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Category: January 2018

Kicking Old Habits in the New Year!

Are you stressed, bored, or angry at something or someone? Do you find yourself standing in front of an open refrigerator for relief? Then you are an emotional eater.

Our brains learn by association. A trigger sets the craving in motion which leads to action. When this includes food, this leads to unhealthy eating patterns.

So, in the New Year, it’s time to re-train your brain! Replace that bad eating habit with a new habit that is more healthful. Here are some ideas:

  • Have healthful choices at the ready and easily available. Keep them in the front part of the fridge to grab first.
  • Relax with some good music, a hot shower, or a good book.
  • Get walking! A quick walk or jog helps clear your mind and pushes aside those food cravings.
  • Distract yourself with a hobby, do chores around the house, or get an extra New Year’s resolution checked off the list, like cleaning out a closet!

Happy New Year!

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, December 2017


What is a Fruit Shrub?

Historically, the beverage called a shrub was created using fruit, sugar, and alcohol such as brandy or rum. It was a way to preserve fruit to drink. It was fermented, strained, and served over ice with water or soda water.

Today, a shrub is made with vinegar instead of alcohol and fermented. Spices or herbs may be added. The fruit is strained out and vinegar such as apple cider, balsamic, sherry, or red wine vinegar is added.

Want to try it? A non-alcoholic recipe can be found at—ball-recipes-br3531.html.


Using Expired Yeast for Bread

Bread yeast is a living organism. Over time, it loses its potency and ability to make dough rise. Yeast packaging has an expiration date and it is best to use it prior to this date.

If dough is made with expired yeast, it is possible to rescue the slow rising dough by using a new package of yeast. These tips are from Fleischmann’s Yeast for each packet of yeast in the recipe.

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup lukewarm water (100°-110°F), 1 teaspoon sugar and one packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) of yeast. Stir to dissolve.
  2. Using an electric mixer, slowly beat in small (walnut size) pieces of dough until about 1/2 of the dough is mixed into the new yeast.
  3. With a spoon, stir in remaining dough. Knead in extra flour so dough is not sticky.
  4. Let rise, shape and bake as directed.

Source: Fleischmann’s Yeast


Skimming the Fat

Making soup, broth or sauce and need an easy way to skim off excess fat? Here’s some tips.

Place a metal spoon in ice cold water. Touch the cold spoon to the hot food and the fat should coagulate on the spoon for easy removal. In place of a spoon, use a cold lettuce leaf or an ice cube. Avoid stirring the food too much so fat rises to the top.

If you have more time, chill the food and the fat will rise to the top. Use a spoon or spatula to remove the hardened fat.

While fat carries some flavor, it also makes a food mixture unappealing and greasy.


Rainbow Color in Meat

There are many color compounds in meat. One you may see is a rainbow or iridescent color. This can happen in cooked beef or lunch meat and also in cured meats.

Meat contains iron, fat, and many other compounds. When light hits a slice of meat, it splits into colors like a rainbow. There are also various pigments in meat compounds which can give it an iridescent or greenish cast when exposed to heat and processing. Iridescent beef isn’t spoiled necessarily. Spoiled cooked beef would probably also be slimy or sticky and have an off-odor.



Cooking Slow in a Fast-Paced World

Consumers are on the go and want meal preparation to be easy and fast to fit active schedules. Yet, the slow cooker is still a go-to appliance to fix a complete meal. According to the Food Marketing Institute, in 2016, 82% of consumers prepared a nightly meal five or more times per week. Other trends include:

  • 65% of U.S households own and use a slow cooker.
  • 28% of men use a slow cooker for game day parties.
  • Eight in 10 adults are skilled at using a slow cooker.
  • Sixteen meals per person were prepared in a slow cooker per year.
  • Several food manufacturers offer seasoning mixes or frozen meal packages for quick preparation.

Source: Food Technology, December 2017


Why is Vanilla so Expensive?

Shopping for pure vanilla extract can cost you a pretty penny, depending on the brand. Prices can vary from $12.00-$25.00 for a 4 fl. oz. bottle!

Producing vanilla is very labor and time intensive. Most of the vanilla used to make vanilla extract is grown in Madagascar. A cyclone hit that region a year or so ago which destroyed many vanilla fields and facilities. Therefore, the supply is reduced and it takes time to get the fields of orchids growing again.

Learn more about the 2017 vanilla crop at

Imitation vanilla extract is an economical option for many baked goods. For non-baked goods or products needing low heat treatment, pure vanilla extract is best for optimum vanilla flavor.


Increase in Fast Food Restaurants

The Economic Research Service has found that between 2009 and 2014, the number of fast food restaurants in U.S. counties has increased by nine percent. In some states, the number of fast food restaurants has increased more than the population rate in those areas.

To view an interactive map of the data for your location, go to:

What is Sous Vide Cooking?

Sous vide cooking is gaining momentum in food service operations and in home kitchens. When compared to traditional cooking, there are two differences. In sous vide cooking, raw food is vacuum packed in heat stable, food grade plastic bags. Then it is cooked at a precisely controlled temperature inside the bag.

The vacuum package protects the food from contamination, eliminates off-flavors, and prevents moisture loss during cooking. The bag of food is cooked in a water bath at a specific temperature which converts collagen into gelatin, reduces toughness, and reduces overcooking.

Limitations include lack of browning and those flavors developed by browning. Therefore, the food must be browned after sous vide cooking to make it more visually appealing. Food safety is a concern because of initial microbial content in the food; the cooking time and temperature; the cooling process after cooking; and storage. And, with vacuum packaging, a major concern is the growth of Clostridium botulinum.

Sous vide cooking is done with equipment designed for this type of cooking. This method of cooking is not recommended for anyone who is immune-compromised, any pregnant women, or young children.

Source: Food Technology, December 2017


What is Parched Corn?

This is another term for popcorn. When popcorn was brought to the first Thanksgiving in 1621 by Chief Massasoit’s brother, Quadequina, the early colonists called popcorn “popped corn,” “parching corn,” or “rice corn.” In 1820, it was commonly referred to as popcorn.

Parched corn is also referred to as “chicos.” According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary of Culinary Arts, chicos are “dried kernels of corn used in Native American and Southwestern stews.” Today, these are also similar to corn nuts.