Diva Tasting: Asian Beef and Rice…

Asian Beef and Rice
2 Teaspoons Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon Grated Fresh Ginger Root
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Water
2/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
3 Pounds Beef Flank Steak, Sliced 1/4 Inch Thick On The Diagonal
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
1 Cup Vegetable Oil For Frying
2 Bunches Green Onions, Cut In 2-Inch Lengths
1 Cup Long Grain Rice Cooked to Packages Directions
  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook and stir the garlic and ginger until they release their fragrance, about 30 seconds. Pour in the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar. Raise the heat to medium-high, and stir 4 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce boils and slightly thickens. Remove sauce from the heat, and set aside.
  2. Place the sliced beef into a bowl, and stir the cornstarch into the beef, coating it thoroughly. Allow the beef and cornstarch to sit until most of the juices from the meat have been absorbed by the cornstarch, about 10 minutes.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-sided skillet or wok to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Shake excess cornstarch from the beef slices, and drop them into the hot oil, a few at a time. Stir briefly, and fry until the edges become crisp and start to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the beef from the oil with a large slotted spoon, and allow to drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  5. Pour the oil out of the skillet or wok, and return the pan to medium heat. Return the beef slices to the pan, stir briefly, and pour in the reserved sauce. Stir once or twice to combine, and add the green onions. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook until the onions have softened and turned bright green, about 2 minutes. Serve over rice with cucumber salad and tea.

Diva Musing: Zip Tie Hacks…

I’m loopy about good household hacks. Try these on for size.
Unless you’re an electrician, plumber or super spy, you might not have a lot of extra zip ties. Used primarily to hold items such as cable and wire, these handy tools can quickly fasten items together. If you think you don’t have much need for these handy connectors, think again.
Before you throw out zip ties, take a moment to check out this list. You might find a hack or two that could be useful.
Attach plants to a stake
Plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers need a little extra support to grow properly. Use a zip tie to gently attach the vines to a stake. They hold up under the weather and you can cut off the ties easily after the growing season.
Child proof your home
Keep little ones out of dangerous cupboards such as those storing cleaning supplies by using a zip tie to keep the doors closed. Or use zip ties to temporarily secure a piece of wood to a stair bannister so you can put up a baby gate without damaging the bannister.
Make a drain snake
Cleaning out a drain is quite possibly one of the most disgusting parts of cleaning the bathroom, but it’s a necessary task when the water won’t drain properly from a sink or bathtub. If you find yourself dealing with a clogged drain and you don’t have a drain snake handy, don’t worry. Try the technique below and create a drain snake by cutting slits in a zip tie.
Fix a zipper
Need to fix your zipper in a pinch? Slip a zip tie through the zipper loop for a makeshift pulley to close the zipper.
Store Christmas lights
Untangling Christmas lights is a drag! Keep holiday decor more organized by rolling lights around your arm and then securing the strings with a zip tie.
Repair a toilet handle
Did the chain on your toilet handle break? Use a zip tie to secure the lever to the plug in the toilet until you can replace the chain.
Create storage space
Snag a few milk carton containers for a few dollars and hook them together with zip ties for an easy DIY storage solution on a budget.
Repair a bag handle
If your suitcase handle breaks unexpectedly, place a zip tie where the handle was attached and use it as a temporary handle.
Temporarily replace shoelaces
If your shoelace breaks while you’re hiking in the woods, keep shoes closed with a zip tie.
Hang lights in the garden
Hang some cute tea lights or one of these adorable mason jar projects using zip ties around a branch or sturdy post.
Keep hubcaps attached to car
If your hubcaps have developed a sudden distaste for staying ON your tires, keep them in place by zip-tying the hubcap onto the tire. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.
Organize office or craft supplies
Keep office or craft supplies organized by attaching plastic containers to a peg board with zip ties. You’ll have easy access to all of your supplies and an easy way to keep them together.
Contain electronic cords
Wrangle the unsightly cords to the TV, Blue-ray player, gaming system and cable box with zip ties. Gently pull the cords together and secure them in place with a tie. Out of sight, out of mind.
Attach outdoor decor
Keep outdoor plants or seasonal decorations in place with zip ties. Use the ties to hold lights onto your home or in trees. You can even use them to securely attach other things to the exterior of your home. Zip ties will keep the decor in place better than tape and won’t damage anything like a nail would.
Lock a bag
Secure your backpack or suitcase with a zip tie. If security must check your bag at the airport, you’ll be out a dollar instead of the $10 you spent on a suitcase lock. You can also use this to lock a backpack at after-school practice.
Locking the safety handle on a lawnmower
Keep your hands from tiring out by securing the safety handle on the lawnmower down while you mow. A word of caution: Never let children use this technique and make sure you can quickly remove the tie in an emergency.
Secure items in the back of a truck
If you’re moving, make sure everything stays in the back of the truck by securing lightweight items to heavier items with zip ties. This is also an effective way to keep tarps from flapping in the wind when you’re flying down the freeway.
Hold clothes together while moving
Moving is kind of a pain, but one of the worst parts is transferring one outfit at a time into a bag or suitcase. Instead of going to all that trouble, slide several hangers together and wrap a zip tip around the hooks. Tighten the zip tie and easily transport multiple outfits at once.

Diva Tasting: Short Ribs to Die for…

Short Ribs to Die for
4 Slices Bacon, Cut Into 1/2-Inch Pieces
4 Pounds Beef Short Ribs
Salt And Ground Black Pepper To Taste
6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme, Leaves Stripped
1 Bay Leaf
1 Onion, Diced
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Dry Sherry
1 Quart Beef Broth
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer crisped bacon with a slotted spoon to a Dutch oven. Retain bacon drippings in the skillet.
  3. Generously season short ribs with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat bacon drippings in the same skillet over high heat. Cook short ribs in hot bacon fat until browned and caramelized on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer ribs to the Dutch oven, reserving drippings in the skillet. Add thyme and bay leaf to the ribs mixture.
  5. Reduce heat under the same skillet to medium. Cook and stir onion in the skillet until soft and golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Whisk flour into onion mixture and stir until the mixture becomes paste-like and light golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes.
  7. Pour sherry into onion mixture; cook until thick and hot, about 2 minutes. Pour onion-sherry mixture into Dutch oven; add beef broth and salt to taste. Bring ribs mixture to a simmer and cover the Dutch oven with a lid.
  8. Transfer Dutch oven to the preheated oven and cook until short ribs are fork tender, about 2 hours. Remove ribs to a serving dish, reserving sauce in the pot.
  9. Set Dutch oven high heat and boil sauce until reduced and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Spoon reduced sauce over ribs.
NOTE: “Beef short ribs are such a treat, and as long as two things happen. First, the beef must be really well browned –meaning deep dark, crusty, and caramelized. The other key step is easier. Braise them until they’re fork-tender. After browning properly, the only way to mess these up is to under-cook them, so don’t do that! Serve with baked potato salad, green beans and roll.

Diva Ranting:Real vs. Fake Olive Oil…

This is a little long but if you are picky as the Crones about your cooking ingredients this is a decent article to read and think about. Namaste, The Queen Cronista…
Which are the Best Olive Oils to Buy? Real Olive Oils vs Fake Exposed
How do we get the best olive oils when there is an ‘Olive Oil Fraud’ happening?  Many of us want to use an authentic ‘extra virgin olive oil’ to get all the wonderful health benefits and taste but are you using real or fake oil?
When you go to the trouble of seeking it out the authentic oil and spending the extra money, there is a high chance that it is not extra virgin at all!
It is one of the many that are part of the ‘Olive Oil Fraud’.
A high percentage of the oils are not at all what they say on the label. Just because they say it is ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ (EVOO) or even ‘Certified’ does not mean that it actually is. They are not created equal.
What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
  • First, the oil must come from fresh olives that were milled within 24 hours of their harvest.
  • Next, it must be extracted by mechanical means, not from heat or chemicals.
  • They must not be treated chemically in any way.
  • Extra virgin oil is, in fact, fresh olive juice.
  • Being a fruit, olives contain natural antioxidants that protect the plant during its lifetime. When the olive tree is very old it contains more of these antioxidants. This is one of the reasons that olive trees are often hundreds of years old and create antioxidant-rich products.
As you read above, they are not all the same, so it is important to purchase the right type of olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil EVOO (cold-pressed) is what we want. 
6 Tips for Recognizing Real EVOO
How do we know if our olive oil is the real thing and not fraudulent?
  1. Do not buy light olive oil or a blend; it isn’t virgin quality.
  2. When extra virgin olive oil costs less than $10 a litre it may not be authentic oil.
  3. Real oils are sold in dark bottles, as this protects the oil from oxidation. Look for that.
  4. Look for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council (IOC)
  5. Look for a harvesting date on the label.
  6. It can get old and rancid. A simple test for a good oil is to taste a little on a spoon. Not rancid, real olive oil will have a fruity taste in the front of your mouth and a peppery taste in the back of your mouth.
60 Minutes’ Looks at Olive Oil Adulteration in Italy. Watch this video to learn more.
In America, more than $700 million a year is spent on olive oil, but unfortunately, it is much of it is not authentic because of fraud. Most of these oils on the market are cut with cheap vegetable oils.
The results from the Consumer Report’s found that only 9 of the 23 olive oils from Italy, Spain, and California tested, and passed as being extra virgin olive oil even though all of them claimed so on the label. AND: “More than half tasted fermented or stale.”
International standards for extra virgin olive oil are mostly unenforced.  Although the term ‘extra virgin’ is generally understood to denote the highest quality of olive oil, industry representatives report that the current standards are easily met by producers and allow olive oil marketed as ‘extra virgin’ to represent a wide range of qualities. This lack of enforcement has resulted in a long history of fraudulent practices (adulteration and mislabelling) in the olive oil sector.”– United States International Trade Commission
A study at the UC Davis Olive Center found that 69% of the imported EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) sold in California supermarkets did not qualify as extra virgin. Tests indicate that imported EVOO often fails international and USDA standards.
A bottle labeled EVOO may not be real and instead be a seed oil that is made to smell and look the same by adding a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene making it part of the fraud.
Oils that failed to meet EVOO standards:
  • Carapelli
  • Colavita
  • Star
  • Filippo Berio
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Newman’s Own
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods
Best Olive Oils
Just so you know, Real Food for Life may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page because I am an Amazon affiliate.”
The brands we want will be those that have passed the extra-virgin standards. The list below is from the research above.
Bariani Olive Oil is Stone Crushed, Cold-Pressed, Decanted, and Unfiltered. They are committed to producing real oil which is raw. Weston Price recommends this brand.
Kirkland Organic –  Amazon says: “Certified organic by the USDA. Made from the first cold pressing.” Comments on Amazon: of the 478 people who gave stars, 73% gave 5 stars. I have to say it is very delicious, tasting like real olives; I’m just finishing up the bottle I bought.
Corto EVOO  – “We call it TRULY 100% extra-virgin olive oil because this full-bodied olive oil is the real deal. 70% of extra virgin olive oils on the market have gone rancid, which is why we’ve gone to extra lengths to protect ours. What makes us different is that we don’t wait until winter when the olives are over-ripe, like other brands do. Instead, we harvest in the Fall, when the olives are at the peak of freshness: green, with just a hint of violet.”
Cobram Estate  – Australia’s most awarded brand
California Olive Ranch – Award-winning brand. It is in a tinted glass bottle that protects oil and is 100% grown and made in California.
McEvoy Ranch Organic – Estate-grown and produced from select Italian olive varieties, this certified organic extra-virgin oil features a grass-green color with the aroma of newly cut grass and a hint of green apple. A dark green bottle protects this delicious oil from heat and light and includes a built-in spout for easy, mess-free pouring.
Ottavio – EVOO From Italy. It is produced from olives that offer a vibrant bouquet and an extremely high-quality fresh Oil flavour, with pleasing notes of spiciness but is packaged in a plastic bottle.
Ascolano Extra Virgin Olive Oil – authentic 100% Californian oil. Currently unavailable
Trader Joe’s California has been discontinued.
Omaggio – Currently unavailable.
Whole Foods California 365 – 100% Californian, Unfiltered, Cold Processed, Certified Extra Virgin – Currently unavailable.
Olea Estates – Grown on a single-family farm in Greece and tastes great. Cannot find a way to buy it on line.
5 Good Brands I Found in February 2020
Anatomico Organic Coratina EVOO It is made in Puglia Italy. This oil is organic and extra virgin, offering enhanced taste and greater benefits. Cold extracted, unfiltered, and obtained directly from Italian olives, this olive oil features the fruity, juicy taste of green olives with subtle hints of fresh-cut grass and bitter almonds.
Tuscan Gold Eleganza is an Italian cultivar blend. Gold medal winner at the 2019 New York International EVOO Competition and Los Angeles International  Competition. One of the world’s most authentic olive oils!  “Our olives are hand-harvested, first cold press, and unfiltered. We produce quality EVOO with high to very very high total polyphenols.”
Knolive Epicure was Ranked Nº1 Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the world 2018 by EVOO World Ranking. 100% PURE AND NATURAL
Selección Familiar is an annual limited edition extra virgin olive oil from a selection of our best centuries-old Picual olive trees. Gold medal winner at the 2019 at International Olive Oil Competition.
Oro Bailen Family Reserve is an Award Winning Cold Pressed EVOO, 2013-2014 Harvest. It is prepared using olives produced in the olive groves belonging to the Gálvez-González family, located in the foothills of Sierra Morena, the northern mountain range in the province of Jaén.
Two Good Brands I Found in April 2019
TERRA Delyssa – Certified Organic EVOO, 100% Tunisian Certified Organic – Meets and exceeds USDA and International “IOC” standards. Brought to you by the same farmers and millers that controlled the quality of Terra Delyssa from tree to bottle.
Venta del Baron Award Winning Cold Pressed EVOO – For four years running, Venta Del Baron took 1st place in the ranking at the World’s Best EVOO competition winner 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016!
Another very good One:
Bertolli Organic EVOO  – It is made from organic olives and produced using organic farming standards. This oil was on our list of not being approved but we have now learned that was incorrect. Here is a statement from the company: “Our olive oil exceeds the rigorous and exacting standards of the International Olive Council (IOC) and European Union (EU). As proof, in 2017 alone, we achieved global recognition for the quality of our products, winning 4 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze awards at multiple prestigious international competitions.”
Consumer Reports (September 2012 issue), published results of a taste test of 138 bottles of extra virgin olive oil from 23 manufacturers. The oil was sourced from the US, Argentina, Greece, Chile, and Italy. They found that olive oil produced in California exceeded those from Italy.
More Authentic Ones
Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil is cold-pressed oil, unfiltered oil grown and packaged in Partanna, Sicily. The Asaro family has been producing it since 1916. This EVOO has been the winner of Gold Medals at the L.A. County Fair.
Ellora EVOO is very good. It is 100% Pure Cretan, the origin and authenticity is certified by the EU standards. While meeting the stringent requirements it maintains a focus on environmental consciousness and tradition. When you are ordering it online it comes in many sizes which can make shipping more economical.
Another discovered that is certified:
Kasandrinos Organic EVOO Greek – 100% certified organic, non-GMO from Kasandrinos century-old family orchard. Mechanical cold-pressing within 48 hours locks in the delicious flavor of the olives at the peak of ripeness.
NOTE: How about the olive oil fridge test as stated by Dr. Oz?
Dr. Oz said that when you put an authentic EVOO in the refrigerator, it will become thick and cloudy as it cools completely.
The ‘Fridge Test’ should not be considered accurate. Some oils made from high-wax olive varieties will even solidify according to a Fridge Test.
This post is updated on a regular basis and reflects the current information available. Due to a disease that many olive trees have been getting, olive trees are dying. If you want olive oil then you need to buy some before there is none. This is very sad. On February 8, 2020, I added 5 more EVOOs. In April and October 2019 I added 2 on each month that are still available now. – Diana
SOURCE: https://www.realfoodforlife.com/which-olive-oil-to-buy-the-olive-oil-fraud/

Diva Tasting:Beef Medallions in Pan Sauce…

Beef Medallions in Pan Sauce


3 Pounds Beef Tenderloin, Trimmed, Cut Into 8 (4-ounce) Medallions
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper To Taste
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Small Pkg Cremini Mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Pinch Salt
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
1/3 Cup Marsala Wine
1 Can Chicken Broth
2 Teaspoons Chopped Fresh Oregano
2 Tablespoons Chilled Unsalted Butter, Cut Into Cubes
  1. Season beef medallions with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat. Cook beef until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove beef to a warm plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir mushrooms, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in the skillet until mushrooms are very well browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Mix in tomato sauce; cook and stir until tomato sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in Marsala wine and increase heat to high. Cook, scraping browned bits from bottom of skillet. Once most of the wine has evaporated, stir in broth and bring to a boil; cook and stir until broth mixture has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to low and return beef to broth mixture; simmer until beef is cooked to medium-rare, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer beef to serving plates. Let rest 10 minutes .
  7. Remove skillet from heat. Cook and stir 2 tablespoons butter and oregano into the sauce until butter melts. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  8. Spoon sauce over beef and serve immediately. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Diva Musing: Growing Up with a Pup….

I’ve always know that a Dog is a good thing to have in the home. I found this article to support my theory on that thought. I showed it to my two fur babies; they concur. Namaste, The Queen Cronista…
Growing Up With a Dog Can Improve Children’s Health and Happiness, Studies Find
At all stages and seasons of an owner’s life, pets can fill vastly different roles; while companionship may be the underlying theme of living with a pet, sharing life with an animal can have a greater, more specific impact depending on your age and needs. For older owners, dogs can assuage loneliness and provide comfort at just the right time. As the “house dog” at Sunrise Senior Center in Chevy Chase, Journey—a 6-year-old dog rescued from euthanasia in the nick of time—greets visitors, snuggles with residents in need of company, and trots alongside the walking club.
Although owning a dog in your 20s may seem like too large a responsibility, it can bring unexpected rewards. At first, Clare Ubersax, a 23-year-old living in Birmingham, Alabama, was hesitant to adopt 4-year-old dog Ruby: “Part of me knows that adopting a dog only 6-months into working my first job and still without a 401k account was an irresponsible decision,” Ubersax laughs—but the impact Ruby has made on her health and happiness has proved invaluable. “With Rubes, everything is full of love, and it makes the hard stuff of my transition into adulthood like working long hours and paying bills feel a whole lot easier and lighter,” she writes.
Dogs are highly affectionate creatures—they develop deep attachments with their owners, often teaching us more about companionship and love than we ever could have expected. But dogs show a special attachment to children, famously going the extra mile to protect them at all costs. And now, research suggests that growing up with a dog can have a tangible, positive impact on children’s health and happiness.
According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children living in homes with dogs (and cats!) are healthier on multiple accounts: “Children with early dog contact seem to have fewer respiratory infectious symptoms and diseases, especially ear infections, and needed a shorter course of antibiotics.” Coexisting with dogs seemed to give children stronger resistance to infections—and a similar result was found with household cats, too. “Cat ownership also showed a protective effect on infants, but not as strong as dogs.”
Similarly, research by the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pediatrics found that, “Exposure to dogs in infancy—especially around the time of birth—can actually influence children’s immune development and reduce the likelihood of certain allergic diseases,” like eczema and asthma.
In addition to physical health benefits, early socialization with dogs can help children learn about care and compassion, according to Gabrielle Feldman for the Drake Center for Veterinary Care. In a study by the American Humane Association on pets in the classroom, teachers consistently observed the development of “sympathy, empathy, responsibility, compassion for living things, [and] loving caretaking” in children’s interactions with classroom pets.
In terms of happiness and mental health, companion animals are believed to improve owners’ emotional well-being and decrease the likelihood of stress and anxiety—even in children. “Having a pet dog in the home was associated with a decreased probability of childhood anxiety,” concludes a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
All of these findings warrant further investigation but build a promising case for the positive impacts a pet can make on even the youngest owners. If you grew up with a beloved childhood pet, chances are you already know this to be true. Maybe it’s time to pay it forward and take the kids on a trip to the shelter.

Diva Tasting: Beef n’ Veggie Soup…



2 Pound Ground Beef

2 Quarts Tomato Juice

1 Quart Spicy Tomato Juice

1 (14.5 Ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes

1 Onion, Chopped

4 Potatoes, Cubed

1 (16 Ounce) Package Frozen Mixed Vegetables

2 Quarts Beef Stock

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook beef until brown; drain.

  2. In a large pot over medium heat, combine cooked beef, tomatoes, onion, potatoes, mixed vegetables, beef stock and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer at least 60 minutes. May add water if needed. Serve with cornbread.