Chia Jam

August 15th, 2019

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for chia pudding with info on the benefits of chia seeds (, which I am sure most of you have not attempted because it is a rather strange concoction. But recently I saw a recipe for chia jam in Real Simple magazine that looked interesting. I tried it with their ingredients, which included honey and salt and water.  I substituted unsweetened fruit juice for the water, no salt, and monk fruit drops instead of the honey to make it vegan, so almost everyone could eat it (ex. people watching their salt and sugar intake). I found the results very satisfactory. Here is my recipe, inspired by the one from Real Simple magazine, below the info on monk fruit extract.

When I Googled Monk fruit extract on, here is what I found:

When monk fruit is fresh, the skin is green. Once the fruit is dried, however, the skin becomes brown. With that, monk fruit is said to have an extremely sweet taste. Evidence suggests the monks began using the fruit during the 13th century. From then, monk fruit was widely used in medical terms. Due to its low-calorie content, the herb is also used as a sugar alternative in beverages. Throughout its period of usage, monk fruit has been reported to have various healthful properties. In addition, some of the properties are backed by research. Here are numerous health benefits of monk fruit.

The article then lists these benefits:

  1. Safe for diabetics
  2. Suitable for the ketogenic diet (high in fat, low in carbs)
  3. Improves liver function
  4. Lowers cholesterol and triglicerides
  5. Promotes healthy weight management

Please go to the website for a detailed description of these benefits



Utensils:  Small saucepan, potato masher, wooden spoon, bowl,  glass jar(s)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5- 10 minutes
Categories: Vegan, no refined sugar and salt free

Fresh, Organic Berries


2 cups organic berries, washed and stems removed, if necessary. Cut berries,
such as strawberries or blackberries, into smaller pieces.
¼ cup filtered water or unsweetened, organic juice (ex. apple)
4-5 tsp. chia seeds (white)
1-2 drops monk fruit extract*
1 tsp. lemon or lime juice
*Can also use stevia


 Coarsely Mashed Berries


  1. Place berries in saucepan with water or juice. Place on low flame and as berries are simmering, mash them with potato masher to the consistency desired. Cook about 7 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Remove pan from heat. Add chia seeds and lemon or lime juice and monk fruit drops. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  3. When cool, pour jam into a jar and place in refrigerator. You can experiment with 4 tsp. stevia or 5 (next batch) to see how thickly the jam becomes once chilled.

Yield: Approximately one cup

Finished jam cooling before storing in small jar(s) in ‘fridge


Note: The first time I made the jam, I used organic blueberries, and the second time I used a mixture of organic raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries for a mixed jam. Both were good. I used organic juice with both batches.




Monkfruit extract on left and stevia on the right


Afterthought: I haven’t tried this idea yet, but will try with next batch: Adding twice as much water to creating a pourable sauce to use over fruit salad.



Cooking With My Sisters by Adriana and Mary Yolanda Trigiani, Part Two

August 8th, 2019

On Monday, I posted Part One of this review. Here in Part Two are some additional tips, quotes and recipes to show you how the memories learned from preparing meals shaped the lives of the Trigiani family.  Here is the link to Part one:…rigiani-part-one/.


NOTE: There was no photo of  just the polenta in the book, so I lifted one from the Internet. This recipe is actually part of another recipe. I wanted to post just the polenta, since I don’t eat chicken, which is the first part of the recipe. (ellensue)

The Polenta
(You can generally follow the instructions on any polenta package and you’ll do just fine.)

6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 cups cornmeal or polenta meal

Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt and olive oil or butter. Pour the cornmeal into the water slowly, stirring constantly — you don;t want lumps. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens.  To serve,prepare individual servings in the kitchen. Spoon the polenta on a dish and add a couple of pieces of chicken with sauce.  Put extra sauce on the table in case a guest likes a little extra.

A Tip from Mom: Buy coarse-ground cornmeal and make the polenta the old-fashioned way, stirred slowly; it’s better. A lot of restaurants serve a watery,pale concoction they call polenta, and it just doesn’t hold up to many sauces. For example, this dish (recipe below es) requires a hearty consistency in order to support the flavor of the special sauce.


Sautéed Mushrooms

Serves 4 to 6

Again, this photo is also from the Internet


1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound whole white mushrooms *
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white wine

In a large sauté pan, heat the butter. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer slowly for 45 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.
Place in a serving bowl and serve with your favorite dish. The sauce makes an excellent accompaniment for any many meat dish.
(Note: I would use the mushrooms over a medley of vegetables. ellensue)

A Tip from Pia (another sister): Really make this dish pop by adding a dash of hot sauce just before removing it from the heat.

Here are some additional quotes (See Part One for more). These show the strong link between memories of childhood and memories of meals around the kitchen table.

p. 36  Cooking with Grandmom was one way to get close to the roots we pulled up when we moved to Virginia. (They moved to Big Stone Gap, VA, which became a movie. es)

p. 80 But the best thing about the stuffed peppers is telling you about them, and all these other delightful dishes, brings me back to my mom’s kitchen.
I remember fall days in Big Stone Gap, when we would run home to be on time for dinner, and there was enough of a nip in the air that the kitchen window was fogged up from whatever Mom was cooking. Over dinner we would tell stories and strengthen our ties to one another. And this was possible because Mom’s kitchen was warm, inviting, creative, and reminiscent of all the kitchens in the family that came before ours.

p. 110 At home in Big Stone Gap, Mom always served a vegetable and a salad because she liked to make sure we got plenty of greens……Mom taught us how to make and toss the salad with oil and vinegar. (Remember, more oil than vinegar.) We never saw a bottled dressing in Ida’s kitchen. And, we ate the salad right on the big dinner plate.

Cooking With My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Italy to Big Stone Gap (200 pages) is published by Harper Publishing, New York, etc. (Originally published by Random House in 2004. First Harper Paperback published in 2017.) ($19.99)

P.S. I love this cookbook, not only because the recipes I want to try are not complicated, but also because it demonstrates the link between cooking together and family ties. Thank you Adriana and Mary Yolanda Trigiani! es