Archive for the ‘Action Center’ category

Breakfast Chatter at Food Stamps Cooking Club

February 12th, 2013

Tuesday always means a good, hot breakfast at Southeast Nebraska Community Action Center

Magic seems to happen when people or families gather around a table laden with good food.  Is it the coffee?  Is it the wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen?  The conversation flows, our moods elevate and laughter fills the room every Tuesday morning as we gather for breakfast!

Topics always cover community news-who is ailing, who moved and what’s on sale at the grocery store.  Today there was much talk about food.

Liver and onions; roast beef with onions; spinach salad and eggs were the headlines.  The whole bunch buzzed about whether to plan out menus for one or two vs those who pop something into a nuke machine for a quick meal.  We agreed that if we all operated in the same manner it would be a very boring world.  All this chatter went on as we were treated to a hot breakfast casserole, strips of crisp bacon, toast, peaches and OJ.  Oh, and that yummy steaming coffee!

Most of our breakfast buddies will return at noon for the congregate meal served at SENCA every weekday.  Friendships are fortified, news is distributed, and it is a wonderful service available to kids our age.  We are blessed to have a talented cook who is all heart-Loretta Pope does a great job in her role at SENCA.

All this got me thinking about what to present to the Food Stamps Cooking Club Members about making meals.  Golly, it is an ongoing thing, this meal making.  When you are living on a dime or depending on public assistance for your food NO MATTER YOUR AGE you might benefit from some help.  We dearly hope we are helpful in this regard; it is our passion and purpose, after all.

One of the things we do at the Club House is to cook a potful of eggs at one time.  Some might be used for salads or snacks and others are put back, peeled and ready to go, for a quick breakfast.  It takes almost no time to make a white sauce, adding those hard cooked eggs, for a lovely sauce over toast.  Quick!  Easy!  CHEAP.  Boom.

Another idea is to put one part oatmeal and two parts water into a covered pot or casserole into the oven at bedtime on very low heat.  You could toss in some dried fruit-or not-and a sprinkle of salt.  A good hot breakfast will greet you as you wake!  Quick!  Easy!  CHEAP!  Boom

Sometimes I stir up some egg/milk/cinnamon and soak bread overnight in that mixture.  This goes into the fridge as soon as the bread is added.  Next morning it takes very little time to pop the slices of bread into a hot skillet for French toast.  These can be topped with syrup, honey, jelly, jam or plain fruit-even yogurt. Pretty much a people pleaser!  This is also quick!  Easy!  CHEAP!  Boom

If you need breakfast on the go, granola might meet your needs.  There you can make up the mix your gang likes best, store it in your pantry or cupboard, and scoop it into a fridge container or plastic bag.  Another idea along this line is to peel an orange the night before and pop that into a plastic container.  You are out the door with good fortification and it’s quick, easy and CHEAP!  Boom

We would be remiss if we did not mention heart shaped pancakes for the upcoming VALENTINE DAY…topped off with red jam or jelly.  Stir up the mix the night before and it’s a cinch to get them to the table for your Valentines who come to your table before school or work!  Again-quick, easy, and CHEAP.  Boom.

The internet is filled with blogs with ideas of every sort.  Some of my favorites, as you know, are Saving DinnerCreative SavvThe Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking , Poor to Rich a Day at a Time and Living On a Dime. I also really enjoy reading CT on a Budget. and Monroe on a Budget.   I’m sure you’ll find tremendously helpful ideas about breakfast and much, much more.  Give them some love, won’t you, please?  And mention that Mother Connie sez hey.  Thanks.

Here’s hoping you leave some love in our comments panel, too.  grin

We are loving your mail…you can reach us at

We hope you are staying warm and feeling well.  We appreciate you all so much.

~Connie Baum

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Food Stamps Cooking Club: Spring Salad?

May 14th, 2010






The energy of potter Ben Behunin now resides in our home! This lovely, whimsical salad bowl is titled "Saturday in the Garden" and it is responsible for a dream coming true! Mother Connie has been jonesin' for a piece of Ben's pottery for a long time!






This handsome three-legged salad bowl, an anniversary gift, is shiny, black, and stunning on our dining room table!

Honestly, I think our dinner salad had more flavor tonight, just because it was served from the new bowl!  For some long time it has been a dream to own something created by “Utah Potrboy” Ben Behunin, a young family man-potter and author-from Salt Lake City, Utah.

You might like to have your evening meal from a paper plate or a take out carton.  That’s fine.  But if you ever get to own something wonderful it makes all the difference in the quality of your dining experience.

We eat first with our eyes so when food and the presentation of the food is pleasant, our digestion will be better, we will make wonderful memories and it will enhance the quality of our lives.

If you are using SNAP or WIC; if you fund your food budget from a food pantry or food bank or if you have access to food commodities you understand all too well about quality of life.  Or lack thereof…

Your humble blogger attended an Advisory Board meeting today which included a tour of a food pantry.  It would be impossible to stress how necessary food pantries, food banks are.  The numbers of people served by these agencies is staggering, even in our home town.  It would be shocking to the uninformed.

Here’s my difficulty:  The well organized shelves of this caring cupboard were loaded from floor to ceiling with box after case of foodstuffs.  There were cartons  of a brand name sports drink; there was row after row of cases and cases of breakfast cereal; we saw ginormous stacks of cases of packaged breakfast ‘kits’ that required no cooking.

These are all offered with the right spirit; help is needed and help is being offered.  But my issue is that every single item I saw, aside from the canned veggies and fruits, was FAKE FOOD.  Packaged, processed, refined, and not a shred of health in any of it.

Mother Connie is only one person.  HOW CAN THERE BE AN IMPACT with this tsunami of fake food?

The master plan from the powers that be call for cooking classes for kids.  They are even organizing a no cook program.  But my questions are these:  Will they know that baby carrots are not fit for human consumption?  Will they believe that there is MELAMINE in the baby formula and the powdered milk?  Will they know how to present the various kinds of beans that come to the shelves?  How can we teach people that sweet sports drinks are not as desirable as water?

The issue of poverty and needing food because there are kids to feed is serious and we all need to address this issue.  We also need to let others know that the body NEEDS veggies to flourish.  We need to convey to impoverished people and wealthy folks alike that kids can have hard cooked eggs or yogurt for a quick breakfast in lieu of cold, processed, sugary cereals.  It is imperative that families begin to understand the worth and value of oatmeal and other grains; we need to leave the microwave oven unplugged and watch for bargains on fruits, veggies and real honest to goodness food.

We have discussed on this very blog the use of delicate curly dock and tender dandelion leaves.  We’ve mentioned violet leaves as not only tasty but beautiful contributions to a health supporting diet.  THEY ARE FREE. 

Perchance when we get desperate enough, we may give those ideas a go.  Until then, we will probably dump processed, sugary cereals into our kids’ breakfast bowls and pay for it dearly with multiple visits to health care pros later on.

Tonight we placed a fresh green salad into our bowl to celebrate the arrival of the esteemed potter’s energy and to pay tribute and honor to the lovely woman who gave this bowl to us.  That’s the beauty of life-you get to choose.

PLEASE choose well and wisely.  We want you to be well so you can rise above your situation, live your best life and be your best self.

As always, we welcome your comments and you can contact us as well at !

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should those links be clicked and sales result, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Do business only with those you trust implicitly.


Food Stamps Cooking: Save Cash with Hash?

December 4th, 2009

Here’s what’s cooking in the Club house!  It’s a very cost effective way to use Turkey Day leftovers but it’s a really great Busy Day meal.  Quick, nourishing, tasty; it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser at your family’s dinner table!

Whether you use WIC or SNAP funds; no matter if you procure food from commodities or a food pantry it’s important to make meals that please your gang but don’t wear you down to a frazzle.

If you will be ordering your food supply from Angel Food Ministries this month, the deadline for getting those orders in is looming.  They’d like to have your information on December 8 to ensure getting your order delivered at your pick up site on December 19.

Thank you if you have sent us ideas and messages and comments.  These are our lifeblood and we are thrilled to hear from every Club member!  Our email is as follows:

We received news yesterday that there will be some changes in the SENCA-SouthEast NE Community Action-Center.  We will keep you apprised of things as they progress.  One thing we are thrilled about is a series of upcoming Nutrition Classes!  I think the Fun Police should look the other way!

Please feel free to visit our sister sites: The Healthy and Wealthy You, the title of which pretty much says it all.  There is free advice on Mother Connie Sez with a touch of heart and humor.  The Rapid Cash Review is a business blog with ideas for increasing your household income online.

If you choose to visit our partners, please be advised that your humble blogger is an affiliate so any sales will result in commissions.  It’s all about selling other people’s stuff and if you make purchases offline or online you would be wise to do your due diligence and buy goods and services only if you trust the seller.

Connie Baum

Saving Food Dollars with Loretta?

November 18th, 2009

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Loretta Ensor, who is the cook at the SouthEast Nebraska Community Action Center or SENCA. Loretta is responsible for the preparation of the congregate meals as well as the food delivered to the elderly through the Meals on Wheels program. It was a delightful interlude in my day!

If you are a user of food that came from a food pantry or you have food commodities; if you are able to use SNAP funds or funds from WIC to feed your family; even if you avail yourselves of Angel Food Ministries or just pinch every penny you can to save money on your food budgets, it’s important to learn the best ways to get that job done while still feeding your family a nourishing diet. We hope we can help with that.

Here’s hoping you enjoyed the chat with Loretta well enough to leave a comment here.   And if you enjoyed her interview, the chances are good that you will enjoy our sister sites: Mother Connie Sez, which deals primarily with health; The Healthy and Wealthy You, which is pretty much self explanatory; and Rapid Cash Review, which makes every effort to help you get some money into your coffers by sharing ideas about internet marketing programs.

Connie Baum

Cookbooks: Who Doesn’t Love Them?

October 16th, 2009

You Have to Love Cook Books!

You Have to Love Cook Books!

Recipe books are very popular.   Men and women share the passion surrounding  them because both guys and dolls love to eat!  I am the proud owner of a new cookbook: “Tasteful Treasures” which is a collection of tasty treats from South East Nebraska!

The South East Nebraska Community Action Council’s Advisory Board teamed up with Tecumseh’s Civic Club to hold a highly successful fund raising event tonight.  They served their signature pancakes with sausages and the whole evening was a huge hit with everybody in town! A freewill offering was collected.  Our area can boast of many generous pancake lovers.

Everyone likes to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  There was a box at the entryway for donations of canned goods and it quickly filled.  There were Tasteful Treasures cookbooks for sale and those went home with people who could hardly wait to try out the new recipes.  The Methodist Youth Group was auctioned off for their services.  And no one even raised an eyebrow when it was announced ‘the Methodist minister was selling his kids.’

The funds collected will help support the services of the Council.  Senior meals, prepared by Loretta Ensor, are served there.  Meals on Wheels are delivered from the Center and there are other services available to the community.  That’s also where the office of the SENCA Family Development Associate, Terri Brethouwer is housed.

Those who use EBT cards furnished by SNAP or WIC might also have need for the food pantry or food commodities and those foods are made available from this location.

If you know someone who is in need, please let them know that Johnson County does what they can to be of assistance.  The number to call is 402 335 2134.  If you live outside of Johnson County you can ask at your county court house and they can provide you with the appropriate information.

In Nebraska you can apply for assistance by logging on to .

The cookbook I mentioned earlier has loads of helpful info.  If you have opted in to this page or to Food Stamps Cooking Club you are receiving some occasional messages to your Inbox.  I suspect you will be seeing some of the clever tips listed in the new cookbook very soon!  So, stay tuned!

We hope you’ll leave us a comment here and you are welcome as always to send us a hey at  When you visit our partners, you’ll see how you can boost your bottom line.  That will help fund your food budget!

Connie Baum

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Is It All About the Need?

August 10th, 2009

You may recall I was asked to sit on the Advisory Board at the South East Nebraska Community Action Center. Our first meeting took place on Friday.  The agenda was not encouraging to me.

The meeting opened with the shocking announcement that the current cook who provides some 700 astonishingly creative, nutritious meals a month for Senior Citizens and Meals On Wheels has tendered her two weeks’ notice because she has found employment where she will earn more money and receive less hassle. There was a collective GASP across this community as the news quickly spread.

Then we discussed the empty shelves in the Food Pantry, the ginormous number of families who applied for assistance with Back To School needs.  There was discussion regarding the much needed “love” the building housing the Action Center needs.  We will be arranging a Fund Raiser.

On Friday morning I had learned about the new figures concerning the desperate need for using food stamps or SNAP, food commodities and food pantries.  It has gotten amazing media attention worldwide.  All in all, I felt quite glum at the end of the meeting.

I was cheered on Sunday when our church people came with bags and bags of school supplies, backpacks and offers to purchase other things to fill the need and the shelves.  We are already thinking ahead to Christmas and cold weather needs.

Unemployment may be “steadying” as the media has been reporting but in our neck of the woods there are hard working people who cannot afford to feed their families; there are people being laid off work; there are people who are sick and aging who need our support in concrete ways.

The Cooking Class we have scheduled may ease some of the stress and strain.  But that’s  just a drop in the bucket.  My heart is heavy that I cannot do more but I am following my passion and reaching out.  Pray with me that lives will be touched and made better and that things will improve dramatically and soon.

Meantime, I want to share with you a wonderful idea for using the ample supply of zucchini that seems to abound.  Our Mexican neighbor, who promises to teach me some of their best techniques, told me about this:


Wash the zucchini and chop off the ends.  Cut the vegetable into cubes and cook til tender.  Drain the liquid and put your favorite kind of cheese into the warm pot and let them melt.  Senor Torres likes to use taco flavored cheese he buys in 5 pound blocks but he says any cheese will work.

He also told me he fills tortillas with this mixture, along with a few cooked beans and eats them out of hand.  MMMM!

I’m excited to get into the kitchen to try this one!

Boys and girls, you have done such a marvelous job of inviting those in your sphere of influence into the Clubhouse!  Thank you so much!  If you care to post a comment here, you are more than welcome to do so!  If you prefer to send a message to us at  that will be just fine and every bit as welcomed!

Thanks for stopping by to visit our partners; they appreciate your interest because they want to help you with bringing more money into your households.

Connie Baum