A KALE/BROCCOLI/PARSLEY PESTO

MY PASTA IS GOING TO BE SUPER-HAPPY!

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HOLIDAY BERRIES #CRANBERRIES

It’s that time of the year when the market is loaded with cranberries. Their presence remind us that the holiday season is here. And because it’s the peak season for these,  the prices are relatively inexpensive. Prices vary; however, a pound of these can put you back $2.00 in certain markets.

These red and tart berries are not only attractive for the table, but they are packed with beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants that protect against damage to the body. Moreover, over the years, many studies have found that the acidity in  these berries prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s).

I love to take advantage of these seasonal berries. Thus, I like to buy and freeze a copious amount to be used up during the year when prices are higher. I rinse and store in ziplock bags.

FRESH CRANBERRIES
FRESH CRANBERRIES BEING RINSED FOR STORING IN FREEZER

A little goes a far way. I often use as: syrup for pancakes/crepes, as a side dish for turkey and other poultry. I love to simmer on low heat, cool and make a cranberry drink instead of the store-bought version. Or, as a holiday cocktail (cranberry vodka martini). Also I like to add other berries such as blue, straw or raspberries and fruits and make a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

 

 

FRESH COCONUT MILK #NATURE’S MILK

I wish I could state that I scampered up an elegant and tall tree for my milk.

PALM TREES WITH COCONUTS
PALM TREES WITH COCONUTS

But I didn’t. I left the task to those expert pickers and climbers.

Extracting the beautiful white flesh from the husk brought me back to my childhood days. There was always an agile youngster in the neighborhood who could make his way up those tall trees and retrieve those coconuts. Oh, he could move in a flash.

However, I didn’t have to place myself in such risky position. Thanks to my neighborhood store, I was able to fetch a beautiful specimen. I brought it home and used my hammer to smash the sturdy husk open. There was the gush of water that I collected and drank. It wasn’t sweet (I’ve had sweeter). I then used my knife to remove the white flesh. Bingo! I was happy.

FLESH OF COCONUT
FLESH OF COCONUT

I did a quick chop of these pieces so as make it easier on the blender while extracting milk.

SMALL SIZES OF COCONUT FLESH FOR BLENDER
SMALL SIZES OF COCONUT FLESH FOR BLENDER

Coconut pieces were added to blender along with water. These were blended to white finish. A strainer was used to separate the milk from the pulp (residual). I will use this extracted milk to incorporate in my dishes like:

  • rice and beans
  • polenta (turned cornmeal)
  • smoothies
  • curried chicken, fish or shrimp

Nature’s milk has been good to me.

FRESH MILK FROM NATURE ##FRESH COCONUT MILK

We all have (well, many of us) super busy lives. And, as a result, when it comes to our dietary needs, it makes it very challenging to sometime go the wholesome and healthy routes. It is quite easy and convenient to visit our respective neighborhood store and buy the ready-made food products on hand.

And, that’s the case with coconut milk. The marketplace is loaded with different brands of coconut milk packed in cans. Some of the popular names out there are: Grace Kennedy, Ocho Rios, Goya and more.  I like to keep a few on hand for when I’m strapped for precious time or run out of the fresh type.

However, I often opt for the fresh one as much as I can because it reminds me of my island domain, Jamaica. Coconut is a staple here and over 89 countries around the world. Top producers are India, Indonesia, Philippines and others. Studies have shown that coconut is loaded with essential nutrients that are beneficial for heart health, great energy source for the body, and many more pluses.

As a result, I do try to stock the pressed milk in my freezer in tupper wares. Thanks to my South Florida location, coconut trees flourish very well in this locale. As such, supermarkets and farmers markets stock the wholesome coconut in its shell. I always try to purchase one. I bring it home and use a hammer to break through the shell and this is what’s inside:

WHITE FLESH OF FRESH COCONUT
WHITE FLESH OF FRESH COCONUT

I use a sharp knife to cut these in sizable pieces to accommodate my standing blender. Water is poured on same and then coconut is blended to a beautiful white finish. All is need to be done it use a strainer to separate the milky liquid from the remnants of the coconut.

This coconut milk can be used in: smoothies, rice and beans, curried chicken/or goat or in any other dish that calls for milk. It will provide enormous flavors that will enhance these dishes.

TIPS TO EMPLOY WHILE PREPARING AND COOKING MEALS ON THE OUTSKIRTS

There’s no denying. Summer is here with full throttle. With temperatures and humidity digits on the rise, we try to seek out  ways to cool down and relax. And, one of the ways that bring us ease and comfort during these sizzling months is to gather with loved ones at barbeques, picnics, and cookouts. After all, no one wishes to spend hours in-house on the stove.

And while having fun and laughter with loved ones, it is very easy to let down our guards in regards to food safety. However, this is the time to be very cognizant as food borne illnesses tend to rise during the warmer months of the year. Some tips and habits to practice when preparing and cooking foods on the outside are:

  1. Pack and preserve protein and fruits/veggies in separate coolers.
  2. Use separate apparatus like utensils, cutting boards, and platters for preparing and cooking meals.
  3. Preserve meats and poultry longer by marinating them in (alcohol – e.g. beer or wine) and citrus/acid (e.g. lime, orange lemon, vinegar -(balsamic).
  4. Pre-cook foods at home before grilling outdoors. This move will decrease cooking time on the grill.
  5. Substitute mayonnaise for vinegar. For example, when preparing potato salad, instead of the creamy mayo use oils and vinegar. This will give salad a longer shelf life in the outdoors.
  6. Avoid creamy salad dressings for salads. Instead, use lemon or lime juice, vinegar or any other acid.
  7. Bear in mind that cooked foods start deteriorating after two hours without refrigeration. Therefore, it’s important that you try to consume foods within a two-hour time frame; otherwise, bacteria starts building up.
  8. Have a cooler with sufficient ice.
  9. Pack sanitary wipes.
  10. Make sure to have disposal cups, spoons, forks, plates, and garbage bags on hand.

Summer is a carefree time of the year. And, it’s often spent with loved ones making great memories by frolicking and bonding over delicious meals on the outskirts. With the tips above and others, you can rest assure that everyone will be safe and happy with amazing meals.

 

TIPS FOR FOOD PREPARATIONS/SUPPLIES FOR THE HURRICANE SEASON

Now that the official Hurricane season has begun, I’ve decided to reblog this post. Let’s all be prepared in regards to food supplies and otherwise.

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The merry month of May made its rapid exit, and in comes the month of June.  I can’t help but to ponder what lies ahead. I hate to be the bearer of bad news; however, its reality. Like it or not, but the hurricane season officially begins June through November. Needless to say, mother nature sometimes says otherwise. Thus, a hurricane can develop outside this period as long as the weather conditions are suitable for same.

For those who reside in the typical hurricane regions, this period can leave them anxious, stressed and fearful especially when it comes to securing necessary food supplies. But, there is no need to be stressed. With a little planning and preparation in advance, anxieties and fears can be abated. Waiting to shop for food and other supplies when a hurricane  strikes isn’t the way to go. It’s imperative that a list is prepared and…

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RECIPE FOR SWEET POTATO PATTIES

The ingredients for sweet potato patties are:

  • Sweet potatoes (2 med)
  • Bread crumbs (2 table spoon)
  • Salt (a pinch)
  • Cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Honey (1 teaspoon or sprinkle of sugar) (optional)
  • Whole wheat flour (3 table spoon)
  •  Canola oil to cover the bottom of skillet

Method:

  1. Scrub potatoes with brush, dry and then use a fork to prick
  2. Bake in microwave oven for approximately 7 to 8 minutes depending on temperature of oven. Turn once half-way during cooking period.
  3. When potatoes are cooled, remove skin. Then add potatoes to bowl. Use fork to smash potatoes.
  4. Add sprinkle of cinnamon, salt, honey, and bread crumbs and combine. Don’t over mix.
  5. Place whole wheat flour on plate.
  6. Form patties to required sizes and lightly dredge each patty through flour.SWEET POTATO PATTIES READY FOR HOT SKILLET
  7. Add oil to skillet under low to medium heat. Pan fry patties on each side until they are  golden brown and crispy on the outside.
  8. Drain excess oil from patties on paper towel.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with any protein of choice or as a snack with a dollop of sour cream or apple sauce.
    GRILLED SALMON AND SWEET POTATO PATTIES
    GRILLED SALMON AND SWEET POTATO PATTIES

    Bon appetit!

TIPS FOR FOOD PREPARATIONS/SUPPLIES FOR THE HURRICANE SEASON

As we enter the peak of the hurricane season and continue to watch Tropical storm Erika, I’ve decided to reblog a previous post I did on the onset of the season. I think it’s relevant then and moreso now.Be prepared.

“The merry month of May made its rapid exit, and in comes the month of June.  I can’t help but to ponder what lies ahead. I hate to be the bearer of bad news; however, its reality. Like it or not, but the hurricane season officially begins June through November. Needless to say, mother nature sometimes says otherwise. Thus, a hurricane can develop outside this period as long as the weather conditions are suitable for same.

For those who reside in the typical hurricane regions, this period can leave them anxious, stressed and fearful especially when it comes to securing necessary food supplies. But, there is no need to be stressed. With a little planning and preparation in advance, anxieties and fears can be abated. Waiting to shop for food and other supplies when a hurricane  strikes isn’t the way to go. It’s imperative that a list is prepared and the supplies are purchased in advance or as soon as possible.

Shopping early will enable you to secure competitive rates as the supplies will be plentiful. This move will enable you to shop with ease, calm and comfort. Do remember that perishables are not your aim in view. Some of the main non-perishable food supplies to secure are:

Non-perishables:

  • Water – for drinking, it is recommended that one gallon, per person, per day
  • Canned fish – sardines, tuna, salmon
  • Canned meats/poultry – corned beef, chicken
  • Canned beans – lima, red, black, garbanzo, etc.
  • Canned vegetables – carrot, green peas, corn, creamed corn, etc.
  • Canned soups
  • Peanut butter
  • Fruit preserves or jams
  • Crackers, bread, rolls,cakes,nuts, etc.
  • Dried milk
  • Dried cereal

Apparatus:

  • Manual can opener – great for those cans that don’t have flip-up lids
  • Ice cooler – ice could be purchased and preserve so as to keep drinks and water cool for hours until power returns
  • Disposable utensils – plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, etc.
  • Sanitary wipes and extra paper towels
  • Hot plate that uses small propane tank. This is excellent for heating water, soups or quick meals.
  • Charcoal or propane gas for outdoor grill – If you are lucky to have a backyard or outdoor grill, this is ‘king’ after a hurricane season.

How to cook and preserve foods:

Some of the ways to preserve and lengthen the shelf life of your foods during the hurricane season are:

  • Pickle vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, etc. This is done by using vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices. Pickled foods can survive without refrigeration for a certain time period. Place in bottles and other containers.
  • If you have fish in the freezer before the hurricane strikes,  try making  a Jamaican escoveitched fish dish. This can remain on the counter for days without refrigeration.  This involves frying fish and making a pickle consisting of root veggies, spices, vinegar, seasonings, etc. and spreading generously over fish.

Before Storm arrives and day of storm:

  • Turn down the thermostat in fridge to the lowest
  • Make extra ice by emptying trays/containers into plastic bags and make room for setting more.
  • Fill up all available containers like pots, pans, etc for drinking,  prepping, washing and cooking of foods.
  • When electric power shuts off, avoid opening the fridge unless needed.

Without a doubt, before, during and after a hurricane, it can leave one frazzled and stressed when it comes to prepping and planning for food supplies. However, with the above tips and others, one can be reassured that there will be enough to keep you satiated throughout the season.