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Monday, August 31, 2009

Tips for Eating Healthy This Winter

by: ARA

(ARA) - It’s easy to eat right during the summer months with an abundance of fresh produce available from a wide variety of sources. But as winter rolls around, those juicy ears of corn are just a memory. That doesn’t mean, however, that you drop your healthy eating habits with the dropping temperatures.

You still need to get your five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Make an effort to include fruits and vegetables at every meal. Since your options are more limited during the winter months, now’s the time to get creative by trying new recipes as well as sampling produce you haven’t eaten before.

Winter brings a bumper crop of root vegetables like turnips, rutabagas and parsnips; squash; brussels sprouts; and more. Apples and pumpkins are the foundation of a variety of comforting, homey desserts. Here are some tips to help you chase away the winter chill by adding the flavors and healthy benefits of winter produce.

As always, the key to buying the best produce is to know what you’re looking for. No matter what the season, look for fruits and vegetables with good color; stay away from produce with bruising, blemishes, soft spots or shriveling.

For additional help in selecting produce, especially items you haven’t tried before, visit This easy-to-use Web site features an “A to Z” guide to produce that includes useful information on the peak season for any given item, nutrition information and selection tips. You can also “ask the experts” if you have a question that isn’t answered on the site. Best of all, the site includes hundreds of recipes that show you how to put the produce to work on the dinner table. From asparagus to zucchini and everything in between, you’ll find it all here.

Here are two delicious recipes sure to warm you up this winter:

Pesto Minestrone

This full-flavored soup is also full of healthy vegetables.

2 cups cauliflower (2 small heads), coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups zucchini (1-2 medium), chopped

3 cans (14.5 ounces) chicken broth, reduced sodium

1 16-ounce can tomatoes, diced, drained

1 cup elbow macaroni or small pasta shells

3 cups kidney beans or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (1 cup dry makes 3 cups cooked) or 2 cans (15 ounces each)

1 cup carrot (1 medium), sliced

1 cup onion (1 medium), chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil (for pesto)

2 garlic cloves (for pesto)

1 cup basil leaves, fresh, loosely packed OR (for pesto)

1 cup Italian parsley plus 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves (for pesto)

1 tablespoon water


In a 5 to 6 quart saucepan bring to boil 1/2 cup water, tomatoes, cauliflower, onion and carrots; reduce heat and simmer covered 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add zucchini, beans, broth and pasta. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Meanwhile put all pesto ingredients in food processor or blender and process until very finely chopped. Just before serving, remove soup from heat and stir in pesto. Makes 8 servings.

Golden Apple Oatmeal

Start your day off right with a steaming bowl of this hearty (and heart healthy) oatmeal.

1/2 cup Golden Delicious apples, diced

1/3 cup apple juice

1/3 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

1/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats, uncooked


Combine apples, apple juice, water and seasoning; bring to a boil. Stir in rolled oats; cook 1 minute. Cover and let stand several minutes before serving. Makes a 1-cup serving.

For more recipes, as well as nutrition and buying information for all types of produce, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

About the author:
Courtesy of ARA Content

Everything You Want to Know About the Different Salmon Species

by: Garry Gamber
King Salmon, Sockeye, Silver, Pink, Chum, and Atlantic

Descriptions of the Salmon Species

by Garry Gamber

Did you know that there are five species of Pacific salmon and one species of Atlantic salmon? Further, did you know that all 5 species of Pacific salmon run wild in Alaska?

We’re proud of our wild salmon here in Alaska, and rightly so. On the one hand the wild salmon are great sport fish and we Alaskans love to spend gorgeous summer weekends challenging them.

On the other hand our commercial fisheries are healthy and self-sustaining. They are able to catch enough wild salmon to satisfy most of the world wide demand for fresh wild fillets in the restaurants and packaged wild salmon on grocery store shelves.

King Salmon

The Chinook salmon is nicknamed king salmon in Alaska. It is the official Alaska state fish.


Of all the Pacific salmon the king is the largest. A 97-pound king was caught by a sport fisherman in 1986 on the Kenai River. In 1949 a 126 pound king was caught commercially near Petersburg, Alaska. Typically king salmon weigh 30 pounds and above.

The king is lightly and irregularly spotted on their blue-green back. They also have a black pigment along their gum line. Spawning kings in fresh water range in color from red to copper to almost black.

Life Cycle

All species of Pacific salmon hatch in fresh water, spend part of their life cycle in the ocean, then return to fresh water to spawn.

The king salmon generally live 5 to 7 years, though they can mature by their second to third year. As a result the kings in a spawning run can vary greatly in size. A mature 3-year old may only weigh 4 pounds while a mature 7-year old may exceed 50 pounds.

The young king salmon feed on plankton and insects during their fresh water period. During their second year they migrate to the ocean where they grow rapidly.

Some kings make immense spawning migrations. For example, many of the Yukon River kings will migrate over 2,000 miles during a 60 day period to reach the streams and headwaters in Yukon Territory, Canada.


The king salmon has a rich flavor, firm flesh, and a pleasing red color. Kings caught at the mouth of the Yukon River have a huge store of oil in their flesh for their long upriver migration. The result is an extra-rich flavor, much prized among those who love salmon.

Sockeye Salmon

The Sockeye salmon is also called the red salmon due to the bright red color of its flesh, and it is the second most abundant salmon species in Alaska.


Sockeye salmon are the slimmest and most streamlined of the 5 species of Pacific salmon. They differ from kings, silvers, and pink salmon by the lack of large black spots, and they differ from chum salmon by having more gill rakers on the first gill.

Sockeye are generally a greenish-blue color with silver sides and a white or silver belly.

During the spawning season the Sockeye males develop a humped back and a hooked jaw. Both male and female Sockeye turn brilliant to dark red as they head upriver to their spawning grounds.

Life Cycle

After hatching during the winter and spending a few months in the river gravels, the juvenile Sockeye spend 1 to 3 years in freshwater before migrating to the ocean.

The Sockeye spend 1 to 4 years in the ocean, ranging thousands of miles while feeding and then returning to the same freshwater system where they were born. They reach an average size of 4 to 8 pounds, sometimes reaching in excess of 15 pounds.

Bristol Bay, in southwestern Alaska, annually harvests the largest number of Sockeye salmon in the world. About 10 million to 30 million Sockeye are caught during a short season that lasts only a few weeks.


The Sockeye salmon has an exquisitely rich flavor due to the high concentration of oils. It is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The rich red flesh color is maintained throughout cooking which results in a beautiful presentation. Some people consider the Sockeye to be the most flavorful of all the salmon species.

Silver Salmon

Coho salmon are known as silver salmon in Alaska and are an excellent game fish.


Coho salmon have bright silver sides and have small black spots on their back.

Spawning salmon of both sexes develop red to maroon colored sides. The males develop a hooked snout with large teeth.

Life History

Juvenile silvers live in ponds and lakes formed by rivers and streams. They generally spend one to three years in the streams and may spend as many as 5 winters in lakes before migrating to the ocean.

Silvers stay in the ocean, where they grow quickly, for about 18 months before returning to their home streams. They weigh from 8 to 12 pounds, but can range up to 31 pounds. Their length ranges from 25 to 35 inches.


The flesh color of silver salmon is orange-red and is retained during cooking. The texture is firm and the fat content is high. The taste is a pleasing full salmon flavor, slightly milder than that of the Sockeye. The size of a fillet is larger than that of the Sockeye, and it is a prized fish for cooking.

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon are also known as the humpback in Alaska. Prior to spawning the pink salmon develops a pronounced hump on its back.


The color of the pink salmon is generally a bright steely blue on top and silver on the sides. It has many large black spots on its back and over the entire tail fin. It has small scales and its flesh is pink, befitting its name.

The spawning pink salmon develops an olive green to black color on its back with a light-colored to white belly. It develops a very pronounced hump and hooked jaws.

Life Cycle

The young pink salmon hatch during the winter and spend a few months in the river gravels. During the spring they migrate downstream to the ocean. They feed along the beaches before moving out further into the ocean.

Like all salmon, the pinks grow rapidly in the ocean but they are the smallest of the Pacific salmon species. The pinks reach a size of about 3 to 5 pounds and about 20 to 24 inches in length.

The pink salmon spends only two years in the ocean. This two year pattern causes distinct odd-year and even-year cycles which are unrelated to each other.

When the pinks return to freshwater, they are the most abundant of the Pacific salmon species. They do not migrate far upriver, but generally spawn within a few miles of the mouth of the river. As with the other Pacific species both male and female pinks will die within a couple of weeks of spawning.


The pink salmon has a delicate, mild flavor and a light flesh color. About 80% of harvested pinks are canned and are the most common salmon species found on grocery store shelves.

Chum Salmon

Sometimes called “dog salmon” in Alaska, the chum salmon is a traditional source of dried fish for winter use.


Chum salmon have a metallic greenish-blue back surface with fine black spots. They resemble sockeye and silver salmon so closely that one needs to examine their gills and fins closely to make a positive identification.

When nearing fresh water the chum salmon develops noticeable vertical bars of green and purple, which gives them another nickname, calico salmon.

The spawning chum develop the typical hooked jaws like other Pacific salmon and large teeth, which partially accounts for their other nickname, dog salmon.

Life Cycle

As with pink salmon, the young chum do not spend much time in fresh water before migrating out into the ocean. They feed near the mouths of their streams for a period before forming schools and moving further out into the ocean.

The chums spend 3 to 5 years in salt water, growing rapidly after entering the ocean. They generally range in size from 7 to 18 pounds, sometimes reaching 30 pounds in weight.

When the chums return to fresh water they often spawn in the same areas as the pinks, not migrating far up river. One major exception to this pattern is the chum salmon population of the Yukon River. Some of these chums migrate 2000 miles upriver to spawn in Yukon Territory of Canada. These chums have a very high fat content in preparation for their long migration.


Chum salmon have a mild, delicate flavor with a medium red flesh color. However, Yukon River chums, with their higher fat content, have a rich, full flavor similar to Kings and Sockeye.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon are not native to the Pacific coast but are raised in large numbers in pens. They run wild on the Atlantic coast only. The Atlantic salmon found in markets are farm-raised, generally originating in salmon farms off Chile or British Columbia, Canada.


Atlantic salmon in the wild have silvery sides and belly with greenish-blue coloration on its back.

Spawning Atlantic salmon develop blackish fins and purplish coloration and reddish spots. Surviving adults are dark in color.

Life Cycle

In the wild young salmon spend one to three years in fresh water before migrating to the ocean. In the ocean the Atlantic salmon ranges for thousands of miles.

They generally return to freshwater by the age of five. Unlike the five Pacific species of salmon, the Atlantic salmon does not die after spawning. The surviving adults repeat the migration and spawning cycle.

Farmed Atlantic Salmon

To read some interesting descriptions of farmed salmon click here

About the author:

Garry writes articles for his two favorite health products companies, and
Garry also owns and

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Benefits of Adding Herbs to Your Meals

By Mickey Janzen

Herbs have been around for thousands of years. Our ancestors used them for medicinal purposes. Today, using herbs can provide us with better health and add more flavor to our food.

Adding herbs to your regular diet can not only create better tasting meals but also improve your health. For example, cinnamon can help with regulating your blood sugar levels and can ease inflammation. Cinnamon is usually used in sweet treats but it can also be added to soups, stews, grill rubs and barbecue sauce.

Ginger can add flavor to many different dishes. One of ginger's best health benefits is it's ability to ease digestive problems. It helps by breaking down fatty foods and proteins and also reducing gas. There are reports that ginger can assist in relieving nausea, morning sickness and motion sickness.

A quick way of reaping the benefits of ginger is by drinking a cup of ginger tea. Take several slices of ginger and steep in hot water for 3 to 5 minutes. Add honey or drink as is. Ginger can enhance your food as well. It's a perfect partner with garlic.

Rosemary is a widely used herb. It enhances the flavor of many dishes, such as soups, stews, meat and fish. As well as being very versatile in food, rosemary has a history of medicinal uses, too. Headaches, digestive disorders, stomach upsets and age-related skin damage are just a few problems that rosemary has been used to treat.

Herbs can add a great deal of flavor and enjoyment to your meals. Use your imagination to come up with tasty and healthy ways of creating a great meal.

To find out more about enhancing your life using herbs, please visit

Friday, August 28, 2009

Spanish Food - How To Make Spicy Gazpacho Soup

by: Linda Plummer

Home-made soups are so good for you - all that nourishing stock
and chock-a-block full of vitamins and minerals.

But ... who on earth could face boiling bones for hours on end
during the scorching Spanish summer weather, not to mention
preparing the soup once the stock is made? I don´t think it
would tickle anybody´s fancy to then have to tuck into a
piping-hot soup!

For this reason, the Spanish came up with their wonderful,
ice-cold soup - gazpacho - beautifully colorful, packed with
goodness, cheap and simple to prepare, no cooking and ... most
important of all, an absolute delight to drink.

Traditional gazpacho originates from romantic Andalucia - that
large, exotic southerly region of Spain which is home to such
extensive Arabic influence.

The chilled, raw soup was originally made by pounding bread and
garlic with tomatoes, cucumber and peppers but, nowadays, your
electric blender renders this effortless! Olive oil endows it
with a smooth, creamy consistency and vinegar adds a refreshing
tang - just what you need when life gets too hot to handle!

The spicy soup should be served in true Spanish style with small
bowls of accompaniments - finely chopped peppers, cucumber,
onion ... even hard-boiled eggs and croutons, if you feel up to
it! Guests will then sprinkle what appeals to them on the soup.

Traditional gazpacho is tomato-based, with most Spanish families
having developed their own, unique recipes. However, nowadays,
you will also find gazpacho recipes that have nothing to do
with tomatoes - white, almond-based gazpachos, fruit-based
gazpachos, etc.

Do you suffer from insomnia? Could be that drinking gazpacho is
the answer, for in Pedro Almodovar´s 1987 film "Mujeres Al Borde
De Un Ataque De Nervios", various characters help themselves to
the soup and promptly fall asleep!

However, don´t fall asleep just yet as you haven´t read over the

Ingrediants for 4 servings:

- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1 onion
- ½ red pepper
- ½ green pepper
- ½ cucumber
- 3 cloves garlic
- 50 g bread
- 3 dessertspoons vinegar
- 8 dessertspoons olive oil
- Water
- Salt/pepper
- ¼ chilli pepper (optional)


- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- ½ finely chopped onion
- ½ finely chopped red pepper
- ½ finely chopped green pepper
- ½ finely chopped cucumber


1. Break up bread and soak in water for 30 minutes.

2. Skin tomatoes, remove seeds and stalks from peppers.

3. Peel cucumber, onion and garlic.

4. Chop onion, garlic, tomatoes, peppers and cucumber.

5. Place in electric blender.

6. Squeeze out excess water from bread and add to blender.

7. Add oil and vinegar.

8. Blend well.

9. If necessary, add sufficient water for soup-like consistency.

10. Pour into a bowl with ice cubes.

11. Fridge for a couple of hours.

12. Serve in bowls, with garnishings in separate dishes.

Gazpacho is best enjoyed sitting in the shade, looking out onto
an azure sea, blue sky and golden sun and sands!

About the author:
Linda Plummer is webmistress of the site:
which provides a wide range of information regarding Spain and
the Spanish language.

Spanish Food: How To Make The Perfect Paella

by: Linda Plummer

Looking for a traditional Spanish recipe? Without doubt, the
best-known is going to be the prodigious paella ... that tasty,
adaptable, gregarious dish famed throughout Spain and the World.

And, what an impressive choice of recipes exist for a pleasurable
paella: seafood, chicken, rabbit ... or a mixture of all three!
Perhaps you are non-meat eating ... well, just opt for one of the
several vegetarian paella recipes. Bit of a health fanatic?
Then substitute white rice for whole-grain rice or wild rice.

Got a large family and not much money to feed them on? Use
plenty of rice and imagination along with a tasty stock, plus
whatever you can find in the cupboard! I have certainly enjoyed
many paellas where there have been more bones/shells than meat/
seafood! And, very tasty they have been too, the richness of
the company more than compensating for any paucity in the

So ... how do you go about making the perfect paella? First of
all, you need to choose your rice. The short-grained rice from
Valencia - where most Spanish rice originates - is fine for
making paellas. However, the "bomba" rice grown in the
neighboring region of Murcia, is the "king" of paella rice: again,
short-grained, it has the ability to absorb the stock whilst
remaining firm.

Another "must" is to use saffron ("azafrán") to create the gentle,
yellow color for which this delectable dish is renowned. Yes, it
is possible to buy cheaper, artificial colorings but ... go for
the traditional - it will bestow a wonderful aroma and unique

Many Spaniards swear a perfect paella can only be achieved when
using a tasty, home-made stock. Whatever you decide, allow at
least double the amount of liquid to rice. If, during cooking,
the dish becomes a little dry, just add a dash more water or

Another tip I have been told, on more than one occasion, is to
gently fry the rice for a few minutes before adding the stock,
ensuring that it is well-coated in oil. I think all Spaniards
would agree that, once cooked, it is best to leave your paella to
stand for a good five minutes before serving.

Perhaps the most important ingrediant for making that perfect
paella, is to use lashings and lashings of love whilst preparing
it - for surely, that is something we can all afford - and to
enjoy to the full the marvellous company of those who will share
it with you.

I shall now have to choose a paella recipe to offer you as an
example! I think I will opt for a seafood paella, typical of the
region of Valencia, where I live. The ingrediants are for a
hearty four servings. If you are not a hefty eater, or on a diet,
then reduce the amount of rice/stock slightly.

Paella Valenciana - Paella From Valencia


- 4 cups rice.
- 8 cups fish stock.
- 8 king-sized prawns/langoustines.
- 8 mussels.
- 200 gr shrimps.
- 200 gr peas (fresh or frozen).
- 2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped.
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced.
- 3 strands saffron, crumbled.
- Olive oil for frying.


1. Sauté garlic in a paella-type pan.

2. Add tomatoes, peas, shrimps and saffron.

3. Cook for a few minutes.

4. Add rice and stock.

5. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Decorate with prawns and mussels.

7. Cover paella with a lid.

8. Poach the seafood for a few minutes.

9. Decorate paella with lemon quarters.

10. Enjoy!

About the author:
After living in Spain for 20 years, Linda Plummer
decided to compile her information-rich site:
with its FREE monthly newsletter, "The Magic of Spain".

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pear and Walnut Salad with Roquette and Parmesan

by: Fred Fisher

This is a contemporary salad which has actually been around for quite a while now and we regularly prepare it as part of our cooking holiday in France. I think it has achieved classic status.

The only thing that needs any preparation to speak of is the dressing, but the pears do need to be ripe and juicy – comice are perfect for this – and the parmesan needs to be shaved from a fresh block (if you haven’t got any to hand, a good strong cheese like stilton or feta will do very nicely indeed, but completely forget about using that dirty sock-flavoured sawdust sold in pots, laughingly labelled ‘Freshly Grated Parmesan’).

If you want to turn this from a starter into a main course just add some strips of dry-cured ham, smoked duck breast, or sauteed chicken livers.

Serves four

2 ripe juicy comice pears
1 lemon
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp grain mustard
6 tblsp walnut oil
freshly ground black pepper
handful roquette
handful of fresh walnut halves, roughly crushed
small block of fresh parmesan

Peel and core the pears, then smear with a little lemon juice to prevent them turning brown.

Put the vinegar and a good pinch of salt in a screw-top jar and shake until the salt has desolved. Add the mustard and walnut oil, then shake again to emulsify – the emulsion will hold for ten minutes or so, but give it another jiggle just before you use it to dress the salad.

Assemble the salad: slice the pears lengthwise into thin segments and place them rustically on four serving plates along with the roquette, then scatter over the bruised walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Using a potato peeler, shave the parmesan over the salad, then ‘dust’ with a little ground black pepper.

About the author:
Fred Fisher is an experienced chef who has worked with TV chef Rick Stein, among others. He runs relaxed friendly hands-on cooking holidays in the Dordogne, France. Contact him at or visit the website at

The Return of the Green Fairy

by: Peter Carnes

No, this isn't an article about a slightly camp environmentalist who's decided to come back home!

The "green fairy" of the title is a translation of la fée verte, the alternative French name for absinthe, the notorious apéritif and favorite tipple of all those famous painters and writers who lived in France at the turn of the century

Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Oscar Wilde…they were all at it!

Originally produced in the mid-eighteenth century, and touted as a restorative and a cure for various digestive and gastro-intestinal disorder (of which the French, it has to be said, have more than their fair share), it was the intervention of Henri-Louis Pernod, who recognised the drink’s business potential and started producing it on a commercial scale alongside his more famous apéritif, which really put absinthe on the alcoholic map.

There are certainly some similarities between absinthe and Pernod. They are both aniseed flavored, they both turn cloudy when diluted with water – and they are both extremely adept at rendering you totally legless when consumed in even modest quantities.

During the First World War people began to worry about the social and medical problems associated with absinthe. As well as containing relatively innocuous ingredients such as licorice, aniseed, hyssop, angelica, fennel and star anise, it also contained significant amounts of artemisia absinthia, or wormwood, which was reputed to be psychoactive in small doses, and generally to rot your brains!

In 1915 the French government responded to public and medical pressure and banned production and sale of la fée verte outright (the spoilsports!)

It goes without saying that the outlawing of absinthe only served to increase its notoriety, and it continued to be quite widely available on the clandestine market for years to come. Most of these black market products were of a highly dubious provenance and were, at best, a pale replica of the original drink, or, at worst, positively life-threatening.

(It’s rumoured that in the late 1930s Ernest Hemingway wrote most of his masterpiece For Whom the Bell Tolls whilst under the influence of the green fairy!)

The ban was lifted some years ago, although it has to be said that absinthe is still not all that easy to find. The best method of locating genuine absinthe (and of reading more about it) is via the Internet. Log on to Google, do a search for “absinthe” (without the quotes) and you’ll find nearly half a million results to occupy your time and curiosity.

There is quite a ritual associated with drinking la fée verte. The traditional method is to pour a measure of absinthe into a glass, place a specially designed perforated spoon over the top of the glass, put one or two sugar cubes into the spoon and slowly pour a quantity of water over the sugar and into the glass.

A more recent development is the use of absinthe in cooking. The UK-based French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli (often described as the sexiest chef in the UK – but I wouldn’t really know about that!) has created a number of dishes featuring absinthe.

He uses it to flavor risotto, to infuse fish and vegetables – and even makes an absinthe ice cream, which he serves with a carpaccio of fresh pineapple.

But whether you drink it, eat it or pour it all over yourself, always remember that absinthe has a very high level of alcohol. Use it in moderation - and never, never drink and drive.


About the author:
Peter Carnes is a UK-based Internet author, webmaster and publisher. His main website is

Barbeque Basics

by: Valerie Giles
There’s nothing more enjoyable than having friends and family
gathered around amidst the wonderful smells of charcoal-grilled
prawns, vegetables and selected favorites. Barbecuing is one of
those time- honored rituals that go hand in hand with summertime.
Whether you’re in your backyard or at you’re favorite camping
site, barbecuing is a pleasure to be enjoyed by the whole family.

Barbecuing has never been more exciting; with the endless designs
of barbecues available and the myriad of barbecue cookbooks and
cooking shows it really does take barbecuing into a whole new
realm. With recipes for everything from grilled bananas to
peaches and dry rubs for ribs, barbecues aren’t just for cooking
steaks and burgers anymore. With all the available barbecuing
options it helps to know a few of the barbecuing terms and
barbecuing utensils that are used.

Firstly, barbecues come in a wide variety of options; there are
propane, natural gas and the standard barbecues for use with
charcoal. Barbecues can come with range style one, two and four
burner options along with rotisseries. There are even barbecues
that have coolers built right into the bottom! Barbecuing has
never been quite so convenient.

When you’re using your barbecue it really helps to have the right
utensils and barbeque accessories, this will make your barbecuing
experience easier and more enjoyable. Long handled tongs, basting
brushes and spatulas are quite helpful. Heavy -duty oven mitts
can also be useful. Of course you don’t want to forget the proper
wire brushes and scrubbers (crumpled foil even works well) to
remove build-up, keeping your grill racks clean.

Foods that are tender such as fish, vegetables and some burgers
can benefit from cooking in a special grill basket (this way you
aren’t loosing any of your meal into the barbecue). There are
also special racks available to be used with corn, potatoes,
ribs and meat.

An excellent barbecue accessory is the grill wok, with this you
can make you’re favorite stir fries and vegetable dishes; the wok
has small holes throughout that allow heat and smoke to penetrate
the food. Another great grill accessory is the grill pizza tray
used mostly for grilled pizza. Other grill accessories include;
( )
the grill topper used for fish and vegetables providing an even
cooking surface, which prevents foods from falling through the
grill rack; you can never have too many skewers in assorted
lengths which can be used with a skewer rack for grilling your
favorite marinated vegetables and meats; smoker boxes for gas
grills filled with soaked wood chips add a wonderful smoked
flavor to foods. Lastly foil packets are available or simple tin
foil to wrap foods, just remember that you may be sacrificing
the grill and smoke flavors when foods are wrapped tightly.

After you have the utensils and proper grilling accessories
needed for you’re barbeque experience you’ll want to familiarize
yourself on the different types of grilling processes and terms
to find the ones that work best for you and to know exactly what
has to be done. To start, basting is probably the most familiar
of barbecuing terms, a simple brushing with a seasoned liquid
adding both flavor and moisture to your food. A brochette is
just French for a kabob, or simply food cooked on a skewer. A
glaze is a glossy, flavorful coating on food as it cooks as a
result of regular basting.

Three very popular methods of barbecuing are the direct grilling,
dry smoking and indirect grilling methods. Direct grilling is
probably the most popular grilling used, it is when food is
placed directly over the flame. It is a fast method because of
the intense heat and allows for browning on the outside of foods.
This process works best for food requiring short cooking times
such as burgers and steaks, you must remember to turn food over
to allow cooking on both sides. The dry smoking method is
achieved by placing a grill rack indirectly over the heat source
with the barbecue lid down, this allows the flame to burn thus
creating smoke which covers the food, giving you a smoky flavor.
Lastly the indirect grilling is a slow process of cooking because
of less heat, it is done by surrounding a drip pan with the coals
and putting the food over the pan, so the hot air circulates
around the food (similar to a convection oven). It is wise to
check with your barbecue owner manual for indirect grilling
specific to your barbecue, roasts work well with this method.

After you’ve acquired the barbecue and all the necessary cooking
utensils and accessories you’re ready for the best part of
barbecuing and that is the cooking of the food. Sauces, marinades
and rubs are popular cooking ideas when barbecuing. The sauce
can be said to define a great barbecue. Whether you use a little
or a lot is a matter of preference. A sauce often includes sugar,
honey or preserves, which can cause the sauce to burn when
cooking; a suggestion is to brush your sauce on in the last five
to ten minutes of cooking. There are a wide variety of sauces
and glazes to be made ranging from apple butter barbecue sauce
to raspberry piquant sauce.

Marinades are used for soaking your choice of meat, tofu or
vegetables. ( )
The marinating both tenderizes and permeates the food with
flavor, adding flavor and promoting crisp brown exteriors,
changing an otherwise average dinner into a great one. Marinades
are virtually fool proof and can be made in advance refrigerated
in an airtight container for up to a week. The three basic
ingredients in a marinade are; flavorings such as herbs, spices,
sweeteners; oils which keep the food pliable and give a crispy
crust; acids such as citrus juices, wines, vinegars and yogurts
used to balance the sweetness. It is suggested to use the acids
sparingly on fish and poultry, as they will soften the flesh
when used.

A virtually fat free and easy way to add flavor to food is by
using a variety of bold seasonings in a rub. The food is rubbed
with spices prior to grilling, the rub transforms into a crunchy
brown crust that seals in the juices and enhances the flavors of
the food. The spices should be generously applied coating the
entire surface of the food; the food should then be covered and
put in the fridge for 15 minutes to 2 hours. Simplicity is the
key for making rubs, salt and sugar are two of the main
ingredients and the rest are up to you.

Whatever your barbecuing specialty might be barbecues can be
both a fun and convenient way to make dinner. Summertime needn’t
be the only time of year that you’re barbecuing, if weather
allows you can barbecue all year round. The options have never
been more exciting, and the variety of foods and recipes never
more abundant.

About the author:
Valerie Giles owns and operates Best BBQ Online , a resource web
site featuring bbq grills, bbq smokers, weber gas grills, grill
accessories and rotisseries, bbq recipes and marinades and patio
heaters. Everything you need for the barbequing season.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The World's Best Pickles

by: Janette Blackwell

I knew they were the world’s best pickles the moment I tasted one. That first taste took place around 1950, and I’ve tasted a lot of pickles since, am a pickle hound in fact, but I’ve never come across anything else as good.

They came to us by way of my Uncle Ronald Smith, who was an electrician in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana where I grew up. One day he was doing electrical work for a Bulgarian family, and they rewarded him with a sample pickle. He liked it so much he got the recipe and gave it to his wife Gladys, who gave it to Grandma Glidewell, who made it and gave some to me, and I thought I’d died and gone to pickle heaven.

And thus, although they became an old Glidewell family recipe, they are really an old Bulgarian family recipe. The Bulgarian family, whose name I do not know, told Uncle Ronald that in Bulgaria, when the first heavy frost kills the tomato vines, they put all their end-of-garden vegetables –- including those green tomatoes -- into a barrel, fill the barrel with pickling brine, and eat the best pickles in the world all winter.
It turns out, though, that the pickles’ travel from Bulgaria to the U.S. was only one leg of a more ancient journey. Because I mentioned them to an Iranian woman, and she said, “My family has always made pickles like that! Exactly like that, except we add tarragon.”

Iran being the new name for the ancient kingdom of Persia, who knows how many centuries these pickles go back?

There’s more: I later lost the recipe’s brine proportions. Gave some thought to its travels between Persia and Bulgaria, looked in an Armenian-American cookbook (Treasured Armenian Recipes, published in 1949 by the Armenian General Benevolent Union) and there they were, under “Mixed Pickles No. 2.” Turns out the world’s best Armenian pickles are just like the world’s best Bulgarian and Persian and American pickles, except they include dill, and sometimes green beans and coriander seed.

So this is an old, old recipe belonging to the whole human family.



Green tomatoes*, cut in half or quartered if large
Carrots, peeled and cut into strips
Cauliflower, separated into small florets
Baby onions, peeled, or larger onions halved or quartered
Green peppers, cut into broad lengthwise slices
Garlic, two peeled cloves per quart jar
Medium-hot peppers, two small whole peppers per quart

You can also add unpeeled and unwaxed small cucumbers, zucchini, or lightly cooked green beans, though we never did. The hot peppers add adventure and zest, but if you prefer to save your tears for really sad occasions, why not?

Amounts and proportions depend on what vegetables you have and how many quarts you plan to make. You don’t have to have the green tomatoes, and the other things can be bought in a grocery store. But you do need a variety of vegetables, and you have to have the onions and garlic, or you won’t have the world’s best pickles. You will have the world’s so-so pickles, and that would be a shame.

Armenian-Persian-Bulgarian Brine

To one quart of water add 1/4 cup pickling salt (salt that isn’t iodized), and one cup of white distilled vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil. This is enough brine to cover two quarts of mixed pickles, with a little left over.


Follow the canning instructions in a good, standard cookbook. Or, if you plan to eat them right away, pack the vegetables into clean quart jars, pour over them the hot brine, and keep the pickles covered in the refrigerator. Some of the more impressionable vegetables, like zucchini, will be ready to eat in only two or three days.

About the author:
Go STEAMIN’ DOWN THE TRACKS WITH VIOLA HOCKENBERRY, a storytelling cookbook -- and find Montana country cooking, nostalgic stories, and gift ideas -- at Janette Blackwell’s Food and Fiction, visit her Delightful Food Directory,

Edith's Cake That Thrilled the French

by: Janette Blackwell

Twenty-three chefs who cooked for world royalty and heads of state (The Club des Chefs des Chefs) were, during their 1987 visit to the U.S., wined and dined with the best our finest chefs had to offer. What impressed them most? Lunch at an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, where they ate homegrown new potatoes, string beans with cream sauce and corn, charcoal-grilled chicken, and baked ham, washed down with homemade root beer and peppermint tea, served by the family in a barn lined with handmade quilts.

They were stunned. Happily so, it seems. The chef for the president of France said, “Cooking has evolved so much. Nobody presents the true product as it is, and all of a sudden we were presented that.”

But the desserts impressed them most. Especially one they couldn’t name. One they described as a light “pain d’epices” (spice cake) with a layer of chocolate filling. Gilles Brunner, chef to Prince Rainier of Monaco, was so taken with the cake, which he described as a chocolate gingerbread, that he tried to get the recipe. His request was refused.

The Amish family did not want their identity revealed, which refusal greatly hampered efforts to identify the cake as well. Research by Phyllis Richman, then food editor of the Washington Post, seemed to show that the mystery dessert was Amish applesauce cake with chocolate frosting, and the Post printed a version of it contributed by Betty Groff, a cookbook author from the Pennsylvania Dutch country.

Which applesauce cake turned out to be pretty much what our family had been enjoying since my father married Edith Kennedy in 1977, and which Edith’s family had been enjoying long before that. Her daughter, Lorenelle Doll, who gave me the recipe, says that it was a favorite of my father and Lorenelle’s husband Arnie. (So far as I know, Edith didn’t actually feed any to a French chef.)

I like to think Edith’s version is better than Betty Groff’s, because that recipe says to “frost with vanilla or chocolate frosting if desired.” Whereas Edith’s gives a recipe for chocolate frosting MADE WITH BUTTER. And in my view the humblest frosting made with butter is better than the fanciest frosting made without. I’m not implying that Edith’s frosting is humble. It isn’t. It’s purely wonderful, as is her cake.

Edith Kennedy Glidewell went to be with her Lord in March 2002, but before that she gladdened many hearts in many ways, this applesauce cake not the least of them.


Cream together 1/2 cup room temperature butter or shortening and 1 cup sugar. Add 1 egg and beat together. Mix in 1-1/2 cups applesauce.

Sift together 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp. cloves. Add to applesauce mixture, along with 1 cup raisins and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Lightly oil a 9" x 12" pan and dust with flour. Add the cake mixture and bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes, until the top of the cake’s center springs back when touched. Frost with chocolate frosting when cool.

Chocolate Frosting: Combine in a heavy saucepan or double boiler 1 square baker’s unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 1/3 cup milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook 1 minute. Cool and beat until the frosting has a satin finish.

About the author:
Find Janette Blackwell’s storytelling country cookbook, Steamin’ Down the Tracks with Viola Hockenberry, at or visit her at

Vegetarian Gourmet-Meatless Makeovers

by: Cathy O

Three years ago I decided to go "meatless." It wasn't a difficult decision as I wasn't a voracious carnivore to begin with, however there were a few dishes that I missed that contained meat and wondered how I was going to live without these favorites.

Rather than resign myself to the notion that these dishes could never be converted over to a meatless status, I decided to pull myself up by my vegetarian bootstrings (cotton, of course), and see if I could find a way to convert these meat-ies to meatless.

The first was my Grammy's recipe for American Chop Suey, actually, almost everyone's Grammy made this or some variation of it. I tried different ways but this one comes the closest:

Meatless American Chop Suey

1 vidalia onion chopped
1-2 tbsp. butter
1/2 pkg Quorn (brandname) veggie grounds frozen
2 cans Campbells Tomato Soup
1 tblsp. catsup (yes catsup, you can't really taste it, it just adds a rich color to the sauce)
sea salt and pepper to taste

1 lb of your favorite fancy pasta in its rigati form, that means with lines, or something like like gemelli or rotini

Melt butter in a medium sized skillet over low heat. Add vidalia onion and gently saute until translucent. Add frozen Quorn grounds and heat till thawed. Add 2 cans soup and cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add catsup salt and pepper and cook an additional 102 minutes.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain thoroughly and add sauce to pasta. Stir to incorporate completely. Serve. Serves 4-6 people as a side.

This next one is an adaptation of a Greek-Middle-Eastern recipe for Dolma. I loved this dish as a youngster summering on Cape Cod. A wonderful Lebanese family "turned me on" to this dish and I have finally found a way to make it meatless and spectacular!

Veggie Dolmas

1 jar of Grapeleaves in brine

2 cup basmati rice cooked
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup of pine nuts ground
1/2 cup quorn grounds thawed
2 tbsp. dried mint (or 1/4 cup fresh mint chopped fine)
1 tbsp. dried parsely (or 1/4 cup fresh parsely chopped fine)
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1/8 cup fresh oregano chopped fine)
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp pepper
1 small can tomato paste

Juice of 2 lemons

Remove the grape leaves from the jar, rinse and unfold carefully and rinse again. Lay paper towels and pat dry. Gently remove any stems that are still on the leaves.

In a large bowl mix the filling ingredients together till they are well incorporated.

Carefully separate a few of the leaves and line the bottom of a 1-2 gallon stock pot.

To roll take a leaf, place 1 heaping tsp of filling in the center of the leaf about 1/2 inch up from the bottom edge. Fold 1/2 inch up over the filling, fold each side toward the middle, then beginning at the bottom again roll the whole package up till you have a 1-2" "log.

Continue with the rolling process till you use up all the filling.

Line the rolled leaves up in a circular pattern in the stock pot till all are in. Pour the juice of both lemons gently over the rolled leaves. Place a dinner plate on top with a stone in the middle to keep in place. Gradually add cold water till it just covers the leaves.

Bring contents to a boil then reduce and simmer for abount 1/2 hour till tender. Drain water by holding on to stone to keep plate in place and gently pour out cooking water. Leave plate on till almost cool.

Remove plate and serve with plain yogurt, yummy.

These can be frozen in 1-2 serving sizes for later. I like to do it this way then microwave them for a minute and a half for a quickie meal.

About the author:
Cathy O is a successful author who provides information on gourmet gift baskets, gourmet food, and gourmet recipes. "In addition to being a freelance writer, I also dabble in Aromatherapy, Herbalism and painting when I am so inspired. Living in the Lake region of Western Maine has been of tremendous inspiration to me and I am proud and happy to call it home."

Old-Fashioned Tomatoes

by: Janette Blackwell
Raw vegetables are dangerous and must be thoroughly fried, steamed, and boiled into submission. So thought our ancestors. The original sin of a recalcitrant vegetable was of course lessened by heat, but the conscientious nineteenth-century cook continued to boil it long after it had sogged into a jelly-like mass, just in case some evil remained.

In the nineteenth century an hour’s cooking barely sufficed for cabbage and for corn on the cob. They did not fix broccoli at all, and I can understand why. I have tried to imagine broccoli after an hour of cooking, but the mind rares back and refuses even to approach the sheer horror.

Which reminds me of an event in the summer of 1956, when my classmate Patsy Sutherland and I lived with Grandpa Hess while we went to business college in Missoula, Montana. Grandpa was a crusty old widower, set in his own way of housekeeping, but he tried to be gracious. In midsummer he bought a whole crate of tomatoes. Luscious, red, ripe tomatoes. They sat in the cellarway for two days, and each time Patsy and I passed them our mouths watered. Each evening we thought he’d invite us to have a tomato or two, but he didn’t. When we arrived home on the third evening, he said, “Girls! I fixed the tomatoes today. Help yourselves!”

He had stewed every last one of them.

Some of those old tomato recipes are good, though. The originator of Tomatoes Maryland probably had an old-fashioned wood stove that could gently simmer something all afternoon on a back burner or in the oven. Which means this was most likely a fall or winter dish rather than a summer one, as people let the cookstove fire go out on summer afternoons.


Break into bits 2 slices of stale bread. Add to 4 cups canned or fresh tomatoes, peeled and quartered, with half an onion, chopped, and about 2/3 cup brown sugar. Salt lightly.

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer gently for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

My notes say, “It does need three hours to cook, even with the pan lid off most of the time. Perhaps some of the thin tomato juices could be poured off at the beginning, shortening the cooking time.”

Tomatoes Maryland is the kind of sweet side dish American cooks like to serve with chicken or pork. I was going to say, “cooks from regions other than the Northeast.” Then I remembered applesauce with pork, cranberry sauce with turkey, mint jelly with lamb, and baked beans with salt pork. Not to mention pancakes and syrup with sausages cuddled up close. And mincemeat pie, that ultimate mixture of meat and sweet. (And, yes, real mincemeat, as opposed to a packaged mix, does contain meat.)

I will add that some people of Grandpa’s generation did eat diced raw garden tomatoes for breakfast, just as one would eat strawberries, with sugar and cream. You see, it was safe to eat them raw with sugar and cream, because the tomatoes then ceased to be a vegetable and became a fruit.

And actually those old-time breakfasters were right. Fresh vine-ripened tomatoes are good with sugar and cream. Let’s face it, most things are good with sugar and cream. And of course tomatoes really are a fruit.

About the author:
Go STEAMIN’ DOWN THE TRACKS WITH VIOLA HOCKENBERRY, a storytelling cookbook -- and find Montana country cooking, nostalgic stories, and gift ideas -- at Janette Blackwell’s Food and Fiction, visit her Delightful Food Directory,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cookware what you need and what you don’t !

by: mark Brading

Cookware is always a rather contentious subject. I have seen chefs turn up to even the simplest of cooking jobs carrying more than it would take to maintain your average oil tanker (though maybe this is not the best use for your cookware), when all that was really needed was a knife and something to sharpen it with.
So what are the real ”cookware essentials”, the things that you really can’t do without? Well surprisingly you actually need only a very small amount of things to get you going. Probably considerably less than you have already.
All the cookware you actually need is a good knife, a means of sharpening it, a chopping board and a couple of pans.You may prefer a bit more cookware but you can cook with just that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as partial to a kitchen full of mixers, blenders, electrical appliances and assorted useful, and otherwise, gadgets as the next person.
But although good quality cheap cookware ( yes it is possible )like grinders and blenders give you a lot more scope there are plenty of things that you can cook without them, but a good knife, or three, is absolutely essential.
The first and most essential piece of cookware you need is a cooks knife, thats as large as you feel comfortable with, an 8 inch knife with a blade that curves slightly to allow a rocking motion is a good start, then a smaller knife, about 4 inches, for cutting small vegetables and a carving knife.
If you buy one about 10 inches long it can also double as a bread knife. Although there is no point buying extra knifes just to line the pockets of the large kitchen eequipment manufacturers. A set can actually be quite good value and give you more for a similar amount of money. But check carefully what is in the set first.
If you cannot find a set with what you think will be useful to you, don’t buy it. Many sets come with extras like a case or wooden knife block but try to see past the free gifts. Its much better to have a few good knives in your drawer than a fancy polished beech wood block with fifteen designer knives, fourteen of which you never use, and one that is not the right shape for your hand and gives you blisters.
I have a small, not very expensive set of French Sabatiers that are comfortable but not as posh looking as some of the more fashionable makes like the Japanese globals which I find too light which makes chopping a lot of veg for example much harder work.
If you learn how to use them properly then steel or grinding stone is a good way to keep your knives sharp otherwise there are a good choice of proprietary sharpeners that keep the knife at the right angle while you pull it through the sharpener. Pans also need to be good quality, nothing over the top, no need to spend a fortune. Just make sure they are of a good solid construction.
This promotes good even heat distribution and helps to prevent things burning. Stainless steel is a good option. A good wok on the other hand should be made of a thin light steel and cost very little, but always check that it has a good well-fixed wooden handle. The best place to buy this most useful of pans is (perhaps unsurprisingly) usually the local Chinese supermarket. A good chopping board is another necessity though two are better than one as this helps to prevent cross contamination if you designate one for uncooked meats/fish etc.and another for things like fruit and salads.
No matter how much you think you will always be careful and wash them between uses this is the best single way to prevent contamination between foods. Mixers can be useful if you intend doing a lot of baking. But unless you make bread on a regular basis (always a good idea), then buying a simple, good quality hand held mixer rather than a heavy stand alone version could save you a couple of hundred dollars in as well as a lot of space on your worktop.
A blender is always useful for soups and the occasional smoothie, and a grinder will give you a lot more options in your use of nuts etc.and will also provide a constant supply of fresh coffee for the more manic cook. A good way to combine the functions of all three is to buy a food processor.
A good quality machine such as a Moulinex or Robot coupe will save space and allow you to buy a much better processor than if you bought there items separately. There is an almost unending list of kitchen equipment that you could buy (if in doubt walk into your local cookery shop and ask the owner what he thinks you need!), but make sure you get the essential good quality cookware right and it will make your cooking easier and more enjoyable.

About the author:
"" is a new quality easy recipe, cookery tips and information site, for great tasting food that is also easy to cook. Cooking should be a joy not a chore. Using the best ingredients and keeping it simple means your food tastes good with the minimum of fuss. . Cookery book reviews, we choose the best in current and classic recipe books and food travel writers. Also product and good food suppliers.
Need to know the best food processor we take the time to choose so you don't have to. Need to know where to find the best organic pork? We bring you the best suppliers and information.
We have started small but will add more and more content over the coming weeks so do keep checking back. We look forward to seeing you and listening to your comments and feedback.

Barbecue Sauce Recipe

by: Sanjib Ahmad

The barbecue began in the American context during the late 1800's cattle drives in the West. The cowhands usually had low quality cuts of beef that had to be preserved over long periods of time of cattle driving.

The main choice for this was brisket that is tough meat. The cowboys soon learned that if they cooked the meat over a long period of time at a low temperature the meat could be made tender and tasty. During this time, the cooks also experimented with various barbecue sauces to make the beef even tastier.

Personally barbecue is my favorite style of cooking meat. I love the taste of barbecue and find that it's suitable for nearly all occasions.

I agree with history that the barbecue sauce is as important as the barbecue itself. A good barbecue sauce can make or break a sumptuous meal.

I can still remember clearly the T-bone barbecue steak I tasted at Larry's Drive. The sauce that was served with the barbecue steak was simply awesome. Every time I recall the experience my mouth just waters.

I have often asked myself how-to recreate that awesome sauce. Until I came across Debbie Beaston's barbecue sauce recipe on the Internet that could be the answer to my wish. It's called the "Top Secret BBQ Sauce Recipe".

I haven't bought the "Top Secret BBQ Sauce Recipe" yet, but thinking of convincing my wife to buy it because she loves cooking.

The BBQ sauce recipe ebook also includes BBQ recipes, rubs, mops and marinades. There is also great advice and ideas about what to cook with your barbecue.

More information on the sauce recipe is available here:

About the author:
About the Author
Sanjib Ahmad - Freelance Writer and Product Consultant for ( You are free to use this article in its entirety as long as you leave all links in place, do not modify the content, and include the resource box listed above.

Weird Foods Of The World - Chinese

by: Colette York

I have eaten some weird and wonderful dishes around the world but some of the more interesting concoctions have been served up to me in China.
A particularly interesting delicacy I ate some years ago consisted of Cow's bronchial tubes - the airways between the cow's lungs and windpipe (gruesome!) in a light white wine sauce.
The appearance of a plate full of macaroni, the taste of nothing but the white wine sauce and the consistency of over-cooked calamari, you could describe this dish as the original Chinese chew recipe!
Another time I was served with a plate of vermicelli with 20 or so delicately arranged deep-fried crispy scorpion complete with sting!
The trick to eating this particular delicacy was to convince myself it was nothing more than a prawn and all I had to do was to pick it up with my chopsticks and slip it into my mouth.
Actually once I had said to myself “it’s a prawn, it’s a prawn” 20 times this was not such an ordeal and basically the texture was, well, just crisp! and the only taste was of the oil it had been fried in, not so much of a Chinese chew, more of a Chinese crisp!
But Cow’s bronchial tubes and deep fried crispy scorpion are not the most gruesome dish I am aware of.
I say aware of rather than ate because even me with my cast iron constitution couldn’t stomach what I am about to describe to you. Anyway I am not sure if it’s just a popular folklore or if people really did this. I am sure it must be illegal now, if its not it should be!
Legend has it that, particularly in the southern parts of China, people had a specially designed ritualistic table with a hole in the centre, just big enough to take the upper part of a Monkey’s head.
Apparently the ritual consisted of capturing a live Monkey and securing it with it’s head wedged up in to hole in the centre of the table. The next step in the ritual was to trepanne the top of the live monkeys’ skull off and pour boiling water into the Monkey’s brain.
People sitting around the table would then proceed to eat the braised Monkey brain with chopsticks directly out of the Monkey’s skull.
I did warn you it was gruesome – it can’t possibly be true, can it?
Fortunately the dishes that we are more familiar with are not quite so outlandish and use much more traditional ingredients. There are many easy Chinese recipes on the Chinese food menu, just as well really because I don’t know about you but I think I must be part Chinese as I love the food and all about the place.

About the author:
Colette York loves all things Chinese but especially Chinese food and loves nothing more than cooking a delicious Chinese recipe. Come to http://www.chinese-foods.organd sample some delicious tastes.

Easing Coughs Naturally

by: Cathy O

Whether it be the dead of winter or the high life of summer, colds and allergies seem to pop up out of nowhere and “catch” us completely off guard. Hand-in-hand with these seasonal terrors come the dreaded cough and there are two ways you can fight cold's comrade-in-arms----- with either over the counter cough drops ----- or ones that you can make yourself.

Make yourself, you ask? Why not! it's easy and many of the ingredients within these little soldiers can be found right in your own kitchen. Sugar, corn syrup and water gently brought to a robust boil till they reach what is known as the “hard crack” stage will give you the "medium." The only secret to a successful drop is to use a tasty and simple combination of herbs "steeped" in the water before adding it to the sugar-syrup. This wonderful cough relieving tea along with your "dry" ingredients" are all you need to make your own natural cough confection-ators.

Some herbs that are found in many of the other natural cough drops you find on the market that you may want to try alone or in combination are; Coltsfoot, Korean Licorice Mint (easy to grow; seeds are available from Seeds of Change), thyme, slippery elm, horehound, comfrey leaf, hyssop, marsh mallow and common mullein, to name a few. Many of these herbs are perennial so you will have them for your own personal “medicine cabinet” year after year. Use the leaves only of these herbs either singly or in combination. It helps to try them out as a tea first, that way you know which herbs will taste best in your cough drops. About 2-3 tsp. of herb to 1 1/2 cups boiling water ought give you the concentration that you need; let steep till cool.

Here’s a tried-and-true hard candy recipe, straight from the pages of Cooking for American Homemakers. I have used this gem for many years for lollypop making and it is first rate for making the “medium:”

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup water (herbal tea)
vegetable coloring (optional)

Mix sugar, herbal tea and corn syrup and cook over low heat stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils. Continue boiling without stirring until a small amount is very brittle when dropped into cold water. Wash away crystals from side of pan with a damp cloth. Cook slowly at end so that the syrup will not discolor. Remove from the heat and add color. Either drop quickly from the tip of a spoon onto a greased surface or into prepared hard candy molds. Allow to harden and cool completely before removing. You can roll them in powdered sugar and wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper for storage.

For gift giving, why not add a personal touch by pressing some of the fresh herbs between waxed paper and use to decorate or wrap your gift box. Add a nice tag listing the herbs that you used for a professional look.

About the author:
Cathy O is a successful author who provides recipes for and information on candy and lollipops. "In addition to being a freelance writer, I also dabble in Aromatherapy, Herbalism and painting when I am so inspired. Living in the Lake region of Western Maine has been of tremendous inspiration to me and I am proud and happy to call it home."