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Keep boullion and some flavorfull dried soup bases on hand for a quick soup base.
Keep fresh fruit in the refrigerator at all times for those sweet attacks. The fresh fruit will satisfy as well.
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Week of October 31, 2010

Plank Grilling

Plank cooking is so simple it's almost foolproof. Planks suited for grilling are widely available, conveniently packaged, and sized to fit a standard grill. Food cooked on a plank stays moist and tender because of the damp smoke that wafts from the wood plank.

Choose the Flavor

• Alder: perfect for mild foods and a is good match for seafood–especially salmon.
• Cedar: most aromatic wood that adds a deep but gentle flavor. Works well for spicy dishes as well as pork.
• Hickory: offers an intense smoky flavor that pairs well with beef and chicken.
• Oak: has a moderate flavor that blends well with a variety of meats, poultry, and fish.
• Birch, Pine, and Poplar: avoid these as they impart a bitter flavor.

Tips

• Soak planks before using to help keep the meat moist. A soaked plank produces maximum smoke and is less likely to burn. Submerge it in water for at least an hour.
• Use the soaked plank right away since the wood will start to dry out quickly.
• After placing the plank on the grill, immediately cover the grill so that smoke quickly surrounds the food.
• Food that touches the wood takes on more flavor, so arrange it on the wood plank in a single layer.
• Use oven mitts to remove the plank and place it on a heatproof serving platter. The edges of the plank may be charred and smoldering.

Week of October 24, 2010

Washing Produce

Do you know where your fruit and vegetables have been? Unless they are organic, they grew up in fields, they are covered in pesticides and herbicides. Although the pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables are considered to be at safe levels for human consumption, do you really want those extra chemicals on your food?

Once your fruits and vegetables were ready to be harvested, they were handled by several pairs of hands in the fields and orchards, then in the warehouses, and finally again in your grocery store. Bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. Coli may all be lurking on your fruits and vegetables, whether they are organically grown or conventionally grown. These bacteria all cause food-borne illness and need to be washed away from your produce.

You need fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, but not the insects, chemicals and bacteria that come along with them so make sure you wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them.

How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables

  • Start by keeping your kitchen countertops, refrigerator, cookware and cutlery clean.
  • Always wash your hands before preparing meals and handling fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep fresh greens, fruits and vegetables away from uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Choose healthy looking, ripe fruits and vegetables when you shop. Avoid bruised, moldy and mushy produce.
  • Wait until just before you eat or prepare your fruits and vegetables to wash them. Fruits and vegetables have natural coatings that keep moisture inside, and washing them will make them spoil sooner.
  • Wash all pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, even if the label claims they are pre-washed.
  • Wash all parts of your fruits and vegetables, even if you don't plan on eating them. Bacteria can live on the rind of an orange or the skin of a cucumber, for example. Though you may peel them away and toss them in the trash, the bacteria can be transferred from the outside of the fruit or vegetable to the knife you use to cut them, and then onto the parts you will be eating.
  • Gently rub fruits and vegetables under running water. Don't use any soaps, detergents, bleaches or other toxic cleaning chemicals. These chemicals will leave a residue of their own on your produce.
  • Commercial sprays and washes sold for cleaning vegetables really aren't any better than cleaning thoroughly with plain water, so don't waste your money on them.
  • Firmer fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes, can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush while rinsing with clean water to remove dirt and residues.
  • Remove and discard the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage heads, and thoroughly rinse the rest of the leaves.
  • Rinse berries and other small fruits thoroughly and allow them to drain in a colander.
Remember that the fruits and vegetables you buy may look clean when you pick them out at the grocery store, but you can't see bacteria or chemicals. Your fruits and vegetables still need to be washed before you eat them or serve them to guests or family members. This is especially important for produce and greens that are eaten raw.

Week of October 17, 2010

Shelf Life of Common Foods:

Every time you clean out your refrigerator or you food cupboard, you should probably chunk a few items that are outdated. The question is though, what has expired its shelf life and what hasn't.

Here are a few guidelines that might help for the General Shelf Lives For Common Items:

 Flour unopened: up to 12 months. Opened: 6-8 months.
 Sugar unopened: 2 years. Sugars do not spoil but eventually
        may change flavor.
 Brown sugar unopened: 4 months.
 Confectioners sugar unopened: 18 months.
 Solid shortening unopened: 8 months. Opened: 3 months.
 Cocoa unopened: indefinitely. opened: 1 year.
 Whole spices: 2-4 years. Whether or not opened.
 Ground spices: 2-3 years. Whether or not opened.
 Paprika, red pepper and chili powder: 2 years
 Baking soda unopened: 18 months. Opened: 6 months.
 Baking powder unopened: 6 months. Opened: 3 months.
 Cornstarch: 18 months. Whether or not opened.
 Dry pasta made without eggs unopened: 2 years.
        Opened: 1 year.
 Dry egg noodles unopened: 2 years.
        Opened: 1-2 months.
 Salad dressing unopened: 10-12 months.
        Opened: 3 months if refrigerated.
 Honey: 1 year. Whether or not opened.
 Ground, canned coffee unopened: 2 years.
        Opened: 2 weeks, if refrigerated.
 Jams, jellies and preserves unopened: 1 year.
        Opened: 6 months if refrigerated.
 Peanut butter unopened: 6-9 months.
        Opened: 2-3 months.

Week of October 10, 2010

Best Three Tps for Perfectly Cooked Fish.

Cooking fish CAN BE EASY. Do not be intimidated. Here are some simple tips to help you get started.

1. Be sure the fish you buy is in premium condition. Frozen fish that's carefully thawed can be excellent, just as poorly handled fresh fish can be awful. Unless you live on the coast or in a large city, most seafood (except salmon) will have been frozen. But even if you live in a rural area, good fish can be as close as your supermarket or wholesale club.

An the secret is... If you're not happy with the fish in the seafood case, ask for some that is still frozen. Or purchase bags of individually quick frozen (IQF) fillets. Thaw as many as you need in the refrigerator overnight or in a tightly sealed plastic bag under cold running water if you're in a hurry. It is best to cook fish the day you bring it home, but you can refrigerate it (on ice) for up to 48 hours.

2. DO NOT OVERCOOK. When you insert a fork in the thickest part, the flesh should be opaque nearly all the way through. A tiny streak of pink in the center is okay; the fish will continue cooking off the heat. Ten minutes of cooking time per inch of thickness is the rule of thumb, but start checking at eight minutes just in case.

3. Keep it simple. It's hard to beat perfectly sautéed, baked, or grilled fish paired with a simple sauce or topping.

Week of October 3, 2010

Perfectly Cooked Rice

1. Rinse the Rice. Rinsing rice helps get rid of any starch and impurities. Rinse until the water is clear and not cloudy.

2. For every cup of long grain white rice, add 1 1/2 cups water.

3. Bring the rice to a boil, uncovered, at medium heat.

4. When the rice is boiling, turn the heat down to medium low. Place the lid on the pot, tilting it to allow steam to escape (just slightly vented).

5. When the rice is boiling, turn the heat down to medium low. Place the lid on the pot, tilting it to allow steam to escape.

6. When you can see the holes or craters, put the lid on tight. Turn the heat down to low.

7. Simmer the covered rice for another 15 minutes. Fluff it up with a fork and serve hot.

 


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