Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

  • Blueberry Picking Tips

    Date: 2016.03.18 | Category: Blog | Response: 0

    A lot of people are growing and picking blueberries these days, and they should be. Blueberries, are after all, one of nature’s best foods, since they are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. If you grow your own blueberries, then you already know the joy of finding all those luscious blue berries in early to mid summer.

    It isn’t difficult to recognize a ripe blueberry. You will know it from its size and deep blue color. If you have your own, you are probably using them fresh, and freezing what you don’t immediately need.

    Blueberry, “pick your own” farms, are good options for picking blueberries as well. If you don’t have the time, or room, to grow your own, picking them yourself is the next best thing, and will save you money. Berries that are already picked, and certainly the ones in the supermarket, are much more expensive. Berry farms, will normally have signs out when the berries are ready to pick, or they will advertise in the local newspaper. Be a good visitor to the farm, don’t damage plants, or pick berries that are not yet ripe.

    Blueberries are some of those fruits that do grow wild in various parts of the country. In fact, they grow over most of the U.S. if you know where to look. Like elderberries and other wild berries, you may find them along the edges of wooded areas, rural rail lines, and along fence rows. Unlike elderberries, which are extremely tiny, they are much easier to spot and pick. If you do happen to run across what you believe to be a blueberry, be sure that it is an actual blueberry before you pick it. This applies to anything you are harvesting in the wild. Have someone who knows their way around harvesting wild fruit check out the plant just to be sure. Of course, it’s never a good idea to wander onto someone’s property in your pursuit. Do find out who owns the land, and ask permission.

    If you live in remote or mountainous areas of the country, you already know that berry picking can be a dangerous past time. Anywhere you pick, be aware of the terrain, the other plants that may well be poisonous, and the wildlife.

    Blueberries are not difficult to pick, and they are well worth the work. One afternoon of picking should give you and your family more than enough to last you throughout the season, and well into the winter months.

  • How to Make Sauerkraut

    Date: 2016.03.18 | Category: Blog | Response: 0

    There are several steps that are involved in making homemade sauerkraut. The first step is to gather up the ingredients that you are going to need for this recipe. These two ingredients include 3 tablespoons of salt and cabbage. You will need salt for this recipe because the salt is going to free the cell water from the cabbage leaves when they are shredded. This cell water and the salt is going to form a brine that will help in the fermentation and preservation of the cabbage.  

    The second step is to make sure that your harvest the cabbage that is mature right after the first frost. This is because the frost is going to increase the amount of sugar that is in the cabbage. The more sugar that the cabbage has, then the more flavor the cabbage is going to have. Plus it is going to be a lot easier to ferment the cabbage. The third step is to remove the outer leaves from the cabbage. Then you are going to want to clean the head of the cabbage and quarter the cabbage. Make sure that you cut out the core of the cabbage.

    The fourth step is to shred up the cabbage. You will need a very sharp knife in order to do this. But if you have a large amount of cabbage, then you can use a kraut cutter to make this job go a little bit quicker. You will need a large bowl to put the shredded cabbage into. The fifth step is put the cabbage on a scale to see how much it weighs. Make sure that you deduct the weight of the bowl. You will need to know how much the cabbage weighs so that you will know how much pickling salt you need to add to the cabbage. For every five pounds of cabbage, you will need to add three tablespoons of the salt to it. You should make sure that this is mixed very well.

    The sixth step is to put the salted cabbage into a crockpot. You will need to pound down the cabbage very thoroughly with your fist or a potato masher, just as long as it is clean. You should start to see the brine as soon as you start to pound on the shredded cabbage. The seventh step is to keep repeating this process until the cabbage is completely submerged. You are going to need to have about 3 inches of brine on top of your shredded cabbage.

    The eighth step is to put a large plate that is clean on the top of the cabbage. The plate should be a little bit smaller than the crockpot. This is so that you can force the cabbage down below the surface of the brine. The brine is going to help to make sure that the smell of the cabbage fermentation does not enter into the air of your home. The ninth step is to weigh down the top of the plate with something very heavy. This is the best way to keep the cabbage submerged into the brine.  

    The tenth step is to cover up the crockpot with a muslin cloth so that will be able to stay clean. Most of the time, it is going to take about a day for the cabbage to ferment. The best way that you will be able to see this is that bubbles are going to start to form once the cabbage has been fermented. You will need to remove the skum all of the top of the cabbage every couple of days. The bubbles are going to stop in three or four weeks, so you will know that the sauerkraut is ready to go.

  • What you Didn’t know about Bananas

    Date: 2016.03.18 | Category: Blog | Response: 0

    We’re all familiar with the banana. It’s tasty, filling, full of goodness and great for a comedy sketch. But did you know that the banana is actually a herb? In fact there is a lot about bananas that you probably don’t know so let’s peel off the skin and see what they’re all about.

    Bananas plants are the largest of the herbaceous plants and actually have a lot more uses than simply providing us with delicious fruit. In South East Asia the male hearts of the plants are used as a vegetable and the flower of the plant is also eaten. The sap of the banana plant is very sticky and makes a good adhesive. In some parts of the world there is also such a thing as banana paper. As for the leaves, they can be used as umbrellas, or to wrap food in for cooking or storage. So it’s possible to get a lot more out of a banana plant than just a banana.

    Even the fruit itself is extremely versatile and even comes in different colours. We all know about yellow bananas, but they can also be purple or red. In its original form the bananas was full of seeds, but over time they have been cultivated into the form we are familiar with today.

    The flavour and the texture of the fruit are affected by the temperature at which they ripen. For this reason they are often transported to their final destination in an unripe state and then ripened in a controlled environment before they are placed on the shelves.

    The way bananas are used and prepared can also vary greatly. Cooking bananas, which are bananas that are not yet ripe, are used in a very similar way to potatoes in some parts of the world. They are fried, boiled, backed or chipped and the taste and texture is very similar to potatoes. Some cultures eat both the skin and the inside of the banana, and though we are most used to eating the banana raw there are many different recipes that involve cooking the banana.

    However the banana is eaten it is extremely good for you and a valuable source of vitamins A, B and C as well as having a high potassium content. It is also known for its range of medicinal properties and can help to combat such problems as depression, blood pressure and hangovers. They can even help to boost brain power and are particularly good for expectant mothers as they can help with morning sickness, heartburn and in regulating body temperature.

    So next time you fancy a banana, why not experiment with an alternative recipe, and make the most of the real diversity of this wonderful food.

  • Versatility of Rhubarb

    Date: 2016.03.17 | Category: Blog | Response: 0

    Rhubarb. Say the word and it conjures up images of dessert: rhubarb bread, rhubarb cobbler, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb jam, rhubarb pie, rhubarb tarts, rhubarb torts… the list is long and as diverse as the people preparing it. In its natural state, rhubarb has a tart, lemony taste and sweetening it may seem to be the perfect solution its acidity.

    Rhubarb (scientifically called Rheum rhabarbarum; Rheum x coltorum), is a pretty, easy-to-grow plant with pink-to-red or light-to-dark-green short-to-long stalks, called petioles, and large, ruffly, cordate leaves. Many varieties exist and are grown and used world-wide. The stalk is the edible part of rhubarb. Its leaves contain enough oxalic acid to be considered toxic to human beings, capable of causing heart failure. Similar-looking plants also exist, not all of which are edible.

    In the United States rhubarb has historically been sweetened and used as a fruit. It is, however, a vegetable, not a fruit, and is used as a vegetable in most of the world. It is very compatible with many other foods.

    Rhubarb’s uses as a vegetable are perhaps even more diverse than its fruit-like uses. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be boiled, broiled, chopped raw into salads or salsas, preserved as chutney or pickles, or sautéed; added to casseroles, soups, stews, or stuffing; paired with meats as a side dish; used as a flavoring agent in dressings and sauces. Because it is used world-wide, its preparation ranges from plain to fancy to exotic.

    In Afghanistan, rhubarb is cooked with, among other things, spinach; in India, lentils; in Iran, as a khoresh (which is not exactly stew); and eaten with rice. In Greece and North Africa, it is often paired with pistachios and plain yogurt, along with local palatable seasonings, for a wholesome breakfast food. In Europe, it is commonly used as a vegetable in soups and stews.

    For a different taste experience, rhubarb’s resemblance to celery makes it a natural substitute to be used in recipes calling for cooked or raw celery. It must be noted that, unlike celery, rhubarb cooks to softness in a very short period of time and should therefore be the last ingredient added to most dishes calling for cooked celery.

    In Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, rhubarb is used as a flavoring for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, ranging from cordials, liqueurs, vodkas, and wines to non-alcoholic coolers, juices, and seltzer waters. It adds not only its tart, refreshing flavor, but also its rubescent hues.       

    Rhubarb has long been noted for its medicinal properties. Its first recorded use as a medicine dates to about 2700 B.C. in China. Most notable to those who eat it is its activity as a mild laxative. Medicinal plants contain complex combinations of phytochemicals that affect many body systems. Its roots, which should never be eaten as food, and should never be used outside the guidance of a trained health care or natural health care provider, have long been processed by herbalists and naturopathic physicians for use in minute amount which are purported to have positive effects on such medical conditions as cold sores, diabetes, numerous digestive complaints, hepatitis, and menopause, uses which appear to be at least somewhat supported by research

    Some manufacturers and cottage industries use rhubarb volatile oils in scents for colognes, candles, and hand soaps. These are not food quality volatile oils. And finally, boiled rhubarb stalks can be used to clean metals, and boiled rhubarb leaves make an effective insecticide for garden use. As with all effective insecticides, one must be very careful to keep children pets away from the toxic boiled rhubarb leaves and the water in which they were boiled.

  • How to Make Delicious Pizza Dough

    Date: 2016.03.17 | Category: Blog | Response: 0

    Pizza dough made by the Italian chef is tolally hand-made with the hands and not rolled out with a rolling pin. Making this classic Italian pizza dough is great fun and if you have children they can chip in and will totally enjoy the thrill of making pizza the way it is made in the Italian kitchen. This is not fast food pizza.

    We will make this pizza dough for four 12 inch pizzas. You can store 3 pizza doughs in the refrigerator for making later.

    Here are instructions for making four 12 inch Classic Italian pizzas:

    Baking and cooking equipment:

    Pizza pans – 12 inch or larger

    2 large bowls

    Kitchen towels

    4 small covered bowls or containers

    Large apron

    Ingredients for pizza dough:

    7 cups all-purpose flour

    2 envelopes active dry yeast

    2 teaspoons sugar

    2 teaspoons salt

    4 teaspoons cornmeal

    2 and 1/2 cups warm water

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    Making the pizza dough:

    First put 1/2 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Stir just slightly. Let stand until the yeast is foamy – about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, flour, olive oil, and salt. Stir until the dough is thick and sticky. Take the dough out of the bowl and put on a lightly floured surface.

    Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

    Coat your other bowl with olive oil and put your dough into the bowl coating both sides with the olive oil. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place. This should take about 45 minutes. When your dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 4 rounded pieces. Place each piece in the small covered containers. Make sure to add olive oil to the bottom of the containers. You can now store your pizza dough in the refrigerator and make as you need them.

    To make one pizza, place one dough on a floured surface. Begin spreading out with your fingers. Here is where you can throw your pizza up in the air and twirl it around. This is lots of fun and the children will love this part. There is actually a reason for throwing it up in the air and twirling it. It spreads out naturally. You do not have to roll out the pizza dough. Continue spreading the pizza dough with your fingers. The children will love this part too. It is a lot more fun than rolling it with the rolling pin.

    Coat your pan with olive oil and sprinkle on a little of the cornmeal – about 1/2 teaspoon for each pan. Put your dough on the pan and spread to the edge wiith your fingers to make a nice thick crust at the edges.

    Classic Italian pizza requires simple toppings: Either Italian plum tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, or pizza sauce with mozzarella cheese. First spread extra virgin olive oil on your uncooked pizza dough. Top with the plum tomatoes or pizza sauce. Sprinkle with oregano. Authentic pizza from Naples is made with pizza sauce or plum tomatoes and anchovies – no cheese.

    To modify your Classic Italian pizza add fresh veggies or meats of your choice.

    Once you have added the toppings, your pizza is ready for the oven. Pizza cooks fast and must be cooked in a very hot oven at usually 500 degrees F. Either preheat the oven to 450 or 500 degrees and also heat your pan. Put in the bottom rack of your oven and bake for 10 minutes or until crust is golden.

    In a few minutes you and the children can feast on the best pizza you ever tasted. It is especially the best because you and the children made it together and had a lot of fun making it.