Posts Tagged ‘Cooking with Food Commodities’


July 30th, 2009

Some of us “foodies” like to follow what’s cooking on the Food Network.  If you have ever seen an episode of Chopped you know that four chefs compete for a cash prize and the competition gets pretty interesting.

All “foodies” are not likely to be professional chefs.  Most are busy working people with crazy schedules and kids.  We are striving to thrive in a difficult economy and some of us are dependent on outside sources for our food:  SNAP, Angel Food Ministries, food pantries and food commodities.  This time of year we may be eternally grateful for the abundance of garden goodies our neighbors share with us and we may be picking out produce to use with our Farmers Markets Coupons.

Just for fun, let’s pretend we are BigWig Home Cooks on our OWN television show.  We have just been given a basket with-oh, let’s imagine FOOD COMMODITIES, just for an example.  We might find farina, salmon and canned milk.  Let’s take this drama one step further and imagine we have access to items from WIC.  Oh, LOOK!  We have eggs and a can of grape juice!

What shall we do to prepare a meal our family will actually EAT? Let’s take an inventory of what we might keep on hand.  Is there some onion around?  How about celery?  Do we have some bottled lemon juice or even a real lemon or lime?  Surely there is salt and pepper.  We might even have some dried dill around!

Sometimes family members complain about fish because it tastes “fishy.”  Well, HELLO?  It is FISH!  But you can minimize the strong flavor if you simply put your fish-in this case, salmon-into a strainer and gently pour cold water over it, right out of your tap.  This takes away the liquid and some of the fishy flavor that offends some people.  Then carefully remove the large pieces of bones that are not appetizing and toss that into your compost pile.

When you mash the salmon with a fork, you will crush the fine bones and they will vanish into the flesh of the fish.  Then you can mix an egg or two-depends on their size-some farina and chopped onion and celery together.  If it seems to be too thick, add a bit of the milk.  If your mixture is too thin it’s easy to sprinkle in a little more of the farina.

SIDEBAR:  Farina is the ‘filler’.  If you have no farina, you can substitute whole grain oats or barley flakes.  You could crush boxed cereal or use the “crumbly” stuff that’s left in the last of a box of cereal.  Making a salmon mixture is a good way to use up the “heels” of bread or you might use crackers.  We find soda crackers too spendy for our own budget, so that is not an option for us.  END SIDEBAR.

By adding onion and celery you are adding texture.  The onion also helps to diffuse that fish flavor; lemon will balance and enhance the fish flavor.  Adding a bit of acid to it gives it a nice balanced taste.  Lemons and limes make nice complements but each will be different from the other.  Dill is famous for being great with salmon.  Some people use both but I prefer one or the other.  Your family will be vocal about what their preferences are!

Well, in this TV show that has not been aired, were you a winner?  You were if you created a salmon patty or salmon loaf your family ate and enjoyed!  Your ratings just went up!

Bringing these posts to you on a regular basis is great fun for your Webmaster!  We hope you’ll find a moment to drop us a line at  It is so much fun to find you in our Inbox each day and we thank you for your kind words.

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Connie Baum

Food Commodities in YOUR Cupboard?

July 13th, 2009

Each day when the first wave of emails hits my computer I am always eager to see what’s cooking!  I am blessed to receive a number of messages from recipe sites.  Today I found something suitable for these hot muggy days but it was way to ‘chi chi poo poo’ for us commoners!  So I thought I would trot out one of my mother’s old standby favorites for a cold dish on a hot day:  Salmon Salad.

As you know, we are landlocked here in Nebraska and the closest we come to having anything seaworthy is the Nebraska Navy.  We don’t have access to fresh seafood on a tight budget-many of us are using food commodities, food pantries, the SNAP program and maybe even Angel Food Ministries.  Even the coupons for the Farmers Markets do not gain access to salmon, for crying out loud!  My mother always used canned salmon but she also made this dish with tuna.  She even used ground beef.  She also subscribed to the theory you can cook once and eat twice.  Cold ground or roast beef in a salad is quite tasty.

Here’s how Mom made her SALMON SALAD:

1 package of pasta.  Mom was partial to shell macaroni.  Use what YOU like: Bow ties? Elbows? Rotini?  Cook it according to package directions, rinse with cold water and drain.

1 medium cucumber, washed and rough chopped-the goodness is just under the peeling.  This time of year people are BEGGING folks to help them use up their zucchini squashes from the gardens!  Great substitute!  Or, use both.

1 can salmon, drained and mashed with a fork-Mom always removed the bones

1 tomato, roughly chopped

1 rib of celery, finely chopped

*Optional: 2 or 3 rings of red onion-white or yellow will work, if you have some on hand

1 pepper, rough chopped-red is pretty but green are cheaper and plentiful in the garden these days

Salt and pepper to taste

I can still see Mom assembling this mixture into the big yellow mixing bowl and tossing it ever so lovingly.  She dressed it with mayonnaise but your family’s favorite will work just fine.  She used to put lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves on the “good dishes” to make lunch or supper feel like a special occasionWhen she made this dish for guests, she added just a sprinkle of celery seed.  Sometimes she would arrange hard cooked eggs on the top of the serving bowl and pass the dish at the table. She often served lemonade with this salad because of the balance of flavors between the salmon and the lemon.


No doubt YOU have family favorites that were simple and budget friendly.  We would love to have you share those.  Just drop us an email at;  it will make our day!

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Plans are in the works for the event sponsored by SENCA later this month here in Southeast Nebraska, as well as our second round of  Cooking Classes!  Watch for that date to be announced!

Connie Baum