Since Americans in the South began roasting pigs publicly, Barbecues have been a staple of North American living. For many, grilling becomes a routine mealtime activity, while for the most devoted grillers, summer is ruled by massive barbecue parties. But grillers do not have to choose between boring repetition and outrageous get-togethers: every barbecue can and should be an exciting family event. Here are 5 ways to make your routine evening barbecue a more unique experience:
1) Who said you have to stick to meat? Much can be done with bread and fruits over an open flame. To make this into a fun activity with your kids, use cookie cutters to make the bread and fruit into shapes. You can decide on themes like “animals” and “letters” or ask that each shape be different from the others! Then, let your kids decide which toppings they would like to put on. Add cheese, onion and various spices to bread and cinnamon and honey to fruit.
2) Try foil-wrapped surprise meals. Place different combinations of chicken, fish and vegetables with sauces and spices in foil packets. These cook in less than 20 minutes and lead to no-mess, lip-smacking results. Children will love the surprise element and can easily switch packets. You can even ask your family for combo suggestions before the barbecue, or draw ingredient names out of a hat to create new meal ideas.
3) A little variety goes a long way. If you tend to stick to the same old beef burgers and pork wieners, why not try grilled pizza or salmon steaks? Similarly, try to mix it up with condiments and seasoning. Sick of ketchup? Try salsa instead. Look online where you’ll find hundreds of easy recipes for barbecue rubs. These give your food that extra pizzazz and prevent the mess and drip that comes with barbecue sauces.
4) Barbecues don’t have to be rushed. In fact, barbecue devotees will tell you that today’s quick broiling is an insult to the term, which should represent a process of slow cooking on low heat. You can find many slow cooker recipes online, and the wait is a great opportunity to pass some quality time with your family and friends. Entertaining backyard activities include creating an outdoor canvas to paint on or playing backyard bowling with household items.
5) Mom said not to play with your food, but there’s always an exception! Barbecue games are great fun and tasty at the same time. In the game Glutton, each player gets a certain amount of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese or any other side dish. Various kitchen utensils are put in a box and the players blindly pick a few. On the go, they begin to eat their dish with the items that they took out. The first to finish his or her food wins the prize!
Finally, don’t fret! Far too many people get lost in the details of planning the perfect barbecue party and forget to enjoy the social atmosphere and delicious food. So kick back, bask in the relaxing sun and prepare for a summer of unforgettable barbecues!
Organic food is food that is free from all genetically modified organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and derived from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Once only available in small stores or farmers' markets, organic foods are becoming much more widely available
Organic foods have been shown to improve your immune system, help you sleep better, shed the excess weight more easily, and improve your blood work just to name a few. Organic food can boast intense, realistic flavors, and a higher vitamin and mineral content.
And though logically it makes sense to consume a diet based on organic foods, some worry about the cost. But with careful planning and preparation, going organic is actually quite affordable. And, the peace of mind knowing you and your family are consuming foods that haven’t been treated with pesticides or genetically altered is worth the extra money spent.
The pesticides used by conventional farmers can have many negative influences on your health, including neurotoxicity, disruption of your endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women. Additionally, conventional produce tends to have fewer nutrients than organic produce. On average, conventional produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce. Studies have found significantly higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and significantly less nitrates (a toxin) in organic crops.
So it’s a smart idea to buy and eat organic produce and free-range organic foods as much as possible for maximum health benefits. In addition, the knowledge that you’re supporting the organic foods industry that is dedicated to protecting the environment by steering clear of harmful pesticides and chemicals that can result in the loss of topsoil, toxic runoff and resulting water pollution, soil contamination and poisoning and the death of insects, birds, critters and beneficial soil organisms should help you feel even better.
There’s no doubt that having the right tools for the job makes any task easier, and there’s no better place to illustrate this than in the kitchen, where having the right cooking utensils can be the difference between creating good meals and great meals.
Many cooks think about major appliances such as the stove and refrigerator when planning to equip their kitchens, but to be a success in the kitchen, you need to have a good selection of cooking utensils in addition to the bigger items. And don’t forget, cooking utensils means more than just spoons; there’s a host of small cooking utensils ranging from cutting devices, juicers, graters and more.
Think about what you do in a kitchen and about how different cooking utensils come into play for each task:
• Washing and drying fresh produce – always easy to accomplish with a strainer and salad spinner. A vegetable peeler is also an important addition to your cooking utensils closet.
• Slicing, chopping and dicing all kinds of food and garnishes – a food processor makes short work of vegetables, but mandolins, knives and graters are also helpful cooking utensils to have on hand.
• Measuring – cooking and baking can be a form of art and recipes should be followed as precisely as possible so measuring dishes, cups (both wet and dry measures) and measuring spoons are invaluable cooking utensils.
• Weighing – depending on what you like to cook, you may want to add a food scale to your shopping list of cooking utensils. Such a tool can be excellent for portioning meat and other products that have cooking times affected by weight.
• Temperature – as important as measures are temperatures, which can affect the success of your kitchen endeavors. An oven or meat thermometer is key to having properly cooked meat that is safe to eat, and should be included in your pantry of cooking utensils.
• Mixing – no kitchen would be complete without a cadre of mixing bowls in its cooking utensils cupboard. Having a selection of bowls in assorted sizes is essential to fast, efficient cooking.
• Manipulating, poking, prodding, lifting and stirring – perhaps what most often comes to mind when you think of cooking utensils are implements used to move food: spoons, forks, knives, spatulas, wire whisks, pastry blenders, tongs, salad lifters, slotted spoons, wooden spoons, serving spoons and more.
By imagining the tasks you do every day in the kitchen, you will get a better idea of the cooking utensils you should consider purchasing. Think about every stage of the food preparation process, from storage and cleaning, to cooking and presenting.
Other useful cooking utensils: pastry brush, kitchen shears, rolling pin, salt shaker, pepper mill, cutting board, ramekins, flour sifter, rotary beater, ladles, juicer and a can opener. Cooking utensils come in a range of prices, quality and materials such as wood, metal, rubber and silicone. Regardless of how much you pay, always make sure any cooking utensils that have multiple pieces, fit together securely.
When it comes to barbecuing, there are two main schools of thought for the techniques that you can use.
The first of these techniques – and the most popular method for those who grill in their back yards – is the style where the food is cooked directly over the source of heat. This way, the food is rapidly cooked on a hot grill suspended directly over the charcoals, the wood, or the gas burners. Rarely is the lid ever closed. Any foods, including the most tender cuts, hamburgers, steaks, kabobs of all kinds, chicken, and even vegetables are quickly seared and cooked to perfection using this technique. If sauces are desired, they can be added before hand, during the cooking process, or even after the food comes off the grill. These choices will all create different and enjoyable tastes and flavors.
The second barbecue cooking technique uses heat indirectly. This is more appropriate when you’re cooking much larger or whole cuts of meat, such as especially thick steaks, roasts, a whole hog, or a pork shoulder. When you’re cooking using this method, the food is cooked away from the actual source of heat. This usually requires a water pan of some kind in order to maintain the moisture level of the food. The temperatures generally sit in around 250ºF. During this cooking method, the lid of the barbecue remains closed most of the time, and the length of the cooking is much longer than in the first method. When you’re using an indirect barbecue cooker, there is usually an additional fire box that allows you to combine charcoal and wooden logs for burning. This allows the heat and the smoke to rise through the cooking chamber where the meat is, so that it is heated perfectly. The rule of thumb of this technique is a low temperature for a long time.
No matter which method you use, it’s important not to cook your meat too quickly. If the internal temperature of your meat rises too quickly as you cook it, the water and the fat within it will be expelled before the collagen is able to melt. This means that your cut will be dry and tough. However, you cannot cook too slowly or you will risk a bacterial contamination. Though there is a fine line for barbecuing properly, it’s important to find that line and stick to it.
If you’re already dealing with a cut of meat that is tough, such as a brisket or a pork roast, consider cooking slowly as the collagen adds flavor to the meat. If you buy a less tough, more expensive cut, you can cook at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This is why ribs and steaks take such a short time to cook, while pork shoulders or beef brisket can run up to 20 hours.
As a final note, it’s important to have fun while you barbecue! Your pleasure will come through in your cooking as it will leave you motivated, and willing to try new and interesting things.
Mexico has many Easter customs. Many of these customs derived from Spain. These customs vary throughout the different regions and cities. Catholics are forbidden to eat red meat on certain days during Lent, so meals that exclude it are consumed during these times. Dishes that involve fish become popular. The Nopal is also a popular food eaten during this time.
Nopal is a type of cactus that has flat leaves. It is very flexible. Part of it is considered a vegetable, while the other being a fruit. The nopal can be made fresh, canned, or dried. There are many dishes that include nopal. Salads with added shrimp are great when fasting during Lent. Eggs with nopal are common. They can also be put into tacos. Nopal is rich in fiber and vitamins.
Romeritos is another vegetable eaten during Lent. It is a green leaf that resembles rosemary. It is made with whole shrimp with a touch of chile sauce or powder.
Naturally since corn is a popular vegetable in many Mexican dishes, it is eaten a lot during Lent. Chacales is a dish made that is dried white corn that is broken into pieces and prepared into a soup. One other vegetable that seems to top all other vegetables in popularity is the Italian squash. The squash is cut and placed in a cloth which is then laid out in the sun until the squash is fully dried. Once it is dry, the squash is fried with tomatoes and onions. Cheese is placed on the top of the vegetables and not served until it the cheese completely melts.
Fish is an easy way to fast from meat during this time of year. It can be prepared in many different ways. A fish soup that is made around this time includes lima beans with the fish in pieces. Shrimp is also eaten. Shrimp can be served raw, or even made into shrimp patties. These patties can be covered with a traditional Lenten sauce called Pipián. Pipián is made of different spices, and also pumpkin seeds.
One of the most well-known desserts served around lent is known as capirotada. Capirotada is a Mexican bread pudding. This pudding varies from home to home. It usually consists of toasted French bread, cheese, milk, butter, peanuts, and raisons. It is soaked in syrup that includes water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a variety of other ingredients. Another dessert that is popular around Easter time in Mexico is Empanadas. They are turnovers with a flaky crust that is filled with fruit in the middle. Some fruits inside are cherry, and strawberry. They come in a variety of flavors, but the favorites are apricot, apple, and blackberry.
Even though Lent is a time to fast, that doesn't mean the people doing the fasting cannot enjoy what they eat. There are many more foods that are eaten during this time. Some dishes date back from many centuries ago. It is no surprise as to why these dishes are still popular.
Because cooking takes so many nutrients and vitamins OUT of food, you automatically start feeding your body what it needs when you stop cooking food and start eating uncooked, nutrient-rich foods. A raw carrot has exponentially more nutrition than a cooked carrot.
Cooking also alters the chemistry of foods, often making them harder to digest. Why do we have so many digestive problems in this country? Because we’re putting foods into our bodies in a form that we weren't designed to absorb. High fiber, high water content fresh produce abolishes constipation of the bowels, cells and circulatory system. Obstructions are cleared and blood flow increases to each and every cell in the body. Enhanced blood flow is significant for two reasons: as mentioned above, blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to living cells, and carries away their toxic metabolites.
Obesity is endemic in this country. The diet industry is more profitable than the oil companies. Why? Because the way we eat and prepare our food practically guarantees that we’ll overeat. Psychologists tell us that we overeat because our souls are hungry. But in reality, our bodies are hungry, even though we may feel full. When you start giving your body the nutrients it craves, overeating will cease.
Eating raw foods is a boost to your metabolism as well. It takes a little more energy to digest raw foods, but it’s a healthy process. Rather than spending energy to rid itself of toxins produced by cooking food, the body uses its energy to feed every cell, sending vitamins, fluids, enzymes and oxygen to make your body the efficient machine it was intended to be.
You’ll naturally stop overeating, because your body and brain will no longer be starving for the nutrients they need. A starving brain will trigger the thoughts that make you overeat. The brain and the rest of your body don’t need quantity; they need quality.
Whether it's a small gathering of family members or an invitation extended to friends and neighbors, entertaining can take on a delightfully casual approach when it's done outdoors.
Add instant sophistication to a casual atmosphere with these entertaining and grilling tips guaranteed to impress every guest.
Be Courteous to Your Guests
Be sure to note any food restrictions or allergies and prepare alternate options.
Prepare ahead. Cut meats and vegetables, set the table, and toss the salad before the guests arrive. This will give you more time to relax and enjoy your company.
Create an Ambiance
White dinnerware always looks appropriate and pairs nicely with casual double-duty prep and serving pieces, such as rustic wood cutting boards for an outdoor meal.
Add instant elegance to your casual get-together with flowers. Just trim a few stems from the garden and arrange them in glasses or bowls.
Offer a few different bottles of wine at the table for a great conversation starter. The best wines to serve are ones that pair well with all types of food and do not require additional aging once purchased. For example, Rioja, one of Spain's oldest and most renowned wines, includes reds, whites and rose at all price ranges, aged to be ready to drink at purchase and complement meat, fish and vegetables.
Efficiency Is Key
To speed up grilling time, partially precook chicken, red meat, potatoes, carrots and other slow-cooking food in the oven or microwave. When grilling, if you need more than one cooking temperature, mound some coals on one side to create a hot section and spread coals out on the other side for a cooler section.
When grilling food on skewers, cut pieces into chunks that are too large to fall through the grate. Or for easy cleanup, consider using foil packets to grill onion rings, slices of zucchini and squash or even pineapple rings.
When basting, use two brushes - one green and one red. Use the green brush to baste raw meat. Once the meat has begun to cook, switch to the red brush to continue the process. This will help to avoid contamination.
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When it comes to any party, including a Thanksgiving party, food and snacks are important. That is why you may be trying to decide which food and snacks, you should have at your next Thanksgiving party. As you will likely see, you have an unlimited number of different options.
Before you can begin to examine popular food and snack ideas, it may be a good idea to examine the focus of your Thanksgiving party. This may make it easier for you to decide on a particular food or snack. In most cases, you will want to try and tailor your food to the type of party that you are having. For instance, if you planning a kids’ only Thanksgiving party, it may be a good idea to have a collection of finger foods or other age appropriate snacks on hand. In addition to ensuring that your guests will enjoy your food, choosing the right type of food and snacks may make it easier for you to plan for and prepare for your Thanksgiving party.
As previously mentioned, if you are having a kid only Thanksgiving party, it may be a good idea to have kid friendly snacks on hand. These snacks may include chips, pretzels, cheese and crackers, pudding, or a veggie tray, and so on. If you are planning on having an all ages Thanksgiving party, a party where both adults and children will be present, it may be ideal to have a collection of common foods on hand; foods that will likely appeal to all ages. These snacks, as mentioned above, many include cookies, cheese and crackers, and vegetable snacks.
If you have decided on a formal Thanksgiving party, you will likely want to your party snacks to mirror the theme of you party. This means that you may want to purchase or make more elegant party snacks. These types of party snacks typically include vegetable trays and seafood. In addition to snacks, there is also a good chance that your formal Thanksgiving party will include a formal Thanksgiving dinner. If this is the case, you will need to purchase more than just snacks. You will need to purchase the main course, such as a turkey, as well as side dishes, which may include potatoes, cranberries, and a salad.
It is also important to examine the drinks that you will have at your Thanksgiving party. You will need to decide right away whether or not you want to serve alcohol at your Thanksgiving party. If you are hosting a causal Thanksgiving party or a formal Thanksgiving party, where adults will be present, alcoholic beverage may be ideal. Despite the fact that many party guests expect to see alcohol at a party, you do not have to serve alcohol if you do not want to; the decision is yours to make.
Although it is important to examine the types of foods, snacks, and drinks you would like to have at your Thanksgiving party, it may also be a good idea to examine when and where you will buy your items. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you will find that many retail stores, namely grocery stores, place popular Thanksgiving food and snacks on sale. Waiting until this time to purchase you party food, snacks, and drinks may make it so you have can everything that you want, but at an affordable price.
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