Rice – the Main Staple in Cooking Around the World

rice
Rice makes up the base for a wide variety of dishes across many cultures, like this mujadara (cumin-scented lentils and rice). File photo


RICE – Is the main staple in cooking around the world.

There are an estimated 40,000 varieties of rice. Brown rice is considered the most nutritional of all. It has the ability to reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by the body, though we often forget that our body needs some cholesterol every day.

Brown rice helps make cell walls as well as essential hormones. It offers a lot more than white rice, especially more vitamins and minerals.

Brown rice retains its outer bran and the germ. White rice has been milled, removing the bran and germ.

You will need to rinse wild rice and rice purchased in bulk in cool water through a sieve. Because brown rice has the outer bran coating, it does not make a difference if you rinse or not.

I really recommend trying Basmati rice from India and Pakistan. Local supermarkets have a nice selection of different rice to choose from. Why don’t you try a different one each week or two.

Crazy Rice

• 1 cup cooked white rice

• 1 cup cooked brown rice

• 1 cup cut scallions

• 1 cup chopped raw mushrooms

• 1 can black-eyed peas

• 1 cup chopped black olives

• 1 cup green/red bell peppers

• 1 cup chopped nuts

• 1 cup raisins

• ½ cup chopped sweet basil

Carefully combine all of the ingredients together. The canned black-eyed peas should be drained and rinsed with water. This is a great filling for flour or corn tortillas or a side dish. This recipe is a good base to add or subtract ingredients as you like it.

RADISHES – There is nothing like biting into a crisp red “eating” radish with its wonderful peppery taste. This red radish is commonly known as the daikon variety. There is also the much larger horseradish.

Fresh-grated or prepared horseradish are often used with red beets to make a great relish. Don’t grate or slice radishes until you are ready to use them, as you are tearing into the cells when cutting into a radish.

Store radishes in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or container after cutting off tops and tips. For the best results, prepared horseradish should be used within several weeks of opening the jar. Once exposed to the air, the horseradish will start to become bitter. Radishes are low in calories, fat, fiber and sodium. High In protein and carbohydrates, they are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Ounce for ounce, they have over 40 percent as much Vitamin C as fresh orange juice.

Radish & Red Beets Relish

• 5 (14 ½ oz.) cans cut red beets

• 6 ½ – 8 oz. prepared horseradish or 1 cup finely grated fresh horseradish

• 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar

• ¼ cup white vinegar

Drain red beets; set liquid aside. Carefully grind red beets fine. Fold in remaining ingredients. If mixture appears too dry, add beet liquid that was set aside. Spoon into glass jar and cap; keeps well in refrigerator.

By Bette Banjack, For 21st Century Media

Reprinted by Life Balance Network with Permission
bette banjack
Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Drink to your Health, from Water to Wine

drink
Studies show five ounces of wine for women or 10 ounces for men daily can aid in health


WATER >> Keeps our world alive. It covers approximately 70 to 75 percent of the Earth’s surface in various states, such as liquid, solid and vapor.

It is referred to as the “universal solvent” because it is able to dissolve and dilute many substances. Greek philosophers considered water to be one of the four classic elements along with fire, earth and air.

The recommended daily total intake of eight to 10 glasses of liquid can include juices and decaffeinated tea. Regular coffee and cola depletes more liquid from your body than it puts in.

Today, there are so many different types of water out there that you can get a little crazy. There is always the good old tap water. Did you know if you refrigerate a pitcher of tap water, most of the bad taste will go away and cost you almost nothing?

I have always marveled at water. It can be beautiful and peaceful, it can be a raging flood destroying everything in its path, it can take life and it can give life.

WINE >> The earliest suggestion of wine production dates back to 6000-5000 B.C. Italy currently ranks first in the world in wine exports, and the United States ranks fourth in wine production.

Research has proven wine has health benefits, especially if drank in moderation. It is suggested a women can drink five ounces and a man ten ounces of wine daily to aid their health. We have to be careful, as alcohol abuse is on the up. This can cause emotional and physical problems. Alcohol abuse can cause cirrhosis of the liver, malnutrition, delirium tremens, other serious illness and death.

When I was a kid, every Christmas my father would go to the state store and purchased a big bottle of wine. Most of our holiday guests would pass on a glass of wine, as it was not very good. So by the time next Christmas rolled around, last year’s bottle could still be unopened.

The following wine recipe is easy to make, cheap enough and not too bad, especially if you pour it over fresh fruit in a tall glass and top it off with ginger ale or seltzer water. I’ve had this recipe for so long, I do not know where I got it or who I got it from; it has been at least 40 years. It is great fun to whip up a batch just for the fun of it.

Cheap Grape Wine by the Gallon

• 1 small can frozen grape juice concentrate (sweetened)

• 2 pounds granulated or super fine sugar

• 1 package dried yeast

• 1 large balloon & rubber band

Put grape juice, sugar, yeast and just under a gallon of water into a glass gallon jug. Stir around. Place a large balloon (large opening) on jug securely (use the rubber band to really fasten it tight). Let stand where the temperature is between 72 degrees and 80 degrees for 2 months. Store in a dry dark place. After 2 months the wine will clarify and can be siphoned off. Only ¼” at bottom will have to be discarded.

bette banjackLet me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net. Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking. Good Food for a Good Life!


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Thanksgiving — Truly an all-American holiday

thanksgiving
I am not afraid to bet that some of you are all ready for Thanksgiving dinner, and then that there are some of you who have not even thought of it yet.

The Thanksgiving holiday is truly an All-American holiday, celebrated only in the United States and by citizens living outside the country. I am told that it is difficult to find turkeys in some parts of the world. So Americans living aboard may have to celebrate with other foods, but they do celebrate. This holiday is celebrated by all ethnic and religious groups in the United States.

My mother recalls that when she was a young girl, duck or goose was served at their holiday table. I am sure that they were the biggest ones that my grandmother could find; she often cooked two ducks for her family of seven.

Actually, the best size of duck to prepare is one under six pounds. Duck meat has a flavorful dark meat (the whole bird) and tends to be a little greasy. I suggest checking out the best way that you would like to cook and serve your duck. Julia Child’s and Jacques Pepin’s book “Cooking at Home” offers two variations on cooking duck.

I recently heard that the average person in the country eats approximately 16 to 18 pounds of turkey in one year. It seems less and less turkeys are being filled or stuffed. It is much quicker to fill the turkey cavity with fresh vegetables and fruits, and it cuts the baking time down. Never stuff poultry and allow it to set overnight or even several hours. Just don’t take chances that gases could build up and make your guests and family ill.

The first Thanksgiving holiday that was celebrated in 1676 is a far cry from what we have today. It wasn’t until 1898 that Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday. Some of the first guests at the feast so long ago took days to reach the Thanksgiving table. Today, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until the Sunday after is the most traveled period of the entire year. Most will travel by car; then there are planes and trains.

Records indicate that the feast was served outside, as buildings of that time were not large enough to hold the number of people present. Ninety Indians were among the invited guests, who provided most of the food, which included venison. The wild fowl served included duck, geese, turkey and swans.

The Pilgrims were not innocent refugees of religious persecution. Many of them were themselves religious bigots by today’s standards. They displayed intolerance toward the Indians and their practices. Nor were the Wampanoag Indians of the area the “friendly savages” we learned about in grade school. At the 1621 feast, the friendship between the Pilgrims and the area Indians was guarded and not always sincere, and peace would soon be abused. But for three days, peace and friendship were honored.

Cranberry sauce is an all-time favorite to serve with turkey and on turkey sandwiches. If you are not too fond of cranberries, try the following recipe for an Indian Berry Pudding. It has a great taste and makes nice gifts.

Wojapi

• 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries or mixed berries

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 cup water

• 2 tablespoons cornstarch

• 1 ½ cups cold water

Place berries and 1cup water and sugar in saucepan. Heat to a boil and turn down low. Mix cornstarch in 1½ cups cold water until dissolved. Slowly add to berry mixture; stir constantly for about 10 to 15 minutes (until it thickens). Refrigerate or to keep longer, preserve in a hot water bath.

The day after Thanksgiving you can make a great treat with leftover cranberry sauce or Wojapi pudding:

1 to 1 ratio:

leftover cranberry sauce or the Wojapi pudding

frozen whipped cream (Cool Whip)

In a shallow dish or pan spread (whirling) sauce/pudding with whipped cream. Place in freezer until partially frozen. Remove before completely frozen and serve as is or with pie or cake.

In closing, I leave you with this little note of interest: if you are using paper napkins for dinner, figure about three paper napkins per person.

Good Food for a Good Life — And a Good Thanksgiving!

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net. Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens

bette banjack
About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.



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Countdown to the holidays, 1-2-3!

ABC to XYZ

The countdown for the December holidays has started. Some of us wait until after Thanksgiving to start and others have their shopping done by Thanksgiving. At one time I would start Christmas preparations in August. That was when I made most of my gifts. If you wanted to make and give someone a crewel pillow or a velvet blazer, you could not wait until December.

ABC to XYZI want to share some of my holiday goodies that make wonderful gifts. A shortcut I have created is to make up cake mixes. It is tiring to measure the dry ingredients out for each batch of the pumpkin nut loaves; some holidays I make up to 10 batches of this recipe (30 loaves), so I make cake mixes. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices; place in individual plastic containers. Add the wet ingredients when you are ready to bake. It really saves a lot of time. This can be done with any recipe that you make.

Original Pumpkin-Nut Loaf

• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• 1 ½ teaspoons salt

• 2 teaspoons cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon nutmeg

• 2 cups granulated sugar

• 1 cup vegetable oil

• 4 eggs

• 2/3 cup water

• 2 cups prepared pumpkin

• 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Sift or whisk dry ingredients together. Mix eggs, pumpkin, water and oil together; add in dry mixture and mix well. Add nuts in last by hand. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pans or use spray shortening to coat baking pans. I prefer using foil pans whenever possible (cleaning up is made easier). Place oven rack at lowest possible position. Makes 3 standard size loaf pans, bake 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of pan comes out clean. Entire batter can be baked in a Bundt pan for approximately 2 hours. Also makes great mini muffins, bake for 35 minutes.

For gift giving, wrap each loaf in foil like a little package. Decorate with ribbons and little decorations. Remember to label each one.

If you start in the next few days, you will just have enough time to make Holiday Cordials. It takes about six weeks to infuse vodka and fruit to make a pleasant sipping drink. You can actually age it up to 12 weeks. The most popular are cherry and orange. With the exception of the fruit, the recipe for both is the same.

Holiday Cordials

• 1.75 liter of vodka

• 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar

• several cinnamon sticks

• 1 whole medium lemon with holes poked evenly

• Orange: 6 juice oranges with holes poked evenly each orange

OR

• Cherry: 2 lbs. bing cherries, not necessary to pit, but remove stems and leaves. Wash and drain. With a long handled fork, poke holes into cherries once they are in the gallon bottle.

Place prepared fruit into gallon bottle with a secure lid. Add cinnamon sticks, sugar and lemon; pour vodka into bottle. Once a week for the next 5 weeks, stir the contents of the bottle to help dissolve the sugar. The people I have gifted with this cordial really like it.

To rebottle, first strain through cheesecloth or coffee filters. With a funnel, pour into smaller bottles that you can purchase at art or kitchen stores, or bottles you may have around the house. Make sure you label the bottle and add a bow and/or a little holiday decoration to top it off. As I make at least one cordial a year, I am on the lookout for bottles to use throughout the year.

Next week we will be looking at all things “Thanksgiving:” the good and the not-so-good events of the first Thanksgiving.

 

bette banjackGood Food for a Good Life!

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net. Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

By E.M (Bette) Banjack

Reprinted by Life Balance Network with Permission


My NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS Cookbook is available at a special price of $20.00 including tax & shipping for a limited time. Click the banner below

If you would like to sign up for the free Neighborhood Kitchens Newsletter, click the banner below and fill out the form at the bottom of the Sales Page for Neighborhood Kitchens (no purchase necessary for the newsletter)

Neighborhood Kitchens

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville.  Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.   

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.  

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.  

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.  

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests.  Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube. 



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Stir-Fry

I love Stir Fry.  It’s one of those dishes that you can make work any time of the year with whatever you have in your refrigerator or freezer. It’s a fast dinner that can be put together in less than 30 minutes.

 

Right now the yellow, red and orange peppers are beautiful at the local farm stand.  Add onions, broccoli and carrots and you have the makings of a delicious stir-fry.

 

Stir-FryI am currently defrosting two chicken breasts in the refrigerator, but if they aren’t ready by dinner time I may grab two handfuls of raw frozen shrimp from my freezer, run until cold water to peel; pat completely dry with paper towels and sauté in hot oil for 2 minutes, each side, before adding to the finished dish.

 

Now I am all about brown rice while my husband is a fan of white rice.  Brown rice is a nutritious whole grain that delivers fiber, protein and selenium.  It is not another type of rice; it’s the same as white rice without all the good stuff removed in processing.  Whole grains in general are packed with nutrients and fiber, which aids in healthy digestion and weight management.  These are the “good carbohydrates” that help balance your diet and can fill you up.  A quick way to get brown rice is with Minute Ready to Serve single serving containers.  They come two to a pack and cook in one minute in the microwave.stir-fry

 

 

 

This is what I will make for my husband, giving us the flexibility to each have what we want.

stir-fry

If you want to learn to make brown rice, check out the Whole Foods article on How to cook brown rice.   It takes about one hour total to make.

 

stir-fry

Recipe

3 whole carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices

½ head of broccoli, cut into medium florets

1 large onion, Vidalia or yellow, cut into chunks

2 large peppers, yellow, orange, red, or green, cut in chunks

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Add to pan as needed)

2 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated

Lower Sodium Soy Sauce (optional)

Use can use a large frying pan or whatever large pan you have. 

Note:  The trick when sautéing is not to crowd the pan.  Cook vegetables in smaller batches to get a better result.  Crowding the vegetables in the pan will cause them to steam.

Instructions:  Start with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Let the pan and oil get hot.    My preference is to start with the vegetables that take the longest to get done.  Sauté in the order of carrots, broccoli, onions, peppers, Because each vegetable takes a different amount of time to cook, it’s best to cook them separately and mix together when done.  Remove each vegetable before adding more oil and starting the next. 

At this point if you will not be adding a sauce, you can add soy sauce to the pan which is a brownish liquid made from soy beans that is salty and earthy in taste and is intended to season food while cooking or at the table.  Because soy sauce is salty, you may not need to salt your vegetables at this stage if you are adding while sautéing.  .

Cut the chicken into equal size cubes or into thin strips and season with salt and pepper.  Cook in small batches to prevent steaming.  Turn after a few minutes until there is no pink inside the chicken.  Add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute, long enough to release the flavors but not burn the garlic.

Add all the vegetables back to the pan to incorporate. 

Plate the Stir Fry and serve with a bowl of your favorite rice or noodles. 

Sauces

If you are not going to add soy sauce while cooking there are many great stir fry sauces out there to use.  McCormick’s makes some great sauces or you can make your own. 

stir-fry

Check out Food and Family for 15 Basic Stir Fry Sauces

Because stir fry can be whatever you want it to be, be brave and experiment.  You can also just skip the meat and make it all about the vegetables. 

 

 

Sugar and Spice and everything Salt?

Spices

SUGAR – was originally considered a luxury. Eventually it became cheap, common and widely used.

 

Bette BanjackRefined sugar on grocery shelves comes from either sugar cane or sugar beet. There is little difference between the two, and it’s difficult to determine by taste alone. The primary job is to sweeten.

 

Tooth decay is most prominently connected with sugar. Sugar products seem to be a major contributor to diabetes and obesity.

 

Sugar in the raw is not the culprit — it is refined white sugar. Today the largest producers of sugar are in countries like Latin America, the United States, the Caribbean and the Far East, though sugar cane and sugar beets are grown in every country in the world.

 

SPICES – Are made from the seeds, buds, bark, roots and fruit of the plant, unlike herbs, which come from the leaves of the plant.

 

Though spices have always been with us, the researching and understanding of spices is somewhat new, especially when it comes to healing powers. In Biblical times, mustard seeds were thought to heal everything.

 

Because ground spices lose their flavor quickly, store them in air-tight containers. Buy spices in small amounts — I replace my spices at least once a year.

 

For the best use, spices should be added to long-simmering soups and stews. For added flavor, toast spices briefly in a dry skillet before using.

 

Spice Mix – Indian Style

8 tsp. dry mustard

4 tsp. ground fenugreek

4 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground turmeric

2 tsp. ground ginger

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. ground cloves

In a small air-tight container, combine all the spices listed and blend well. Store in a cool dark place or the refrigerator. Makes approximately ½ cup. All the spices but fenugreek can be found on market shelves. Fenugreek is available in Indian markets, some specialty stores and health food stores. This is an excellent rub for most meat, fish and poultry — or use it to bring out the flavor of cooked vegetables.

 

SALT – Is known as the foundation of civilization. It was used as a food preservative long before refrigeration.

 

At one time, availability to obtain salt was difficult. It was taxed as far back as the 20th century B.C. Salt has played a part in determining the power and location of the world’s greatest cities. Over the centuries salt has created and destroyed empires.

 

Today salt is universally accessible and relatively cheap. Salt can be found on household tables as well as for high tech industrial use.

 

Recently in food preparation, natural salts have been making their mark. Kosher and various varieties of sea salts are on the upswing.

There is a great deal of folklore about salt, especially the spilling of salt. We have all heard of tossing salt over your left shoulder if you spill salt. Have you heard the one that if you spill salt, you must crawl under a table and come out on the other side?

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

 

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

 

Good Food for a Good Life!

 

By Bette Banjack, For 21st Century Media

 

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville.  Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource I.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests.  Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource I, or on YouTube

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Tomatoes – the Most Popular Home Garden Crop

tomatoes
TOMATOES – Are the most popular crop grown in home gardens.

Tomatoes were first grown in the Andes Mountains of Peru. They were taken to Europe for decoration – no one ate the “fruit.”

Yes, they are actually in the “fruit family” due to the seed structure, and they have a lot of vitamins. The Europeans thought that the tomato was poisonous.

Thomas Jefferson has been credited for being the first man to grow tomatoes who wasn’t a Native American. Tomatoes are safe, delicious and one of the best and earliest plants grown.

Tomatoes can be eaten right off the vine. I had a friend who kept a salt shaker hidden in his garden to sample fresh tomatoes with a touch of salt (which is how he liked them).

Tomatoes make wonderful sauce for pasta, pizza and everything in between. There are many varieties to fit all of your cooking and eating needs. I like the Roma variety — just the right size for one person for one serving. Tomatoes are most likely the number one topper on salads.

Sweet & Mild Tomato Salsa

4 cups tomatoes, peeled, cored & chopped (approx. 6 large)

1 cup onions, chopped

2 cups green bell peppers, chopped

½ cup yellow bell peppers, chopped

1 ½ tsp. salt

2 cloves minced garlic

1 ½ cups cider vinegar

Combine tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and vinegar in large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Pour into clean hot jars, leaving ¼” head space. Adjust lids. Process for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath. Yields about 6 half-pints. Makes a good gift any time of the year.

TURMERIC – Is what makes mustard yellow. Turmeric can be used in many different dishes, especially if you are looking for an intense golden color for your dish. This is a wonderful ground spice usually found in India.

TEA – The most popular green, black or oolong teas come from the same plant – they are just processed differently. Green tea is made from the leaf of the plant right after harvest, black tea is allowed to ferment after the harvest and oolong tea is allowed fermentation for a short period of time.

The tea bag vs. loose tea: some say that loose tea brews a superior cup of tea and makes a ritual of tea drinking. A good tea bag allows the right amount of space and tea for a good cup of tea. Tea bags are nicer as the filter bag keeps the leaves together and easy to remove.

There are many more teas to select from when using loose tea. If your favorite does not come in bags, you can always use a tea infuser. With loose tea, you may have tea leaves floating around in your tea. Allowing tea to steep too long only makes it bitter. Always start with cold fresh water when making tea.

TARRAGON & THYME – Are both very popular French herbs that grow well in small areas and pots. They can both be used fresh or dried in many dishes. They are an added welcome to fish and poultry dishes, especially if they are grilled or boiled, as well as vegetables and salads.

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net.

Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking.

Good Food for a Good Life!

 

By Bette Banjack, For 21st Century Media

Hosting a Pampered Chef Party

pampered chef

First off let me say I’m not getting paid to write this, I have never hosted a Pampered Chef Party before, nor am I a paid Pampered Chef Consultant.

Barb MoyerThis weekend I hosted a Pampered Chef Party. I have attended many different types of demonstration parties in the past, but I have never hosted any of them. This summer my sister-in-law held a Pampered Chef Party and since I do love their quality products I decided after some thought that I’d give it a go and maybe get the benefits from throwing a party myself. It just so happens that in the month of October I will receive 60% of two stoneware items, cash amount for free items that is a percentage of the sales from my show, and 20% off anything else I purchase. The offers change with each month.

If you have ever hosted a Pampered Chef Party you know the consultant demonstrating the products will make one entrée and one desert.  Because of timing, they need to be microwaveable dishes.   You may go on the website and request your dishes or the consultant can give you some suggestions to pick from.  Being a little on the anal side about food served in my house (okay I know my family is rolling their eyes…a lot anal), I went onto the website and selected what I thought would work well with my guests.

I picked the Easy Tortellini Toss with Ham and Spinach and the S’more Cake.  The Consultant will give you a grocery list of items you need to have on hand for her.  My consultant supplied a few items toward the entrée and all the ingredients that went into the desert.  If you want, you can just go with the food made by the Consultant, but being me, I had to supplement with a few of my dishes; some recipes coming from the Pampered Chef website.

 

Garlic and Brie BakerIt ended up being a gorgeous fall Saturday.  I really got into the spirit of the season.  I decorated my table on the glassed in porch in a fall theme with a burnt orange table cloth, gourds, fall flowers in black and gold vases, and of course a glass pumpkin filled with the classic candy corn.

For an appetizer I made brie with a peach pecan jam wrapped in a Pillsbury Crescent Seamless Roll.  With the extra dough I used the Pampered Chef autumn cutters and made leaves and pumpkin designs to put on top.  It was baked in the Garlic and Brie Baker which is a covered ceramic baker perfect for heating and serving brie, for warming dips, and for roasting garlic.  You can find this baker along with the other items mentioned on the Pampered Chef website.

 

Apple Peeler on its own StandIn addition I made an easy BBQ Chicken in my Crockpot for Sliders, Panzanella Salad, Cranberry Coleslaw and Homemade Chunky Applesauce. I used the Apple Peeler on its own Wooden Stand which makes preparing this dish a snap. You can find my Apple Sauce Recipe and Cranberry Coleslaw archived under recipes on this site.

My consultant added to the menu with the Easy Tortellini Toss which was made completely in the microwave in the Stoneware Deep Covered Baker and the S’more Cake in the Rockcrock casserole.

Stoneware Deep Covered BakerClick the Image   Rockcrock casseroleClick the Image

Large Bar Pan
My contribution for deserts was a Kentucky Butter Rum Cake (found on Pinterest), Sugar Cookies, Gingersnap cookies with a Pumpkin Fluff, and the Pampered Chef Pumpkin a la Easy Recipe, made in the Large Bar Pan.   (I had guests who could not eat chocolate and I wanted something special for them).

 

Other Pampered Chef Products Available on Amazon.com

Pumpkin Pie a La Easy Bars

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

 
3/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
 

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

 

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

 

2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

 

4   eggs

 

2 cans (15 ounces each) solid pack pumpkin

 

2 cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

 

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

1 teaspoon ground ginger

 

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

1 teaspoon salt

 

Thawed, frozen whipped topping (optional)

 

Pecan halves (optional)

 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In Classic Batter Bowl, combine flour, oats and brown sugar.
  • Chop pecans using Food Chopper. Add to Batter Bowl.
  • Melt butter in Large Bar Pan on HIGH 1 minute or until melted.
  • Add to dry ingredients; mix well.
  • Press mixture onto bottom of Large Bar Pan. Bake 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, lightly beat eggs in Batter Bowl using Stainless Whisk.
  • Add pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, spices and salt; whisk until smooth.
  • Pour over crust. Bake 30-35 minutes or until filling is set and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool at room temperature.

Garnish each serving with whipped topping using Easy Accent® Decorator, pecan halves and additional ground cinnamon, if desired. Refrigerate any leftover pie squares.

 

Yield:  24 servings

 

Nutrients per serving:

 

Calories 230, Fat 11 g, Sodium 200 mg, Dietary Fiber 2 g

 

U.S. Diabetic exchanges per serving: No information is currently available.

 
 
 

Cook’s Tips:

This recipe can be made in the Square Baker. Divide ingredient amounts in half and bake as directed. Yield: 12 servings

 

Be sure to purchase canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, for this recipe.

 

You can substitute 3 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for the ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

 

Hosting a Party turned out to be a lot of fun and a great way for the girls in the family to get together and spend an afternoon catching up. Our Consultant was wonderful about the fact that there were some distractions among us (cute baby always takes precedence), but she showed us some great products, taught some new techniques, and made some great food.  Thanks to Elisa for making it a fun afternoon.

 

If you like Pampered Chef and you don’t mind hosting a party; you can get some great deals on products you want by being a host.  Give it a try.  It wasn’t painful as I once thought it would be….it was actually a lot of fun.

 

Barb Moyer is the author of columns A Little of This… A Little of That, and Barb’s Kitchen Corner on FoodsSource.com

Review of ABC to XYZ in Foods: Oodles of Udon Noodles

Bette Banjack

I have to admit, when I looked on The Phoenix Reporter for the column, ABC to XYZ in Foods, this week’s article was titled: Oodles of Udon Noodles, I was a little surprised at the accompanying photograph of Chocolate Cookies on a baking sheet in the oven.  Well, as a person not informed about the basic concept of this series of articles, I assumed that the article title reflected the sum total of the content.

I was wrong.   I’m going to rename this article Review of ABC to XYZ in Foods:  The Letter U.

You see, not only did Bette provide some excellent information about Japanese culture, and included a recipe for Udon Noodles, she also wrote about Unsweetened Chocolate.  Both began with the letter U, so both parts of this article were relevant.  I just did not grasp the complete picture when I so foolishly looked at the article title.  The letter U.  I get it.

So, now, I will continue on my quest for the preceding articles, assuming I need to find articles A through T (from the title, but we all know how mistaken I was with other assumptions about the title).  So now, I know.  Look for CONTENT, not TITLE that reflects items that begin with the specific letter of the alphabet.

If I were to guess, there probably are not too many foodie items that begin with U.   A, B, D, F, and M, maybe, but U and Z, along with the ubiquitous Q (like how I slipped in a cool word beginning with U), are most likely scraping the bottom of the Foodie topic barrel.

Unsweetened Chocolate

Bette is a master at describing the foodie characteristics of Unsweetened Chocolate.   Although almost bitter to the taste, it is still CHOCOLATE!   In one of my articles from the now, lost forever blog, “Life, and Other Calamities”, I had described MY version of the nutrition pyramid.  I alluded that there were only two food groups:  Group 1 consisted of Chocolate and Peanut Butter, and Group 2 was everything else.  So, technically, Unsweetened Chocolate, by virtue of its name alone, belongs in Group 1, obviously, because it could be combined with other peripheral ingredients that we sneak over the Group 1/Group 2 boundary to act as a qualifier.  You see, it is NOT not chocolate, so it must be Group 1.

Udon Noodles

When my brother was taking chemo treatments at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, I would drive him downtown, let him off at the entrance, then I would park the car, and be able to wander the city for 5-6 hours before he would be ready to go home.  Jefferson Hospital is right in Center City Philadelphia, only several blocks from the famed China Town Arch.  I’ve been known to partake of oriental cuisine occasionally (like, an OBSESSION).   Udon noodles were the specialty of one of my favorite oriental haunts.

There is just about any version of oriental cuisine within the small perimeter of several blocks in China Town.  I tend to go towards things I cannot get in our two favorite Chinese restaurants, which happen to be buffet style.  I LOVE Chow Mein, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Mu Shu Pork or Chicken, all items you NEVER find at a buffet.  I have ventured into Korean restaurants, Vietnamese, Thai, and several versions that were borderline Indian, Mediterranean, and Israeli.  You can find almost anything you desire, and try something new every day.  I did, at least several times a week for almost 11 months transporting my brother to Jefferson.

The ingredients and preparation of oriental foods are a mystery to me.  I only know what I like to EAT.  I’ve had all varieties and origins, but mostly what you would find at an oriental buffet or sit down restaurant.   I am somewhat of an adventurist, willing to try almost anything, but I do draw the line at some of the lethal dosages of killer spices I see some folks dump on their food.   Tears, real tears are running down their cheeks, and they are SMILING (must be a side effect or chemical reaction).  I lean more towards MILD to SLIGHTLY SPICY.

Other Foods Beginning with the Letter U

I gave Ask.com a shot at this, and here’s what I found.

This is a list of some foods beginning with the letter U:

  • Ube: purple yams
  • udder
  • udder tripe
  • Udi’s bread
  • Udo
  • Udon Noodles
  • udu
  • ugali – Thick smooth porridge
  • Ugli fruit
  • uglies biscuts
  • Ugly Tomatoes
  • Ukha
  • ukoy – shrimp and bean sprouts
  • Ukrainian Rolls
  • Ulluco – South American tuber vegetable that resembles a small potato
  • Ultimate apple Crisp
  • Umble pie
  • Umbles – the offal of deer
  • umeboshi plums
  • umbricelli pasta
  • Umbrella fruit
  • Unagi – freshwater eel
  • unbleached flour
  • uncooked pasta
  • Undercooked meat
  • Undio
  • uniq fruit – hybrid citrus fruit of grapefruit, tangerine and orange that grows in tropical regions
  • unleavened bread
  • unpasturized milk
  • unsalted beer nuts
  • unsalted brazils
  • Unsalted butter
  • unsalted cashews
  • unsalted CPS almonds
  • unsalted hazelnuts
  • unsalted peanuts
  • unsalted pecans
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • unsweetened chocolate
  • Unpasteurized cheese
  • Upland cress
  • Upma: a south Indian food
  • Upside down cake
  • Upside Down Pineapple Cake
  • Urad dal
  • Urfa pepper flakes
  • urgelia cheese
  • urchins
  • usal – mung-bean curry
  • usicka prsuta
  • Uvas – a kind of grape

 


 

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Phoenixville Food Truck Festival

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania held their semi-annual Phoenixville Food Truck Festival on Saturday, November 4 from 12:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. Twenty-four trucks were invited to sell their food with some craft and jewelry vendors.  Bands were located down main street providing great music which was jazz, rock and oldies.If you are anything like me and watch the Food Network’s Great American Food Truck Race, you know this event screams foodie paradise!  Food Trucks provide delicious, elevated foods at a reasonable price.When I found out it was happening less than 15 minutes from where we live, I called my sister-in-law, grabbed my husband and headed out on an empty stomach to see what this was all about.The variety of food was good.  Caribbean jerk chicken, curry chicken, fish sandwiches and fish tacos, BBQ pork sliders with co slaw, Wisconsin fried cheese curds with a sriracha remoulade dipping sauce, Korean barbeque tacos, chicken skewers, Kimchi fried rice balls, gourmet meatball sliders with three sauces, gourmet macaroni and cheese, decadent deserts and craft beers.  The standard hamburgers, fries, funnel cakes were there for those less adventurous. Food Truck Festival

 

We started at one end of the street and walked the entire length before trying anything.

Food Truck Festival This guy was giving out free samples of the jerk chicken and fish tacos which we sampled.  At the end of the day my sister-in-law went back and bought the fish tacos to take with her to a band competition.

 

Well, what do you expect, THEY’RE FOOD TRUCKS!!!

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Wisconsin Cheese Curds with
I think I have to say the Cheese Curd Truck selling the Wisconsin cheese curds with sriracha remoulade…

and the Ka Chi Truck selling the Kimchi fried rice balls were my favorite things tasted.

Kimchi fried rice balls

Cheese Curd TruckKorean Ka'Chi

 

 

 

Cheeseburger macaroni  and cheese with hamburger, onions and ketchup.Cheeseburger macaroni  and cheese with hamburger, onions and ketchup. Sum Pig

Because our time was limited I don’t feel like I sampled as many things as I would have liked.  We did share everything we bought and only took bites but with only two hours our eyes were much bigger than our stomachs.  In April when the next Food Truck Festival comes around I will be better prepared with comfortable shoes, lose fitting clothing, plenty of dollar bills and hours to spend indulging myself.  All in all it was a great afternoon and I’m sure a big success for the town of  Phoenixville!

The Bands

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The Shops, Sidewalks, and Street Pictures

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Review by Barbara and Richard Moyer

 

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