Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It's Just That Simple

   I am not going to ramble on and on about how you should stuff your turkey, season your turkey, cook your turkey, prepare your turkey or handle it in any manner. I am simply going to give you a few basic facts and observations about our national bird....well, almost our national bird at least. 

   For generations, your family has had their own special way of preparing the best of all year round meals served in your household. Far be it for me to tell you that your grandmothers, grandfathers or any ancestor of yours was wrong in any aspect of roasting this Holiday fowl. Nor will I tell you the best way to season a bird. Again, we all have our tastes and all hold dear our methods as passed down from one generation to another. Heck, I do as well. But there are certain points and tips that will help your tried and true recipe shine through without a hitch. Case in point...that point that pops out when the turkey is cooked. 

   As you are aware, many turkey companies add this little "pop out" button to let you know when it is sufficiently cooked. This is great, especially for the beginners or for those who may not have a temperature gauge on hand on this busiest of all Holidays.

   But did you know that these little buttons are set to pop out at between 185-195-degrees F? Yup, too overdone for me!

That's almost 30 degrees TOO cooked!

   I always remove the turkey from the oven when it reaches 160-degrees F(when taken in the proper place of the breast). When I remove it from the oven to rest for at least 15 minutes, it ALWAYS continues cooking to AT LEAST another 5 degrees, bringing the internal temperature to the appropriate 165-degrees F.

   We all know how to safely thaw a turkey, so I will excuse myself from saying anymore on that subject. But I will add a couple of tips for an extremely crisp skin.

   Once you have thawed your turkey(hopefully the day before), leave it uncovered in your refrigerator overnight. This will dry the skin off from any moisture. If you don't have the time to do this, at the very least, heavily dab the skin with paper towels before baking. You want the skin to be as dry as possible because moisture only slows down the browning process as well as giving you a blotchy browning.

   Now we have crispy dry skin, how about moist meat? The rule of thumb for this ultimate result is fat. Fat directly on the meat, underneath the skin. Sure, the skin provides a little fat, but not nearly enough to keep the turkey meat moist as it is cooking. The meat itself has even less fat then the skin. So loosen the skin from as much of the turkey as you can(don't forget the important legs and thighs) and rub some soft butter on the meat. As much or as little as desired. 
   If you want some extra flavor, simply mix in some herbs and spices into the butter before rubbing. 

   Now for the cooking part. Another tip for crispy skin is the temperature. The skin NEEDS to be at LEAST 300-degrees F for the maillard reaction to happen. This is the process in which the skin will turn color, dry out and crisp up. Any temperature below that and this action will not be accomplished.

   Now say you are having a horde of people over for Thanksgiving dinner. How much turkey do you need? I ALWAYS supply 1 1/2 pounds total bird weight per person. This seems like a lot, but by taking the bone weight into consideration, along with any moisture loss(turkeys have at least 50% water by weight), I think you will find this weight distribution will be perfect for everyone. 
DO NOT..I repeat..DO NOT...buy one large, 30 pound bird to feed the masses! Buy two 15 pounders instead. The larger the bird, the longer cooking time needed. This only significantly increases cooking time, thereby drying your turkey out substantially!

   Truss or not to truss? Yes, indeed! But loosely tying the legs together with pure cotton string, this helps to evenly cook the turkey, rather than bunching one part of the turkey with another, creating a space or two where heat is fighting to get in there and cook evenly.
   How about the wings? Well, if you are considering nibbling on the wing tip, or even the thin segment of the wing where there is no meat to begin with, then cover it with foil. I find no reason to do this, but of course have at it if you want.

   Place your turkey on the most shallow pan you can, but one deep enough so that no juice will spill out onto any inside oven surface. This will help brown and crisp as much of the bird as possible as well as evenly cook. Now if you are adding vegetables to the mix, then this tip is irrelevant. Which bring us to another subject...gravy.

   If you are going to use pan dripping as part of your gravy, then add some carrots,  halved onions and celery to the pan first, then the turkey plopped right on top. Not only will these vegetables add to the flavor of your gravy, but it acts as a lift, of sorts, to keep your turkey from "stewing in its own juices", making it a mushy mess on bottom. If desired, use a large, all metal serving spoon or two underneath the bird if you don't have a rack to fit your pan.

   Cook at 350-degrees F...PURE AND SIMPLE! Not any higher or lower. Some swear by roasting at 425-degrees F for a certain length of time, then reducing temperature to somewhere in the 300's. Nope! 

   Always rest your turkey before carving. I really don't need to say this anyway because every single person I know has NEVER removed the turkey and started carving the moment it is removed from the oven. There is so much that needs to be done that most of the time, the turkey rests more than the 15 minutes, needed anyway.

   Brining. I am not even going to get into brining because like handed down traditions, everyone and their mother has their own little secrets. The only thing I will add is that you should dry the skin as much as possible after brining for crispiness. When I brine, I follow my own advice above and remove the turkey from the brine the night before and let the bird sit in the fridge overnight before plopping that bad boy in the oven.

   And for a last little bit of a sweet tip. We all love pumpkin pie. But have you EVER replaced that American favorite with a Southern flair? Try Sweet Potato pie instead. Why you ask? Because sweet potatoes are much sweeter than pumpkin and deliver, what some believe, to be a far superior flavored pie. To help prove a point, try just a simple mashed pumpkin straight from the can sometime. No spices or anything. Kind of bland, don't you think? Now try a bite of mashed sweet potato. See what I mean? You don't need much in the way of spices or sugar to transform a good pie into a great one. Use about 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes that have been peeled, cooked and mashed per pie, with only a half cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and see what I mean. Superb!

There, that's it! Post done. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Now More Than Ever.....

.....everyone should take time out and enjoy National Fall Foliage Week.

Why is this special week so important to me and my children? Why should it be an important part of all family's lives? Why should we honor the glory and the simple vibrancy of autumn? Why create such a "mundane" week anyway?

It has taken 4 years of constantly sharing and talking about National Fall Foliage Week until it has finally started to gain momentum, and in a way, that is pretty sad! We have so many stress-inducing obstacles in our way every minute of the day that we truly need to relax and enjoy the scenery surrounding us during this season of change and teach our children to do the same. At the same time, we need to reflect on how WE grew up and remember our parents and fore-parents before them. Genuine reflection will automatically reduce stress and, therefore, beckon you maintain that calmness and civility once enjoyed by everyone.

Yes, that is me carrying my youngest through a cemetery that our family is interred

Get outside, leaving your cell phones on the kitchen table, and just simply take a walk among the crimson and scarlet flora. Either by yourself or with your children(regardless if they have grown up or not)talk, talk, talk and talk even more! Leave politics behind and talk on a personal level. It is during this week that I extensively allude to my childrens grandparents that have passed away and then talk about the lives of their parents as well. I go as far back as I can(which is a substantial amount of time because I have been handed all the old photos and stories of the Bailey family as well as having finished our genealogy).

This would even be a great time to visit the old cemeteries of loved ones in order to bring them into your conversation. There is no better way to honor deceased relatives then to remember them, especially since their headstones are usually surrounded by fall hues anyway. Take your children to the nearest apple orchard, pumpkin field or church supper. Take a drive outside the city to where you grew up or a place you are familiar with that has a place to get out and walk. Take a trip to a completely unknown "neck of your woods", get out and walk down main street or follow a river-side trail. Hop on your bikes and enjoy the crispness of the air. ANYTHING AT ALL!

One of the most important facets of National Fall Foliage Week is to prepare at least 1 meal from scratch, along with a dessert, that either you grew up enjoying or something simple that is linked to your community. In other words, in Maine, there are a wide assortment of foods that your ancestors enjoyed even though you may not know definitively that your grandparents ate. But they certainly had blueberry pie, whoopie pies, chowder, homemade biscuits, boiled dinner, baked beans with brown bread,  apple pie, apple pandowdy, berry buckles, apple crisp, roast beef, pot roast, finnan haddie, salmon loaf....the list goes on and on. And if you are a New Englander, you can find original recipes for Yankee fare on my website, theyankeechef.com.

But this isn't about promotion, this is about comfort. Comfort food, comfort time, comforting memories and above all, comforting your children!

Sound boring? If you can't make this week memorable in your own way, then that is the main reason why you should distance yourself from your cell phone! The internet has completely taken away your sense of imagination and thinking.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018



   Why this hashtag? I never would have thought that the day would come when I would go a full week of retail shopping and not ONCE hear a thank you from a clerk....NOT ONCE!

   It has happened so frequently that I NOW stand there after buying something(and not hearing a thank you), wait a moment or two and exclaim rather loudly "YOU'RE WELCOME!" And guess what?!

   Over 75% of the time, I either get a black stare as if they are completely lost in some parallel universe or they simply say "Okay."

   I just am floored by this lack of appreciation in today's world, and it is predominantly the younger generation that have the manners of a crowbar.

   There is a store in the next town over from where I live, and only a 6 minute drive, that is particularly clueless and dumbfounded when it comes to this basic of all retorts.

   About 3 weeks ago, I even messaged that store owner on Facebook and asked him why 'thank you's' are never offered to his customers. He apologized and agreed with me that it costs absolutely nothing to be thankful and to show appreciation. He subsequently assured me that he would talk to his staff and offer them a course in being appreciative.

   I would not have said anything to him had it not be for my 7 year old Thomas. Thomas now is, and on his own, doing the same thing because I will give him a dollar to spend and when he is done paying for it(which gives him a thrill to do it on his own)clerks STILL do not say thank you to him! I have consistently told Thomas to ALWAYS say thank you and you're welcome. And at the beginning, he would ask me "Why didn't they say thank you to me Dad?". The only answer I can give him is not sugar-coated. "They are rude Thomas". Which is absolutely the truth. How can you not say thank you to a child? It truly boggles me. Anyway, back to the post.

   So from 3 weeks ago to now, I have repeatedly gone back to this store, mostly without my son, and have patiently waited for a thank you ever since. I have waited in line and been in an opposite line and intently listen while others are making their purchases. NOT ONCE at this store have I heard a thank you from anyone. 

   Why on earth is is so hard to say thank you? Either this owner truly did not think it was necessary for his employees to be thankful for having a job(admit it, it is the paying customers that allow for them to feed their own families)so he did not say a word or these same employees decided on their own that there is no reason to be thankful. Surely it can't be that they think the customer should be thankful, therefore alienating themselves from politeness.....

   And it is not just this one store, it is in almost every single store you patronize now. Boy, if I didn't say please and thank you when I was a child, after a minute with Dad, I was sure never to forget it the next time.

   Have we come to a point today that it is okay and normal to be so ill-prepared in the way of manners? Have we adopted the universal attitude of hatred, or at the very least complacency and "mememe" personalities now? Again, I have repeated over and over again since 2001, my Dad's last, thought provoking, phrase was "It is fast becoming a blameless society." And it truly is!

    This younger generation of clerk who deal with the public truly don't think a simple thank you is needed, therefore "don't blame me" goes hand in had with "mememe" now. 

   I want some of you to try the same thing I and my so do. Whenever you don't hear a thank you, say "you're welcome" and see what happens. See that blank stare in their faces or listen to the awkward response they give. It is amazing, regretful and certainly a worrisome trend for the future.

 I know Henry Wheeler Shaw, the famous humorist, once said "One of the greatest victories you can gain over any man is to beat him at politeness." But it is getting harder and harder to believe those words now. 

   Yup, this is the world you are growing up in now son, and I truly hope you are not part of the #mememe group. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Added Sugars versus Natural Sugars


As many of you know, Mother Nature has added her own sweetness to vegetables, grains, dairy products, fruit and berries. these are called naturally occurring sugars. Even the lactose in milk is a natural sugar!

   But when you get into table sugar, and even honey, they are empty calories meant to do one thing only, enhance the flavor of the food it is used on or in.

   With fruit and berries, the flavor needs no enhancing because you not only have the sweetness of the fruit, but flavor, and a wide assortment of nutrients and vitamins available to benefit your diet.
For example, one serving of orange juice doesn't contain any added sugar, but has vitamin C, folate and potassium.

   By the way, FYI, potassium levels are now part of the Nutrition Facts Panel of many products on store shelves today, including It's Just That Simple™ products. Potassium has now been proven to help prevent the side effects of too much sodium in ones diet.

   I am not touting stopping added sugars altogether, but use in moderation. For example, our $2 Sundae stands that can be seen everywhere this summer. We use regular vanilla ice cream that does have sugar in it. That doesn't mean that by adding our sugar free ice cream toppings negates the entire concept of enjoying our toppings, it is simply cutting the amount of added sugar in your diet, without missing it. And trust me, you WILL NOT miss it!

   And the worst offenders of added sugars being consumed daily? Men and adolescents! That's right, grown men just don't care about the sugar free products as much as women do. That is why most of the customers we meet are women who are contemplating our products for their children. It is time that men put aside whatever doubts they may have, and anything else that gets in the way of trying something new, especially after just one taste and they would NEVER know they weren't enjoying a product that has no added sugar and is good for them to boot. |And to you wives and girlfriends out there. If you have to treaty your other half the same way you treat your children(yes, there is too many funny refrains that one can add about that concept, all of which are true!)then just buy some of our products but don't let on they are good for him.

   Optimally, added sugars should only constitute about 10% of total calories of a 2000 calorie a day regimen. Even the American Heart Association guidelines recommend the same.

   Beware of processed foods as well, not just sweets. Look at the ingredient list. Any word that contains the ending "ose" should be a warning. Other names to look out for are high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn sweetener, syrup, honey or certain fruit juice concentrates.

   You will, however, notice that we use fruit juice concentrates in many of our products, but ONLY those that do NOT contain sugar, as evidenced by our label.

You truly need to be diligent about some products you purchase thinking "There CAN'T be any sugar in this". Everything from yogurt, especially yogurt that is being marketed to children, to pasta sauce to even soups and meats, believe it or not ,have added sugars. It has been discovered that nearly 70% of ALL processed foods have added sugar, according to the University of North Carolina in 2016. That is INSANE. No wonder the epidemic of blood sugar issues have skyrocketed the past few years.

   So feel free to take a look at our labels and take a taste of our product line, which is expanding by leaps and bounds. In fact, the BEST Sweet and Sour Sauce for our children will be out soon and as with each of our products in the past, currently and in the future, we will NEVER EVER add sugar to ANYTHING.

It's Just That Simple!™

Sunday, June 10, 2018

In Full Production

     I don't usually wait this long between posts but because of our new product line, the demand is now reaching levels that I am barely able to keep up with.

   If you have been following my sporadic posts, you will know that we have created, what I truly believe, to be the best of the best in Pancake Syrups and Ice Cream/Dessert Toppings. Not only because there is no other flavor like them anywhere on America's store shelves, but the way in which they are made distinguish them in the same way. Let me briefly explain.

   At the beginning of winter, I took my (then 6 year old)son to the supermarket for some pancake syrup. We had just bought our first waffle maker and he and I was excited to use it to create some great waffles. While standing there, I noticed something that never hit home before....there is only one kind of syrup available on the market for the general consumer to purchase to drizzle over pancakes, waffles and French Toast. And that was maple syrup.

   Now mind you I am a full blooded Yankee and adore my maple syrup. But at that particular moment, I realized there is more to pancakes and waffles than sugar, sticky syrup. I wanted something with MORE flavor. Something that would pique a child's interest and at the same time, not inundate his blood with table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. 

   Not only was there 10 kinds of maple syrup, but on each and every label, the same first two ingredients made me realize I needed to do something for my child, as well as other children and adults that may have to contend with any blood sugar issues. I got to work, but not before I decided to walk up and down every other isle to see if there was another item I can do something about. 

   It wasn't long before I saw, on an endcap, some sundae toppings being sold. Of course there were only a couple to choose from and both were made by popular brand and both had the same exact first two ingredients as the syrups did, sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Well, that did it! Time to get myself back in the kitchen but with a purpose this time.

   The result? Here are all 7 of my labels, with 2 more coming out before fall.

   The two that are due out in the fall are Sour and Sweet Sauce, which is literally what this type of sauce should be, sour you can actually taste and sweetness the way it should be, pure berries and fruit. Sweet Pineapple-Tangerine Syrup is my final product that I think you will be amazed at how sweet it came out!

   One look at the calories, total sugar and ingredients I hope will have you switch over and at the very least, give them a try. My sugar free products rely on the sweetness of berries and fruit, with a touch of natural stevia to boost the natural sugar flavor, just in case your children are addicted to the sugar mess we are guilty of feeding them. The taste of each product is explosive! Not just the sweetness, but with the flavor written on each label. The New England Apple Pie is, so far, the best selling ice cream topping I produce. And to compliment this, the Maine MacApple Syrup is...well, simply close your eyes and you will swear you are tasting an old fashioned, New England made apple pie!

   And another great thing about these toppings and syrups, they are completely interchangeable. If you want something chock full of fruit and berries on your waffles, grab the jar of ice cream topping. If your child doesn't care for the texture of whole berries and chunks of fruit, purchase the syrups. 

   Either way, you(as a parent)will absolutely LOVE these products! I could go on and on, but I think I would rather have you taste them for yourselves.  Unfortunately, I am only equipped to offer them through my facebook page and a dozen or so stores in my local area. 

   Think that breakfast and ice cream are the only uses for these? Think again and check out my facebook page here for some great, super simple recipe ideas.

   And by the way, I intentionally kept my price at the bare minimum so that there is no excuse for parents of all income levels to purchase these treats for under $5....ANYWHERE!

Saturday, May 12, 2018


     There are few things in life that get me riled up than something negative about children! Sure, many years ago, I would have picked a fight, argued or simply demeaned anyone who disagreed with me or looked at me cross-eyed. But as I get older, I have learned to keep my anger in check, and this keeps my stress level(ultimately keeping my blood pressure on an even keel)down without fear of shortening my life.

     I have been blessed with an immune system that astonishes me every day.(For example, ALL cuts, bruises and even colds and the flue are gone in 1 or, at the most, 2 days). It is eerie actually.
I have never had any sustained medical issues, for my body truly has "healed thyself".

     I have also been able to dodge diabetes, which is frighteningly gathering steam in today's world and it isn't too difficult to figure out why.

For example, go to the pancake syrup of your grocery store and take a look at your choices.

     You have 1 choice of flavor.....MAPLE!!! Sticky maple. Don't get me wrong, I adore the taste of maple,  but we have more different kinds of salts on the shelves of our supermarkets!!!! Crazy? Of course!

     Now take a look at all the maple ingredients and nutritional boxes of each. If they are regular syrups, the very first two ingredients are sugar or corn syrup. I have also seen a couple with the first THREE ingredients being SUGAR, CORN SYRUP and HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!!!


     And if it is diet syrup, I don't even want to give the time of day to what the processed, GMO or "scientifically altered" ingredients are.

     THIS is the world we live in and there is enough blame to go around as to why our children are suffering from a host of man-made self-inflictions! It is either processed or loaded with sugar!(Even as I am typing this, I can feel my ire elevating because there are so many steps we can take to help curb life-long illnesses....IF WE WANTED TOO!)

    We have gotten away from food that is tasty. I blame the rise of this to a number of factors. From celebrity chefs, Robert Irvine to name one,(who actually PROMOTES the use of salt by using it before, during and after preparing a dish) to manufacturer's who use sugar and corn syrup as the primary ingredients in anything sweet simply because it is cheap! This too, is insane. But this insanity pales in comparison to what I see and now have experienced first hand.

     This monetary  "bottom  line" has such a strangle hold that it clouds judgment and health. I constantly read and hear that people and businesses are striving to feed our children a more balanced and healthy diet, be it in restaurants, fast food or schools. I see some attempts being made but these fruitless attempts have ceased because of the cost. I truly do understand this as a factor, don't get me wrong.  But there are 2 things that I don't understand.

The label from our apple cider syrup...compare to ANY other syrup!

1. Why can't someone use some intelligence in order to prepare meals that are healthy for our children, don't cost any more money and if needed, worked into recipes, meals and preparations so that students have no idea that they are eating healthy? 

   What am I talking about? Take gravy for example. See my recipe at the end of this post for a super simple gravy that is tremendously flavorful, costs the same as the fat-laden brands offered in our schools and is by far the healthiest gravy one can make. This is just one example! I could spend 1 week, yes ONE WEEK, sitting at a desk and completely transform a school breakfast or lunch menu into something that would be tremendously flavorful, nutritious, healthy and abide by ALL restrictions that are in place for school cafeterias.

2. "It costs too much money." It costs too much money! Let that sink in for a minute. While you are thinking about it, ask yourself another question. If you had a choice of spending $1-$2 dollars more per GALLON of pancake syrup that had NO SUGAR in it for school breakfasts, would you? I am not talking about adding boat loads of aspartame or other fake sugars, but just a pinch of natural stevia if needed, with most of the sweetness coming from the fruit and berry juices of the real fruit and berries in the syrup. That equals 3 cents more per 2-ounce pc of syrup per child...TOPS!

     On top of it all, I am constantly hearing the desire of most people in the industry that they want to do something about our children's health. But the slow-paced, often dismissive, nature of the feed-back I have encountered, along with the very first question "How much?" that precedes these apathetic, disinterested and rhetorical "airs" leads me to believe that these same people WANT others to think they are interested in our children's health for the praise they receive from their peers and media, but do not put their money where their mouths are. Which is a shame because it is the youngsters mouths that we should be paying attention to!

     I will not stop trying to convince school departments everywhere to, at the very least, try something new that is healthy! Give our children a taste of something that HAS taste, rather than sugar. Give my, for example, syrups a try. If the children don't like them, then at least they tried . I don't care one way or the other what the children decide. Offering them a choice is what matters to me!

     I even heard one school official tell me(along with a couple retail outlets) that they weren't interested because nobody has asked for flavored syrups before, therefore there is no interest.


     Nobody has asked for them because it isn't being offered. Looks as if the dumbing down can be rightfully attributed to some adults.

     Am I writing this simply to get people to buy my products and am I self-promoting? Of course not! Try other syrups and food items that are healthy. I just don't care one way or the other! I have products that are truly healthy and delicious and try to offer them at a price that EVERYONE can afford because I want as many children to taste them as possible. I tell this to ALL the stores that carry my products, along with the promise that they will NEVER be sold for more than $5 a jar. I will eat the profit myself if that is what it takes!!!!

     To wrap this up(yes, nothing gets me going more than a complete and utter lack of our children's health by those who make decisions that directly AFFECT our children's health)let me just say that those of you who are in charge of determining what is best for our children in the lunch room and are trying to think of any and all reasons NOT to help our children eat healthier, SHAME ON YOU!

     Those of you who are saying what you think others want to hear, but don't back it up with action...SHAME ON YOU!

     Those of you who determine what is best for our children but are unwilling to take a little time to offer healthy yet great tasting alternatives in schools simply because a minute increase in cost....SHAME ON YOU!

It's Just That Simple!™

Amazing Gravy  

1(15-ounce)can low sodium, fat free beef or chicken broth*
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables of your choice, thawed see NOTE
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Warm up the broth in the microwave or stove top until hot, but not scalding. Place in a food processor or blender with the last 2 ingredients and puree, on high, until you can no longer see even small bits of vegetables, about 30 seconds.
You can either strain the bulk from the vegetables from the liquid or leave as is. There will not be more than a teaspoon, if any.
Place mixture in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Once boiling, remove from heat and serve.

* If you are using bouillon, use enough to flavor 2 cups water.

NOTE: Use 1 cup vegetable broth instead, but increase the cornstarch to 1 1/2 tablespoons.