February 2018
Homeplace & Community

The Co-op Pantry

Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual holiday celebrated on Feb. 14. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

I thought I would include some Valentine’s Day trivia. The cards, candy and flowers we acquired from England. In Slovenia, it is celebrated as the first day to work in the vineyards and fields. Shakespeare mentioned Valentine’s Day in "Hamlet." In Latin America, it is common for friends to perform acts of appreciation for each other.

The United States has the distinction of it being a highly commercialized celebration. We send roughly 2 million Valentine’s Day cards per year (not counting the ones kids give each other at school). Most people spend well over $100 on their Valentine each year. That makes Valentine’s Day sales to be roughly $20 million!

Whatever Valentine’s Day means to you, have a great time.

~ Mary

 

For the month of March, we are looking for recipes featuring bananas, celery, crab meat or peanuts, and ones for sauces.

April’s recipes will feature broccoli, carrots, crawfish and garlic, and ones for grilled cheese.

We are always interested in anyone who would be willing to be interviewed and share some of her … or his … favorite recipes with us. Contact us if you are interested.

Get those recipes rolling in!

~ Editor

 

Mary Delph is an associate editor with AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Jena Klein is AFC’s Wellness Program Coordinator. You may email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

CHOCOLATE NUT BARK

2 cups semisweet, bittersweet or milk chocolate chips, melted
1½ cups assorted nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.) plus more for garnish

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. (Take care to avoid wrinkles.)

In a medium bowl, combine chocolate and nuts. Scrape mixture onto foil and spread to an approximate 12x9 rectangle. Sprinkle with additional finely chopped nuts, if desired. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.

Transfer bark and foil to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1½-inch pieces.

Tip: To melt chocolate, microwave on medium for 1 minute. Stir. Continue microwaving on medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted. Or place chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.

 

STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB SQUARES

Cooking spray
Crust
1 cup white whole-wheat flour or all- purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
Filling
2 cups coarsely chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed), plus more for garnish
2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Heat oven to 350°. Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and generously coat with cooking spray.

Crust

In a medium bowl, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add oil and butter. Using fingertips, blend into flour mixture until evenly combined. Mixture will be a little crumbly. Firmly press dough into prepared pan. Bake until just barely beginning to brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes.

Filling

In a medium saucepan, combine strawberries, rhubarb and water. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until fruit is very soft and mostly broken down, 4-6 minutes.

Into a medium bowl, pour through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract all liquid. Pour strained juice into a glass measuring cup. You need 1 cup strained juice; remove any extra or add a little water if short. Stir lemon/lime juice into fruit juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt until well combined. Whisk in eggs. Stir in juice mixture.

Pour filling over crust. Bake until just set, 15-20 minutes. (The center should still be a little jiggly – it will firm up as it cools.) Let cool to room temperature in pan on a wire rack, about 1½ hours. Gently lift out of pan all in one piece using foil’s edges. Cut into 9 squares.

Garnish with fresh strawberries and dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, just before serving.

 

PRETTIEST SWEETHEART CAKE

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and egg whites, called for on cake mix box
1 container fluffy white frosting
Red food color

Heat oven to 350° for regular cake pans, 325° for coated cake pans. Grease or lightly spray bottoms only of one 8-inch round and one 8-inch square pan.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter into pans.

Bake square pan 25-29 minutes, round pan 29-34 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cut round cake in half. Put square cake on tray with one point toward you. Place cut side of each half round against one of top sides of square cake to make a heart. Tint frosting with a few drops food color. Frost cake with frosting. Store loosely covered. You can decorate the cake with candy flowers, sprinkles or anything else you want.

Note from Mary: I know this may be a bit hard to visual in your head, but just follow directions, point the cake pieces as directed and you will get a beautiful heart.

 

STRAWBERRY FLOWERS

12 large fresh strawberries, rinsed
1 package (3-ounce) cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon sour cream

Slice stems from strawberries to form a flat base. Place strawberries on cutting surface, pointed end up. With sharp knife, carefully slice each strawberry in half vertically to within ¼ inch of base. Cut each half into 3 wedges to form 6 petals. (Do not slice through base). Pull petals apart slightly.

In small bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and sour cream until light and fluffy. With pastry bag and star tip or small spoon, fill strawberries with cream cheese mixture.

Note from Mary: Please cut carefully and do not cut through base or your strawberry is ruined!

 

CHOCOLATE-DIPPED STRAWBERRIES

1 pint (2 cups, 18-20 strawberries) medium-large strawberries
½ cup semisweet chocolate or white vanilla baking squares
1 teaspoon shortening or vegetable oil

Gently rinse strawberries and dry on paper towels (berries must be completely dry). Line cookie sheet with waxed paper.

In 1-quart saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate/vanilla squares and shortening, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Dip lower half of each strawberry into mixture; allow excess to drip back into saucepan. Place on cookie sheet.

Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until chocolate/vanilla is firm, or until ready to serve. Store covered in refrigerator so chocolate does not soften (if made with oil, chocolate will soften more quickly at room temperature).

Note from Mary: Super easy and delicious. Make some in both chocolate and white, and you will have a dish that is fit for a king.

 

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
¼ cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
Cooking spray, for pan
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups heavy cream, divided
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine strawberries and 3 tablespoons sugar. Toss until coated. Refrigerate for an hour.

Heat oven to 400°. Spray 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour in 1½ cups heavy cream. Stir until just combined. Drop dough into prepared pan and press down evenly.

Bake until edges are golden and a toothpick comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, make whipped cream topping: In a large bowl using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat remaining heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

To serve, slice cake into 12 pieces. Top bottom shortcake with sugared strawberries, then second shortcake. Top with whipped cream.

 

SUPER HEALTHY CABBAGE SOUP

Olive oil spray
½ yellow onion
1 cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups nonfat, low-sodium beef broth
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup green beans
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped zucchini

Spray a large pot with olive oil spray. In a skillet over medium-high heat, fry onions, carrots and garlic for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and carrots soften. Add broth, tomato paste, tomatoes, cabbage, green beans and all spices. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until veggies are all tender. Add zucchini and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.

Note from Mary: I am including this just in case you have stuck to your resolution to lose weight! It is colorful, healthy and delicious.

FEBRUARY HEALTHY RECIPE

HEALTHY ITALIAN VEGGIE SOUP

Serving size: 2 cups = ¾ bread, 1 veggie, 1¾ meat and ¾ fat
1 pound ground round (lean ground beef)
2 cups water
1 (5-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 can red kidney beans
1 cup diced or sliced carrots
1 beef bouillon cube
1 cup celery (may substitute mushrooms)
2 (14½-ounce) cans Italian tomatoes
1 cup onions, diced
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt, optional
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup French style green beans, frozen or canned
½ cup small macaroni or 1 can whole kernel corn

In a pot, brown beef. Drain. Add all other ingredients, except cabbage, green beans and macaroni (or corn). Bring to boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Add cabbage, green beans and macaroni (or corn). Return to boil. Simmer till tender. (You may add water to make thinner if you prefer.)

Pricilla Russell

 

Since it is so cold outside while I am writing this (good soup weather) plus two of the categories for February are Heart Healthy and cabbage – it made me think of this recipe. I love, love, love this recipe! It has been one of my favorites for years. It was originally submitted by Pricilla Russell (retired executive administrative assistant) and is in the original AFC cookbook, 1999, "Southern and Then Some!" Hope you all enjoy it as much as I have over the years. Again, this is a personal favorite. Enjoy!!! ~ Jena