Grandma’s Cooking

Isn’t she just the cutest thing? And this is just one of several short films made by her grandson, a filmmaker who wanted to preserve his memories of her.

Grandma is 93-year-old Clara Cannucciari; her 30-year-old grandson Chris is the filmmaker. When Chris posted his films to YouTube, neither of them had any idea that a turbulent economy would make their series on Depression-era cooking a smash hit on the Internet.

Clara has had an interesting life, as this article describes. Watching her in the kitchen brings back my own “grandma memories”….maybe it will do the same for you  🙂

Here’s the link for the entire series of films, so you don’t miss out on any. Enjoy!

The Joy (and Savings) of Homemade Bread


It’s been probably twenty years since in-store bakeries became the rage in grocery stores. I remember walking into the store and smelling the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. I grabbed a bag of warm rolls and brought them home with anticipation.

But as good as they looked, they really didn’t have much taste. I tried that grocery store’s baked goods a few more times and finally decided that there was something they sprayed around the store that smelled like fresh bread, because the bread and rolls weren’t what was giving off such a great aroma.

Since then I’ve preferred my own baked goods. Several years ago, I got a bread machine as a gift. I hadn’t really wanted one, preferring to make my own bread the old-fashioned way, but once I tried the bread machine, I was hooked.

I especially liked the dough cycle: you could have the fun of shaping and baking the bread without the work of kneading the dough. And as far as I’m concerned, nothing smells as good as freshly baked homemade bread that tastes good, too.

At the grocery the other day, I saw a bag of dinner rolls for $2.49 in the bakery section. They didn’t look fresh, and in fact felt a bit hard. I thought $2.49 was a pretty steep price for day-old rolls. Those sad-looking rolls made me so glad to have my bread machine. I throw in a few ingredients in the morning, set the timer, and have lovely dough or even a baked loaf of bread when I want it at dinnertime.

I’ve had good luck with the recipes that came with my machine. But if you buy one secondhand, or are gifted with a used bread machine, you might want to visit this site for some good recipes.

BTW, I don’t use bread flour because it’s so expensive. I’ve had good luck with plain old (cheap) flour from Aldi’s. But if you’re picky about your bread, give bread flour a try.

Also, buying yeast in those tiny envelopes gets really expensive. Over at Sam’s Club, they sell two very large packages of yeast for less than $4. I freeze one and put the other in a Mason jar in the fridge, and it takes me quite a while to go through both. Definitely a money saver!

No, Not Money-Laundering….Honey-Laundering

Once I learned about the prevalence of high-fructose corn syrup in the foods we eat, and how it makes people fat, I began making even more foods from scratch using sugar or honey. I also like honey in my tea.

Now I find out that some of the honey being sold here in the U.S.A.  is actually made in China and then labeled as coming from a different country. Yes, the process really is called honey-laundering, and it’s becoming a real problem.

China is finally getting the negative attention it deserves for allowing all sorts of awful things in the foods it exports (see my recent post on fish), and is responding by sneaking its foods into this country using the subterfuge of mislabeling.

I’m going to have to find a local resource for honey, that’s for sure.

What’s for Dinner? Fish Raised on Sewage…Yum

I work hard to make sure my family eats nutritious meals. I’ll bet you do too. But even if you’re a cook-from-scratch kind of parent, it will do your family no good if the ingredients you use have toxins in them.

That’s why it’s so important that we know the sources of the food we buy. Other countries may not be as strict as we are when it comes to making sure food is not contaminated. Some don’t even check. I was buying newly affordable tilapia weekly until I learned that in China, where most of the tilapia comes from these days, fish raised for exporting live in filthy water full of sewage. We haven’t eaten tilapia since.

Then there was the news that melamine was found in baby formula. Even Chinese babies had died from this, yet China allowed it to continue until the global press publicized it, creating an outcry around the world.

Now we learn that French organic farmers have discovered that the imported-from-China soymeal they’ve been feeding their poultry is contaminated with melamine. Testing on the poultry has not shown contamination, but since the testing of the soymeal showed up to 30 times the allowable level of melamine (why is any amount allowed?), you have to wonder.

So French citizens who bought organic poultry from organic farmers at extra expense, presumably because they don’t want to eat poultry raised on antibiotics and who knows what else, got poultry that ate contaminated soymeal. I would be pretty ticked if I were them, and it makes me wonder what’s getting through to our food supply here in the U.S.

But we don’t even know where much of our food comes from. We have a six-year old country-of-origin labeling law that our government has not enforced. In fact, the USDA believes labeling should be voluntary, having already decreed that it’s not worth the cost.

I want all the food I buy to be labeled, and I don’t mean with useless phrases like “Distributed in the USA.” Yes, we know it’s distributed in the USA (duh)….what we want to know is, where did it come from? If it’s from China, I’ll take a pass. Given their track record, I just don’t trust them.