Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top Tips For Good Nutrition This Thanksgiving

To many, good nutrition and thanksgiving dinner seem to cancel each other out. However it should be possible and even easy to make a nutritious meal that is a pleasure to share with friends and family. Here are a few tips to help you make your holiday meals healthy ones too.

Prepare a wide variety of foods. Traditional thanksgiving stories tell us of meals that contained wide varieties of dishes reflecting the backgrounds of the many people who came together for these meals and to give thanks. The nutritional benefit of eating from a wide variety of foods is you gain a wider variety of nutrients. Also, you are less likely to overload on a single type of food. If you don’t have time to prepare a large number of dishes, many grocery stores sell prepared dishes that you can add to the variety of dishes you’re cooking yourself. Gourmet grocery stores often prepare these dishes on site.

Try some simple recipes. Instead of making the obligatory green bean casserole with mushroom soup and fried onions, how about a simple green bean dish with a dash of sea salt? Substitute yams, cooked in butter with marshmallows and brown sugar, with a more simple preparation of yams. You may be surprised at how much people enjoy the taste of the original ingredients.

Be careful of portion sizes. An ideal meal is derived from all of the food groups and should include a wide variety of individual foods. Instead of loading up your plate with mashed potatoes, start with smaller portions of everything that has been prepared. If you would like a second helping, follow the same procedure. By eating from a wider variety of foods you will be providing your body with a more complex array of nutrients and you’ll be able to enjoy the many flavors as well.

Pace yourself. Unless you’re on call for surgery, you probably have a little time. Instead of jumping right into your second helping, consider a short intermission and burn some calories by helping out with the dishes. By eating more slowly, your body will give you signals when you are full. If there are leftovers you can always eat them later.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all of the things that we have. It is a time for us to remember and reflect on the things that are important in our lives that we so often take for granted. The sharing of a meal with friends and family is a wonderful event and is cherished by nearly all cultures. So take pleasure in the eating and the sharing of food but also consider the nourishment that food gives you and be thankful and give honor to the abundance which you have to share.

All About Basil

Basil is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking today. It is a very versatile herb, and is used in Italian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines amongst many others.

It has a warm, aromatic but gentle flavor, with a hint of spicey aniseed. It's well known that it goes extremely well with tomatoes, where it can be served raw in salads such as the classic Italian Caprese, or cooked into a rich tomato sauce for pasta or other hot dishes.

Basil is also popular as the prime ingredient of pesto sauce (known as pistou in France), which is made by pounding fresh basil leaves with pine kernals, olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic to produce the distinctive thick green sauce so often used with spaghetti or as a dipping condiment.

Like most herbs, basil is widely available in both fresh and dried forms. Again like most herbs, the fresh version is generally considered to be superior. If you come across a cheap and bountiful supply of the fresh herb, you can dry it slowly in a very low oven before crumbling it and storing in airtight jars. This method of preserving it costs much in terms of flavour though, and a better option is to puree the leaves and freeze into ice cubes, which can then be dropped from frozen straight into the recipe you're cooking.

Basil can be quite expensive to buy in the fresh form, so if you become a fan of the herb you might like to try growing it yourself - it's much cheaper that way, and you can also ensure that the leaves you're using will be as fresh as can be! It's also one of the easier herbs to grow and so is ideal for beginners.

Basil is a native of warm climates, and so needs to be planted in a sunny and sheltered spot if it is to flourish. If you have a patio or terrace with a south facing wall, then sowing it in a pot there is ideal. It's all the better too if you can grow it close to your kitchen for easy picking whenever you need it!

Left to itself, basil will tend to grow into a tall, thin, ungenerous-looking plant with little in the way of edible leaves. You can encourage a more rewardingly bushy growth by 'pinching out' the plant as it grows, removing the top young leaves to encourage more sideways growth. Harvesting the herb regularly will also encourage more vigorous growth.

Basil is a tender annual, and will die off quickly in cold weather. You may be able to prolong its life by bringing it indoors at the first sign of a cold snap, or you could sow a succession of new plants indoors for a year-round supply.

Although it is mainly a culinary herb, basil does have some minor antiseptic properties, but is not widely used medicinally by herbalists. It is however a member of the wider mint herb family, and in common with its relatives it's said to be a good digestive aid.

There are many varieties of basil available, but the most popular are the Genovese type which gives the typical authentic italian flavour and aroma, and the purple-leaved 'holy' basil which is used more often in Asian cooking.

Whichever variety you choose, and whether you decide to buy it or grow it, basil is a treat for your senses and a great addition to your culinary toolbox.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Unique gift ideas for the cook.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, are you at a complete loss for an idea for the perfect Mother’s Day gift? Yes, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May, and with a little planning you can find a gift for mom that can be a help for her in the kitchen. Along with the Mother’s day flowers and Mother’s Day card, why not order a unique gift idea that she would use and appreciate all year long?

Perhaps you are wondering what to buy your mother for her birthday?
Your search will definitely end at We have numerous gourmet gift items and imported condiments that have won gourmet awards at fancy food shows and exhibitions.

One great gift idea is the specialty hand blown glass, oil and vinegar cruet. As dual cruets for olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, our glass-within-glass cruets offer an innovative way to store both oil and vinegar in the same decanter. Each oil and vinegar cruet is a vessel within a vessel, and has two spouts, one to pour olive oil and the other to serve vinegar. The grape cluster cruet is by far our most popular design, one easy to add to any kitchen décor. These items are custom made in Europe by glass master artisans, from durable technical grade glass, perfect for cooking and food serving.

Another gift idea we offer will free your mother from toiling in the kitchen to make a simple mashed potatoes dish. Instead of mom working diligently with a wire potato masher to achieve the smooth consistency devoid of any lumps, you can give her our new Ergonomic potato masher that is easy on her hands and wrist. The ergonomic potato masher is truly a unique gourmet gift. Garlic mashed potatoes will take on a new meaning in mom’s kitchen, with half the effort to make them.

Ergonomically designed, this potato masher is easily the best Mother’s day or birthday gift idea you will find that is both practical and useful. Buy it for her as a thank you for all her efforts. This potato masher requires only half the energy as compared to conventional mashers. It has a rotating mechanism that will mash potatoes easily and without much effort. This new technique ensures a consistent paste of mashed potatoes and hence a flawlessly delicious dish. Mom’s work will go effortlessly with this latest kitchen product.

This simple and inexpensive culinary tool is made from food grade plastic and is safe for the dishwasher.

Wish your mother or wife a very happy birthday, or Happy Mother’s Day, with unique gift ideas from You can purchase online, and send by mail, these unique gifts are sure to acquire a place of pride in any gourmet kitchen.

Alaska Wild Salmon Are A Real Catch

Alaska is famous for its wild salmon. The flavor of Alaskan salmon depends upon fat content and the environment in which it matured. Alaska's pure waters and the abundance of natural food give Alaska salmon unparalleled flavor.

Although salmon are caught in Alaska's pristine waters year-round, fishing season in Anchorage and southcentral Alaska really heats up in late May, when the prized king salmon returns home to spawn in the area's glacier-fed, freshwater streams.

The remaining four varieties of Pacific salmon-sockeye, coho, chum and pink-are also found in the general area.

Many anglers are now trying to catch what's known as a "grand slam"-all five species of salmon. Some say an easy way to remember which kind is which is to match them up with the fingers on your hand.

• Thumb-Chum salmon (Dog). The best fishing for this fish is mid-July to late August. Chum salmon have a firm texture, tempting orange-pink color and delicate flavor that makes it a perfect fish for smoking. The average weight is eight pounds and they can grow to be 25 to 27 inches long.

• Pointer finger-Sockeye salmon (Red). Most available late May to early June or mid-July, sockeye salmon are the second most abundant Alaskan salmon species. This species turns from a silvery color to a bright red body and green head as they begin the journey upriver to spawn. Their average weight is six pounds and they can grow to almost three feet in length.

• Middle finger-King salmon (Chinook). The best fishing for king salmon is mid-June to mid- July. The largest species of salmon in Alaska, they are prized for their color, high oil content, firm texture and succulent taste. Average weight is approximately 20 pounds and length ranges from 30 to 40 inches.

• Ring finger-Silver salmon (Coho). With its orange-red flesh, firm texture and delicate flavor, cohos are very popular among locals. The best fishing for them is found in early August to mid-September. Cohos are the second largest of the species, with average weights of 12 pounds, and range from 25 to 35 inches in length.

• Pinky finger-Pink salmon (Humpy). At the height of their run, millions of pinks swim up the freshwater rivers and streams to spawning grounds. Pinks are the smallest and most abundant of the species and average about two to three pounds. The best fishing for pinks takes place in mid-July to late August.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Seeds Industry in Europe Needs Clear Legal Rules

At the conference on co-existence, held from the 4th to 6th of April in Vienna, Jeremy Sweet, environmental consultant and Vice-President of the GMO panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) called for a clear regulation of the threshold values for permissible contamination of conventional seeds with GMOs. It is absolutely necessary to have the same threshold values EU-wide, which should be scientifically based. The lower the threshold values would be laid down the higher would be the costs for the European seeds producers. With low values of 0.1 to 0.3 % very extensive separation procedures or even special zones for the seed production would be required. This could result in higher costs for the farmers. This again would weaken internationally the terms of the competition of the EU-agricultural production.

Further, said Sweet, the question of necessary safety distances between fields with conventional and with GM-seeds has to be settled. Most of the studies, which have been conducted in Spain, Germany, France and Great Britain, came to the conclusion, that co-existence is quite possible, if suitable safety distances will be kept. Thereby the extent of the necessary distance would be dependent on the defined threshold value; also for the establishing of the suitable distance the plant type concerned, the time of bloom as well as different climatic and ecological conditions are playing important roles. This means, that in determining and applying co-existence measures it is necessary to take into account the local conditions. In the end the mentioned factors altogether are deciding about the possible GM-purity of the seeds. Also important would be measures for the cleaning of the used farm implements as well as measures for the separation of conventional and GM-seeds in the storage and at the transportation, so that it will not come to a later contamination.

In order to reach an effective and acceptable co-existence, further sensible regulations for the labeling of GM-products as well as measures for the traceability and for a risk management are required. For that the existing methods for the proof of GMOs in products should be internationally standardized and the different legal systems of the individual EU-countries should be harmonized.

Jeremy Sweet gives a clear and concise description of the problems and the issues being up for decision within the EU.

Jeremy Sweet is a sociologist whose main areas of scientific research are bioethics and technology. To read more about Jeremy go to

Agriculture should not be a State subject

CII today organized a Seminar on Reforms in the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act , and its impact in the Southern States. This is an initiative of the Agri Business Sub-Committee, CII-Southern Region.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Shankarlal Guru, Chairman-International Society for Agricultural Marketing said Agricultural sector is in urgent need of reforms by the respective State governments to help drive the economy to a higher growth rate that is expected by the policy makers, but a comprehensive agenda for reforms in this crucial sector is yet to emerge. Hence, the need for Agriculture to be made a central subject and not a state subject, thus alienating it from politics, said Mr. Guru. Contract farming should be encouraged as it will help bring technology and modern practices into the agriculture sector - opined Mr. Guru.

The APMC Act in each state of India requires all agricultural products to be sold only in government - regulated markets. These markets impose substantial taxes on buyers, in addition to commissions and fees taken by middlemen, but typically provide little service in areas such as price discovery, grading or inspection. A key impact of this regulation is the inability of private sector processors and retailers to integrate their enterprises directly with farmers or other sellers, eliminating middlemen in the process. Farmers also are unable to legally enter into contracts with buyers. This leaves no incentives for farmers to upgrade, and inhibits private and foreign investments in the food process sector.

Also addressing the audience was Mr. Sivakumar, Chairman Agri Business Sub-Committee, CII-Southern Region and Chief Executive - Agri, ITC Ltd. Said that Agri business in India is at a transition point. Having sailed through the shortage economy to an economy with surplus in grains, it is important that Governments at the Centre and State recognize the need for inclusive growth to take agriculture forward in India. Setting the context for the day's discussion, Mr. Sivakumar emphasized that in spite of employing about 57% of the population of the country, agriculture on contributes 27% to the GDP of India. This distortion makes agriculture  not a lucrative employment generator and hence, keeping with the global view, India needs to carve out opportunities in agri-exports sector. Contract farming and direct marketing to retail chains and processing units are the need of the hour he said. Regulations to keep pace with these needs are required, which need alternative marketing mechanisms. Hence, reforms in the APMC Act are recommended in various fields, he added.

Making a presentation on "Aligning State Policies with emerging new marketing models", Prof. S Raghunath from the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, emphasized the need for an effective and efficient distribution system for agri-produce and provision for supply-demand transparency. Since the main objective of the APMC Act was to prevent exploitation of farmers by various intermediaries, reforms were required in the Act, with changing face of agriculture and the agricultural supply chain, opined Prof Raghunath. India is the largest producer of vegetable in the world, with a total share of 15% of global produce. 8% of world's fruits are produced in India, ranking it second in the world market. In spite of this, there is a high cumulative wastage of 40% in India, informed Prof. Raghunath. Inadequate infrastructure and lack of organized supply chain were the main cause for such a disparity, he said. Thus, reforms in this sector need to catch up with the pace of development in the economy and dis-intermediation and participation of organized players in the sector will remove the lacunae, opined Prof. Raghunath.

Centre asks states to amend APMC Act

In a move to allow farmers to directly sell their produce to industry, contract farming and setting up of competitive markets in private and cooperative sector, the Centre has asked the state government to amend the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act.

Under the present Act, the processing industry cannot buy directly from farmers. The farmer is also restricted from entering into direct contract with any manufacturer because the produce is required to be canalised through regulated markets. These restrictions are acting as a disincentive to farmers, trade and industries.

The government has recently approved a central sector scheme titled “Development/strengthening of agricultural marketing infrastructure, grading and standardisation.”

Under the scheme, credit linked investment subsidy shall be provided on the capital cost of general or commodity specific infrastructure for marketing of agricultural commodities and for strengthening and modernisation of existing agricultural markets, wholesale, rural periodic or in tribal areas.

The scheme is linked to reforms in state law dealing with agricultural markets (APMC Act). Assistance under the new scheme will be provided in those states that amend the APMC Act.

The Centre has asked the state governments to inform as to whether necessary amendments to the APMC Act have been carried out, in order to notify the reforming states for applicability of the scheme.

Along with the Centre, the industry is also interested in the amendment to the APMC Act as it restricts the growth of trade in agricultural commodities.

“The policy regime pertaining to internal trade is particularly restrictive. The agricultural sector continues to be hamstrung by a plethora of controls, which were introduced during the era of shortages,” said the PHDCCI.

Meanwhile, a decentralised system of procuring wheat and rice would make the Public Distribution System more cost effective, the government has said.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Truth About Enriched Wheat Flour (White Flour)

Open up your bread box and read the ingredients of your favorite bread. Chances are the first ingredient is going to be enriched wheat flour.

What does "enriched" mean?
Enriched flour is flour in which most of the natural vitamins and minerals have been extracted. This is done in order to give bread a finer texture, increase shelf life and prevent bugs from eating it (bugs will die if they attempt to live off it).

Why is enriched flour bad?
When the bran and the germ (the parts of the wheat that contain vitamins and minerals) are removed, your body absorbs wheat differently. Instead of being a slow, steady process through which you get steady bursts of energy, your body breaks down enriched flour too quickly, flooding the blood stream with too much sugar at once. Your body then has to work hard to absorb the excess and stores it as fat. This causes quick highs and lows in your blood-sugar level which can lead to type-two diabetes and obesity. All this and you’re not even getting close to the amount of nutrients that whole grains contain.

Whole grains
Whole grains are richer in dietary fiber, antioxidants, protein (and in particular the amino acid lysine), dietary minerals (including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium), and vitamins (including niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin E).

Health benefits
By eating whole grains you reduce the risk of some forms of cancer, digestive system diseases, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Don’t be fooled
There are many products that seem healthy on the front but in reality they are not. If the bread you are buying says “soft wheat” or “multi-grain” make sure you still read the ingredients. Most of these breads are primarily made with enriched flour. Even if the word “enriched” is not there, if it does not say “whole” then it’s the same junk. Don’t get fooled by color either. Even if it’s brown, unbleached wheat flour is still missing the bran and the germ that contain essential nutrients as well as the fiber that aids digestion.

Look for products that say 100% whole wheat. Trader Joes carries spaghetti that is 100% whole wheat and tastes great. Even my father-in-law, Mr. Anti-health, likes it.

1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20
…You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Foods that commonly contain enriched flour
Chicken nuggets (breaded)
Pie crust

After lunch desserts and snacks . . .

The highlight of South African living is the breakfast, desserts, snacks and drinks.  Easy to please anyone.  Breakfast varies between “mieliepap” and “beskuit”.  “Mieliepap” is the same consistency as polenta and served with a teaspoon of sugar, butter and milk.  A great creamy and healthy breakfast to see you through the morning hours.  “Beskuit” is rusks, dough baked in the oven, broken apart and then places back in the oven to dry out.  The perfect breakfast, specially for those living on farms, is home made rusks, dunked into your morning coffee.  If you are more of a tea lover, try the great local herbal tea called “rooibos” 

During the morning you can chew on some “biltong” which is salty dried meat or “droëwors”, which is dried sausage.  You can not watch any rugby or cricket match without this salty snack.  By now it is time for more coffee served with banana, ginger of mealie bread, smeared with butter.  Mealie bread is a sweet bread, baked with sweet corn.  You will probably wonder why we have such an obsession with mealies?  Well, mealies basically are Africa’s staple food.  We use it to make breakfast, bread, crisps (or chips) and many more.

After you finish this, it is time for your main meal of the day.  And then the BEST course arrives, the dessert.  Most puddings are baked pies served with custard and ice cream or a special sauce.  Malva pudding is one of the old time favourites, a great, sweet tasting spongy apricot dessert with a lovely sweet sauce.  Cottage pudding is a type of cake pudding served with a special white wine sauce. 

If you prefer a colder dessert, this is the place to be.  Enjoy a fresh fruit salad with ice cream, made from local seasonal fruit.  The most famous fruits are grapes, apples, naartjies (a type of tangerine), peaches, apricots, mangoes, melons and many more.  There is nothing more refreshing than a fresh fruit salad.  If you like ice cream, there are special treats in store for you as well.  Try the watermelon or papaya flavoured ice cream in a cone or on its own.    

As a special treat, why not try a Dom Pedro?  This is ice cream with a little drop of milk and a shot of your favourite whiskey of liqueur.  Try Amarula liqueur, made from the potent marula fruit or van der Hum liqueur, made from fresh naartjies.  This is a treat you should not pass on.   

Later the afternoon you can enjoy some “koeksisters”, a very sweet delicacy.  Afrikaans “koeksisters” are twisted pastries, deep fried and then sweetened with a very sweet sauce.  Another favourite of mine is “ystervarkies”, a sponge cake, dunked in a home made chocolate sauce, rolled in coconut!  Doesn’t that just sound magnificent? 

If you prefer something less sweet, try the “melktert” (milk tart).  This is a milk-based tart, absolutely gorgeous if you eat it warm, just as it is made.  If you want something savoury, try the “souttert” (savoury tart) consisting mostly of vienna sausages, cheese, onions, herbs and egg. 

For the evening you can enjoy one the best known foods, “vetkoek”.  This is a treat.  You can enjoy “vetkoek” in three ways.  Dunk it in your tea, butter with syrup and cheese or stuffed with curry mince.  No matter which one you choose, you will not be disappointed.  If you are looking for something smaller, try the “plaatkoekies” (almost like crumpets) served with marmite or syrup or maybe try some pancakes with cinnamon sugar?

During the day you will never go thirsty.  If you like warm drinks, there are the many varieties of strong coffees, regular tea, “rooibos” tea, hot chocolate and my favourite, milo.  This is a great drink filled with vitamins and minerals, made with warm or cold milk.  If you prefer cold drinks, try the various ice teas and fruit juices.  Guava, orange, grinadella, fruit cocktail, grape, peach, pear, apple, apricot and mango are only a few choices you have in fruit juices.  Guava and mango must be two of the most loved choices. 

If you are looking for a bottle of wine to accompany you meals, there are hundreds of local Cape wines to choose from.  You will be spoilt for choice.  Make sure you try as much as you can and enjoy the hospitality while you are visiting the rainbow country, South Africa.           

These are only a few of our great traditional recipes.  There are so many more to try, so start now and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Right Vegetables For The Dieter

With the right vegetables, however, you can eat as many as you want how many times you want it and not gain a pound. Exercise caution, however, by picking the right kinds of vegetables, as not all can keep you slim. This is because there are vegetables that are high in calories while there are also those who are low in calories. What are these low calorie vegetables?

The following are the types of vegetables that are considered to have low calories and are great to eat if you're in a diet or want to lose weight. These include carrots, cucumbers, radishes, fresh green beans, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and lettuce. Clearly, you don’t have to go all green when you’re in a vegetable diet. If you look at the choices, you can gather for yourself that these not only contain the least calories, they are packed with essential nutrients as well.

To be more specific, if you are on a low carbohydrates diet you might have been hearing that munching on vegetables is the way to go. However, just as there are vegetables that contain low and high calories, there are also vegetables that are low and high in carbohydrates. Do not generalize that just because they are vegetables they are immediately low in carbohydrates. Vegetables that are low in carbohydrates include but are not limited to sprouts, leafy greens, hearty greens, herbs, sea vegetables, broccoli, mushrooms, avocado, peppers, summer squash, scallions, asparagus, bamboo shoots, leeks, eggplants, artichoke hearts, okra and more. Of course, low calorie vegetables are also low in carbohydrates so you can take your pick.

To be cautious, here's a list of vegetables that are starchy and are high in carbohydrates. These include beets, corn, parsnips, peas, all types of potatoes, and winter squashes. If you want to experiment on other types of vegetables, as there are many available in the produce section, you can check out their calorie and carbohydrate count on the internet to guide you on your diet.

Other types of vegetables that should be included in your diet list are those full of fiber. Don't be confused by this statement. Though vegetables in general are good sources of fiber, there are certain types of vegetables that contain more fiber than others. Examples of these fiber-rich vegetables include brussel sprouts, carrots, cooked beans and peas, and spinach. Cruciferous vegetables are also good sources of fiber such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. These vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps keep you feeling full and therefore makes it easier for you to resist eating too much food.

Though vegetables are generally not harmful if you are on a diet, observing the right serving sizes will help accelerate the results you want to see. The National Cancer Institute has recommended certain serving sizes for different types of vegetables. The recommended serving size if you are eating raw non-leafy vegetables or cooked vegetables is half a cup. If you are eating raw leafy vegetables, the recommended serving size is one cup. If cooked beans or peas are what you’re having for a meal, the recommended serving size you should take is half a cup. These serving size recommendations are considered not only healthy but aids in dieting as well. Since all the vegetables enumerated earlier don’t all contain the same amount of carbohydrates, it is still helpful to do a carbohydrate count on those you want included in your diet. A good point to remember when you are calculating carbohydrates is to exclude the fiber count because this is generally not included.

While you are on a vegetable diet, keeping a few tips in mind to be careful is essential. You might have lost weight but you got sick in the process so what’s good in that? When you pick out vegetables, try to go to the organic produce section. If you can’t get hold of organically grown products then exercise caution by washing your vegetables thoroughly. Vegetables that are not organically grown contain pesticides which are harmful to your health.
When you are picking out vegetables, choose the freshest among the lot. You can tell when it’s fresh if it’s brightly colored and are blemish-free or has the least amount of blemishes. In-season vegetables are guaranteed to be fresh so buying vegetables growing in their season is a good idea. You shouldn’t plan on storing vegetables for too long. Buy only the vegetables you plan to be eating in a few days. Other than that you should discard vegetables that have been stored too long. When you eat vegetables, try to leave as much edible skin on them as possible. The skin on vegetables contains their own nutrients which can benefit your health. Eating vegetables raw is also a good idea as cooking them can take away some of the nutrients and add fat from the oil you used.

As you can see, vegetables don’t seem daunting in the very least. These are great, quick and cheap alternatives to fatty foods that bring on the ounces on your weighing scale. As they are low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories naturally, it is no wonder that vegetables have been advocated to dieters for such a long time. If recipe is your problem, there are great recipe books or online recipes that show you great ways to make your vegetables tasty without adding unnecessary fat and taking away their nutrients.

Advocating Avocado Pears

Avocadoes are back in season – hurrah! All summer I’ve been looking at the exorbitantly priced sad-looking specimens in the shops, refusing to buy, as I know they’ll be disappointing. At the end of summer the price starts dropping, then come bargain bags of ten and you know that the season is back in full swing, the fruits will ripen to perfection in a few days (they have to be bought still hard, or they squish in the shopping bag before you get them home). Once ripe, the creamy, mellow flesh is best eaten simply. Perhaps cut in half with olive oil and salt or a dash of vinaigrette dressing or just spread on bread.

The avocado is one of the few green things that my children will reliably eat. Though I am a bit wary of making these sweeping statements, as they are quite capable, for no apparent reason, of turning against an old favourite, especially if it constitutes healthy eating. This, the avocado most certainly does. It is a rich source of Vitamin E, also contains a good amount of Vitamins B6 and C, potassium and is high in monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol. So throughout the winter I know that they are getting all these nutrients in their diet.

Avocados go well in sandwiches, turning an otherwise dull filling into something luscious. Partner with bacon or Marmite, salad or cold chicken. My children will pick the chunks of avo from a salad, leaving the rest for me, sans avo. Another great way of using ripe avocadoes in season is as a dip. Mash them with a squeeze of lemon, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and perhaps a drop of chilli sauce, provide some chips or nachos to scoop with and it’ll be gone in no time.

My husband remembers having avocado breakfasts as a child. Just avos and a selection of fillings to dollop in the centre and eat with a spoon. Coming from a country where the avocado was considered exotic in the Seventies, I remember it being served as a highly desirable starter filled with prawns in a pink mayonnaise, when we were taken out to dinner as a treat. Maybe it’s back in fashion again – retro chic.

Those avocadoes never attained the creamy, voluptuous texture of a truly ripe avo though. The long journey from sunnier climes, in refrigerated containers, left you with the choice of eating them a bit too firm or else by the time they felt soft to the touch they had already turned black inside. Now we’re lucky enough to live in a country where they grow and can wait to eat them until the perfect creaminess has been reached.

I’m watching my first bag of the season carefully, gleaming darkly green in their bowl, like a clutch of eggs in a nest, for the first signs of ripeness…then we feast!

Copyright 2006 Kit Heathcock

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Different Kinds Of Beef Jerky

Beef jerky seems to cause extreme reactions in people. They either love it or hate it. I love it. Yes, eating beef jerky can be a marathon chewing experience. But I love the taste of it. It also helps me avoid eating too much junk food because after I eat a few pieces of beef jerky I’m satisfied and no longer want to consume an entire bag of potato chips.

Although beef jerky is relatively low in calories, it contains a lot of sodium so it’s often not considered a health food. I consider it a fairly healthy snack though. It’s a lot better for you than eating those chips I mentioned above or eating cake, pie, brownies, and candy bars.

If you like beef jerky but don’t want to give your jaw a workout there’s some types of beef jerky that are easy to chew. Look for pieces of beef jerky that are chopped and formed. They are much easier to chew than traditional beef jerky which is made from slices of beef. But the chopped and formed beef jerky is typically higher in calories and lower in protein than traditional beef jerky so it’s not as good for you. You can also make your own easy to chew beef jerky if you have a food dehydrator, good quality ground beef, seasonings, and some patience.

If you look at your local store you’ll usually find beef jerky seasoning packets right next to the food dehydrators. If you prefer to mix your own seasonings there are lots of free recipes available online. Do a search for “beef jerky seasoning recipe” or “beef jerky recipe” and you’ll get tens of thousands of “hits.” You’ll have more recipes than you’ll know what to do with.

I’ve made beef jerky at home with ground beef countless times. And although it’s easy to make, it’s an investment of time and patience. The ground beef and seasoning are mixed together (that’s the easy part). Then the meat needs to be pressed into strips (this is the time-consuming part). The strips are then placed in the dehydrator. That’s when patience is required because, depending on what type of jerky you are making it takes 4-12 hours to dry and become jerky.

If you make your own jerky keep in mind that it shrinks a lot, sometimes up to two-thirds. You may think you’re making a lot of jerky until you open your dehydrator back up after the meat has dried and you see little pieces of meat where there used to be big pieces of meat.

Although some people enjoy making their own beef jerky, most people prefer to buy their beef jerky already made. There are lots of choices. In addition to the choices at your local grocer and convenience store, many meat markets and butcher shops make and sell their own beef jerky.

The flavor choices are varied too. Although traditional beef jerky is my favorite flavor, I also enjoy peppered and teriyaki flavored beef jerky. Hot or jalepeno flavored beef jerky is also readily available at most stores, but if you like really hot beef jerky you might want to shop online where you have more choices of hot, hotter, and hottest flavors of jerky. Other flavors of beef jerky I’ve seen include: barbecued, hickory smoked, honey glazed, Hawaiian, lemon pepper, Cajun, Tex Mex and chili.

And, in addition to the traditional slices of beef jerky, you can now purchase shredded beef jerky and beef jerky chips.

If you’re looking jerky that’s made with something other than beef you have lots of choices too. There’s turkey jerky (yummy), chicken jerky (also yummy), buffalo jerky (tastes a lot like beef jerky), ostrich jerky (not my favorite but I was predisposed to not like it because ostrich jerky didn’t sound good to me), alligator jerky (wasn’t a fan of this kind either), crocodile (wouldn’t try it since I didn’t like the alligator jerky) kangaroo (haven’t worked up the courage to try this kind yet), Emu (scared of this one too), Wild Boar jerky (have only seen this kind online and haven’t tried yet), Venison (it was okay but I’m not a fan of venison) and smoked Salmon (haven’t tried this one yet but it sounds good).

I’ve also heard of people making their own trout jerky, goose jerky, and duck jerky. The choices seem nearly endless.

If you’re wondering about the history of jerky and where it originated, it seems to be a little unclear. Some people say Native Americans made the first jerky (buffalo jerky) thousands of years ago. Other people say an ancient Inca tribe called the Quechua made the first jerky in the 1500’s. Although the process to make beef jerky have changed and been modernized over time, the same basic procedure of thinly slicing meat, adding seasonings, and drying it with a low heat are the same as when jerky was first made.

Jerky is a food that’s likely here to stay. And although beef jerky is by far the most popular type of jerky, more and more people are becoming adventurous in their tastes and want to try some of the more “exotic” types of jerky. As that trend continues, it’s hard to imagine what the next type of jerky will be. Could it be tofu jerky? Or has someone already made that kind…...

Acai - Wears the Crown of the Superfoods

The acai berry is is strange in the way that only 10% of the berry is actually edible, the main reason for this is it has a large stone which takes up most of the berry. It is a dark purple berry slightly smaller than a grape, acai is more communally mixed with ice cream, meal bars and also energy drinks. The acai berry requires rapid precessing after its late harvest.

The acai berry grows in the rain forests of the amazon in south america and is considered by some as being more than an organic fruit. These rain forests remain untouched by any sort of manufacturing, everything in this region is grown the way it was intended by nature and no mass production is add in any way.

Pronunciation of this fruit is "ah-sigh-ee", acai, or euterpe oleracea (arecaceae) has been seen to excell in heathly attributes and greatly aids metabolism. It is highly promoted by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a health guru and best-selling author, calling the acai a "superfood."

It wasnt until the turn of the millenium when the acai berry was dicovered to be in north america and it hails from the palmberry tree. It usually grows in the amazon, the natives of this region cultivate the berry and have enjoying it health producing properties for many years now. Acai is usually consumed as a puree or in a smoothee or milk shake, this drink is more communally served on the Brazilian beaches and tropical resorts, although acai is an aquired taste, as it tastes mostly of wine wine with a hint of choclate.

Acai is abundant in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that has been proven to combat cholesterol and free radicals, consuming acai has been proven to reduce blood related disorders and relax the blood vessels. It is also a great help in preventing arthresclerosis and is a powerful combatant of cancer. Red wine is healthy for you because of the anthocyanin content from the grapes. the Acai berry has over X30 the anthocyanin than any grape.

Aside from anthocyanins, another benefit of the acai berry is an acid called aleic acid which is very good for the heart. Oleic acid also keeps a cancer-causing oncogene (this is found in many breast cancer patents) from acting up, Acai is also great for anyone who has any sort of digestive conditions.

Acai is good as a dietary supplement, it is very low in fat and colestrol and yet high in fiber. These benefits are usually found in the skin, the acai skin contains nutrients such as phytosterols, vitamin C, E, manganese, chromium, copper, and even boron as well as a few others including calcium, acai contains more calcium than even milk.

In recent studies have been conducted and acai has other benefits other than the ones that have been mentioned in this article such ailments would include a variety of virus's and prostate problems. It also helps improve lipoprotein metabolism and reinforces your immune system. One of the less known attributes of acai is it is said to have very powerful aphrodisiac properties, because of its revitalizing qualities. To produce this aphrodisiac, you need to mix the acai pulp with guarana another fruit grown in south america, although this is the most powerful combination the acai berry can be mixed with any fruit or mixture even milk or beer.

Unfortunately now the acai berry is not found in any store in the united states this is mainly because the fruit spoils very quickly, the only way that this berry can be got is thought a frozen or pureed form. In brazil the athletes would take the berry as part of their daily diet and consider it a must for a healthy lifestyle

The acai berry is small and although you can find the nutrients that it has elsewhere the difference here is that acai crams all of them into a small space, this has been considered to be a premium way to undertake a good healthy lifestyle.

Other benefits of this amazing berry include greater energy, stamina, digestion and mental stimulation. Drink acai in juice or smoothie form also helps you sleep better at night. Acai also includes more proteins than an egg white, it also serves as a revitalizing agent supplying you with the energy of a speeding train, this is a good way to increase sex drive and performance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Best Advice On the Taller Bar Stools

For most of the bar counters and kitchen counters, they stand about 40 inches tall, this has been the norm for many years. However, this has recently changed though with bar counters and kitchen tops being raised 6 inches.

This is like a spanner in the works for bar owners and home buyers who need to find taller bar stools to suit their counters. Enter the 34 inch bar stool! This bar stool is the solution to the problem of the higher counter.

If you want you can still use the standard 30 inch bar stool for the higher counters but this would create a sizable distance differential from where you are sitting to where you are eating or drinking and then you would spend more time straining to have your dinner or beer comfortably rather than just relaxing.

Have you ever been in a bar or restaurant and the stools or chairs were not the right size for you were sitting? This happens a quite frequently in establishments that have multiple seating areas such as booth areas as well as a seating area. The problems you face here is that after a time the seats or lounge chairs begin to sink, you then suddenly feel like the tabletop is right in your face.

Sitting on a 34inch bar stool at a 45 inch counter or table is the perfect combination the stools are just at the right distance from the bar top to maintain optimum comfort. Another good use for 34 inch bar stools is for people who are really tall and find it uncomfortable sitting on regular bar stools having to keep their legs bent while resting them on the bottom rung.

Standard bar stools have seats that are 30 inches from the ground. This is a good sitting position for patrons of regular height but not as good for those of the taller persuasion who require more height in their furniture.

A Thing To Do With A Basket After The Fruit Is Gone

Once you have consumed the fruit and other contents of your fruit basket, do not throw out the basket itself! These containers that hold a bevy of edible goodies are perfect for a number of clever uses around your home. From storage to decoration, the basket portion of your gift will allow you to keep enjoying the present long after the fruit has been enjoyed.

Today’s fruit baskets are using more unique and less traditional containers, ranging from colanders to planters. If your fruit basket has a container that is other than a basket, then you will probably already have a good idea for which it can be used. However, many fruit basket recipients find themselves puzzling over how to use their baskets. If you find yourself in this head-scratching crowd, consider these fantastic options:

• Storage: Baskets today are making a comeback and are used for storing everything from your favorite pair of shoes to your kid’s building blocks. A trip to your favorite home décor store will present you with tons of baskets in every shape and size, so consider using your emptied fruit basket in the same manner. Tuck towels into your basket and use it to add extra storage space in a tiny bath. Put a basket in your car to keep items from rolling around in a trunk or back hatch. Hang a basket underneath the garage to hold sporting equipment or use them inside your home to hold magazines, cleaning supplies, toys, and anything else under the sun!

• Function: Many families designate each family member a basket, allowing them to pick up their items left around the home. This is a great idea, since you can keep things better organized and teach all family members (even the adults) tidiness.

• Decoration: Many homeowners use baskets as a decoration, filling in blank corners or bare tops of furniture. Fill your basket with greenery or flowers and use as a centerpiece. Use your basket as a planter and move your live plants to a more aesthetic location. Baskets are also a great way to cover less savory items that have become a necessity in your home, especially wires and electronic equipment that is threatening to take over your room.

• Re-use: Instead of using boring gift bags or clumsy boxes to house gifts, consider using a basket! Half the impact of the gift is its presentation, so you can guarantee your gift to be a hit if you tuck the treasure inside a basket. Whether you choose to make your own gift basket or just use the basket for wrapping and transport, reusing your basket is a great way to pass on a lovely item to a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tea and Time

Tea and time have something in common. They both begin with letter "T". There is a reason for that. Under that commonality also lies a lesson of life.

To enjoy tea, we need to take time.

First of all, even before the steeping starts, we observe the tea leaves. Leaves from different types of tea come in different shapes, texture and colors. The shapes are typically from the delicate hand rolling. The majority of the workers in a tea garden are women. Imagine how those beautiful girls and ladies pluck the leaves in a sunny spring morning. After the leaves are dried, they hand roll them to form a certain shape and sort them out at the end. Tea is no longer mere leaves but a form of art from beautiful hands.

Second, you pour hot water into the cup. You don’t just sit and wait (and getting bored and even impatient). Watch the leaves unfold and dance up and down slowly. This “agony of the leaves” is necessary for the flavors and nutrients to be released.

Steeping is also about timing. Not too long, not too short. The timing depends on our individual preference in taste.

Finally, we don’t gulp a cup of tea as we do with a can of soda. We sip. Before we sip, we observe the color and the uprising mist of the liquid. We smell the aroma. These are all part of enjoyment of tea.

It all takes time. All the good things in life take time to brew and to enjoy.

Time is the most precious thing. It is also most constant thing as well. We can't get more of it by rushing it. We could potentially lose it if we rush - not only time but also all the great things in life that must be enjoyed with and over time.

A Chinese proverb says it all, “Hurry and impatience prevents the enjoyment of hot tofu.”

You may ask, what about the need for speed and convenience?

Yes, they are some times our friends. They are the propellers of civilization and evolution from nomadic to agriculture to industrial society. Mankind invented automobiles, aircrafts and spacecrafts to move from A to B faster. Fast foods have become a part of our diet in the past decades as more and more families have two working parents and more and more people are into sports, travel and adventures. The faster pace of living demands speed and convenience.

But there is a limit. Overdose of speed and convenience can and have already hurt our quality of life. Recent years have seen increased health problems such as obesity and cancer. More people and families are suffering from stresses of all kinds. Our physical and psychological well being does not improve even though economically we are better off.

It may be time to slow down a little bit and to get back to the basic of life. Tea can help in many ways with its powerful healing power and the lesson it teaches us about time and timing.

A Taste Worth The Wait: One Step Beyond A Good Wine, Villa Bellentani Balsamic

Just a little beyond a good wine is an aged vinegar. In Modena it’s revered as balsamico. Gourmet chefs seem to have embraced the allure of balsamic vinegar in the last two decades, but it was tradition passed down in Italy from father to son over centuries that resulted in the large scale acceptance of the finest vinegar condiments the world has ever known.

“Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” – Bertrand Russell

The strains of classic Italian folk music are heard in the distance as the doors open on something new, yet something altogether regal. The villa in Carpi is one of Italy’s national historic landmarks and the Villa Bellentani sits as one of its crown jewels. Built in the 18th century, the Villa Bellentani harkens to an era of rich heritage and rural sensibilities. Now, this same villa is a perfect blend or uncommon historic beauty coupled with state of the art facilities for aging balsamic vinegar for yet another appreciative generation.

It’s plain to see that the world has discovered a special love affair with Modena balsamic vinegar, yet it is also true that two other facts are equally evident. 1) There doesn’t seem to be enough quality balsamic vinegar to meet growing world demand and, 2) while inferior vinegars are easily obtained they spoil the pristine image and taste of true, aged balsamic vinegar. The Italian producer Villa Bellentani is making efforts to offer some of Modena’s best vinegar, yet preserve the integrity of the balsamico heritage.

It was with a deep respect for the thousand year history of balsamic vinegar that Italian vineyard growers join with producers at Villa Bellentani to develop quality aged balsamic vinegar that holds to the timeless traditions of Italy’s finest producers.

Americans discovered balsamic vinegar in the 1980’s, but it was tradition passed down from father to son over many centuries that resulted in the ‘overnight success’ of the finest vinegars the world has ever known.

The same country that brought you such notable artists as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci as part of the Renaissance also provides a culinary artistry that offers incomparable quality and taste - the wonderfully adaptable aged balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico di Modena.

It is certain that such taste has value far beyond the purchase price. Long standing Italian history comes into focus when the balsamic vinegars of Villa Bellentani are tasted and found worthy to attain the ranks of the ‘world’s finest’.

Producers around the world have attempted to duplicate the Modena balsamic vinegar, but few pay regard to the tradition and taste that find customers willing to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for well aged blends. It is a shame to see something so precious treated in such a common way by many who will claim a product of comparable quality. In truth, much of what sells as balsamic vinegar is little more than common vinegar mixed with caramelized brown sugar. Yet in Carpi there’s a wooden cask of balsamic vinegar that has aged for more than a decade, and one day some of the precious liquid inside could find its way to your table. Your eyes will close and you take in an appreciative breath, for the taste was worth the wait.

The pace of life in Carpi is a world removed from most urban cultures. Perhaps it is that slower pace that is beneficial when you discover the difference in well aged balsamic vinegar in the grand tradition of Italy. Villa Bellentani a family estate producer seeks to fill that void.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sweet Memories

These days all you hear about is how to eat healthier, lose weight and get fit. It’s all for the good, but sometimes it’s fun to go back to when you were a kid.

Remember all the games you used to play? Board games like Scrabble, Monopoly and Life. Tag, hide n’ seek.

Running around, riding bikes, skating, rolling down grassy hills.

Ok, I’m getting a little idealized here. So let’s have a little fun. Let’s remember the candy!

What were your favorites? Licorice? Chocolate? Laffy Taffy?

I remember the delight of the days when I was first old enough to go to the store to buy candy on my own. No parents to tell me I couldn’t have it. Lemonheads were always one of my favorites.

My sisters and I no doubt spent way too much of our allowances on candy, but it was sooo much fun! We’d hide it so that our mother wouldn’t find it, but throw the wrappers straight into the trash after eating the candy. My mother laughed about that to me once a couple years ago, but I still think the logic works. The candy had been eaten after all; she couldn’t undo that, so what did it matter if she knew then?

Halloween was, of course, the best. As we got older we got to be the kids that went around the neighborhood later than just about anyone else, so the people who didn’t want to have leftover candy would just dump their excess on us. No worries back then about poison.

Hiding our Halloween candy was pretty much a competitive art form. We were always trying to find the best places to hide each individual piece. Of course, that meant that every here and there we’d find a piece that had clearly been hidden for a year or more... yuck! But it meant that Halloween candy lasted quite a bit longer than it would have otherwise.

Despite my best resolutions these days, I still love candy. Chocolate is my main weakness now, but I know how to be pretty good about it, buying the small bars so that I get the taste without having a whole regular sized bar. But then come those days when I have to get into my old favorites. I love how Lemonheads feel on a sore throat.

Yes, it does pay to eat healthy. But everything in moderation, and that includes moderation. Sometimes you just have to enjoy a few old memories. Share them with your kids or keep them to yourself, but just enjoy.

A Review Of Bontonmairimnam Restaurant

On my current vacation in Khon Kaen, Thailand, I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite restaurants.

I wanted to take my girlfriend's mother out to dinner and was told lunch would be a better idea.  Not one to argue, I agreed.

My lady asked me where I wanted to take her mom for lunch and the choice was simple.  Having been to Khon Kaen a few months ago, I told my girl that I wanted to go to Bontonmairimnam Restaurant.

This is a small restaurant just outside the city limits and right on the bank of a river.  It is cool and peaceful and has small, individual eating areas in gazebo-like wooden structures.

There is usually a cool breeze running through this outdoor restaurant and today was no exception.  After ordering a couple of cokes, some water, and a cold beer, it was time to study the menu.

Fortunately for me, the menu is in Thai and English.  This is unusual for the area and especially for a restaurant so far away from the few English-speaking tourists that visit Khon Kaen.

After poring over the menu, decisions by all were made.  We placed out order to the very attentive young lady servers and chit-chatted while we waited for our lunch.

Within 5 minutes or so, the parade of food started to arrive.  Boiled eggs, spicy papaya salad, oyster salad, squid, vegetables, and steamed rice arrived.  I had to wait a couple of more minutes for my fried dishes.

Soon, my fried shrimp and onion rings and spring rolls arrived.  I had already started with the food that the ladies ordered, as all is shared.

Picking from eight different plates and complimenting them with the rice on my plate, the food just kept on coming.

Conversation and drinks continued to flow and we ate and ate and ate.  The pace was slow, the breeze lightly setting off the wind chime, and the river flowed behind me.

Continuing to eat, it was time to order another beer from one of the girls hovering near our table.  She got it in an instant, and poured me another cold one.

After dinner goodies were available, but none of us could eat another morsel.  From veggies to seafood, to salads and friend shrimp, it was all delicious.

A final bottle of water was ordered to wash it all down and some more relaxing conversation continued.

It was time to head back to the hotel so I called for the bill and since I had been here before, was not surprised.  The grand total was 860 Baht, or roughly, 27 US dollars for 8 dishes, 2 large beers, 2 cokes, and a bottle of water.  Adding a small, 40 baht tip and we had a feast for under 30 dollars.

One of the many reasons I love Thailand.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Storing Food - The Basics

In The Refrigerator

Foods stored in the refrigerator or freezer should be in excellently wrapped packaging such as cellophane and tin foil or in sealed containers such as zip lock bags and plastic bowls with lids and locking mechanisms. A pad lock is suggested to keep kids and spouses out of your favorite ice creams. The main point is that the food is sealed; nothing gets in nothing gets out.

Food sealed effectively preserves flavor and moisture also thwarting any attempts of other foods with dripping juices and stronger aromas seeping out and transferring into dishes they are not meant to be in. Not to mention making a refrigerator much fresher and easier to clean.

It is crucial to keep raw meats and poultry sealed as best as possible due to their tendency to drip and seep bacteria into foods not intended for cooking or even your leftovers. This can cause a common illness called “food poisoning”.

Perishable foods should be kept at a temperature of 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to maximize freshness. These foods include but are not limited to all meats (beef, pork, poultry, fresh water fish and seafood), eggs, all dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.), most fruits, and most vegetables.

Why does cooling or refrigerating help preserve foods? Well the basic science is simple. Temperature is a measurement which tells us how fast molecules are moving. The refrigerator is a tool which slows the molecules in food thus decreasing the rate at which the food spoils. The warmer the food is the faster the rate of spoilage, which is why freezing our food is so advantageous. Freeze foods at temperatures lower than zero degrees Fahrenheit for longer storage periods.

Conversely, Cryopathy or the “destruction of tissue by freezing” is where the molecules in living matter such as meat slow down so much that they loose their molecular cohesiveness and break down. This is what occurs when something decays. Thus frost burn on meat or any food is actually frozen decay, icky, don’t eat it.

However, refrigerator companies still see no reason to integrate a thermometer, allowing us to tell what temperature our food is at. They instead use this dial with a number or a red and blue image indicating colder or hotter. The dial only controls the refrigeration of the food and does not tell us what temperature the refrigerator is at.

Consequently whether storing, preparing, or serving your food it is essential to keep it at the correct temperature. Get your self a nice freezer and refrigerator thermometer. Don’t be weird about the temperature of your food just keep on eye things. You’ll notice that because the refrigerator is controlled by a dial it refrigerates at that same rate no matter what how cold or hot it may really be inside of the refrigerator, thus in the winter you may need to turn your dial down in order to not freeze your milk.

Storing Fresh Fruits

Fruits that can be stored at room temperature while ripening include but are not limited to apricots, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, and plums. Once they have ripened refrigerate and eat within 2-3 days for maximum freshness.

Apples stored in a refrigerator stay crisper longer however they can be stored at a cool room temperature. Other fruits that can be stored at a cool room temperature include bananas, dates, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges. Apples can be kept at this temperature for a few days, citrus fruits up to a week, and dates for several weeks, any longer than that toss them in your refrigerator.

Fruits purchased while ripe include but are not limited to berries, cherries, figs, grapes, melons, pomegranates, and tangerines. These should be refrigerated and eaten in about 2 to 3 days. Pomegranates seem to last longer but don’t wait too long they can be expensive.

Storing Fresh Vegetables

Many vegetables can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Yet the ideal for many vegetables is in a dark cool ventilated room at a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These veggies include chayote, garlic, onion, potato and sweet potato, rutabaga and winter squash. These vegetables can be kept in this environment for about 2 months.

Remember that technically a tomato is a fruit not a vegetable, despite what it tastes like or what type of plant it grows on. Tomatoes should be ripened at room temperature then refrigerated.

Some vegetables spoil faster than others and should be refrigerated; peas and corn should be eaten as soon as possible while carrots and cabbage can be stored for longer. In most cases do not wash the vegetable until you are ready to serve and eat it, this prevents mold and rot. However, celery, curly endive, escarole, hearty greens, herbs, lettuce, spinach and watercress should be washed before storage.

Storing Canned and Dry Foods

Having a full pantry can be fun and reassuring. Yet keeping your canned and dry goods past their date of expiration or even past their freshness date can be bad when cooking for taste and nutrition. These foods should be kept in a cool dry cabinet no warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Indispensable items such as flour, salt, sugar, pasta, and grains should be sealed in humidity proof containers.

Further more moving these items to puncture and spill proof containers such as jars and plastic bins can greatly improve organization and make cleaning your cabinets much easier. Refined grains tend to last longer than whole-grain items do, so keep an eye on your whole-wheat flour and brown rice, perhaps in see through containers.

To add protein to your diet open all your bags and boxes of dry goods. Wait bug hovel saturation to peak then cook and serve, yummy! There is nothing like whole wheat pancakes and some sweet little bugs.

Dried spices and herbs keep their value to your cooking endeavors better in tightly sealed jars. Light is there enemy store your precious herbs in a dark place in a dark sealed jar, glass or ceramic if possible. Oils are the same way except make sure they are airtight and spill proof, a cooler place than the herbs and spices is more desirable for oils. Nut oils can be preserved longer if refrigerated.

Storing Fresh Herbs and Spices

Fresh is better than dried in my opinion and should be used whenever possible. Their scent and color can make all the difference in an ordinary dish that you have become board with. Many herbs can be grown at home in a pot on your window seal and have become easier to find at niche grocery stores and even supermarkets.

Fresh herbs are quicker to expel their flavor than dried herbs thus they should be chopped just before using and added to hot dishes towards the end of cooking. Some herbs you should not chop or cut, such as a bay leaf, these are so potent that it may be detrimental to your meal if you did chop it up, not to mention hard to chew and swallow. Many people even take herbs like this out of the soups so as not to have it accidentally eaten by a naïve friend.

When substituting fresh with dry herbs and spices or vice versa us the ratio of 1 teaspoon dried to 1 tablespoon fresh.

Though herbs are quick to impart their flavor spices are a different story. Spices typically need a longer amount of time to pass on their flavor and aroma. So follow the recipe directions and use your experience and knowledge to know when the directions are flawed or incomplete when adding the spices. Spices should be ground freshly just using a spice mill, nutmeg grater, or even a mortar and pestle. You will find an amazingly distinct difference in pre-ground and freshly ground spices.

A Moving Experience

I’ve found a cool apartment! Okay, okay…so it’s not perfect. Just a few bugs. I mean literally! First expense? An exterminator! Is it worth the cash? Well, I can’t afford a more expensive place, so a one-time (please!) cash outlay should be okay. Maybe just a can of “Raid?”

I need a way to move my stuff. Daddy, can I borrow your truck? You don’t have one? Why not? Do you want one? I’ll help you pick it out! Well, it was just a suggestion. No need to get all bent out of shape! I guess I’d better call the truck rental places. What do you mean…$200…PLUS mileage? AND Gas? Good grief!

While I’m on the phone I’ll call the utility and phone companies. Yes, I know I haven’t used your services before. No, I don’t have a credit card; this is my first place. You want what? A $100 deposit? For EACH? Holy cow…do you people have a license to steal?

Daddy, I need $500 for moving expenses! I used all my money for the first and last months rent AND the damage deposit. Well, how was I to know this was going to be so expensive? Sell something? Daaaaad…I NEED my TV!

Boy, this place is pretty empty. Maybe I should buy a couch and a chair. Nah…I have my bed. That’ll be good enough. I don’t need a table; I’ll just use this box.

Renters Insurance? I don’t think so! What do I have to insure?

Just got my first phone call! I’d love to come to your party! Daddy, I need a car. Because it’s too far to walk to work, that’s why. Umm, Daddy…there’s car insurance too! Thanks, Dad…you’re the best! And gas? I didn’t think so…

Time for dinner. Let’s look in these boxes. Oh, No! No dishes or pans. No FOOD!

Uhhh, Mom?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Save Money Shopping For Food

If your concerned about saving money while shopping for food at the super market, there are a few simple tricks that can help. First, always make a shopping list before you leave to the store. If you stick to your list, you will avoid buying those impulse items that look appealing while you are shopping. Make your list based on discounts in stores and stock up, this way you will avoid paying extra for food that you might need in a hurry. Experts also recommend that you shop the perimeter of the store first because this is typically where necessity foods are located such as fruits and veggies, meats, dairy and breads. The aisles are where you find things such as junk food and condiments which you are less likely to over purchase once your cart is full of other foods. Supermarkets also like to trick you into buying pricier items by placing expensive brand names at eye level which makes you more apt to purchase them. They also place items that are appealing to kids at kids eye level, so watch out for this too. Next time, instead of buying the first item you see, look at the whole length of the aisle and you will find other brands which are cheaper, and of the same quality.

Any smart shopper will always go to the store on a full stomach. Shoppers who are hungry enter the supermarket and smell fresh bread and meats are more apt to shop impulsively. You should also leave your kids at home, because they will only egg you on to buy more goodies to please them that you wouldn’t ordinarily buy. Another great tip would be to go grocery shopping with cash. If you have a limited amount of money to spend, you won’t be tempted to over shop with the help of an ATM card or credit card.

By following these simple rules you should be able to cut down on your monthly shopping bill. Remember to keep an eye out for coupons in the newspaper and flyers and to shop around at different stores that have better prices for different items. After this, it should be smooth sailing.

A Look At Coconut Oil

Coconut butter, which is also commonly referred to as Coconut oil, is a fat that consists of more than 90% saturated fat. As it’s name implies, this oil is obtained from coconuts and is commonly used for cosmetics, baking ingredients and cooking oil. The world’s largest exporter of Coconut oil, which is the Philippines, receives 7% of it’s total export income from this product alone.

Coconut oil is rich in a fatty acid and is among the more stable of all vegetable oils. Many consider it to be a healthy product, which may increase metabolism and improve the body’s ability to fight sickness by strengthening the immune system. Once an immune system becomes weakened for any reason, the body becomes susceptible to an array of illnesses. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, one’s immune system must remain strong. If it ever becomes weakened, it is essential to rebuild the immune system in order to protect the body against harmful sickness and/or disease. On the downside, because coconut oil is also high in saturated fat, some believe that it may increase the likelihood of cardiovascular and/or heart disease and possibly even diabetes. On the other hand, some international populations who consume large quantities of coconut oil have been shown to have lower rates of heart disease.

In addition to concerns surrounding the health effects, both good and bad, Coconut oil has been tested as a fuel, but has been faced with difficult obstacles due to it’s high melting point. Coconut oil is also used for hairstyling in India, while other individuals find it to be useful as a skin moisturizer. Coconut oil is believed to be both effective and safe when used in connection with skin care. And best of all, it is not believed to carry any adverse reactions to the skin. In fact, some users have actually reported improvements in specific skin conditions after using Coconut oil. Among them, eczema, which is a very uncomfortable rash that develops in the form of small blister-like lesions. These are both painful and may result in scarring.

The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered as, or used in place of, medical advice or professional recommendations for any type of treatment, cure or remedy to certain skin conditions and/or other illnesses. Prior to beginning any treatment regimen, including that which consists of coconut oil, individuals are urged to consult with their physician and/or dermatologist for proper diagnosis and/or treatment recommendation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Salmon - An Affordable Luxury

Salmon is one of the most versatile fish we can buy, and despite its longstanding reputation as a luxury fish, is nowadays surprisingly affordable.

Salmon are available in both farmed and wild varieties, and while the wild salmon has the edge in terms of both flavour and texture, the quality of the farmed fish has improved greatly over the years and is now a fish that makes thoroughly respectable eating. The comparative rarity of wild salmon, which is only available for half the year between February and August, is at least as responsible as quality for the higher prices it commands compared to its farmed cousins.

Most of the wild salmon you can buy will be from the Atlantic Ocean, both off the shores of North America and Northern Europe, with Scotland being an especially famed source of the fish. Salmon can also be found in the Pacific, although these fish tend to find their way into cans rather than the wet fish counter of your local fishmonger.

An enduring image of wild salmon is of a sleek silver arch of fish leaping up weirs and waterfalls, and this arises because they are are born in freshwater, but spend most of their lives in the sea after migrating while young. They will stay in the sea for between one and four years, before returning to the very same river they were born in to spawn, which is usually their last act before expiring from the exhaustion of the journey upstream.

Farmed salmon, in contrast, spend their entire lives in lochs or river estuaries, swimming in net cages, sometimes at densities higher than is healthy for the fish. Fish farming has gathered something of a bad reputation over the years, and it's true that salmon farms once showed a similar disregard for animal welfare that you'd find in most industrialized farming operations. In recent years, though, public opinion has forced a rethink, and standards have widely improved - you can even find organic farmed fish these days.

When you come to buy salmon, the usual rules for buying fish apply. Make sure you can see a whole fish so that you can get an idea of how fresh it is - the pre-wrapped anonymous fillets packaged in a 'protective atmosphere' you find in many supermarkets is a gamble at best. A fresh fish will have bulging eyes rather than sunken ones, will feel firm to the touch, and should not smell 'fishy' as this indicates that it is past its best.

Depending on how many you are feeding, you can buy a steak which is cut from the shoulder of the fish, a fillet from nearer the tail end, or even a whole fish. Tail end fillets possibly offer the best eating, as they are more or less free of bones apart from the pin bones which can easily be removed during preparation. Steaks, however, are a more meaty cut and are perhaps more suited to cooking methods such as a barbecue or grill.

Whichever cut you buy, you can be assured that your health will benefit - as an oily fish, salmon is high in Omega 3, which has been shown to be of use in preventing heart problems, and is widely believed to be helpful for brain and nervous system development and operation.

Enjoy your salmon!

A Legacy Of Food And Family Online

Have you secretly longed to be recognized for your daily hard work in the kitchen? Do you imagine yourself a gifted cook a la Martha Stewart (without the ankle bracelet)? Well, guess what? There is a quick and easy way to showcase your culinary skills and display your special recipes.

Although some people claim it is a piece of cake to make meals every day, the truth is, it can be exhausting and boring work. For example, after a long day at the office, sometimes you are too tired to decide on a TV show to watch, let alone choose what kind of meal to prepare. What is more, not everyone is naturally talented in culinary arts; for some, cooking a roast might as well be rocket science. But here is the good news--with modern high tech communication systems (namely, home computers), you do not need to be a master chef! Those who need a nudge and a few creative ideas to get the pots simmering can access thousands of recipes and cooking tips online. Even a beginner can find what she needs to get started in the kitchen.

There is no time like the present to upload your family recipes and write down your tricks of the cooking trade. The reason for doing this is two fold. First, you can stop worrying about losing a recipe because they will all be safely stored in your computer’s memory. Second, you will be doing a great service to the online community of “foodies” who are always eager for fresh dishes and new techniques to try.

Putting your family recipes online is a terrific way to organize your recipes, too. On your site you will be able to divide the types of food into different categories such as:

- Breakfast foods
- Lunch foods
- Dinners
- Snacks
- Cocktail party food
- Barbeque food
- Vegetarian meals
- Diabetic meals
- Summer treats
- Holiday food
- Rich desserts and low-cal versions

Your viewers will be able to pick and choose from these categories and within seconds they will be armed with a detailed recipe. You can take it a few steps further and offer a shopping list for each meal and helpful cooking tips to make sure the preparation goes as smoothly as possible.

For beginner and expert cooks alike, you can have a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and also encourage viewers to email you directly with unusual queries. Perhaps you will even want to have an online forum where your viewers and you can conduct lively conversations about a variety of topics, ranging from where to get fresh produce, to what to look for when buying fresh fish, and the best kind of spices to use in a gumbo.

Posting your family recipes online and establishing an interactive web site makes a lot of sense. You will be creating an electronic legacy for your own family members to enjoy, and you will also be reaching out to the wider internet community. In today’s harried world where multi-tasking is pretty much par for the course and people tend to eat on the fly, your thoughtful recipes may be giving another family exactly what they need to come closer together.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Read This Article If You Enjoy Eating

I'd like to start today by asking everyone who enjoys eating to raise his/her hand. That's it? Come on, I know more of you love eating than that. Don't be shy. If you love stuffing your face with sweets and junk food until you look like a squirrel hording food for the winter, throw your hand up. If you live for all-you-can-eat rib night at Billy's Arcade & BBQ, throw your hand up. If your midnight snack lasts 2 hours and includes more than one course, put your hand in the air and wave it like you just don't care. I'm not here to judge anyone today, I just want to know where my food lovers are.

That's much better! I'm seeing a lot more hands in the air now. There's still a gentleman in the rear who, judging from his bodily proportions, looks to be a regular at the Shoney's All Day-Everyday Buffet whose hand is not up, but if he doesn't feel comfortable participating then he doesn't have too. Or maybe he's just to full to move. Whatever the case I'm glad most of you decided to play along. You may now put your hands down.

We have established that almost everyone here today loves eating. This is no big surprise. Since our bodies need nourishment to continue functioning, logically the best way to keep us eating is make the process enjoyable. Whether you believe a Supreme Being made us this way or you believe we evolved this way over time is a matter of personal opinion. I am not about to get involved in that discussion. I didn't bring my riot gear with me today, and quite frankly, I tend to giggle uncontrollably every time someone arguing for evolution uses the term 'Homo Erectus'. So we'll just agree that eating is necessary and enjoyable. A win-win situation. At least for those of usfortunate enough to have access to appropriate amounts of food on a daily basis.

We don't always like to think about it but people starve to death everyday. Millions of people the world over are hungry and don't know if they will ever eat again. Let's take a moment to let that sink in. There are people who don't know if they will eat another morsel of food-EVER. Whole families with nothing to eat, lying around waiting to die. Many of them wanting to die because of the intensity of the hunger pains. Any of us who have ever went half a day without eating know how miserable it feels to be hungry. Now imagine going days-even weeks-without eating. Or worse imagine watching your children writhe around in pain from hunger. Imagine the powerlessness these parents must feel. It's truly a horrible thought and an even more horrible reality.

Any of us fortunate enough to be born in a land where food is plentiful and readily available have an obligation to help our hungry fellowman. This doesn't always take money. A simple prayer at night for all the world's hungry costs nothing and can work wonders. The Internet is home to countless websites that allow you to donate food simply by visiting other websites or clicking on banners. Volunteering for local charities that help feed the hungry in your own area is a great way to help out and get some self-fulfillment. If you do have a little money to spare there are numerous charities that you can donate to that are not scams and really do help feed the world's hungry. Whatever the method you decide to use remember that the starving citizens of our planet appreciate your sacrifice. Your time or money may make the difference in their or their children's life. So please join the fight against hunger. You can make a difference.

A Hymn to Baked Potatoes

What better on a cold winter’s night, than to come home to a supper of crisp-skinned baked potato, piping hot, a knob of butter soaking into the fluffy centre. Perfect for days when you get home in good time but have a million things to do and cooking supper is last on the list. All you have to do is get the oven hot (200C), fling them in, (with a cross scored on the top, so they don’t burst and coat your oven with an irremovable patina of flaked potato) and leave them there for at least an hour, better an hour and a half. You can get on with everything else, secure in the knowledge that supper is cooking without you and then put together a few fillings at the last minute.

One of  my favourite toppings is tuna. Just open the tin, drain, season with salt and pepper and some lemon juice (feel free to add mayonnaise if you like it but we don’t). Other hassle-free accompaniments are baked beans, grated cheese, left-over juices from last night’s stew. Any of these makes a tasty, nutritious meal with no fuss and best of all, one that most kids will enormous plus point for mothers everywhere.

A microwave hastens the process but leaves you with thin skinned potatoes that might do as an accompaniment to something else but lose the crisp appeal of the true oven baked article. If you are in a hurry, cook pasta instead and save your jacket or baked potatoes for a day when you remember to switch the oven on in time.

A variation to try with smaller potatoes: after washing, drying and scoring the potatoes, rub the skins with a little butter, then season with salt and pepper before baking to give you extra crispy, tasty skins that everyone will eat.

Another thing to try if you want to get fancy: once the potatoes are cooked, halve them, scoop out the insides, mix with a beaten egg, grated cheese, salt and pepper, heap the mixture back into the skins and return to the oven for another 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown. A meal in itself!

Cheap, filling, nutritious with the right toppings and needing the minimum investment of labour, the baked potato is every busy mother’s ideal supper!

Copyright 2006 Kit Heathcock

Monday, January 18, 2010

Restaurant Fast Food - it's not like grandma used to make

The growth of restaurant fast food cannot be denied. It seems that fast food places are opening up almost on every corner. It's not unusual to see a McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Popeye's Chicken, Del Taco, a Burger King and several others all within a block or two of each other.

This explosion of fast, fried foods, oversized to meet the growth of people is one of the suspected causes of the overweight phenomenon that's in all the newspapers. The "super size" or up sizing of fried french fries and drinks is not due to consumer demands but a desire for more profit. The rise of the value menu has lowered the overall profit margins for basic foods at most national fast food restaurants. Managements answer has been to offer a larger product for a "special" price. Although this seems like a good value, from a business standpoint, it adds tremendously to the bottom line. Unfortunately for the consumer, it also adds to their bottom line as well.

This strategy works well on 2 fronts for the business. First, consumers think they're getting a better deal at restaurants that offer to super size their order. This in turn drives the customer decision to do to one store instead of another. So the decision is more based on how much food instead of how healthy the food.

The second reason for this strategy is pure profit motive. Let's say that you typically order a 20 ounce cup of soda. The basic cost of this drink is 1 penny per ounce. That 1 cent per ounce covers the total cost of the drink. That's electricity to run the machine, the cup, straw, cover, drink product, and ice. That's right, that 20 ounce beverage costs the restaurant 20 cents and they charge you .79 cents. So as long as they can offer a larger drink at more than 1 cent per ounce, they're making more money. So raising your drink from a 20 ounce to a 32 ounce cup for only 25 cents more, gives the restaurant an added 13 cents profit from that larger cup. Remember 1 penny per ounce is costs, so the difference between 32 and 20 is 12 ounces which is 12 pennies and they charge 25 cents for the upsize! Wouldn't you like to make a 50% profit on any of your investments?

Now don't get all bothered by the huge amounts of money food companies make on drinks. Overall, after the costs of the building, the employees, taxes, product, utilities, etc, the actual net profit from a well run typical franchise fast food place is under 10%. 10% for the investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars is not considered exorbitant by means. Consider that the proprietor could have that investment in a solid mutual fund making at least or a little more without the risk of running a business or dealing with the customer and employee problems that come with any customer service type business.

I think we all would probably prefer however, that their pricing model be more geared toward healthy foods and less toward manipulation of the consumer

A Healthy Breakfast: Not An Impossible Mission

It’s a trite but true refrain that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For most of us, it’s been about 12 hours since our last meal and our bodies need a good refueling. Yet, statistics show that as many at 50% of us don’t eat breakfast.

We’re too busy. We don’t like breakfast foods. We’re not hungry. We’re trying to lose weight.

Sad to say, none of those reasons are valid. There are many healthy breakfasts that can either be bought or made that are fast and even portable. There’s no law that says you have to eat breakfast foods for breakfast. You legitimately might not feel hungry in the morning, particularly if you aren’t accustomed to eating breakfast. But you should eat something, even if you make a fairly light choice, like fruit and yogurt. Trying to lose weight is the worst excuse of all. Study after study shows that people who skip breakfast end up eating more the rest of the day than people who eat a solid breakfast every morning.

So how do you get the magical mix of the right nutrients that will give you energy and send you healthfully into your day?

It’s not that hard, really. Spend a little bit of time thinking about what you like and then plan some healthy breakfasts. Here are some ideas to get you started:

* If you need something portable, the ever-popular smoothie is a good choice. Be careful when you purchase a smoothie at a shop, however, as some can have as many as 600 calories. You can purchase a good blender or smoothie maker to have at home and whip up your own smoothie in less time than it takes to stop at a smoothie store, and you’ll know exactly what’s in it.

* For an even faster breakfast, try making some breakfast burritos and keeping them in the freezer. You can use regular or whole-wheat tortillas, scrambled eggs (either whole, all whites, a mix, or an egg product), some veggies like peppers and onions, and soy sausage. These freeze beautifully. Pull one out, and while you’re pouring your coffee, it can be heating in the microwave. Add a banana or apple for on-the-go dining.

* Cereal is a fine breakfast, as long as it’s not the only thing you eat. Consider adding some banana or blueberries on top, or fixing it with soy milk for a healthy dairy addition. Otherwise, stick to skim milk.

* If you don’t like breakfast, consider making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread. Grab a banana on the way out the door. Have some leftover vegetarian pizza from dinner? That’s a fine breakfast, though you will want to add a glass of milk or some fruit to round it out.

* Trying to lose weight? Breakfast might be the easiest meal to fill up without using a lot of calories or fat. Have oatmeal with soy milk, or a high-fiber cold cereal. Consider a homemade version of a fast-food sandwich. You can fry up an egg, add a slice of Canadian bacon and put the two into a toasted English muffin for a 200-calorie, filling breakfast.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Processing Industry, Cold Chain and Frozen food distribution systems : A Brief

India has tremendous potential to become the primary source of agricultural products, more specifically food products in the world. It has about 53% of arable land - land available for cultivation of crops as compared to a measly average of about 11% for the rest of the world. It has some feathers in it's cap as the second highest fruit and vegetable producer in the world, 6th largest producer of fish and such like but still doesn't make up to the top 10 food exporting countries.If it weren't for some severe infrastructure and technology issues, there is actually stopping for this gigantic food bowl. With large tracts of arable land, inexpensive labour and high-quality produce tumbling out of the barns, there is a potential so huge that sometimes, the scope and scale is almost unbelievable.

However, if one had to point out at one single single reason as to why the Indian agricultural industry is such a laggard when pitted against the global standards, it could be the pathetic state of the logistics, distribution and and an inefficient supply chain. India faces an acute problem of large amounts of food wasted away due to the lack of a proper cold storage, cold chain and frozen food distribution system. If only this was in place, huge amounts of food could have been processed into some kind of value added foods and sold both locally and abroad.Annually, there is usually a large amount of such agricultural produce that is waste away. If there were cold storage systems, efficient cold chain, logistics and distribution companies, it could have been possible to process these primary products into newer, secondary products and resold to consumers locally and internationally. A strategy needs to be carved out for the growth of this industry and a lot of investment action is yet to see some real action.

Investment in cold storage, cold chain distribution, installation of food processing plants across the country, applied research on harvesting technologies an a rapid development of the food retail industry are all necessary steps that would ensure an organic growth in this sector.

What is Cold Chain?

A cold chain is basically a logistics system, which helps in maintaining and providing a series of facilities for ensuring ideal storage conditions for the persihables from the point of origin to the point of sale. A well developed and efficiently organized cold chain reduces wastage, spoilage and helps keeps the perishables intact thereby helping to maintain the quality of the harvested food products ultimately making the whole system cost effective to the farmers and that which ensures top-notch quality to the end user.

A Guide To World Class Cuisine on the Web

As a self-declared gourmet from the womb, I'm always going out and trying the latest restaurants and culinary creations wherever I find myself. But sometimes, its nice to have a night in and be the one making the meals, rather than just eating them. Because I'm not the type to stick to a one-pan-easy-casserole-type-of-concoction, nor am I adept enough to combine flavors like the experts in my favorite restaurants, I turn to food sites for help with all my culinary questions.

If you're like me, and can't always follow a recipe without visual instructions, check out The site includes not only written instructions, but also videos of chefs preparing the recipes. Recipes are divided into categories of the most popular videos, as well as by restaurants, which are predominantly French or French-inspired, as well as healthy recipes. You can also search by chef and see their Michelin ratings, which is fun as they are all European. Also take advantage of the site's special touches, like napkin-folding instructions as well as a store where you can purchase a selection of quality gourmet goods.

If you're not in the mood for French but feel like trying out a new recipe, and can't decide whether to go exotic or traditional; direct your browser to, where you can watch people who love to cook make recipes in their home kitchens. You can watch your dish being made and then print the recipe for your own time spent in the kitchen. If you're really inspired, you can join and share some of your own recipes with the cooking world.

At, you can find video instructions on cooking meals that are quick and easy. Each video demonstration gives instructions on how to turn packaged food -products and flavorings into a whole meal. This site is good for families with little time to cook, but who want to make home-cooked meals. However, if you're into making elaborate meals from scratch, you can skip it.

Have you noticed how popular the Food Network has become in the last few years? The chefs are just as celebrated as their famous clientèle! If you are a fan of the famous foodies, watch your favorite Food Network stars make the recipes you forgot to TiVo anytime you want at You can search videos by popular chefs or by recipe categories and make yummy noises right along with Rachel or Giada.

One of my favorite sites, and the one I probably use the most can be found at I like because it really does seem to have every recipe imaginable. Not only does the site include recipes, it also has instructional videos on those tricky techniques real chefs seem to perform with such ease; like pitting an avocado or cutting and serving cake without all the layers falling apart. The range of recipes and levels of expertise are also extensive, so no matter what you're cooking up, can probably help you out.

These sites are easy to navigate and can provide a lot of help for those who like to eat and want to try making fabulous food for themselves.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Party for both hosts and guests- its plastic time

It is true that people toss parties to celebrate a special occasion like a Birthday Party or a wedding Reception. However, in the preparation of making the party amazing for the guests, the hosts suddenly find that they are, in no way, involved in the party celebration.

It is a common sight that hosts remain miserably deprived of the party enjoyments. The solace, they try to construct, is “the arrangements were for guests and they are enjoying”. Nevertheless, one should not forget that the party is as much for the host as it is for the guests, or, all the preparations go in vain and the party remains an unsuccessful one.

Only a host can imagine how much trouble he or she had to undergo (at least for weeks, moving from door to door) to plan, collect and arrange the best assortment in respect to the party-theme. The after-party scenario is more pathetic for the hosts, counting the number of broken china plates and calculating the refund amount or cleaning the dishes and other articles overnight to return to various suppliers.

However, days are changing. The hosts are relying more on plastic cups, cutlery and plates for they come in various shapes and colors to match the theme. These articles are cheap but durable. The hosts can even re-use them in the next party. A spokesperson from a full service online retailer and catering supplier said that they supply plastic dishes that look just like china and cost a mere fraction of what rentals do. Apart from saving the hard-earned cash, it also saves the host’s precious time, as they are available online.

Online Party and catering Supplies are highly on demand these days around the globe. From tablecloths, tableware to serving trays, all are only in a mouse-click distance. They can offer cheap pricing because of lower overhead costs as compared to large department store chains and similar retailers.

Many hosts are worried about actual color and quality of the online product range (one cannot ignore the fake online retailers). If the host is in any doubt about a product, they may ask for a sample at no extra cost.

Therefore, it is really the time to party even for the hosts. Go ahead and enjoy.