Posts Tagged ‘Kristen Suzanne’

Do YOU Take Time to Smell the Violets?

May 5th, 2009

Kristen Suzanne would be SO PROUD of me!  Kristen is all about raw foods and I can certainly see why that is.

Yesterday I snipped some Dock and a few “Daisylion” leaves and blossoms for a grand meal.  Today I will feast on greens from the yard, along with VIOLETS.

Kay Young taught me about violets and the various ways to use them.  Kay wrote “Wild Seasons” which is an instruction book on how to eat from the Plains.

Of course, our yard is free from chemicals and sprays so I know these items are safe to eat.  I bring the greens and blooms into the house and let them soak in good, pure, filtered water before I give them a final rinse, pat things dry in a fresh tea towel and prepare them.


1 cup loosely packed young viotet leaves, stems removed

2 cups loosely packed leaf lettuce leaves

20 or more fresh violet flowers


2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Wash the violets and lettuce leaves.  Remove as much water as possible.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. 

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and sugar, stirring until the sugar is mostly dissolved.  Add the cream, salt, and pepper and stir well.  Chill until ready to use.

Just before serving, toss the violet leaves, lettuce and dressing together.  Strew the violets over the top.

*NOTE: the salad may be made using all violet leaves and no lettuce but the contrast of flavors and textures as well as the light and dark shades of green make a much more interesting salad.

YIELD; 3 or 4 servings

It is a “coffee at the picnic table” kind of day.  Come on by.  We can talk about how to work with a food budget that is funded by the SNAP program-food stamps, food commodities, and food pantries.

Speaking of food pantries, there is an EXCELLENT piece on Write As Rain about food pantries.  The author even gives great ideas about the kinds of items that are good for community food pantries to receive.  Please stop by and comment there, if you can. Rainy is providing an excellent service and her messages come from a place of love.

Of course, you are always welcome to comment by sending messages to and we revel when you take the time to post a comment on this blog. 

If you are interested to learn more about raw foods and ways to nourish yourselves with raw foods, please visit one of our partners, Kristen Suzanne.

Connie Baum

Food Stamps City?

March 25th, 2009

Someone sent me newspaper clippings about how many more people find themselves in need of food stamps.

If more people are in need, that means there will be even larger numbers of families dependent on food commodities and food pantries, as well.

I have a plan to help alleviate this need.  It’s wacky, I admit, but wacky is how I roll sometimes.  WHAT IF…

WHAT IF…everyone in your neighborhood reached out to one other family and had them over for dinner this week?  WHAT IF…you knew how to wring bargains from dollars and you could teach another family your money saving tricks?  WHAT IF…that meant that you made a new friend, learned about a different culture, provided one nutritious meal to a living, breathing family who has need?  It would personalize the need and help erase that need a little at a time.

There are many programs across the country to create community gardens.  What better way to get acquainted, to make new alliances, and provide food for those you love?  I don’t know much about gardening, but I know how to cook and I know how to shop and I can bake a few good things to eat.  What skills do YOU have to share?  What would it mean to some family to be invited to put their toes under your table?

Yes, it’s a novel idea.  Maybe it’s like my notion about everybody in town sweeping THEIR part of the city street they live on so their City would not have to bear the cost of sweeping streets.  It just has not caught on YET.

Think about it, though.  How could it hurt to help one another?

While you mull that over in your head, consider visiting our partners: Leanne ElyKristen Suzanne and Rapid Cash Marketing.

Drop a line, if you like, to  to let us know how YOU would solve the problems facing people who need help with their food budgets.  Thanks oodles, guys. Don’t be shy about inviting your friends and family to join our Food Stamps Cooking Club!

Connie Baum

Coupons, Anyone?

March 14th, 2009

All the news outlets are going ga-ga.  Each one is doing its best to upstage the other networks to bring the most news and best tips regarding money saving ideas.  That’s commendable.  The problem is this:  How helpful ARE these ideas, really?

Today I watched something about coupon clipping.  They showed the woman with her professionally tended fingernails and her professionally coiffed hair in her designer home, replete with granite countertops and matching stainless steel appliances. The children were dressed in designer duds.  Those images alerted me that she and I might not be in the same league. 

The woman talked about using her many coupons and she told her young children to pick out the cereal they liked because it was on sale…she loaded her cart with every bargain for which there was a coupon…I wondered if, when she got home, she would know what the supper menu would be.  Anyway, at the checkout counter, the clerk had to PAY THE CUSTOMER because she had so many coupons that the STORE owed HER!  Sounds like a good deal.


My take on that shopping trip is that there were so many boxes and packages of STUFF that is not contributing to the health of those children!  Sugary cereals, juice products laced with sweeteners and loaded with water from who knows what source, MSG…I think it’s fair to say that her idea of a week’s worth of food does not match mine. 

Let’s talk for a moment about your car.  Would you even dream of putting artificial fuel into the tank?  Would you intentionally wash it with polluted water?  Would you neglect to have the oil changed?  Of course not!  Sometimes we take better care of our cars than we do our bodies!  Our automobiles would recognize inferior products; so do our bodies.

Saving money at the expense of your health is false economy.  If you don’t KNOW what’s healthy, find out.  If you don’t know who to ask, consult your local home extension agent at the court house in your county.  We’ll do our best here at Food Stamps Cooking Club to help you know what’s what in the way of healthy, low cost foods and interesting ways to prepare meals. 

The visitors to this site are a great bunch of sharing souls.  They have been most generous to send their ideas and cooking tips to  and we have shared them on this blog as well as the occasional messages that come through your email.  We empathize with those who depend on food stamps and food commodities.  We understand how it is to need to visit the food pantry in your community and that’s why we offer help and hope to those of you who find yourselves in that situation.

We want for you to be healthy while you cut costs, too.  YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO US.

Spring is about to POP and that means it’s time to think about gardening.  Even if you don’t know how to garden, get a few pots and some tomato plants to set in your yard.  Your children will benefit, you will have some good produce to include in your meals and maybe you’ll have enough tomatoes to freeze or can!

Gardening is a very popular pastime in the US.  If you want to learn about gardening, ask someone in your community to teach you.  There are retired farmers and teachers who love to share their knowledge about working with the earth.  Some communities have City Gardens or some similar program.  Don’t be shy about getting involved with those.

If you ARE a gardener, solicit some students.  They can help you weed and harvest.  You can make some rich, long term relationships that way.  And Mother Earth will get some much needed TLC.

Coupons?  Nah, not so much.  Only when it’s a good thing.

Please feel free to visit our partners at Saving Dinner and Kristen Suzanne and if you would like to bring some money into your household, please check out this site: Rapid Cash Marketing !

Connie Baum

Only $176.00?

March 3rd, 2009

CNN news guy, Sean Callebs, has spent February living on the equivalent of what he would receive in Louisiana if he were using food stamps:  $176.00.  Sean has been blogging about his experience on and he has appeared in segments on American Morning.

I really admired Sean’s moxie in doing this project.  It’s easy to TALK about using food stamps but he went the extra mile so he would know what it is like to actually live with the reality of it.

He declared that he learned a lot from the month and he has changed his ideas about things.  By the way, he lost a few pounds, too.  As they showed him filling his shopping cart, I took issue with his choices because I am such a freak about health.  In my humble opinion, he picked up too many processed foods. 

The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, did a similar in vivo program with her family.  They prepared their meals using the equivalent of what a family of four would receive according to the guidelines.  I was not able to discern the dollar amount but I do know that Governer Granholm said their family was eating more macaroni and cheese than ever before.

Unless you have been the beneficiary of a food pantry, food commodities, or food stamps you really can only IMAGINE what it’s like.  For first time users, it may be an embarrassing experience or new users may feel shame.  At the Food Stamps Cooking Club, our hearts go out to anyone who lives with need.  The numbers of those who are using public assistance for their food budgets is growing exponentially.  I am told there are 30 MILLION users; these numbers are staggering.

Since the need is so great, it behooves those of us who can buy food to do whatever we can to help our fellow man.  When we donate to our food pantries or food banks, we would be kind to give foods with high nutrition, interesting foods that can provide for balanced, filling meals.  It would be more kind to donate foods that do NOT include MSG, artificial sweeteners and sugary things.

For those who depend on these donations and food stamps-you would be wise to stay away from the processed things found on store shelves.  Stick to the freshest foods you can find…you will discover, to your delight, that those foods are more satisfying and will keep you feeling more energetic and cheerful.  For example, those meat “helpers” are a total waste of food dollars, even when they sell for only 10 for a dollar!  Salt and pepper will add flavor and it is much less costly.  Additionally, there will be no box to dispose of in the trash with every use!

To stretch your ground meat, you can use farina-also known as cream of wheat-or a bit of oatmeal, rice, or bread crumbs.  These are far better meat stretchers than junk from a box laced with MSG, hydrolized protein, and sodium.  Use spices sparingly to enhance the flavors.

Here is a quick, inexpensive skillet meal you can feed your family in a flash:

Skillet Supper

1 pound ground meat-you might choose beef, turkey, or chicken

2 Tablespoons oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 or 4 ribs of celery, washed and sliced

3 or 4 carrots, washed and sliced

Napa Cabbage-2 or 3 leaves for each person, cut into ribbons

1 Tablespoon farina or oatmeal

Enough water or broth to moisten

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil and brown the meat.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and cabbage.  Moisten with a bit of water or broth and add the farina or oatmeal.  Allow the dish to simmer until the farina or oatmeal has cooked. 

This is a colorful dish that will fill your family’s tummies and satisfy their taste buds.

*VARIATIONS: Add yellow squash, red, yellor or green peppers for more color.  You can add  corn or peas or green beans, too.  You can also add peeled, cubed potatoes.

If you have some fruit for dessert, that would make a beautifully balanced meal.  If not, just make a cup of hot chocolate for everyone at the table and watch everyone “grow” a chocolate mustache!



Make your mealtime fun!  Turn off the television and tell one another what you like best about them.  Find out about everyone’s day and listen to each other’s ideas.  Take turns clearing the table, washing, drying and putting away your dishes.  Create family closeness during your meals so that your children will have wonderful memories and not think of how you used food stamps!

We hope Food Stamps Cooking Club is helpful to you.  For added value, you are welcome to visit our partners: Saving Dinner and Kristen Suzanne.  If you are interested to bring some income into your household, please visit Rapid Cash Marketing .

Connie Baum


Could We Help One Another?

January 21st, 2009

Unless you are HEARING these blog posts on a special computer program, you can clearly SEE that we are ‘Plain Jane.’  No cutesy graphics.  No photos.  Not even a video!  WHAT ARE WE THINKING?

Here’s what we are thinking:  We think you are busy.  We think you depend on foods from food commodities, food pantries, food stamps and we are SURE you are EXHAUSTED.  You have a job (or more than one), we think, and we think  you have a family, responsibilities, laundry and home care.  We think you are making every effort to SURVIVE.  AND WE APPLAUD YOUR EFFORTS!

So, we aim to embrace you and share with you the things we know about food preparation and eating with vibrant good health in mind.

We know stuff.  So do our partners, Kristen Suzanne and Leanne Ely.  But YOU have ideas and favorite recipes, too…we hope you will share them with us so we can share them with our Food Stamps Cooking Club members.  Let’s all help one another in these trying times.  The more we help one another, the better we can all feel about our situation, no matter how stressful it might be.

We invite you to send your mother’s best concoctions or YOURS.  We really hope you will pass along the hints that help you get through YOUR days so others will benefit.  Send your ideas, recipes, cooking tips, and household hints to and don’t hesitate to let us know how YOU attempt to save money!  We will publish them as we are able so everyone can know what a great effort you are making.  Thank you so much for your participation.

I wish every one of you could come to the Cooking Class tomorrow…we will discuss Baking Bits.  Sounds pretty inviting, doesn’t it?

I hope you have remembered to pop in on Food Stamps Cooking Club to get the email tips we send along…and we hope you are telling your pals to log on there, too.  It’s all about helping one another.

Food Stamps Cooking Club

Connie Baum

Do I Need To Apologize?

December 10th, 2008

It has come to my attention that some of you do not question ‘smidgeon’ but nobody told you about buds and ribs.  And no, this is not a discussion of the birds and the bees!

A recipe I shared earlier with you called for a RIB of celery.  A RIB is the same as a stalk.  I was remiss in mentioning that.

A BUD of garlic is just one part of the bulb.  Garlic has lots of pieces in one clove.  Too much garlic is TOO MUCH GARLIC so the reference to BUD is to let the cook know there is no need to use an entire bulb or head of garlic.

It has always been customary for our family to make up words.  Sometimes I forget that you don’t speak my “custom language” and I owe it to you to watch my peas and cues! (pun intended)

Many thanks to the dear reader who commented and made me accountable!  my bad

Oh, and by the way, quality ingredients such as ribs of celery and buds of garlic are available at Tecumseh Central Market, as well as a grocery store near YOU. 

Here’s hoping you are getting timely reports and information from Food Stamps Cooking Club and you have met our partners, Leanne Ely and Kristen Suzanne

Connie Baum

You Aren’t Gonna EAT That, Are You?

December 7th, 2008

It’s holiday time and your family hopes you will fill the house with the aroma of cinnamon and cloves and ginger and all the spices of holiday cookies…

Which is fine, if that’s your thing.  I have a word of caution, though.  PLEASE use sugar and not artificial sweeteners in your baked goods.

I know.  Every magazine ad, every TV commercial, everyone everywhere is cautioning everyone else about the use of sugar.  Once upon a time, it was only your dentist who paid attention to that sort of thing.

Then along came artificial sweeteners.  They are very alluring in their yellow, pink and blue packets.  They are very handy…especially the ones that measure spoonful for spoonful the same as cane or beet sugar.  Here’s the thing:  When aspartame, to cite only one example,  exceeds 86 degrees Farenheit, the wood alcohol in it converts to formaldehyde and that turns into Formic acid, which causes metabolic acidosis.  Formic acid is the poison used by fire ants to kill their victims with their sting!

Can you bake Christmas cookies or any other goodies under 86 degrees Farenheit?  I think NOT.

The toxic methanol condition from Formic acid in a human has the capacity to mimic the symptoms of multiple slerosis, a neurological malady.  There are numerous other bad symptoms I could share but they are so Orwellian that I wish not to frighten you any more than I have.  I just don’t want you to ruin your holidays, let alone your life, by using artificial sweeteners.

If you are serious about learning more about artificial sweeteners you can read this book: “Sweet Poision: How The World’s Most Popular Artificial Sweetener is Killing Us” by Janet Starr Hull.  It was published by New Horizon Press in 1999.

Even though you may be on a budget, there would be no savings from substituting sugar with a non edible, toxic acid product.  We want our club members to be HEALTHY!

For truly healthy food ideas, you can consult with Kristen Suzanne .

To receive more information about food ideas for users of food stamps, food commodities and food pantries, please visit Food Stamps Cooking Club

Connie Baum

Nothing SOUNDS Good…?

December 3rd, 2008

  My parents were in the grocery business for many years.  My mother could choose anything she liked from any aisle in that little store and she could order whatever struck her fancy.  EXCEPT, when there were damaged goods to be used not sold or when there was a piece of meat that was not quite fresh enough for a customer. 

  The problem was that my mother was not all that wild about food PREPARATION. 

  I GET that.  She worked in the store and was as responsible as my father for stocking the shelves, ordering the merchandise, cleaning the floors, and checking out the customers’ orders.  She was the #1 Carry Out Girl, too.  She was good with people and children and the public appreciated her many attributes. 

  But when her workday ended, like many working people, there was a meal to prepare.  She would wail, “Nothing sounds good” because she probably was too tired to eat, let alone prepare a meal for the three of us.

  I am not my mother’s daughter in that respect.  I love food as much as I love people and it gives me great satisfaction to plan and prepare meals.  Having guests here to share a meal is a big bonus.

  That’s why I am so excited for the Cooking Classes!  We get to hang out, talk about food, prepare food, eat food, and the plan is that people will get help with their kitchen duties as well as their food budgets and their health!

  WEEK ONE will find our group looking over the pantry and thinking about the refrigerator and freezer.  A cooking tip went out into cyberspace earlier today reminding people that cleaning out the fridge can be a weekly task (NOT a CHORE) and it should not be something to dread or obsess about.  Since we will be meeting in our modest kitchen it will be like a gathering of neighbors. 

  Part of the delight of these classes is living life with passion, zest and gusto!  Whatever gives YOU delight is the thing you would be wise to follow. 

  Maybe geography keeps you from coming to our little class.  In that case, you can access help from our partners: Leanne Ely and Kristen Suzanne They have so many ideas you’ll have no reason to think nothing sounds good!

  To receive cooking tips in YOUR inbox, please visit Food Stamps Cooking Club !

Connie Baum

Do You Feel Letdown?

November 28th, 2008

  After all the hoop-de-doo about the Thanksgiving feast, the day after may feel like  something of a letdown.  Of course, there are the football games and the shopping, if you are inclined in either of those directions.

  The thing is, though, that if your family is anything like mine, they all woke up and wanted breakfast, no matter how full their tummies were after yesterday’s festivities!

  At our house we adore leftovers and plan them into our menus.  The scalloped potatoes will be morphed into soup and if they hold out long enough, we can add some protein by making it a cheesy soup, at that!  We will use up the leftover meat by making hash and sandwich filling and just reheating it with a bit of leftover gravy to moisten it.

  One of our favorite ways to use leftovers is to create a rich turkey soup, using the carcass for a flavorful stock.  I like to sautee the onions, carrots, and celery for soups. shredded green cabbage makes a great stretcher to go with that combo, as do noodles or rice.

  This year we purposely overdid the batch of stuffing in order to make frittatas, too.  Frittata is just a fancy word for scrambled eggs with added ingredients.  Here’s how I do it at our house:

   I use a well seasoned skillet with a bit of olive oil to keep food from sticking to the pan.  I press the cold, prepared stuffing into the pan to form a layer.  I allow it to heat through.  As it is heating, I crack and whisk twice as many eggs as diners, add some salt and pepper.  The egg mixture gets poured over the stuffing and it sits in that very warm skillet (NOT TOO HOT; if it’s too hot the eggs get rubbery) until the eggs look well cooked.  I cut it into wedges like a pie and serve it with a fresh green salad and a piece of fruit.  Frittatas can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late supper and everyone’s appetite will be well satisfied.

  Turkey hash is another family fave at our place.  I like to chop and sautee some onion, add some garlic and put in either raw or boiled potatoes.  As they get softer, I add a little of the leftover gravy (chicken stock will work also) and then bits of the turkey.  If I have some stuffing to use, that adds some richness and volume and it always smells so good with the sage that went into the stuffing!  Sometimes I add a little frozen or canned and drained corn to add color and flavor.  That kind of meal goes well with a simple fruit salad and leftover pie…in the case of no leftover pie, pudding always works well.  And pudding is a comfort food for every age group!


Here is a little cooking tip for you:

  It’s easy to scorch foods when you are reheating them.  Try using a double boiler for the stovetop. Or, place casseroles in the oven on a baking sheet that has a little water in it and heat the food slowly-250 degrees.  Make sure there is enough liquid in your vessels so that foods don’t become dry. 

  When serving leftover foods, think about the colors of the food on the plate.  We eat with our eyes before we taste a bite.  If the meal LOOKS appetizing, no one will complain that it is a “rerun”.

  For more ideas about foods and menus and cooking meals, please visit our partners, Kristen Suzanne  and Leanne Ely .

Connie Baum