Russian Thanksgiving Dinner – Mystery Ingredients

 

 

Living for a year in Siberia was bound to results in a few laughs. There was no funnier time than my effort to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The Set Up

As an American male, my idea of cooking was dropping by the local Chinese restaurant on my way home from work. We are talking about a person who considers cooking rice a culinary challenge of the highest order. This lack of skill came to the forefront while spending a year teaching at a university in the Siberian city of Chita.

Thanksgiving

Experiencing the Russian culture was one of my primary reasons for moving to Siberia. Experiencing the American culture was apparently one of the prime reasons the University hired me. These conflicting view points resulted in every Russian and American holiday being celebrated, even if it wouldn't have been otherwise.

As the end of November approached, I started getting questions about Thanksgiving. My Russian peers and students were particularly interested in the concept of Thanksgiving dinner. In turn, I started asking seemingly innocent food related questions and was pleased to learn most of the necessary food items were not available in the local market. This included turkeys, cranberries and so on. Then I made my mistake.

Since the ingredients weren't available, I began to mouth off about the injustice of missing Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, how I could cook a turkey. To bad everyone would miss out on it. The moral trifecta of justice, fate and karma rose up to put me in my place.

The uncle of someone’s brother was flying in from Moscow. If I created a list, he would buy everything and bring it on the flight.

I was in deep, deep trouble.

Reverting to the times of my youthful indiscretions, I immediately did what anyone in my situation would. I emailed my mother for help. The first response was, “Very funny. You’re going to cook?” After explaining the situation, I received a very long list of instructions written at a third grade level. “This is a knife” and so on…

Well, the magic day came and everything went shockingly well. The turkey tasted like turkey. The stuffing tasted like stuffing. Heck, the cranberries even came out red. Then it was time for the gravy.

In Siberia, you do not buy ingredients in pre-packaged bags. Instead, you buy everything in a clear plastic bag with no label. In theory, you should arrange everything at home so you know what  it is when it comes time to cook. Thus did the flour adventures again.

Cooking instructions were read. Turkey juices went into the pan. Instructions were read. Flour went into the pan. Instructions were read. Constant stirring was undertaken. Instructions were read. Water was added.

Feeling cocky, I then did a tasting sample and nearly choked. The gravy was incredibly salty and exceedingly chunky. I added more water, but there was no change. For the next 20 minutes, I kept adding water and stirring. The gravy just kept getting chunkier, tasted horrible and actually began to smoke!

After a while, one of my female students came into the kitchen to find out what was going on. She blanched as she tasted the gravy. We went through the instructions and I made a passing reference to my suspicion the flour might be bad.

She took one look at the flour and started laughing. Hysterically. She was laughing so hard she couldn’t tell me the reason in English and my Russian was pretty bad. She recovered after a few minutes and gave me the English translation.

I had grabbed the stuff used to paste over holes in the wall, not the flour. Put another way, I was making turkey drywall.

No wonder it was so chunky!

After the crowd left, I repaired a door knob hole in my bathroom. Thanksgiving lasted for months!

Food and Snack Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Party

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.

Grill Armor Gloves Product Features, Details and Other Usage [Infographic]

What are the features of Grill Armor Gloves? What materials are they made of? What are the other things they can be used?

Super Foods for Super Weight Loss

 Super Foods for Super Weight Loss

Experts say there are two basic categories of foods that can be considered "keeping it off super foods" because they fill your tummy without piling on the calories: fruits and vegetables. And the nutrient that gives fruits and vegetables that ‘staying power?’ Fiber. So, if fruits and vegetables are the "keeping-it-off superfood groups," fiber may well be the "keeping-it-off super-nutrient." Protein is another super-nutrient. It's becoming more scientifically accepted that protein may help to curb appetite. Protein also offers staying power, and can slightly boost your metabolism in the process. But it’s imperative that you choose your proteins wisely, because like all other foods, if you’re eating more than your body needs, it’ll show up on the scale as a gain, instead of a loss.

The following superfoods are smart, low-calorie choices that will benefit your weight loss efforts:

Green Tea - Researchers suspect that the catechins (helpful phytochemicals) in green tea may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and mildly decrease body fat. So indulge in either a hot cup or a nice tall iced glass of green tea.

Broth or tomato-based soup – Soups can help reduce hunger before meals and increase your feeling of fullness.

Low-calorie green salads - Having a low-calorie salad – which is not defined as one that’s loaded with croutons, high fat dressings, and cheese - as a first course can help you feel full, thereby reducing how much you eat with your main course. Wisely choose your ingredients, and its high fiber content can be the key to helping you fight cravings later in the day.

Yogurt – Including dairy products as part of your healthy diet may promote your weight loss efforts. Choosing a light yogurt may help you fight off hunger pangs due to its combination of protein and carbohydrate.

Beans – A great combination of fiber and protein, beans help you feel full longer, which means they may work to curb your between-meal appetite.

Water – Water is your body’s lifeblood, and you should be drinking it through your day. It’s a great no-calorie beverage, and you can get it by drinking unsweetened tea, flavored unsweetened mineral water, regular water with lime or lemon, or even in your cucumber. In addition to helping flush toxins from the body, it can also help you feel full. So when those hunger pangs strike, try drinking a glass of water before grabbing that snack.

High-Fiber, Whole-Grain Cereal - Whole grains in general help boost fiber and the nutritional value of your meal. One of the easiest ways to give your daily diet a whole-grain boost is to have a bowl of higher-fiber whole-grain cereal as breakfast or a snack.

Eliminate Outdoor Cooking Mistakes - Grill Armor Gloves

Eliminate Outdoor Cooking Mistakes

As humans, we all make mistakes. It is human nature to do so, and cannot be prevented each and every time. When it comes to barbequing, this rule is no different. We often make mistakes that we do not even realize until we taste our food, or something potentially dangerous happens.

Some mistakes just mean that the food you cook is not going to taste very good, while others could potentially mean a trip to the hospital, or a visit from your claims representative on your home insurance policy. No matter the severity of the mistake, you should do your best to try to avoid them whenever possible.

 

Cooking Mistakes

You must properly prepare the meat you are cooking, before cooking it. You should never attempt to cook meat on a grill when it is still frozen, or even partially frozen. Thaw your meat by sitting it out about 12 to 24 hours before you plan on cooking it, or by thawing it in a microwave.

Once meat is cooked, never put it back in on the same plate you had it on when it was raw. This could cause the spread of many unwanted illnesses.

Cooking with charcoal lighter fluid can be good or bad. The lighter fluid will cause the food you are cooking to taste different then with other types of grills. Alternatively, attempting to not use lighter fluid may cause a lot of frustration due to the fact that charcoal can be difficult if not impossible to light without lighter fluid.

Never poke you meat while it is cooking. Poking holes in meat will cause the juice inside to leak out into the bottom of the grill.  Not only will this make your food dry and unappealing in the end, but it also could potentially ruin your barbeque grill. At the very least, it will cause a buildup of unwanted grease and juices on your grill, which will make cleanup harder.

Once the meat is on the grill, try not to open the lid to many times. Each time you open the lid, you change the temperature in the grill. The constant change in temperature and the air flow will cause your meat to dry up quickly.

Remember that the higher the heat is not always the better. While it is okay to quickly cook food, turning the heat up will just cause the meat to dry up and potentially burn.

While using tin foil or aluminum foil will make cleaning easier, it will cause your food to have more of a fried taste then a grilled taste.

Dangerous Mistakes

Never, under any circumstance, should you leave a grill alone when it is in use. Grilling does have fire involved, and accidents can happen. Fire spreads quickly, so being aware of your grill could mean the difference between a small fire that is quickly extinguished, and a visit from the fire department.

Never place a hot grill against a wall, even if the fire is already completely out. A hot grill can heat up an exterior wall to the point of combustion. Also, do not put the grill cover back on until you are sure that the grill is completely cool.

You grill should be cleaned after each and every use, no exceptions. While no one likes cleaning the grill, it is essential for the life and safety of your grill. If you allow your grill to sit dirty, not only are you causing a potential fire and health hazard, but you are ultimately making it harder on yourself when it does come time to clean your grill.

Make sure that your grill is completely cold before cleaning it. Spraying oil and cleaning agents on a hot surface could cause it to ignite. Be careful, because the grill may seem cool, but may still be hot in certain areas. You do not want to sustain a burn.

Veggies Take Center Stage at Your 4th of July Cookout

Your annual 4th of July cookout is quickly approaching. Whether you’re expecting vegetarian guests, you’ve newly transitioned to vegetarianism yourself, or you’d just like to incorporate more meatless recipes to give some variety to your cookout menu, there are all kind of ways to prepare meatless options.  

Before beginning, remember that most vegetarian foods are more fragile than meat, and do not contain as much fat. Therefore, clean and well-lubricated grill is essential to successfully grilling vegetables. It’d be a shame for those beautifully grilled peppers to stick to the grill!

Traditionally, vegetables have been considered a side dish in most meals, but at a cookout they can take center stage as the entrée. Almost any kind of vegetable is great for grilling. Complement your meal by serving them over pasta, rice or polenta. You can also make them into extraordinary sandwiches with a soy-based cheese and some freshly baked rolls or bread. Cut the vegetables lengthwise into thin slices in the case of zucchini and eggplant, or into thick rings, in the case of onions, tomatoes and peppers. If you'd rather have your veggies in handy bite-size pieces for serving with pasta and the like, try using a special pan for the grill with small holes that keep the veggies from falling through the grill and being lost. And probably the easiest way to grill vegetables on the grill is shish-ka-bob style!

Don’t forget to balance out those grilled vegetables with some fresh fruit salads, perfectly chilled and juicy. Watermelon, strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits all complement one another well in a delightful fruit salad prepared with non-dairy whipped cream.  Also use fruits to experiment with some fun smoothies and slushies for the kids – they’re fun and better for them than sugary sodas.

3 Great Ideas For 4th Of July Party Food

Add some fun to your 4th of July party food. If you are tired of the same old burgers and hot dogs on this celebration, go ahead and add more to it or change it up the way that you would like to. There is no rule that the food should be one thing or another. In fact, a potluck of choices is the most American of all ways to celebrate. Gather up some new menu ideas and make this fourth of July fun and enjoyable for everyone.

Need some help coming up with fun ideas for party food? If so, there are more than a few things that you can do. Here are some great ideas.

Add more choices. Instead of just burgers and hot dogs, why not cook up some shrimp, crab or even lobster? You can add chicken, fish and steaks to the menu. Yes, you can cook all of this right on your grill (with the help of a side burner in some cases) and still enjoy the grilling atmosphere that the 4th is all about.

Dress up dessert. How about a cake that is in the shape of an American flag? For red stripes, go with strawberries in rows. For the stars, add enough blueberries to make them shine through. Frost the cake white and decorate. This is a great way to make a special treat.

Don’t forget the drinks. You can make various types of drinks special by just adding in flavored ice cubes, in blue and red, of course. To make them, add strawberry and blueberry flavoring to the ice cube trays. Or, just use the right colored Kool-Aid to make it work. Drop them into drinks for a festive yet fun way to add to your food celebration.

You can add virtually any side dish, any dessert and any type of appetizer to your menu and find those that will love it. The only rules to consider about food for the 4th is that it should be something that does not require fine china, something that can handle being out in the sun and something that is all about fun eating. You can come up with your own fun menu of foods, but don’t forget that some will want the traditional fare nonetheless.

June 05, 2015

cook ›   cooking ›   food ›   grilling gloves ›   recipes ›   tips ›  


Cooking Basics for Beginners

 Cooking Basics for Beginners - Grill Armor Gloves

When it comes to cooking, it is important to keep in mind that everyone started somewhere. I do not know of a single person who was born with a wooden cooking spoon and ready to go. There is a lot of learning that must be done in order to become a prolific cook and then there is always room for improvement. Not only do you need to begin with the basics when it comes to cooking but you almost need to begin again when learning to cook a new cuisine such as Chinese, Thai, or Indian food.

This means that at any given time in your cooking learning cycles there is quite probably someone somewhere that is better and/or worse at cooking than you. Take heart from this because even the best have bad days when it comes to cooking. There are many people who cook for different reasons. Some cook in order to eat and survive while others cook because they actually enjoy the process of cooking. Some cook during times of emotional upheaval and others cook out of sheer boredom. Whatever your reason for cooking or learning to cook you should always begin with the basics.

The first thing that you need to learn is what the different terminology you will find in recipes actually means. There are many new and sometimes foreign sounding terms that you will find in common recipes. These terms can mean the difference in recipe success or failure. You should be able to find a good section in any inclusive cookbook that explains the different definitions for unfamiliar terminology. If you aren't absolutely certain what is meant by “folding in the eggs” it is in your best interests to look it up.

Another great bit of advice when it comes to cooking basics is to try simpler recipes for a while and then expand your horizons to the more complex recipes that abound. Most recipes will have a little note about their degree of difficulty and you can read through the recipe to see whether or not it is something you are interested in preparing or confident that you can prepare. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day and it will take quite some time to build a reliable ‘repertoire’ of recipes to work into your meal planning rotation.

The good news is that once you've learned the basics of cooking it is unlikely that you will ever need to relearn them. This means that you can constantly build up and expand your cooking skills. As you learn new recipes and improve your culinary skills and talents you will discover that preparing your own meals from scratch is much more rewarding than preparing prepackaged meals that are purchased from the shelves of your local supermarkets.

You will also discover as your experience and confidence grows that you will find yourself more and more often improvising as you go and adjusting recipes to meet your personal preferences. If you prefer more or less of ingredients or want to make a recipe a little more or less spicy in flavor you can make simple adjustments along the way in order to achieve this goal. In other words you will begin in time to create recipes of your very own. And that is something you won’t necessarily learn when it comes to basic cooking skills for beginners but you would never learn if you didn't master those basic cooking skills.

Camp Cooking Made Easy

Camp Cooking Made Easy - Grill Armor Gloves

Camp cooking can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. If you want to prepare quick and simple but nutritious meals while you are camping, camp cooking doesn't even have to require a fire. But if you are interested in fueling your camping trip with a feast, camp cooking can allow you to make hot, healthy foods that are as good as you can make them at home in your own kitchen.

Camp cooking does not have to be limited to sandwiches and baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil. Almost any cooking method you use in the kitchen can be duplicated around the campfire. For example, use a dutch oven or pit cooking to bake your food. You can also easily fry foods in a pan over a grill, or boil, braise and roast. What type of camping cookware is best for you? Camp cooking and clean-up can be easy or a hassle, it all starts with great camping equipment.

Some pots/pans come in sets that mate together or "nest" for storage and even allow you to tuck a canister of fuel inside them. This comes in handy when you're looking to save room while camping.

Following are some camping items to take with you if you are planning on preparing some meals around the campfire. These common kitchen items will allow you to duplicate tasty meals while you are out of doors.

• Salt and pepper
• Other of your favorite herbs and spices
• Cooking oil
• Pot holder
• Hand-held can opener
• Aluminum foil
• Tongs and spatula
• Cutting knives
• Cutting board
• Mixing bowl
• Paper or plastic silverware, plates and cups

If you have just a few campers and are looking for some simple camp cooking, try the easy and quick technique of tin can cooking. All you will need is a clean tin can – a one gallon size can works well. Your source of heat can be a small campfire, or if wood burning is prohibited, a small buddy burner will work well, which can be found at sporting good stores or online. Place your meal in the tin can and simply heat the contents of your can over a flame. You will have a hot meal ready in minutes. This technique works great for soups, beans and tuna fish.

A more time-consuming camp cooking technique that also produces tasty meals is pit cooking. Pit cooking is great for items that can be wrapped in aluminum foil to be cooked. It is also a great camp cooking method if you are using a dutch oven or cast iron cookware. Pit cooking warms your food by heating rocks and coals that are buried in the ground. As the rocks cool off, their emitted heat cooks the food. To pit cook, first dig a hole that is about three times larger than your cookware. Line the pit with rocks and build a fire in the middle. Once the fire has burned rapidly for about an hour, push the hot coals and rocks into the center. Layer your wrapped food or covered skillets on top of the rocks and coals and place more on top. After a few hours, you will have some delicious camp food to enjoy.

Father's Day Steak: Tips For Cooking a Mouth-Watering Steak

Father's Day Steak: Tips For Cooking a Mouth-Watering Steak

It's a trite, but often repeated saying: The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. So why, when Father's Day rolls around, do we buy endless ties and "message" T shirts? Is the way to his heart through his clothes? Not likely. It's the stomach, people, and that means good food. For many men, good food comes in the form of a great steak.

So what if you're not a steak eater, or you eat it only in restaurants and the thought of purchasing a raw slab scares you to death? Fear not. It's not that complicated, really. Even a caveman can handle this job.

It's important to know your cuts of meat before planning the menu. You don't want to cook the dad in your life a tasteless, tough piece of leather. You might not notice the difference, but let's face it - he will. Since you'll likely be grilling, it's important to know the best cuts of meat for the grill.

You want to choose the most tender portions of meat for grilling. Experts generally consider these cuts of beef to be the best for grilling:

  • Rib Eye
  • T-Bone
  • Porterhouse
  • Strip steak (like New York steak)


If there is the word "loin" on the package, you're in good shape, though most grill experts agree the T-bone is the most superior cut of beef for grilling. It stays tender and juicy, and is thick enough to withstand a fair amount of time on the grill without overcooking. Stay away from top round or anything with "round" or "chuck" in the name. These will not cook well on the grill. Flank steak and London broil can also be tough.

Next, it's important to know how to choose a steak. Don't just grab the first package that looks good to you. Look for some good marbling in the steak. Yes, this is another word for fat. But we're not cooking for the dieter in the family on this special day, we're trying to give dad a good steak, remember? Those little bits of fat scattered about the steak will essentially melt while the meat is cooking, giving the meat a rich and more tender flavor.

In that same vein, don't trim the fat from your steak before cooking. It might be the diet book author in you coming out, but that thick layer of fat around your steak is what will give the steak a wonderful juicy quality and rich flavor. You can cook the steak, and then trim the fat, but cook the steak while it's still dressed in its fat clothes. It's worth it.

Do you need to buy a "name brand" steak? Experts say it's not necessary, even though branded meat is a new commodity and becoming more widely available. Nor is it necessary to choose a steak from a butcher shop or from behind the glass window in the meat department at your local grocery store. Usually the pre-packaged steaks are the same you would get from behind the glass, and since the butcher is a dying breed, you could certainly go that route if you have a neighborhood butcher, but if not, a good quality grocery store will provide what you need.

Finally, it's important to know your grades of steak.

Prime is the top grade, and it features the most marbling and is the most tender, but most of us don't have access to this grade in mainstream grocery stores. This is often what you get in a restaurant.

Choice is the best grade most of us can get in the grocery store. But choice does not guarantee high quality as this grade encompasses meat that can be almost as good as prime, or almost as bad as select, our next grade.

Select beef is the most lean and least expensive beef and is the grade of beef most commonly found in your grocery store meat case. Since this is Father's Day, try to find choice and splurge a little.

If you are unsure about your ability to pick up a good steak locally, consider ordering online and having fresh, high-quality steaks delivered to your door.

At OmahaSteaks.com, you can buy a large variety pack of meat, grill some for dad, and then send him home with a few spares for another day. KansasCitySteaks.com offers prime quality steaks for a restaurant-quality dad's meal.

See what people say about us...

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"The gloves really work! I used them to remove hot trays from the oven, in addition to not feeling any heat at all the trays didn't slip out of my hand. I was anxious to use them while grilling and they really made the whole experience much easier. I was not worried about getting burned when I was turning the food."

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