Tips for Throwing a Party

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This holds especially true when serving food at a formal buffet or a potluck supper. Whether setting a buffet table from your own kitchen or arranging dishes for a potluck supper, appearance can change a culinary mistake into a masterpiece.

Space permitting, the buffet table should be placed in the center of the room. However, if space is limited, the table may be along the side of the room.

A long buffet table, in the center of a room, provides access from all sides and will accommodate the largest group of guests in a timely fashion. If not, with the table along an outer edge, space should be made for the servers to replenish from behind.

Once the placement of the main buffet table is determined, cover the table with a cloth. Ideally, the cloth will extend to the floor on all sides presented to your guests.

The buffet table should then be set in the following order going around the table, if possible, or from one end to the other.

1) Dinner plates and/or bowls
2) Rice, Noodles or starch based dishes
3) Main dishes, meats, casseroles, hearty soups, etc.
4) Hot and/or cold vegetables
5) Salads
6) Breads
7) Relishes, condiments, dressings, etc.
8) Eating utensils
9) Napkins

Beverages, cups or glasses and additional napkins should be placed on a serving table remote from the main buffet table. If possible, it is ideal to set beverages on each dining table.

If dessert will be served plan to prepare yet another serving table in much the same fashion as the buffet table was prepared. Additional use of levels, layers and decorative items will fill the space not utilized for desserts if serving a single sheet cake or similar large item. Dessert plates, napkins and utensils should be placed at one end.

The secret to a fabulous display is never to place all the food on one level surface. It gives the appearance of bringing livestock to a trough.

Prior to bringing out the food, the buffet table should be prepared. Create all of your levels, steps, heights and valleys. Large books, empty baking dishes turned upside down, and sturdy but shallow boxes are appropriate. Allow sufficient space so dishes won’t easily be knocked off and then cover the created surfaces with additional fabric or table cloths.

Indicate where food platters or bowls can be placed by setting empty dishes of comparable size or chargers to hold the actual dish.

Use decorative items, suited to your theme, to further raise some dishes above the others. I find that plant stands are ideal for serving trays on a buffet table. Tiered plates, cake pedestals, even flowerpots turned upside down, can also be used to raise the food above the flat surface of the buffet table. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have created a multitude of levels for the food, use unexpected items to fill in the spaces between the serving plates. It will, of course, depend on your theme. Try to use a variety of sizes and textures when creating an attractive stage for the food.

Create an appealing display.

Lighting is important. If possible, use a variety of candles, twinkle lights or lamps to brighten the buffet table. Consider placing twinkling light strands under clouds of tulle or lace down the center of a long table. Create warmth and light using like colored candles of different shapes and sizes. Using small decorative lamps or oil-based lanterns can create a very romantic ambiance.

Remember, an enjoyable meal is not completely dependent upon the quality, taste or variety of the food. This is especially important when you do not control the food, as in the case of a potluck.

If a multitude of guests are bringing food for a potluck, it is best to have the food collected in a kitchen or ancillary room for organization prior to being placed on the buffet or serving tables. In any case, sort the dishes according to the sections of the buffet table and place a serving utensil with each dish. If dealing with more food than expected in any given category, plan on replacing dishes when they are emptied.

By setting an organized but exciting and interesting buffet table, your guests will find that serving themselves is more of an adventure in discovery than a chore.

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How to Make Spinach Gnocchi

Gnocchi is a traditional Italian dish of delightfully puffy little dumplings, most often made of potato and semolina. This dish goes back so far, it’s origins are lost in history. The word is thought to derive from “nocca” (knuckle), or perhaps come from “nocchio,” like Pinocchio, or a knot in wood. Useful as a side dish, or expanded to an entree, gnocchi is versatile and easy to make. This recipe uses spinach for a novel color and added nutritional value. Some serving suggestions have been included below.

Spinach Gnocchi

1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese (low fat is not advised for this recipe)

1 lb fresh spinach

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 large eggs

1 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Layer the inside of a colander with paper towels and lay the ricotta in it to drain excess moisture. Wash the spinach, pat or spin dry and chop finely.  Squeeze as much excess moisture out of the spinach as possible. In a large bowl, fluff the spinach with a fork, then add the lemon juice, ricotta, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of flour to the bowl and mix by hand. Only use the remaining flour if the dough is too sticky to work. 

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divid the dough into smaller pieces about the size of a lemon. By hand, lightly roll the dough into cylinders about the width of your little finger, stretching outward as you go. Cut the cylinders into 1 inch pieces, allow them to roll over your finger to shape. Mark a small depression in the pieces with the tines of a fork. 

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to boil in a stock pot. Add the gnocchi and stir to prevent sticking. Be careful not to overfill the pot, or it can be difficult to separate the gnocchi. As gnocchi cooks, it floats to the surface. Allow the floating gnocchi to cook about 1 more minute and remove with a slotted spoon. 

Serving suggestions:

Saute spinach gnocchi briefly in extra virgin olive oil. Toss with fresh grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Spinach gnocchi makes an excellent salad with sliced mushrooms, zucchini, roasted red peppers and chopped tomatoes. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, basil and balsamic vinegar.

Smother the spinach gnocchi in your favorite spaghetti sauce and serve as an alternative to regular pasta. 

Reference:
1. Spinach Gnocchi Recipe – EatingWell
2. Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi : Recipes : Cooking Channel

Spinach more than Popeyes Elixir

If you are familiar with Popeye the sailor man, then you are also familiar with his love for spinach. At first, he is just another ordinary sailor. However, once he downs a can of spinach, he gains almost super human strength. Although eating a can of spinach (Spinacia oleracea) will not give you extraordinary powers, it does have several nutritional benefits.

Source of Iron

Spinach is a low calorie source of iron. Iron is a mineral that the body needs. It helps the red blood cells transport oxygen to the rest of the body’s cells.  Iron aids in energy production, immune health, and cell diffusion.  It is especially important for menstruating women, growing children, and adolescents to get enough iron. Spinach contains 2.7 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.

Antioxidants

Spinach contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, and selenium. These antioxidants help to reduce free radical in the body. Free radicals have been shown to cause damage to cells that can lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with these free radicals and help to stabilize them.  Foods like spinach, which are high in antioxidants, can help to prevent conditions like osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, and heart disease.

Cancer Fighter

Because spinach is loaded with antioxidants, it can also help to prevent certain cancers. It contains a carotenoid that works to protect the body against prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, and skin cancer.

Improved Brain Function

You can fight the effects of aging with spinach. The beta-carotene found in spinach helps to fight age related macular degeneration, improve memory, and it helps to keep the nervous system healthy.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Spinach contains magnesium which works to lower blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels.  Cooked spinach contains about 157 mg of magnesium, and raw spinach contains 24 mg. Spinach also contains 167 mg of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps to balance the sodium in a person’s system.

Anti-inflammatory

Excessive inflammation in the body can lead to cancer, arthritis,osteoporosis,asthma, and migraine headaches. Spinach is also packed full of anti-inflammatory agents. Those anti-inflammatory agents are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Increase Fiber

Spinach is loaded full of fiber. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system healthy. Because it takes longer to digest, fiber rich foods like spinach can help one feel fuller longer and help to regulate blood sugar levels. The fiber found in spinach gives bulk to stool. This makes it softer and easier to pass.

Spinach may not be able to give you the strength of Popeye, but it is a super food. It is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Best of all, spinach is affordable, available all year, and low in calories.

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Food and Drink through Pregnancy

A lot of pregnant women, when they find out that they are pregnant, she immediately wonders, What can i eat? Any Fish? What can i drink? Any Caffeine? If so, how much? Well i am hoping that i can help you out! I am not doctor, so i hope that this is as informational as you need.
First thing is first, Food Safety. During pregnancy, it is as possible too get food poisoning as any other time in your life, and you are more prone to getting it since your immune system is providing for the baby as well. So you ask, food poisoning? will it hurt the baby? The answer is, YOU are more likely to suffer from the vomiting and/or diarrhea. The only thing that is a MAJOR risk, for you AND baby, is that you may become dehydrated. So, if you do fall victim to food poisoning, make SURE that you stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water, juices (not too much sugar cause this can increase diarrhea) and a good thing, is chicken noodle soup, or just chicken broth. Some ‘guidelines’ that i follow while/when i am pregnant. Here are some:
– When in doubt, throw it out. (this is probably the most important one!)
– Always, ALWAYS wash your hands. Before and AFTER handling raw meat, eggs, fish, etc.
– Keep your kitchen counters & sinks CLEAN. (I became the bleach queen) Wash your dishcloths, and replace your sponges regularly (they can harbor dangerous bacteria)
– Avoid fish with high mercury. (bigger fish, like halibut, shark, rock fish have higher levels of mercury. And mercury can cause brain deficiency and {later in pregnancy} can cause blood stream issues with your unborn baby)
– Thaw frozen meat in the fridge, never thaw foods at room temperature, this again, can cause dangerous bacteria to grow. (i use cold water)
– Wash raw vegetables thoroughly, if they will not be cooked (the same with fruit)
– Stay with pasteurized dairy products. soft cheeses, such as, Feta, Brie, blue cheeses, made by unpasteurized milk can be contaminated with Listeria.
– Cold cut meat can also be contaminated with Listeria (hot dogs, salami… etc.)

~ If you don’t already know, you are probably wondering what “Listeria” is… Listeria is a bacteria that can cause a serious illness, called “Listeriosis” .. but is very rare, (kind of like mad cow disease)Even though it is rare, you still will want to avoid foods that can contain it.

– Juice should be pasteurized as well, if you are not sure if it is pasteurized or not. Refer back to the VERY first guideline 🙂

Drinks:
Every woman knows that alcohol is out. But there are also women who think that your are not supposed to have caffeine at all, BUT if you are anything like me (as in human) you will need some kind of caffeine. But too much caffeine can dehydrate you. But what i do, for every caffeinated drink that i drink, i drink a glass of water. (because i am sure if you haven’t figured it out yet, you need to stay hydrated, lol) Energy drinks though, are OUT most definantly, because they have a very high level of caffeine. Sports drinks are OK, because they are made to hydrate you, but still you will not want to drink just these, because your body and baby need the nutrients in water.

Eating and Drinking During Labor:
Yes or No? No studies have shown that not eating or drinking during labor benefit you, although not drinking can cause stress levels to increase and can cause (again) dehydration. Although, some studies have shown that women who do eat and drink during labor do not require ‘oxytocin’ to speed up labor, require fewer pain medications (before and after) labor, and have babies with higher Apgar scores.
Some suggestions for ‘eating’ during labor are:
– Hard candies (to keep your mouth moist)
– The ever popular ice chips
– Fruity Popsicles (make sure they are not too sugary)
– Jello
– Home-made juice Popsicles (i know your thinking, how will i have these at the hospital? But some women have to labor at home, so these will be good then)
– dry toast
– clear broth
– Water with LOTS of ice

Some hospitals do not allow you to eat during labor, but most DO allow you to drink water and eat/suck on ice.

Well i hope i was helpful, i know that most of this was common knowledge, but i still hope that i was able to help at least ONE person. There are GREAT books out there, like the ever popular “What to expect, when your expecting.” (where i got ALL of my knowledge on pregnancy) I found that books are very helpful during pregnancy, and if your on bed rest, they can help pass the time. Thank you for reading 🙂

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Halloween Party Theme Ideas

“Throwing a KILLER Halloween Party!”

That’s right boys and girls. It’s time for the return of the best holiday of the year (aside from Christmas, of course). It’s Halloween time. The fallowing is a couple of sections about what to do, serve, and be for your Halloween Party.
Party themes are always fun, but when it comes to Halloween, they are essential. Here are some fun party themes:
1, The Heaven and Hell Party, where your guest show up as a representative of heaven or hell (things like red for hell and white for heaven). You can decorate half of your party place live heaven (with clouds and such) and the other side like hell (with skulls or whatever).
2, A Cartoon themed party. Your guests, no matter how adult they may be, can come as there favorite cartoon character. Your party space can look like a giant cartoon world (all you need is some construction paper and some time), and you can even play Halloween themed cartoons (like the Simpson’s Tree house of Terror specials) in the background.
3, The Killer Party. For those of you who like a good scare on the thirty first, this party is right up your alley. Every one comes as his/her favorite Killer, from horror movies or real life. Your party space should be as horrifying as humanly possible. And horror movies should be running in the background all night long.
4, The “Two of these things belong together” Party. If you are in a couple, or hang out with a lot of couples, then this is your party. Couples come as two things that go together (like peanut butter and jelly, or a cop and a robber). Your party space should be set up with couples in mind (seats of two and pictures of famous couples).
Now that you have a theme it’s time to talk about drinks and food. Here are some tips:
1, A self service bar is always a good idea. People can get what the want when they want.
2, Don’t have room for that kind of drink making? Then do some punch style drinks instead. Try things like red champagne punch (champagne, vodka, and fruit juices in a bowl), Bowls of Black Russians (Kaluha, Vodka, and ice in a bowl), or Fuzzy Navels (Peach schnapps, Vodka, and orange juice) in a bowl to give the room some Halloween color.
3, For food, keep it simple. Serve popcorn and candy (it is Halloween after all), or serve small things like a meat and cheese tray or a party pizza. This will keep your guests sober longer and will stop them from leaving to eat.
Planning an awesome costume party is easy, and cheap. Just think about how you want to party and go from there. Happy Halloween!

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Interesting Cookies

Smore Cookies

Ingredients:

1.5 cup Graham Crackers Crumbs
1.5 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter – at room temperature
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Marshmallow – miniatures

Preparations:

In a food processor finely crush Graham crackers to crumbs. Bring graham cracker crumbs to your mixer and add your flour, baking powder, baking soda and both sugars. Mix until well incorporated. Add your eggs one at a time and add your vanilla and butter until creamed. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallow and place in refrigerator for about one hour.

After cooling for an hour, Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls onto a non stick sheet pan and press with fork in a criss cross pattern. Evenly space cookie dough a minimum of 2 inches apart on sheet pan and bring to oven. Tip* Spray fork with non stick spray or moisten with water and dip in sugar to make the pattern. This will prevent the cookie dough from sticking onto the fork.

Cooking:

Preheat oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for approximately 12 minutes until light brown edges develop. Let cool and serve.

Serving Size:

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Reference:
1. 23 Outrageously Delicious Cookies To Bake Right Now – BuzzFeed
2. 50 Delicious Cookie Recipes – Shari's Berries Blog

How to Make Homemade Salsa

Some people may think of salsa as a condiment, but in my home it is a culinary staple. Salsa makes so many things tastier, and at the same time, adds valuable antioxidants and vitamins to your diet since it is made with fresh fruits and vegetables. So if you try the following fresh garden recipes, don’t limit yourself to scooping up your salsa with tortilla chips. Try it on top of white fish, baked chicken, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, baked potatoes, or stirred into pasta. Fresh salsa made from vegetables, fruits, and herbs from your summer garden is delicious on just about anything!

The following recipes may be modified however you would like in order to suit your own preferences. If you are not an onion person, simply omit it and add in something else with a flavor you enjoy, such as some avocado, red bell pepper, or poblano peppers.

One of the unique things about this first garden salsa recipe is that it actually does not contain any tomatoes, which is rather unusual for salsa. Instead, its flavors are made up of the summer treats of strawberry and mango, along with my favorite type of sweet pepper, the Jimmy Nardello’s pepper. I also love pulling the fresh cilantro right out of my herb garden. It is so flavorful and fragrant. You can make this salsa and eat it right away, or you can refrigerate it for up to 8 hours before serving it.

Strawberry Mango Salsa

Ingredients:
-1 and ½ cups of strawberries, stemmed and diced
-½ cup of diced mango
-½ cup of diced Jimmy Nardello’s pepper
-1/3 cup of diced red onion
-¼ cup of roughly chopped cilantro
-2 tablespoons of lime juice
-1 tablespoon of sugar
-½ teaspoon of salt

Directions:
In a large bowl, gently stir all of the ingredients together. Avoid stirring roughly or chopping the fruit in a food processor, as this will cause it to either bruise or puree. To get a good, chunky texture, just chop all the ingredients with a kitchen knife. You can store this for up to about 3 days in a sealed container in a refrigerator. If you’re feeling bold, you can also stir in a teaspoon or two of tequila.

Canned Tomato Salsa

Canning your own salsa is an excellent way to preserve and enjoy the tomatoes from your summer garden. Especially if you experience a tomato glut, this is a terrific way to use them. They key to successful canning is not necessarily the ingredients, it is the equipment and methodology. You should not alter the amounts of acid (lemon juice) or the ratio of tomatoes, as this may affect preservation. However, you can adjust the seasonings to suit your preferences. Always make sure to sanitize and seal your jars well. This will ensure that your salsa is well preserved and may be stored for a long period of time. You can then enjoy your fresh garden tomatoes even in the dead of winter.

This recipe makes one jar of salsa- a standard pint size Ball jar. You can adjust the recipe as you wish to make 3 jars, 4 jars, or even 10 jars!

Ingredients:
-2 pounds of fresh tomatoes (normally about 6). I prefer to use Druzba tomatoes, which are sweet and tart, and also high in acid so therefore good for canning
-1/3 cup chopped red or white onion
-¼ teaspoon of minced garlic
-2 tablespoons of diced celery
-4 tablespoons of lemon juice
-1 tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano
-1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro
-2 tablespoons of diced Jimmy Nardello’s peppers, or other mild yellow pepper such as Banana peppers or Golden Treasure peppers
-1 small diced jalapeño pepper, seeds removed (tip: wear rubber gloves while dicing)
-¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
-3 ounces of tomato paste
-1 pinch of chili powder

Equipment:
-1 water bath canner- a very large pot used for sanitizing the salsa jar after you fill it. You will need this only if you are making more than one jar. Without using a water bath, canned salsa can keep in the fridge for 4-6 weeks. If you plan to store jars long-term, you will need a water bath canner.
-1 pint size glass Ball jar and lid with ring (note that because of the special gummy rubber ring on the lid, it may be used for canning only once)
-1 jar grabber (that kind of looks like forceps) to lift the hot jar out of the boiling water
-1 jar funnel
-1 large spoon and/or ladle
-1 slotted spoon
-1 colander
-1 large bowl of ice water
-1 kitchen knife

Directions:
1. Place your jar in the dishwasher and set it to the “sanitize” cycle. Place your jar lid and ring in a pot of boiling water on your stovetop. Allow them to boil for 7-10 minutes. Make sure that your lids, rings, and jars are clean and free of soap.
2. Bring another large pot of water to boil on your stovetop. Place your tomatoes in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds in order to loosen their skins. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place them in the bowl of ice water with the slotted spoon. This will allow you to very easily slip the tomato skins right off of the flesh.
3. Remove the tomatoes from the ice water, and cut each one in half crosswise. Give each one a gentle squeeze to remove the excess water and as many seeds as you can. Use your fingers or a spoon to gently scoop out the seeds.
4. Place the tomato flesh in a colander and let it drain for a few minutes to help remove the remaining excess moisture. If you would like, you can also gently squeeze them through a piece of cheesecloth. Then remove the tomatoes from the colander and dice them into ½ inch chunks.
5. Place your chopped tomatoes in a pot on the stovetop and add in all of the other ingredients listed above. Bring everything to a gentle simmer. Do not bring it all the way up to a rolling boil. Taste the salsa as it simmers, and adjust the seasonings to your taste.
6. Once the salsa has reached a simmer, it is time to fill your jar. Place the funnel atop your open jar, and ladle in the salsa. Stop when you’ve reached ¼ inch below the lip of the jar. Remove the funnel, and place your lid atop the jar. Screw on the ring and make a tight seal.
7. If you have made only one jar, you can place this right in your fridge and consume it within 4-6 weeks. If you have made multiple jars, you will want to move on to the next step so that you can store your salsa long-term.
8. Place your jars of salsa in your water bath canner and cover them with water. There should be at least 1-2 inches of water over top of them. Bring the water to a boil. Allow them to boil steadily for 15 minutes, or if you live in high altitude, boil them for 20 minutes.
9. Lift the jars out of the water using your jar grabber. Place them in a spot where they can rest and cool undisturbed and without a draft overnight. The following day, they will be ready to store or refrigerate. Check to make sure each lid is properly sealed and does not pop up when you poke it before storing it.

Reference:
1. The Best Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe – Allrecipes.com
2. Fresh Homemade Salsa Recipe – Allrecipes.com

What’s Needed to Store Food

With the way the economy is today, a lot of people are turning back the clock to try and find ways in which to preserve foods, in order to save money. Let’s face it, we all want the food we buy and make to last us the longest it possibly can before spoiling and getting thrown away; that’s money just being thrown down the disposal after all.

Perhaps the oldest method of preserving food, and the one that our ancestors tended to use, and hand down from generation to generation was canning. By canning our food, we can store it in such a way, sealed, that it can last a lot longer, and generally without the necessity of refrigeration.

Canning is the original process that is used to make the various canned and jarred foods that we buy at the store, but it is a process that can be accomplished at home as well. In order to can at home, you need a source of heat, generally, salt or sugar as a preservative for the food your to can, canning jars, a good pot in order to prepare the food to be canned usually, and some paraffin or bees wax as wax was often used to top off canned goods, not only to add another seal to protect the food from air getting in, but also as a neutral substance that wouldn’t alter the flavor of the food, but that could take up the excess space when your canning foods did not fully fill up the jars.

Now, other forms of food preservation include drying or dehydrating foods. This is another tried and true method, and generally doesn’t take much extra equipment, although you can of course buy special dehumidifiers and dehydrators if you are inclined to. In most cases, you can actually use your oven to dry most meats, or to make granola and other dried fruits and grains. If it is herbs you wish to dry, its even simpler, as you just tend to tie them in bundles, and hang them in a cool, dry place until they are dried. Again, no specialized equipment needed.

Finally, the newest fad that has hit the food storage market is vacuum sealing. For this, you need a vacuum sealer of some kind, and there are several brands on the market, as well as the vacuum sheets/bags that are used to seal the food in, air tight, so that it will last longer. Let’s face it, its oxygen that gets to the food allowing such things as mold to proliferate and spoil our hard earned provender. One method I use, for short term freezer storage, when I’m separating meats into ziplock type containers, is to get a drinking straw, and after putting the separated food into the ziplock bag, close the top of the bag as far as it will close with the straw sticking out, then suck the air out of the bag, until it tightly conforms with the food inside, then holding your breath, close the bag while drawing the straw out. This in no way gets you the perfect seal that the machines do, however it does tend to stave off freezer burn on my meats as I store them in the freezer. This is especially important for me, being a bachelor, as I don’t need to cook a full package of meat from the grocery store hardly at all, and oftentimes meat I’ve purchased may spend quite a bit of time in my freezer prior to my utilizing it.

Whether its canning your food, drying/dehydrating it, or vacuum sealing it, eliminating waste is the name of the game when it comes to food storage. Even basic food storage can be done with the use of aluminum foil, seranwrap, tupperware type products, and parchment or wax paper. Just have the right tool for the job, each type of food and preparation of food has its own specifics for safe storage, so be sure to check with an expert, if your in doubt as to what exactly is the shelf life of your various perishables.

Good cooking, eating, and preparation to you.

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How to make green tea

Though tea comes in many types, green tea is probably the most delicious and healthiest. It is proven by scientist, that green tea can fight against cancer cells. Not only that, but it also helps lower your cholesterol. It also provides antioxidants properties, polyphenols, theanine, vitamins, and minerals.

Green tea has been around for 4,000 years. Through these centuries, the Chinese have used it as herbs, and never thought of dipping it in water. Legend foretold that a Chinese emperor was dozing off under a tree with a cup of hot water in his hand when suddenly, a leaf from the tree fell into the cup. Wide-eyed with wonder, the emperor stared as the water slowly turned to a shade of green. That tree wasn’t just an ordinary tea! It had tea leaves! Later on, people started using tea. But they still used them for medical reasons. If your stomach hurt, drinking tea would sooth the pain and heal you.

Nowadays, however, people not only use tea as medicine, but as a stress reliever. Also as a refreshing drink, and more! So sit back and relax, because you’re about to learn how to make green tea!

Ingredients:

Green tea leaves (You can buy some at grocery stores, but they tend to be in poor quality. If you want higher quality green tea leaves, visit a Chinese or Japanese nearby grocery store. They provide the best green tea leaves the world has to offer).

Kettle/Pot

Teaspoon

Teapot

Directions:

Boil 3 cups of water

Pour water into teapot (Make sure you didn’t put leaves in it yet)

Pour water into a big bowl; now the teapot is empty

Put 1 teaspoon of tea leaves inside the empty teapot

Pour water into another bowl, and wait 10 seconds, then pour water into one more bowl.

After 1-2 minutes, pour the water into the teapot and wait

Wait about 3 minutes then look inside the teapot. If the water is green, then you did well. if it is still a light green, wait a while till it darkens. make sure it doesn’t get too dark, because it will then taste to strong.

As you are drinking your tea, think about the history of tea! It is enjoyed by the young and even the old! It’s the best that Mother Nature has to offer!

Have fun and enjoy!

Reference:
1. 3 Ways to Make Green Tea – wikiHow
2. Learn to Brew Green Tea – Lipton

Tips for Throwing a Theme Party

Bet on a winning Derby party

Well butter my behind and call me a biscuit! For Southern flavored fun, throw a Kentucky Derby theme party!

Even if the closest you’ve ever come to the “Run for the Roses” is a fast food sprint to your local KFC, it’s a great excuse to gather friends on the first Saturday in May, Churchill down a few cold ones and sample some of the classic cuisine of the Bluegrass State of mind.

No real Derby party would be complete without “burgoo”- the “thoroughbred of stews” – and as much a Derby tradition as mint juleps, ladies in colossal hats and a gallant post parade to “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Some say this delightfully meaty, vegetably hodgepodge is more of a concept than a recipe. With its “lil’ bit o’ this, lil’ bit o’ that” approach to preparation, there are as many different ingredients for burgoo as there are people who eat it.

True burgoo is a Triple Crown of meat, vegetables and a thickening agent. Historically, the meats included whatever was in season when burgoo first hit its boiling point during the Civil War era. We’re talking fresh squirrel, mutton, venison, even opossum. Roadkill aside, today’s burgoo is more likely to be some combination of lamb, beef, pork, chicken or veal. Basically whatever’s on sale at your friendly neighborhood Piggly Wiggly.

For veggies, best bets are ‘taters, ‘maters, corn, cabbage, lima beans and okra. Just don’t use green peas. They’ll never stand up to the long cooking time (up to three days!) burgoo requires. Because like a fine Kentucky bourbon, its rich flavor & aroma improve with age.

The real measure of a good burgoo is that you can perfectly stand a spoon in it, thus that thickening agent. Typically, soup bones were thrown in to give it, well, backbone. But corn meal or whole wheat flour are perfectly acceptable substitutes.

Burgoo seasonings are another closely guarded secret, often handed down from generation to generation. Word is, they usually include Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and/or A-1 Steak Sauce.

Ideally burgoo is simmered in a large iron kettle over an open flame – a hickory-fired pit is the ultimate – for about 30 hours and stirred with long wooden paddles. But hey, if that sounds a bit too “Little House on the Prairie” for you, let’s get real. That’s what crock pots and wooden spoons are for.

The beauty about burgoo is that you really can’t screw it up. Since most people don’t know what it is in the first place, you can trot out any version you like – and nobody’s the wiser.

Wash it all down with a frosty mint julep – a swizzle of Kentucky bourbon, fresh mint and sugar splashed over crushed ice. After a few of these, you and your guests (make them wear funny hats!) can have fun trying to figure out how “burgoo” got its really weird name…

Some say the word “burgoo” is a mispronunciation of “barbeque.” Or, “bird stew,” since back in the days of General Lee, it was often made with game birds shot out in the field. Nobody knows for sure and frankly, my dear, nobody gives a (well, you know the rest). One thing’s for sure – burgoo is a Derby party runaway winner!

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