The Superior Survival Cracker

ritz-cream_cheese_pineapple_dip_xmas_treats_1960s_copyright_m-j_de_mestertonI have published, since 2006, lists of foods to stock in case of emergencies or shortages. Usually, the crackers or biscuits called “soda crackers” or “saltines” were included. After purchasing several large boxes of Premium Saltines–“improved” with sea salt, which sounded mighty appealing, I’ve concluded that saltines ought NOT to be included! Having stored these new “family sized” cartons for two or three months at normal room-temperature, unopened, and then hauling them out to use, on two separate occasions and with two different lots and dated boxes, the traditional saltine crackers had gone “off” and tasted abominable. This lack of longevity had happened with other brands before the Premium saltines, and I didn’t expect it from that vaunted source.

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The same storage-and-use process was observed with Ritz at my American house. These simple, buttery-tasting crackers had not a tinge of staleness after many moons of being stored in a low cupboard unopened in their box. Even those that had been opened and subsequently sealed showed NO hint of old age after as many as six months. Ritz crackers have many applications, for example they’re used in Mock Apple Pie, a decades-old North American austerity dish.

I’ll never even consider buying saltines or soda crackers in future from any manufacturer. Instead, I’ll be loyal to one sort of cracker and only one U.S. brand, because all this experimentation is for the birds! Oh, those little darlings would love to have any little bits of crackly carbohydrate when they’re no longer palatable to humans, so if you live in the country, do consider smashing those slightly rancid crackers and feeding them to wild birds. Here at Elegant Survival, we are averse to wasting comestibles, and believe in conservation. I’m aware that, just as feeding animals at the zoo is prohibited for good reason, there are those who believe it’s disrupting the balance of nature to feed birds, but considering the scores of dead owls bobbing up on Northwest U.S. roads, and the scourge of dying bees that seems to come and go mysteriously, perhaps a benign treat for our wild critters–as long as they’re not destructive rodents–is a good thing.

©M-J de Mesterton 2017

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Deep-Fried Gyoza

gyoza_deep-fried_copyright_m-jeanne_de_mesterton_elegant_cookGyoza skins were filled with health-promoting ingredients: purple cabbage, cooked adzuki beans, celery, carrot, red onion, cooked brown rice, chopped umeboshi plums and miso; I sealed them with an egg-wash and then the gyoza dumplings were deep-fried in peanut oil and drained on paper towels. I served half of these and froze the rest (it’s the only way to keep them; storing these deep-fried pockets of finely minced vegetables, legumes and rice in the fridge will make them too soft). The frozen “gyozas” will be spread in a single layer and reheated in a hot oven. @M-J de Mesterton 2017

M-J’s Gyoza Filling

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My gyoza (Japanese dumpling) fillings, which vary week-to-week according to what I have in the refrigerator and pantry, always include some fresh vegetables. This week’s mixture, pictured below, contains fresh carrots, raw celery, red onion, fresh ginger, dried parsley, mung beans boiled in green tea, cooked brown rice and a little miso. It’s a great way to disguise health-promoting ingredients that men and children usually won’t consume, even in one’s most cleverly-concocted smoothies.  My sauce for the gyoza dish is composed of orange juice, soy sauce and a little home-made red chile oil. A bowl of filling like this one is enough for a whole packet of 47 gyoza skins, and after they are cooked, these dumplings can be frozen and easily re-heated. ©M-J de Mesterton, January 19th, 2017

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Eggs Help Prevent Stroke and Heart Disease

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One large egg typically contains six grams of high-quality protein, the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (a substance in egg yolks), as well as significant amounts of the important vitamins E, D, and A.

Vitamin E has been proven to reduce the risk of coronary attacks in people with heart disease, while lutein helps to protect against clogging of the arteries.

A study concluded at EpidStat Institute in November, 2016 found that consuming just one egg a day reduces risk of stroke by 12 percent. The study’s principal investigator, Epidemiologist Dr. Dominik Alexander, said: “Eggs do have many positive nutritional attributes, including antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. They are also an excellent source of protein, which has been related to lower blood pressure.”

U.S. scientists have found that, contrary to traditional perceptions acquired from decades of less rigorous research, consuming eggs had no association with coronary heart disease, which is on record as the leading cause of death worldwide.

©M-J de Mesterton 2017

M-J’s Article about Eggs, Published in 2010

Eggs don’t cause heart disease, as the medical industry previously believed. And here is more good news: a research team at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge determined that women on a weight-loss regimen who ate an egg with toast and jelly each morning lost twice as many pounds as those who had a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories without the accompanying egg.

Huevos (Eggs), by Spanish Court Painter Diego Velasquez

Eggs are nutritious, convenient, useful in thousands of recipes, and are a relatively inexpensive source of high-quality protein.

One large egg, which represents less than 4 percent of the total daily calorie intake of a person who consumes 2000 calories per day, provides 10 percent of the Daily Value for protein, 15 percent of the Daily Value for riboflavin, and 4 percent or more of the Daily Value for several other nutrients, including vitamins A, B6 and B12; folate; iron; phosphorus; and zinc. Eggs also provide choline, which is  essential in the human diet, and is credited for helping to create healthy babies during pregnancy. Because the percentage of the  recommended  daily amount for many nutrients provided by an egg is greater than the proportion of total calorie intake that the egg represents, the egg more than pulls its weight nutritionally. Most of the vitamins and minerals in eggs are found in the yolk; protein, however, is found in both the yolk and the white.

Recent research indicates that egg eaters are more likely than non-egg eaters to have diets that provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients. This seems to be partly due to the nutritional contribution of the eggs themselves and partly due to the fact that the inclusion of eggs in the diet is an indicator of a desirable eating pattern that includes breakfast.

Eggs can be prepared easily, in a variety of ways. They keep well  in the refrigerator for about three weeks, and therefore an individual can easily use up the dozen eggs in a carton before they spoil. Because most egg recipes involve short cooking times, eggs are convenient for the person with little time to prepare meals.

Eggs have several important physical and chemical properties that help make recipes work. They thicken custards, puddings and sauces; emulsify and stabilize mixtures such as mayonnaise and salad dressings; coat or glaze breads and cookies; bind ingredients together in dishes such as meat loaf and lasagne; eggs are used to clarify coffee and soups; retard crystallization in boiled candies and frostings; and leaven some types of baked goods such as cakes, cookies, soufflés, buns and sponge cakes.

Eggs are economical, especially when compared to other high-protein foods. For people who are trying to balance their budgets as well as their diets, serving eggs occasionally instead of meat, poultry, or fish is very economical.

One other  benefit of eggs is that they are a functional food—that is, a food which provides health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition. Eggs contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, two components which are believed to have health benefits.

Stocking up on dehydrated eggs would be a wise move right now.  There are many sources of dried or powdered eggs on ebay and the internet. I prefer to dessicate and process them at home. Here is my procedure:

Emergency Powdered Eggs

Cook the desired amount of eggs in a non-stick pan until they are scrambled dry. On a a large baking-sheet, place your scrambled eggs in a thin layer. Use a French chef’s knife or a pastry cutter to break them into smaller pieces. In a low oven around 130 degrees Fahrenheit, bake this tray of eggs for eight hours or until it is devoid of moisture. Using a hand-mill, meat-grinder, food-mill or a blender, process the eggs until they turn to powder. Store the dried egg powder in an air-tight, food-grade container.

©M-J de Mesterton 2010

Reversal of Long-Held Beliefs on Dietary Fats

Additional Information on Foods Containing Cholesterol

A heart specialist from the University of Ireland, Professor Sherif Sultan, notes:

  • Current dietary guidelines are outmoded and desperately need to be revised.
  • Despite decades-old recommendations, high carbohydrate diets should be avoided.
  • Diets consisting largely of foods high in good-quality fats are the healthiest.
  • This essential changeover will stem the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and weight-related heart problems.

M-J’s Elegant, Simple Christmas Table

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A simple Christmas Day luncheon for two included home-made waffles, strawberries cooked with cane sugar  into an elegant sauce, heavy cream whipped with powdered sugar and vanilla, crispy bacon, chopped walnuts, maple syrup and butter. A percolator of Eight O’Clock Columbian Peaks coffee* stood ready to serve.©M-J de Mesterton, Christmas 2016

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*Eight O’Clock coffee, the whole-bean Columbian Peaks, medium-roasted  variety, is my standard, as long as it’s available. I keep the opened, clipped bag in an air-tight red container as shown. Company instructions say to keep the beans or ground coffee at room-temperature, not in the freezer or refrigerator.

©M-Jeanne de Mesterton

Elegant Dressing for Evening

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Above: a proper evening gown, full-length and low-cut at the bodice; this dress is more appropriate for an evening with dinner and dancing than for cocktail parties. (See below.)

Below: “Your Editor”, Painter M-J de Mesterton wears a lacy, cotton-lined dress that can be worn at afternoon tea, or at cocktails/drinks parties year-round. Also, it is suitable for less formal dinners and nightclubs. Long sleeves that leave space for bracelets make this knee-length gown very elegant, and the round neckline accommodates big pearls. Amazon.com has similar dresses for as little as 39.00. Blue suede shoes with comfortable three-inch wedge-heels are by Clarks.

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Making Deep-Fried Gyoza

noritake_rosewood_antique_fried_gyoza_copyright_m-j_de_mestertonmaking_gyoza_jfc_wrappers__m-j_de_mesterton_2017This batch of gyoza was made with a filling consisting of finely chopped carrots, celery, ginger, parsley, dill, matcha (dry green tea), miso, turmeric, cooked brown rice and adzuki beans. I used gyoza skins from Japan Foods, Inc., and sealed them with an egg-wash~~M-Jgyoza_deep_frying_elegant_cook_m-jgyoza_noritake_bowls_m-j_de_mesterton
Below: a Salad of Beneficial Daikon Radish and Romaine Lettuce, Dressed with a Simple Vinaigrette @M-J de Mestertongyoza_with_daikon_salad_m-j_elegant_cook

Clothes Unmade the Man

If one cannot see immediately what is wrong with this lamentable suit, then the clothing industry has accomplished its apparent mission of brainwashing an unwitting, mysteriously willing public into believing that the swill they’re pumping out is anything but poison. I really miss Roger Moore and Sean Connery as James Bond. No misanthropic designer was making their legs look short while their torsos look too long, and giving their feet the appearance of wearing over-sized clown shoes. O tempora, o mores….

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Today’s tailors have totally lost the plot. When the actor playing James Bond is not “suited” properly, what hope is there for the rest of us?~~M-J

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Ugliest Suit in the Movies, Designed by Tom Ford and Worn by Daniel Craig as “James Bond”

And now a breath of fresh air, because after years of the same old hip-huggers or “low-pants”, billowing shirt-waists that cannot be tucked-into them, neckties that end at the nether-region, skin-tight, truncated trousers that end above the shoes, lateral wrinkles from cloth being pulled to the sides, a man’s suit of clothing that doesn’t make a monkey out of him seems downright innovative:

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Christmas Present; Christmas Past

My Christmas Cakes, 2010 and 2016–Always White with Royal Icingelegant_cook_christmas_cake_copyright_m-j_de_mesterton

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M-J’s Classic Christmas Cookies

I have been enjoying these festive shortbread biscuits since I was a child. 

One half-pound of butter

Two and a half cups of flour

One cup of powdered sugar

One tablespoon of milk (full-fat, of course)

One teaspoon of vanilla (imitation vanilla is just as good as the real thing)

One egg yolk mixed with two tablespoons of cream (to brush on top, as a base for sprinkles–adds nice flavour, believe it or not)
If you are going to use icing and a piping bag to decorate these Christmas cookies, skip this.

Method:

The ingredients, except for the egg yolk and cream, are mixed together and rolled out to a quarter (1/4) inch thickness. Then cookie-cutters are employed; the things are brushed with egg yolk/cream and sprinkled with coloured sugar. Sometimes I prefer to decorate the cookies with Swedish pärlsokker, or white pearl sugar. Transfer the cut-out cookies to an upside-down cookie-sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

©2007

M-J de Mesterton  

ElegantChristmasFlowers©M-JdeMesterton

christmas_pinkie_wye_valley_goodiesWye Valley Specialities for Christmastide from Our Dear Friend Peter King

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Ideals Christmas Magazine, 1947

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Elegant Winter Dressing with M-J

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Above: M-J de Mesterton in a Tibbett Duffel Coat of Elysian Wool, Insulated Aigle Boots from France; a Mongolian Cashmere Scarf by Johnstons of Elgin, Scotland; a White Fox Hat Made in Helsinki; a Plaid Tweed Skirt, Black Leather Cashmere-Lined Gloves from Italy, and a Walking Stick Made of Scotch Broom

Wear warm clothes when it’s cold outside and inside. The days of women showing their bare arms year-round just because an occupant of the White House does it to show off her biceps are coming to a close in about three weeks.  The current president has, since 2009, kept the oval office at a balmy 85° year-round, as though he were in Hawai’i, while instructing the citizenry to “tighten your belts”. The rest of us, if we have heat at all, keep our places at 68° or even cooler, thanks to the punitive cost of fuel.

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Above: on Christmas Day, I’m wearing a turtleneck under a round-necked dress, nylon stockings, a silk & cashmere pashmina, and faux-fur-lined tall leather boots. Most winter days, I’d be wearing tweed and sweaters.

Elegant Dressing for Autumn: Classic Tweed Travelling Suit

M-J de Mesterton in Aquascutum Tweed Suit, Her Perennial Favourite

Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry. Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.

My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where  hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.

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Dining at Downton: thanks to cocktails, aperitifs and wines, scantily-clad ladies there could abide the evening without shivering. Or maybe not; Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for the series, and may have just assumed that women dressed like flappers in most situations because it was the Roaring Twenties. I doubt that 1920s women were so silly, but there have always been nonsensical followers of fashion, like the ones who are now wearing peep-toed shoes without stockings all winter long in cold climates. My grandmother, who was born in the Victorian Age, told me that to be beautiful, one must suffer–I know that freezing’s not what she meant. Even body-heat from large groups at table does not take the chill off England’s grand country houses for most months of the year; shoulders are usually covered with something at dinner, such as a little fur garment or shawl that could be removed later in the evening for dancing. And no self-respecting woman would be standing about the house during winter in just a sleeveless gown.

Speaking of winter dressing and silly followers of fashion, here is a post that I made here at Elegant Survival News in December, 2011:

Talking Heads Clad Badly and Barely-Shod

Summer Dress and Peep-Toe Shoes in December?!

Why is the anchorwoman wearing a sleeveless summer dress in cold NYC on December 6th? Are biceps something that female talking heads suddenly find a crying need to bare, even in freezing temperatures? Are they using too much energy, in an effort to keep tropically warm indoors? Is it seasonally appropriate to wear bare-toed shoes on wintry days, as the woman in red is doing, or sandals (the first lady wore sandals at a Kennedy Center gala last weekend) in December? I don’t think so. These women are on a national television show, displaying their irresponsible, energy-inefficient lifestyles before the public, as if to say that a size XXX carbon-footprint is desirable. The rest of us are wearing wool and tweed, living in homes with little-or-no  heat most of the time.

In an Alpine Climate, January: Dressing in Furry Boots, a Scottish Hand-Made Fair Isle Sweater, and an Austrian Wool Skirt

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Making Croutons

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A half-loaf of home-made sourdough bread was a couple days old, and tired of being stored in the fridge. I decided to make croutons with it for the week’s luncheon salads. I poured olive oil, spices, parsley and fresh rosemary into a Pop-It storage box (made with safe materials in Italy), then tossed the bread squares in and shook the thing with all my might to coat them well. With ambient heat from the oven while baking the croutons, a new loaf of bread was rising nearby. Sliced thinly, the croutons were ready after ten minutes in a 350° oven. Cooled croutons were poured into elegant jars to be used at table. And they won’t need to be stored for long; these croutons will quickly be poured out onto salads. @M-J de Mesterton

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Outsized Fruits & Vegetables; Chicken on Steroids?

I hadn’t gone shopping in a while, so when I came upon these grapes and jalapeño peppers at Albertson’s a month ago, they seemed normal at first. At home, they looked larger than life all of a sudden, like the Grapes that Took Over the World, and Jalapeños as Big as Texas. They may be genetically-modified (in fact, I’d put money on it). Yeah, them grapes were slightly smaller than golf-balls, and twenty years ago women would have been runnin’ scared at the sight of ’em. Those peppers ain’t just big, they are hotter than Hades. Talk about getting more bang for your buck–for all I know, the whole lot is deadly poison. Sure as shootin’, I am not going back to that store for more. The chicken breasts we bought there were just enormous, probably from a fowl critter named Dolly (in honor of the lamb created in a lab, not the huge-breasted singer, Ms Parton).

After poaching and frying those pieces of chicken, having spent more than an hour in the process, we were stunned at the foam-rubber texture of the alien meat. The animals had to have been pumped full of SOMETHING unnatural to make their breasts as large as those of turkeys and render their flesh absolutely inedible. My husband, who had innocently ordered the stuff at Albertson’s butcher counter, brought all the chicken back for a full refund. Don’t let grocery stores ruin your meals–make sure the chicken you purchase is of normal size. Good thing we did not unwittingly serve this faux fowl to guests. That would have been ruinous!~~M-J

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And now, the eternal question: which came first, the funky chicken enhanced by hormones, or the FREAK EGG?

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Don’t Waste Lemon Peels: Make Marmalade

 

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Lemons are dear. I never waste any part of them. Squeezed-out lemons are cut finely, with just the seeds removed, then boiled for an hour with non-GMO sugar, water, and fruit pectin. Refrigerated in a recycled jar with a pretty lid, my citrus marmalade easily replaces an expensive glass of “Bonne Maman”. So, after you make lemonade, you might just want to make marmalade. ~~M-J

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Article at Natural News, by Regular Contributor J.D. Heyes

Clothing Care Tips: Protect Your Investment

 
Elegant Clothing Can Last for Decades If You Care for It Properly
My silk Sulka dressing gown was purchased on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue at their shop in the 1980s. It has always been protected from moths and bright sunlight, and thus is in excellent condition. Learn to enhance the longevity of your precious clothing. Here are some tips from our friend, eminent tailor Monsieur François:

 CLOTHING CARE TIPS

Implementing some of the following procedures will go a long way in helping you protect and extend the life of your garments: 

Dry clean your garments sparingly. Frequent cleanings can actually cause your garments to prematurely wear because of the solvents and heat that are used in the dry cleaning process. Consider dry cleaning only when necessary or, at the end of the season before storing. After cleaning, garments should be removed from the plastic bags and aired. 

Limit the use of fabric softeners. They contain additives that stick to your clothing to make them feel softer. Unfortunately, frequent usage of these softeners will also compromise the fabric’s absorbency and make them less breathable. 

Use padded or shaped hangers as they are more gentle on your garments than wire ones. Uncoated wire hangers may also rust and stain your clothes.

 Avoid hanging your coats and jackets on racks or hooks, which may cause the neck areas to stretch out of shape. 

Give your wool garments a day’s rest between wearings, allowing them to shed wrinkles and return to their original shape. 

Fold knitted garments instead of hanging them, to prevent distortion or stretching. 

Brush your garments regularly and thoroughly to refresh  them, removing any soil, hair, etc. Use a slightly damp sponge or cloth on knits and finer fabrics. 

Always read the label on your garment for specific washing-instructions. 

Allow deodorants and antiperspirants to thoroughly dry before you dress. Also, consider using dress-shields to your garments to protect them against excessive perspiration, which can weaken certain fabrics. 

All garments should be either laundered or dry cleaned prior to storage. This step is not only essential, but will prevent attracting moths. 

Never store your jackets or garments in plastic bags. They create limited air flow which may trap moisture and cause mildew to form. Plastic bags may even cause leathers and suedes to dry out. Use canvas or cloth bags instead. 

Select a storage area carefully, avoiding those with high temperatures and/or high humidity. 

To revive your clothes when you have removed them from storage: first air out the garments thoroughly and then either brush them and/or lightly pass a garment steamer over them to remove any wrinkles or creases and to perk them up. Air the clothes thoroughly after these procedures, and before putting them into your closet.

~~Monsieur François (the late Frank Blaeser), Townline Tailors of Vancouver, British Columbia