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Category Archives: Food

Eating Fresh Oysters

The best way to preserve them is to place them on a bed of ice or in a perforated box with damped clothe wrapped around them. Ensure that the oysters will not suffocate in the melted ice or submerge under water in a case or cooler-remember that oysters are living creatures that will deplete the quantity of oxygen present in a small volume of water very quickly.

For the last 700 years edible oysters have been a part of the human diet but may have been eaten in a raw or cooked form for a longer time. The meat inside the oyster is the edible part; once the shell has been cracked open, the meat can be cooked in various ways.

Oysters contain lots of vitamins, minerals and organic compounds. Other components of nutritional value include Selenium, iron, manganese, copper, vitamin B12, vitamin D and high levels of protein. They are also a huge source of water, omega-3 fatty acid, antioxidants and cholesterol. They also contain sodium, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.

These elements make oysters a very healthy food that can greatly increase the health and overall functions of the body.

Eating oysters can help in boosting the immune system. The vitamin C and E content, together with other minerals, contain anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that protect the body against free radicals produced by cellular metabolism. These radicals can mutate the DNA of healthy cells into cancerous cells. Wherever they are lodged, they can also cause premature aging, heart disease and general body disrepair. These free radicals can be obliterated by anti-oxidants and vitamins found in oysters.

Oysters can also can help in increase libido in men. It contains incredible zinc content and over 1,500% of daily dosage in a single serving. Zinc deficiency has been closely linked with erectile dysfunction and impotency. Oysters can give back sexual energy to men and increase their feeling of masculinity.

Recipe Spicy Spaghetti Pie

Ingredients:

4-ounces Spaghetti pasta, dried & broken

1-cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1-pound Pork sausage, ground

1-cup Black olives, sliced

1-cup Onion, chopped

1-teaspoon Garlic, minced

1-teaspoon Salt

1-teaspoon Pepper

14½-ounces Tomatoes, diced & with juices

⅓-cup Tomato paste

1-teaspoon Italian seasoning

¼-teaspoon Crushed red pepper

2-tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

Cook pasta according to instructions on package; drain; rinse and drain again. Pour cooked pasta over the bottom and up towards the side of a greased 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and set aside. Cook sausage, olives, onion, and garlic over medium heat until sausage is brown and onion is tender; drain. Stir in tomatoes with juice, the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Pour sausage mixture over cheese in dish. Cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; let cool for five minutes before serving.

French Cuisine

The French cuisine of the Middle Ages stand as a sharp contrast to the present time. The cooking style then involved generous usage of spices, herbs, rich sauces and mustards for strong flavors. Numerous dishes were prepared consisting of sliced off meats like beef, pork, fish & poultry, pies, roasted swans & peacock, preserved vegetables and desserts. The food type was greatly determined by the respective seasons. The visual appeal was of paramount importance hence special attention was given to usage of colors with saffron, spinach, egg yolks and sunflower. Beer took a more prominent place than wine. The feasting was an extravaganza, service en confusion was the serving style predominant back then wherein food was served in unison. Only centuries later this practice got revolutionized under the auspices of King Louis XIV and meals were served in succession at different courses individually at the table.

The Italian Influence

The much advanced culinary arts of Italy came along with Catherine De Medicis when she married King Henry II. Her Italian chefs introduced innovative styles that greatly influenced the French cuisine. Decorative tableware, ornamental crockery and stunning glassware became commonplace and introduction of new foods like green beans and tomatoes were appreciated.

Ancien Règime and French Revolution

Paris marked the seat of the best culinary craftsmen in the 16th and 18th century—the period of Ancien Règime that saw the advent of the guild system of food distribution. Chefs were restricted to an assigned style or area, thereby hampering their proficiency and expertise. The French revolution later ceased the guild, opening new doors for chefs who could now experiment new dishes fluxing their cookery talents.

The French cuisine owes its eminence to their royal chefs— Carème, Montagnè and Escoffier, the pride of their time who introduced contemporary dining etiquettes, food dressing, artistry and décor, modern cooking styles that focused more on delectable ingredients rather on abundance of meal; categorized food preparation by specialists and authorized marvelous cookbooks that pared down and refined French Cuisine.

The Haute Cuisine

Escoffier was the eminent figure behind the French haute cuisine—‘high cuisine’ that unfolded in the 17th century. Accolades to Francois Pierre La Varenne who is also credited for publishing his cookbook Cvisinier francois that ushered in modern techniques of preparing light dishes and desserts with modest arrangements in a more codified manner. Escoffier not only brought in the ‘brigade system’ (segregation of kitchens in 5 sections) to fuse more efficiency in the culinary art but also penned down several cookbooks that turned him a much revered legend of French cuisine.

Info about Spaghetti Casserole

ngredients:

1-large Egg

½-cup Milk

8-ounces Spaghetti, uncooked

1-teaspoon Salt

½-teaspoon Black Pepper

½-teaspoon Garlic powder

½-pound Ground beef

½-pound Ground sausage

1-medium Onion, finely chopped

½-cup Chopped green chilies

½-cup Black olives, pitted and sliced

24-ounces Spaghetti sauce

2-cups (8 ounces) Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1-cup (4 ounces) Parmesan cheese, fresh grated

Instructions:

Cook spaghetti according to instructions on package; drain; rinse; drain again and set aside. In a medium bowl beat egg, milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder; add cooked spaghetti; toss to coat. Place coated spaghetti in a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, cook the ground sausage, ground beef, finely chopped onion, chopped green chilies and sliced and pitted black olives over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and drain. Add spaghetti sauce and mix well; spoon over the spaghetti mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350° for twenty minutes. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. Let stand for five to ten top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve warm with some nice toasty garlic bread.

Italians And Pasta

The Italians bravely claim that pasta is all theirs from the beginning since it has fed the poorest southern Italian regions for hundreds of years. The gentle texture of pasta is a great partner to all sorts of toppings, spices and sauces. It has also been attributed to a lot of unique names as the Italians cannot seem to resist giving the strings, ribbons and other shapes with different names.

A passionate Italian eater of long ago – whoever he was – blessed pasta with its first name – maccheroni which is a derivation from the words ma che charini meaning, “My, what little dears.”

Today, there are different kinds of pasta ranging from the humble snail (lumache), bridegrooms (ziti), little loves (amorini), to the one-of-a-kind kiss catchers (tira-baci). All these are flour and water mixtures reminiscent of Italian lifestyle and all can be paired with artful sauces.

You would be surprised that there are more than three hundred names for a hundred different shapes of pasta. This, again, reflects the expansive nature of Italians and how they love variety in all that they do. To them, it is not enough that there are farfelle or bow pasta. To give variety, there must also be little bows are what’s known as farfallette. The bigger bows were christened with the name farfalloni.

All these descriptive words for a single food is not surprising when it comes to the animated nature of the Italians. This is a nation that is known for its artistry and gusto for life. Just imagine how their government is changed at least once every year and you will have a good grasp of who they are as a people.

Only a few people outside of Italy would understand the dramatic variations in pasta from one region to another. History says a lot about this and so does the Italian temperament. In spite of the 1861 unification of 19 different regions, there remained individualism when it comes to cuisine and culture. The cliffside Sorrento restaurant is likely to offer spaghetti alle vongole because it is near the Mediterranean Sea. In Sicily, it is not uncommon to find raisins with your pasta since this region was dominated by the Saracens for about two hundred years.

Effects of GMO Foods

Several animal studies show Serious Health Risks associated with GMO foods including:

1. Infertility

2. Immune Problems

3. Accelerated Aging

4. Faulty Insulin Regulation

5. Major Changes in Organs

6. Major Changes in the gastrointestinal system

7. Causing major Allergies to GMO and non-GMO foods

You may be wondering why the FDA has allowed this harmful process to be part of our food supply. In 1992, The Food and Drug Administration claimed they had no information showing that GMO foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods. Thus, being safe to eat. However, internal memos made public by a lawsuit reveal that their position was staged by political appointees who were under orders from the White House to promote GMO’s. Also, the person in charge of creating the policy was Michael Taylor, the former Attorney for Monsanto, the largest biotech company. He later became Monsanto’s Vice President. The FDA scientists had warned that GMO food can be unpredictable, have hard to detect side effects, causing allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They used long-term studies but their suggestions and studies were ignored!

So, how can we protect ourselves and our families? First, educate ourselves on GMO foods. Second, read ALL FOOD LABELS and INGREDIENTS before purchasing food items. Please understand that labels such as “All Natural”, “Gluten Free”, and “Organic” mean absolutely NOTHING! It’s a Marketing tactic! We now must read every ingredient listed on the label. A key to remember is if the ingredient is more than 5 to 8 ingredients and contains words you can’t pronounce, leave it on the grocery shelf!

Superfood, Yuca

Yuca is a perennial plant that is found in tropical climates. In Africa, Asia, and South America, it has been used as a major food source. Indigenous people use it along with other high-starch foods like yams, taro, plantains, and potatoes. While it is still not well known outside of the tropics, it accounts for about 30% of the world production of roots. Recently popular in the Americas is tapioca. Grinding the yuca root into small powder balls forms tapioca balls- enjoyed in boba teas and various drinks.

To clarify some dispute, YUCA and YUCCA are two very different plants. Yuca, is the root while Yucca is a scrub.

Why the sudden interest?

As the world continues to connect more and more, people are able to enjoy the benefits of fruits and vegetables that were once out of reach. Not long ago, if you were not born in the tropics, yuca would have been virtually intangible. But now, people all over the world can reap the benefits.

The general population also has access to endless amounts of new information. So with that comes new opportunities to incorporate in daily life. Previously you would have walked into a grocery store, unable to decipher what this long brown root was. Now with a quick Google search the information is there for you disposal. Recipes for this root are endless. The endless recipes allow you to experiment and diversify your diet.

The Energy it Provides is Incredible!

In Peru, South America we visited a local family. They were simply the most welcoming, humble, and hardworking family I’d ever encountered. In many cultures around the world it is very common for large families to live together. In one home you may have your mother, father, grandparents, great-grandparents, children and grandchildren. It is very common to take in family members and live as one large family unit. What we saw in this family was that everyone was extraordinarily hard working. Even the great-grandparents would pitch in to help around the house. While the activity they partook in was more limited than those of the younger generations, it was incredible to see the how agile and energized these men and women were.

I remember asking one day how they found the energy to work so hard at their age.

With a smile the older lady said, “comer bien.”

That was it, a simple explanation. “Comer bien” translates to “eat well.” These families eat fresh and powerful superfoods everyday. The yuca root is only a supplement to the other superfoods Peruvians have been enjoying for centuries.

How is it that this simple answer: comer bien, could lead to a long-lasting and healthy life.

I thought back to the United States where much of our older generation are forced to reside in Nursing Homes, or never make it to be a great-grandparent. These older generations thrive in Peru and are well respected. Their persistent activity and nutritious diets help them excel in life.

Buffalo Mozzarella

The cheese is soft with a rubbery texture, has mild flavor and is known to be rich in proteins, calcium, mineral salts, iron and vitamins. The cheese is liked by chefs for its versatility in the kitchen and for its special characteristics that make it a perfect ingredient for Mediterranean dishes like pizza, pasta and the Caprese salad.

Mozzarella is the diminutive form of the verb ‘mozzare’, which means ‘to cut off’ derived from the Neapolitan dialect spoken in Campania in southern Italy. It refers to the process of making mozzarella, as the large mass of curd is cut up by hand, into smaller sizes.

The buffalo mozzarella from Italy sold as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is protected under the European Union Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status and may only be produced in select locations in the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia and Molise.

The origin of the buffalo mozzarella is said to be the Campania region where it has been produced in the provinces of Caserta and Salerno for many centuries.

The history of the buffalo mozzarella in Campania dates back to the 13th century when the dairy farmers in the region are said to have started making the mozzarella cheese from buffalo milk, mainly for local consumption, which at that time was regarded as a cheaper alternative to cow or goat’s milk cheese.

The history of the water buffalo in Italy is important to consider as it is closely tied to the buffalo mozzarella cheese.

The water buffalo originated in Asia and is known to have been domesticated in the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia civilizations between 2000 BC and 3000 BC.

According to the Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, it was the Arabs who introduced the water buffalo to Sicily, during their conquest of Sicily which began in 827. The Normans later introduced the water buffalo to Campania and other parts of southern Italy.

Eat Spaghetti Without Making A Mess

Nowadays there is a certain degree of snobbery about this method. Today those in the know prefer to use just a fork alone and deride those who use the spoon as well.

The reason for the change in spaghetti eating etiquette is that the wide bowls that are now commonly used were once a rarity in both restaurants and homes outside Italy. Pasta was frequently served on a flat plate which made the spoon essential for spaghetti.

With a bowl there is no need for a spoon. You can wind the pasta against the edge of the bowl.

The idea is to use the edge of the bowl to allow you to twirl the spaghetti around your fork. That’s fine if your pasta is served on a bowl rather than a plate.

Even so it takes some practice. The key thing is not to get too much spaghetti on your fork in one go. Just a few strands are enough.

Twirl your fork around until the whole length of the spaghetti is gathered up, then bring it up to your mouth. If you notice that there is too much spaghetti on your fork or the ends are dangling then lower your fork and start again.

You will only get into a mess with spaghetti if you leave those ends dangling. If you try to suck them up like the dogs in The Lady and the Tramp you will splatter sauce all over yourself. Oriental noodles are made to slurp and are served in a bowl that you can pick up for that reason, spaghetti is not.

In Italy spaghetti used to be sold in metre lengths. It was kept in a drawer and the shopkeeper would break it in two so that it could be carried home more easily. Today in Italy, spaghetti is sold in shorter lengths as it is everywhere in the world so there is no need to break it up before cooking.

If spaghetti is cooked correctly it should wrap around your fork easily. If it is overcooked it is more likely to slide off the fork or refuse to stay wrapped around it. This is why spaghetti is often difficult to eat when it is served outside Italy.

So spaghetti should be eaten with a fork. However, a spoon may be provided even in Italy. This is not like the fork that is provided in Oriental restaurants a concession to foreign ineptitude. The spoon is to allow you to toss the spaghetti in its sauce and to scoop up every last drop of that sauce.

Opinions differ on whether it is correct to use bread to mop up the sauce. Some authorities regard serving bread as a feature of impoverished households, others accept that today it is normal in restaurants. When the bread if a good quality ciabatta or focaccia it would be shame to pass up the opportunity of enjoying it with the sauce in the name of out moded etiquette.

About Bowl of Cherries

While many of us associate cherry blossoms with Japan, interestingly, most of those beautiful blossoms do not turn into fruit. Edible cherry producing trees were brought from the West in the late 1800s (think what they were missing all those centuries). However, Japan does not value the fruit as we do, and pies are definitely not on most menus.

In America, because of their beautiful blossoms, cherry trees were planted by settlers up and down the Northeast coast. Early Dutch and French immigrants planted thousands in the NY city area as well as points west, in what is now Michigan. When George Washington purportedly chopped down a cherry tree, he just might have started the ball rolling.

There are basically two types–sweet and sour. They have a relatively short growing season and are not particularly hearty trees. The U.S. is the second largest producer of cherries at 300,000 tons annually, after top producer, Turkey, which weighs in with 460,000 tons. Northwest and Midwest states grow the bulk of cherries, Traverse City, Michigan reigns as the cherry capital of the world and holds a huge festival annually. Known for their sour cherries, they feature the world’s largest cherry pie each year (bring your own vanilla ice cream). The wood of cherry trees is a popular type for furniture in the U.S.

French chefs have given their seal of approval (what more validation do you need?) and use cherries as a sauce for roast duck, flaming desserts (jubilee), crepe fillings and a popular tart called clafoutis. Americans love their pies, and although cherry takes a back seat to timeless apple, it still ranks in the top 5. And we enjoy them in more ways than one:

  • cherry cobbler
  • garnish for whipped cream
  • include in cocktails
  • flaming cherries jubilee
  • New York cherry ice cream
  • cherry jam
  • cherry sauce
  • snacking fresh or dried
  • duck with cherry sauce
  • cherry cola
  • cherry compote
  • cherry turnovers
  • fruit dumplings
  • chocolate covered candy
  • wine and liqueur

Not only are cherries great for cooking and eating, but they tout health benefits as well, including anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, reduce risk of gout, promote better sleep, lower uric acid, all proven by studies at Mayo Clinic and numerous others. Although the season is short, they are readily available year-round in frozen and canned forms, and some groceries and health food markets sell juice and dried cherries.