Posts Tagged ‘Advisory Board’

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

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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

From the Recipe Box and a Tip?

October 12th, 2009

Oh, boy!  Do I have some fun things to share with you today!  Spending the weekend as guests in the homes of people who really know how to make things happen has been invigorating!

This is the time of year when those pesky gnats find your cut watermelon or the slices of tomato you have managed to get out of your garden before a ridiculous 17″ snow happened!  Velda showed us the definitive way to avoid those critters:

Gnat Solution:

Place a small amount of apple cider vinegar into a small dish.  Custard cups would be ideal for this but any dish will do.  Drop a wee bit of dish washing detergent into the vinegar.  Soon you will see that the mixture has attracted the little critters and they are piling up on the bottom of the dish!

One of our Food Stamps Club Advisory Board members, Lynne Osborn, taught us a wonderful way to easily and inexpensively prepare meatballs that are good enough to offer to guests:

Lynne’s Scent-sational Meat Balls

1 jar ready-made salsa

1 jar orange marmalade, peach preserves or apricot jam

1 package prepared, frozen meatballs

Place everything into a crock pot.  You could also put it all into a baking dish, cover with a lid and place it into a 325 degree oven til everything bubbles and is thoroughly heated.

These were prepared early in the morning and when we opened the door at noon, the aroma was simply divine!  You really must try this dish very soon!  It is so delish!

Here is MY version of that, taking into consideration that prepared foods eat up your budget.  This is especially critical if you are using an EBT card from SNAP, WIC funds, or you got your food from a food pantry or Angel Food Ministries-or if you use food commodities.

Home made salsa is probably preferable for saving money and there are some mighty fine tasting home made salsas in the cupboards of kitchens around!

If you have home made preserves or jams, so much the better for saving money and eating organic!

Frozen, prepared foods not only spendy;  they are likely to have toxic additives.  I suggest you make up your favorite mix for meat loaf, form little balls and use those.  It will take more time to do but the yield will be much greater and the cost will be more in line with managing food dollars.

There have been a number of ideas and recipes sent to and we are deeply grateful for each one and the senders!  We certainly expect to use them, so stay tuned.  We are also working diligently to bring you a little somethin’-somethin’ as a small token of our appreciation for each of you.  Stay tuned for that, as well.

You have been visiting our partners.  They are happy about that and you will be happy, too, if you get involved with what they offer.

Please continue to advise those who sit in your circle to enter their name and email address here on this blog as well as our sister sites:  The Healthy and Wealthy You and Mother Connie Sez.  We are asking for your comments at those sites, as well.

Connie Baum

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Is Everything Peachy?

September 9th, 2009

Fruits on the market 1

Beauties like these are sitting in sweet syrup on our kitchen counter.  The sound of “CLICK” as the jars seal make me feel comforted and more ready for winter’s chill!

The Food Stamps Cooking Club has an Advisory Board.  One of the dear members, Lynn Osborne, was an Extension Educator before her retirement.  She has long declared that canning is cost prohibitive.

I quite agree.

HOWEVER, we fell heir to a flat of peaches.  The intention was to put them, along with ’20 Blackbirds’ into a pie.  JUST KIDDING!

The peaches were ripe and needed immediate attention.  The freezer is full of zucchini and green beans, so that’s not an option.  So the lady of the house rose at 5 AM to peel and prep peaches for gleaming glass jars.

After using all that sugar for the syrup and all that electricity to process the peaches, I KNOW it was not cost effective.  But the satisfaction I got from seeing the finished product and listening to the jars sealing is not available at ANY cost!

Now to think about our evening meal.  I came across a recipe for a casserole that whips together quickly and is inexpensive to create.  It calls for canned soup and we don’t do commercial canned soups in this household so I will tell you that you can put 2 tablespoons BUTTER or OIL into a skillet and  add 2 tablespoons of FLOUR.  Mix that in the skillet with your mixing spoon until the butter is smooth and melted and the flour is mixed in well.  Then add 2 cups of MILK- OR LESS, depending how thick you want your sauce.  Use that mixture in this yummy casserole recipe from the University of Wyoming  Cooperative Extension Service:

E Z Casserole

1 – 1  1/2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained

4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

1  15 oz can cream style corn – cut corn will do fine, if that’s what you have

1 can condensed soup (USE THE WHITE SAUCE from above and yours will not have MSG or hydrolized protein in it!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the beef and drain it.  Place the thinly sliced potatoes in the bottom of a lightly greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Layer the corn over the potatoes, top with the browned meat and cover with the soup-or sauce.

Cover.  Bake one hour.  Serves 6.

Here’s an idea that will stretch that recipe and not offend anyone’s taste buds:  Use some grated zucchini with those taters. If you have HALF as many zucchinis as we’ve had this season, you are looking for places to “hide” them so they won’t go to waste.  Or your waist!

Another twist might be to top the whole works with shredded cheese.

I think we have a crowd pleaser.  Isn’t that just peachy?

Folks, if you are using Angel Food Ministries some nice fellow commented that there is a deadline for getting your order placed.  He even mentioned a coupon code.  Thanks for the heads up on that!

If you are a user of WIC funds or SNAP or if you have foods that came from a food pantry or food commodities bundle, we sincerely hope we are giving you concrete help and you feel we understand your situation.   Life is hard.  And then you have to COOK, for heaven’s sake!  If you are just watching your food budget like a hawk or you are coming to the end of your Farmers Market Coupons we want you to know that we are making every effort to help you figure out interesting ways to present food so your family will be pleased AND healthy!

Thank you to all those who have taken the time to visit our partners and to post comments and send emails!  YOU ARE THE LIFEBLOOD OF THIS CLUB and YOU ARE SO IMPORTANT.

Please feel free to continue sending your contacts to Food Stamps Cooking Club so those who would like may sign up for our infrequent email messages.

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

What’s Cooking at the Food Pantry?

June 20th, 2009

Snail mail was fun once again!

I have received an invitation from Terri Brethouwer!  You’ll remember Terri from the other day when we ate chicken together…her official title is “Family Development Associate” for Southeast Nebraska Community Action.  One of the hats Terri wears, among many others, is that she takes care of our community’s Food Pantry.

Terri would like to form an Advisory Board.  It would serve as a link between public and private organizations.  The board would suggest and assist in planning, coordinating and organization of the Center.  They would also be involved in fund raising activities.

This will be a golden opportunity to make a difference in our little town.  It is the chance to be of service, make an impact and have some fun.  YOU KNOW ME; if it is not fun, I am nowhere to be found!

Terri is already gearing up for Back-To-School, Fall Holidays, even Christmas.  She is well organized and well intentioned.  I see this Advisory Board as being a place for folks to feel included and doing important service work.

During the time Terri and I met in her little office there were shoppers in the thrift store part of the building.  They were so pleased with their “treasure finds”–one lady had a dress and jacket; another woman found a sweater she could not live without.

There is a good energy inside our little SENCA* Center.  You can feel it as soon as you open their big front door.  People there are cheery and pleasant and the clients seem to be glad to have folks pop by to visit.

Maybe you are a user of SNAP* fundsMaybe you receive food commodities or have shopped in a food pantryThis Advisory Board will be working on ideas that affect you directly.  If you, as a client, would be interested to help work with and possibly improve this program, your input would be very welcome.  You are encouraged to contact Terri at 402 335 2134 during business hours to let her know of your interest.  She can tell you more about the new board and its duties.

* Senca is South East Nebraska Community Action

*SNAP is the acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

So, that’s what’s cooking at the food pantry.  What will you be cooking at YOUR home?  Here is a simple idea for these warm, muggy days:


12 oz package egg noodles, cooked per package directions

1 box frozen peas, thawed

2 cups cooked turkey, finely chopped *I used ground turkey and browned it first.  I also added some poultry seasoning to it as it browned.

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded or chopped

1/4 parmesan, shredded or chopped

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

1/4 ricotta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried parsley

Cook noodles per package instructions; drain and place in large bowl.  Combine cooked noodles, peas and turkey.

In a skillet, bring the cream to a simmer.  Remove from heat and carefully stir in cheeses.  Toss cheese sauce with noodle mixture, add salt and pepper and put the entire mixture into a non stick skillet.  Heat thoroughly, stirring gently.  When it begins to bubble and the cheeses are melted, sprinkle the parsley over top.

When served with a leafy green salad, this is a crowd pleaser! They’ll want dessert, though; you can be sure of that!


Our stats indicate you are sending your peeps to Food Stamps Cooking Club
in order for them to sign up for the Cooking Tips. We thank you for that. We thank you, too, for visiting our partners. You are always invited to leave your comments for us and we love hearing from you at so keep those messages moving! Thanks!

You probably got a little message this week from the Food Stamps Cooking Club Tipmaster. We never want to impose on you because we know how busy you all are. We just want to keep you in our loop.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!  Remember that you are loved and appreciated!

Connie Baum

Advisory Board Member

January 26th, 2009

Food Stamps Cooking Club has some unseen heroes you may not have known about.  Quite naturally, YOU READERS are our heroes.  But beyond that, we have a prestigious and highly talented group we call our Advisory Board.  From time to time we will be introducing all our Advisors.

I’d like for you to meet one of those special people today. She is my sister in law and her cooking acumen is legendary.  She lives on an acreage, raises an impressive garden each year, has highly productive chickens-There are eggs in our fridge to prove it!-and is always in charge of her church’s bake sales.  She knows how to save money while preparing nutritious dishes, even for a large crowd.  She has graciously agreed to serve as one of our Advisors.

Lorene Behrends

Lorene Behrends

Here is recipe from Lorene’s own collection:

Strawberry Salad

2  3 oz packages strawberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

2 small boxes frozen strawberries

2 mashed bananas

1 small can crushed pineapple in juice

1 cup sour cream

Mix gelatin and boiling water, stir until dissolved.  Add strawberries, bananas and pineapple.  Pour 1/2 of this mixture into a large mold.  Set gelatin and spread with sour cream. Pour remaining gelain over this and chill until firm.  May be served in lettuce cups or over shredded lettuce.  Serves 8.


When you are using food stamps, food commodities and food pantries it helps to find these items on sale.  Keep a close eye on the grocery circulars and flyers in your food centers.  That’s good advice if you have an unlimited food budget, too!

We hope you are planning to share your ideas with the Food Stamps Cooking Club.  Just drop us a line at  and know that it will be read by a human and considered carefully.  It warms our hearts so much when your messages arrive.

Feel free to visit any of our partners; click on any of their banners on this page.

Food Stamps Cooking Club

Connie Baum