of October 29, 2010
You don't have to use just plain water to steam
vegetables. You may add some lemon juice, wine,
soy sauce, or other liquids to the water to add
flavor to the vegetables or add a fresh sprig
of thyme, rosemary, or other herb to the liquid.
A slice of onion or garlic also adds a soft aroma
and flavor to the dish.
may use an electric steamer, a metal steamer pot,
bamboo steamers or a metal steamer insert. Make
sure to use one with a handle that can be attached
at the top of the colander for easy removal. Remember
that the water should almost reaches the very
bottom of the colander but does not actually touch
the vegetables. It should be close enough for
the steam to cook the vegetables. Food is at least
one inch above the water at a rolling boil. The
liquid never should boil dry and the steam must
be able to circulate freely. It is useful to have
a kettle of boiling water handy when steam something
for a long period, to replenish the water as needed.
any vegetable or vegetable mixture can be steamed.
Steaming times will depend on the type of vegetable
and the size of the vegetable. When you are steaming
mixtures of vegetables, make sure to cut the vegetables
into smaller pieces if it requires longer cooking
times you may place vegetables like potatoes,
carrots, and other firm vegetables to the mixture
first so they can cook a little before adding
tender vegetables like green beans that take less
time. Add greens like spinach last as they take
just a short time to cook.
are several easy ways to tell when a vegetable
is cooked. If it is a green vegetable, look for
a vibrant color change. When the color intensifies
the vegetable is done. It should still be quite
crispy, but is tender. This should take at the
most about three minutes. In the case of leafy
greens like spinach it can take only a minute.
For non leafy green vegetables like broccoli and
green beans, it can take as long as 8 to 10 minutes
depending on the size of the vegetables and how
tender you like the vegetables. Obviously the
way that you prepare and cut the vegetables greatly
effects their cooking times. A whole carrot may
take over 30 minutes to steam, while thinly sliced
carrots can take only a few minutes.
Steam can cause severe burns. Be careful to always
open a steaming pan away from you to let the steam
escape away from you.
of October 22, 2010
you carve that Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween, don't
throw out the pumpkin seeds. They make great snacks
that are rich in fiber as well as vitamins B and
E. The toasted seeds have a wonderful nutty flavor
and are also great on salads. Kids really love
them. Pumkin seeds taste great roasted with only
salt as a seasoning, but they're also wonderful
flavored with sweet and savory spices.
on How to Toast Pumpkin Seeds:
Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick
out the pulp and strings. (Do this before the
pulp and strings dry out)
Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an
oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat or lightly
coat with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with
salt (and other savory spices if desired). Bake
at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes,
stirring every 10 minutes.
Let cool before eating. Store in an airtight container.
Serving - 1 ounce, about 85 seeds (toasted and
salted): 126 Calories; 5g Fat (37.6% calories
from fat); 1g Saturated Fat; 5g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate;
4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 163mg Sodium.
Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Fat.
of October 15, 2010
what makes a product Organic?
No doubt you have seen a surge of products
at your grocery store (not just your health food
store) that are labeled organic.
be able to use the term organic, fruits and
vegetables must be grown in soil that hasn't
been treated with toxic chemicals like synthetic
pesticides or fungicides for at a period of
at least three years.
products and meat product can only be termed
organic if animals that produce the milk or
are used for meat are raised without hormones
or antibiotics and fed nothing but organic
crops are exposed to agricultural chemicals
that are already found in the environment
in rain and in groundwater. But organic produce
is "grown without pesticides." Organic
farming practices rely on crop rotation to
improve fertility of the soil and to deter
pests as well as natural pesticides like soap
and botanical compounds.
a product is labeled "certified organic",
this means that the farmer, rancher or producer
has been examined by an outside agency to
ensure that that it is truly organic.
the term "natural" is used, that generally
means that no added coloring or preservatives
have been added but there are no guideline standards
set at this time.
Another term that you might see used in your meat
and poultry department is "Free-range".
This means the farm animals have access to the
outdoors (not cooped up). All organic animals
are free-range, but not necessarily are they organic.
Look for the "certified organic" stamp.
If you see the term "no genetically engineered
ingredients" on some of the organic food
you buy, meaning that it is not agenetically modified
Both non-organic foods and organic foods have
the same nutritional value. However most people
that prefer orangic products usually feel that
the products taste better and are less toxic kinder
to the earth.
Week of October 8, 2010
or soaking in salt water, is an easy way to make
moister poultry or pork. Typically a ratio of
16 parts water to 1 part salt is used (e.g. 1
quart water to 1/4 cup salt). Note that brining
does not add salt to the meat; it makes the meat
moist through osmosis which brings water out of
Brining increases the temperature (from 140 to
160 degrees) at which meat dries out (i.e. the
cells burst and lose their water).
originally used to preserve food (strong salt
solution); now it can be used to flavor meat (medium
The meat's cells have a concentration of salt
in them. Brine has a higher concentration of salt
than the meat. The osmosis process will balance
the concentration of salt between the cell and
the brine so in order to increase the concentration
of salt (note salt is not adding to the meat)
in the cells, the water in the cell moves from
the cell (passes through the cell's wall) to the
space surrounding the cell.
The temperature that causes the cell to burst
(and dry out the meat) has been raised from 140
deg to 160 degrees (due to higher concentration
of salt in the cell).
all means other ingredients may be added for flavor:
sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup,
fruit juices, beer, liquor, bay leaves, pickling
spices, cloves, garlic, onion, chilies, citrus
fruits, peppercorns, and other herbs and spices.
Many recipes call for bringing the ingredients
to a boil to dissolve the sugars and bring out
the flavor of herbs, then cooling the mixture
to below 40°F before use.
is a recipe for a basic flavorful brine that can
be used on chicken, turkey and pork:
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups water
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup kosher salt
recipe makes one quart. If you need more for submerging
larger birds or cuts, make additional amounts
of brine as needed.
Stir ingredients together in a saucepan and bring
to a boil. Continue stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Place meat or poultry in a food safe plastic bag
inside another container just in case it leaks.
(oven roasting bags are a good choice - please
do not use garbage bags).
Pour cooled brine into bag with meat or poultry,
and squeeze out as much air as possible and seal
with a twistie tie.
Refrigerate for 3-4 hours for 3 pounds meat (such
as pork ribs), 5-6 hours for a nice roasting hen,
or 12 - 24 hours for a turkey, 12 hours being
for a small one and the longer time for those
turkeys around 20+ pounds.
Discard brine before using and pat meat dry.
If using poultry, you may want to add citrus fruit
such as oranges or lemons, additional fresh herbs,
or cloves of garlic into the cavity.
Prepare meat as desired by roasting, grilling,
of October 1, 2010
Infustions to Add Flavor
infusion is a simple technique for extracting
the essence of an ingredient, such as vanilla
beans, tea leaves, or cinnamon sticks, to flavor
a liquid. You can use infusions to flavor puddings,
savory sauces, sorbets and beverages.
Dried fruit, nuts, herbs and spices can used to
make infusions. They are steeped in a liquid and
then strained out, leaving their flavor and sometimes
their color, behind.
Combine the liquid, whether it's milk, sugar syrup,
or soup stock, with the flavoring ingredient over
moderate heat. When the liquid almost come to
a boil, remove the pan from heat and tightly cover.
Let the mixture steep until the liquid is richly
flavored, usually 30 minutes to an hour. Strain
out the flavorings and press on them in the strainer
to extract all the liquid and to get out every
flavorful bit. Then use the flavored liquid as
directed in your recipe.
flavored oils is easy, and the end product can
add a lot of flavor to your cooking. Infused oils
make great bases for salad dressings, marinades,
are two simple methods for doing an infusion —
hot and cold. Be sure to begin with a light, tasteless
oil, like safflower or canola. Olive oil makes
a good infusion base for some herbs, but tends
to go rancid more quickly than other oils. Keep
your infused oils refrigerated. Olive oil will
last about a month; other oils will stay fresh
for about two months.
herb oils, use whole, fresh leaves. For spiced
oils, either whole or ground will do. If you choose
ground spices, strain the oil through a cheesecloth
before bottling it. Whole spices and herbs can
be left in the oil for decoration. They will keep
strengthening the flavor over time.
items that make good infusions: basil, fresh lavender,
rosemary, or sprigs of thyme, tarragon and roasted
garlic, star anise, lemongrass, dried chiles,
fresh mint, orange zest, grated ginger, crushed
coffee beans, toasted pistachios, lemon zest,