Cubed Steak w/ White Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans

December 13, 2013 at 6:11 PM | Posted in BEEF, Bob Evan's, greenbeans | 1 Comment
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Today’s Menu: Cubed Steak w/ White Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans

 

 Cubed Steak 004

 

Warming up around here, up to 9 degrees this morning! We have a few inches left on the ground and they say starting tonight into tomorrow night we have another 3 or 4 inches on the way. Got out again running a couple of errands and back home. Dinner tonight; Cubed Steak w/ White Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans.

 

 

 

I normally don’t eat Beef but I’m making an exception tonight. While at Meijer came across some beautiful looking Cubed Steak. They looked too nice to pass up so I picked a package. They come 2 to a package, so it was one for dinner and one for the freezer. They were good size patties so I was able to cut them in half and had 1 for dinner and the other half for breakfast. To prepare them I seasoned them with Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper and I then rolled them in flour that I had mixed with a bit of Hungarian Paprika. Shook off the excess flour and pan fried them in Canola Oil, about 4 minutes per side. They came out delicious! Excellent flavor and very tender, especially for Cubed Steak which sometimes can be somewhat tough and stringy.

 

 

 

For a side dish I heated up some Bob Evan’s Mashed Potatoes, just microwave for 6 minutes total. Then I also made some Pioneer Peppered White Gravy, that I used to put on the Mashed Potatoes and Cubed Steak. I also heated up a small can of Del Monte Cut Green Beans and had a slice of Klosterman Wheat Bread. For dessert later a Del Monte No Sugar Added Mango Chunk Cup.

 

 

 

 

Cube SteakCubed Steak 003

Cube steak is a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, tenderized by fierce pounding with a meat tenderizer, or use of an electric tenderizer. The name refers to the shape of the indentations left by that process (called “cubing”). Many professional cooks[who?] insist that regular tenderizing mallets cause too much mashing to produce a proper cube steak, and insist on either using specialized cube steak machines, or manually applying a set of sharp pointed rods to pierce the meat in every direction. This is the most common cut of meat used for chicken fried steak.

 

In Canada as well as in some parts of the United States, cube steak may be called a minute steak, because it can be cooked quickly.
Others distinguish minute steak as:[2]
* simply referring to the cut, which is not necessarily tenderized;
* thinner than cube steak (hence does not need tenderizing);
* cut from sirloin or round, while cube steak cut is from chuck or round.
The term “minute steak” is also used in the United Kingdom, where the term “cube steak” is little known.

 

 

 

Beef Cuts

 

Cubed Steak

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beef cut: Round
Steak type: Cube Steak

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One of America’s Favorites – Candy Corn

October 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Candy corn

Candy Corn

 

Candy corn is a confection in the United States and Canada, popular primarily around Halloween. Candy corn was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Philadelphia, PA-based Wunderle Candy Company. The three colors of the candy – a broad yellow end, a tapered orange center, and a pointed white tip – mimic the appearance of kernels of corn. Each piece is approximately three times the size of a real kernel from a ripe or dried ear.
Candy corn is made primarily from sugar, corn syrup, wax, artificial coloring and binders.

 

 
The National Confectioners Association estimates that 20 million pounds (just over 9,000 metric tons) of candy corn are sold annually.

Originally the candy was made by hand. Manufacturers first combined sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, and water and cooked them to form a slurry. Fondant was added for texture and marshmallows were added to provide a soft bite. The final mixture was then heated and poured into shaped molds. Three passes, one for each colored section, were required during the pouring process.
The recipe remains basically the same today. The production method, called “corn starch modeling,” likewise remains the same, though tasks initially performed by hand were soon taken over by machines invented for the purpose.

 

 
A popular variation called “Indian corn” features a “special” chocolate brown wide end, orange center and pointed white tip, often available around Thanksgiving. During the Halloween season, blackberry cobbler candy corn can be found in eastern Canada. Confectioners have introduced additional color variations suited to other holidays. The Christmas variant (sometimes called “reindeer corn”) typically has a red end and a green center; the Valentine’s Day variant (sometimes called “cupid corn”) typically has a red end and a pink center; the Easter variant (sometimes called “bunny corn”) is typically only a two-color candy, and comes with a variety of pastel bases (pink, green, yellow, and purple) with white tips all in one package. In 2011, there were caramel apple and green apple candy corn variants. In 2013 there were s’mores and pumpkin spice variants.

 

 

Fall Harvest: Pumpkins

October 14, 2013 at 8:19 AM | Posted in vegetables | 2 Comments
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Pumpkins are the most common winter squash and come into season in September in most areas.

Several large pumpkins

Several large pumpkins

Pumpkin refers to certain cultivars of squash, most commonly those of Cucurbita pepo, that are round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin and deep yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. Some exceptionally large cultivars of squash with similar appearance have also been derived from Cucurbita maxima. Specific cultivars of winter squash derived from other species, including C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata, are also sometimes called “pumpkin”. In Australian English, the term “pumpkin” generally refers to the broader category called winter squash elsewhere.
Pumpkins, like other squash, are native to North America. Pumpkins are widely grown for commercial use, and are used both in food and recreation. Pumpkin pie, for instance, is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in the United States, although commercially canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie fillings are usually made from different kinds of winter squash than the pumpkins frequently carved as jack o’lanterns for decoration around Halloween.
Pumpkins, like other squash, are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, were found in Mexico.
Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. One often used botanical classification relies on the characteristics of the stems: pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and angular (with an approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems, which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit.

Traditional C. pepo pumpkins generally weigh between 6 and 18 pounds (2.7 and 8.2 kg), though the largest cultivars (of the species C. maxima) regularly reach weights of over 75 pounds (34 kg).
The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.
The largest pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. They were cultivated from the hubbard squash genotype, crossed with kabocha-pumpkin types by enthusiast farmers through intermittent effort since the early 19th century. As such germplasm is commercially provocative, a U.S. legal right was granted for the rounder phenotypes, levying them as constituting a variety, with the appellation Atlantic Giant. Eventually, this phenotype graduated back into the public domain, except now it had the name Atlantic Giant on its record (see USDA PVP # 8500204).
Weigh-off competitions for giant pumpkins are a popular festival activity. The world record held at 459 pounds (208 kg) until 1981, when Howard Dill (of Nova Scotia) broke the record with a pumpkin weighing 493.5 pounds (223.8 kg). Dill patented the seeds used to grow this giant pumpkin, deeming them Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds, and drawing growers from around the world. Dill is credited for all of the giant pumpkins today, most of which are borne from crossing and re-crossing his patented seed with other varieties. By 1996, giant pumpkins had crossed the 1,000-pound (450 kg) mark. The current world record holder is Ron Wallace’s 2,009.0-pound (911.3 kg) Atlantic Giant pumpkin, which in September 2012 surpassed Jim and Kelsey Bryson’s previous 2011 record of 1,818.5 pounds (824.9 kg).

Pumpkin pie is a popular way of preparing pumpkin.

Pumpkin pie is a popular way of preparing pumpkin.

Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. In the United States and Canada, pumpkin is a popular Halloween and Thanksgiving staple. Pumpkin purée is sometimes prepared and frozen for later use.
When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, eaten mashed and making its way into soups and purees. Often, it is made into pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holidays. In Canada, Mexico, the United States, Europe and China, the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.
Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as squash or zucchini. In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In South Asian countries such as India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa. Pumpkin is used to make sambar in Udupi cuisine. In Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups. In Australia and New Zealand, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables. In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura. In Myanmar, pumpkins are used in both cooking and desserts (candied). The seeds are a popular sunflower seed substitute. In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. In Italy, it can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli. Also, pumpkin can be used to flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
In the southwestern United States and Mexico, pumpkin and squash flowers are a popular and widely available food item. They may be used to garnish dishes, and they may be dredged in a batter then fried in oil. Pumpkin leaves are a popular vegetable in the Western and central regions of Kenya; they are called seveve, and are an ingredient of mukimo, respectively, whereas the pumpkin itself is usually boiled or steamed. The seeds are popular with children who roast them on a pan before eating them.
Commercially canned “pumpkin” puree and pumpkin pie fillings are often made with winter squashes other than the traditionally defined pumpkin, such as butternut squash.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are small, flat, green, edible seeds. Most pumpkin seeds are covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at most grocery stores. However, roasting pumpkin seeds (usually scooped out of jack-o-lanterns) is a popular Halloween treat. Per ounce serving, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc.

A can of pureed pumpkin, typically used as the main ingredient in pumpkin pie.

A can of pureed pumpkin, typically used as the main ingredient in pumpkin pie.

Canned pumpkin is often recommended by veterinarians as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats that are experiencing certain digestive ailments such as constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs. The high fiber content helps to aid proper digestion.
Raw pumpkin can be fed to poultry, as a supplement to regular feed, during the winter to help maintain egg production, which usually drops off during the cold months.
Pumpkin phytochemicals and nutrients remain under preliminary research for potential biological effects.
Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called jack-o’-lanterns for the Halloween season in North America. Throughout Britain and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede. The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips. Not until 1837, does jack-o’-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and the carved pumpkin lantern association with Halloween is recorded in 1866.
In the United States, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. In 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o’-lantern as part of the festivities that encourage kids and families to join together to make their own jack-o’-lanterns.

One of America’s Favorites – Breakfast

September 30, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Posted in breakfast, One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Breakfast is the first meal taken after rising from a night’s sleep, most often eaten in the early morning before undertaking the day’s work. Among English speakers, “breakfast” can be used to refer to this meal or to refer to a meal composed of traditional breakfast foods (such as eggs, oatmeal and sausage) served at any time of day. The word literally refers to breaking the fasting period of the prior night.
Breakfast foods vary widely from place to place, but often include a carbohydrate such as grains or cereals, fruit and/or vegetables, a protein food such as eggs, meat or fish, and a beverage such as tea, coffee, milk or fruit juice. Coffee, milk, tea, juice, breakfast cereals, pancakes, sausages, French toast, bacon, sweet breads, fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, mushrooms, baked beans, muffins, crumpets and toast with butter or margarine and/or jam or marmalade are common examples of breakfast foods, though a large range of preparations and ingredients are associated with breakfast globally.

 

 

 

Nutritional experts have referred to breakfast as the most important meal of the day, citing studies that find that people who skip breakfast are disproportionately likely to have problems with concentration, metabolism, weight, and cardiac health. The nutritionist Monica Reinagel has argued the metabolic benefits have been exaggerated, noting the improvement in cognition has been found among children, but is much less significant among adults. Reinagel also explains that the link between skipping breakfast and increased weight is likely behavioral—compensating with snacks and/or eating more later—and therefore not inevitable.

 

 

 

An example of a country breakfast in U.S. This includes waffles with fruit and sausage patties.

An example of a country breakfast in U.S. This includes waffles with fruit and sausage patties.

Breakfast will often consist of either a cereal-based dish or an egg-based dish. Coffee is the most common breakfast beverage amongst adults, but is not popular with children. Tea is also widely consumed in Canada during breakfast. Orange juice and, to a lesser extent, pineapple or apple juice, are consumed by people of all ages. In the United States, 65% of coffee is drunk during breakfast hours.
The way in which breakfast eggs are prepared ranges from the simple, such as scrambled or fried, to the slightly more complex, such as eggs benedict. Breakfast omelettes are also very popular, especially the Western or Denver omelette, which contains ham, peppers, and onions. Steak is a popular accompaniment to eggs outside of the northeast, where it is relatively rare. Bacon, hash browns, toast, and sausage links are all very commonly served alongside eggs.
Grain-based dishes include waffles, pancakes, French toast, crepes in Canada, and cereal with milk. Porridge, such as Red River Cereal is quite popular in Canada, and may be consumed with maple syrup, nuts, dried fruit, or brown sugar.
In both Canada and the United States, the traditional full breakfast is popular, though is more commonly eaten on weekends and holidays. During the week, a smaller breakfast is commonly eaten, often immediately before or while commuting to work or school.
In Canada, and somewhat less commonly the United States, maple syrup may be served with most breakfast dishes including oatmeal, French toast, waffles, pancakes, and even ham.
In the Southeastern United States, grits are popularly eaten at breakfast.
Foods typically considered to be breakfast foods are often available all day at diners, leading to them being consumed at novel times, which is likely responsible for the term “breakfast for dinner” or “brinner.”

 

 

 

Fall Harvest: Cranberries

September 30, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Posted in fruits | 2 Comments
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Cranberries, native to North America, and are harvested in New England and the Upper Midwest in the fall.

 

 

Cranberry bush with fruit partially submerged

Cranberry bush with fruit partially submerged

Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. In some methods of classification, Oxycoccus is regarded as a genus in its own right. They can be found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere.
Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 2 metres (7 ft) long and 5 to 20 centimetres (2 to 8 in) in height; they have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces (see cultivation and uses below). Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam, and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce is regarded as an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and some European winter festivals.
Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, raw cranberries have been marketed as a “superfruit” due to their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities.

 

 

There are three to four species of cranberry, classified in two sections:
Subgenus Oxycoccus, sect. Oxycoccus
8 Vaccinium oxycoccos or Oxycoccus palustris (Common Cranberry or Northern Cranberry) is widespread throughout the cool temperate northern hemisphere, including northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. It has small 5–10 mm leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with a purple central spike, produced on finely hairy stems. The fruit is a small pale pink berry, with a refreshing sharp acidic flavour.
* Vaccinium microcarpum or Oxycoccus microcarpus (Small Cranberry) occurs in northern North America,[6] northern Europe and northern Asia, and differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being more triangular, and the flower stems hairless. Some botanists include it within V. oxycoccos.
* Vaccinium macrocarpon or Oxycoccus macrocarpus (Large cranberry, American Cranberry, Bearberry) native to northern North America across Canada, and eastern United States, south to North Carolina at high altitudes). It differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being larger, 10–20 mm long, and in its slightly apple-like taste.
Subgenus Oxycoccus, sect. Oxycoccoides
* Vaccinium erythrocarpum or Oxycoccus erythrocarpus (Southern Mountain Cranberry) native to southeastern North America at high altitudes in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and also in eastern Asia.

 

Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberries are related to bilberries, blueberries, and huckleberries, all in Vaccinium subgenus Vaccinium. These differ in having stouter, woodier stems forming taller shrubs, and in the bell-shaped flowers, the petals not being reflexed.
Some plants of the completely unrelated genus Viburnum are sometimes inaccurately called “highbush cranberries” (Viburnum trilobum).
Cranberries are susceptible to false blossom, a harmful but controllable phytoplasma disease common in the eastern production areas of Massachusetts and New Jersey.

 

 

Cranberries are a major commercial crop in the U.S. states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec. 20% of the world’s cranberries are produced in British Columbia’s lower mainland region. In the United States, Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, with over half of U.S. production. Massachusetts is the second largest U.S. producer. A very small production is found in southern Argentina and Chile, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe.[citation needed]
Historically, cranberry beds were constructed in wetlands. Today cranberry beds are constructed in upland areas with a shallow water table. The topsoil is scraped off to form dykes around the bed perimeter. Clean sand is hauled into a depth of four to eight inches. The surface is laser leveled flat to provide even drainage. Beds are frequently drained with socked tile in addition to the perimeter ditch. In addition to making it possible to hold water, the dykes allow equipment to service the beds without driving on the vines. Irrigation equipment is installed in the bed to provide irrigation for vine growth and for spring and autumn frost protection.

 

 

Cranberry vines are propagated by moving vines from an established bed. The vines are spread on the surface of the sand of the new bed and pushed into the sand with a blunt disk. The vines are watered frequently during the first few weeks until roots form and new shoots grow. Beds are given frequent light application of nitrogen fertilizer during the first year. The cost of establishment for new cranberry beds is estimated to be about US$70,000 per hectare (approx. $28,300 per acre).
A common misconception about cranberry production is that the beds remain flooded throughout the year. During the growing season cranberry beds are not flooded, but are irrigated regularly to maintain soil moisture. Beds are flooded in the autumn to facilitate harvest and again during the winter to protect against low temperatures. In cold climates like Wisconsin, Maine, and eastern Canada, the winter flood typically freezes into ice, while in warmer climates the water remains liquid. When ice forms on the beds, trucks can be driven onto the ice to spread a thin layer of sand that helps to control pests and rejuvenate the vines. Sanding is done every three to five years.

 

 

Cranberry harvest in New Jersey

Cranberry harvest in New Jersey

Cranberries are harvested in the fall when the fruit takes on its distinctive deep red color. This is usually in September through the first part of November. To harvest cranberries, the beds are flooded with six to eight inches of water above the vines. A harvester is driven through the beds to remove the fruit from the vines. For the past 50 years, water reel type harvesters have been used. Harvested cranberries float in the water and can be corralled into a corner of the bed and conveyed or pumped from the bed. From the farm, cranberries are taken to receiving stations where they are cleaned, sorted, and stored prior to packaging or processing.
Although most cranberries are wet-picked as described above, 5–10% of the US crop is still dry-picked. This entails higher labor costs and lower yield, but dry-picked berries are less bruised and can be sold as fresh fruit instead of having to be immediately frozen or processed. Originally performed with two-handed comb scoops, dry picking is today accomplished by motorized, walk-behind harvesters which must be small enough to traverse beds without damaging the vines.
White cranberry juice is made from regular cranberries that have been harvested after the fruits are mature, but before they have attained their characteristic dark red color. Yields are lower on beds harvested early and the early flooding tends to damage vines, but not severely.
Cranberries for fresh market are stored in shallow bins or boxes with perforated or slatted bottoms, which deter decay by allowing air to circulate. Because harvest occurs in late autumn, cranberries for fresh market are frequently stored in thick walled barns without mechanical refrigeration. Temperatures are regulated by opening and closing vents in the barn as needed. Cranberries destined for processing are usually frozen in bulk containers shortly after arriving at a receiving station.

 

 

About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining are sold fresh to consumers.
Cranberries are normally considered too sharp to be eaten plain and raw, as they are not only sour but bitter as well.
Cranberry juice is a major use of cranberries; it is usually either sweetened to make “cranberry juice cocktail” or blended with other fruit juices to reduce its natural severe tartness. Many cocktails, including the Cosmopolitan, are made with cranberry juice. At one teaspoon of sugar per ounce, cranberry juice cocktail is more highly sweetened than even soda drinks that have been linked to obesity.
Usually cranberries as fruit are cooked into a compote or jelly, known as cranberry sauce. Such preparations are traditionally served with roast turkey, as a staple of English Christmas dinners, and the Canadian and US holiday Thanksgiving. The berry is also used in baking (muffins, scones, cakes and breads). In baking it is often combined with orange or orange zest. Less commonly, innovative cooks use cranberries to add tartness to savory dishes such as soups and stews.
Fresh cranberries can be frozen at home, and will keep up to nine months; they can be used directly in recipes without thawing.
Cranberry wine is made in some of the cranberry-growing regions of the United States and Canada from either whole cranberries, cranberry juice or cranberry juice concentrate.

 

July 19-21, 2013 Jazz & Rib Fest – Columbus, Ohio

July 18, 2013 at 7:31 AM | Posted in Festivals, grilling, ribs | 1 Comment
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July 19-21, 2013 Jazz & Rib Fest – Columbus, OhioJazfest
The Jazz & Rib Fest has become one of the most anticipated traditions in Columbus–thanks to hot ribs, cool jazz and great fans!
The Jazz & Rib Fest is a highly anticipated summertime tradition offering both jazz and rib connoisseurs the finest in music and barbeque for more than thirty years. Building off the success of our move to the premier entertainment destination of downtown Columbus, we are thrilled to once again call The Arena District the home of hot ribs and cool jazz. McFerson Commons and North Bank Park stages will anchor the event with performances featuring the best regional and international jazz artists. The Jazz Café at North Bank Pavilion will showcase local artists on an intimate riverfront stage set against the city skyline. Award winning rib-burners representing 10 states and Canada will fire up their grills along Spring & Long Streets to compete for “Best Ribs” bragging rights.

 

 

DATE & HOURS:
Friday, July 19: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 20: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 21: 11:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION:
The Arena District: North Bank Park, McFerson Commons, and Spring & Long Streets in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Click here for more details on the location.

PARKING:
Surrounding areas of The Arena District. Click here for more details on where to park.

WEATHER:
Typically sunny and warm: average day time temperature 85 °F

ADMISSION IS FREE!
All food vendors will be open from 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 11:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Food and concessions will be available during event hours only.

Enjoy hot ribs and cool jazz on three different stages all weekend long! Click here for more details on the performance schedule.

 
http://www.hotribscooljazz.org/about-the-event/

Pickling

May 20, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites, vegetables | 1 Comment
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Pickling“, also known as “brining” or “corning”, is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine to produce lactic acid, or marinating and storing it in an acid solution, usually vinegar (acetic acid). The resulting food is called a pickle. This procedure gives the food a salty or sour taste. In South Asia, edible oils are used as the pickling medium with vinegar.

 

 
Another distinguishing characteristic is a pH less than 4.6, which is sufficient to kill most bacteria. Pickling can preserve perishable

Cucumbers gathered for pickling.

Cucumbers gathered for pickling.

foods for months. Antimicrobial herbs and spices, such as mustard seed, garlic, cinnamon or cloves, are often added. If the food contains sufficient moisture, a pickling brine may be produced simply by adding dry salt. For example, sauerkraut and Korean kimchi are produced by salting the vegetables to draw out excess water. Natural fermentation at room temperature, by lactic acid bacteria, produces the required acidity. Other pickles are made by placing vegetables in vinegar. Unlike the canning process, pickling (which includes fermentation) does not require that the food be completely sterile before it is sealed. The acidity or salinity of the solution, the temperature of fermentation, and the exclusion of oxygen determine which microorganisms dominate, and determine the flavor of the end product.
When both salt concentration and temperature are low, Leuconostoc mesenteroides dominates, producing a mix of acids, alcohol, and aroma compounds. At higher temperatures Lactobacillus plantarum dominates, which produces primarily lactic acid. Many pickles start with Leuconostoc, and change to Lactobacillus with higher acidity.

 

 

 

In the United States and Canada, pickled cucumbers (most often referred to simply as “pickles” in Canada and the United States), olives, and sauerkraut are most popular, although pickles popular in other nations are also available. Giardiniera, a mixture of pickled peppers, celery and olives, is a popular condiment in Chicago and other cities with large Italian-American populations, and is often consumed with Italian beef sandwiches. Pickled eggs are common in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Pickled herring is available in the Upper Midwest. Pennsylvania Dutch Country has a strong tradition of pickled foods, including chow-chow and red beet eggs. In the Southern United States, pickled okra and watermelon rind are popular, as are deep-fried pickles and pickled pig’s feet, chicken eggs, quail eggs and pickled sausage. In Mexico, chili peppers, particularly of the Jalapeño and serrano varieties, pickled with onions, carrots and herbs form common condiments. Various pickled vegetables, fish, or eggs may make a side dish to a Canadian lunch or dinner. It has become quite trendy across Canada to pickle vegetables at home in Bernardin mason jars.

 

 

 

In chemical pickling, the jar and lid are first boiled in order to sterilize them. The fruits or vegetables to be pickled are then added to the jar along with either brine or vinegar or both, as well as spices, and are then allowed to ferment until the desired taste is obtained.
The food can be pre-soaked in brine before transfering to vinegar. This reduces the water content of the food which would otherwise dilute the vinegar. This method is particularly useful for fruit and vegetables with a high natural water content.
In commercial pickling, a preservative like sodium benzoate or EDTA may also be added to enhance shelf life. In fermentation pickling, the food itself produces the preservation agent, typically by a process that produces lactic acid.
Alum was once used as a preservative in pickling and is still approved as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but alum in repeated small doses can cause brain damage.

One of America’s Favorites – Pudding

February 4, 2013 at 10:40 AM | Posted in dessert, diabetes friendly | Leave a comment
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Pudding most often refers to a dessert, but can also be a savory dish.

The word pudding is believed to come from the French boudin, originally from the Latin botellus, meaning “small sausage”, referring to encased meats used in Medieval European puddings.

 
In the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries, pudding refers to both savory dishes such as Yorkshire pudding, black pudding, suet pudding and steak and kidney pudding, and rich, fairly homogeneous starch- or dairy-based desserts such as rice pudding and Christmas pudding. The word “pudding” is also used as a synonym for the dessert course.

 
In the United States and Canada, pudding characteristically denotes a sweet milk-based dessert similar in consistency to egg-based custards, instant custards, or a mousse, though it may also refer to other types such as bread and rice pudding.
The original pudding was formed by mixing various ingredients with a grain product or other binder such as butter, flour, cereal, eggs, suet, resulting in a solid mass. These puddings are baked, steamed or boiled.

 
Depending on its ingredients such a pudding may be served as a part of the main course or as a dessert.
Boiled pudding was a common main course aboard ships in the Royal Navy during the 18th and 19th centuries. Pudding was used as the primary dish in which daily rations of flour and suet were prepared.

 
Illustrations from Isabella Beeton‘s Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861
Steamed pies consisting of a filling completely enclosed by suet pastry are also known as puddings. These may be sweet or savory and include such dishes as steak and kidney pudding.

 
The second and newer type of pudding consists of sugar, milk, and a thickening agent such as cornstarch, gelatin, eggs, rice or tapioca

Rice pudding, known as kheer, from India

Rice pudding, known as kheer, from India

to create a sweet, creamy dessert. These puddings are made either by simmering on top of the stove in a saucepan or double boiler or by baking in an oven, often in a bain-marie. These puddings are easily scorched on the fire, which is why a double boiler is often used; microwave ovens are also now often used to avoid this problem and to reduce stirring.

 
Creamy puddings are typically served chilled, but a few, such as zabaglione and rice pudding, may be served warm. Instant puddings do not require boiling and can therefore be prepared more quickly. Kraft Foods, under its gelatin dessert brand Jell-O, is the primary producer of pudding mixes and prepared puddings in North America.
This pudding terminology is common in North America and some European countries such as the Netherlands, whilst in Britain egg-thickened puddings are considered custards and starch-thickened puddings called blancmange.

Pumpkins and Pumpkin Carving

October 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM | Posted in cooking, Food | 2 Comments
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Well it’s that time of year for Ghouls and Gobblins and Trick or Treaters. It’s also time for Pumpkins and Pumpkin Carving, and maybe The Great Pumpkin! So here’s a little info about Pumpkins and I also left some web links on how to carve those Pumpkins. Happy Halloween Everyone!

Pumpkins
A pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbitaand the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly

Several large pumpkins

refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America. They typically have a thick, orange or yellow shell, creased from the stem to the bottom, containing the seeds and pulp. Pumpkins are widely grown for commercial use, and are used both in food and recreation. Pumpkin pie, for instance, is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in the United States, and pumpkins are frequently carved as decorations around Halloween. A pumpkin that has a little face carved in it and hollowed out and decorated with candles inside is known as a jack o’lantern; these are often used at Halloween, for example, to decorate windows.
In Australian English, the name ‘pumpkin’ generally refers to the broader category called winter squash in North America.

The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων), which is Greek for “large melon”. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpionand later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, “pumpkin”. The origin of pumpkins is not definitively known, although they are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, were found in Mexico. Pumpkins are a

Pumpkin pie is a popular way of preparing pumpkin.

squash-like fruit that range in size from less than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) to over 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms).
Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. In general, pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and angular (with an approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems, which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit.
Pumpkins generally weigh 9–18 lbs (4–8 kg) with the largest (of the species C. maxima) capable of reaching a weight of over 75 lbs (34 kg). The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate to oblong. The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed. Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow, some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray.
Pumpkins are monoecious, having both male and female flowers on the same plant. The female flower is distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. These bright and colorful flowers have extremely short life spans and may only open for as short a time as one day. The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.

Pumpkins are grown all around the world for a variety of reasons ranging from agricultural purposes (such as animal feed) to commercial and ornamental sales. Of the seven continents, only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins; the biggest international producers of pumpkins include the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, and China. The traditional American pumpkin is the Connecticut Field variety.

As one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds (680,000,000 kilograms) of pumpkins are produced each year. The top pumpkin-producing states include Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, 95% of the U.S. crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois. Nestlé produces 85% of the processed pumpkin in the United States. In the fall of 2009, rain in Illinois devastated the Nestlé crop, resulting in a shortage affecting the entire country during the Thanksgiving holiday season.
Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early July. The specific conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require that soil temperatures three inches (7.6 cm) deep are at least 60 °F (15.5 °C) and soil that holds water well. Pumpkin crops may suffer if there is a lack of water or because of cold temperatures (in this case, below 65 °F (18.3 °C); frost can be detrimental), and sandy soil with poor water retention or poorly drained soils that become waterlogged after heavy rain. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can very quickly re-grow secondary vines to replace what was removed.
Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; honeybees play a significant role in fertilization. Pumpkins have historically been pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined, probably due to pesticide sensitivity,[citation needed] and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners often have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development. An opportunistic fungus is also sometimes blamed for abortions.

The largest pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. They were cultivated from the hubbard squash genotype, crossed with kabocha-pumpkin types by enthusiast farmers through intermittent effort since the early 19th century. As such germplasm is commercially provocative, a U.S. legal right was granted for the rounder phenotypes, levying them as constituting a variety, with the appellation Atlantic Giant. Eventually, this phenotype graduated back into the public domain, except now it had the name Atlantic Giant on its record (see USDA PVP # 8500204).
Weigh-off competitions for giant pumpkins are a popular festival activity. The world record held at 460 pounds (208.7 kilograms) until 1981, when Howard Dill (of Nova Scotia) broke the record with a pumpkin weighing 493.5 pounds (224 kilograms). Dill patented the seeds used to grow this giant pumpkin, deeming them Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds, and drawing growers from around the world. Dill is credited for all of the giant pumpkins today, most of which are borne from crossing and re-crossing his patented seed with other varieties. By 1994, the Giant pumpkin crossed the 1,000-pound (453.6-kilogram) mark. The current world record holder is Chris Stevens’s 1,810-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin, which in October 2010 surpassed Christy Harp’s previous 2009 record of 1,725 pounds.

Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the

A can of pureed pumpkin

leaves, and even the flowers. In the United States and Canada, pumpkin is a popular Halloween and Thanksgiving staple. Homemade pumpkin purée can serve the same purpose.
When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, eaten mashed and making its way into soups and purees. Often, it is made into pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holidays. In Canada, Mexico, the United States, Europe and China, the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.
Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as squash or zucchini. In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In South Asian countries such as India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa. Pumpkin is used to make sambar in Udupi cuisine. In Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups. In Australia and New Zealand, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables. In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura. In Myanmar, pumpkins are used in both cooking and desserts (candied). The seeds are a popular sunflower seed substitute. In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. In Italy, it can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli. Also, pumpkin can be used to flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
In the southwestern United States and Mexico, pumpkin and squash flowers are a popular and widely available food item. They may be used to garnish dishes, and they may be dredged in a batter then fried in oil. Pumpkin leaves are a popular vegetable in the Western and central regions of Kenya; they are called seveve, and are an ingredient of mukimo, respectively, whereas the pumpkin itself is usually boiled or steamed. The seeds are popular with children who roast them on a pan before eating them.

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are small, flat, green, edible seeds. Most pumpkin seeds are covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at most grocery stores. However, roasting pumpkin seeds (usually scooped out of jack-o-lanterns) is a popular Halloween treat. Per ounce serving, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc.

Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called jack-o’-lanterns for the Halloween season in North America. Throughout Britain and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede. The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips. Not until 1837, does jack-o’-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and the carved pumpkin lantern association with Halloween is recorded in 1866.
In the United States, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. In 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o’-lantern as part of the festivities that encourage kids and families to join together to make their own jack-o-lanterns.

Pumpkin chucking is a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. Catapults, trebuchets, ballistas and air cannons are the most common mechanisms. Some pumpkin chuckers breed and grow special varieties of pumpkin under specialized conditions to improve the pumpkin’s chances of surviving a throw.

Pumpkin growers often compete to see whose pumpkins are the most massive. Festivals are often dedicated to the pumpkin and these competitions.

The Ohio towns of Barnesville and Circleville each hold a festival every year, the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival and the Circleville Pumpkin Show respectively. The town of Half Moon Bay, California, holds an annual Art and Pumpkin Festival, drawing over 250,000 visitors each year and including the World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Farmers from all over the US compete to determine who can grow the heaviest pumpkin. The winning pumpkin regularly tops the scale at more than 1500 pounds. Leonardo Urena, from Napa, California, grew the winner of the 2011 Weigh-Off with a 1,704-pound Atlantic Giant, setting a new California State record. The record for the world’s heaviest pumpkin was broken September 30, 2012, at the Topsfield Fair in Rhode Island. Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, entered a pumpkin weighing 2,009 pounds. A few days earlier on September 27, a pumpkin grown by Steve Geddes of Boscawen, New Hampshire, weighed in at 1,843.5 pounds at the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire. That one held the world record for just five days. Prior to that, Guinness World Records had the world’s heaviest pumpkin set in 2010 by Chris Stevens, at a weight of 1,810 pounds, 8 ounces, at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota. The town of Morton, Illinois, the self-declared pumpkin capital of the world, has held a Pumpkin Festival since 1966. The town, where Nestlé’s pumpkin packing plant is located (and where 90% of canned pumpkins eaten in the US are processed), held for several years a record for the number of carved and lit pumpkins in one place, before losing it to Boston, Massachusetts, in 2006. A large contributor of pumpkins to the Keene Pumpkin Fest in New Hampshire is local Keene State College, which hosts an event called Pumpkin Lobotomy on its main quadrangle. Usually held the day before the festival itself, Pumpkin Lobotomy has the air of a large party, with the school providing pumpkins and carving instruments alike (though some students prefer to use their own) and music provided by college radio station WKNH.
Ireland’s only Pumpkin Festival takes place each year in Virginia, County Cavan to find Ireland’s biggest pumpkins. This year the biggest pumpkin topped 1300 pounds. The event takes place over a holiday weekend, along with other entertainment and festive parades.
The city of Elk Grove, California, has held an annual Pumpkin Festival since 1995.

There seems to be a strong connection in folklore and popular culture between pumpkins and the supernatural. Famous examples

A pumpkin carved into a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween

include the following:
Folklore
*A commonplace motif of people being turned into pumpkins by witches
*The jack-o-lantern custom discussed above, which connects to Halloween lore about warding off demons.
Fiction
*In the folk tale Cinderella, the fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into a carriage, but at midnight it reverts back into a pumpkin.
*Linus’ belief in the Great Pumpkin in Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts.
*Juice from a pumpkin has magical effects in the short story “Pumpkin Juice” by R. L. Stine.
*The Harry Potter novels, in which pumpkin juice as a favorite drink of the students of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a recurring element
*The pumpkin hurled by the “Headless Horseman” in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
*Jack Pumpkinhead, a character in the Oz books of L. Frank Baum, with a pumpkin for a head on a wooden body, brought to life in the second book
*In Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, the main character, Jack Skellington, is “the Pumpkin King.”
*Precious Ramotswe, the fictional detective from Botswana in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of novels by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith, often cooks and eats pumpkin.
*In a short fiction by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Feathertop from 1852, a witch turns a scarecrow with a “pumpkinhead” into a man.

 

 
http://www.pumpkingutter.com/

http://www.pumpkin-carving.com/

http://www.extremepumpkins.com/

http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/pumpkincarving.htm

One of America’s Favorites – Bacon

July 30, 2012 at 8:30 AM | Posted in bacon, cooking, Food | 1 Comment
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Bacon is a cured meat prepared from a pig. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon (also known as green bacon). Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, boiled, or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.
Bacon is prepared from several different cuts of meat. It is usually made from side and back cuts of pork, except in the United States, where it is almost always prepared from pork belly (typically referred to as “streaky”, “fatty”, or “American style” outside of the US and Canada). The side cut has more meat and less fat than the belly. Bacon may be prepared from either of two distinct back cuts: fatback, which is almost pure fat, and pork loin, which is very lean. Bacon-cured pork loin is known as back bacon.
Bacon may be eaten smoked, boiled, fried, baked, or grilled, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game, e.g. venison, pheasant. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning “buttock”, “ham” or “side of bacon”, and cognate with the Old French bacon.

In continental Europe, this part of the pig is usually not smoked like bacon is in the United States; it is used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavor. In Italy, this is called pancetta and is usually cooked in small cubes or served uncooked and thinly sliced as part of an antipasto.
Meat from other animals, such as beef, lamb, chicken, goat, or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon, and may even be referred to as “bacon”. Such use is common in areas with significant Jewish and Muslim populations. The USDA defines bacon as “the cured belly of a swine carcass”; other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g., “smoked pork loin bacon”). For safety, bacon must be treated to prevent trichinosis, caused by Trichinella, a parasitic roundworm which can be destroyed by heating, freezing, drying, or smoking.
Bacon is distinguished from salt pork and ham by differences in the brine (or dry packing). Bacon brine has added curing ingredients, most notably sodium nitrite, and occasionally sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate (saltpeter); sodium ascorbate or erythorbate are added to accelerate curing and stabilize color. Flavorings such as brown sugar or maple are used for some products. If used, sodium polyphosphates are added to improve sliceability and reduce spattering when the bacon is pan fried. Today, a brine for ham, but not bacon, includes a large amount of sugar. Historically, “ham” and “bacon” referred to different cuts of meat that were brined or packed identically, often together in the same barrel.

Bacon is cured through either a process of injecting with or soaking in brine or using plain salt (dry curing).
In America, bacon is usually cured and smoked, and different flavors can be achieved by using various types of wood, or rarely corn cobs; peat is sometimes used in the UK. This process can take up to eighteen hours, depending on the intensity of the flavor desired. The Virginia House-Wife (1824), thought to be one of the earliest American cookbooks, gives no indication that bacon is ever not smoked, though it gives no advice on flavoring, noting only that care should be taken lest the fire get too hot. In early American history, the preparation and smoking of bacon (like the making of sausage) seems to have been a gender-neutral process, one of the few food-preparation processes not divided by gender.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, smoked and unsmoked varieties are equally common, unsmoked being referred to as green bacon. The leaner cut of back bacon is preferred to the bacon from the belly (that is ubiquitous in the United States) which is referred to as streaky bacon due to the prominence of the bands of fat. While there is a tendency on both sides of the Atlantic to serve belly bacon well-done to crispy, back bacon may at first appear undercooked to Americans.

Cuts of bacon

Rashers (slices) differ depending on the primal cut from which they are prepared:

*Side bacon, or streaky bacon, comes from pork belly. It is very fatty with long layers of fat running parallel to the rind. This is the most common form of bacon in the United States. Pancetta is Italian streaky bacon, smoked or aqua (unsmoked), with a strong flavor. It is generally rolled up into cylinders after curing. In America unsmoked streaky bacon is often referred to as side pork.

*Middle bacon, from the side of the animal, is intermediate in cost, fat content, and flavor between streaky bacon and back bacon.

*Back bacon (called Irish bacon/Rashers or Canadian bacon in the United States comes from the loin in the middle of the back of the pig. It is a very lean, meaty cut of bacon, with less fat compared to other cuts. It has a ham-like texture. Most bacon consumed in the United Kingdom is back bacon.

*Cottage bacon is thinly sliced lean pork meat from a shoulder cut that is typically oval shaped and meaty. It is cured and then sliced into round pieces for baking or frying.

*Jowl bacon is cured and smoked cheeks of pork. See Guanciale.

*Slab bacon typically has a medium to very high fraction of fat. It is made from the belly and side cuts, and from fatback. Slab bacon is not to be confused with salt pork, which is prepared from the same cuts, but is not cured.

Bacon joints include the following:

*Collar bacon is taken from the back of a pig near the head.

*Hock, from the hog ankle joint between the ham and the foot.

*Gammon, from the hind leg, traditionally “Wiltshire cured“.

*Picnic bacon is from the picnic cut, which includes the shoulder beneath the blade. It is fairly lean, but tougher than most pork cuts.

Traditionally, the skin is left on the cut and is known as bacon rind, but rindless bacon is also common throughout the English-speaking world. The meat may be bought smoked or unsmoked. Bacon is often served with eggs as part of a full breakfast.

A side of unsliced bacon was once known as a flitch it is now known as a slab. An individual slice of bacon is a slice or strip. The term rasher of bacon is occasionally encountered (e.g., on restaurant menus) to mean a serving of bacon (typically several slices).
American bacons include varieties smoked with hickory or corncobs and flavorings such as red pepper, maple, honey, molasses, and occasionally cinnamon. They vary in sweetness and saltiness and come from the Ozarks, New England and from the upper South (mainly Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia).
The term bacon on its own refers generically to strip bacon from the belly meat of the pig, which is the most popular type of bacon sold in the U.S.
The term Canadian Bacon or Canadian-style bacon must be made from the pork loin, and means back bacon, but this term refers usually to the lean ovoid portion (longissimus muscle, or loineye). It also can be made from the sirloin portion of the loin (gluteal muscles), but must be labeled appropriately. Similar products made from the ham are used as less expensive substitutes.

The United States has seen an increase in popularity of bacon and bacon related recipes, dubbed “bacon mania”. Dishes such as bacon explosion, chicken fried bacon, and chocolate-covered bacon have been popularized over the internet, as has using candied bacon. Recipes spread quickly through the national media, culinary blogs, and YouTube. Restaurants are organizing bacon and beer tasting nights, The New York Times reported on bacon infused with Irish whiskey used for Saint Patrick’s Day cocktails, and celebrity chef Bobby Flay has endorsed a “Bacon of the Month” club online, in print, and on national television.
Commentators explain this surging interest in bacon by reference to what they deem American cultural characteristics. Sarah Hepola, in a 2008 article in Salon.com, suggests a number of reasons, one of them that eating bacon in the modern, health-conscious world is an act of rebellion: “Loving bacon is like shoving a middle finger in the face of all that is healthy and holy while an unfiltered cigarette smolders between your lips.”She also suggests bacon is sexy (with a reference to Sarah Katherine Lewis’ book Sex and Bacon), kitsch, and funny. Hepola concludes by saying that “Bacon is American”:
Bacon is our national meat. The pig is not an elegant animal, but it is smart and resourceful and fated to wallow in mud. A scavenger. A real scrapper.
Alison Cook, writing in the Houston Chronicle (she calls bacon “democratic”), concurs with the third of these reasons, arguing the case of bacon’s American citizenship by referring to historical and geographical uses of bacon. Early American literature echoes the sentiment—in Ebenezer Cooke’s 1708 poem The Sot-Weed Factor, a satire of life in early colonial America, the narrator already complains that practically all the food in America was bacon-infused.

Bacon dishes include bacon and eggs, bacon, lettuce, and tomato (BLT) sandwiches, bacon wrapped foods (scallops, shrimp, and asparagus), and cobb salad. Recent bacon dishes include chicken fried bacon, chocolate covered bacon, and the bacon explosion. Tatws Pum Munud is a traditional Welsh stew, made with sliced potatoes, vegetables and smoked bacon. There is even bacon jam.
In the U.S. and Europe, bacon is commonly used as a condiment or topping on other foods. Streaky bacon is more commonly used as a topping in the U.S., on items such as pizza, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, baked potatoes, hot dogs, and soups. In the U.S. Sliced smoked loin, which Americans call Canadian bacon, is used less frequently than streaky, but can sometimes be found on pizza, salads, and omelettes.
Bacon is also used in adaptations of dishes, for example bacon wrapped meatloaf, and can be mixed in with green beans or serve sauteed over spinach.

Bacon fat liquefies and becomes bacon drippings when it is heated. Once cool, it firms into lard if from uncured meat, or rendered bacon fat if from cured meat. Bacon fat is flavorful and is used for various cooking purposes. Traditionally, bacon grease is saved in British and southern U.S. cuisine, and used as a base for cooking and as an all-purpose flavoring, for everything from gravy to cornbread to salad dressing.
Bacon, or bacon fat, is often used for barding roast fowl and game birds, especially those that have little fat themselves. Barding consists of laying strips of bacon or other fats over a roast; a variation is the traditional method of preparing filet mignon of beef, which is wrapped in strips of bacon before cooking. The bacon itself may afterwards be discarded or served to eat, like cracklings.
One teaspoon (4 g, 0.14 oz) of bacon grease has 38 calories. It is composed almost completely of fat, with very little additional nutritional value. Bacon fat is roughly 40% saturated. Despite the disputed health risks of excessive bacon grease consumption, it remains popular in the cuisine of the American South.

The popularity of bacon in the United States has given rise to a number of commercial products that promise to add bacon flavoring without the labor involved in cooking it or the perceived negative qualities of bacon. Some of the more unusual products are evidence of the recent fad, including Bacon vodka, bacon peanut brittle, bacon toothpaste, baconnaise (bacon mayonnaise), bacon salt and bacon mints. A range of inedible products are also available including bacon bandaids, scarfs, soaps, perfumes and air fresheners.

Bacon bits in a bowl.

Bacon bits in a bowl.

Bacon bits are a frequently used topping on salad or potatoes, and a common element of salad bars. Bacon bits are made from either small, crumbled pieces of bacon (ends and pieces) or torn or misshapen slices; in commercial plants they are cooked in continuous microwave ovens. Similar products are made from ham or turkey, and analogues are made from textured vegetable protein, artificially flavored to resemble bacon. They are most often salted.
Popular brands include Hormel Bacon Toppings, Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits and Pieces, and the analogue Betty Crocker Bac-Os.

Turkey bacon and vegetarian bacon fill a niche for alternatives to the meat from pigs. There is also a wide range of other bacon-flavored products, including a bacon-flavored salt, Bacon Salt, and a bacon-flavored mayonnaise, Baconnaise. Jon Stewart satirized Baconnaise in his The Daily Show as a combination of gluttony and sloth: “for people who want heart disease but are too lazy to actually make the bacon.” Outside of the United States, baconnaise seems to characterize the U.S. in the same way Stewart proposed, as suggested by the French blog Écrans.

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