Terri’s Tuesday Tips ~ Jan 29

Good day, dear readers!

Here’s another round of tips for this week!

Θ To prevent cupcakes rising in the middle, try turning the oven down slightly and adding less mix to the cases.  Use the standard recipe to make 15 instead of 12 cakes.  This will make icing them easier.

TT: Personally, I like the little dome on my cupcakes as I feel it gives them more height.  Who wants a short cupcake?

Θ Make a fruit smoothie to help sooth indigestion.  Use 4 slices of pineapple, 2 apples and a papaya.  Juice, mix and serve with crushed ice.

TT:  Seems like an awful lot to go through just to cure indigestion.  I’d rather be eating the proper foods to avoid it in the first place.

meatΘ Meat is usually the most expensive element of a meal.  Get together a ‘meat club’ with several friends, then approach your local butcher to negotiate a discount on bulk buying.

TT:  I guess this is OK if you have friends who want to do this, but everyone buys things differently, so to each their own on this idea.

Θ Roll whole chillies on the chopping board before cutting, to loosen the seeds and make them easier to remove.

TT:  Can’t say I’ve ever tried this, but sometimes I just leave the seeds in or just scrape them out once I slice it down lengthwise.

Θ Try sucking on a metal spoon while chopping onions to stop eyes watering.

crying-chefTT:  Sorry, but I don’t think any of these gimmicks work when it comes to preventing your eyes burning.  I don’t normally have a problem with this when I’m working with one or two onions as I can peel and cut them fairly quickly, however it can be a burning situation when there are more.  That’s where the food processor comes in handy!

Θ Duck egg shells form late so to avoid salmonella poisoning, a duck egg should be well cooked.

TT:  Good to know, although I’ve never eaten duck eggs…at least not yet.

Θ Make a series of small holes in the screw-top of a jam jar with a carving fork and you have a homemade shaker/sifter.

TT: Good way to recycle, although I think I would use an awl to put the holes in the cap.

So there’s your kitchen tips for this week.

What’s for dinner?

♥  Terri  ♥

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Terri’s Tuesday Tips ~ Jan 22

Good Morning Campers!

Hope you’re all keeping toasty and warm on this bitterly cold January morn.  I’m sitting here with a nice hot cup of vanilla black tea….mmmm.    Here’s this week’s tips:

AT THE GROCERY STORETry to do the weekly shopping trip on a Wednesday.  Research shows only 11% of people shop midweek so the stores will be quieter.

TT:  For those who work all day, this could be a bit difficult.  If you can’t get out during the week, my suggestion is to get out as early as possible on the weekend.  We have found the stores are fairly empty before 10:00am on a Saturday.

When buying a whole chicken, bear in mind that the bigger the bird the more meat you will get per lb.  It is more economical to buy a whole chicken than various cuts of chicken and the carcass can be boiled for stock.

TT:  I’m a firm believer in this and do use the carcass for stock.  i usually stick the carcass in the freezer for later when I want to make chicken soup and use the meat that is still on it.  However, when we have chicken it isn’t always a roasted chicken.  We do buy big bags of frozen drumsticks, thighs and breasts.

Never use water that has boiled twice to make a cup of tea.  Fresh water has a higher oxygen content so should extract more tea from the leaves, making a tastier cuppa!

TT:  I do agree with this and it does make a difference.

When making a crumble mixture, make a double portion and put one in the freezer.  It can be sprinkled straight from frozen over semi-cooked fruit, then baked.

TT:  I guess this is fine if you make a lot of crumbles.  For now though, I won’t be seeing any fruit crumbles anytime in the near future!

Before leaving for work, put chicken breasts, chopped carrots, potatoes and onions, a can of chopped tomatoes and some seasoning into a slow cooker.  A complete meal will be ready when you get home.

TT:  When I was back home living in the US and working outside the home, I would put all the ingredients into the bowl of the slow cooker the night before and leave it in the fridge.  I would take it out when I got up to allow it to come to room temp and then put it right into the slow cooker before I left the house.  Who has time to deal with prepping veg when you’re trying to get ready for work?

liver-kidneyTo counteract the sometimes overpowering flavor of liver, kidney and other offal, soak overnight in a little milk to draw out the bitter taste.

TT:  I don’t really eat much of these kinds of meats.  I don’t mind calves liver and I don’t like kidney (yes, I’ve tried it) and we won’t even talk about the other offal…

If custard curdles, put the bowl in cold water and keep whisking until the sauce goes smooth.

TT: Great idea if you make your own.  Another item of foodstuff I won’t be seeing or eating anytime soon.

When cooking with a wok, if food starts to stick, don’t be tempted to add more oil.  Instead, add a splash of water.

TT: We cook with a wok on occasion and have done this.  It also helps give a little bit of sauce to the mix.

So there you have your Tuesday Tips!

♥  Terri  ♥

South Beach Diet ~ Here we go Again!

Good day, dear readers!

weight-loss-cartoonWell as we all know, a new year usually signals the time to get back to proper eating and for me, it’s no different.  As many of you know, I’m an avid follower of the South Beach Diet (SBD) and am the first one to promote its wonderful, healthy way of eating, but over the past few months several months year an a half, I’ve completely slipped off the wagon as if it were covered in grease.

When I was following it back in 2010, I managed to lose 28lbs.  I felt great, I dropped 3 sizes, I had more energy, my clothes weren’t tight and it wasn’t a struggle to bend over and tie my sneakers!  I hit a plateau in my weight…something I’m sure all of us who have ever dieted before knows all too well about.  After a while I slowly started to eat things I shouldn’t have and the weight has slowly crept back on to me and I managed to gain back 20 lbs….sigh.

DietscaleMost of last year I kept telling myself that I needed to get back to proper eating (I never refer to it as going on a ‘diet’) and would always say I would start on Monday.  Obviously, that never happened as Monday would roll around and I’d be repeating the same mantra again.  Each time I stepped on the scale; maybe once a month or so, my weight would increase by a pound or more.  Sometimes it would actually stay the same and I would be quite thankful.

As the recent holidays approached, I started psyching myself up that I was going back to SBD after the new year and I have kept that promise to myself.  I didn’t start exactly on Jan 1, but on Jan 5 as I wanted to make sure I had all the proper foods in the house and also to get rid of all the junk such as all the crackers, cheese, canapes and especially the chocolate.

In the past two weeks, I’ve lost nearly 5lbs. and even though it’s a slow start, at least the numbers on the scale are going down and not up!

Many of us try to lose weight in the new year, and even though I’m sure you’ve heard most of the following before, it’s always good to get a refresher as it becomes engrained in our brains and hopefully stays there!  Breaking old eating habits can be tough, but here’s a few tips to help you on the way and hopefully keep your (and my) motivation high…

* Get rid of everything that will tempt you into unhealthy eating.  This includes cakes, cookies/biscuits, pies, chips/crisps, chocolates, candies, sweets and any other junk food you might have sitting around.

*Have some healthy snacks handy.  An apple with a small amount of sugar-free peanut butter or low-fat cheese, some wholegrain crackers with low-fat cheese, a few spoonfuls of fat-free Greek yogurt with some berries and artificial sweetener.  Celery sticks with a small amount of low fat cream cheese.  A small handful of nuts; almonds and walnuts are great choices.  You get the idea.

*Try to find a friend who also wants to lose weight and you can do it together.  Going along with a friend will help you achieve your goal as you are there to push each other along.

*Start an exercise program if you haven’t already.  You don’t need to spend hours (or money!) at the gym.  Put on a pair of walking shoes and head outside.  Start slow if you’re not used to doing a great deal of walking.  Even 10-15 minutes of walking is better than sitting down in front of the TV.  Get yourself a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day and work your way up to that.  A 10-minute walk is around 1,000 steps. Remember, the more you move, the more calories you burn.  You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of weight.

*Be realistic.  Keep your ultimate goal at the back of your mind, but focus on the small bites that will help you get there, such as a certain amount of weight to lose each week.

*Keep focused and motivated by reminding yourself why you want to lose weight.  Whether it’s for health reasons or to fit into your wedding gown or swim suit this Summer, it’s easier to do something when you’re clear about why you’re doing it.

sugar1*Lower your sugar intake.  Many foods have hidden sugar such as ketchup, peanut butter, canned soup, bread and salad dressings.  Try to avoid ‘light’ products such as mayonnaise as they compensate for the lower fat by adding more sugar. Too much sugar can play havoc with your blood glucose levels and increase your risk for diabetes. It may also cause obesity, and increase your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease. It has even been linked to cancer.

*Avoid white foods: potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.  A sweet potato is actually better than a white potato, swap white rice for brown or wild rice and go for whole wheat pasta and whole grain breads.  They all provide more fiber which is digested more slowly and doesn’t give you that sharp spike in glucose levels which leaves you feeling hungry.  You can also replace rice with grains such as whole wheat couscous, bulgar wheat, quinoa or barley.  Oats are a great way to start your day, but avoid the instant oats.

*Try to limit your eating of the starchy vegetables such as green peas, parsnips, beets, corn, pumpkin, turnips and carrots as these all contain a higher level of carbohydrates than other veggies.

*You should also limit yourself on the following fruit for the same reason as the starchy veggies: canned fruit, all fruit juice, raisins, pineapple and watermelon.

So there you go.  There are so many more ideas and thoughts that go along with all of this, but I figured this is enough for now.

Maybe it’s time to go build a snowman….

♥  Terri  ♥

Terri’s Tuesday Tips ~ Jan 15

Happy Tuesday All!

Here’s the next package of Terri’s Tips….

 

♣ To make a soothing drink for a sore throat or persistent cough, try adding a teaspoon of honey, a pinch of fresh grated ginger and the juice of half a lemon to a cup of water and sipping slowly.

I have tried this before and it really is nice and is also good for when you have a cold.  Personally, I’d probably add a splash of brandy or whiskey to it for an impromptu hot toddy!

♣ To stop vegetable or pasta water boiling over, rub veggie oil around the rim of the saucepan before bringing the water to the boil.

Can’t say I’ve ever heard this one before or tried it.  Wonder if it matters if you use olive oil…

♣ Add a scrunched up piece of tissue paper to a biscuit tin or cookie jar to help keep them fresh and crunchy.

Guess this is the opposite effect from putting in a piece of sliced apple to keep them soft.

♣ Fruit such as apples and pears are full of vitamin C, but this is mainly found in the peel.  Try to keep the peel on in any dessert recipe.

Hmmm…as we are catergorised as being ‘apples’ or ‘pears’, depending on our shape, I guess this means that we need to keep our clothes on when we eat desserts?

♣ For a low-fat alternative to sautéing, use a small amount of stock or wine rather butter or oil.

I do this, but I start off with a small bit of oil, just to get the nice browning effect on the veggies, especially onions, and add a little stock as they cook.

So there you have it, your kitchen tips for the week.

Next week:  Find out what’s the best day to go food shopping and a tip on tea.

♥  Terri  ♥

Christmas Mulled Wine

Ah yes, the countdown has begun and it’s now a mere 36 days until you-know-who comes down the you-know-what with his bag of you-know-whats!

So that means that it’s time for me to start sharing some festive foods and beverages with you.  Today we’ll start with a beverage that is a tradition here in the UK (I don’t remember it being a big deal in the U.S.).  I don’t make this myself but maybe someday I will.  We do have a little Christmas gathering of some family and friends, but they all drink various things and no one has ever asked if we had any mulled wine!

There are various recipes for this and they’re all pretty basic.  This one is compliments of Mary Berry from her book, Real Food – Fast.

(For those of you in the US, a pint here in the UK is equal to 20fl oz.)

**CHRISTMAS MULLED WINE**

(serves 12)

4 lemons

2 large oranges

2 bottles red wine

2 pints/40fl oz water

16 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

150g/5oz caster(fine) sugar

110ml/4fl oz brandy

Thinly slice 1 orange and 1 lemon, then cut the slices into quarters.  Put on a plate, cover and reserve for the garnish.  Peel the zest very thinly from 2 lemons and 1 orange then squeeze the juice from the lemons and orange into a large pan.

Pour the wine and water into the pan with the citrus juice.  Add the cloves and cinnamon sticks.

Bring to simmering point, cover and keep at simmering for about an hour.  Stir in sugar to taste.

Strain and reheat.  Stir in the brandy and add the reserved citrus slices as a garnish. 

Serve hot with mince pies.

TIP: The mulled wine can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days.  Add the brandy and citrus slices just before serving.

♥♥Terri ♥♥

Wash Behind your Ears!

We all know that vegetables grow in dirt (well at least most of us know that).  Some grow under the ground, such as carrots, parsnips, onions, potatoes, turnips, celeriac or beets among others.  These are known as root vegetables because they are…the root of the plant that is growing above the ground.

There are also the leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, cabbage and lettuce which grow above ground and then there are all the other veggies that grow on the plant itself such as eggplant/aubergine, tomatoes, corn, peppers, and zucchini/courgette.

Regardless of where they grow, during the process of growing, there will be physical contaminants that come into contact with the plant that we really don’t want to eat:  dirt, bugs and pesticides being the big three.

Once your fruits and vegetables were ready for harvest, they were handled by several different pairs of hands in the fields and orchards, then in the warehouses, and finally again in your grocery store. Bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. Coli may all be lurking on your fruits and vegetables, whether they are organically grown or conventionally grown. These bacteria all cause food-borne illness and need to be washed away from your produce.

Many vegetables are somewhat pre-washed before they get packed up and shipped to the grocery store, but if you’re buying from a farmer’s market, the veggies most likely will not have gone through the process of pre-washing.

  • Start by keeping your kitchen countertops, refrigerator, cookware and cutlery clean.
  • Always wash your hands before preparing meals and handling fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep fresh greens, fruits and vegetables away from uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Choose healthy looking, ripe fruits and vegetables when you shop. Avoid bruised, moldy and mushy produce.
  • Wait until just before you eat or prepare your fruits and vegetables to wash them. Fruits and vegetables have natural coatings that keep moisture inside, and washing them will make them spoil sooner.
  • Wash all pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, even if the label claims they are pre-washed.
  • Wash all parts of your fruits and vegetables, even if you don’t plan on eating them. Bacteria can live on the rind of an orange or the skin of a cucumber, for example. Though you may peel them away and toss them in the trash, the bacteria can be transferred from the outside of the fruit or vegetable to the knife you use to cut them, and then onto the parts you will be eating.
  • Gently rub fruits and vegetables under running water. Don’t use any soaps, detergents, bleaches or other toxic cleaning chemicals. These chemicals will leave a residue of their own on your produce.
  • Commercial sprays and washes sold for cleaning vegetables really aren’t any better than cleaning thoroughly with plain water, so don’t waste your money on them.
  • Firmer fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes, can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush while rinsing with clean water to remove dirt and residues.
  • Remove and discard the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage heads, and thoroughly rinse the rest of the leaves.
  • Rinse berries and other small fruits thoroughly and allow them to drain in a colander.

Many nutrients and minerals in root vegetables are close to the surface, and therefore can be lost through peeling the skin. However, the skin of root vegetables can also act as a sponge, absorbing pesticides and chemicals used in the growing process. If your veggies are grown organically, simply wash with warm water, scrubbing with a brush if necessary, and refrain from peeling. If you’re not sure you’ll like the taste or texture, experiment with leaving the peels on, or try peeling only half of the vegetable. Exceptions include celeriac, whose knobby, thick and dirty skin will need to be peeled. If your veggies are conventionally grown and/or have been given a waxy coating by the produce company (usually turnips and rutabagas), then remove peels.

Wash your greens by placing them in a large bowl, pot, bucket or sink filled with water, and swish them around, allowing the dirt and sand to sink to the bottom. You may have to repeat this process.

(I made fresh spinach last night and cleaned it in my sink.  You can just about see all the dirt that came off in the sink)

Remember that the fruits and vegetables you buy may look clean when you pick them out at the grocery store, but you can’t see bacteria or chemicals. They still need to be washed before you eat them or serve them to guests or family members. This is especially important for produce and greens that are eaten raw.

♥ Terri  ♥♥

Upcoming Food Festivals for the UK

I realise I’ve been a bit slack on giving you info on these, so here we go….

 

Loch Fyne Food Fair

May 19-20 2012

Location: Fields next to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Cairndow, Scotland

Free admission – Farmer’s Market, selected wines and live music both days

£3.00 for parking

Midlands Whisky Festival

May 19 2012

Location:  The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Tickets: £25.00 include a Glencairn nosing glass, bottle of water and festival brochure. No tokens to worry about, just simply ask politely at any stand and you will receive a tasty glass of amazing whisky to try.

Tockwith Beer Festival

May 19 2012

Location: Tockwith Sports Field, Tockwith Lane Tockwith, York, North Yorkshire

Tickets: £10 Adults, £3 Child includes

  • Festival beer glass
  • Beer token
  • Tasting notes
  • Voucher book of exclusive discounts from our sponsors
  • All children’s entertainment (subject to booking and availability)
  • A great day out!

Flavours of 2012

May 25-27 2012Location: Henham Park near Southwold, SuffolkTickets: £6.00 can be purchased on-line or by phoneThis will be the first food and drink festival of its kind to be held at Henham Park
(home to Latitude Festival) and will offer 2 days of fantastic food, drink,
cookery demos and much more.

Somerset Chilli Festival

June 2-4 2012Location: Bath race course,  Lansdown, Bath, SomersetTickets: £6.00, Children under 12 get in freeThe Somerset Chilli Festival will run from 10am to 6pm each day with all things Chilli; food sampling, cookery demonstrations, competitions (inc. the famous Chilli Eating Competition) music acts and wandering performers. To keep you satisfied there will also be top quality food stalls and relaxed bars.

Dartington Food Fair

June 3-5 2012Location: The Shops at Dartington, Shinners Bridge, Dartington, Totnes, DevonTickets: £4, Children under 12 go free.  Book on-lineChef demonstrations, food tents, face painting and many more family activities including a potter’s wheel and mountain biking.*********************

Great British Food Festival

June 4-5 2012Location: Walton Hall & Gardens,  Walton Lea Road, Higher Walton, Warrington, Cheshire Tickets: £2.50, Under 12 go free.  Parking £3.20*

50 Producers, 15 Hot Food Stalls, Craft stalls and live music

There are NO cash machines on site so please come prepared.
*Parking is in the council-run car park and costs £3.20 for the day.

Cheltenham Food & Wine Festival

June 15-17 2012

Location: Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Tickets: Friday £3.00, Saturday & Sunday £6.00, children under 16 go free. Advanced purchase on-line, Sat & Sun, £4.60

  • The Cookery Theatre – featuring demonstrations by leading chefs and celebrity’s from around the region.
  • Food Lovers Marquees – featuring over 200 food & drink producers
  • Real Ale Marquee – taste a wonderful selection of local and regional ales & cider
  • Festival Stage – musicians playing a variety of music from Jazz to Classical to Folk
  • International Wine Theatre – Featuring interactive and educational courses covering a variety of subjects from buying, tasting, grape varieties and styles, from old world to new world wine.
  • Real Food & Drinks Theatre – talks on Nutrition to Real Ale; Cheese to Gin.
  • Arts & Craft – Meet the artists, discuss their work, and buy unique hand-made products direct from the maker. Crafts include fused glass, jewellery, painting, pottery, wood-turning, photography.