“My Magazine Sharing Network”

You may have seen some sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter concerning My Magazine Sharing Network. This is a program connected to Kroger and affiliated stores offering free goods and coupons supporting trying new things. This might be recipes, how individuals handle suggested items in creating a meal or dessert, and photos of what folks have done with the various challenges in the program.

So far, it’s been interesting and fun. I’ve been able to take Kroger products into my kitchen and see what I can do with them. Don’t worry – I won’t be keeping the ideas all to myself. As I finish projects, I’ll be writing about the experiences and sharing photos of my creations, and possibly some guest creations as well.

I hope you will enjoy this aspect of our blog as much as I will, and that some of you will check out the My Magazine Sharing Network program.

— Ann Cathey


Waldorf Salads

Waldorf Salads have a long history in America, as noted in the exceprt from the Wikipedia page below. As Americans are wont to do, things have changed to suit different tastes over the years since it’s initial creation, giving us numerous ways to prepare and enjoy them.

From Wikipedia: “A Waldorf salad is a salad generally made of fresh apples, celery, grapes and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal.

The Waldorf salad was first created for a charity ball given in honor of the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children on March 14, 1893 at the Waldorf hotel in New York City. Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel and developed or inspired many of its signature dishes, is widely credited with creating the recipe. In 1896 the salad appeared in The Cook Book by “Oscar of the Waldorf”.

The original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928.

Other ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, grapes, and dried fruit (e.g. dates or raisins) are sometimes added. Updated versions of the salad sometimes change the dressing to a seasoned mayonnaise or a yogurt dressing. A variation known as an Emerald Salad replaces celery with cauliflower. The salad also may include zest of oranges and lemons.

One thing about Waldorf style salads is that they are chunky rather than smooth. This allows an individual to experience not a mash of flavors, but individual spikes of flavor and texture. That aspect has always appealed to me personally, and has led to some outlandish tuna salad coming out of my kitchen!

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 large Gala apple, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup mayonnaise Salt and pepper to taste
Place all cut ingredients into a large bowl.

Add mayo on top and fold together gently.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a bed of greens.


Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 12 ounce cans tuna in water (albacore recommended), drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all cut ingredients into a large bowl.

Add mayo on top and fold together. Be gentle so the tuna remains chunky.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a bed of greens.


The Meat
Meat was not originally an ingredient in Waldorf salads, though it has become very popular over time. Chicken is likely the most popular protein source in use in the United States, though tuna, cubed ham and beef, turkey, and venison have all been seen in Waldorf style recipes. Leftover or broken meats are a popular source.

The Nuts
Nuts are also a later addition to the Waldorf salad. Use nuts that add a contrasting element to your salad. Walnuts are a dryer flavor with a softer texture. Pecans add a subtle sweetness and a stronger flavor. Almonds, whether they are whole, blanched, slivered or sliced, add a definitive hard texture and savory flavor.Pine nuts are generally smaller and have a popping mouth feel. Match your nut choice to your other ingredients and your individual tastes.

The Fruit
Grapes and apples are the tradition. Red grapes are the usual choice due to their size and sweetness.

Apples come in so many varieties that choosing one to your tastes can be problematic. The choices in the recipes above were made as examples of the use of a sweet apple and a tart one. Gala, Pink Lady, and a host of other firmly fleshed, round, sweet apples are available in most grocery stores. Granny Smith on the other hand is a consistently tart, firm apple that adds a bit of punch to the combined ingredients. Choose an apple that suits your tastes.

This is one ingredient I don’t particularly care for the taste of, but a lot of people do. It’s mildly sweet with extremely firm flesh, and adds a lot of fiber to the dish. Choose fresh stalks. De-vein them, removing the hard, fibrous strings from the backs of the ribs, and shop them into appropriately sized pieces. The leafy tops can even be used as a garnish for a finished salad.

The Binders
Mayonaise is the base binder for the Waldorf style salad. Adding spices, different types of mustard, or other similarly textures sauces can dress your salad up or down. Brown and honey mustard are quite popular.

The Spices
Be aware of the amount of salt, pepper or other spices used to cook the meat you use. This will add flavor to the salad and may negate the use of additional salt in your dish.
Curry is another wonderful addition to the Waldorf style salad. It adds a distinctive aroma and flavor to the other ingredients, and the sweet notes become more pronounced.

The Greens
Fresh baby spinach or mixed greens are used often as the serving base for Waldorf salads, though it’s very likely in the beginning to have been a pretty Romaine. Use what you like. Arugula is bitter, iceberg is mild, spinach has a texture all it’s own.


I hope you’ve found this dissection of the Waldorf salad as enlightening as I did writing it. This has been one of my favorite types of salad since I was a child, and is likely to remain on my personal menu for many years to come.


— Ann Cathey

Spring Book Sale! – Conroe, TX

The Library Friends of Conroe is hosting their annual Spring Book Sale at the Central Library in Conroe, Texas.

The Library Friends of Conroe is a volunteer organization benefiting the Montgomery County Library System. Among the many projects they organize and run, they host a twice yearly Book Sale at the Central Library in Conroe, Texas. All of the books, dvds, VHS tapes, puzzles, music cds and other goodies available at the Book Sale have been donated by members of the community in the hopes that they will recirculate and bring needed funds to the local library system.

If you have never been to one of these extravaganzas, it is an experience. There are three large rooms and an entire hallway filled with tables that are covered in books of all types. I have been able to find the most remarkable cookbooks dating back into the 40’s at these tables, as well as out of print books, hard-to-find items, and am always willing to go back and check for more.

Beginning on Thursday, March 1st, from 4:30pm to 8:00pm, is First Choice Night. There is no entry free and everyone is welcome. This is the first view of the items for sale and your chance not only to preview, but to make some awesome purchases for your own reading enjoyment and edification.

Please note that accepted payment methods are by cash or check only!

Continuing on Friday, March 2nd, from 9:00am to 4:30pm, and Saturday, March 3rd, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, the sale continues in all sale areas.

The famous $2 Bag Sale is on Saturday from 9:00am to 12:30pm in the large meeting room only. The Library Friends will provide you with a bag that you are allowed to pile as many books into as you wish – for only $2. All other areas remain at regular price.

Join us at 104 I-45 North, Conroe, Texas 77301, March 1st – 3rd, for a Texas-sized Book Sale!

If you happen to miss the Spring Book Sale this year, remember that here is another one in the Fall, and Vicki’s Book Nook at the Central Library which is open whenever the library is.

For more information, please call 936-788-3888 or email lov2read@consolidated.net. You may also visit the MCLS website.

Clean and gently used donations are accepted all year at the  Book Nook at the Central Library.

–Ann Cathey

Harvest Endive Salad

Fall seems to be a time to start thinking about using apples and walnuts more than during the spring and summer. It may be because the the traditional harvest has come in and these are fresher ingredients than any other time of the year.

Down in the southern United States, where this blog originates, the weather seems to swing between hot and cold for most of the fall and part of the winter, leaving us wanting warm and savory dishes part of the time, and salads the rest of the time!

Below is a salad recipe that lends itself to both savory and sweet. It’s great for a light lunch, a brunch addition, or an accompaniment to grilling. It’s also a swift and simple side to take to a family gathering or holiday party.

2 heads endive (or substitute Romaine)
1 medium apple
3 oz Swiss cheese
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1 tbsp fresh chive, chopped for garnish

Wash, dry, and trim endive. Cut each leaf into quarters lengthwise. Crosscut into roughly 1/2-inch pieces. Place in large salad bowl.

Wash apple, core and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Add to salad bowl.

Cut cheese into approximately 1/4 inch cubes. Add to salad bowl.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

If serving immediately, toss with dressing and serve. Sprinkle with chives for added color.

If taking to a gathering, wait until you are about to serve before adding dressing and tossing salad.


1/4 rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt

In a lidded glass jar, combine vinegar, oils, salt and sugar. Cover and shake vigourously to combine ingredients.



— Ann Cathey

Holiday Tips and Shortcuts

Time runs short when prepping for the holidays at one point or another for all of us. I’ve gathered up some tips and shortcuts to help you through the holiday season that have proven their worth in my kitchen.

Peppermint is Your Friend
Hard peppermint candy is a wonderful all-purpose garnish for the winter season. Peppermint sticks used as stir sticks for hot cocoa add a minty splash to each cup. Crushed candies can be used to accentuate cookies (see the cookies items below), cakes, and even sprinkled around the edge of plates holding sweet dishes or dusted over slices of chocolate pie. Peppermint isn’t the only mint around. Spearmint is also more available during this time of year, as are many other flavors of candy canes. Get creative with your combinations and surprise guests with a little something extra.

Spiral Ham Saves Time
A spiral cut ham, while a little more pricey, will also save a lot of time when it comes to carving. Guests may choose full or half slices, or even layering the meat into a roll for a quick snack later in the evening. Figure on 1/2 pound of ham per person. The saltiness of ham pairs well with crisp flavors such as apple, pineapple, and cranberry. A chutney of these fruits makes a lovely glaze for baking, and a colorful and tasty spread for snacking on those ham rolls.

Traditional Flavors – From Another Country
Take a step away from the usual at the dinner or gathering table by basing your meal plan in the flavors of someplace far away. Europe is full of possibilities, as are some places closer to home.
Surprise your family with a European flare. The flavors of goose, gingerbread, a cherry stollen, marzipan cookies, and mulled wine will are examples of foods that will change a holiday meal into something memorable.
Going with a Spanish flavors, using saffron, tarragon, fennel and cinnamon to flavor your traditional dishes. The change in spices will fill your home with elegant scents, and offer your family something they won’t be expecting.
A taste of Mexico is another popular change, usually done Tex-Max style. Instead of turkey and dressing, go with tamales and chili, refried beans, hot queso and queso flameado with tortillas and chips.
Let’s not forget Jamaica! Jerked pork, fruit salsas of mango and pineapple, sweet breads, and if you really want to go all out, try roasted breadfruit. The textures and flavors are amazing.

Cookie Exchange
If you find yourself in a time crunch for a cookie exchange, Bake simple cookies such as snicker-doodles or sugar cookies and dip each cookie half-way in chocolate. Add holiday sprinkles or crushed peppermint to add even more tasty appeal. Macaron style filled cookies are also quick with pre-made frostings that come in dozens of flavors. Store bought cookies can also be treated this way, though make them something exciting and special by choosing foreign imports (Mexico and England are popular). Gingersnaps and vanilla wafers make good sandwich cookies. Roll the edges of the filling with crushed hard candies to add color and a personal touch.

Holiday Cocktails
Bring the flavors of the holidays into your party season or family gathering with adult beverages based in apple cider. Mix dark rum, cider, and cinnamon in a pitcher to serve hot or cold. Cider is also a good base for brandy and mulling spices.

Use a crock pot to keep your warm drinks warm with a low setting. Serve as needed all night long.

Cookie Tins
Cookies make great holiday gifts. colorful containers, both plastic and metal are wildly available these days, making cookie gift giving simple and attractive for the holidays. Whether you buy specialty cookies, or bake your own, choose four or five of each type of cookie, place them in cupcake papers to separate them, and arrange them attractively into your containers. Each container should hold several different types of cookies. Make several containers at one time so as to not waste cookies! Use mini tins to make wonderful party favors for guests to enjoy after the event is over.

Brownie in a Jar
Another fun gift for individuals who like to bake is a recipe in a jar. Choose a pretty jar with a good lid. Mason jars are good for this gift, though other styles may be used. Layer the dry ingredients of your favorite brownie recipe into the jar. Recipes for cookies, pancakes, and other baked goods may also be used – the more colorful and different the layers, the better. Write out the instructions and wet ingredients on the back of a festive gift tag and tie it to the jar with a bright ribbon. Add a bow on top for that extra touch.


I hope you have as much fun – and time savings! – as I have had with these suggestions over the years.

— Ann Cathey


Blackened Bananas

Bananas ripen in stages, and each stage is good for something. In spite of the common concept that bananas are best eaten raw, there are plenty of other uses for this wonderful fruit.



Green bananas

If a banana is yellow with some green along the seams, it’s not quite ripe. The meat is harder than the truly ripe stage, and has less flavor.



Ripening bananas

An all-yellow banana, most especially those that have turned a more golden color, are at the stage a lot of people refer to as “perfect” for just peeling and eating. The flavor is richer than the green banana, and more mellow.



Slightly over-ripe bananas

Dark patches or spots on a banana are a signal to some that a banana is almost ready to ‘go’. The meat looks just like as it does in the all-yellow skinned banana. This is still a good eating stage, or for slicing and frying up like a plantain.



Blackened banana

Then there’s that stage where the stem is shriveled and black, and the banana is slightly smaller with most of the skin gone dark. This stage of the banana is often just disposed of, but that’s a mistake.



Banana peel showing blackening, and spots of over-ripe fruit still on the inside.

The most flavorful banana stage is actually after the skin has turned mostly dark, or “blackened”. It’s very soft, like room temperature butter and easy to mix without turning chunky. It’s great in cookies, breads, cakes, custards, and other recipes calling for raw banana. It is at it’s sweetest and still adds nutrients and fiber to your cooking.

The blackened stage may be peeled and frozen, whole or premashed, for use later.

Bananas can also take the place of oil in some recipes. Two medium bananas may be substituted for oil in most cake or cookie mixes, boxed or scratch.


–Ann Cathey

Food Porn – Jason’s Deli

Jason’s Deli is fairly widespread, and the food has been consistent and delicious for me over many years and many locations. I’d like to share the most recent visit.


Broccoli Cheese Soup



Chicken Alfredo
Penne pasta topped with grilled, 100% antibiotic-free chicken breast, creamy Alfredo sauce, Asiago. Served with toasted herb focaccia bread.


The Plain Jane® Potato
Baked potato stuffed with cheddar, sour cream, butter, bacon, green onions.


1/2 pound of hot roast beef, provolone, mayo, toasted on New Orleans French bread. Served with a cup of au jus.


Reuben THE Great
1/2 pound of hot corned beef or pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, grilled on rye.


What can I say? It’s Great Rueben!


Be sure to check out their full menu, including some seasonal favorites!

–Ann Cathey