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Family Matters: Refocus on the Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching and with the weight of the economy, many people are struggling with family, finances and job situations.  Sometimes we get overwhelmed with things that matter only to the outside world and lose focus of what is really important for our family.

Make this holiday season a time to refocus on your kids and family:

1. Plan holiday meals and let your children help prepare the food.  Kids love to cook but a lot of times not given the opportunity to learn especially during the holidays when “everything has to be perfect”.  The perfect meal is one prepared by the entire family…when everyone is involved there is love, laughter and memories being made.  Yes, the kitchen will probably be a mess after you all get through, but is that what really matters?  Don’t let these times pass without enjoying your family to the fullest and teaching your kids the importance of working together to make something special.  Teaching your child to cook is a life lesson in more ways than one.

2. Sit and talk to your children about making gifts this holiday season for family and friends instead of purchasing them. Something made, you will find is priceless to the ones receiving it…the thought counts for so much more than the amount of money spent.  There are so many great things you can work together as a family to make that will be treasured for years to come by those receiving them (or enjoyed immediately if eaten).  Part of the fun of working together, as a family, is figuring out just the right item(s) you can make. You will find that making special gifts will require lots of “together time” as a family…a wonderful added benefit!

3. Find a family who might be struggling this holiday season, purchase food items from Brookshire’s and prepare a meal and deliver to them. One warm meal can make a difference; just ask someone who has had to do without one.  The cost is not much…the return is invaluable.  Teach your children the true joy of giving…it is the small things that make the largest impact in someone life.  Let your family be a blessing to someone else this holiday season.

Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!

Meet the Cheese Maker: Alessandro Cubeddu

 Presenting the cheese of the month along with recipes.

Cheese making is more than a science; it is an art form requiring the experience, education and passion of a skilled craftsman.

Alessandro Cubeddu’s journey began in the lush hills of Sardinia, Italy where his family has been making handcrafted Pecorino Romano cheese using time honored methods for over 30 years.

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Posted in: Cooking

Shop the Sale: Texas grapefruit

Everything is bigger and better in Texas – even the grapefruit.

I’m talking of course, about Texas Rio Star grapefruit, which are just now coming into their peak season, and which you’ll find on sale starting today at Brookshire’s.

To me, Rio Star grapefruit are just better than other kinds out there. The deep-red flesh is sweeter and juicier than the typical pink or white grapefruit from other parts of the country. Much of that is because these grapefruit have been bred to have a high sugar-to-acid ratio, but it also is due to the way they are handled. They are allowed to ripen on the trees down in south Texas, and then picked at peak freshness and rushed to the store.

You probably eat grapefruit by themselves, or maybe squeezed into juice, but this Vietnamese-inspired salad is a really interesting fusion of sweet, spicy, savory and tart, all in one refreshing salad.

Fish sauce and chili sambal are available in the Asian section in many larger stores. You can substitute the more common Sriracha sauce (commonly known as rooster sauce) for the chili sambal, but it will not be quite as hot. You can skip the fish sauce entirely, if you want, but the salad won’t be as complex or interesting without it.  If you skip the fish sauce, you may need to add a bit of salt to taste, as fish sauce is quite salty.

Vietnamese Style Grapefruit Salad
Serves 6

2 large grapefruit
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 medium size carrot, cut into matchsticks
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped, roasted peanuts

2 Tbs Fish sauce
1 1/2 Tbs lime juice, fresh-squeezed
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp chili sambal

Section and clean grapefruits.

In a large bowl, toss cucumber strips with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the salt to draw out excess water.

Mix together the ingredients for the dressing.

Place a small sauté pan on medium high heat and cook the shallots and garlic until shallots are caramelized, about 3 minutes, don’t burn.

Drain any excess water from cucumber and mix with carrots, caramelized shallots and garlic.

Add the mint, chopped peanuts, and dressing and toss well. Transfer to a plate or large bowl and serve.

Healthy Living: Better brushing, better teeth

You’ve been brushing your teeth since you could hold a toothbrush. But, unfortunately, for many of us, practice hasn’t made perfect: The American Dental Hygienists’ Association estimates that 75 percent of adults have some form of periodontal disease.

National Dental Hygiene Month, which is observed annually in October, has just concluded. And with your house probably full of Halloween candy this week, there’s no better time than now to, ahem, brush up on your brushing habits. Make sure you’re following current recommendations from dental health experts:

  • You don’t need a fancy electric toothbrush. An inexpensive one does the job just fine – as long as it has soft, rounded, nylon bristles. Harder bristles can damage teeth and gums.
  • Brushing properly takes time – at least two minutes! Most adults don’t brush that long. Take a timer into the bathroom and test yourself. Keep using the timer until you recognize what two minutes feels like, and you’ve retrained yourself to brush for the proper length of time.
  • Yes, you need to floss, too. Flossing daily helps eliminate dental plaque, which builds up between teeth, eating away at tooth enamel and irritating your gums. If you hate flossing or find it awkward, buy a floss holder, or use dental “picks” or flossers, little disposable plastic holders pre-strung with a little floss.
  • Flouride toothpastes are recommended for both adults and children by the American Dental Association. Flouride is recommended by most dentists because it both removes plaque and strengthens enamel, decreasing the risk of cavities and helping people retain their permanent teeth.
  • Replace your toothbrush at least every three months. Not only do the bristles wear out and become less effective, but old brushes can harbor bacteria that cause colds, flus or cold sores.

Over time, poor oral hygiene can lead to a host of problems – from cavities to gingivitis (gum inflammation) to other more painful and chronic diseases of the mouth, teeth and gums. Recent studies have even suggested that periodontal disease may even be linked to heart disease, though the connection requires much more study.

So pick up that brush!

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Product Talk: Dried beans, simplified

Dried beans, simplifiedExcept for the whole time and convenience thing, dried beans are so much better than canned beans, in so many ways. They’re cheaper, they taste richer and more flavorful, and you can better control the fat and, especially, the sodium content.

Of course, the time and convenience thing is pretty big. Not everybody thinks ahead enough so they have time to soak beans overnight and then cook them a few hours too. But what if I told you something big about dried beans – that you don’t have to soak them first?

Yes, I know that goes against pretty much everything you have probably been told about beans, and what you and your family have probably been doing for years. But it’s true. It’s what cooks do in many other countries, including Mexico. And more American cooks are finally coming around to this idea.

The main idea behind soaking dried beans was to diminish cooking time. But newer varieties of beans have been bred to absorb water more quickly, so they cook more quickly anyway. Additionally, some cooking experts say that soaking beans strips them of some of the flavor.

So you can take the beans straight from the bag into the pot, and they’ll still be done in a couple of hours.

I’ve cooked dried beans – pintos, black beans, navy beans, you name it – both ways, with soaking and without. And really, about the only time soaking seems to make a difference is when the beans were old, and had been sitting in the back of the pantry for a year or two. (Actually, if dried beans don’t ever get soft enough to eat, that’s probably the problem, not your cooking technique; your beans were probably old.)

The other thing you ought to try with dried beans? Don’t wait to salt them till the end. Again, that’s what most of us have been trained to do, believing that if you salt them earlier, they’ll never soften. However, again, I have found that not to be true. Try adding salt mid-way or three-quarters through the cooking time. That way the beans, not just the broth, get well-seasoned.


Dine-In: Rustic Corn Chowder

I know that most people think of corn as a summer vegetable – and yes, it’s hard to beat fresh roasting ears, just steamed or grilled with butter.

But as an ingredient in other dishes, I really enjoy corn most during the fall. There is something about its sweetness and hearty flavor that goes especially well in soups and casseroles and cold-weather dishes like savory corn pudding. This corn chowder is really too thick, rich and filling for a summer supper – but it’s perfect now that temperatures have finally started to cool down just a bit.

Thanks to extended growing seasons and better shipping and handling, you can find good, fresh sweet corn-on-the-cob in the produce section year-round these days. You can substitute good-quality frozen corn in this recipe if you really must, but the taste won’t be quite as bright and the texture may not be quite as good. If you are substituting frozen corn, you’ll need about five cups; keep two cups whole and use as is, and run the other three cups through your food process or blender briefly to get a roughly pureed texture. 

Corn Chowder
Makes about 2 quarts

10 ears corn husks and silks removed
3 to 4 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 Tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3 Tbs  Unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
3/4  lb large red potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Bay leaf
1tsp thyme leaves, chopped fine
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp table salt
ground black pepper

Stand corn on end. Using chef’s knife cut kernels from 4 ears of corn (you should have about 3 cups); transfer to medium bowl and set aside. Grate kernels from remaining 6 ears on large holes of box grater, then firmly scrape any pulp remaining on cobs with back of knife (you should have 2 generous cups kernels and pulp). Transfer to separate bowl and set aside.

Sauté bacon in Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, until crisp and golden brown. Reduce heat to low, stir in butter and onions, cover pot, and cook until softened, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add stock. Add potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, milk, grated corn and pulp; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved corn kernels and heavy cream and return to simmer; simmer until corn kernels are tender yet still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes longer. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper to taste and serve immediately.


Family Matters: Safe cold and flu relief for babies

As a parent, it’s heartbreaking when your baby is coughing, sneezing, crying and clearly suffering from the symptoms of a bad cold.

Of course you want to offer relief. But even though it may seem tempting to give a suffering baby just a tiny bit of cough or cold medicine intended for older children, there are extremely good reasons you should never do so without seeking the advice of your doctor first.

First, a refresher is in order, especially if you did not have an infant at the time the rules changed: Over-the-counter cough and cold products for infants under age 2 were voluntarily removed from the market by manufacturers in 2008, responding to concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration. Now, even cold medicines for older children carry a warning that they are not to be used in children under age 4.

The new rules apply to products containing these decongestants:

  • Ephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Phenylephrine

They also apply to these antihistamines:

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Brompheniramine
  • Chlorpheniramine

There had been numerous reports of illness and even some deaths in children under age 2 who had been given these products, according to FDA reports. Often, this was due to misuse or over-dosage by caregivers who may have misunderstood label instructions.  In addition, these medications have little effect on the duration or severity of an infant’s cold symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

It is important that parents do not attempt to modify doses of medications meant for older children and give them to infants anyway. For instance, do not attempt to guess what a “safe” dose of a children’s cough medicine would be for your six-month-old.

Instead, seek a physician’s advice for any symptoms that seem particularly severe, especially for infants under three months of age. For babies three months and over, you should probably call your doctor if a cough lasts more than a week, a fever hovers at 102 degrees or your child refuses fluids.

In the meantime, attempt to bring relief with other, safer remedies, approved by the FDA:

Infant formulas of acetaminophen or ibuprofen: Usually provided in a liquid form administered by droppers, these medicines can be used to reduce fever, aches and pains. Choose your favorite name brand, or select store brands/generics that provide precisely the same medication at a cost savings. Acetaminophen is considered safe for babies over three months, and ibuprofen is considered OK for those over 6 months.

Cool mist humidifier: This can help baby’s swollen nasal passages shrink, allowing for easier breathing.

Plenty of clear fluids: Staying well-hydrated will help flush cold viruses out of your baby’s system faster.

Saline nose drops or spray: Helps relieve stuffy noses by thinning out mucus. In children under one year, you can try combining nasal drops with a bulb syringe or aspirator, to suck out excess mucus. (Children over about age 1 often actively protest any attempt at suctioning.)

Shop the sale: Chili fixins’

No food says “fall” quite like chili. So this week, we’re making it easy for you to whip up a warm, comforting chili supper. We’ve got all the fixins’ on sale this week at your neighborhood Brookshires – including chili meat, Food Club canned tomatoes, Jiffy corn bread mix, and two famous chili kits that make it easy to make a great pot of chili.

Both of these kits  – Wick Fowler’s Two-Alarm Chili Kit and Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Chili Kit – contain all the pre-measured spices you need, and let you make it as hot or mild as you dare. They both make a darned good pot of chili. And both kits have a pretty good story attached.

Wick Fowler’s Two-Alarm Chili Kit: The late Wick Fowler was a distinguished Texas newspaperman – he was a foreign correspondent during World War II  – but he became most famous for his chili and the chili-cooking competition he helped found in West Texas.

Back in the 1960s, Texas newspaper columnist Frank Tolbert began writing frequently about Texas chili and founded something called the Chili Appreciation Society. Fowler, quite the chili cook, joined the cause, and in 1967 he competed in the first World Championship Chili Cookoff in Terlingua  in far west Texas.  His recipe is now reproduced in the seasoning kit sold under Fowler’s name.

The Terlingua chili cookoff was mostly a goof by Fowler, Tolbert and friends, but it had staying power. Now called the Original Terlingua International Frank X. Tolbert – Wick Fowler Championship Chili Cookoff, it celebrates its 45th year in November, and has even spawned a second “world championship” chili cookoff in the ghost town of Terlingua. More than 10,000 chiliheads usually attend.

Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Chili Kit: To most people, Shelby is known for his career as a car designer and driver – he created the classic ‘60s muscle car that’s now known to collectors as the Shelby Mustang. But the native Texan had a lesser-known hobby  of cooking chili.

He helped Fowler, Tolbert and other friends launch the first Terlingua championship, and later turned his own recipe into the kit that bears his name today. The company has since been sold, however, and Shelby is no longer associated with it personally. Still, the easy-to-use kit makes a nice, spicy bowl of red.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

1 cup baking mix (Bisquick)
1/3 cup Full Circle Fat Free Milk
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs Food Club Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 carrots, diced
1/3 cup chopped onions
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 (10 3/4 oz) can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven 400° F. Spray 6 ramekins with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl combine baking mix, milk and egg; mix well. Set aside.  In a skillet add olive oil and chicken; cook until chicken is browned. Add carrots and onions to skillet; cook until slightly tender. In a medium bowl combine chicken, carrots, onions, green peas, celery, soup and chicken broth; mix well. Pour vegetables into ramekin and top with baking mix batter. Bake pies 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 304, Fat: 10 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 98 mg, Sodium: 652 mg, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 29 g

© 2011, Brookshire Grocery Co.  Nutrient counts are rounded to the nearest whole number.  All dietary and lifestyle changes should be supervised by a physician.

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Posted in: Cooking

Healthy Living: Think Pink

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – an annual observation that promotes education, awareness and empowerment regarding this potentially deadly disease.

This year, it’s estimated that nearly 40,000 Americans will die of breast cancer, and more than 230,000 new cases will be diagnosed just in the United States, according to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure, the Dallas-based foundation that has been fighting breast cancer since 1982. Most doctors believe that the best weapon against breast cancer is early detection. If the cancer is not discovered until its causing symptoms, it has likely progressed to a more serious stage, and possibly has grown beyond just breast tissue.

Early detection saves lives!

So, not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month but every month, please join Brookshire’s in the fight against breast cancer. Following just three simple steps will help in early detection.

Step 1: Mammograms: Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.

Step 2: Clinical Breast Exam: Clinical breast exams by your doctor or nurse should be part of a periodic health exam about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older.

Step 3: Breast Self-Awareness: Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their doctor or nurse. Breast self-exams should be part of every woman’s monthly routine starting by age 20; to help yourself remember, do your self-exam at roughly the same time every month.

It takes only a few minutes a month to take charge of your own health. Remember, together, we are the cure.

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Copyright © 2010-2014, Brookshire’s. All rights reserved.
The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

Healthy Living

Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

Shop the Sale

On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

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Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

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Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.

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