Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cooking and Cracker Jack

Today's interview was with John Donahue, writer for The New Yorker editor of "A MAN WITH A PAN: CULINARY ADVENTURES OF FATHERS WHO COOK FOR THEIR FAMILIES". John does most of the cooking for his wife and two daughters. He's always had a passion for food (because he loves to eat!) and his interest grew right after his daughter was born. It seemed he was spending more time in the kitchen and now he does the cooking, the prep, the menu and grocery planning and really enjoys all of aspects of cooking for his family. His book features 34 men; their favorite recipes as well as their stories, adventures and advice.

The book is not just about food; but about our changing families and lifestyles. It is also delicious entertainment for the "kitchen stool cook" as well as being an invaluable resource for new and seasoned home chefs.

Did you know that it was on this day in 1983 when "Cracker Jack" was first introduced at the Chicago World's Fair? Frederick Rucekheim and his brother Louis sold it as "Candied Popcorn and Peanuts". After they figured out a way to keep it from sticking together (a carefully guarded secret), they renamed their product after one sampler exclaimed, "That's crackerjack!", -which at the time was a colloquialism meaning "of excellent quality".

They got free publicity after the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was released in 1908 and beginning in 1912, a prize was included in every box.

Do you remember the prizes? Animals, toys, puzzles... The ones I always hoped to find were the circus wagons with a different animal in each one. I would line them up in my bedroom. Wonder whatever happened to my collection? Wonder if it would be worth anything today? I did look on line and found out that some Cracker Jack prizes are valued at more than $7000 today! Don't look for any prizes in Cracker Jack today-now you just get a paper prize with either a riddle or joke.

Some people think "Cracker Jack" was the very first junk food. What do you think? And what was your favorite Cracker Jack prize?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pyramids and Playing Games

How would you rate your vocabulary? Good? Great? Stupendous?
I thought mine was pretty good. I usually do well on the Reader's Digest words/vocab page but I found out differently after reading "THE WORD PYRAMID".

Marissa Hirsch, a 2011 graduate of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Liconshire, Illinois got the idea for this book when she was in middle school, worked on the book for about a year and published it when she was 16. Marissa believes that just like the old adage "you are what you eat" it is also true that "you are what you speak".

If your communications skills and vocabulary are exemplary, you'll go farther in life. Her book is a handy little guide destined to help enrich your vocabulary and utilize the expressive power of the English language. She's grouped the pyramids into three categories: Body, Mind and World and has rated each one. Level "F" is the most common, least effect form and Level "A" is the highest level. For example: the pyramid she showcases is Clothing. The most common word is clothing (grade F), dress (grade E), fashion (grade D), outerwear (grade C), tabby (grade B) and toggery, habiliments and tatterdemalion (all grade A).

It's a fun little book, and also one that you can use to impress and influence others and to "provoke a battalogical epiphany, inducing a metamorphosis in your personal liguistic zetigiest"

We had great fun on the program today because it was "Recess at Work" day and the question I posed to my listeners was this: "What is your favorite childhood game". Either played at recess or during the long summer break.

Do you remember "Annie, Annie Over"? We used to play that with a softball, or sometimes our kickball. You called out the phrase, sent the ball over the roof of the garage and if it wasn't caught, one person from that side was "out".
Or how about "Red Rover", "Red Light/Green Light", "Kick the Can", "Captain May I?", "Miss and Switch", "Pom Pom Pullaway" and "Chalk the Rabbit"? We also got responses like "Hopscotch", "Kickball", "Four Square", "Tetherball" and "Crack the Whip".
One of our family favorites in summertime was "What Color is my Bird?" On a hot summer afternoon we'd assemble on the steps of our front porch. One person held the glass of water and spoon and thought of a color. He/She would go down the line, asking each of us if we knew the color of the bird they were thinking of. The person who guessed correctly would get one spoonful of water splashed on them (to help cool off during those hot sumer days). It was lots of fun, although sometimes we would get carried away and throw the full cup of water at someone. NOT a good idea-even if it was really warm!
We would also have marathon kickball games in the backyard. We'd gather all the neighbors, lay out the bases and boundaries in our backyard and play all day. We'd break for lunch and then come back at it again! Good Times that's for sure!
Do you have fond memories of games you used to play?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Comfort Food and Cleaning Tips

While the phrase evokes something different for everyone, one thing is certain: comfort food is not just the kind of food we eat; it is the kind of food we hunger for!
On today's show I had the chance to interview James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of SAVEUR magazine, about the recently released cookbook, "SAVEUR-THE NEW COMFORT FOOD-HOME COOKING FROM AROUND THE WORLD".
When I think of comfort food the first thing that comes to mind is a great tasting homemade chicken pot pie! Yum! Or a S'more made at midnight in the microwave when my children were little, (because they'd had a bad dream, or couldn't sleep). Some people love a warm and gooey grilled cheese, a juicy hamburger, macaroni and cheese or Mom's homemade chicken soup. (Is your mouth watering yet?). The true definitioin of comfort food may be hard to pinpoint, but basically, it's any food that makes us feel good, right?
The book is filled with more than 200 stunning photographs, first person stories from some of the magazine's most acclaimed writers as well as information about the ingredients, techniques and memories associated with the recipes.
The unique feature is the fact the SAVEUR broadens the definition of "comfort food" because it showcases over 100 authentic home-style recipes from around the world and covers everything from appetizers to drinks.
This is an EXCELLENT book and one that you will "Savor"!

Spring is almost here and gone...have you done your "spring cleaning" yet?
We talked about cleaning tips and how you can clean like a professional. Here are few key things to remember:

  • Start in the room that is the farthest from the front door (usually the bedroom

  • Start your cleaning at the right of the door frame and always work top to bottom; left to right

  • Finish by vacuuming or mopping the floor as you make your way out the door

  • Apply cleaning solution to the tub/shower area before you continue with the top/bottom; left/right system. Wipe the tub/shower last.

  • The kitchen should be your last stop. Begin to the right of the stove since that is usually the messiest area in the room.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Money and Mishaps

Today I spoke with Karen McCall, author of 'FINANCIAL DISCOVERY-DEVELOPING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY". Karen is the founder of The Financial Recovery Institute and has been working with many different individuals for over twenty years. She doesn't guarantee that the book will make you a millionaire-well it might, but she makes no promises! Many American have gotten used t living way above their means, maxing out credit cards and living the high life. Whether you are a young person just starting your career path, or someone who is already living on a tight budget, or even someone unaffected by the current economic crisis, we can all benefit from Karen's difficult life lessons and fninacial triumphs. Her book showcases stories of hope from all walks of life.
Karen says we need to look at our beliefs, our emotional connection with money and finances and the biggest mistake we make is when we are in a "state of denial"-a "money coma". This is a great book if you just need a little push in the right direction for controlling your finances or if you need help in a BIG way. You can check out more information at her website:

Today was "Kitchen Klutz's of America" day. We talked about various kitchen mishaps and I posed the question both on air and on "Facebook"- What is your most recent (or most memorable) kitchen mishap? I got a lot of great response from my listeners
-sirloin tips made with brown sugar
-eclair dessert made with farm fresh whole milk-tasted like soap suds
-caramel apple salad made with Cool Whip-Lite (to save calories) and it turned to "soup"
-made lasagna and forgot to add the noodles
-made a cherry pie when first married. seemed to take all day to prepare. when ready to put in oven, noticed that there was flour on bottom of pie plate. tried to wipe it off by raising it up over head and of course lost control and it fell to the floor!
-using salt instead of sugar when making sugar cookies
-using soap flakes instead of instant mashed potato flakes

I've had a number of mishaps...
A few of the most memorable:
-making chili for the very first time. I put everything in the crock pot (uncooked macaroni included!) When I went to check it a few hours later, the pasta had absorbed all the liquid and it was one big bowl of "mush"!

-making a broccoli slaw salad that I had gotten from my sister. I bought all the ingredients at the store, assembled it and took it to a family get together. My brother took one bite and hit a sunflower seed. I had used the kind that were in the shell-(didn't even know you could get the other kind!) and I hadn't bothered to remove the shells! We still laugh about this one.

What is your favorite kitchen mishap? Let me know....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Nook Line up for this week:

Monday, May 23rd at 10:05am
Diane Kredensor, "OLLIE AND MOON", children's picture book author

Tuesday, May 24th, at 10:05am
Harold Holzer, "LINCOLN ON WAR: OUR GREATEST COMMANDER IN CHIEF SPEAKS TO AMERICA", a collection of Abraham Lincoln's speeches, letters and writings from the famous to the obscure and what we can learn from them

Wednesday, May 25th, at 10:05am
James B. Stewart, 'TANGLED WEB: HOW FALSE STATEMENTS ARE UNDERMINING AMERICA, FROM MARTHA STEWART TO BERNIE MADOFF", explores the lying addiction of the rich and famous.

Thursday, May 26th, at 10:05am
Fred Alan Wolf, "TIME LOOPS AND SPACE TWISTS: HOW GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE". The author explores how consciousness and science are related.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Advocates and Asparagus

Thirteen years ago, Brian Monaghan was given a death sentence-his doctor had found two brain tumors and he was given 3-6 months to live. While he was battling cancer, his wife Gerri was fighting on his behalf; acting as his advocate and ensuring that he received the best possible care. Together they beat the odds. Brian and Gerri share their experience and offer a road map for navigating the medical system in "WHEN A LOVED ONE FALLS ILL: HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE PATIENT ADVOCATE" and I talked with them on Tuesday.

Their story is an incredible and powerful one and took me back twenty-five years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. She was not quite three years old and I became her advocate and ally. Many of the "50 Tips" that Brian and Gerri share were things that I did as well.

  • Trusting your own intuition. (I knew something wasn't right when I saw all the bruising on her legs)

  • Carrying a notebook, asking questions and writing things down. (There were many different chemos, plus I had to learn to draw blood from her catheter for testing at our local path lab so I needed to know what the results meant).

  • Make memories and share stories (We took a trip to Disney World during the middle of her treatment. Grandpa, Grandma, aunts, uncles and siblings and had a once in a lifetime experience!)

  • Always think in terms of "we". (I didn't receive the chomo, the "pokes", the radiation-but I felt that we were fighting this battle together!).

  • Celebrate the milestones. (We did that this past January when my daughter hosted a twenty-five anniversary celebration for doctors, nurses, friends and family who supported during the tumultuous time.

This book is an incredible tale of survival, love and committment and is a "must read" for everyone facing tough medical challenges.

It seems like spring as been a long time coming. One of the best "flavors" of spring is fresh asparagus. We've been sharing recipes for asparagus soup, quiche and more... When freezing asparagus remember these tips:

  • Select young tender spears with tightly closed tips

  • Wash thoroughly and sort by size

  • Trim stalks be removing the scales with a sharp knife

  • Cut into even lenghts to fit into freezer containers.

  • Blanch small spears for 1 1/2 minutes; medium spears for 2 minutes; and large spears for 3 minutes. Cool and drain well.

  • Pack spears into freezer containers and freeze. Or for smaller amounts, freeze on cookie sheets prior to placing in containers

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rhubarb and Rodgers

On Monday my "Book Nook" guest was Rob Reischel, sports writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. We talked about his newest book, "AARON RODGERS: LEADER OF THE PACK". Rob was planning on writing a book about the 2010 Packer Season and he'll be the first to admit that he didn't think they had a chance of getting to the Superbowl. After clinching the NFC title in Chicago, Rob's publisher told him they wanted the book to be about Aaron and that he had until one week after the SuperBowl to complete it. Talk about a deadline!

The book covers Aaron's early career is filled with stats and covers some little known information as well. For instance-when Aaron went to Butte Community College he asked to wear #12 (which was his high school number), but it was take. He then asked for #8 (the number of his boyhood hero-Steve Young), but it was also taken. He then asked for #4 because he loved how Brett Favre played. Little did he know that a few years later, he would be back-up the Favre. There are TONS of photos and it makes a great gift for any Packer fan, Aaron Rodgers follower or CHEESEHEAD.

I really hope the lock-out issue will be resolved before the beginning of the 2011 season. We want to be able to tout "WORLD CHAMPION GREEN BAY PACKERS" each and every week. GO PACK!

It's that time of year when the rhubarb is ripe and ready for picking! We've been talking about rhubarb and sharing recipes the last few days. If you don't have a patch in your backyard or garden, you can pick some up at your local grocery store-or at the nearest Farmer's Market.
Here are a few tips:
*Buy thinner, brightly colored stalks that are firm but not dried out at the ends.
*Cut the leaves off before cooking.
*Slice horizontally (against the grain)
* Add sugar (to taste) as the acidity is quite bracking.
*Try cooking down with ginger and star anise for complex but easy condiment.

You might want to try these jams:
Pineapple Rhubarb Jam
5 c. sliced rhubarb 3 c. sugar 3 oz. pkg. Strawberry JELL-O 1 medium can crushed pineapple Place rhubarb in saucepan. Stir in sugar and bring to boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes. During last few minutes of cooking, stir in pineapple. Remove from heat. Add JELL-O and stir until dissolved. Place into hot jars and seal.

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam
7- 1/2 c. rhubarb, cut up 2- 1/2 c. sugar 1 (16-20 oz.) can blueberry pie filling 2 small pkg. raspberry JELL-O Combine rhubarb, sugar & pie filling in saucepan. cook mixture until rhubarb gets soft. Stir in JELL-O until well dissolved. Pour mixture into glass jars and store in refrigerator. (Also freezes well).

Rhubarb Compote
2 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces

1 lb. strawberries, quartered
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. apple juice
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In large heavy-bottomed pot, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, apple juice and orange zest. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring occassionally, until rhubarb has broken down and mixture has thickened, 55-65 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled-on toast, pancakes, waffles or ice cream.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Nook Line up for this week:

Monday, May 16th at 10:05am:
Rob Reischel, "AARON RODGERS: LEADER OF THE PACK", a great read with plenty of photos beginning with Aaron's high school football career and forward. Rob only had about a week after the superbowl to get everything pulled together and although he had lots of articles he could go back to, he still had to get interviews get organized in a hurry! You'll find out how Aaron ended up with the #4 jersery while playing for Butte Community College in 2002 and how he hasn't just beaten the odds in the NFL-but he did it back in high school and junior college as well.

Monday, May 16th at 10:35am:

Gracie Cabnar, founder of the RECIPE FOR SUCCESS FOUNDATON, as a way to combat childhood obesity. Her program is now set to go national as the "SEED-TO-PLATE EDUCTION PROGRAM" and she was one of six "real life heroines, honored by Harlequin in their 7th annual "More Than Words" competition.

Tuesday, May 17th at 10:05am:

Brian and Jerri Monahan, "WHEN A LOVED ONE FALLS ILL", talk about how to be an advocate for your loved one.

Wednesday, May 18th, at 10:05am:

Diane Krendesor, "OLLIE AND MOON", children's author

Thursday, May 19th at 10:05am:

Wendy Williamson, "I'M NOT CRAZY, I'M BI-POLAR"

Friday, May 20th, at 10:05am:

Ray Graham, "POTTINGER'S PROPHESY", will talk about how what we eat now will have an effect on future generations.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Figure Skating and Fudge!

Figure Skating and Fudge

Had a fun interview with Kristi Yamaguchi today. Besides being an Olympic Gold Medalist, Dancing with the stars champion, wife, mother and philanthropist, Kristi is now a successful children’s storybook author. In fact, her book, DREAM BIG, LITTLE PIG, debuted at the #2 slot on the New York Times bestsellers list when it was released this past March.

The illustrations are charming-in fact, you’ll smile as soon as you see the cover! And the story content won’t disappoint either. It’s a very fun book to read aloud.

“Poppy” is a little pig with lots of dreams. But following her dreams isn’t as easy as it sounds. Her best friend and her family encourage her to keep believing and to have fun doing it. And although Poppy tries ballet, singing and becoming a super model…before she finds that she really like to ice skate.

Part of the proceeds of each book will benefit Kristi’s “ALWAYS DREAM” foundation for early childhood literacy programs. Make sure you get a copy of this delightful storybook for your special little one!

It is Nutty Fudge day today and I shared the following recipe:

Nutty White Fudge
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. milk
2 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 (1 oz.) squares white baking chocolate
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped walnutsIn mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth. Gradually add sugar. Beat in melted chocolate. Add vanilla and salt; mix well. Stir in walnuts. Spread into buttered 8” square pan. Chill for 4-5 hours before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trials, Tubas and Tea

On Friday I had a chance to speak with Michael Griesbach, Assistant District Attorney for Manitowoc County and author of, "UNREASONABLE INFERENCES: THE STEVEN AVERY STORY UNVEILED".

You may recall that Steven Avery was wrongly accused of sexual assault back in 1985 in Manitowoc. He was sent to prison and served 18 years before he was released-mainly due to new ways to test DNA. Then, two years later he was arrested (and subsequently) convicted for the murder of a young woman from Green Bay. The book focuses on innocence and guilt and on the specific misconduct on the part of the former Manitowoc County prosecutor and Sheriff. A fascinating, up-close look at our justice system. If you're interested in real-life crime stories, this one's for you. It also gives you a little better background into an event that was an important part of our Wisconsin history. If you want to pick up a copy of Mike's book, stop in at BookWorld, in Beaver Dam or Watertown Book World- they have it in stock.

TUBA DAY is always celebrated on the First Friday in May and was founded by Joel Day in 1979. He was a high school tuba player, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and started the holiday as a result of a lack of respect for tubas and tuba players. Did you know that tubas can weight between 12-50 pounds? That the first tuba was patented in 1835 in Germany? And that the deep sounds provide a lot of character and "oomph" to concert music? Here's to all tuba players!

Did you play a musical instument while in school?

And finally....

National Beverage Day was also observed on Friday. What's your favorite? Tea? Iced or otherwise? Coffee-Starbucks or homebrew? Beer? Soda? Wine? I'm a "Pepper" as I love the taste of DR. PEPPER!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day ~ Mom!

There is NO job more important than that of a mother. Mom needs to be a nurse, teacher, chauffeur, cook, comforter, guidance counselor, head entertainment committee member, housekeeper, and so much more. Often she takes on more than one role at any given time.
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Many times we are who we are, because of our mothers.

Six months before I turned five, my Mom was caring for me and four other siblings.
FIVE under FIVE!
When I was eight, I missed the last 3 months of school because I had rheumatic fever. My brother and sister were home because of a kidney infection. We all should have been in the hospital but my parents didn't have health insurance so Mom carried us to bathroom, recorded all "intake/output" measurements, our temperatures four times a day, brought our meals to us on trays; kept us entertained and never complained.

Mom let us build forts (with sheets and blankets) in living room on rainy days; gave us pot lids, pans, & kazoos to form a "band" and let us march around the neighborhood; never limited our imaginations; always believed in our dreams and loved each one of us unconditionally. She ignited a love for books and reading by sharing "chapter" books with us every night before bed-and as we got old enough, letting us read the stories to her as well.

My first memory dates back to when I was three or four. Mom and I were laying on my bed, gazing out the window and watching a gentle rain fall.

I have learned so much from my Mom. She has been a wonderful role model. Wise, witty, and WONDERFUL!

Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful mother and to all mothers today and everyday!

This week's Book Nook:

Monday, May 9th at 10:05am ~ Trey Rodgers, otherwise known as THE YARD DOCTOR. He'll talk about great lawn tips and the new Briggs & Stratton lawn hotline.

Monday, May 9th at 10:35am ~ Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, a not for profit, based in Washington , D.C. dedicated to makin sure there is a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. He'll talk about his book, "KABOOM! HOW ONE MAN BUILT A MOVEMENT TO SAFE PLAY"

Tuesday, May 10th at 10:05am ~ Lauren Chattman, 'BREAD MAKING: A HOME COURSE. CRAFTING THE PERFECT LOAF"

Wednesday, May 11th, at 10:05am ~ Cindy Duerst and other Leadership Beaver Dam members will be in the studio to talk about their upcoming food drive with Central Wisconsin Community Action

Wednesday, May 11th at 10:30am ~ THE GARDEN DOCTOR-DICK ZONDAG from Jung's Garden Center will be here to answer all your gardening questions

Thursday, May 12th at 9:40am ~ Kristi Yamaguchi will be here to talk about the release of her first children's book, "DREAM BIG, LITTLE PIG". The book encourages everyone to follow their dream because you will succeed as long as you believe.

Friday, May 13th at 10:05am ~ Laura Duksta, "YOU ARE A GIFT TO THE WORLD"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gold Medals, Green Houses, and Good Health!

Do you remember what you were doing during the summer of 1984? I was a young mom with 2 darling daughters and a 16 year old gymnast needed a perfect score (10) in order to win gold at the Summer Olympic games in Los Angeles. Mary Lou Retton captured the gold, and our hearts during her final performance and I had a chance to speak with her on Wednesday.

She is currently a mom of 4 girls (all very active and athletic in their own right) and is the spokesperson for Special Olympics. She is currently partnered with Proctor and Gamble to help raise funds so that at all Moms of Special Olympic athletes can travel to the Summer World Games in Athens Greece in July.

You can help out by going to P&G will donate $1 to Special Olympics everytime someone "friends" the site. So don't it today!

On Thursday, I broadcast my show live from Hoekstra's Market and Greenhouse (between Fox lake and Randolph 1/2 mile north on Hwy "A").
If you've been waiting for'll find it at Hoekstra's! WOW! All the beautiful greenhouses just "BURSTING" with color! So many choices of hanging baskets, planters, pots and other gift ideas for mom (Mother's Day is Sunday!) or just for yourself! Their open house is this weekend, Friday, 5/6 and Saturday, 5/7.

And did you know that gardening is good for your health?

  • Exposure to fresh air and sunshine (which is your best source of Vitamin D)

  • You'll get a great workout digging, hoeing, carrying water buckets

  • You can get your "picky" eaters involved right from the beginning. (Planting, waterting, weeding, harvesting and finally EATING!

  • Gardening can boost your mood. Did you know that studies have shown that receiving flowers makes people feel better. Imagine flowers blooming all summer long-what a great mood enhancer!

  • It's been proven that gardening will help improve your memory, too!

  • You'll add nutrition to your diet. Carrots are high in Vitamin A, tomatoes give healthy doses of Vitamins A & C and whereas bell peppers can contain pesticide residue when purchased from the grocery stores-you'll get a much healthier version if you grow your own, plus they contain a ton of phytonutrients.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Beatles, Business and Birth Order

If you grew up with (or are just a fan) of The Beatles, you'll want to get a copy of 'COME TOGETHER: THE BUSINESS WISDOM OF THE BEATLES". (written by George Cassidy and Richard Courtney). The book seamlessly integrates nuggets of business "do's and don'ts" with interesting stories about the greatest rock and roll musical group EVER!

I talked with Richard Courtney, a successful real estate developer and huge Beatles fan. (He's been a follower since the age of 8!). The book has 100 chapters-but don't let that scare you-each one is no more than a page to a page and a half. It's set chronologically and has tons of information about each of the four "young lads from Liverpool". If you're looking to start your own business, if you already have a business and are looking for tips on how to make it better, this is the book for you. Find out how THE most successful business franchise of all time can help YOU!

Today, May 2nd is "Siblings" Day. Are you the oldest? A middle child? The baby? Or an only child? Are you aware of how your birth order affects your love life? (I found this information on )

If you're the oldest:

*You are a born leader (most US presidents were first borns)

*You take charge, like to plan and always remember birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine's Day

*You are also old-fashioned (in a good way)

Your challenge: you need to become more spontaneous. You hate suprises.

Best Match: the youngest child. It's a case of opposites attracting. You help the last born become more organized and the last born helps you lighten up.

If you're the middle child: *You have a reputation as an insecure mess (Think Jan Brady). But you are actually a stable and loyal partner *You are not spoiled *You work for every perk, including a happy relationship. *You alwasy try to put others at ease. Your challenge: You need to open up because you're sometimes "hard to read". You can be secretive and you're not the best communicator when you're upset so learn to speak up instead of holdidng your anger in and you'll have a more harmonious relationship Best Match: Youngest child. Middles aren't as threatened by last borns as they are by exacting first borns.

If you're the youngest: *You're all about fun! *You like to have a good time Your challenge: you are not too financially dependable. (It comes from being well taken care of all your life). You also use your charm and charisma to be a bit "manipulative". Best Match: Either oldest (they serve as a good counterbalance in a "parent-child" sort of way, or middle child (they value friendships so they totally understand why you love being the life of the party).

The only child: *You are a "rock solid" citizen and a "sweetie" *you are super reliable and like the "oldest" child but to the extreme *You are punctual and true to your word *Always willing to help a friend in need
Your challenge: You are a bit of a perfectionist. Also cautious and pragmatic (and you can be very slow to make the first move). Best Match: the youngest child because you balance each other out. The baby of the family adds spontenaity and romance while you make sure you two aren't dining by candlelight because the electric bill never got paid!

I thought this was a fun perspective on siblings, spouses and significant others!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Nook Line up for this week:

Monday, May 2nd at 10:05am:
Elizabeth Carlson, "SCREAM QUIETLY", a personal account of how the author and her family survived and escaped Nazi Poland during WWII. Elizabeth now resides in northern Wisconsin and she will be at the Randolph Evangelical Free Church on Saturday, May 7th at 7pm to do a presentation and book signing.
Monday, May 2nd at 10:35am
Jerol Anderson, "IS IT SAFE?", another local author (Cambridge, WI) whose mystery novel is about a young woman who goes into the Witness Protection Program after seeing a murder. Jerol will be at Watertown BookWorld this Saturday, May 7th from 10:30am-2pm.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 10:05 am
Richard Courtney and George Cassidy, "COME TOGETHER: BUSINESS WISDOM OF THE BEATLES". We'll be talking with George about the lessons today's entrepeneurs and business leaders can draw from the failures and triumphs of the most famous musical group.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 10:35am:
Aaron McCargo, Jr., author of "SIMPLY DONE, WELL DONE". Aaron is a chef on the Food Network and has a great new cookbook that he'll be talking about.

Wednesday, May 4th: 10:05am
Mary Lou Retton (of Olympic Gold fame!) will be on the program to talk about a cause near and dear to her heart ~ Special Olympics.

Thursday, May 5th, I'll be doing my show LIVE from Hoekstra's Market and Greenhouses in Randolph, so if you're in the vicinity, stop in to say "Hi!"

Friday, May 6th, 10:05am
Michael Griesbach, author of "UNREASONABLE INFERNECES" is the facinating story of the Steven Avery murder case and the events of the previous twenty years.

Lots of great interviews this week...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Butter and Babies

As a kid, do you remember holding a dandelion under chin?

We talked about it on the show last week. (It was Dandelion Day on Tuesday, April 5th). If there was a yellowish reflection, that meant you liked butter, right? I don't know the origin of that practice but I think I ALWAYS had the yellow color reflected under my chin! I loved butter and still do. On today's show I shared some interesting facts about butter.
Have you wondered which is better salted or unsalted?

  • Unsalted is best because the amount of salt can vary from brand to brand.Salted butter contains more water, which can interfere with gluten development
  • Salt masks butters naturally sweet, delicate flavors and can be overwhelming
Where should you store butter?
  • Place in back of fridge where it’s coldest. Don't use the compartment in the door.
  • Butter will keep for 2 1/2 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 4 months in the freezer.
  • Place in ziplock bag (before freezing) so that it won’t pick up other odor
Why is it important to use the proper temperature in a recipe?
  • Chilled butter-should be cold and unyeilding
  • Cold butter melts during baking leaving behind small pockets of air that create flaky layers in recipes like pie dough and croissants.
  • Room Temperature-should easily bend without breaking
  • Softened butter is flexible enough to be whipped but firm enough to retain the incorporated air-vital to making cakes with a tender crumb.
  • Melted and Cooled-should be fluid and slightly warm
  • Butter is roughly 16% water; when melted, water breaks from the emulsion and helps create gluten for chewier cookies.

It really is the most complete baby name book that I have ever seen! Lesley said that it's very important to select the right name. You need to think about your child and most people select a first name that has meaning-not necessarily what the name actually means, but why it has meaning to the Mom and Dad. You also need to consider how the first name sounds (on it's own) and also when paired with the last name. The trend right now is for more traditional, classical names and the Social Security office will release the top 10 for 2011 this May. So stay tuned....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This week's Book Nook:

Monday, April 11th:
"THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BABY NAMES: THE MOST UNIQUE NAMES, THE MOST IDEA GENERATING LISTS, 660+ NAMES AND THE MOST HELP TO FIND THE PERFECT NAME" ~ Lesley Bolton, author of the #1 baby name book in the country will give us an expert's view on the best baby names.

Tuesday, April 12th:
"WILLIWAW WINDS", ~ Sally Bair, a Wisconsin author from Washburn, Wisconsin. (Sally will be in Columbus on Saturday, April 16th at the Columbus Public Library for a presentation and book signing). Her book is fiction but based on the true story of her son's rescue in the Bering Straits.

Wednesday, April 13th:
"MOBY-DUCK" THE TRUE STORY OF 28,800 BATH TOYS LOST AT SEA AND OF THE BEACHCOMBERS, OCEANOGRAPHERS, ENVIRIONMENTALISTS AND FOOLS, INCLUDING THE AUTHOR, WHO WENT IN SEARCH OF THEM". ~ Donovon Hohn, who heard about the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea and wanted to tell their story.

and at 10:30 Dick Zondag, "The Garden Doctor" joins us for his 30 minute program and will be available to answer all your gardening questions.

Thursday, April 14th:
"ALREADY HOME", ~ Susan Mallery, a New York Times best selling author, her newest novel, tells the story of a woman dealing with family relationships, dating and finding a new direction in her life.

Friday, April 15th:
"6 SECRETS TO STARTUP SUCCESS: HOW TO TURN YOUR ENTREPENEURIAL PASSION INTO A THRIVING BUSINESS" ~John Bradberry talks to us about the things you need to do (and need to know) in order to run your own successful business.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Twinkies and Trilogies

Today is National Twinkie Day!

I haven't eaten a Twinkie in forever, but I remember what a treat it was to find one in my brown bag lunch that I would take to school. That tasty sponge cake and the luscious creamy vanilla filling! YUM! Who doesn't like Twinkies?

Maybe like me, you haven't really given much thought to Twinkies but I uncovered some Twinkie Trivia that might interest you...

  • Twinkies were invented in River Forest, Illinois in 1930 by James Alexander Dewar, a baker for the Continental Baking Compan

  • Several machines used for making cream-filled strawberry shortcake, sat idle when berries weren’t in season so he conceived a snack cake filled with banana cream and dubbed them “Twinkies”.

  • During WWII bananas were rationed and company substituted vanilla cream

  • In 1988 fruit and cream filling (strawberry & vanilla swirl) introduced but was not very well received and soon was dropped

  • Deep-fried Twinkie debuted at Texas State Fair and now fried Twinkies are sold throughout the US at fairs as well as ball games

Did you also buy into the urban legend regarding the "shelf life" of a Twinkie? It was said that Twinkies could last 20,50, even 100 years due to chemicals used is. NOT TRUE!

They will last at least 25 days or more, because they are made without unstabilized dairy products or eggs and thus spoil slower than most bakery items, however, don't tuck some away to eat 2o years from now!

Upon realizing that this was a day to celebrate that great American snack cake, I remembered a recipe that I haven't made for many, many years: The Twinkie Dessert. (see below)

Twinkie Dessert 11-12 Twinkies

1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips

5 Tbsp. water

5 Tbsp. sugar

6 eggs, divided

1 container Cool Whip

Cut Twinkies in half, lengthwise and lay cream side up in 9x13” pan. Melt chocolate chips, water & sugar in saucepan stirring occasionally until dissolved. Set aside to cool. Add egg yolks, one at a time; beating well after each addition. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour over Twinkies. Cover with Cool Whip and refrigerate before serving.

All this talk about Twinkies is making me hungry!

In my Book Nook segment today, I spoke with Sherryl Woods about her newest novel, "DRIFTWOOD COTTAGE". It is the first of three (trilogy) novels set on the beautiful, fictional shores of Chesapeake Shores. The story centers around the relationship between Heather Donovan and Connor O'Brien. Connor's parents' divorce and his career as a high powered divorce attorney has left him jaded about marriage. Sherryl believes that women gravitate to these kinds of stories because they have issues that matter to them and that they can relate to; and sometimes readers are disconnected from their families and by following a "series" they can connect with characters that can help them relate to things going on in their own lives. Sherryl also believes in happy endings and this story is a heartwarming account of love, marriage, relationships and all that goes with it.

(The next novel in the series: "MOONLIGHT COVE" will be released at the end of April and the third one, "BEACH LANE", will be available sometime in May.) You can check out her website at

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dyslexia and "Dogs"

In our "Book Nook" segment today, I spoke with Nelson Lauver, a syndicated broadcaster, writer, speaker, humorist, award-winning narrator and advocate. His memoir: "MOST UNLIKELY TO SUCCEED: THE TRIALS, TRAVELS AND ULTIMATE TRIUMPHS OF A 'THROWAY' KID" is a facinating read. Nelson was a bright, young boy with undiagnoased dyslexia and he blends humor, story telling, irony and raw emotion as he shares his account of his learning disability and how he overcame it. His book will touch the lives of parents, grandparents, educators at all levels, and individuals who may have a learning disability or have had difficulties in shcool-and it will also resonate with anyone who works with or cares for children. Because he was undiagnosed, he learned to be the "bad kid" and acted out in class in the hopes that the teacher would pass him into the next grade in order to get him out of their classroom. By the time he graduated (104th out of 104 students), he could only read and function at a second grade level. In spite of the emotional and physical abuse, he perserved and today is a highly regarded speaker. His book a very powerful and inspite of all the tragic abuse, it resonates with the power of hope and how it can make all the difference. You might be able to catch his four-minute slice of the American experience "The American Storyteller Radio Journal"-featured on many radio stations across the country. Or check out his website at

It is also Hot Dog Day! And the weather is warming up. A good day for a ballpark hotdog (although the Brewers don't play until tomorrow-and they're at Cinncinnati, so I guess it will have to be a DQ hotdog! We posted this question on facebook: What condiments do like on your hot dog? Ketchup and Onions are MY choice!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Children's Books and Coca-Cola

During the Book Nook segment today, we spoke with Kathryn Cloward, author of the new children's book, "KATHRYN THE GRAPE: JUST LIKE MAGIC". You will fall in love with Kathryn and her magical butterfly friend-Maggie. The book teaches that each of us has our own magic within and children will discover their own strength and fearlessness, learn about making new friends and learn the importance of helping others. The book is the first in the series and Kathryn's next book, "KATHRYN THE GRAPE: COLORFUL ADVENTURE", is due out in June. I encourage you to check out her website at After interviewing Kathryn, I thought about books that I read to my children. One of my all-time favorites, (and one that I like to give to new moms) is "I'LL LOVE YOU FOREVER". I don't remember the author's name, but it is a fantastic book. The main phrase throughout the book, and one that I still say to my (now grown) children is this: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as you're living, my baby you'll be!". Today is Love Your Children Day. No matter what their age(s) make sure you tell them. Although I no longer read this story to my kids, I just want them to know I'LL LOVE THEM FOREVER! Coca-Cola was invented 125 years ago today. A few bits of trivia for you:

  • Coca-Cola employes 139,600 people worldwide

  • The company has enjoyed 49 consecutive years with increased dividends

  • Their product is sold in over 200 countries

  • and is celebrating 125 years in business.

Dr. John Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia, produced the first syrup and carried a jug of the new product down the street to the Jacobs' Pharmacy where it was sampled and pronounced "excellent". The first glasses of syrup were mixed with carbonated water and sold for five cents!

So enjoy a coke (cherry coke for me!) today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eskimo Pies and Easy Desserts

Today is Eskimo Pie Day!

The original ice cream on a stick and covered in chocolate all began back in 1921 when school teacher and candy shop owner Christian Kent Nelson was inspired by a little boy's inability to decide between ice cream and a candy bar and so the frozen snack was born. They say necessity is the mother of invention and some of our best inventions have come in a round-a-bout way!

What is your favorite frozen ice cream treat? Ice cream sandwiches? Drumsticks? Fudgecicles (Haven't had one of those in YEARS!). I think the most delicious frozen treat I ever tasted was during my first trip to Disneyland. Dad and Mom took us (2 brothers, 3 sisters and myself) to California, specifically Disneyland, when I was a Senior in high school. While at Disneyland, I tried a frozen banana, dipped in chocolate and covered with crushed peanuts. YUM! It was delicious! I've tried to recreate the taste, but somehow, it just isn't the same.

We shared some easy dessert recipes on the show today. If you like pecan pie, you will have to try these Pecan Pie Muffins. (see below). They taste just like the real thing-and only use 5 ingredients! Also the recipe for Black Forest Chocolate Cake that you make in the slow cooker. Both are EASY and EXCELLENT!

Pecan Pie Muffins 1 c. packed light brown sugar ½ c. all purpose flour 1 c. chopped pecans 2/3 c. butter, softened 2 eggs, beaten Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 18 mini muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners. In medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour and pecans. In separate bowl beat butter and eggs together until smooth; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. They should be about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire racks when done.

Easy Slow Cooker Black Forest Cake ½ c. butter 1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained & juice reserved 1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling 1 pkg. chocolate cake mix Melt butter in small saucepan, mix with reserved pineapple juice; set aside. Spread crushed pineapple in layer on bottom of slow cooker. Spoon cherry pie filling in even layer on top of pineapple; sprinkle with dry cake mix. Stir butter & pineapple juice together; pour over cake mix. Set slow cooker to LOW; cook for 3 hours. Spoon dessert into bowls;let cool about 5 minutes before eating. Yield: 10 servings.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This week's Book Nook segments:

Tuesday, March 29th at 10:05am:

"KATHRYN THE GRAPE", ~ Kathryn Cloward-children's author

Wednesday, March 30th at 10:05am:

"MOST UNLIKELY TO SUCCEED", ~ Nelson Lauver tells the story

of how he was a "throwaway kid" (with dyslexia) but was not diagnosed

during elementary/middle school and how he overcame this significant

problem to become a very successful motivational speaker today.


"THE GARDEN DOCTOR" program with Dick Zondag from Jung's

Garden Center from 10:30-11am

Thursday, March 31st at 10:05am:

'BIBLE BABBLE", ~ Kristin Howard explains the bible-it's origins, the

different parts and how it relates to pop culture today

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This week's Book Nook segments:

Monday, March 21st:
"THE SELF AWARE PARENT" ~ Dr. Fran Walfish at 10:05
"Realtors Home & Garden Show" landscape expert ~ Darin Meyer from
McKay Nursery, Waterloo, Wisconsin at 10:35

Tuesday, March 22nd:
"BETTER BY MISTAKE" ~ Alina Tugend at 10:05
Why making mistakes is a good thing!
"GHOST SHIP FESTIVAL" ~ Kimm Stabelfeldt ~ at 10:35 will talk about
the discovery of the wooden ship that sank over 100 years ago in Lake
Michigan and was discovered last summer.

Wednesday, March 23rd:
Realtors Home and Garden Show ~ Charlie Koenen, owner of BeePods,
will discuss beekeeping and all things bee related ~ 10:05
GARDEN DOCTOR program with Dick Zondag from Jung's Garden
Center, Randolph from 10:30-11am

Thursday, March 24th:
"SHADES OF GRAY" ~ Ruta Sepetys, writes about the purging of
Lituanians by the Soviets, during WWII

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Longevity and Lent

What do these two things have in common?

We interviewed Dr. Howard Friedman, a health psychologist, who co-authored the facinating book, "THE LONGEVITY PROJECT: SUPRISING DISCOVERIES FOR HEALTH AND LONG LIFE FROM THE LANDMARK EIGHT-DECADE STUDY". Along with Dr. Leslie Martin, they compiled a truly remarkable collection of insights into why some of us are blessed with long lives while others falter. The book looks at thousands of pieces of information, the files of over 1500 participants in a study that began back in the early 1930's and has spanned over eight decades.

Told in an easy to read, easy to understand format, there are many facets (personality traits, relationships, experiences and career paths) that give us a good understanding of how the doctors compiled their results. Dr. Friedman says they became known as the "Myth Busters" because so many of things we've been taught about how to live a long life, turned out not to be true. You'll find lots of great information, as well as quizzes YOU can take to get a sense of your own longevity trajection. Dr. Friedman says the best advice he can give is to throw out all your lists. Develop patterns according to your own personality that lead to healthy living and associate with others who lead healthy lifestyles. Quite a fascinating study...

You can become a "friend" on facebook or check out his website at

We also were looking for some good recipes for making tilapia- a mildly flavored fish. If you are looking for some good (and easy) Lenten recipes see below:

Garlic Alfredo Tilapia
4 tilapia fillets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Creole seasoning, or to taste
3 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. Alfredo sauce
Preheat oven to 425°. Brush tilapia fillets with oil on both sides, season with Creole seasoning to taste, then place into 9x13” baking dish. Bake until flesh is no longer translucent, and fish flakes easily with fork, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, cook until it’s softened and aroma has mellowed, about 2 minutes. Stir in Alfredo sauce and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to LOW and keep warm until fish is ready. Pour sauce over fish to serve. Sprinkle with additional Creole seasoning if desired.

Hudson’s Baked Tilapia
4 (4 oz.) fillets tilapia
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¼ c. mayonnaise
½ c. sour cream
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9x13” baking dish. Season fillets with salt, pepper & Cajun seasoning on both sides. Arrange seasoned fillets in single layer in baking dish. Place layer of lemon slices over fish. (2 per piece, it should cover most of the surface of the fish). Bake, uncovered for 15-20 minutes,or until fish flakes easily with fork. While fish is baking, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder, lemon juice and dill in small bowl. Serve with tilapia.

Crab Salad
2 ½ c. cooked shell macaroni
¼ c. chopped onion
½ c. chopped celery
1 pkg. crabmeat, cut into chunks
1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
¼ c. sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. sour cream
In large bowl, combine macaroni, onion, celery & crabmeat. In separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, sour cream. Pour over macaroni mixture and stir until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This week's Book Nook segments:

Lots of great interviews coming up this week.
  • You'll be very suprised to hear the findings of a study on living to an old age...
  • Find out the latest stats regarding identity theft in Wisconsin and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you
  • If you love eggs and/or chickens you'll want to find out how raising chickens as a hobby turned into something else...
  • Featured speaker at the BDAAA will discuss her wonderful book about the time spent in Russia
  • You'll be captivated by a very small book with a very BIG message
Tuesday, March 15th, 10:05am
Dr. Howard Friedman, "THE LONGEVITY PROJECT", a landmark study on living to an old age
Wednesday, March 16th, 10:05am
Mike Prusinski, a certified Identity Theft expert, will talk about the newest statistics just released for Wisconsin from the Federal Trade Commission's consumer Sentinel Network.
and the Garden Doctor returns
Dick Zondag, aka "The Garden Doctor" 10:30-11am

Thursday, March 17th, 10:05am
"THE CHICKEN AND EGG", a combination cookbook, memoir about living in the city and raising chickens
and at 10:35AM
Lisa Paul, "SWIMMING IN THE DAYLIGHT", an inspiring account of the improbable link between an ailing Soviet Jewish refusenik from Moscow and a young woman from America, (Wisconsin native).
Friday, March 18th, 10:05am
Charlene Costanzo, "THE 13TH GIFT", a delightful novella with a profound message

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Barbies and Books

Today is "Barbie's" birthday!

Barbie the Fashion doll that is. She made her debut on this date back in 1959 at a price of $3.00!

Did you have a Barbie when you were growing up? My sister Nancy had Midge (Barbie's best friend) and I had Barbie and we would spend hours, I mean HOURS, pretending that we were Barbie and Midge ~ out on all kinds of adventures. We saved our brithday and Christmas money to buy the outfits-I think they were priced at about $1.99-4.99 depending on how fancy the outfit and how many accessories were included.

Ruth Handler watched her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and noticed that she enjoyed giving them adult roles. Ruth's husband was a co-founder of the Mattel Toy company and when she suggested the idea of an adult bodied doll, he was unenthusiastic. During a trip to Europe in 1956 with her children Barbara and Kenneth, Ruth found a german toy doll called Bild Lilli. She brought it back to the US, worked with an engineer, reworked the design of the doll, named her after her daughter and Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959. Over the years, Barbie's appearance had changed many times, most notably in 1971, when her eyes were adjusted to look forward rather than having the demure sideways glance of the original model.

  • Here are a few "facts" about Barbie that you maybe didn't know
    Her full name: Barbara Millicent Roberts
  • In a series of novels published in the 1960's she grew up in the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin and attended Willows High School
  • Her parents were George and Margaret Roberts and she had younger sister (Skipper).
  • Barbie has had over 40 pets and a wide range of vehicles including her pink Corvette convertible, trailers, and jeeps. (She also holds a pilots license)
  • She's had an on-off romantic relationship with her boyfriend "Ken" (Ken Carson) who first appeared in 1961. In 2004 Mattel announced that Barbie and Ken split up however, it was recently reported that they maybe they would be getting back together.

In the "Book Nook" segment today I spoke with Gretchen Rubin, author the #1 New York Times Best Seller- 'THE HAPPINESS PROJECT: OR, WHY I SPENT A YEAR TRYING TO SING IN THE MORNING, CLEAN MY CLOSETS, FIGHT RIGHT, READ ARISTOTLE, AND GENERALLY HAVE MORE FUN". It is now out in paperback and it is a GREAT read. Gretchen spent time exploring ways of "being happy" and broke her resolutions into 12 segments (one each month). When I asked her if she had found the "key" to happiness, she said that both the ancient philosophers and well as contemporary religious leaders agree that strong relationships with other people is really the secret. Check out her book and/or her blog at

Friday, March 4, 2011

Good Grammar and Grandfathers

How's your grammar? You probably know the difference between an adverb and an adjective, but do you know what a "flat" adverb is? What about a "split infinitive"? The English language can get pretty technical, but Grammar Girl keeps everything in perspective and also keeps it fun! Today is National Grammar Day-March Forth (4th) to good grammar. We had a fun interview with Mignon Fogarty, aka: "The Grammar Girl" on the show today. Mignon said that the biggest error most people make is not with grammar itself, but rather with word usage. For instance: we confuse affect with effect and so on. If you want to get more tips and learn more about using good grammar, you can check out Mignon's books, DEV"THE GRAMMAR DEVOTIONAL" and "GRAMMAR GIRL'S QUICK AND DIRTY TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING", or you can check out the website: (You'll also be able to hear the catchy tune, MARCH FORTH, that Mignon wrote for the occassion-National Grammar Day).

We also had a chance to talk with Erin Bried, author of "HOW TO BUILD A FIRE: AND OTHER HANDY THINGS YOUR GRANDFATHER KNEW", a collection of tips and advice from 10 men (most of whom served in WWII). It's filled with warmth, humor, nostalgia and wisdom and covers their perspective on everything from how to change a tire, tie a tie, build a campfire, be brave, show respect and love and how to apply these things to our lives. Erin showcases each of the ten men who share their grandfatherly wisdom as well as their advice. The chapters cover everything from pioneering, thriving, bonding, cooking, hosting, leading and prospering as well as others. If you never got the chance to ask your grandfather about all the important (as well as unimportant) things in life, you'll want to read this book.
If your grandfather is still living, take time in the next week or so to seek him out and spend some time together. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Police, Peach Blossoms and Perfect Pasta

In today's Book Nook segment I welcomed back J.T. Ellison. We've talked with her in the past about her continuing series of detective novels featuring police lieutenant Taylor Jackson. Her lastest novel "SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH", is a sequel to "FOURTEEN". Normally, I try to read every book I feature in my "Book Nook" segments. J.T's books are very realistic and my over-active imagination makes them TOO scary for me but I love talking to her about how she researches her novels, and why murder/mysteries are so popular. (I had a co-worker read the book for me and she is now a new follower and fan).

Today is National Peach Blossom Day-to celebrate you can make this easy drink.

Peach Blossom Fuzz

1 1/4 c. sliced peeled fresh or frozen peaches

1/2 medium firm banana

1 c. orange juice

1/2 c. crushed ice

1/2 c. fat-free plain yogurt

1 Tbsp. honey

1/8 tsp. rum extract or vanilla extract

In blender, combine all ingredients; cover and process for 15-20 seconds or until smooth. Stir if necessary. Pour into chilled glasses; serve immediately.

If you want know how to make perfect pasta:

  • Boil in a large pot of water (4 quarts to every 1 pound of pasta).

  • Salt (at least 1 Tbsp.) to add flavor.

  • Add pasta to boiling water. Don't break it as the pasta will soften within about 30 seconds and fit into the pot.

  • Stir as it starts to cook to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pot and from other noodles

  • Do a "taste test". Folow the package directions but taste before draining to be sure the texture is right.

  • Drain well in a colander. If serving hot, add sauce right away. If using it in a cold salad, rinse pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Peanut Butter and Possibilites

Today is Peanut Butter Lovers Day. Also the first day of March.

(Does that mean spring is right around the corner? It was 40 degrees in Wisconsin today. March definitely came in like a lamb so we can certainly dream about blue skies, fresh air and warmer temperatures. However, before we realize those dreams, I'm sure we will have to endure high winds, torrential rains and yes, even more snow! Ahhhhh the possibilities!

Is there anyone that doesn't love peanut butter? Spread some on a warm bagel and watch it melt slightly...or cover a slice of fresh white bread with peanut butter (and grape jelly or strawberry jam). YUM! Did you know that peanut butter:

  • helps protect against cardiovascular disease due to high levels of monounsaturated fats and resveratrol.

  • provides protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium folate, dietary fiber and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid.

  • is an effective bait for mouse trap.s

  • works as a simple outdoor birdfeeder. Just coat a pine cone with peanut butter; then birdseed.

  • use it to remove gum and tree sap from skin, hair or in fabrics and uphostery.

And of course there always tons of recipes using peanut butter. Here is one that has been in my family for years. Mom used to make these and although all my siblings have the recipe, my sister Marcy's are THE BEST!

Peanut Butter Fingers
½ c. butter
½ c. white sugar
½ c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 unbeaten egg
1/3 c. peanut butter
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 c. oatmeal (rolled oats)
1 c. chocolate chips
¼ c. peanut butter
½ c. sifted powdered sugar
2-4 Tbsp. milkGrease a 9x13” pan. Cream butter. Add sugars and blend with butter. Blend in egg, peanut butter, baking soda, salt & vanilla. Stir in flour and oatmeal. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread chocolate evenly over top of bars. Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over top of chocolate.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Artificial Sweeteners and Almonds

You might use a sugar substitute in your cup of coffee and think nothing of it. However, when you bake with sugar substitutes you may have experienced problems. Sugar substitutes can' t stand up to the prolonged heat of the oven and therefore your baked goods can loose volume, taste less sweet, show tunneling or appear crumbly and lighter in color than those items baked with sugar. If you need to cut calories and carbs in your daily diet here are a few tips to keep in mind when using sugar substitutes during baking:

  • Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract for every 1 c. sugar substitute to enhance flavor

  • Flatten cookie dough before baking by gently pressing it with your palms. Sugar substitutes often prevent cookie dough from spreading.

  • Use cold brewed coffee inplace of some liquid in chocolate flavored recipes to enrich the chocolate notes

  • Create volume by using whipped egg whites instead of whole eggs. (2 egg whites for every 1 egg)

  • Reduce air tunnels in baked goods by cutting the fat into dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients

  • Achieve more height by switching from 9" pans to 8" round or square pans with 2" tall sides

Today is National Almond Day

A handful of almonds is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium. Plus almonds offer potassium (200mg), calcium(75mg), and iron (1.0mg).

These tasty nuts are a great way to stop that mid-afternoon "hungry" feeling. The protein, fiber and monounsaturated fat will keep you satisfied longer. There is also scientific evidence that suggests that eating 1.5 oz. per day, along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Small Batch Baking

What is it?

My Book Nook guest today was author and food writer, Debby Maugans who has perfected the art of "small batch baking". Her newest cookbook, "SMALL BATCH BAKING FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS", is ideal for singles, small families, college students, retirees and brides-to-be. (And for ALL chocolate lovers, as well!)

If you have ever craved chocolate, gave in to the temptation of making a whole pan of brownies, and then proceeded to polish off all (or most) of the entire thing, you'll want to get this cookbook!

Debby explained that she got the idea for the book from her daughter, who would come home from school and request a dessert (at 8pm, no less!) Debby experimented and perfected all the recipes in this new cookbook.

There are over 120 pies, cakes, tarts, muffins, cookies and scones. You don't really need any special equipment other than a mini tart pan and a mini loaf pan -which she said you can pick up in the grocery aisle. When making the cakes, you can just recycle a tin can (a 14 1/2 oz. works best). You should use a can opener that doesn't leave a sharp edge and Debby has some recommendations in her book.

I shared one of her recipes after the interview today (see below). You can also get more information at her website:

Brownie Cookies
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. well beaten egg
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
¼ c. all purpose flour
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°. Line baking sheet with piece of parchment paper; set aside. Place chocolate and butter in medium, microwave safe bowl; microwave on MEDIUM until soft, about
1 ½ minutes. Stir until smooth. Stir in brown sugar; whisk in egg, vanilla, baking soda & salt until well blended. Stir in flour. Cover and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes. Spoon dough by Tbsp. onto baking sheet, 2” apart. Bake until cookies have puffed then flattened, about 14 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Yield: 7 cookies.

Debby says these are great for an afternoon snack, crumbled to make your own "cookies and cream" blend of ice cream-or used as ice cream sandwiches!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red hearts, Red Velvet and Red Birds


Red Hearts...

A day to celebrate love, joy and happiness in all stages and levels of relationships. With your spouse, your significant other, your friends, family and your children.

Remember decorating your shoe box to take to school in order to collect Valenine's from all your classmates. And then going through them, re-reading and examining them once you got home. Remember the boy (or girl) you had a secret crush on? And how you'd check out his or her signature and message on the Valentine? As if you could see there was really more to the message than a simple "You're Sweet", or "Be Mine". Did you agonize over which Valentine to give which classmate-because you wanted that "special someone" to realize the message behind the message? Ah, those were the days!

Red Velvet...

A sweet way to say Happy Valentine's Day is with Red Velvet Cupcakes. Did you know that this recipe was originally created for Eaton's Department store in Canada back in the 1940's? Other's say that it is attributed to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. The cake, which is red in color (hence it's name) get's it's color from the combination of the vinegar (acid) when it reacts with the buttermilk. During World War II, foods were being rationed, so bakers used beets and/or beet juice to get the red color. However, the best way to get this cake to a true red color is by making a paste with 2 Tbsp. food coloring and mixing it with the cocoa powder before adding it to the batter. This cake saw a resurgence in popularity in the 1989 with the movie "Steel Magnolias" because in the south, the grooms' cake is often baked in the shape of an armadillo and features the Red Velvet Cake recipe.

Red Birds

It's so nice to take just a few minutes to relax and enjoy life and the little things that bring can bring joy and a smile. I watched a family of cardinals yesterday. The male, with his brillian red feathers, seemed to glow among the drab brown bushes. His female counterpart, was not quite as "showy", but seemed to be the one to demand attention as she held "court" with some sparrows on my porch railing. By taking time today to observe the small details, you can step back from all the turmoil and stress that might be pulling at you and just BREATH and RELAX for a few moments. Try it....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Toys and Treats

I'm not sure if kids get the chance to use their imaginations anymore-what with wii games, the internet and t.v. I used to spend hours playing "Barbies" with my sisters, neighborhood kickball games in our backyard and board games with my siblings and my friends. I guess my favorite toy from childhood were the board games that we received each year from "Santa". Christmas break was spent learning the games and playing them over and over and over....

I had the chance to interview Chris Byrne (The Toy Guy) today during the Book Nook segment. Chris has over 30 years experience in the toy industry and is also the content director for He was talking to us from the Mattel Showroom at the Javits Center in New York City in order to give us sneak peek on what we can expect to see on store shelves this year. Chris said that the Movie and the Entertainment industry drive some of the trends. Look for Justin Bieber dolls (with real hair!), 30 different toys to mark the newest "CARS" movie, action toys and figures for the latest "Pirates of the Carribbean" and "Transformers"-a big hit in the '80's (when my son was playing with the originals). Technology also plays an important part in toy development. Look for V-Tech's "Ino-pad", similar to Mom and Dad's I-Pad, but geared for kids. Classic toys-such as Lego (which appeal to kids as well as the "kid" in all of us) are also always popular.

You can check out "The Toy Guy's" website: .

You'll find lots of information on the newest toys, reviews on the top toys as well as book reviews and reviews by parents.

Today is Peppermint Patty day. Not sure if it's in refrence to the "little red-headed girl" in the Peanuts cartoon strip, or if it is to celebrate the candies.

I shared a recipe to make your own Peppermint Patties (see below) and we also talked about easy Valentine treats. I found a yummy recipe for Waffle Cookies ( you use your waffle iron). I am hoping to find some time this weekend to try them. I've posted the recipes below. If you try them, let me know what you think!

Peppermint Patties
¾ c. sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ tsp. peppermint extract
4 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp. shortening
In large mixing bowl, combine condensed milk and peppermint extract. Beat in enough confectioners’; sugar, a little at a time, to form a stiff dough that is no longer sticky. Form into 1” balls, the place on waxed paper and flatten with fingers to form patties. Let patties dry at room temperature 2 hours, turning once. IN medium saucepan over LOW heat, melt chocolate with shortening, stirring often. Remove from heat. Dip patties, one at a time, into chocolate by laying them on the tines of a fork and lowering the fork into the liquid. Let cool on waxed paper until set.

Waffle Cookies
½ c. packed brown sugar

¼ c. sugar

½ c. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

½ tsp. salt
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ c. flaked coconut
½ c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ c. chopped cashews

Confectioners’ sugar, optional
In large bowl, combine sugars, butter, egg and vanilla. Combine flour, salt & baking soda; gradually add to sugar mixture. Stir in coconut, cashews and chocolate chips. Drop batter by tablespoons 1” apart onto a preheated waffle iron coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove to wire racks; cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Yield: 3 dozen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Interruptions, Immune Systems and Interviews

On Monday, I spoke with Marsha Egan. Marsha is a certified business leader, coach and CEO of the professional coaching firm-The Egan Group. Marsha checks in with us on the program every few weeks and her topic this week was "Interrupting". Since I have a tendency to do this on occasion, I wanted to get some tips on how to avoid it in the future. Marsha said it's important to let people finish their thought. If you need to, silently count to three before you begin speaking. If you are constantly interrupting others, you may be percieved as being "rude". I don't mean to be rude. I sometime get so caught up in the conversation and eager to share my thoughts, that I don't wait but I'm going to use Marsha's trick of counting to three... For more tips check out Marsha's website

Today I spoke with Dr. Susan Rupp of Columbus Chiropractic. During the cold and flu season our immune system can become compromised. Chiropractic care helps the spine and nervous system but can also alleviate problems with the immune system. You can also stay healthy by:
  • getting enough sleep
  • staying hydrated (yes, even in winter!)
  • exercising
  • eating healthy foods and snacks
  • and washing your hands frequently

Yesterday I interviewed Allen Shawn. Mr. Shawn is a well known composer and as well as author of two other books. His newest book, "TWIN: A MEMOIR" is the compelling story of his life and that of his twin sister Mary, who was diagnosed with autism and institutionalized at the age of 8. His book delves into the science, history and heartbreaking effects that autism can have on those who have been diagnosed and also their family members.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cherries and Chocolate

February is National Cherry Month and Chocolate Lovers month.

What is your favorite "Chocolate Combo"?

  • Chocolate with peanut butter -(peanut butter cups!)

  • Chocolate covered raisins? Almonds? cherries?

  • Chocolate with salt-as in chocolate covered pretzels

  • Chocolate with whipped cream-a steaming mug of hot cocoa swirled whith whipped cream and cinnamon on top!

  • Chocolate with wine...

Maybe you just love pure, unaltered CHOCOLATE!

I like all of the above but I think my favorites are chocolate covered cherries (love the gooey, sweet goodness that drips off my fingers) and chocolate with coconut (a Mounds candy bar has just a little bit of heaven in every bite!)

I'd love to hear your favorite chocolate pairings

It is also National Cherry Month-probably because of the famous "George Washington and the Cherry Tree" myth. Here is a quick and easy cherry dessert that you might want to try:

Cherry Chocolate Pie
11 large marshmallows
1/3 c. milk
1 (3 oz.) piece milk chocolate candy bar, chopped
1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
1 graham cracker crust (10”)
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
In large saucepan, combine marshmallows, milk and chocolate. Cook and stir over medium low heat until smooth. Cool completely. Fold ¾ c. whipped topping into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Top with pie filling & remaining whipped topping. Cover & refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Yield: 8 servings.