Bread Omelet

Half of a bread omelet sandwich on a plate

Bread Omelets are a common and popular street food in India. There are as many way to prepare them as people who make them–recipes abound. Similar to French toast, bread is dipped in eggs and then cook with an egg omelet filling. In India, it is usually served with chutney.

Sometimes it is just plain fun to try something new. A bread omelet is jsut that! It makes a great, quick and easy, breakfast sandwich. The filling may be any combination of ingredients–eggs, cheese, veggies, meat, spices, and butter. Add a side salad and breakfast sandwich becomes lunch or dinner. Like other egg and cheese recipes, bread omelets should be consumed within 2 hours of preparation or refrigerated.

The Food Network website has a how-to video showing how easy it is to make a bread omelet. This one-pan method makes clean up a breeze. Not only is a bread omelet incredibly fun and easy to make, but it’s also incredibly tasty and nutritious!

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Freezing Blueberries for Year-Round Blue

Cartons of blueberries

Freezing blueberries is as simple as the berries themselves using the Tray Pack method. Remove any stems or leaves and place them on a baking tray without washing. Pop them into the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to freezer containers or resealable plastic bags for freezing.  Label and freeze. Frozen blueberries will keep indefinitely in the freezer but are at best quality when used within 10 months.

Spend Smart Eat Smart offers some great recipes for using blueberries–Blueberry Pancakes or a Smoothie. Or check out, Blueberries.org for more freezer-to-table recipe ideas.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Canning Meat

Whether it is a surplus of meat from farm-raised livestock, wild game from the hunt, or a “deal” at the market, canning meat is an easy way to preserve any abundance for future use. Besides preserving a surplus, canning meat has other advantages as well–saves freezer space, ready in an emergency, convenient, nutrient dense, and taste good.

Meat is a low acid food and must be processed in a pressure canner (dial or weighted gauge)–no exceptions. A water bath canner, steam canner, multicooker or any other devised method cannot provide sufficient heat to make meat in a jar safe for pantry storage. As with other low acid foods, the food safety concern is botulism. If using a pressure canner is a new experience, check out this quick tutorial on how to use a pressure canner.

List of meat canning recipes and instructions available on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is the best resource for preparing and canning poultry, red meats, and seafood. Other resources include: The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and So Easy to Preserve, 6th Edition. Meat can be pressure canned in strips, cubes, chunks, ground or chopped. Meat can safely be canned by either the raw or hot pack methods. While both methods are safe, many consumers find that the raw pack leaves less liquid in the jar surrounding the meat. It takes approximately one pound of meat to fill a pint jar or two pounds for a quart jar.

K-State Research and Extension has a series of videos that show canning meat step-by-step with a pressure canner:
Canning Meat – Raw Pack
Canning Meat – Hot Pack
Canning Meat Using a Pressure Canner
Canning Meat – Achieving and Maintaining Pressure
Cool Down After Processing
Removing Jars from the Canner

Canning Seafood by the Pacific Northwest Extension group, offers detailed information to guarantee safety.

Meat Canning Tips:
– Can only good quality meat, poultry, or game.
– Keep all meat clean and sanitary.
– Use lean cuts OR remove as much fat as possible. Fat can go rancid in the jar over time. Fat also contributes to seal failure. Remove gristle and bruised spots.
– Cut meat into uniform pieces suitable for cooking or canning. Slice meat across the grain.
– Soak strong-flavored game in salt water before canning in a brine made of 1 tablespoon salt for each quart of water for 1 hour or as stated in a recipe.
– Chill poultry pieces in the refrigerator 6 to 12 hours before canning.
– Use the jar size specified by the recipe. Seafood should be processed in half-pint or pint jars only to ensure there is sufficient heat penetration throughout the jar. This is particularly important as seafoods have little natural acid to inhibit the growth of bacteria and bacterial spores that produce toxins.
– Frozen meat may be canned.
– Always adjust processing time and pressures for altitude.
– Salt is optional and only added for flavor, not for any preservation benefits.

Updated 4/2024, mg.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Vitamin D Need and Source

Sunshine with Vitamin D in center
Photo – Canva.com

Vitamin D is vital to proper bodily functions.  While sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D, spending time outdoors in the sunlight may be limited or not possible.  In cases of limited sunlight, alternative ways to get the daily intake of Vitamin D may be necessary.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin essential for bone health and helping the body absorb and use calcium to build and keep bones and teeth strong reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. It also been shown to reduce cancer cell growth and inflammation, build the immune system, and regulate cell growth.

Vitamin D is often considered the “sunshine” vitamin. This is because a Vitamin D precursor is produced in the skin upon exposure to the ultraviolet B rays of the sun. This precursor travels through the bloodstream to the liver and kidneys where it is turned into the active form of Vitamin D. Typically 5 to 15 minutes three times a week with exposure to the sun on bare skin is more than enough to get the benefits. Of course that effectiveness is affected by several things: geographic location, sunscreen use, skin color, age, limited fat absorption, age, and other factors.

Some foods, fortified foods, and supplements are alternative sources of Vitamin D.  Foods that are good sources of Vitamin D include egg yolks, milk, cheese, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, sardines, beef liver and UV-exposed mushrooms. Vitamin D fortified products include some cereals, bread, orange juice, yogurt, dairy and plant-based milk.  The National Institute of Health says that “obtaining sufficient Vitamin D from natural (nonfortified) food sources alone is difficult. For many people, consuming Vitamin D-fortified foods and exposing themselves to some sunlight are essential for maintaining a healthy vitamin D status.”

When getting a daily dose of Vitamin D from foods and/or sunlight is a problem, dietary supplements may be needed to meet Vitamin D requirements.  The National Institute of Health table below shows the current RDA for Vitamin D.  Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it is best to take the supplement with food. Always consult with your medical professional before starting a Vitamin D or any supplement.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-12 months* 10 mcg
(400 IU)
10 mcg
(400 IU)
1–13 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
14–18 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
19–50 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
51–70 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
>70 years 20 mcg
(800 IU)
20 mcg
(800 IU)

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Portable Induction Burners

Portable induction burner

Induction cooktops and portable burners are becoming quite popular.  What is induction and how does it differ from a standard electric burner?

Portable induction burners may have appeal to those who want to add an extra burner to their cooking area, need a light weight, portable unit for cooking classes or demonstrations, or want a precision burner for specific tasks.

A portable induction unit does not require any special electrical outlet; they plug into a standard outlet so can be used anywhere there is an outlet.  An electromagnetic field below the glass surface provides instant magnetic energy when it comes in contact with a pan containing iron.  The cookware is considered the transformer so instead of passing heat along from the surface to cookware to food, induction heats the cookware directly. Only the pan,and what’s in it gets hot. The surface around it stays cool.  

Because the cookware is the transformer not all cookware can be used on an induction cooktop.  Aluminum, glass and ceramic will not work. The cookware must contain ferrous iron in order for it to work with the magnetic field to send heat and energy directly into the cooking vessel.  It may not be necessary to purchase new cookware. A magnet can be used to test cookware; if it sticks to the cookware, the pan will work on an induction cooktop.  Further, the cookware must also have a flat bottom.

Using magnetic induction heats pans up more quickly than either gas or electric. This saves energy and time. Induction burners also respond immediately to temperature adjustments. If you raise or lower the heat you will see results right away.  Many induction burners can also sense if there is nothing in the pot and will turn off after 60 seconds.

Though induction is a relatively new way to cook, manufacturers have given consumers many options at various price points.  As a result, not all induction burners are created equally.  Before purchasing a portable unit, consider use, counter and storage space, portability if needed, how much power is needed, add on features, and affordability for what it may be used for.  Also, be sure to test cookware to determine if it will work with the induction unit.

Induction cooking has the power to change the way we cook.   For more information on induction cooktops, pros and cons, see Induction Cooking–What You Need to Know.

Reviewed and update 4/2024, mg.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Apple Desserts Defined

A trip to a local apple orchard is a fun fall activity.  Part of the fun is deciding on which varieties to pick for the intended use.  Apples fall into two categories–eating or dessert apples OR cooking or culinary apples.  A cooking or culinary apple is an apple that is used primarily for cooking, as opposed to a dessert apple, which is eaten raw.  Cooking apples differ from dessert varieties; they are more tart in flavor and have a firmer flesh that holds its shape better when cooked. Apples and Their Uses offers a guide to a broad selection of apple varieties and their best uses.   Individual tastes and preferences vary, so the list should not be construed as definitive.

Apple crisp

Besides fresh eating, apples are used for a wide variety of desserts with apple pie being king.  As one looks for a recipe, words like betty, buckle, cobbler, crumble, crisp or pan dowdy may be encountered.  All use apples.  How are these desserts different?

Brown Betty:  apples are placed atop sweetened bread crumbs.  Video recipe.

Buckle: a single-layer moist cake with fruit folded into the batter with a sweet crumb topping; a bukle exhibits an indented or buckled top when baked.  Buckles are similar to fruit-filled coffee cakes and have a higher batter-to-fruit ratio than other fruit desserts.  Recipe.

Cobbler: fruit filling on the bottom covered with batter OR pastry or biscuit dough spooned or dolloped atop the fruit.  Recipe.

Crumble: baked fruit with a crisp streusel topping that does not contain oats; baking powder is sometimes added to the streusel to make the crumble more tender.  Recipe.

Crisp: fruit mixture with a cumbly topping that includes oats and brown sugar.  Recipe.

Pan Dowdy: fruit dessert topped with a crust that is “dowdied” or broken and pushed down into the fruit and bubbling juices after baking.  Recipe.

Regardless of how an apple dessert is made, the outcome will be DELICIOUS!

Reviewed and updated, 4-24, mg.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Summer Baking with Kids

packages of refrigerated cookie doughSummer is nearly upon us and many of us will be looking for fun things to do with the children in our lives. One thing I love to do with my grandchildren is bake. I recently attended a cookie decorating class in hopes of picking up a few tips about some new techniques or products to use. The cookies we used were homemade (which are always fun to do with children) but if you find you don’t have enough time to do everything, using refrigerated cookie dough works just fine. There is a wide range of cookie cutters available on the market today for most any interest your children would have. If you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, trace a pattern and make your own!

Once your cookies have baked and cooled, frost with your favorite sugar cookie icing. Buttercream and Royal frostings are always popular. Experiment with making different colors of frosting using gel or powdered coloring. Put the prepared frostings in a baggie, cut one corner of the baggie diagonally and let the children use their creative skills to add frosting to the cookies.

The class I attended introduced me to Sprinkle Pop which is one of many brands of sprinkle type toppings available on the market in many different forms. Some of the varieties include sanding sugar which is translucent and quite fine and delicate; crystal sugar is also translucent but has larger, coarser crystals; nonpareils are round; quins come in many different shapes; edible glitter; and dragees which have a hard outer shell. It is important to be a good label reader when purchasing decorations for your cookies to make sure they are all edible. Some decorations will be labeled for use as decoration only and should not be consumed. They should be removed before serving the cookies. The FDA advises to avoid the use of non-edible food decorative products.

  Decorated cookies

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Potato Peelings

assorted potatoes with skins onWe recently had friends spend a long weekend with us and they were telling us about a recent mishap at their house. They were entertaining friends for dinner and were preparing a potato dish. They put the potato peelings down the garbage disposer. You may have guessed what happened next – the drain got totally clogged. Typically things like that happen when it is holiday time and we are preparing food for more people than usual. Plumbers are usually not available at a reasonable price at those times as well!

There are foods you should never put down your garbage disposer. Sometimes it happens though that we forget or a helper in the kitchen is not familiar with foods that should not be disposed of in the garbage disposer. Our friends contacted a plumber but decided to try a few things themselves to unclog the drain and they were successful!

Many of us will probably be making potato salad this Summer so I thought it might be a good reminder to all of us to not put potato peelings down the garbage disposer and also to review some ways to try and unclog a drain on your own.

You may want to try the Baking Soda and Vinegar method: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar and cover the drain if possible. Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it. The combination of baking soda and vinegar can break down a clog and wash it down the drain. DO NOT use this method after any commercial drain opener has been used or is still present in the standing water.

Another method is using Salt and Baking Soda: Pour 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Follow with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit overnight and then flush with water. The hot water should help dissolve the clog and the baking soda and salt serve as an abrasive to break through the clog.

In order to keep your drain running smoothly you may consider pouring a kettle of boiling water down it on a weekly basis to melt fat that may be building up or to put some vinegar and baking soda down the drain to break up fat and keep it smelling fresh.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Food Allergies

Shelled nutsThe Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has deemed May National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. In addition, the third week in May is designated Food Allergy Awareness Week. Allergies have become really important and can mean life or death to the nearly 15 million people in the US who are affected by food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control estimate four to six percent of children and four percent of adults are affected by food allergies.

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system perceives a certain food as dangerous or harmful. The body reacts by causing symptoms. Those symptoms are an allergic reaction and can range from mild to severe. The foods that cause the allergic reactions are called allergens. More than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), but the vast majority are caused by the “Big Nine”: milk, eggs, nuts, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, wheat, soy and sesame. There is currently no cure for food allergies so avoiding the food with the allergen is the most effective way to not suffer a reaction. Food allergies are most common in young children but can appear at any age. Some of the allergies are occasionally outgrown but not always. The most common ones that are occasionally outgrown are milk, egg, wheat and soy. Children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have asthma or other allergic diseases.

Most food related symptoms occur within two hours of ingesting the food. Sometimes the reaction can happen within minutes. An initial reaction may produce mild symptoms but that does not guarantee all reactions will be similar. The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis. It is life-threatening and can effect breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Because it can be fatal it must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine. You may know people who carry an EpiPen with them because their reactions can be so severe.

If you suspect you or someone you know has a food allergy it is important to have testing done by a board-certified allergist.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Ham Tips

Packaged ham at the market Ham is meat from the hind leg of pork. It can be fresh, cured, or cured-and-smoked. Hams are either ready to eat or not. Ready to eat hams include cooked hams and prosciutto. Hams that must be cooked will have cooking instructions and safe handling instructions right on the label and they MUST be cooked. Typically, ham is cooked at 325 degrees for 10 minutes per pound or to an internal temperature of 145 degrees followed by a 3 minute rest time. To help keep ham moist and juicy during cooking, place cut side down and tent with foil.

Fresh refers to uncured leg of pork. It will have the flavor of a fresh pork loin roast or pork chops. “Fresh” will be part of the product name on the label. The color will be pale pink or beige as opposed to cured ham having a deep rose or pink color and country or dry cured ham being pink to mahogany in color.

Hams can be wet-cured, which is very common, in a brine solution containing water, salt, sugar and spices. During this process the solution is injected into the meat before cooking. There are three varieties of wet-brined ham:

  • “Ham with natural juices” has little water added during the curing process and results in an attractive appearance with a velvety type texture.
  • “Ham with water added” retains more water during the process and is good for steaks, thin slicing and shaving.
  • “Ham and water product” has the most water added to it and is most often found at the deli counter. It is a good choice if the ham is going to be served cold.

Hams can be dry-cured by rubbing salt and spices into the meat’s surface. They are known as “country-style” hams. Prosciutto is also made using a dry cure.

After curing some hams are smoked. This is a process involving hanging or heating the ham in a smokehouse to allow it to absorb smoke from either smoldering fires or generated smoke which gives added flavor and color.

When purchasing ham allow 1/4 -1/3 pound per serving if it is boneless and 1/3 -1/2 pound per serving if it is bone-in. If more ham is prepared than can be used, leftovers will keep 3-4 days refrigerated or should be frozen.   you end up with enough leftover ham you won’t be able to consume it within 3 or 4 days consider freezing the leftovers.  The length of time ham can be kept in the freezer for best quality depends on the type of ham:

  • Uncooked, cut country ham: One month
  • Cooked country ham: One month
  • Fully cooked, unopened ham: One to two months
  • Cooked, whole ham: One to two months
  • Cooked slices, half, or spiral ham: One to two months
  • Cured, cook-before-eating ham (sliced or whole): Three to four months

FoodSafety.gov has excellent information on ham storage and ham cooking.

Reviewed and updated, 5/2024, mg.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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