR
Use ready-made pie crust
2: 1 Baby Brie
3:Small amount of Topping
[I often use Cranberry Relish,November8, 2012 Archive]
Or Use a jarred all-fruit
Or pie filling ,(added nuts optional)
Or Butterscotch/Caramel ice cream topping with added nuts

Roll and cut small rounds of pie crust.  Place very small portions of brie in the center; top with a very small amount of topping of your choice. Fold the crust around the cheese and topping and pinch to close. (Try to keep them closed or at least, keep the opening on the very top.
Brush with egg wash,(beaten egg mixed with 1 tsp water.) to create a nice golden brown.
Place on a greased baking sheet,(can use oil spray), or sue parchment paper.
Bake @375F until golden brown. Serve warm. May be made ahead and re-heated carefully.

Easy salad stuffed mini tomatoes can be a refreshing appetizer

Easy salad stuffed mini tomatoes can be a refreshing appetizer

Mini Stuffed Tomatoes (easy; pescetarian; dairy-free,low-carb, gluten-free)
1:Cherry or grape tomatoes, cored:
Stuff with:
2:Seafood Salad made with
Drained canned tuna (or salmon),
Or Flaked crab or imitation crab
Or tiny cooked shrimp
Or hard-boiled eggs
3: thinly sliced celery
4:finely minced green onions, white or yellow onion, leeks or shallots
5: celery salt or onion salt
6:mayonnaise or veganaise
Place small amount in tomatoes, top shrimp salad with a tiny shrimp; the egg with green or black olives; salmon or tuna with a cooked asparagus tip…or use your imagination.

I will be back very soon with more to finish this before the holiday entertaining season is over.

Any questions?

Appetizers II

I am quickly going to get out the promised appetizers here for the holiday season, although they can be useful at any time. All of these are gluten-free,low-carb and all are vegetarian; they can be made dairy-free and vegan.

A selection of appetizers

A selection of appetizers

The selection pictured above go from a little preparation to pull-‘em-out-of-a-jar. I simply stuck toothpicks in jarred pimento-stuffed green olives and those are fine for an addition to a plate, but please, don’t just serve those!
The tomatoes I prepped with a melon baller:

A handy tool:the melon baller

A handy tool:the melon baller

(A famous TV chef recently described this item as a “mini ice cream scoop”!)

The tool is used to ‘ball’ melons, but they also make a useful tool to hollow-out grape and cherry tomatoes.

The grape tomatoes above to the right in the picture are miniature versions of my Italian Baked Tomatoes [ October 15, 2012 archive], served on fresh spinach leaves.

The cherry tomatoes in the middle and the black olives to the lower right in the photo are stuffed with herbed cream cheese. I use Neufchatel, (reduced fat cream cheese) and usually add a few drops of olive or any nut oil, then I add herbs. “Vegan cream cheese” or silken tofu can be substituted for the Neufchatel cheese.

Some suggestions to mix into the filling are:
Italian seasoning , or mix any of the following{ parsley, marjoram, basil, garlic, oregano
Thyme and cracked pepper
Ground rosemary and parsley
Chives, celery salt, turmeric,paprika
Onion and pepper flakes
Cilantro and ancho powder,(be careful!)
Mesquite
Celery seed and saffron
Dill weed
Or use flavored, spreadable cream cheese from your grocer. Kraft has everything from pineapple to smoked salmon and everything in between. You can do the stuffing!

The black olives to the left in the picture have marinated chick peas (garbanzo beans) in them. Prepare as directed,{ You Know Beans, August 24, 2012 archive),or use drained, canned chickpeas. Marinate in olive oil and your choice of herbs or in Italian salad dressing for at least 3 hours .Drain and push into pitted olives.

The grape tomatoes to the left in the picture are fresh and filled with a vegetable mix that is easy and very useful. I served them on pieces of Romaine lettuce.
Frankly, I am not sure what was in that particular mix! I often fully cook whatever vegetables I have in the house,(at least 5-7 of them) along with some herbs and spices.

Use any or all of these, chopped finely:
Onion, chives, leeks and/or shallots
Celery, swiss chard, Romaine or any type of lettuce
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach,
Bok choy, Chinese, red and/or green cabbage
Carrots, turnips, parsnips
Sweet peppers
Yellow squash and or zucchini
Green and/or wax beans, (canned or fresh)
Garlic
Opt: Parsley, ginger, celery seed, turmeric, paprika, salsify, saffron, thyme

Cook in olive oil or nut oil, stirring often. This mixture is very useful and makes a wonderful spread when mixed with cream cheese, silken tofu or to mix into or top hummus or polenta. (Recipes for both upcoming.)

I hope the picture and the recipes inspire you to try them or branch out on your own.
I will be posting more in quick succession.
Any questions?

Guest: Author Patricia Kiyono /Antipasti

I promised appetizers and antipasti, but things have been hectic here at Casa di Familia, (The Family House), so when I saw that my friend and partner on another blog, Patricia Kiyono, posted a great recipe, I knew it would make wonderful antipasto. I asked her to do a guest spot to get  me up and running again and she has graciously obliged. Technically, these would be  the salada, not antipasti, but we’re not quibbling here!

So I will turn this over to my Friend, who will discuss Food and Family.

Thank you for lending me a hand,Patricia!

 

 

Although I read blogs of all kinds, the last place I ever expected to

write a guest post would be a food blog! I love to eat, but my time in the

kitchen is very limited. You see, my hubby and I have a rather unique

distribution of labor. Because of his work hours (3 AM to noon), he came

home long before I got done with my teaching job. And although I CAN

cook, it made more sense for him to prepare the meal and get it on the table

than wait for me to do it. So I’ve always done the cleanup.

Since he’s a mixture of Scottish, Dutch, and German, his idea of a

meal is meat and potatoes – and not much else. I need my veggies – for one

thing, my Japanese mom ALWAYS had lots of veggies on the table, and for

another thing, the heavy food did awful things to my waistline. So I learned

to prepare and keep a variety of veggies on hand that I can quickly assemble

when needed. Sometimes I make a bunch ahead of time. Tonette asked me to

share a few of my favorites. My go-to vegetables are cucumber and tomato,

so I’m sharing a few ways I serve them:

First, here’s a simple and delicious way to serve cucumbers. My mom

used to make this all the time. Cookbooks and online recipes call for

Japanese or Persian cucumbers (they’re skinnier and have fewer seeds), but

since specialty food stores weren’t around back when I grew up we used

regular ones, and it tastes just fine.

Sunomono:Japanese Cucumber Salad

Sunomono:Japanese Cucumber Salad

 

Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

2 large cucumbers, sliced as thinly as possible

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon sugar (or substitute)

¼ teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Sprinkle salt over cucumber slices and let sit for five minutes, then squeeze

out the water (I set them in a colander then cover with paper towel and push

down, but mom had a special veggie press like THIS ONE)

Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce until sugar dissolves. Add to

cucumbers and top with sesame seeds. The picture here has wakame

seaweed added, which is also good – but I don’t always have wakame in the

house – it’s still good!

Doesn’t that sound easy? Another easy veggie that my kids love is

Caprese Salad, especially in the fall when our family and neighbors share

An Italian  Antipasti

An Italian Antipasti

their over-abundant gardens with us. I was first introduced to this delicious

and simple side dish when I went to Italy over 40 years ago.

Caprese Salad

1 large tomato cut in quarter-inch slices

4 to 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in quarter-inch slices

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

basil leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Arrange slices on a large plate or platter, alternating between tomato and

cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to

taste. Garnish with basil.

Really, nothing to it – and it’s delicious. I call it a non-recipe recipe.

So for a bigger challenge, try combining the tomato and cucumber in a

Greek salad. In 2008 my youngest daughter did a semester abroad while she

was in college, and she chose a program on the beautiful Greek island of

Paros. I brought a friend with me to visit (gotta make sure the kid is eating

right!), and we fell in love with the cuisine. And almost every day we had

one of these delicious, simple salads.

Patricia Kiyono's Greek  Salad

Patricia Kiyono’s Greek Salad

Greek Salad

(two large servings)

1 medium tomato, cut into cubes

1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into pieces similar to tomato

¼ medium red onion

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

a bit of oregano

Most recipes call for kalamata olives, but since I don’t like those I leave

them out.

Combine veggies and cheese. Combine olive oil and vinegar and pour over

the top. Garnish with oregano.
I really hadn’t planned it this way, but I see that these recipes are from

three different countries I’ve visited and loved. And I noticed that the people

in these countries don’t suffer from obesity the way we do here. I’ve

skimmed through all sorts of articles about why Italy, Greece, and Japan

have fewer problems than Americans do, and I think it boils down to a

combination of diet and lifestyle. So now that I’ve adopted some of their

foods, all I have to do is copy the rest – as soon as I find some mountains to

climb, ruins to investigate, and canals to row through!

In addition to adding to my dinner menus, my travels have sparked

my imagination, resulting in some of my published romances. After visiting

Greece, I wrote Aegean Intrigue, published by Astraea Press in February

2012. And as a tribute to my Japanese heritage, I wrote The Samurai’s

Garden, published by Astraea Press in November 2012. I’d love it if you’d

click on the titles to learn more about them!

 

You  can learn more about Patricia and her work  at these sites:

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Website

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Blog

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Facebook

You can see more through Goodreads, Amazon, Astraea Press and she is with me at

Four Foxes, One Hound

(She’s the Monday Fox; I am the Friday Fox; we have a couple of other Foxes and a Hound there, as well! Please  drop in sometime.)

Again, thank you,Patricia Kiyono!

Back With New Recipes and A Give-Away!/NuNaturals Products

Dear Friends and Family,
I am so glad to be back with you and am touched by all of you who have kept in touch, commented or even to those of you who  took time to ‘like’ my posts. I send back the love!

I now find myself in need of revamping my diet to drastically reduce my carbohydrate intake. I have a couple of chronic health concerns that I have never let get me down,(and know that I have been extremely blessed not to have the complications many others experience), but my recent diagnosis of Type II Diabetes has thrown me for a loop.

I will continue to cook much of the way I had previously for others, and partake of most in modest portions. Let it be known that Diabetes is NOT caused by sugar consumption; I put mine down to genetics and possibly the fact that I became quite out-of-shape. It is not because I over-indulged in goodies or rich food, but the fact that I became sedentary because of the other health problems. That is the main reason why I took a long hiatus from this blog; I had many family concerns and a limited amount of energy  and, well… I thought of you, cooked and took pictures but even though the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak. Now, I have good care, more energy and am searching for more ways to enjoy food, friends and family.

This will not become a diabetic cooking blog. Nor will I often be touting products.
I have always stressed here the importance of being aware of people’s dietary needs and restrictions .I will continue to offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other alternatives within many recipes, but I will continue to keep the blog ‘main-line’.

With new diagnoses and new medications, I am feeling very much better and am more active. Since I have a sweet tooth, cutting my sugar intake had been very hard on me. The American Diabetes Association suggests using sugar in moderation, I find that it takes up far too much of my carbohydrate ‘choices’. I missed my sweet teas and coffees most, since my carb allotments are better spent on good foods with carbs, such as fruit, grains, beans and legumes…(.and an occasional cookie or piece of cake!)

I’ve always believed that artificial sweeteners are detrimental to one’s health. Frankly, they give me headaches. Over the years I have searched for a natural sweetener for others who had problems with sugar, or who wanted to avoid white sugar, and for those who preferred more natural foods.

Many use honey, but that is not a wise choice for diabetics and also not for vegans. Many whole-food people use maple syrup. I cannot imagine having nearly everything taste of maple, and it, too, is a blood-sugar spiker.

Brown rice syrup was at one time touted as a good alternative for sugar in diabetic diets, but it was learned that it behaves in one’s system much like high-fructose corn syrup…again, not a good choice. Then everyone seemed to jump on the agave bandwagon, but it was found that it does spike blood-sugar and it can cause miscarriages . A time-tested natural sweetener that works so far for me is stevia.

Just as I feared I would be diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I entered a contest for NuNaturals on the blog “Bam’s Kitchen”  If you have not visited Bobbi Ann, please do yourself a favor. She is an American who lives in Hong Kong. Her recipes are wonderful, her stories are fun, her advice is sound and her pictures are beautiful. Go see her.BAM’S Kitchen

NuNaturals healthier alternatives

NuNaturals healthier alternatives

NuNaturals is a company of stevia-based products and they have been a blessing to me. This is the first contest I have ever offered and I would not do it if I had not won a generous amount of their products first, and tried them for myself. In their letter which arrived with my winnings, they offered me the opportunity to run a contest on my own blog. I immediately started trying the products and believe me, if I had not found them useful, I would not be offering them to you, and FOUR of you will win a package of four NuNatural products, plus a bonus gift. The contest is open to all,( world-wide), and everyone will get a 15% discount when ordering online with a discount code listed below. The discount is good until the end of the year,(2014).

NuNaturals stevia-based products are great! They are natural and free of artificial ingredients, including colors and flavors. The contain no Aspartame, Saccharine, Sucralose, High-fructose corn syrup, or sugar. They contain no soy, yeast, wheat, milk and gluten, so they are useable in almost every diet; diabetic, gluten-free, vegan, etc. It is made without preservatives and from no genetically-modified sources. The company prides itself on being “green”, which we can all feel good about.

Stevia is derived from the stevia plant and is highly sweet. It needs to be used sparingly and if you have experienced bitterness with it, you have probably used too much. If you resign yourself to a moderate, gentle sweetness, it is wonderful. However, it cannot always be substituted for granulated sugar in many recipes, since texture and volume are not the same. Still , I think that you will find the recipes I have developed using products from the NuNatural line will satisfy your need for sweetness without the carbs or calories of conventional sweeteners. NuNauturals has designed their products to reduce bitterness.

The contest is open world-wide and four winners will receive:
One 50-count box of NuStevia White Powder SteviaNuStevia 50 Packets Top Angle
One bottle of their New Cocoa SyrupNuStevia Cocoa Syrup
One bottle of their New Simple SyrupNuStevia Simple Syrup
One bottle of their incredible Cherry-Vanilla Stevia LiquidLiquid Cherry Vanilla
These four products have a full retail value of $54.00 plus, you will also receive
A Bonus Gift

The liquids and syrups are very concentrated and a small amount goes a very long way. Still, I asked Ron Redding , the “Sugar-Free Poppa” of NuNaturals, if they would be offering smaller sample bottles and he assures me that the idea is already in the works. I encourage you to look for them in the near future and experiment with their wonderful flavors.

I also have a bottle of their Mint Cocoa Syrup, Lemon Stevia Liquid, Mint Stevia Liquid, Orange Stevia Liquid and a jar of their NuStevia No-Carb Blend, and I love them all.
My NuNaturals arrived with a sheaf of recipes, too. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I will offer a number of easy no or lower-carb suggestions and recipes.(The NuNaturals stevia-based products are no-carb or have miniscule amounts which, when substituted for sugar and many other sweeteners, makes all of  the recipes ‘lower-carb’.)

One easy way to use NuNaturals is to substitute the Simple Syrup for honey or brown-sugar and water in my Chicken Wing Recipes,(January 2013 Archive).
I have every intention of substituting a little Stevia Powder in my Cranberry Relish (original recipe in the November 2012 Archives),
And I will be doing much more experimentation. In the meantime , I offer these mostly low-carb, simple recipes, including drinks, breakfast, snacks a main-dish, side dishes and dessert:

Easy Smoothie [Vegan; Gluten-free,Low Carb]

Banana Smoothie  with NuStevia

Banana Smoothie with NuStevia

I cup of Almond (or other) milk
½ banana, a peach, a plum, a ripe pear or apple
2-3 drops of Cherry Vanilla NuStevia Liquid
Blend. That’s it!
You would not believe how good this is!

Alternatives: Banana with NuStevia Chocolate or their Chocolate-Mint….mmmm!

Or simply mix a couple of drops of a NuStevia Liquid and a sprinkle of the White Powder Stevia to any unsweetened milk for a real treat.

A Ridiculously Easy Refreshments
A couple of drops of NuNaturals Cherry Vanilla, Lemon or Orange Liquid in ice water; delicious! Add a couple of drops to iced  tea or coffee. (Trust me; it’s delicious! The liquids blend and the powder dissolves instantly even in drinks with ice.)

A

Healthier Lite Yogurt [Gluten-free,Low-Carb]
I make my own, healthier version of ‘lit’ yogurt,(Greek-style and regular), by buying plain yogurt in bulk and adding a few drops of NuStevia liquid, sometimes with fresh or low-sugar fruit.(Water or juice-packed). No artificial ingredients and you control the flavor and carbs.

Easy Flavored Hot Cereal [Vegan and Gluten –free options,Lower Carb]
Cook Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal with milk of your choice and add a couple of drops of any NuStevia liquid in fruit flavor. Add fruit, fresh or dried, and/ or nuts, if desired.

A Very Quick Nut Snack [Vegan and Gluten-free,Lower Carb]

Delicious NuStevia -flavored Nut Snack

Delicious NuStevia -flavored Nut Snack

I took ½ cup each of almonds, pecans and walnuts. Add a couple of drops of NuStevia Orange Liquid and a slight sprinkle of NuStevia No-Carb Blend and tossed them. Fanstastic!
[ I imagine that an addition of low-carb cereal, (like an unsweetened Chex), or plain popcorn would make a nice addition to the mix, as well as making it a bit more filling.]
My 30 year-old firefighter son visited and asked, ”What do you have on these mixed nuts, Mom?!” He promptly ate half of them; it’s a good thing I had shot the picture just before he came in! He has no dietary restrictions but he does like to eat healthy foods. He was thrilled with them.

Dips [Gluten-free and Vegan options, Low-Carb]

Easy No-Carb/Low-Carb Dip

Quick and tasty low-carb/no-carb dip with NuNaturals

Quick and tasty low-carb/no-carb dip with NuNaturals

Use a few drops of NuStevia liquid in sour cream, plain or vanilla yogurt or vegan sour cream (Tofutti is one), to make a nice dip for fruit and vegetables.

Spread or Filling [Gluten-free, Vegan options,Low Carb]
A few drops of any NuStevia Liquid mixed into cream cheese or medium tofu to make a nice spread for crackers, toast, rice cakes or as a filling . BE SPARING, as the flavors are very concentrated .Start out with just 2-3 , blend and adjust to taste. You may thin it with any type of milk, (coconut is very good in this), and add a bit more sweetening with a few drops of the NuNaturals Simple Syrup. You can add pureed fruit if you’d like.
Adding the Chocolate Syrup with a couple of drops of Orange NuStevia liquid is divine! Use the fruit flavored ones to fill dates or dried apricots…try the chocolate-orange in mission figs.

Compote [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
A staple in the fancy boxed lunches I used to cater from my bakery/restaurant was a compote made in a slow-cooker for a short time,( or it can be cooked very slowly for a very short time on a stove-top). Here is the recipe, and the NuStevia alternatives:
2 sweet apples, cored and sliced in eights
1 pear, cored and sliced thinly
6 cherries, pitted and quartered
1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1/8 tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. ground ginger
½ cup walnut pieces
½ tsp. Vanilla plus 1-2 Tbsp sugar
OR
10 drops NuStevia vanilla or Cherry-Vanilla
Warm thoroughly and cook only if you apples are very firm; have them retain their shape
Serve warm or cold. Make a great presentation with a dried fruit,( stuffed as above), on top.

Whipped Cream /Flavored Butter [Gluten-free,Low Carb]

Sweeten and flavor cream with NuStevia

Sweeten and flavor cream with NuStevia

No-carb sweet flavored butter with NuStevia

No-carb sweet flavored butter with NuStevia

In a November 2012 post I told the story of making Caramel Whipped Cream for cookies which worked well, but then I re-whipped it and it made Caramel Butter, which was a fortuitous accident. I did the same with the NuStevia liquid. It made Tasty Whipped-Cream, but whatever I did wrong, it wept, so I beat it again and it became a lovely Fruit-flavored Butter ,(this one was Orange, but it could be any flavor.) Try it!
Simply add a couple of drops, (sparingly) of NuStevia Liquid and whip-away!(it is better if you let it sit until the chill is off the cream to make the butter.) You’ll have a wonderful, no-carb spread.

Coconut Balls [Vegan; Gluten-free, Lower Carb]

Sweet but refreshing Coconut  Balls with NuStevia

Sweet but refreshing Coconut Balls with NuStevia

1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
Opt: 2 oz. ground nuts,(Almonds are a good choice. Want to add a little zip? Use wasabi almonds!)
2+ Tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, (NOT Cream of Coconut).More may be needed if using nuts.
1-2 packets NuStevia white Stevia powder , I packet +1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup, or use NuStevia No-Carb Blend
½ tsp. ground ginger
Place in a covered container and shake to moisten. Let sit refrigerated for several hours to several days. Roll into balls. Chill again.

Rice Balls [Vegan, Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
(A great way to use left-over rice)
1 cup cooked rice
¼ cup ground nuts
½ tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
3 of drops of Lemon NuStevia liquid
Roll into balls and chill. These are not too sweet and quite refreshing!

For thirty years I have been making a version of this recipe for special dinners; carrots in a sweet, buttery-orange sauce. Now, I discovered a quick, lighter way to have a similar flavor to enjoy more often:

Sweet but refreshing Coconut Balls with NuStevia

Orange-Glazed Carrots [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]

No-carb Orange Glazed Carrots with NuStevia

No-carb Orange Glazed Carrots with NuStevia

2 cups hot, cooked carrots, (baby carrots or sliced, boiled in salt water until tender or use canned)
2 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
5 drops NuStevia orange liquid
½ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp. melted butter or margarine,(optional)
2 tsp. brandy,(optional)
Place carrots in pan and warm. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over them, fold gently,(be especially gentle if using canned carrots).Warm thoroughly. Serve hot, or can be served cold if using baby carrots alone or with additions as an appetizer.(More appetizer recipes to come.)
Another favorite in my bakery/restaurant or with family and friends has been my Cole Slaw. My original dressing uses granulated sugar, but I have been making a great deal of a stepped-up recipe:

Broccoli Slaw (Gluten-free; Vegan options,Lower Carb]

Carb-free sweet and creamy Broccoli Slaw made with NuStevia

Carb-free sweet and creamy Broccoli Slaw made with NuStevia

2 cups of shredded cabbage,(preferably red)
1 ½ cups of shredded carrots
1 cup of shredded broccoli (This is a great use of peeled broccoli stems. Use the florets in other dishes or steamed alone)
Dressing:
Mix separately; ( this will not be as much or as creamy as some versions of cole slaw. Double the recipe if you prefer a lot of dressing ). Toss over mixed shredded vegetables.
2/3 cup mayonnaise of Vegoniase
½ tsp. paprika

1Tbsp finely diced onion
1 ½ tsp. celery seed
1 Tbsp. vinegar,(any type. Cider vinegar makes it tastier than white; Balsamic makes white cabbage a bit dark but ,OH, the flavor! White Balsamic is also an excellent choice, as do pear or raspberry infused vinegars)
½ tsp Stevia powder (or to taste; I like mine sweet)
½ tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup

Coconut Chicken* [Gluten-free, Lower Carb]100_2549
(I have been meaning to post a recipe for coconut chicken , but I’m glad I waited, because I have improved the recipe. In the original I called for sweetened coconut)
Prepared coconut (as for coconut balls; may omit nuts)
2 lbs chicken breast strips
2 Tbsp. Olive or other light-flavored oil
“Bread” the chicken with the prepared coconut. Place in pan in hot oil and brown over medium heat, making sure the chicken is cooked through. If some of the coconut falls off, simply retrieve it from the pan and sprinkle it over the cooked chicken. (This may be baked. Spray the chicken with “Pam” or other olive-oil cooking spray.)

*Same recipe can also be applied to  making Coconut Shrimp (use large shrimp)

Optional Sauce: [Vegan;Gluten-free]
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (Originally recipe called for sweetened)
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of salt
1/8 tsp any NuStevia powder
Simmer and reduce to thickened state. Spoon over chicken.
-OR-
Cut chicken strips into bite-sized pieces and pierce with picks. Add sauce on side as dipping sauce.

Turn low-carb Coconut Chicken into appetizers

Turn low-carb Coconut Chicken into appetizers

I have developed a lighter, sugar-free version of my Rice Pudding recipe (November 2012 Archives)
Rice Pudding [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]

Enjoy lower-carb, vegan Rice Pudding with NuStevia

Enjoy lower-carb, vegan Rice Pudding with NuStevia

1 ¼ cups cooked rice
1 ¼ cups plain unsweetened almond milk, (rice milk or soy milk)
1 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
7 drops Lemon or Vanilla NuStevia liquid
Cook slowly and fold gently until the milk is thick and mostly absorbed into the rice, (do not make it dry).
Optional additions can be 1/3 cup currants, raisins, nuts, dried fruit. Pina colada version includes unsweetened pineapple tidbits,(drained) and unsweetened coconut.(You may need to adjust sweetness.)

Years ago I ran across a recipe for a Greek dish that a favorite restaurant served. I had left them half-way across the country and was thrilled to find it. The recipe called for vast amounts of sugar, milk, butter and eggs cooked with farina,(Cream of Wheat) and wrapped in filo leaves. It is technically a dessert, but hearty enough for a food. I have experimented and come up with a lighter, faster take on it that I love for breakfast.

Farina Custard [Vegan, Lower Carb]

Sweet Farina Custard made  with NuStevia

Sweet Farina Custard made with NuStevia

½ cup farina,(Cream of Wheat)
2 cups milk, (any kind, plain and unsweetened; I prefer almond)
[basically 1 part farina to 4 parts milk to adjust the recipe]
½ tsp (or to taste) Stevia powder
Opt: ¼ cup ground nuts
Cook slowly, stirring very often, until stiff.
Place in bowl to chill. Top with fruit. Sprinkle with NuNaturals Simple Syrup and or Stevia powder.
For a change of pace or for the gluten-free needs of some friends, I offer Polenta Custard, which can be made basically as above, but I’m posting a pineapple-coconut version:

Pina-Colada Polenta Custard [ Gluten-free; vegan options, Lower Carb)

Gluten-free , sweet Polenta Custard for breakfast or  dessert

Gluten-free , sweet Polenta Custard for breakfast or dessert

½ cup corn meal, (NOT self-rising)
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp. NuNatural Simple Syrup
¼ tsp. NuStevia powder
Cook slowly, stirring almost constantly , until very thick. Chill.
Layer with pineapple tidbits , prepared coconut ,(see Coconut Ball recipe above) and

Sweet Dessert Cream [Vegan; Gluten-free,Low Carb]
Beat:
½ cup mascarpone, low-fat cream cheese or silken tofu,
coconut milk (1/4 cup? Test consistency),
and sweetened with NuNaturals Simple Syrup or Stevia powder to taste.
A few drops of Lemon or Orange NuStevia liquid, optional
You could also layer this with unsweetened apple sauce, dried fruit bits, fresh fruit or berries and/or nuts

This is far from a comprehensive list, but it’s a start.

Now, here’s what you need to do for the contest. Remember, it’s opened to everyone, world-wide.
I will leave the contest opened until October 1, 2014.
NuNaturals requested one requirement to enter:

(The links are being temperamental. If they  won’t work, please  cut and paste them to your browser)
Go to Facebook and “like” NuNaturals’ page:

https://www.facebook.com/NuNaturals    Requirement]

and while you’re there
“like” my Food, Friends, Family Facebook page

 https://www.facebook.com/TonetteJoycefoodfriendsfamily?ref=hl       [for an  Extra entry]

 If you don’t Follow this blog, please do so [for an Extra  entry]

Leave a message below, telling me what you have done  and please leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win.(If you don’t wish to leave an email address publicly, please leave a message here and message your email address to me privately through the “Food, Friends, Family” Facebook page.) I will contact the winners and give them 72 hours to get back to me with their home address or forfeit the prize to another entrant. Please note that NuNaturals needs an actual physical address for you to receive your prize;( the prizes cannot be delivered to P.O. Boxes).

Everyone is a winner, as NuNaturals has offered a 15% discount to all of us until December 31, 2014 if you order and enter this code: BLOG1214
It is very easy to use, just log-on to their site:www.nunaturals.com, or call 1-800-753-4372
International # 541-344-9785
Their staff is friendly and competent.

They have many, many products including other natural sweeteners. I just ordered a fair amount of Xylitol ,(another natural sugar replacement), from them and cannot wait to start experimenting with using it in cooking and baking.

Remember that their products are HIGHLY concentrated and to be used in minute amounts, usually by drops and fractions of teaspoons.

Please feel free to spread the word to  you friends,(and readers, if you’d like).

So, what are you waiting for?
(Any questions?)

Are You Still With Me?

Dear Friends and Family,
I know it has been some time since I last posted and I have missed all of you. I am looking forward to giving more advice to those who are insecure about cooking and entertaining and to those who need help with special diets. I also hope to continue to inspire fellow “foodies” with ideas of their own.

If you have any questions about food or diets, any questions about making entertaining easy and fun for you as well as your friends, family or even those you do not know well, please feel free to drop me a line here or at my Facebook page ,

Tonette Joyce, Food,Friends, Family on Facebook

I intend to continue offering main-stream recipes, as well as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb and healthy alternatives. Please let me know if I can be of any special assistance to your specific needs.

When we last met I promised a series on appetizers and I assure you that they will be coming very soon, before the holidays. Everyone needs to know how to make at least the simplest of appetizers and canapés,( and to know what the difference is!) I promise that you will be able to make a nice selection, or just one or two, not to be caught like a non-foodie friend of mine who was invited to an up-scale affair at her husband’s new job. They were all to bring appetizers and she refused my help; instead, she took a plate of brownies. Her brownies were well-known among her friends and family, but that wasn’t what was expected of them. I promise you that most of what I will show you will be almost as easy as aerosol cheese squirted on a Ritz, but a whole lot more impressive in that you made unique offerings yourself.
We also may be covering new ideas, more guests and maybe a giveaway or two.

Thank you for hanging in there with me and I promise to be back very soon with a real post. Please pay me a visit!
Tonette

Emergency Preparedness IV; Storing supplies/Hosting

I have heard from a number of people, (some commented here), on how they had not realized how unprepared or vulnerable they are. We don’t need to panic or live in fear, I’d just like to see everyone be a little more comfortable in a power-outage, with or without extenuating problems,(extreme cold or heat, for example).And many of the extras I suggest can be very handy when you have guests.

I have practiced what I preached, as we had a major thunderstorm and tornado warning last week. It was dark and I was alone. I placed a large candle-in-a-glass in the middle of my table and a flashlight next to it. Twenty minutes later, when the lights went out, I could find my way to the flashlight, which led me to other candles,(see the previous post on candles and safety).I lit enough to allow myself to read until my husband came home 40 minutes later. When we retired, I left one candle in a jar burning in the bathroom, in front of the mirror to reflect and so, magnify, the light, on the porcelain, away from anything flammable,(and where the cats would not jump up).

I am going to suggest more things to have and put aside for such a possibility but the first questioning your mind may be where do I put it? Even though I suggest that all of the food and other items be what you do like and usually eat or use, you should put the ones that you store for emergencies where they are easily found, especially in low light. If you have room, you can dedicate a shelf or two in your kitchen cabinets, linen closet and/or utility room. OK, now that you have stopped laughing, we’ll find the room, even in a small apartment.(You wouldn’t believe how stocked I was in a tiny apartment we once had in a charming little Gingerbread-House, a converted farm building.)
Even though my kitchen cabinets here are crowded, I found room for small boxes in the back recesses. I don’t understand the people who built this house; there are deep corners where the cabinets fit in next to each other and those sections are useless except for storage. As a certified, (or certifiable), ‘foodie’, I have most of that space occupied with extras found on sale and things I don’t use very often. Perhaps you have a cabinet that is hard to get to, like over the refrigerator? That’s a good place for storage.

If you have little space in your cabinets, look up. Do you have an open area between the cabinets and ceiling? No, I don’t suggest that you stack up cans there, but you can find attractive, square baskets, fabric boxes or cover your own cardboard boxes with contact paper, fabric,(glue it), or decoupage them and store extras there. However, avoid putting your stored foods just above or next to your oven. Avoid heat when possible.
For small packages, boxes, tea candles, etc. I use these decoupaged cans; I have made larger boxes for storage in the same manner:decoupage cans

I also use them for pasta and grains, flours and nuts, tea and coffee, (those that come in packages, such as beans that I grind.) I store small holiday items in some, nightlight bulbs in another. I made some for my family. One has airplanes and I have small military items my son has stored from his Air National Guard service.
These are simple to make. I do them when watching TV or movies on the computer. Cut out pictures from catalogs, books, magazines, calendars or greeting cards, use simple white glue on the front and back of the papers. Overlap the pictures and allow them to dry. Spray them with clear spray paint and allow to dry. Spray the bottoms of the cans to stave-off rust. (You can use decoupage medium such as ModgePodge and/or spray the cans afterward with acrylic craft spray, but these are more expensive.

Storage boxes 006

How about your closets? I have small closets with even smaller doors. There are difficult recesses and they have space on the high shelves that can only be used for storage; you can store boxes there, but if it gets hot, store the food on the floor. If you get low boxes, you can even put your shoes on top of them. Put other essentials,(which I will talk about soon), on the shelves.

Have your essentials easy-to-find, but out-of-sight!

Have your essentials easy-to-find, but out-of-sight!

Mix and match boxes and baskets.If you buy any used, please make sure they can be thoroughly cleaned before you use them.

Consider low boxes that fit under your bed, or even under a sofa. (Make sure they slide out for cleaning purposes.) Consider using old, hard-sided suitcases. I have plastic ‘flats’ for plants that I have cleaned that slide under my beds. I use them for smaller boxes and shoes; they slide out easily.
Thin boxes can go behind doors. Better yet, thin cabinets or shelving can go behind doors and you can use the suggestions for over-the cabinet, pretty boxes to store there.

You can find inexpensive over-the-door canned goods shelving for utility rooms or that can go inside of closets. If you have a laundry room, or laundry area, think about where you can add a shelf, or standing shelves and bins. Again, look up. There is usually wasted space there before you reach the top.
Use medium to large plastic storage containers and stack them, even in plain sight. You may have a corner that you overlook every day, and you’d never miss the space.
If you don’t have shelving in your bathroom that goes over your toilet, you are cheating yourself. You should have a vanity under the sinks or put ‘skirts’ up around them to create storage…not for your food, but for a few extra cleaners, paper products, toiletries and first aid supplies.

an extra shelf in your bathroom can hold supplies

an extra shelf in your bathroom can hold supplies

Easy storage in my bathroom

Easy storage in my bathroom

 

You don’t need to set yourself up with a mini-clinic, but do keep first aid supplies in your home and make sure they don’t run out. Anyone can afford to stock up slowly at dollar-only markets, at your local, major discount store, or in your grocers with sales and coupons. Have adhesive bandages of several sizes, some gauze and medical tape. An ‘Ace’ bandage is a good idea, as well. Keep antibiotic ointment and another ointment, such as vitamin A&D ointment for soothing.(I have always had to keep them on hand as one of my sons is allergic to topical antibiotics), and an anti-itch cream,(like Lanacaine). Have a bottle of alcohol and I suggest, witch hazel. Rotate bottles of peroxide and iodine-based wound cleaners,(‘Betadine’-type), often and keep them out of sunlight as they both break down rather quickly, which is why peroxide comes in dark bottles. You probably know that water ‘s formula is H2O,( two hydrogen atoms, one oxygen atom). Hydrogen peroxide’s formula is H2O2, and it beaks down to water in short order when exposed to light and after a certain amount of time.
Have clean cotton and swabs on hand. Keep some antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, pain relief and aspirin. Antiseptic mouthwash,(‘Listerine’ and knock-offs), can double as wound cleaner.
Make sure you have plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, extra tooth brushes, deodorant, body powders, and anything else that you may use. This is always a good idea. Unexpected or unprepared, forgetful guests would be thrilled for you to be able to supply their needs, especially if their mistake isn’t spotted until it is very late or a very inconvenient time to rush out. I once found myself suddenly keeping 3 extra boys under 9, (plus my own two), for a weekend. Their mother, who had planned on them going with her, had packed their toothbrushes in with all the toiletries and took the bag with her. Fortunately, I had enough extras. Keep a few on hand; I have had other children come to stay overnight and boys are notorious for forgetting toothbrushes…and you or your guest could always drop yours in the toilet.
(I keep plastic shoe boxes with the extras in the bottom of my linen closet. They are neat and they stack.)
I know it is often difficult with insurance policies, but try to keep ahead of prescription medications and if you need other supplies,(like diabetic supplies), please don’t run low, you never know. The same must be said for feminine hygiene, incontinence supplies and disposable diapers.

Please consider always keeping extra pump-spray cleaners, disinfectant spray and wipes on hand. With low water supplies and a long wait for utilities to be restored, you will be grateful to have them.

You might take a moment to consider what would happen if you could not do your laundry for a few days. That reason alone makes me try never to let my hampers get too backed-up. I certainly never let anyone’s underwear supply get low!

Another thing I beg you to make room for is extra toilet paper and paper towels, and I suggest, some paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery. These can be stored up high,(they are light), or where it gets too warm to store food and medical supplies, (even in a crawlspace, attic, garage, outdoor storage that doesn’t leak.) You don’t need a lot, a little goes a long way in an emergency and to be without is…well, not good. And you don’t want to use up your possibly limited water supply by cleaning dishes. And keep extra heavy-duty trash bags to dispose of the used paper products. A little extra in the landfill because of an emergency will not ruin the planet.(Please use disposables responsibly at other times. Try never to use foam and I usually wash and reuse plastic cutlery.)

I hope you have zipped through my previous Emergency Preparedness posts and have gotten an idea or two. Please don’t be caught unaware and unprepared. You just never know.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Next time, we’ll talk about where to put extra guests!