Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oregon strawberries are sweeter, redder, better

6/22/11 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Oregon Strawberries are sweeter, redder, better

Goodbye winter and hello, summer! It’s strawberry season and local growers are finally able to start picking and selling. How do I know? Because I called Eden Valley Farm and Laura’s Berdeen’s recorded voice said that they are open and selling picked and u-pick berries.

Oregon grown strawberries are the best tasting berries in the world. And while it’s always wise to buy locally grown produce, it’s especially delicious if you do so during strawberry season. Our strawberries are sweeter and juicier than those bred for shipment from other areas. So you will usually be more than satisfied with a local berry’s deep red color, juicy texture and intense flavor.

If you must buy berries from the grocery store, shop with your nose as well as your eyes. Be selective. Imported, store bought berries tend to be beautiful but crunchy and tasteless. Smell the package. Strawberries must smell like berries if they are to taste like berries. Choose fruit that is plump and dry with a bright red color. And remember, bigger is not better. Smaller berries are often the tastiest.

When you get the berries home, don’t wash them unless you’re going to eat them right away. Water is the enemy. When storing, first pick through them and discard any mushy or spoiled fruit. Place them in a colander, uncovered, in the refrigerator until ready to eat or use in a recipe. Then, quickly rinse them with cool water and pat dry.

And when you get around to eating them (best if done in 24 hours), ponder this little known fact: The strawberry, a member of the rose family, is unique in that it is the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside. An interesting bit of fruit trivia …

The following recipes are all from the Oregon Strawberry Commission. The Strawberry-Chicken Salad makes a nice “company’s coming” luncheon dish and the strawberry chutney recipe adds a little extra zip!

Don’t be discouraged by the fancy sounding “Napoleon” dessert. Napoleons are traditionally made up of three layers of puff pastry, alternating with two layers of cream. The top layer is either glazed with icing or dusted with powdered sugar. This one is easily prepared using frozen (and thawed) Phyllo dough. The pastry cream is simply a classic form of vanilla pudding. If you like, you may substitute freshly whipped cream.

And finally, nothing could be simpler than this low-fat strawberry ice cream recipe. There are only five ingredients to mix together and process according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Enjoy!


1/2 cup reduced-calorie mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped chutney (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 pints hulled fresh Oregon strawberries, divided
Lettuce leaves or chopped greens of your choice

In large bowl, combine mayonnaise, chutney, lime zest, salt, curry powder and lime juice. Add chicken, celery and onion; toss, cover and chill.

Just before serving, slice enough strawberries to make 2 cups; gently toss with chicken mixture.

Line platter or individual serving plates with lettuce. Mound chicken salad in center. Garnish with remaining whole strawberries.
Makes 4 servings

Note: Homemade or bottled chutney and curry add exotic flavor to this main-dish salad. Try this recipe:


1 cup strawberry preserves
1 can (17 oz.) pear halves, drained and chopped
¼ cup raisins
1 Tablespoon chopped, crystallized ginger
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Mix well, cover and chill at least 2 hours. Keep refrigerated to store. Serve with pork, chicken, turkey, duck or ham. Makes about 2 cups


8 sheets Phyllo dough, thawed according to package instructions
3 cups pastry cream, at room temperature (recipe follows)
3 cups thawed fresh-frozen strawberries, sliced
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick vegetable spray.

Spray a sheet of the Phyllo dough with nonstick spray, fold in half and spray again, then fold again and spray again. Cut the folded dough in quarters to make four even rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets of Phyllo.
Place the rectangles on the baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully, as they burn easily.

For each Napoleon, spread three of the rectangles with 1 tablespoon of the pastry cream each, add 1 tablespoon of the berries to each layer. Stack the three layers, then top with the remaining rectangle. Lightly dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all sixteen Napoleons have been assembled. Serves 12-16 depending on appetites.

Pastry Cream
3 cups low fat milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs (2 whole eggs, 1 yolk)
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla

Using double boiler, heat 2 1/2 cups milk until steam rises from the surface.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, remaining 1/2 cup milk and sugar. Sift in cornstarch, and whisk until well blended.

Remove milk from heat, and gradually whisk in egg mixture. Return pan to top of double boiler and whisk constantly over medium heat until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to bowl, press plastic wrap onto pastry cream surface, and refrigerate for up to 3 days


5 egg yolks
1 quart low-fat milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon strawberry flavored liqueur
1 cup fresh strawberries

Combine all ingredients.
Follow instructions for your ice cream machine.
Cover and store in freezer. Serves 10

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal!
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

Kaisers Antiques Roadshow experience

Julie Scott, doll appraiser
6/15/11 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Kaisers Antiques Roadshow experience

The Antiques Roadshow visit to Eugene on June 4 revealed a rare gem that no one suspected —a Norman Rockwell painting, titled “The Young Model,” valued at $500,000. Someone’s dream of hidden family treasure suddenly became their reality. And let’s face it, dreams were why we were all there.

But most of us who crowded the fairgrounds for appraisals discovered that our treasures didn’t measure up to a Rockwell. As I circled the maze to get to the appraisal booths I noticed that there was more ordinary stuff than extraordinary. In fact (if my observations are correct) there were as many unhappy people with the information they received (and its appraisal value) as there were happy ones.

My husband and I are Antiques Roadshow junkies. We have been watching the Roadshow since its inception. We have also been collecting ‘old stuff’ nearly all of our married life. The family joke is that I am a consumer extraordinaire and Chuck became a wood furniture antique restoration specialist out of necessity. You might say we both know just enough about antiques to be dangerous!

I entered our names in the show’s lottery process in early January. And much to our surprise, we won! The hard part was deciding what to take. Each of us was allowed two pieces to be appraised. But when everything you own is old and mostly purchased at garage sales and flea markets, it’s hard to choose which piece of junk/treasure is the most interesting.

We finally settled on things with family history: my violin (purchased in 1951 when I began lessons); an old wooden child’s wheelbarrow from Scotland; a small mantle clock and a porcelain doll. The night before the show we carefully packed our treasures into my Radio Flyer gardening wagon and went to bed.

Our tickets were for 8 a.m. so we were up early and got into Eugene at 7:30 a.m. To our surprise, we parked up near the front, quickly unloaded our loot and entered a nearly empty building. We were only the second group to be admitted. Lines were still short at that hour and moved swiftly until we got to the appraisal stage.

Volunteer Becky Venice told me that later in the day, the lines would wrap around the building. Some people were there for 8 hours. Becky was one of 120 volunteers (mostly from Portland) who kept things running smoothly. They reminded everyone to turn off cell phones: when to unwrap their treasures, where the bathrooms were located and provided escort service.

Although billed as a local event, I talked with many folks who had come from Portland and as far away as Colorado and Las Vegas. Tickets were scarce as hen’s teeth. I saw an ad on Craig’s list by a Portland volunteer who needed a roundtrip ride to Eugene. In return she offered to enter two items to be appraised. Another ticket holder wasn’t so generous. He wanted $300 for two tickets.

We were just the tip of a 5-6,000 people iceberg and to us the appraisal process seemed very business-like and impersonal. It was obvious that the appraisers were looking for something special and we didn’t have it. Their job was to feed the show as well as appraise; to weed out the ordinary from the extraordinary.

The appraisal area was set up in a circle. The outer circle’s individual booths were the first stop and easily identifiable by signs. The inner circle was reserved for filming the 80 special objects to possibly air on PBS next summer. The very personable Mark Walberg could be seen bouncing around. The Keno brothers were nowhere to be seen.

We were given four tickets (one for each item) and escorted to the different appraisal areas in small groups. Each time we left a booth (i.e. musical instruments) we had to go back outside the inner sanctum and get into a different line to be escorted to yet another booth (i.e. dolls). Fortunately, we did not have popular items to be appraised so our lines were relatively short. My longest wait was at musical instruments — about 45 min.

Observations: There were paintings of every media, size and subject. Big pieces of furniture were dollied in along with some very distinctive junk! We enjoyed watching (although we couldn’t hear) a couple of appraisals being filmed. One was a beautiful and unusual round curio cabinet that is sure to be on television; another was a guitar. The Rockwell painting would arrive later.

We had a few surprises with the appraisal of my 1798 violin (date was accurate; maker not; turned out to be German not Italian); my mother's 100-yr. old 21-inch porcelain German doll would have been worth more with her original clothes; our Waterbury mantle clock was one of millions turned out in the late 1800s although its beveled glass made it unusual; Chuck's 17th century child's wheelbarrow was a first for the veteran toy appraiser Noel Barrett. It fell more into the folk art category but we couldn’t go there — no ticket!

Bottom line: Just because something is old does not mean it is worth a bundle of money. If it did, we would be zillionaires. As it is, we’re not. Our stuff is pretty ordinary. Everything was worth what we thought it was and not a penny more. Of course, we only collect what we love so it was a win-win situation. However, I must admit, a Rockwell would have been nice to have …

Altogether, we were finished by 9:30 a.m. By that time, the lines into the building were lining the sidewalk with people clutching treasured objects. Our time was up. We went home and took a nap.

Thanks, Roadshow, for visiting our little corner of the world — and please come again. We have more stuff!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Sandwiches for the graduation lunch bunch

6/8/11 Cook’s corner
Betty Kaiser

Sandwiches for the graduation lunch bunch

June is the month for family gatherings and graduation ceremonies. If you’re the host, your house can quickly fill up with visiting relatives who have come to catch up on family news and congratulate the graduate. And as soon as the ceremony has concluded, everyone will be hungry and ready to eat.

Sandwiches (the ultimate finger food) are the perfect choice to serve your guests. They can be prepared in advance and served hot or cold in just a few minutes once your prep work is done. It also helps if some guests contribute side dishes. That really eases the pressure.

Once you decide on a menu you’ll need to get busy a day or two before the event. If you decide to serve baked beans and potato salad, put the ingredients for baked beans in a crockpot and refrigerate. Cook and cool the potatoes for potato salad and chop the other ingredients. Assemble everything (minus the mayo) and refrigerate. Add mayo and seasonings the morning you’re serving.

I have found that sandwiches assembled on small dinner rolls are the perfect size for all ages. Costco (and most markets) have about a 3-inch soft roll that is perfect for a variety of fillings. They are mighty tasty served with egg salad topped with a cucumber slice, a black olive and lettuce. An old favorite combo of curried turkey, water chestnuts, grapes and almonds makes a nice crunchy filling.

The rolls also make a good dinner meal warmed with barbecue beef and topped with cheese. You can cook the meat the day before in the crockpot with your favorite BBQ sauce and reheat it the next day. (Last month’s brisket recipe makes especially good sandwiches.)

Or you can take a whole round loaf of bread and turn it into a delicious Italian Muffuletta sandwich. It’s also fun to have something to drink more festive than soda pop. So check out the following recipes for frosty cold fruit drinks to go along with your meal.



4 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey, white meat
1 small can water chestnuts, drained and diced
1 pound seedless green grapes, halved
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted and divided
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, or less, as desired
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Lettuce leaves
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained (if desired)

In a mixing bowl, mix turkey, water chestnuts, grapes, celery, and 1 1/2 cups almonds. In a separate bowl mix the mayonnaise with the curry and soy sauce; combine with turkey mixture. Chill for several hours. Serve on sandwich buns or bread garnished with the remaining almonds, pineapple chunks and lettuce.
Serves 8.


1 3- to 4-pound beef brisket
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium onions, sliced
1 16-ounce jar barbecue sauce*
Soft rolls

Carefully trim the meat of visible fat and season with salt and pepper. Place the onions in the bottom of the crock, lay the meat on top of them. (You may have to cut the brisket in half and stack the pieces.)

Pour about a half cup of the barbecue sauce over the meat and flip it around to coat it. Cover and let it cook for 9 to 10 hours on low.

Carefully remove the cooked meat from the crock and pour out the fat and juices, retaining the onions. Put the meat back in the crock, mix in the remaining barbecue sauce, and let it cook another half hour or so. (You could eat it now, but it's better if it soaks awhile.)

Slice the brisket across the grain (can also be chopped or shredded) and place it on a platter, discarding any fat. Cover it with sauce and let it sit 5 min. Serve on rolls, onions on the side. 8 to 10 servings.


4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 c. chopped green stuffed olives
1 c. chopped oil cured black olives, (pitted)
4-5 peperoncini, minced (bottled sweet peppers)
1/2 c. roasted red peppers, chunks
1 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh parsley
large pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. each oregano and basil
2 tbsp. white wine or balsamic vinegar

1 large round loaf bread
1/3 lb. salami, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. Provolone, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced in circles
1/2 lb. Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
1/3 c. Prosciutto or Capicola ham, thinly sliced

Combine ingredients for salad and allow to stand overnight so that flavors can mingle. Slice the bread in half, slicing off the top portion (like a cap) and scoop out some of the center of loaf. Drizzle oil from salad on both top and bottom halves, using a good deal of the mixture for the bottom half. Layer the olive salad, cold cuts, cheeses, and layer again until all ingredients are used. Top with bread top (cap). Slice like a pizza. Serves 6.

Orange Juice Soda
Southern Living June 2003

1 (12 ounce) can frozen, pulp-free orange juice concentrate
thawed and undiluted
2 (2 liter) bottles lemon-lime soft drink, chilled
1-2 fresh oranges, thinly sliced

At serving time, stir together orange juice concentrate and lemon-lime soft drink in large punch bowl. Serve over ice in individual glasses, garnished with an orange slice.

Téo’s Fruit Punch
Cooking Light May 2002

2 cups apple juice
2 (6 ounce) cans pineapple juice
1 (12 ounce) can cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
1 (6 ounce) can orange juice, undiluted, thawed
4 cups club soda, chilled

Combine first 4 ingredients; stir until blended. Add soda just before serving. Serve over ice. Serves 10 (1-cup each) drinks.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

Grandma's advice for grad grandson

Paul Linman

Grandma’s advice for grad grandson

I do my best thinking while working in the kitchen. So last week, while I was mixing up a batch of meatballs for the dogs, I was multi-tasking. My hands were working and my mind was contemplating my grandson’s graduation (with honors) from Ventura College in Calif.

Paul is 20 years old and moving on up to his uncles’ old stomping grounds at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he will major in Kinesiology (and please, don’t ask me what that is!). He’s not only a good student, but a caring, responsible and hard working young man.

However, like grandmothers everywhere, I tactfully wanted to add some words of wisdom to go along with his graduation gift. Parents give advice. Schools and churches give advice. Grandparents do too.

As I slid the meatballs into the oven, I began making a mental list and jotting down notes of what I wish that I had known when I was his age. In no particular order, my thoughts came out like this:

1. Life is a battle. It’s seldom easy and when it is, look out! It’s designed to challenge your abilities and sharpen your problem solving skills. Life can be hard but that’s not bad.

2. In life’s struggles you will grow strong, uncover your destiny and discover who you are. Look for those growth spurts.

3. Believe in yourself. You were made in God’s image. You are important. You have a purpose and a place in creation. There’s a reason you were put on this earth. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

4. Don’t whine or expect others to bail you out of your problems. Oprah Winfrey (the legendary advice giver of all time) repeatedly said something like this: “You are responsible for your life. Don’t expect anyone to bail you out of your messes but you.”

5. Expect the unexpected! Be flexible. Have a plan for your life but be willing to change when life throws you a curve ball.

6. Life is always a balance beam. Work hard to pay the bills but make time to have fun. Schedule vacations and time to relax.

7. Be financially frugal. Make a budget and live within it. If there’s no money in the “dining out” envelope, eat scrambled eggs and wait for the next payday. Starting out there’s never enough money at the end of the month … but it gets better.

8. Goofed up? Don’t be too hard on yourself. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. Learn from them and move on. The really big screw-ups make great stories to tell your grandchildren.

9. Live by the Golden Rule. You’ll never go wrong when you treat others with kindness and respect and an attitude of gratitude.

10. Live with integrity. What goes around comes around. Be a man (or woman) of your word. And don’t be afraid to apologize when you’re wrong — or say you’re sorry if you’re not to blame.

11. Do what you love but also learn to love what you do. Some jobs just aren’t loveable but they are necessary (like cleaning up after the dog!). Look at them as temporary necessities and focus on the future.

12. No matter how hard you try, some people won’t like you or will just be unreasonable. Accept it and move on.

13. Follow your heart when you chose your mate but chose wisely. You’ll be together a long time. In the end, family is all we’ve got. So be sure you’re not only ‘in love’ but ‘in sync’ about life styles, family values, finances, household responsibilities, children, etc.

After I pulled the meatballs out of the oven I looked at the above jotted notes and laughed. I remember being much younger than Paul and having similar advice given to me. I didn’t pay much attention to it. Intellectually, I knew all of this stuff. I was smart, attentive in classes and I thought I had all of the basics covered. He does too.

Eventually, I learned most of the above from experience. Or, as my dad would say “In the school of hard knocks.” For instance:

I learned there’s nothing like having your checking account overdrawn to teach you the value of not only having enough money in the bank but keeping good records to boot. It’s a life-long reality check.

Back in the day when we were in the restaurant business, I learned that sometimes people are just unreasonable. Once we had a customer who ordered his eggs ‘over easy’ three different times. Finally, we had our head chef cook them. No grease. No brown edges. They were perfect but unacceptable to the customer. Oy!

And I learned all about offering apologies to the general public at the Sentinel when I was working in the newsroom. Every Wed. morning, I dreaded the red blinking light on the telephone that meant I had made a mistake somewhere. I found it best to be quick to call, rectify the problem and get the pain over with.

So Paul, here’s my consolidated advice: First, live your life in confidence, with love, joy, peace and assurance. And live in the moment. We’re not promised tomorrow. We only have today.

Second, remember that God is good (it’s people that act crazy!).

Next, keep your family and good friends close but also smile at your enemies (you never know when you’re going to need their help).

And finally, always remember that grandma loves you.

Congratulations to you and all of this month’s graduates!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 
Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —