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 🙂

Reference:
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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!

Reference:
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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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How to Make Fry Bread

A pow wow just wouldn’t be a pow wow without a chance to eat some fluffy, golden fry bread. This delicious staple of native cuisine is an inspiring example of how something which begins in adversity can, over time, be incorporated into our culture in a positive way. The first fry breads were made by members of displaced tribes from the scant commodities available to them.  Now, fry bread is a comfort food, a social occasion, and a bonding experience. Whether you like it best sprinkled with powdered sugar, dipped in honey, or piled high with taco fillings, it can still be made from a few simple ingredients.

The most basic and traditional method for making fry bread is to start with a baking powder quick bread, not too much different than biscuit dough:

4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups warm water

Oil or melted shortening for frying

Sift together your dry ingredients, then stir in the water. You want a soft dough that’s not too sticky to handle. You may need to add a little more flour.  Knead just enough to get a cohesive ball of dough; too much handling makes for tough fry bread! Once your dough is formed, cut it into egg-sized pieces. Flatten each of these (gently, tough fry bread is gross) into discs around ½” thick. Pierce the center of each disc, this will allow them to fry more evenly. Cover your finished discs with a damp towel and allow them to rest for at least 15 minutes. This is a good time to heat your oil and prepare a rack or bed of paper towels for draining the cooked breads.  Fry them one at a time in hot oil, turning with a fork to brown both sides.  Let them drain for a minute; impatience will get you a burnt mouth.

Personally, I have gotten better and more consistent results from the not-so-traditional use of a simple yeast bread dough:

4 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar  (raw sugar or honey are also fine)

3 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 ounce (one packet) dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

Mix milk, sugar and 1 cup of flour into a slurry. Add the yeast and allow to proof for a few minutes. Once bubbles begin to form, add the salt, butter, and remaining flour. Stir until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. This may take a bit more or less flour than the recipe says. If you’re not sure, a little too wet is better than too dry.

Turn your dough out onto a floured board and knead just a few turns. (Tough fry bread is still gross.) Put it back in the bowl, cover it with a damp towel and put it somewhere warm to rise. This is the down side to making yeast-raised fry bread; it needs to rise for around two hours.  Call your mom. Read a book. Fold the laundry. Pop in a drum CD and dance around the kitchen. Whatever you need to do to entertain yourself, go ahead and do it. You have some time to kill.

Once your dough is twice the size you started with, punch it down and form it into a ball. After that, the shaping/poking/resting/frying is just the same as in the first recipe. This way takes longer, but the little bit of added fat from the dairy products and the generally finer texture of yeast breads really make for a softer, lighter end result in my opinion.

Whichever way you decide to make your fry bread, get ready to be popular. Don’t let on how simple it is, though, or they’ll want you to make it all the time.

Reference:
1. Frybread
2. Fry Bread I Recipe – Allrecipes.com

Freezer Foods

Preservation of food is a practice that has moved from mere storage of surplus to drying, bottling/canning and freezing. The convenience of an appliance that can keep its interior at a constant temperature below zero and the widespread access to electricity that enables most average-income households to have a freezer, has made freezing a common method of long-term food preservation. To make optimal use of the freezer does however require some planning and a little bit of food knowledge.  For example, it is an exercise in futility to keep frozen broccoli if you family hates it – on the other hand it is very convenient if they love bread and you always have a few buns that can be rapidly heated and served! It is therefore very much up to yourself what you store in the freezer as it will depend on your family’s preferences and lifestyle, but there are some general guidelines to consider, since not all foods freeze equally successfully. Use this guide from the FDA to check the period that you can store foods in the freezer: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/ucm109315.pdf.

Pre-frozen foods

Obviously, if you buy something that comes out of a freezer in the supermarket you can freeze it at home. However, check the expiry date on the product, whatever it is, and use it in time. Also, when you buy, check that the wrappings are secure so that you do not take a product that has already had some exposure to air.

Meat

Any kind of meat can be frozen, whether red meats or white, or game (venison). Rather make up small packages and take out more than one when you need it than having large packages and you end up with too many to use in one go. Ideal meats to have on hand are mutton and pork chops, several packages of mince meat (ground meat), some sausages, a few packets of bacon (ideal not only for breakfast but for pastas and stir-fries) and of course, chicken pieces. Steaks freeze well but they do lose their flavour quickly. Fatty meats also do become less tasty with time. Red meat is prone to “freezer burn” so do make sure that it is thoroughly wrapped.

Fish

The best frozen fish is the one that you caught yourself and put into the freezer on the same day. If that option is not possible, do try to get it fresh from the fishmonger rather than buying pre-packaged from the supermarket. Having said that, it is convenient to have some hake for a quick light lunch or supper (cheap and good for casseroles or risottos). Some children love fish fingers – stock it if yours do. Seafood (that is, food from the ocean that is not fish) should not be stored too long. Do try not to buy fish that are depleted. Fish should not have any smell before or during freezing. If the freezer has accidentally switched off at any time, check the fish and vegetables first for any signs of unfreezing.

Vegetables

Personal taste is the key, but as a general rule the kind of vegetables that are used for salads can not be frozen – like lettuce, salad greens, avocado, radish. Tomatoes can be frozen but the water content is so high that it will be mushy when unfrozen so you are almost stuck with using it for sauces and soups. Most people eat carrots and peas and those make good standbys. Oven chips are good provided you do not keep them for too long as some brands become stale once the package is opened. It is a delight to freeze vegetables that have been grown in your own garden – beets, green beans, pumpkin, onions and even sweet peppers can be frozen.

Fruit

It is actually more convenient to have canned fruit than frozen. It is hard to resist the temptation to buy frozen berries but use them quickly as they lose their taste very soon and once unfrozen it is a waste to try to refreeze again. A good way, but it requires some work, to freeze berries is to incorporate them into ice-cream. making home-made ice cream is the most luxurious. Recipes abound eg. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/raspberry-ice-cream

Baked goods

Fruit pies such as apple pie or quince pie are excellent to have on hand for dessert. Christmas cakes freeze like a charm and last for up to 6 months in the freezer. The only baked goods that do not freeze well are those that contain custard in some form. Even cookies (biscuits) can be frozen.

Dairy

Milk and cream freeze well but the container should have some space to allow the liquids to expand. Cheese can be frozen for up to 6 months if it is wrapped very well so that it is in effect air-tight.

Eggs

Eggs cannot be frozen in the shell because it will crack. You can beat together a few extra egg whites with one dozen eggs and freeze this mixture – in this way the yolk is less likely to become sticky.

Unpack the freezer every few months and remove goods that have been in there for a long time.

Reference:
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How to Make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarmale

Stuffed cabbage rolls are one of my favourite dishes. In Romania we call them “sarmale” and they are a very important part of our diet. Traditionally we eat them around Christmas, but they are not necessarily endemic to this particular time frame. The recipe is relatively easy, but there are a few tips and tricks to turn from normal to dreamy.

What do you need?

*a large pot: the rolls need to boil with other ingredients, so make sure you use a pot large enough for the contents not to burst out or lose liquid (and as a consequence, get burnt)

* minced meat with grease: depending on how many you want to make, you can go from 200-300 grams to 2 kilograms (roughly)

*a whole cabbage (raw or sauerkraut)or more: you can choose the cabbage considering how big you plan to make the rolls

*well-washed raw rice: use the rice to complete the meat – if you want less meat, you can put more rice and vice-versa

*smoked ham, a saussage and/or bacon: don’t worry, you won’t have to chew on them – if you don’t want to, it is just put there to enhance the flavour

*three big onions or more: again, depending on how many rolls you want to make

*spices: in Romania we traditionally use salt and pepper, but you can add whatever spice you like – as long as it doesn’t ruin the taste (I would recommend at least a small spoon of salt, which is essential in any food, even in sweets)

*dried thyme and/or dill: put it on the bottom of the pot – again the same as with spices, each cook with his/her own secret ingredients

*broth: again, for flavour, only to be added to sweet cabbage

*you can also add a little vinegar, but it’s not necessary

*you can use some grated green pepper to mix in the filling

Now that you have all your ingredients, you can start out your magic. We’ll start with the cabbange. If it’s raw, then you need to cut out its core and then scald it, perhaps with a little vinegar or whatever you know will enhance its taste and make it suitable to work with (you’ll need to wrap it around the filling, so make sure it’s not too thin and breakable). Then take each leaf separately and cut out its rough parts. If it’s sauerkraut, skip the scalding part. Put a couple of leaves aside to chop and put on top of the sarmale when you’re finished. Chop the onion into small pieces (you can also grate it) and then stir fry it, with whatever grease/oil you fry with and adding suitable spices (maybe a little bit of pepper) until it is soft (and yellow). You can now make the filling: take the meat, rice, the onion, the broth and spices and mix them in a bowl. When you are done with all these, you can pass to making the actual rolls. For each roll, you take a leaf of cabbage and roll it around enough filling to cover it all and then you roll around and close the sarma. Click here to see an example of the whole procedure, insisting especially on the way to roll the sarmale (the video is in Romanian, but there is not much talking/writing, so there is no problem to catch the main ideas/techniques). If you know Romanian you can check this, this or this links for more details, tricks and/or ideas.

We eat them with sour cream and bread (well, bread is very popular in Romanian cuisine, there are only a few dishes we do not accompany with bread). Remeber that stuffed cabbage rolls are very filling and if you eat too much, your stomach might not be happy. For that same reason, they’re a whole dish in themselves, so you won’t need to add anything else, unless you want to. From this point on, enjoy your food, or as we say in Romania, pofta buna!

Reference:
1. Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage or Vine Leaves) Recipe – Allrecipes.com
2. Sarmale – Romanian Cabbage Rolls Recipe – YouTube