Kitchen Hint of the Day!

December 5, 2013 at 8:46 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fruit normally gives off ethylene gas, which hastens ripening. Some fruits give off more gas than others and ripen faster. Other fruits are picked before they are ripe and need a bit of help. If a unique fruit is placed in a brown paper bag, the ethylene gas it gives off does not dissipate into the air but is trapped and concentrated, causing the fruit to ripen faster. To get it to ripen even more quickly, add a ripe apple – one of those ethylene-rich fruits.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

October 4, 2013 at 9:01 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints, spices and herbs | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fresh herbs are a wonderful addition to any dinner, but they go bad quickly and are hard to freeze. To herbs fresh longer, loosely wrap them in a damp paper towel, store in a plastic bag, and keep in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. If you have more fresh herbs that you can use, hang them upside down to dry. (Tie them together and hang them from a peg.) In about a week, you’ll be able to crumble off the leaves. The flavor won’t be quite as wonderful as the fresh herbs, but it will still be much better than commercial dried herbs. Another simple solution is placing chopped, fresh herbs in ice – cube trays. Fill the trays with water then freeze. When it’s time to add herbs to soups and sauces, simply pop as many cubes as you want out of the tray and throw them in the pot.  

Fall Harvest: Chard

September 29, 2013 at 9:04 AM | Posted in vegetables | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chard like all cooking greens, chard turns bitter when it gets too hot. Chard grows year-round in temperate areas, is best harvested in late summer or early fall in colder areas, and fall through spring in warmer regions.

 

Red chard growing at Slow Food Nation

Red chard growing at Slow Food Nation

Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla), is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. The leaves can be green or reddish in color like Bib Lettuce, chard stalks also vary in color. Chard has been bred to have highly nutritious leaves at the expense of the root (which is not as nutritious as the leaves). Chard is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables available, and is a valuable addition to a healthy diet (like other green leafy vegetables). Chard has been around for centuries, but because of its similarity to beets it is difficult to determine the exact evolution of the different varieties of chard.

 

 

Clusters of chard seeds are usually sown between April and August, depending on the desired harvesting period. Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Harvesting is a continuous process, as most species of chard produce three or more crops.[10] Raw chard is extremely perishable.

 

 

Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as ‘Lucullus’ and ‘Fordhook Giant’, as well as red-ribbed forms such as ‘Ruby Chard’ and ‘Rhubarb Chard’. The red-ribbed forms are very attractive in the garden, but as a rough general rule, the older green forms will tend to out-produce the colorful hybrids. ‘Rainbow Chard‘ is a mix of other colored varieties that is often mistaken for a variety unto itself.
Chard has shiny, green, ribbed leaves, with petioles that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar.
Chard is a spring harvest plant. In the Northern Hemisphere, chard is typically ready to harvest as early as April and lasts through May. Chard is one of the more hardy leafy greens, with a harvest season typically lasting longer than kale, spinach or baby greens. When day-time temperatures start to regularly hit 30 °C (86 °F), the harvest season is coming to an end.

 

 

Swiss chard on sale at an outdoor market

Swiss chard on sale at an outdoor market

Chard has a slightly bitter taste and is used in a variety of cultures around the world, including Arab cuisine.
Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked (like in pizzoccheri) or sauteed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked spinach.

 

 

Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, K and C, with a 175 g serving containing 214%, 716%, and 53%, respectively, of the recommended daily value. It is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber and protein.
All parts of the chard plant contain oxalic acid.

 

Fall Harvest: A Little About Winter Squash

September 20, 2013 at 8:49 AM | Posted in vegetables | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,
An assortment of winter squashes.

An assortment of winter squashes.

 

Winter squash is a summer-growing annual fruit, representing several squash species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this fruit can be stored for use during the winter. It is generally cooked before eating.

 

 

 

Because squash is a frost-tender vegetable, the seeds do not germinate in cold soil. Winter squash seeds germinate best when the soil temperature is 21 to 35 °C (70 to 95 °F), and the warmer end of the range is optimum. Seedlings are easily destroyed by frost, thus winter squash is best planted after the soil is thoroughly warmed and all sign of frost has passed.

 

 

 
Winter squash can be harvested whenever the fruits have turned a deep, solid color and the skin is hard. Most of the crop is harvested in September or October (Northern Hemisphere), before heavy frosts hit the planting area. When cutting squash from the vine, two inches of stem should remain attached if possible. Cuts and bruises should be avoided when handling. Fruits that are not fully mature, have been injured, have had their stems knocked off, or have been subjected to heavy frost will rot and should be used as soon as possible or be composted (watch for seedlings in the compost).

 

 

 

Butternut squash, a variety of winter squash

Butternut squash, a variety of winter squash

Winter squash is a low-calorie, good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
It is an excellent source of vitamin A, a great source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, and a good source of folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, tryptophan, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).
It is also a source of iron and beta carotene. Usually, the darker the skin is, the higher the beta carotene content.

 

 

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

August 27, 2013 at 6:47 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

If your only using half of a bell pepper for a recipe, make the other half last longer with this simple trick. When you’re slicing the pepper, make sure you leave the seeds and membrane intact on one side. Then store this side in a sealed plastic bag or container in the fridge. Leaving the seeds in tact will make the pepper last longer.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

June 18, 2013 at 7:40 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints, spices and herbs | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

When grilling vegetables in aluminum foil on the grill, try placing a sprig of fresh herbs within each foil wrap. Marjoram is the most popular choice, but almost any herb will do: try tarragon, Italian parsley, sage, chives, dill, chervil, oregano, and thyme. It will give your veggies a fresh, wonderful taste.

How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden

May 10, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Posted in spices and herbs | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Good article for all the home gardeners.

 

 

 

How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden
by Sara Elliott
Herbs are great fun to grow indoors. They’re the perfect companion for the curious cook who isn’t afraid to take a few chances. Start with a sunny windowsill and a few herb seeds and — snip-snip, you have an instant gourmet meal. Well, it may not be quite that simple, but fresh herbs are still a great asset to have in the kitchen.

 
To get your indoor herb garden going, you can use a couple of different methods. One is to park a planter filled with quality potting soil and your favorite herb seeds in front of a window that gets lots of natural sunlight. For this to be successful, the spot you choose will have to get six hours of sunlight each day and not be so hot in the afternoons. Think southern exposure here, where the plant leaves won’t burn. If you have a perfect spot, hopefully in your kitchen near where the action is, go for it. A bag of potting soil, some culinary herb seeds and some judicious watering, and you’re ready to go.

 
If, like many of us, you don’t have the perfect herb-friendly conditions available, you can use a hydroponic kit instead. This soilless setup uses liquid nourishment and special lights to produce perfect plants fast. Because herbs are among the most popular garden plants for this type of arrangement, it’s easy to find hydroponic equipment retailers that offer products specifically for indoor herb gardens.

 
Whatever option you choose, the three main things herbs will need to grow lush and flavorful is good light, water and the right nourishment.
Indoor Herb Growing Tips and Tricks
To get your herb garden started without any major problems, make sure to choose healthy plants, or grow your own from seed. This means that you should inspect plants before you bring them home and discard any that show signs of insect activity. If a plant looks suspicious, pass. Other things to keep in mind are:
* Give plants plenty of room. Plant descriptions and seed packets will offer spacing recommendations, and even though potted plants don’t typically grow to full size, give them generous accommodations.
* Water plants regularly and make sure the pots drain thoroughly after watering. One of the biggest plant killers is stagnant water hanging around long enough to rot plant roots.
* Turn plant pots frequently to keep plants growing evenly on all sides.
* Go light on the fertilizer. Most herbs like moderate to poor soil. Remember, more houseplants are killed with kindness than through neglect.
* Wait for plants to reach 6 to 8 inches (15.24 to 20.32 centimeters) in height before harvesting any leaves, and only take about a quarter of the plant or less at any one time. After you’ve snipped an herb’s leaves, wait for that much or more to grow back before harvesting again. If you’re a parsley or oregano fanatic, it might be a good idea to keep more than one plant going at a time.
* Now that you have a thriving indoor herb garden, it’s time to start growing your vegetables indoors, too. Yes, indoor tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce! You’ll be a household farmer in no time.
http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/how-to-grow-your-own-indoor-herb-garden.htm

One of America’s Favorites – Herbs

March 19, 2013 at 8:46 AM | Posted in spices and herbs | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In general use, herbs are any plants used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Culinary use typically distinguishes

Basil and green onions, common culinary herbs

Basil and green onions, common culinary herbs

herbs as referring to the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), from a “spice”, a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits.

In American botanical English the term “herb” is also used as an abbreviation of “herbaceous plant”. This usage is rarely found in British English.

Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and in some cases spiritual usage. General usage of the term “herb” differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. In medicinal or spiritual use any of the parts of the plant might be considered “herbs”, including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, resin, root bark, inner bark (and cambium), berries and sometimes the pericarp or other portions of the plant.

The word “herb” is pronounced /ˈɜrb/ by many U.S. speakers, or /ˈhɜrb/ by other U.S. speakers and all other English speakers.

 

Culinary herbs are distinguished from vegetables in that, like spices, they are used in small amounts and provide flavor rather than substance to food.

Many culinary herbs are perennials such as thyme or lavender, while others are biennials such as parsley or annuals like basil. Some perennial herbs are shrubs (such as rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis), or trees (such as bay laurel, Laurus nobilis) – this contrasts with botanical herbs, which by definition cannot be woody plants. Some plants are used as both herbs and spices, such as dill weed and dill seed or coriander leaves and seeds. Also, there are some herbs such as those in the mint family that are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

 

Plants contain phytochemicals that have effects on the body.

There may be some effects when consumed in the small levels that typify culinary “spicing”, and some herbs are toxic in larger quantities. For instance, some types of herbal extract, such as the extract of St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum) or of kava (Piper methysticum) can be used for medical purposes to relieve depression and stress. However, large amounts of these herbs may lead to toxic overload that may involve complications, some of a serious nature, and should be used with caution. One herb-like substance, called Shilajit, may actually help lower blood glucose levels which is especially important for those suffering from diabetes. Herbs have long been used as the basis of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, with usage dating as far back as the first century CE and far before. Medicinal use of herbs in Western cultures has its roots in the Hippocratic (Greek) elemental healing system, based on a quaternary elemental healing metaphor. Famous herbalist of the Western tradition include Avicenna (Persian), Galen (Roman), Paracelsus (German Swiss), Culpepper (English) and the botanically inclined Eclectic physicians of 19th century/early 20th century America (John Milton Scudder, Harvey Wickes Felter, John Uri Lloyd). Modern pharmaceuticals had their origins in crude herbal medicines, and to this day, some drugs are still extracted as fractionate/isolate compounds from raw herbs and then purified to meet pharmaceutical standards.

Some herbs are used not only for culinary and medicinal purposes, but also for psychoactive and/or recreational purposes; one such herb is cannabis.

 

Herbs are used in many religions. For example, myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) and frankincense (Boswellia spp) in Christianity and Hellenismos, the Nine Herbs Charm in Anglo-Saxon paganism, the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) by the Tamils, holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) in Hinduism, and many Rastafarians consider cannabis (Cannabis sp) to be a holy plant. Siberian Shamans also used herbs for spiritual purposes. Plants may be used to induce spiritual experiences for rites of passage, such as vision quests in some Native American cultures. The Cherokee Native Americans use both white sage and cedar for spiritual cleansing and smudging.

Fruit of the Week – Dates

August 15, 2011 at 10:43 AM | Posted in diabetes friendly, Food, fruits, low calorie, low carb | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to be made into date wine, and ate them at harvest. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006).

In later times, traders spread dates around South and South West Asia, northern Africa, and Spain and Italy. Dates were introduced into Mexico and California by the Spaniards by 1765, around Mission San Ignacio.

A date palm cultivar, known as Judean date palm is renowned for its long-lived orthodox seed, which successfully sprouted after accidental storage for 2000 years. This particular seed is presently reputed to be the oldest viable seed but the upper survival time limit of properly stored seeds remains unknown.

The fruit is known as a date. The fruit’s English name, as well as the Latin species name dactylifera, both come from the Greek word for “finger,” dáktulos, because of the fruit’s elongated shape. Dates are oval-cylindrical, 3–7 cm long, and 2–3 cm diameter, and when unripe, range from bright red to bright yellow in colour, depending on variety. Dates contain a single seed about 2–2.5 cm long and 6–8 mm thick. The type of fruit depends on the glucose, fructose and sucrose content.

The date palm is dioecious, having separate male and female plants. They can be easily grown from seed, but only 50% of seedlings will be female and hence fruit bearing, and dates from seedling plants are often smaller and of poorer quality. Most commercial plantations thus use cuttings of heavily cropping cultivars, mainly ‘Medjool‘ as this cultivar produces particularly high yields of large, sweet fruit. Plants grown from cuttings will fruit 2–3 years earlier than seedling plants.

Dates are naturally wind pollinated but in both traditional oasis horticulture and in the modern commercial orchards they are entirely pollinated manually. Natural pollination occurs with about an equal number of male and female plants. However, with assistance, one male can pollinate up to 100 females. Since the males are of value only as pollinators, this allows the growers to use their resources for many more fruit producing female plants. Some growers do not even maintain any male plants as male flowers become available at local markets at pollination time. Manual pollination is done by skilled labourers on ladders. In some areas such as Iraq the pollinator climbs the tree using a special climbing tool that wraps around the tree trunk and the climber’s back to keep him attached to the trunk while climbing. Less often the pollen may be blown onto the female flowers by a wind machine.

Dates ripen in four stages, which are known throughout the world by their Arabic names kimri (unripe), khalal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried). A 100 gram portion of fresh dates is a source of vitamin C and supplies 230 kcal (960 kJ) of energy. Since dates contain relatively little water, they do not become much more concentrated upon drying, although the vitamin C is lost in the process.

Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, candied orange and lemon peel, tahini, marzipan or cream cheese. Pitted dates are also referred to as stoned dates. Partially dried pitted dates may be glazed with glucose syrup for use as a snack food. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savory dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco to puddings, ka’ak (types of Arab cookies) and other dessert items. Date nut bread, a type of cake, is very popular in the United States, especially around holidays. Dates are also processed into cubes, paste called “‘ajwa”, spread, date syrup or “honey” called “dibs” or “rub” in Libya, powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol. Recent innovations include chocolate-covered dates and products such as sparkling date juice, used in some Islamic countries as a non-alcoholic version of champagne, for special occasions and religious times such as Ramadan.

Dates can also be dehydrated, ground and mixed with grain to form a nutritious stockfeed. Dried dates are fed to camels, horses and dogs in the Sahara. In northern Nigeria, dates and peppers added to the native beer are believed to make it less intoxicating.

Young date leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable, as is the terminal bud or heart, though its removal kills the palm. The finely ground seeds are mixed with flour to make bread in times of scarcity. The flowers of the date palm are also edible. Traditionally the female flowers are the most available for sale and weigh 300–400 grams. The flower buds are used in salad or ground with dried fish to make a condiment for bread.

Date seeds are soaked and ground up for animal feed. Their oil is suitable for use in soap and cosmetics. They can also be processed chemically as a source of oxalic acid. The seeds are also burned to make charcoal for silversmiths, and can be strung in necklaces. Date seeds are also ground and used in the manner of coffee beans, or as an additive to coffee.

Stripped fruit clusters are used as brooms. In Pakistan, a viscous, thick syrup made from the ripe fruits is used as a coating for leather bags and pipes to prevent leaking. Date palm sap is used to make palm syrup and numerous edible products derived from the syrup.

Date palm leaves are used for Palm Sunday in the Christian religion. In North Africa, they are commonly used for making huts. Mature leaves are also made into mats, screens, baskets and fans. Processed leaves can be used for insulating board. Dried leaf petioles are a source of cellulose pulp, used for walking sticks, brooms, fishing floats and fuel. Leaf sheaths are prized for their scent, and fibre from them is also used for rope, coarse cloth, and large hats. The leaves are also used as a lulav in the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Date palm wood is used for posts and rafters for huts; it is lighter than coconut and not very durable. It is also used for construction such as bridges and aqueducts, and parts of dhows. Leftover wood is burnt for fuel.

Where craft traditions still thrive, such as in Oman, the palm tree is the most versatile of all indigenous plants, and virtually every part of the tree is utilized to make functional items ranging from rope and baskets to beehives, fishing boats, and traditional dwellings

Dates have a high tannin content and are used medicinally as a detersive (having cleansing power) and astringent in intestinal troubles.[citation needed] As an infusion, decoction, syrup, or paste, dates may be administered for sore throat, colds, bronchial catarrh, and taken to relieve fever and a number of other complaints. One traditional belief is that it can counteract alcohol intoxication. The seed powder is also used in some traditional medicines. It is said that if dates are consumed with cucumber one can easily come out from the problem of over-slimming. Because of its laxative quality, dates are considered to be good at preventing constipation.

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

Living By Promise

God loving | Wife | Mother | Career. A lifestyle blog where all these titles meet

Tales from a 20-Something's Kitchen.

One girl's mission to take on Pinterest. And win. And eat some great food in the process.

A Bee Bakes

Making the world a sweeter place.

Cooking at Clark Towers

Home cook experiments with recipes and shares with you

Detoxinista

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

Liv Free(ly) Vegan Recipes

vegan baking and cooking

Grill Nation - Recipes, Grills and Grilling Products

Grilling recipes, grilling techniques, grilling products

My Kitchen Little

A Home Cook's Handbook

Skiwampus

Sometimes your life isn't what you expected

Living Abundantly

A lifestyle blog sharing recipes, travel stories, book reviews, and the daily life of me.

The Crazy Peanut

Easy and healthy recipes

Be Healthy!

What you need to know to Be Healthy today!

Soup's On with Schallock

Enjoy cooking in your kitchen with less processed food.

Sportsloverann

Food, Travel

Fitfoodieology

Affairs of life go fair with food, fitness and a healthy psychology.