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Archive for: November 2019

Month: November 2019

You come home and notice from all the blinking displays that the power has gone out. Given our current economy, and the fact that the holidays revolve so much around food, the first question that pops into mind might be “how long was the power out, and is the food in the fridge and freezer still good?”

Well, it just so happens we have a few very simple tips that will help protect your food assets while you’re gone, as well as one little freebie that will tell you if the food is probably still good. Naturally, the best thing would be a backup generator that kicks in when the power goes out, but for the masses of us that can’t afford a system like that, here are a few

  • Make sure all your food is properly packaged and sealed for storage. The more layers a package has the better and the less air space in a container the better.
  • Keep a few two-liter bottles of water in your fridge and freezer. Leave a little room in each one for expansion as the water freezes. This carries a few little benefits. First, a full fridge or freezer operates more economically since it’s full of cold-retaining water instead of air space. Second, this is a great way to store water for emergencies. Third, in a power outage where you’re home, you can take some of the frozen bottles out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to keep the fresh food cool.
  • Right before you leave on your trip, turn your fridge and freezer down to their lowest settings so if the power does go out, your food will stay cold longer than it would have.
  • Also right before you leave, pull a couple of the frozen water bottles out of the freezer and put them fridge. They’ll thaw slowly since your fridge is now at its lowest setting, and if the power does go out, this will extend the life of your fresh food even longer.
  • Now, if the power goes out while you were gone, how do you know if it was too long? We have two tips here. First, if your frozen water bottles in the freezer are stored on their side, they’ll have an air bubble that floats to the top side from where you left space for ice expansion. Turn those bottles so that the bubble is on the side. If that ice melts and the bubbles shift, there’s an indicator the power was off for too long and you might want to discard some of your food items (this tip does not apply to the bottles you moved to the fridge). The second tip is to take an ice cube and put it by itself on a saucer in your freezer. If the power was off long enough for the cube to melt completely, then there’s another indicator the power was off for too long. Note: With some humidity-regulating freezers, your ice cube may evaporate simply by the actions of the freezer without the power ever going off so test your freezer now to see how long a naked cube will last on a saucer.
  • If the power was out long enough to trip your indicators then you might want to discard some items. Top of the list are things that could be harmful if spoiled such as turkey, mayonnaise, etc. Many foods will let you know if it’s spoiled by color or odor. Other items such as margarine, jellies, and things like this have a wide range of tolerable storage temperatures and may be okay.

REDUCING FOOD WASTE

Reducing waste by half would prevent close to 50 million tons of waste from entering into the waste stream.

Composting is the least expensive alternate disposal method, but packaging is an issue for waste recycling. Because food recycling centers cannot accept plastics, waste generators must set up recycling programs and educate staff about recycling techniques in an industry with little infrastructure and few regulations.

Anaerobic digestion, another method of managing waste, creates heat, steam, electricity or gas as a by-product. While anaerobic digestion systems take a larger initial investment, costs are decreasing as technology improves.

“Unfortunately, only 2-3 percent of the food waste being generated actually makes it to an alternate recycling or alternate disposal method at this point.”

The current waste management system perpetuates the need for larger landfills and disposal sites for the 350 million tons of waste generated in the United States annually.

Composting sites are monitored at the state level by an environmental protection department. Waste recycling restrictions are similar from state to state because most states adopt each other’s regulations.

“It’s something that comes along with the territory,” Mr. Manna added.

DIVING INTO THE WASTE STREAM

With help, some organizations, such as hospitals, restaurants and supermarkets, are beginning to see composting as part of the solution.

In the ’90s, Mr. Manna realized that New Jersey’s recycling rates had hit a plateau. As more fast food chains opened, food packaging increased and pre-made, on-the-go foods gained popularity.

He realized that food waste would be the next frontier in recycling.

When he first began speaking about recycling, he faced small, under-educated audiences who did not see food waste as an issue for their times. Since then, businesses and their customers began to see themselves as part of the solution, and attention to recycling increased.

“Over the last 10 years or so, it has really started to pick up steam. More people are seeing the value in recycling food waste.”

He now develops food waste recycling programs tailored to his clients, the corporate cafés, supermarkets and casinos generating waste.

ANALYZING WASTE

He starts by analyzing waste. With 20 years of experience, he is not afraid to dumpster dive. Mr. Manna visits his customers’ facilities and separates food from trash in order to measure how much waste the company generates.

“If you know what’s in the waste stream, you can find ways to divert it or avoid it totally,” Mr. Manna said. “I think that’s a key to any business operation.”

GROWTH INDUSTRY

The food waste recycling industry is growing. Beyond its more obvious environmental impact, the industry affects the economy, creating jobs and savings that help waste generators as well as local and state economies.

Mr. Manna, who sits on the U.S. Composting Council’s board of directors, has watched the industry develop over the decades. Thousands of people attend the council’s annual conference and the attendees are diverse. Over the years more company representatives began making appearances, which Mr. Manna sees as evidence of the industry’s foothold in the larger economy.

“These are green jobs that we’re creating. This is a growing industry, and it can help our economy.”

CASE STUDY: WEIS MARKETS

Weis Markets, Inc. is determined to make inroads in the disposal of their waste. The company is a member of the Food Marketing Institute, a national association that helps stores fight food spoilage and improve distribution methods. The institute asks members of trade organizations to find ways to reduce waste other than traditional waste management.

They find that location makes the difference.

Each Weis store approaches its waste management differently because of the unique circumstances each branch faces. Factors such as whether a store uses compactors or dumpsters, as well as the store’s size and the frequency of trash pickups, affect whether a store will be considered for the recycling program.

Weis’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint includes managing food waste through its food donation policy and composting practices.

“There are higher uses [for food] than just having it go to a landfill,” said Patti Olenick, sustainability officer for Weis Markets.

The initial waste recycling pilot program in 2009 was not the success they had hoped for. The pilot focused on nine stores around the chain’s Harrisburg headquarters, a region with low waste management costs.

However, the pilot faced complications from the beginning. Weis hoped to reduce the cost of waste disposal by cutting its trash volume by half. But the additional cost of composting still had to be factored in, which meant that pilot stores with already low waste disposal costs saw overall costs rise.

One of the reasons was that Weis had to pay an independent hauler to transport out-of-date food to the composting farm. There, the company was charged an additional tipping fee (cost for disposal per ton) to unload the cargo.

As a result, the first pilot failed from a business perspective because the costs involved in transporting and recycling food proved higher than the cost of sending the waste to a landfill. Based on data analysis from the first pilot, some stores will never geographically make the business case for food recycling.

Ms. Olenick came on board shortly after the failed pilot program and committed herself to reevaluating the possibilities. After analyzing every store, she came up with 50 locations to begin recycling food waste.

“We now go to areas where it’s making economic sense,” Ms. Olenick added.

Sapote

Sapote is a soft and delicious fruit which grows on the Sapote tree which is native to Mexico and Central America. It is typically brown and oval shaped when it is ripe and ready to eat. It is quite difficult to describe the taste of the sapote fruit as it can often incorporate a number of flavours. Some people would say that it has a soft and creamy texture which has hints of custard, peach, pear, lemon and banana!

Fuji Fruit

Fuji fruit, also known as permissions, are a type of fruit which comes from a species of tree in the Genus Diospyros. When the fruit is ripe it will be yellow-orange to dark red-orange in colour, and it is typically formed in a spherical or pumpkin shape. Fuji fruits are actually classes as berries. The skin of the fruit should be removed prior to eating it. The taste can be described as a mix between mangoes and apricots. It can be eaten raw, dried or even cooked in meals.

Rambutan

A rambutan is a tropical fruit which is native to Indonesia and Malaysia. The outer shell has a reddish pink colour which is covered in a number of soft spines. The outer shell has to be removed in order to get to the translucent fleshy skin inside. The taste and jelly like texture of the rambutan is similar to that of a lychee.

Pawpaw

You may have heard of the pawpaw from Disney’s classic film, The Jungle Book. It is a sweet fruit which is native to many parts of the United States, and it is also the largest indigenous fruit in the United States. It looks similar to a mango fruit, but in the inside it has pale yellow flesh. The flesh features a number of seeds which are easy to remove. Pawpaw is described as tasting like banana with a slight custard taste to it too. Pawpaws are most commonly eaten raw, or they can be freeze dried or dehydrated so that they can last a longer time.

Tunde Ke Kebab

Probably, one of the most overstated name in Lucknowi cuisine. Yet, it stands true to all the reviews that people carry. The kebabs here are an amazing blend of taste and culture. (Aren’t they cute?) These cute small roundel kebabs have a long history in its association. The inventor of this dish was Haji Murad Ali, and he happens to broke his arm during his kebab invention period. He was trying to cook the most succulent and melting kebab for the then Nawab Asaf-ud-Dawala. The reason of cooking it to be very soft was in nawab’s favor, as he had lost most of his dentures. Thus, the one-armed man (Ali) got fame with the invention of very soft kebab, hence Tunde ke kebab. If intrigued, do try tunde ke kebab at Aminabad.

Meal for two – Rs 200

Idris ki Biryani

Yet another beauty of Lucknow lies in its biryani. Hunger is not the requirement to visit Idris for its aromatic biryani. Situated close to the Patanala Police Chowki, Idris Biryani Hotel is easy to find. Though, there is no sign board to search it. The only guessing is hordes of people awaiting their turn to enjoy the delicacy.

Meal for two – Rs 100

Rahim ki Nahari

With no signboard, Rahim ki Nahari has still got the power to fetch a horde of a crowd. The man who created the mouthwatering Nihari, Kulche and a lot more in its menu is Haji Abdur Raheem Saheb. With little efforts, it can found in the Phoolwali Gali. Apart from nihari and kulcha, one can try mutton biryani, phirni, sheermal, and kheer.

Meal for two – Rs 150

Ram Asre

If you are a sweet-tooth, try visiting this 200-year-old sweet shop, Ram Asre at Ban Wali Gali Chowk. Very easy to locate and awesome sweets that you would fall in love with. This sweet shop is famous for a plethora of dishes, yet a few of them are just heavenly. Try malai ki gilori (malai paan), sohan halwa, and khoya ladoo.

Meal for two – Rs 100

First and foremost it is important to know that use of both chopsticks as well as fingers while eating is acceptable. Sushi was originally called a finger food because it was meant to be a quick, on-the-go snack that could be eaten quickly. Hence, it is completely acceptable to pick your sushi with your hands instead of using chopsticks. However, avoid asking for forks and knives in a sushi restaurant as this can be construed as insulting and ignorant.

If you need to dunk your sushi into soy sauce, then do so lightly. Only the fish part needs to be dunked in to the sauce, not the rice part. Dunking the rice into the sauce will cause it to fall apart. Do not use excessive soy sauce as this may imply that the original flavours were not strong enough and hence other ingredients needed to be added. If you ask for wasabi as well as soy sauce, avoid mixing it together to form a soup as they are different flavours that are not meant to be blended together.

The sushi needs to be eaten in one bite, at the most it can be eaten in two bites. However, do not place the unfinished bits of your sushi back into the plate. If you eat your sushi in two bites, hold the unfinished bit in your hand or in the chopsticks. Placing it back in the plate is considered rude. Chew your sushi with your mouth closed.

Never stick your chopsticks in your rice bowl. This is akin to a funeral rite and hence is considered offensive in a restaurant environment. Similarly, never pass food from one chopstick to another. This is also similar to a funeral rite where family members pass the bones of the deceased from chopstick to chopstick. It is however alright to move food from one chopstick to another plate.

It’s easy to forget that 65 years ago Japan was a war-torn nation. Food was so scarce that many people had to resort to eating grasshoppers along with whatever else they could find. It is therefore, considered insolent to waste even a single grain of rice. Hence it is imperative that you clean your plate and make sure every last grain has been eaten.

Lastly, never pay your bill to the chef. In the sushi culture, people who handle the food are not supposed to handle anything else, even money. Hence get another restaurant employee to assist you with the payments.

If you are a health conscious person and looking for a reliable and healthy option, you should go for paleo diet. It is recommended to try it at least once to check what exactly this food is and how it tastes? It is also popularly known as the caveman diet.

This diet consists of natural food products. It encourages human beings to get back to their roots and provides them an easy template to select nutrient dense foods. Paleo diet means fresh, unprocessed and natural food products, such as meat, fruits and vegetables. These food products have lots of nutrients, natural vitamins and minerals as compared to the processed foods that provide less nutrition and have more calories.

It is suggested to opt for paleo diet at least for some days, and you will notice a big change in your health that you would not have ever expected.You might find it difficult to eat because of the taste factor, but it would be easy to consume if you consider its miraculous health effects. Whenever we opt for oily, junk and fast foods, we actually give an invitation to various health problems.

You should be careful with your diet. Always remember, a good diet system leads to myriad of health benefits.So, you need to opt for the food options which are good for your health. Some exercises can also do wonder on your body, so ask your doctor about the exercises you can work on. Various experienced doctors recommend paleo foods, why? The reason is simple: our ancestors used to eat natural and unprocessed foods and it clearly indicates that our body is not actually made for junk foods. So, you should try to avoid junk foods and opt for natural ones.

Nowadays, it has become easy to find paleo foods, as many restaurants offer various paleo diet dishes. This diet will provide a good balance of glucose, carbohydrate, and sugar in blood.

We crowded around him like panting puppies anticipating their daily treat. A small black handled knife cut the strings. The boxes opened. The waxed paper covers flew aside. In each box shimmered the most beautiful display of pastry jewel work: zepolle. Zeppole, wonderful rings of striated pastry, some stuffed with white bursting ricotta others oozing vanilla or chocolate pastry cream and all topped with snowy white sugar and a glistening candied cherry. But the zeppole were not all. For good measure, another set of boxes revealed the phalanx of cannoli, again stuffed either with ricotta or with pudding and all sprinkled in powdered sugar.

In the middle of Lent, two days blew away the doldrums’ clouds of fasting and abstinence: March 17th, and March 19th. March 17th is Saint Patrick’s Day. My mother of Irish descent set out the side board with pans of Irish soda bread and dishes of Irish potatoes. We snuck the Irish potatoes into our mouths as we waited for that sent- from-heaven dinner of corned beef boil. A dinner of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots boiled in beer and garnished with mustard, a dinner we relished only on that day. Two days later we celebrated the feast of Saint Joseph. Once again, Lenten restrictions lifted and Saint Joseph’s Day was a day to indulge.

The history of Saint Joseph’s Day celebrations dates to ancient times. In the Roman world, March 17th was the start of the Spring equinox, that time of the year when day and night are equal in length. The Greeks who settled southern Italy in the 8th century BC brought with them the cult of Bacchus whose rites were celebrated on March 17th. At first the rites were limited to women. Eventually, as the cult spread northward to Rome, men also participated. By the second century BC the rituals became so excessive that they were banned by the Roman senate. The outlawing of ritual however, is rarely effective and the celebrations continued. By Christian times, the Bacchic rites were converted to Christianity. The excesses of the pagan gods now demonstrated itself in a new way, the Altar of Saint Joseph: a table laden with every kind of bread and pastry imaginable. While I do not recall ever seeing a Saint Joseph’s day altar in Philadelphia I have found that they are still found among Italian Americans in Louisiana.

How Saint Joseph became associated with pastries depends on which legend you know. One version recounts that Joseph, having fled his family to Egypt to escape Herod’s slaughter of the Innocents, found himself without employment. To earn his living he sold small fried pastries. In another tale, that I found recounted in verse, Mary wants to invite friends to their home to eat. The problem is that she cannot come up with anything worthwhile. Then after three days of futile attempts wonderful pieces of fried dough miraculously come from the stove. Joseph becomes somewhat upset. He says that miracles must be reserved for important things and not for simple daily comforts. Suddenly, the baby Jesus speaks up and says that these little cakes will bring a little bit of happiness to all people in their harsh lives. In a third version, Mary finds that she has no food for her family. A voice tells her to go to Joseph’s workshop and to ask him for the chips that have fallen to the floor. She is to take the chips and fry them. Lo and behold, the chips become wonderful fried dough. Whichever story you prefer, it’s the end result that counts: fried dough, what we call “zeppole.”

The word “zeppole” itself is of ancient origin. Carol Field’s indispensable Celebrating Italy notes, “The term zippola used in Sicily is thought to come from the Arabic zalabiyha, which means a soft doughy made from other ingredients and fried in oil; sfinci comes from the Arabic sfang, a fried pastry. (p.399) While the correct Italian word is “zeppola” ( singular) and “zeppole” (plural), among Italian Americans the pastry is usually called “zeppoli.” As often happens as languages evolve the vowel sound of the Italian feminine, plural ending “e” (ay) shifted to the masculine plural “I” (ee). However you say it doesn’t change the delight in eating.

These nuts offer more dietary fiber than the amount found in a plum, in a medium tomato, or in a serving of grapes. The fiber found in a serving of nuts is about the same amount as in a serving of oatmeal. They are good to snack on because the fiber found in nuts helps you feel full quickly. A bonus, if you are trying to lose or maintain your current weight.

Nuts are rich in energy and are nutrient loaded. They are an excellent source of Monounsaturated-Fatty Acids (MUFAs), which help to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol.” Many researchers suggest a diet that is rich in MUFAs to prevent coronary artery disease, strokes because it favors a healthier blood lipid profile. They (nuts) are also a rich source of all important omega-3 essential fatty acids. Although not definite recent evidence suggests that omega -3 fatty acids can lower the risk of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and breast, colon and prostate cancers. Nuts, seeds, and their butters are also good tasting sources of many vital nutrients, including protein, zinc, fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, copper, and potassium. Nuts have it all.

Many people avoid nuts, seeds, and their butters because of concerns that they are too high in fat and calories, or for concerns about nut allergies. A tablespoon (half ounce) of nut or seed butter has about 80-100 calories. Nut and seed butters have 7 to 10 grams of fat in a tablespoon, but most of this is unsaturated fat( the good fat). Nuts, seeds, and their butters are also good sources of many nutrients, including protein, zinc, fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, copper, and potassium. “The best defense is a good offense” is an adage that has been applied to numerous endeavors. Apply this practice to nut allergies also. It is always important for you to know what you are eating. If you are allergic to nuts, then reading the food labels is your best way to stay safe. Read the label carefully to know if it says “Contains: Nuts” or “Contains: Peanuts” on the ingredients list. Before you indulge look for word clues such as artificial nuts, nuts of any sort including coconut, or nut butters ingredients.

Finally, nuts are one the Creator’s many gifts to us. Nuts are so friendly you can carry them along with you wherever you go. There is no need for special containers to carry them in. A pocket, purse, or snack bag is all you need. Nuts have long a shelf life, and unlike fruits and vegetables, they are not easily perishable, and they require no refrigeration. Also there is no need to worry about preparation or reheating. In fact, nuts hardly need a kitchen. Almost all of the varieties of nuts we eat and enjoy come in safe envelopes (shells). There is nothing to worry too much about contamination or handling issues. Just clean your hands and grab the healthy-looking nuts of your choice and enjoy.

Laugenbrezel

Laugenbrezels (usually described as pretzels in the UK) are baked doughy breads, shaped into a loop with a hard crusty shell, they are usually savoury and covered in salt crystals and they seem to be making more of an appearance in Scotland. Up until recently the only place we knew where you were guaranteed to buy one was at Falko konditorei in Edinburgh and Gullane, but now we’ve spotted them in Lidl, which is starting to add bakery sections to it’s stores (something we spotted in some of their European stores a year or two ago) and Sainsbury’s, though they ones they stock aren’t true Laugenbrezels as they are missing the best bit – the extreme salty kick! Anyone who likes anchovies or salty chips/fries/nuts would be advised to try out a Laugenbrezel. We’ve found them on sale all over Germany though they are more popular in the south/Bavaria.

Currywurst

The quintessential German takeaway item, you will find it for sale in many a snackbar in Germany.

Kebabs and Turkish pizzas

Germany has a large Turkish population so Döner and Schawarma kebabs are very popular, in fact the best kebabs we’ve ever tasted have all been in Germany. Unlike back home although a Döner may be advertised (for the tourists?) it tends to be Schawarma on the menu so gone is the sweaty fatty lump of rotating meat on a spit that you find in many UK takeaways so a result the kebabs we’ve had in Germany tasted much healthier – leaner meat, more vegetables and fresher salads. You don’t need to feel guilty about eating a kebab in Germany! You’ll also come across places selling Türkische (Turkish) Pizza, which is a kebab on a flatbread rolled up and eaten on the go.

Marzipan

Marzipan makes my tongue dance with joy and thanks to Lidl I can keep my fix in check but in order to really appreciate good Marzipan a trip to Germany is essential.

Fresh is usually best and this is especially true for Coeliac’s who will discover that most if not all of the processed food they have been enjoying is actually harming their intestines. A simple blood test will point out to your doctor if you are showing any of the many symptoms which can manifest themselves with this problem.

My daughter has followed a vegetarian diet for more than 25 years including many processed non-meat products and her absolute favourite of filled pasta shells. After the birth of her second child, she asked her doctor to give her a blood test, due to her lack of energy and general tiredness. The protein in her blood was very high and a test at the hospital confirmed she had Coeliac Disease.

By cutting out pre-packed meals and following a gluten-free diet, her symptoms cleared up within a short time. She has lots more energy and looks so much healthier, she now includes plenty of fresh food, and together we have come up with a number of great recipes substituting lentils for the filling in any meat-free meals.

You don’t need to suffer from wheat or gluten intolerance to enjoy a healthier diet, try making your own tomato sauce to go with pasta, it will cost you less than buying a jar of sauce and is better for you, plus it tastes great.

Here are a few suggestions to help you with your weekly shopping.

  • fresh fruit and vegetables – no need to read the labels here
  • fresh fish, beware if it’s breaded
  • unsalted butter, cream, and free-range eggs
  • rice, sunflower seeds, flax, rice flour, chickpeas and corn flour
  • many cheeses, yoghurt, cottage cheese and milk

There are now many items on the shelves at all the main supermarkets aimed at people with gluten intolerance, if you are a busy person without any time to make your own bread you may find it fairly tasteless. Bread makers are great, you will have your money back within a short time, as gluten-free bread is very expensive to buy too.

A good tip is to check on-line if you have been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease as there is help available in the United Kingdom to subsidise some of your weekly shop.

There are many symptoms relating to wheat intolerance, our daughter’s was highlighted due to anaemia, but if you have ongoing fatigue or depression it may be worth while talking to your doctor about it. Other symptoms may well be diarrhea, weight loss or mouth ulcers, it’s always better to have these things looked at by a doctor, rather than diagnosing yourself via the internet.