Canning Your Fall Harvest

Start your canning process with the freshest, most tender produce from your garden. The quicker you get it from garden to jar, the better your vegetables will taste come the late winter. Wash all your produce thoroughly, and peel those with tough or tasteless skin. Don’t soak your vegetables before canning, as they will lose their extra boost of nutrition and flavor.

The Best Vegetables For Canning And Preserving

Cucumbers, peppers, or zucchini can make great pickles

Tomatoes, onions and peppers can be canned together for salsa or pasta sauce

Corn

Peppers

Spinach

Beans

When selecting your canning jars, only use ones specifically designed for home canning, and ensure that they are all free of cracks. Check all sealing materials (lids, rings) for dents or flaws that will prevent an airtight seal. Don’t use commercial jars from previously purchased foods like spaghetti sauce, as the jars may collapse under the pressure required to properly preserve your food in a bacteria-free environment. Before starting the packing process, boil all jars and lids to ensure that they are free of bacteria. Vegetables are best preserved using a pressure cooker, and fruits and berries are best prepared in a water bath method.

Filling your jars with vegetables can be done in two different ways, the raw pack or hot pack. The raw pack method involves tightly packing non-starchy vegetables into a jar, and cover with boiling water. Starchy vegetables should be loosely packed, because they expand in the canning process. The hot pack method is ideal for low-acid foods, including most vegetables. In this manner, you steam or boil the vegetables briefly, then fill the jar, adding the cooking water around them to fill. Using this method, the vegetables should also be more loosely packed. Whichever method you use, ensure that you have covered your vegetables completely with water, but leave enough room at the top for some air to ensure the necessary seal can be created. You can also add additional salt and spices at this time, but note that they do not aid the preservation process, only enhance the flavor of the vegetables.

Each pressure cooker will have specific directions from the manufacturer to ensure that the canning process will go smoothly, so be sure to read and follow those guidelines for your safety, as well as to ensure the best results. Once you have completed the process, allow the jars to cool in a dry, non-drafty environment (such as a pantry) before testing the seals and labeling the jars for storage.

If a jar shows signs of foaming, discoloration, or has a loose, cracked, or bulging lid, discard that jar and do not eat it. Vegetables can also contain some toxins, such as botulism, without showing any indication of spoilage; for the best observation of food safety, always boil home-canned vegetables for 10-20 minutes before tasting.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can safely enjoy your fresh vegetable harvest throughout the cold, dark nights of winter, and have the benefit of good, natural foods at every meal.

This is a guest post by Lisa Vance. Lisa suggests visiting Chefs.com for information about food insight for the food enthusiast.

Halloween Dessert Ideas

Besides Christmas, there are few holidays that kids look forward to as much as Halloween – when imaginations can run wild.

All kids love deserts – so make this part of your evening. It’s easy to scare up a supernatural selection of Halloween treats and deserts.

To make it holiday perfect, pick Halloween colors – like orange and black, and fall flavors like pumpkin. And focus on Halloween shapes and themes. With some fun imagination, it’s easy to turn cookies, muffins, cakes and candies and more into jack o lanterns, spiders, tombstones, severed fingers, eyeballs and more.

These creepy creations and scary snacks will delight your little ghosts and goblins.

Candy or Caramel Apples – Mostly fruit, so it’s a healthier choice. Take crisp, tart apples and cover with cinnamon-flavored crunchy hard candy. Or try Chocolate Caramel Apples. Just cover crisp apples with caramel and then chocolate. For extra deliciousness, coat them with bits of your favorite chopped candy bars.

Deviled Drinks – Be sure to remember beverages! A super fun idea is eyeball punch – use a red juice such as grape or cranberry. Then add lychees, each stuffed with a large blueberry. Guaranteed to give the chills – and refresh as well! Green-Goblin Punch is another favorite – kids love how gross it looks — and how good it tastes.

Eyeball Donuts. Just pick up your favorite donut holes and some white chocolate on your way home. Melt the white chocolate over the donut holes, then top with a circle of green or blue food gel. Then top with a piece of black candy, and voila – sweet eyeball treats.

Pumpkin Pleasers – One of the great flavors of fall, pumpkin can be enjoyed so many ways. One of the easiest is pumpkin seeds. When carving out your pumpkins, set aside these super nutritious tasty seeds. Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds are candied, then tossed with pumpkin pie spice, sugar and salt. Easy to prepare – and hard to stop eating! Or how about Pumpkin Cupcakes, which look – and taste – like pumpkins!

Beastly Bakery – One of the best ways to make a holiday app is with shapes. It’s fun to invite kids into the kitchen, with cookie cutters shaped like ghosts, witches, spooked cats and more. Chilled dough can be transformed into a variety fun-to-eat Halloween treats. Why not try Chocolate Ghost Cakes or White Meringue Ghosts?

Scary Shapes How about Witch Hats? Take a well-rounded scoops of ice cream, then top with a chocolate cone “hat”. Then use chocolate buttons to make the witches eyes, and chocolate sprinkles or drizzle to make the hair. Spooky Muffins are easier yet – just make your favorite dark muffins. Then on one side of the top, press two M&Ms lengthwise into the muffin, to resemble spooky eyes. Boo!

Spooky Spider Webs – It’s easy to make to transform anything to spider webs. Try Spider Lollipops, a easy treat that are made with pipe cleaners and lollipops. Or how about Spider Webs, crunchy pretzels covered with a web smooth, sweet white chocolate? Or try Candy Spiders: chocolate, marshmallows, and rice cereal, and make scrumptious spiders that little ghosts and ghouls will love to eat.

This is a guest post by Mark Lynch. Mark recommends reading more about culinary arts, tips, and tricks on Chefs.edu.

Mediterranean Diet Review and Recipe

The Mediterranean diet is based on food that can be found in the Mediterranean area. It is a combination of Italian, Greek, and Spanish cuisine. It mainly consists of seafood, lean meats, and vegetables. But the following are the fundamental types of food that make up the Mediterranean Diet: olive oil, legumes, cereals (unrefined), vegetables, fruits, and fish. One of the key ingredients in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil. Natural olive oil contains high levels of nutrients and acids that are beneficial to your body.

One popular Mediterranean diet dish is known as Salt Cod All Livernese. It is an Italian dish with a cod fish as the main course covered with an exquisite sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The dish is very popular in restaurants surrounding the Mediterranean area. Finding recipes for Mediterranean diet dishes is not difficult – there thousands of different simple recipes that you can cook. You can even experiment with different ingredients to make your own unique Mediterranean diet dish. All in all, this diet helps people lose weight and stay health due to the fact that it provides your body with all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

 

Prep time: 10 mins | Total time: 30 mins | Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 350 g (12 oz) salt cod, cut into 6 cm x 6 cm pieces (approx)
  • 500 g (1 lb) skinned, chopped tomatoes
  • A quarter of a red or yellow pepper, cut into strips (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons rinsed capers (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • Bunch of parsley, chopped finely
  • Olive oil
  • Flour to dredge

Directions

  • 48 hours in advance, rinse and soak the salt cod in water; change the water every 12 hours.
  • Dry the cod on kitchen paper.
  • Dredge in flour and fry on a high heat with a little oil on both sides until golden. You’ll do a couple of batches. Put the fish to one side.
  • In the same oil (if it burns, change it, obviously), add the parsley and garlic (and pepper if using).
  • Stir-fry for a few more seconds. Make sure the garlic does not burn! Add the tomato and stir well. Add the capers if using.
  • Place the fish very carefully in the pan, covering well with the tomato.
  • Cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, moving the fish around occasionally very carefully and making sure the sauce does not burn (add a little water, stock or white wine if necessary).
  • Serve with steamed potatoes (a good contrast with the strong flavours of the fish dish), and fresh sautéed vegetables.

Mayo Clinic Diet Review and Recipes

The Mayo Clinic diet teaches people how to change their lifestyle to include healthier choices. It was designed specifically to help people lose excess weight and build create a more active lifestyle. The Mayo Clinic is essentially a course that is designed for people who want to lose weight. The course is divided into two categories: lose it, and live it. The first part focusing on helping people lose weight and the second part helps people change their habits to maintain their weight.

The diet revolves around eating a lot of small meals throughout the day. You can eat a wide variety of food such as: yogurt, tuna, pasta, salad, fruits, vegetables, pizza, etc. The main idea of the diet is to help someone reduce their appetite by eating small portions of healthier food throughout the day. One dish you can make based on the Mayo Clinic diet is called Tuscan Wheat Bean Stew, and it is a favorite amongst Mayo Clinic fans. This diet is much like any other diet except it is designed like a course that people follow. It includes tips on how to lose weight and how to refrain from gaining weight in the future; perfect for people who can’t lose weight on their own.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked wheat berries or spelt
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained, divided
  • 3 (15.75-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

Soak wheat berries in water for 3 hours; drain.

Place celery, garlic, onion, and carrot in a food processor; process until vegetables are finely chopped.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture; sauté 15 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in rosemary and tomatoes. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Place wine and 1 can beans in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Add bean mixture to vegetable mixture. Stir in chicken broth; bring to a boil. Stir in wheat berries; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until wheat berries are tender-crunchy. Stir in salt, pepper, and remaining can of beans. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes.

TLC Diet Review and Recipe

The TLC diet is designed to improve the health of your heart. It is great for people who believe they are at risk of heart disease. It helps improve the quality of your heart and helps it stay healthy for as long as possible. The abbreviation TLC stands for “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes”. Like most diets, this diet revolves around consuming all natural food products. The following are some of food products that are allowed under the TLC diet: milk, yogurt, cheese, vegetable oils with unsaturated fat, fruit, vegetables, bread, cereal, pasta, and rice.

The diet recommends 3-5 servings of vegetables and fruits every single day as well as 6-11 servings of grain based food products such as pasta and rice. For snacks, it is recommended to eat nuts, dried fruit, and other snacks with low sodium and fat levels. Make it a rule to only pick snacks that have “low fat” printed on the label. The main guidelines that are presented by the TLC diet are the following: maximum of 7% of the total day’s calories from saturated fat, 20-35% calories from natural fat, and a maximum of 200 milligrams of cholesterol. This diet is perfect for people who want to improve the health of their hearts and lose weight at the same time.

 

DASH Diet Review and Recipes

The Dash diet was designed specifically for people who are suffering from high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure have a high risk of getting a heart attack; this diet helps reduce the chances of that happening.  It was recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Committing to this diet is not difficult because it allows you to eat a wide variety of food. However, the diet revolves around food that has low levels of fat, mostly vegetables, and all natural products.

There are many delicious dishes that you create based on a DASH diet. Since the diet does not shun most natural food products, there are thousands of recipes available for different meals. One such recipe is known as the Chicken Burrito and you will need the following ingredients to prepare this dish: 1 red pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, 2 ribs of celery, 1 yellow onion, 1 pint of grape tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 tortillas, and 8 ounces of precooked chicken breast.

Practically speaking, this diet leaves plenty of room for people to develop their own recipes and cook up their own dishes. Almost every food group is allowed. Even processed food products are allowed in small portions. But avoid salted food.

 

How Fruits And Vegetables Can Be Food Poisoning Culprits

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” goes a very popular saying. People are encouraged to eat fruits and vegetables because these are very rich sources of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber that aids in digestion. Not many are aware that fresh fruits and veggies can also cause food poisoning. What is widely known to a lot of individuals is that contaminated meat is the main culprit. Hence, it’s truly a must to ensure that all food items are clean before eating to avoid food poisoning. So, whether you just bought a basket of apples from your favorite local farmer or maybe a tub of fresh micro greens from a nearby supermarket, you should wash them properly. It is never a good idea to assume that fruits and vegetables that are being sold have already been washed prior to selling even if these already look crispy and ready-to-eat in their boxes or plastic containers.

What Causes Food Poisoning?

Some people think that only cooked food that was handled improperly or was allowed to go stale can cause food poisoning. The truth is that any type of food, whether this is something that can be eaten raw or cooked, can bring about food poisoning. If you get poisoned, you’ll feel discomfort at best. The worst possible scenario, however, is death. Yes, it is a life-threatening condition that requires medical treatment, particularly if children are involved.

When Do I See a Doctor?

Food poisoning presents with a few common symptoms, such as – nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, body weakness (also known as body malaise), and abdominal pain or cramps. Sometimes, a bloody stool may be observed, especially for those whose condition is caused by shigella. A person’s body can become dehydrated, and children, most especially babies, are very much at risk because they get dehydrated very quickly. Other signs include: convulsions, loss of balance, confusion, muscle cramps or stiffening. If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from food poisoning, bring him to a hospital as soon as possible in order for him to receive emergency treatment.

Can Vegetables and Fruits Cause Food Poisoning?

People need fruits and veggies in their diet. But if these aren’t prepared or washed properly, they can cause food poisoning. The CDC has even released a report on how common leafy greens, including spinach and lettuce, can be tainted. So, how do fruits and veggies become contaminated?

— Improper Food Handling

Like most prepared dishes and other fresh food items, contamination can occur during handling. This means that cooks, waiters, and other individuals who have handled the food could spread pathogenic microorganisms if they don’t take proper precautions to protect what they are serving. This means that anyone who touches or goes near any food item that’s to be served to guests must wash their hands properly. Sick personnel must not be allowed near food too as many types of bacteria and viruses can be transmitted through sneezing or coughing.

— Fertilizer and Pesticide Poisoning

A number of large agricultural companies regularly use fertilizer to make sure that their crops grow better. Pesticides are widely used as well in controlling insects and other pests that would otherwise consume produce and decrease yield. But these substances are dangerous to people and even animals. Food poisoning can occur through physical contact with such matters, as well as through inhalation or ingestion. Because of this, it’s very important to thoroughly wash veggies and fruits that can be eaten raw. Also, if you’re planning to grow your own edible plants, make sure to use only organic products or ask the local US-EPA about what type of pesticides or fertilizers are safe to use.

Citations:
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Claire Brent is a full-time freelance writer who has done a lot of research about pest control and how pesticides can affect health. She hopes that with her articles, people will learn more about their pest management options.

Singing For Your Supper – A Musical Menu

As we enter a world of non-stop entertainment, where films and computer games are available at the touch of a button 24 hours a day, it seems that some people are not content to merely go to a restaurant to eat, but they need to be entertained too. With this in mind, restaurants all over the world have put together eating and entertainment packages to appeal to all manner of diners, from opera and religious dirges to fun, thigh slapping Oompah bands. While diners don’t actually have to sing for their supper, they certainly get supper with a song.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner, New York

Located in Times Square, Ellen’s Stardust Diner is probably the epitome of an entertainment restaurant. Decorated like a scene from ‘Happy Days’, the restaurant doesn’t take bookings, but diners are happy to queue to experience the incredible quality of the singing staff. Serving up a menu of typical diner food, the icing on the cake is the non-stop singing and fantastic atmosphere enjoyed by both young and old alike.

De Beleving, Utrecht

Set in beautiful atmospheric brick walled cellars on the Old Canal, De Beleving (The Experience) not only has a wide selection of good food and wines but their staff are primarily recruited for their singing and musical ability with singing, guitar and piano playing waiters supplying a nightly feast of music and entertainment until late in the evening.

Tiroler Hut, Bayswater, London

If you love the idea of dressing in lederhosen or dirndl skirts and lifting a stein or two of beer as you belt out traditional German drinking ditties or the songs from the Sound of Music, Tiroler Hut is the place for you. Set in a basement with low, low ceilings, it’s reminiscent of a German Beer Hall and serves up typical Deutsche fare such as schnitzels and sausages, but it’s the musical entertainment that brings diners to this vibrant restaurant. Apparently the lounge singer has been working here for 50 years, so he’s obviously very happy in his work!

Pyongyang, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

When we think of North Korea, it doesn’t actually conjure up images of fun, however the North Korean Government have set up a chain of restaurants from North China to Thailand which are staffed by singing North Korean waitresses. These have proved immensely popular, probably not for their menu which includes such delicacies as ice encrusted ‘cold noodles’ and dangogi (otherwise known as dog), but for the music and dance routines performed by the traditionally dressed waitresses and of course their renditions of all those famous Korean Pop classics.

L’Eau Vive, Rome

Perhaps the strangest ‘musical’ restaurant is located in Rome and part of a chain of restaurants set up in the 1960s and managed by the Missionary Workers of the Immaculate of the Donum Dei Missionary Family; rather a mouthful – but these French style restaurants have a rather unusual addition to the menu – every evening nuns sing Ave Maria in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary; proof that you should always remember to say ‘grace’ before your meal.

Sue loves nothing better than trying new restaurants, sampling their menus and providing online reviews. Clever signage such as that provided by The Menu Shop is one sure fire way to entice her in to dine.

Look To The Squirrel: Ultimate Nutty Bliss

A squirrel floated down from the sky. On his way down he noticed large walnuts instead of clouds. He couldn’t resist them. They were delicious. The squirrel saw that he was falling into a world of wonderful texture. It was a creamy and shiny land that continued to mold into his every wish. A wonderful nut buttered snowman was smiling at him as he extended his arms to catch him. That is what one wants to experience, even if it is just secretly while eating the perfect nut butter.

Butter: The Nutty Frontier

There is a lot to explore when it comes to nut butters. The one that is most popular is of course peanut butter, but why stop there? There are so many tasty variations available, like almond and cashew butter. Plus, it gives you an alternative if you have peanut allergies. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology estimates that around 400,000 children are allergic to peanuts in the United States alone, but do not fret, nut butter and jelly sandwiches are still well within reach.

What Can You Find In Nuts?

In most nuts you can find healthy proteins, healthful fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The American Cancer society actually found that phytochemicals, which are found in nuts, can also help prevent cancer among those who consume it. UC Berkeley has done some research that suggests that nuts can also help to balance cholesterol levels. What if you are allergic to all nuts? You can give seed butter or soy butter a shot. They taste similar to many nut butters and have great benefits as well, such as having a higher percentage of protein with a much lower percentage of fat.

Bulk The Nut

If you are beginning to experiment with nuts or seeds, then perhaps it is time to consider making your nut or seed butters from home. It will be much healthier, fresher, and you will be aware of the ingredients your family will be consuming. Store bought butters may be good, but may also have added sugars, artificial flavors and who knows what else. This may not be too healthy for your family. Why not play it safe? Why not buy quality nuts or seeds in bulk and butter it up at home? Nuts can last a while, so it’s always better to buy in bulk and just store it.

You will find out when you start making your own nut butter that there a lot of possibilities. You can really get creative with the process. If you have kids, they can join in as well. There is no better way to join that squirrel in his nut-buttery world than tasting homemade nut butter. It is not as fattening as other products out there. It can make snacking a much easier and healthier task. This could alleviate those who do not love cooking and give people a new delicious ingredient to mess around with in the kitchen. This raw nut-butter-making-process truly has benefits for everyone.

Today’s post was provided by Thomas Jay, blogger for New Urban Farms. Thomas is an avid blogger who lives in Orlando, Florida. He is a sports fanatic and lover of all foods.

A Taste Of Urban Countryside: London’s Best Farmers Markets

Image by Graham Robson

The countryside and the city are only ever seen as opposites. The city is concrete and enclosed, whereas the countryside is wide open. But London Farmer’s Markets show how the countryside can coexist with the hustle and bustle of city life.

Borough Market

Location: Southwark Street, Bankside, London.

Full Market Opening Times: Thurs 11:00 – 17:00, Fri 12:00 – 18:00, Sat 9:00 – 16:00

Travel: Conveniently located just down the road from London Bridge station.

Why you should go: This could very well be the best located Farmer’s Market. The nearby attractions make this a wonderful location for a fun-packed day out. Not only is Borough Market within walking distance from the iconic London Bridge, it is also surrounded by other tourist attractions such as the London Dungeon and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. If you’re feeling hungry, Borough Market is conveniently close to a number of restaurants and the Vinopolis Wine Bar.

The Farmer’s Market itself is nothing to scoff at. It is the oldest market in London, dating as far back as 1014, or maybe even earlier. The centuries’ worth of experience has paid off, making it a truly delicious day out

All the traders bring something special to their stalls, from the exotic meats, to the cheese-lovers’ haven, to the many varieties of fruit and vegetables. The stalls are a combination of exotic foods and locally sourced produce. All this food means that the market is as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the nose and taste buds.

There is never a shortage of interesting produce – be sure to exercise some self-restraint, otherwise you’ll leave with an entire farm’s worth of goodies!

Dulwich Farmer’s Market

Location: Dulwich College, Dulwich Common, London.

Full Market Opening Times: Every fourth Sunday of the month, 9:00 – 13:00

Travel: A rail can be taken to West Dulwich. The college is located nearby, along College Road.

Why you should go: Unlike Borough Market, the Dulwich Farmer’s Market is a bit out of the way from Dulwich’s main shopping areas; it’s less for the casual shoppers and more for people looking to sample farm grown produce – and they certainly won’t be disappointed.

The fruit and vegetables are sourced from Kent – the Garden of England – and there are stalls of locally made baked goods, locally sourced meat and fresh fruit juice, plus loads more!

Not content with just selling food, there is an arts & crafts fair held inside the college cloisters. Here, vendors will sell jewellery, paintings and even handmade skincare products. Dulwich Farmer’s Market would be ideal if you’re searching for a calm morning of browsing and sampling fresh produce.

Notting Hill Gate Farmer’s Market

Location: Car park behind Waterstones, Kensington Place, London.

Full Market Opening Times: Sat 9:00 – 13:00

Travel: 1 minute walk away from the Notting Hill Gate tube service.

Why you should go: Like at Dulwich, Notting Hill Gate Farmer’s Market is pretty out of the way. In fact, it’s so out of the way that its location is a local well-kept secret. This is such a shame considering the amount of farmers who attend this market on an almost weekly basis.

Since the market was first run in September, it has slowly been gaining popularity – much like its neighbouring market, Portobello Road Market – and farmers come from Bath, Glastonbury, and all over Britain to sell their produce.

With such a wide range of cheeses, meats, wines, breads and herbs available (to name but a few), you can easily be tempted to splurge on foodie delights. So if you fancy a day out in Notting Hill, consider veering off the beaten path of coffee shops and clothes sales and see what the Farmer’s Market has to offer. It’s worth checking it out before the secret gets out!

Hopefully this has inspired you to seek out the country life in London’s urban sprawl. Have you been to any of these farmer’s markets? Or do you know a hidden gem not mentioned here? Share your thoughts below.

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Sara grew up living close enough to London to appreciate all that city life has to offer. She would recommend BHRC for planning the ideal weekend in London.