food crumbscooking, food preparation, recipes, nutrition, food science


Thinking about Gardening?  Now is the time!

As soon as danger of frost is over, many of us get anxious to get plants and seed in the ground and watch them grow.  If you are an “old hand” at gardening, you know what I mean.  If you have never gardened – get started and enjoy the wonder of plants growing and vegetables and flowers emerging.  Oh yes, there will be problems.  Some plants will die and there can be animal and insect infestation.  I guess its -take the bad with the good.

Get started.  Think of what you would like to grow.  That will depend on the amount of space you have.  If you have a little spot in the back yard that you can spade or roto-till, you can probably plant several plants.  Plants must have sunshine, so choose a location that receives plenty of direct sun.    If you are in an apartment,  you may have space on the front or back step or on a balcony.

Small or cherry tomatoes do well in hanging baskets or get a couple planters or containers.   Get a bag of potting soil and a couple plants.  You may like to try something like a dwarf blueberry bush garden5in a container on the back patio.garden3





If no outside space, try inside in a window sill or patio door where the plant can get sunlight most of the day. A fluorescent light can be a good substitute for sunshine. Many people like to grow herbs on the kitchen windowsill or try a tomato plant inside.







You will not need a lot of tools.  If a large garden, maybe a spade and rake and a trowel.  (If you have a large space you can rent a rototiller.)  You may need to keep critters out, so some fencing.  For a patio or inside gardening maybe just a trowel.

After the plants get started (have grown a couple weeks) depending on the soil you used, you may need to get a box of fertilizer at your garden center.  Don’t forget to water.  Water when you first plant and water every week or so.  Don’t drown the plants in water and let them dry out between waterings.  You’ll get the hang of it – water as needed.


You may want to try a couple of pepper plants or onions.  You possibly will not save any money on your grocery bill, but get started and enjoy a new venture.


Previous gardening articles on food crumbs that you may enjoy:

5/26/10 – Home Vegetable Gardening

5/31/10 –  Home Grown Tomatoes

3/31/11 –   Garden Soil

4/30/11 –  Garden Compost

6/30/15 –  Garden Soil Tests



Ted's melon 7-6-08

Ted's Tom, radishes, broc-7-6-08








Meat -1

ataco-1  America’s eating habits have changed over the years. Oh, my Yes!  The foods we eat and the way we eat, have certainly    changed.  Today’s diet and eating customs would be almost unrecognizable by our Grandparents and Great Grandparents.

Gone are the dinners of roast meat, mashed potatoes and gravy, with biscuits and milk or coffee.  Today it’s tacos, wraps  and colas.  Today we may hear vegan, organically grown, gluten free, or global cuisine.

Grandma and Grandpa would have had a garden even if they lived in the city. So they enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables    during the summer and many would “home can” the foods for meals during the winter.  Meats were either fresh or cured. Fishing was enjoyed by many and provided many a meal.  Lard a saturated animal fat was used for cooking, baking and frying. Today one will use an unsaturated vegetable oil.  Bread, biscuits or muffins and butter was ate at every meal.  Milk was a favorite beverage and for the adults, coffee and tea could be purchased at the local grocery store.

Today, in our modern age, we like our foods with some “flavor”.  We like spicy, smoky, tangy, sour or bitter, or hot and spicy with chili sauce, cayenne, Sriracha, habanero or ancho peppers. We like specialty cheeses like Gouda, Brie, bleu, goat cheese, Mediterranean and Hispanic cheeses.  We think of Grandma’s foods as being more “plain”, – plain potatoes or fresh or cooked vegetables with butter and plain roasted meats. However Grandma would have made sauces, butters, gravies, salad dressings and mayonnaises to embellish her foods. She would have made jams and jellies from fresh fruits and made her own pickles.  There must have been a zillion pickle recipes. She would have made her own chili sauce and her own catsup.  And to add some zip, she would make her own horseradish.  Horseradish sauce over roast beef is a fine dish, even today.  And how about homemade mint sauce!  She even made her own juices.  Maybe not orange juice, if she lived in the East or Midwest, but apple juice, grape and  tomato juice. Grandma would make her own applesauce.  And the flavor would depend on if she used the Jonathans or the McIntosh.  When you tried the jelly you would determine if she used the berries from her garden or the wild berries at the creek!

Milk, cream, butter and eggs were always available and Grandma would make home made chowders, puddings, ice creams and sherbets. (Before refrigeration there were ice houses where ice from the rivers was cut into blocks and stored and available for special needs, such as a grand dessert.) Maple syrup and honey were easily available and Nuts -walnuts, hickory nuts, etc., were used in candies and desserts.  Popcorn and popcorn balls have been a treat for a long time.


Oh yes, food was plain and boring a hundred years ago!  Umm, but it was also very good.

A lady was mentioning the other day that the doctor complained to her husband that he did eat vegetables. I guess the doctor asked if he was eating broccoli (the wonder food) and he answered that he didn’t care for broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  So the doctor said he had to eat vegetables even if he doesn’t like vegetables.  Well the fellow is 80 years old and until the last ten or so years, he had not heard of broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  However what the Doctor needs to learn is that there are other vegetables with lots of nutrition also, such as, tomatoes, green beans, lima beans, carrots, squash, potatoes, corn, red  beets, cabbage, turnips, onions,  and on and on and on.  The man has been eating these all his life and possibly the reason at 80 years old he is still quite healthy and can out-work (more physical work) than many 20-year old fellows.

So before we think that only today’s foods are delicious, with lots of flavor, spices, preservatives, etc., think back what Grandma used to make. May want to omit the lard and frying, and use vegetable oils and prepare in non-fat methods. But preparing some of our basic foods with basic ingredients may not be as “plain” and boring as you think.

And if you’re saying you don’t have time to cook – they tell me it takes longer to get off the roadway and drive to a deli or restaurant, go inside and wait for your order, get back into the car and back onto the road to go home than if one goes directly home and prepares one of Grandma’s recipes.






tonicI remember my Grandmother talking about Spring Tonics.

Rhubarb was the one I remember most, because we always had a big batch of rhubarb growing at the far edge of the garden.  Its large dark green leaves and red stems were a welcome site after a long winter.

Spring tonics, a 100 years ago, referred to  the green plants popping up early in the spring and were thought to strength and invigorate the body.   Such plants were thought to stimulate the blood and the digestive system after a long winter – or as Grandma used to say – to cleanse or “flush-out” the body.

Other examples of these early plants are asparagus, dandelion leaves, Sassafras tea , mushrooms.  Strawberries aren’t a vegetable green, but they are an early spring plant, that we ate freely.

A few recipes for these plants to encourage you to add to your diet follow.



Stewed Rhubarb

Cut rhubarb into 1” pieces and place in a saucepan withjust enough water to cover.  Cook uncovered until the rhubarb is soft, about 15 minutes.  Add sugar to taste – about ½ cup per pound of rhubarb.  Continue cooking until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.

Rhubarb-N-Strawberry Pie

1/cup Rhubarb 4 cups rhubarb, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar 2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 Tb cornstarch 1 TB orange juice
1/4 cup flour 9″ double pie crust pastry
1/2 tsp nutmeg 2 tb butter

In large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar,
cornstarch, flour nutmeg, rhubarb, strawberries and orange
juice. Pour this mixture into prepared pie crust and dot
with butter. Place the crusttop over the filled pie and
bake @ 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat
to 350 degrees and bake until the fruit is tender and
crust is brown, about 30-40 minutes.



Dandelion Greens: Trim root ends and damaged leaves.
Wash well, lifting in and out of cool water several times.
Cook covered, using only the water that is on the leaves after washing.
Cook 3-10 minutes until just tender.
Older greens take a bit longer than younger ones.

Serve with butter or vinegar or lemon juice.
May add onion and/or bacon bits. Can add a little brown sugar and vinegar, if desired,
and hard cooked egg.



Mushrooms – preparation tips:
Mushrooms must be washed quickly under running water.
(Do not soak fresh mushrooms as they absorb the moisture.
Cut off the lower end of the stem.
Mushrooms can be stir fried, stuffed, sauteed, or served raw.


Stuffed Mushroom Caps:
Stuff with 1/2 cup sauteed onions
1 clove of sauteed garlic, and
1/4 cup bread crumbs.
top with Parmesan cheese and
bake @ 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes or microwave 3-4 minutes

















arm muscle


It is generally believed that the larger a muscle the stronger it is.

And that strong muscles suggest excellent health.

Maintaining muscular strength is especially important in older adults because as one ages, muscular strength can also be decreasing and thus affects one’s ability to walk and to do many things.

Research is showing though, that muscular strength decreases long before muscle mass.

Muscle quality and muscle strength can decrease as muscle fat is increasing.

Researchers are learning that fat can increase in the muscle between the individual muscle fibers and within the individual muscle cells. This has long been known as part of aging but more recently has been shown to be a part of illness, disuse or inactivity. The cause is unknown but as the fat accumulates, insulin signaling is impaired and inflammation of cartilage develops.  This can result in increased risk for physical impairments, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation and hyperlipidemia.

Weight loss and increased physical activity have been shown to decrease this accumulation and improve muscle quality.  This fat accumulation in the muscle tissue is considered the product of illness, disuse, or inactivity.  Help often includes exercise training and/ or diet-induced weight loss. Data suggests that weight loss is the best factor to decrease these fat accumulations and that a high protein diet versus a normal protein diet shows greater reductions in the fat mass and a preservation of the lean mass, strength and physical performance.*




  • Wright, Christian, Doctoral Student, Purdue University, Nutrition Close-Up, Egg Nutrition Center, Muscle Quality: What Does It Mean to Your Health?, Winter 2016.

images b

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finalized rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act.  This Act establishes enforceable safety standards for produce farms and makes importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.  The rule also establishes a program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies, also known as auditors, to conduct food safety audits of foreign food facilities.

The purpose is to help produce farmers and food importers take steps to prevent problems before they occur. Prevention – rather than treatment.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick each year from foodborne diseases. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized and 3000 die each year. The new program is referred to as the Produce Safety rule, the Foreign Supplier Verification Program and the Accredited Third-Party Certification.

images dThe Produce Safety rule  – establishes science-based standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce to provide food safety across the broad variety of produce farms. The standards include requirements for water quality, employee health and hygiene, wild and domesticated animals, biological soil amendments of animal origin (compost and manure) and equipment, tools and buildings. The rules are to help minimize the risk of serious illness or death from consumption of contaminated produce.

Foreign Supplier Verification Program rule – requires food importers to verify that foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that meets U.S. safety standards and that they are achieving the same level of food safety as domestic farms and food facilities. (In 2013, USDA estimated that imported food accounted for about 19 percent of the U.S. food supply, including about 52% of the fresh fruit and 22 % of the fresh vegetables consumed by Americans.) Importers must conduct verification activities, such as audits of a supplier’s facility, sampling and testing of food, or a review of the supplier’s relevant food safety records, based on the risks linked to the imported food and the performance of the foreign supplier.

Accredited Third-Party Certification rule – establishes a program for the accreditation of the third-party certification bodies (auditors) to conduct food safety audits and to certify that foreign food facilities and food produced by such facilities meets applicable FDA food safety requirements. The FDA can require in specific circumstances that a food offered for import be accompanied by a certification from an accredited third-party certification body.

The law also grants FDA mandatory recall authority.

An amendment to the bill offers protections for operations (a.k.a. “qualified facilities” that make less than $500,000 a year and sell most (greater than 50%) of their products directly to consumers in the same state and within a 400-mile radius.  It also applies to all operations that the FDA classifies as “very small business”. Thus small, local farmers would not necessarily need to comply with some of the requirements and produce safety regulations. Instead these small-scale producers (like those who sell their goods at farmers’ markets or roadside stands) would continue to be regulated by local and state entities.  In addition, consumers would know whom they are buying from either by direct sales or clear labeling. Farmers who qualify must provide documentation that the farm is in compliance with state, local, county or other applicable non-Federal food safety law. The farm must prominently and conspicuously display the name and address of the farm/facility on its label or if no label, then by poster, sign or placard at the point of purchase or in the case of Internet sales, in an electronic notice, or in sales at stores and restaurants, on the invoice.

The law requires producers and importers to pay an annual fee to help with the costs of implementation.

The FDA will now have a legislative mandate to require use of their controls across the food supply, including pet food and animal food. The FDA can recall food in the case of contamination or illness. It can require farms to track their food and have and implement plans to deal with recalls or outbreaks of disease and they will be given access to food growers records in the case of an outbreak.

Importers have the responsibility to verify that their foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls to ensure that their food is safe. The FDA has the authority to require that high-risk imported foods be accompanied by a credible third party certification or other assurance of compliance of entry into the U.S.  FDA can refuse entry into the U.S. of food from a foreign facility if FDA is denied access by the facility or the country.

All of this will cost money.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that to implement the program the FDA will need an increase in its base funding for food safety of $583 million over the first five years. It is estimated that FDA will need an increase of $109.5 million for FY 2016 to move forward to implement the program.

images aConcerns regarding the program include the cost to implement and run the program.  Many say there are already programs in place to protect our food supply. And virtually, within the States, we do a very good job of feeding a nation of people, with healthy and wholesome food.

Many state that the spending of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours and the endless meddling of government bureaucrats, is an opportunity to “grow government”.

Many state the endless amount of paperwork and records required by the government, is taking precious time and money from producers to meet the government demands.

Many say they will go out of business due the unnecessary work and costs. This, in turn, will necessitate that even more food will be imported and imported from countries where even the tap water is unsafe to drink.

Others say that the government cannot keep-up with their work, now in various agencies, how will they be able to monitor food “smuggled” brought in from other countries.

Producers and food industry persons want our food to be safe.  They have no desire to offer food that may cause illness or harm and they have many personnel, presently, in their employ to check food handling to provide safe food and believe that the new regulation will take away from their current efforts of monitoring facilities and equipment to be able to do the additional paperwork.  Also the additional costs will require an increase in the cost of the food.

Sometimes when we try to fix a problem, we create many additional problems.  The law is here, how can we work with it?




FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, Wikipedia

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA News Release, November 2015.

Taylor, Michael, Food Safety News.  The Future is Now for the Food safety Modernization Act, March 17, 2015




Also see: in this Blog –

  • Vacuum Cooling of Produce, 11/28/ 2012
  • Lettuce – Harvesting, Storing, & Transport, 10/31/2012
  • Food Transport – 10/31/2009