Category Archives: Parents

Where in the World to get the best Barbecue

The South African Braai is more than a barbecue. Much more. It is part of the national culture. While closely associated with the boers or Afrikaaners, it has been taken up by every South African. Everyone, that is, except for the total vegetarians and animal activists.

Most homes have a built in braai on their patios, and of course the climate is ideal for the outdoor life.

Every celebration, holiday or weekend is an excellent reason for a braai. A braai begins with lighting the charcoal and allowing it to become hot and the flames to die down. Wood is often added – hard wood from Namibia – that burns for many hours.

A whole range of foods are served from the South African Braai. The most common of these are beef steaks, lamb chops, chicken, kebabs and boerewors. Boerewors is a South African beef sausage made with beef and a variety of spices. Every butcher has his own recipe.

The Poitie Kos is a cast iron pot with little legs. It is placed over the coals to make a slow cooked stew or casserole using a range of ingredients. Many Afrikaans families have their own secret and highly prized recipes.

Marinades for the meat include coke, wine, and a variety of spices.

Fish braais are very popular. A large fish is usually marinated with herbs, spices, wine and wrapped in foil to cook slowly over the coals of wood.

Potatoes and onions are wrapped in foiled and cooked in the fire. ‘Mealies’ or corn on the cob are grilled on the rack.

The beers begin as soon as – or before – the fire is lit, and it could be several hours before the food is actually cooked.

The meat, fish, or poitie kos is served with salads and rolls.

Source:

  1. Best BBQ in America – BBQ Restaurants in USA – Thrillist
  2. How to Create a food diary step by step
  3. Best Barbecue Restaurants in the World | Travel + Leisure

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When your Favorite Restaurant changes Ownership

When you see the sign “new owners”, literally, the writing is on the wall.

If the previous owners were a family run business, new ownership means that the previous family has left the building. They have gone, and with them they have taken some beloved memories and recipes. Most of the family is going to leave with the previous owners. You might have wait-staff and bussers who stay, but your cooks and meal preparers will be out the door.

A restaurant that we frequented often, would bring a giant stuffed bear to your table and let him have dinner with you. My children would be so excited knowing that we were going to the Family Buggy for dinner. It was not only the food but the entire atmosphere. They had an old fashioned gift shop at the register and our children would always get some treat on the way out. In the height of the BEANIE BABY days, the Family Buggy also kept a nice supply of these at the gift shop also.

The hostess knew if you had children, you would want the best view of the electric train that constantly ran through the restaurant. She knew that my grandfather had a special diet, and would patiently list the ingredients of each item he inquired about. Years later, the owner also would lay a silent hand on my shoulder, while my grandmother (who by then had Alzheimer’s) told them the same story that she had told them when we first sat down.

And the salads! I would give up just anything to get a spoonful of their famous dressing. One evening was I was pregnant, I sent my husband to the restaurant, for a take out, carrying a large Tupperware pasta container. They filled the whole canister free of charge for me with the special dressing! We never could convince them to part with the recipe though.

Sadly, every day I drive by that location at least twice. Each time I see that streaming banner out saying “new owners”, I think it might as well say “Keep Driving” or “We’re not as good as them, but try us anyways”. The new place can just never compare.

Source:

  1. Frisch's
  2. How To Prevent Heartburn Without Medication
  3. Why do so many restaurants fail quickly after a change in ownership …

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What is Pulled Pork or Easy Slow Cooker Recipe for Pulled Pork

How to Make Pulled Pork in a Slow Cooker

 Pulled pork is simply cooked and shredded pork we have learned to enjoy in a spicy (usually southwestern style) sauce, but it has a history, as long as men have butchered pigs, and women have had pots, people have enjoyed pulled pork.

In the earliest days a wild boar brought to the village after a successful hunt would have been cooked whole, over a communal fire pit, and shared with everyone. 

Irrespective of whether it was a wild, or domestic pig raised to provide meat, the butchering process was still the same.  The hog was either skinned or dipped in boiling water and the bristles scrapped off.   To make preserving, (brining, smoking) the meat easier the carcass was then divided in half, because the spine of the hog was so difficult to cut before the days of gas or electric saws cuts were made a few inches from each side of the spine separating the ribs from the back.  The meat that could be readily trimmed from the back bone was removed and the rest was either thrown to the dogs or cut into foot long sections and given to people not considered good enough to eat at the main table, regardless of whether they were serf, slave or sharecropper. 

The meat in and around the spine is not easily removed so, the whole bone in a pot and cooked it until the pork could easily be pulled from the bone, hence the name “pulled pork.”

 Since the advent of grocery stores and electricity, if you want to make pulled pork you can buy a pork roast or a fresh pork shoulder, any cut, bone in or not will make excellent “pulled” pork.  If you have a small family and use a whole pork shoulder the amount of cooked pork may seem overwhelming, so several recipes and serving suggestions are included.  Remember the cooked meat can be packaged in freezer bags for quick after work meals at a later time. The day before you want to serve the pulled pork, trim away excess fat on most modern cuts of pork there will not be a great deal of fat, however if you use a fresh pork shoulder there is considerably more fat to trim.

Place the pork in the slow cooker, at least one half to three quarters of a pound per person to be served season with ¼ cup finely chopped onion and, 1 teaspoon minced garlic per pound of pork, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.Some cooks add whole hot red peppers and generous amounts of cumin at this time, cooking the heat right into the meat.  However it is easy to get carried away with hot spices and end up with a product that is so hot most people cannot tolerate it.  A safer option is to serve with hot sauce, so each person is in control of their own “heat”.  Making sure there is about an inch of water in the bottom of the slow cooker turn it to lowest heat setting.  Let it cook all day or until the meat falls apart and off of any bone.  If the meat does not fall apart let it continue to cook overnight.  When the pork falls apart when touched with a fork drain off and save any liquid from the meat.  Refrigerate until three or four hours before you plan to serve if reheating in slow cooker.

Pulled pork sandwiches are probably the most famous way to serve the pulled pork.  Shred the pork with a fork and mix with your favorite commercial barbeque, or sloppy joe sauce reheat in the slow cooker and serve over oven toasted Kaiser rolls and top with grated cheddar cheese.   To oven toast Kaiser Rolls slice rolls in half spread with softened butter or margarine and toast cut side up under broiler until golden brown. Serve open face or as a regular sandwich.

An excellent way to use leftover pulled pork in barbeque sauce is to mix in a cassarole dish with equal parts black beans,rice and corn, top with grated cheese and heat in 350 degree oven about thirty minutes or until hot through and cheese is melted.

Another way to serve Pulled Pork, make a rue, melt 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine and 1 rounded tablespoon flour (in medium hot skillet) per cup of the liquid you saved from the meat.  Stir rue (flour and butter) until browned add the liquid from meat, if you don’t have enough broth to make the amount of gravy you want you can simply add water to make a sufficient amount of golden brown gravy after adding liquid to the rue stir over heat until gravy is smooth and creamy, add meat to gravy usually 1 cup of pork to 1 cup of gravy, for variation add a can of cream of mushroom soup, and serve over mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, or biscuits.

Source:

  1. Slow Cooker Texas Pulled Pork Recipe – Allrecipes.com
  2. Are Protein Shakes worthy Money?
  3. 5-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork – Simple Slow-Cooker Recipes

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What is Glatt Kosher

The actual defenition of glatt kosher is when the lungs of a slaughtered animal are smooth and defect free. Today it means of the highest kosher supervision and degree.

So what is the difference between kosher and glatt kosher? An animal that is kosher for consumption has to fit a certain criteria. It firstly has to have split hooves, and secondly has to chew the cud. Chewing the cud is a form of digestion that some herbivorous animals have adopted. Cows, deer and sheep all chew the cud and have split hooves, and thus are kosher, or fit for consumption. The animal has to be slaughtered according to religious specifications, and, if not, it is considered treif or not kosher. After the animal is slaughtered, the lungs are carefully inspected, and if completely smooth and free of deformities, it is considered glatt Kosher. If damage or deformities are found, the meat is considered treif.

Today a more informal attitude to the meaning of glatt kosher is used, and most understand it to mean kosher to the highest standard, meaning more or stricter rabbinical supervision has been followed for the product or products in question. Today it is extremely common to find non mean items labeled as glatt kosher, with the understanding that those who see the identification, understand its signification.

There are also other and different kosher identification. Some like the Lubovich sect only eat meat from a Lubovich slaughter, thinking it guarantees them less of a chance of encountering treif. In truth, all kosher slaughter houses adhere to the same rules and regulations. There is also Halav Yisrael, translated to mills of Israel. Another type of kosher supervision that believes that theirs is better.

There are many supervision levels within the kosher world. they all carry a guarantee of the rabbi in charge of the seal that everything within is kosher or glatt kosher.

For Jewish custom and tradition, food preparation and specific diet is rooted in the religion itself. From what is eaten, to how it is prepared, to the way the animal is slaughtered is extremely important and taken into account.

Source:

  1. Glatt kosher – Wikipedia
  2. Hummus Health Benefits: Nutrition Facts
  3. Glatt Kosher – My Jewish Learning

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Unique Dinner Dishes Microwave Lasagna

Microwave Lasagna

The beauty of this is you do not have to pre-cook the noodles! My sister used to make this when the kids were still at home hoping to have some to freeze. Every time she made it there was not even one tablespoon of leftovers. It was definitely as delicious as it was easy. Works well for covered dish dinners at work or church too. It also freezes very well if you make 2 batches. 

32 oz prepared spaghetti sauce plus 1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cup cottage cheese (no fat if you want to cut the fat)

1 egg mixed with 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (can be low fat)

1 package lasagna noodles – I like the whole wheat ones

1# ground round cooked, browned and drained – stir into sauce. You may also use ground elk or venison meat for a leaner version of this recipe. 

Combine the cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese and egg mixture – stir together

1/2 pound mozzarella OR low fat cheddar cheese grated 

In a glass cake pan (13X9) place one layer of noodles to cover the bottom of the pan. 

Layer the cheese mixture, meat sauce and grated cheese then another layer of the uncooked noodles. 

Cover with plastic wrap and cook in microwave for 8 minutes on high. Then continue cooking another 30-32 minutes on 50% power till tender and allow to stand 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with a tossed or fruit salad and you have dinner. This freezes well but I have never had any leftover unless I made TWO batches, one to eat and one to freeze. Kids love it and so do adults. It is definitely a favorite whenever I take it to a church dinner or to work when we all bring something to share with the group.

Source:

  1. Microwave Foods – 15 Ways to Cook Unbelievably Lavish Food in …
  2. Cleveland Clinic Diet
  3. Microwave Lasagna Recipe | Taste of Home

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Traditional Apple Cider Drinks for the Holidays

When pumpkins appear on stands at local farmers’ markets and roadside fruit stands, apple cider season is at hand. Although it can be purchased at your local grocery store any time of the year, it is best when leaves turn to gold and crimson; we take comfort in a cup of hot cider after a day of cold autumn winds. Fresh cider is best and if you are fortunate enough to have local apple farms in your area, you can take delight in the many different ways to enhance its flavor.

Mulled cider is a great drink to serve at pumpkin festivals, fall festivals and Halloween parties. Many times where cider is sold, spices can be purchased in small cartons labeled “Mulled Spices”. Place a tablespoon, or more if desired, on a piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter and twist with a twist tie. Drop in to a pot of hot cider and await the wonderful aroma of fresh cinnamon and cloves. The longer the spices remain in the cider, the stronger the spice flavor becomes and  are easily removed once desired strength is achieved.

If you like cranberry and apple drinks, you will love the romantic flavor of hot apple cider mixed with cranberry wine. Pour approximately one gallon of apple cider in a small crock-pot and let simmer. Add some mulled spices if desired and right before guests arrive for Thanksgiving dinner, add one cup of cranberry wine, a drink that will warm your guests and get them in a festive spirit. A nice touch is to add one cinnamon stick in each glass before the drink is poured and doubles as a stir stick.

A traditional punch for the Christmas holidays can be served cold and the recipe is as follows:

Freeze these ingredients in a round bunt pan or jell mould the day before or sooner if you like.
1/2 bag of cranberries
3 cups apple cider
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup cranberry wine or juice

In large punch bowl add:
1 to 2 gallons chilled apple cider
Dip frozen mould in hot water to release and add to contents of punch bowl
If you want to add a special touch, place a shiny red apple in the center of the mold.

This homemade recipe is a holiday tradition at our house and always sure to bring a compliment or two to the hostess. A glass of apple cider over ice can be a hit at any holiday dinner, depending on what your guests prefer or what your family traditions are, but sometimes a little spice is just what you need to get the party started and perhaps, begin a new tradition at your house.

Source:

  1. Cider Recipes – Allrecipes.com
  2. Stop Eating Too Much & Eat Less Healthy Guidelines
  3. Nonalcoholic Holiday Drinks | Martha Stewart

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The growth and processing of coffee

Can you smell it? That first, fresh, hot cup of coffee that wakes you up in the morning is so delicious. Or maybe it’s that aroma wafting for you as you finish off a fabulous meal with the perfect closer. A special cup of Coffea Arabica, or Arabica coffee. What flavor is your favorite?

Coffee. It’s what holds many people together through a difficult morning, or what relaxes others at the end of the day or after a meal. How does an individual go from that first sip to a love affair and a lifetime searching for and finding that perfect flavor, aroma or brand that speaks salvation?

Are you a coffee connoisseur, or will you drink any coffee anytime? There are two main types of coffee: Coffea Arabica, or Arabica coffee, and Coffea Canephora, also known as Robusta coffee. But how does it get from the plant to your cup? It’s actually an interesting process.

Robusta coffee is grown mainly in the lowlands, and it yields more cherries, or drupes, which results in a much higher pound per plant yield each year than the typical Arabica plant. This coffee plant is also more resistant to disease, contains more caffeine and matures more quickly. Because of this, it is less expensive to grow and process, and is used most commonly for commercial grades and institutional uses. This type of coffee is what typical individuals will find in their cups if they are purchasing from major chains which focus on low prices.

If you’ve been planning to expand your coffee horizon or you already prefer a more quality fragrance and taste, then Arabica coffees are your best bet for satisfying your taste buds. These coffee plants produce more complex flavor characteristics which will satisfy even the most gourmet appetite for caffeine. Arabica coffees are highly sensitive and must have specific growing conditions for optimal production and yield.

The Arabica coffee plant is indigenous to Ethiopia and Yemen, and was the first species to be cultivated and grown in southwest Arabia over one thousand years ago. Today, many Arabica coffees are successfully grown in South America and other parts of the world.

They are grown high in the mountains, sometimes referred to as “mountain coffees,” and must be in zones between 10 degrees north of the equator and 10 degrees south of the equator for best results. These mountainous regions are generally located in rain forest or jungle areas, where the temperature remains between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round or during the growing and harvesting seasons.

The Arabica plant needs approximately six inches of rainfall per month and there is generally a peak rainy or wet season with high humidity, mists and clouds in the most successful growing locations. The soil must be fertile and well-drained, and moderate winds help the plant produce between two and three pounds of green coffee per year.

When grown in the ideal areas of the world, plants can be planted, tended and harvested year-round for optimal yield. Once planted, it takes approximately five to seven years for an Arabica coffee plant to produce its first flowers, which are white and smell much like jasmine. When a plant begins to grow, it is important to keep the plant from producing the drupes, or cherries in the first few years, or it will produce more inferior coffee berries, or fruit. To avoid this, the plants are hand-pruned and weeded. They are also fertilized, many times with coffee pulp, to encourage the highest and best yields.

The green cherries ripen to red and are usually hand-picked one at a time, as the cherries ripen at different times. Occasionally the cherries are shaken to the ground, resulting in both ripened and unripened drupes being harvested, but this does not result in the most superior gourmet coffees.

There are usually two beans, or seeds, in each cherry, which are covered by skins or membranes. The outer skin is called the “parchment” and the inner skin is called “silver skin.” This silver skin has many useful possibilities. One such possibility includes recent production of a biomass chip made from the silver skin by a toy manufacturer.

If there is an extra seed, or only one seed, it is called a “pea berry.” These seeds add to the yield, and account for the approximately 3000 beans it takes to yield one pound of coffee.

Once harvested, the beans undergo a processing system. The wet or “washed” processing system is used where fresh water is plentiful. The pulp is removed from the cherry, and the coffee beans are released. The beans are then allowed to sit in water for 24-48 hours to ferment. This fermentation process produces a fine, acidic flavor, which is what most gourmet appetites are searching for in coffee. The remaining pulp is then washed away and the beans are spread flat on a patio to dry.

The beans are usually stirred, sifted or rolled, to encourage the drying process, and can even be put into mechanical dryers which use wood, gas or solar power to speed the drying process.

Dry processing is used when there is little water available in an area. The drupes are picked, and the skin and pulp are removed by hand tools or machinery. The beans are then dried on a patio for several weeks. While traveling through small jungle towns in Peru or Colombia you may have the opportunity to see beans spread on a patio, and you may even have to walk across them to get where you are going, for they are usually simply lying out in plain sight and children are often there to play around them or care for them.

For a very unusual flavor, a different, and rarer, type of dry processing can be used. First, the cherries are allowed to ripen and dry while still on the tree. This natural process takes several weeks, and then they are removed and de-pulped. This process results in a most unusual flavor and is often how the richer, more expensive gourmet coffees are processed.

Once the beans are thoroughly dried, they are polished and graded according to origin, size, quality of preparation and taste, or “cup quality.” Then the beans are bagged and ready for sale, or in the case of most Robusta coffees, they are often ground, bagged and then retailed. Many times they are roasted and possibly flavored before being bagged and sent to your local store. Many companies now offer home delivery through direct mail services which provide consumers with gourmet coffees without the hassle of a trip to a pricey, and sometimes difficult to find, gourmet shop.

The next time you take that first sip, imagine the beautiful jungle countryside where that sip originated from. Whether you are a coffee connoisseur, or you just enjoy a cup of strong, hot coffee, it will relax you or jazz you up for your day, depending on what you drink.

For a quick start, imagine the caffeine pumping through your veins, sending you off on a successful day at the office. For the calm morning, after-dinner coffee or relaxing evening, visualize those beautiful white flowers, the exotic smell of jasmine, and enjoy a moment!

Source:

  1. Coffee production
  2. Coffee vs. Green Tea
  3. 10 Steps from Seed to Cup – National Coffee Association of U.S.A.

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What is your Favorite Beverage

Everyone has a certain favorite beverage, they have enjoyed. We all have heard the debates over the years with Coke and Pepsi, in which one has the better taste.

I really love Pepsi, I’m not sure what it is about  Pepsi that I love so much, but it has a certain taste to it, which will send your taste buds tingling.

I must say I do love the crisp taste of Coke, but there are certain types of Coke that I enjoy and maybe you will agree with me. I do love the way the original Coke tastes; it has a crisp and refreshing taste which will leave you wanting more. 

I love Cherry and Vanilla Coke, I’m so glad Coke products came out with different tastes for you to try, it will leave you wondering what will they come out with next? We all have seen the battles between Coke and Pepsi for years, which one do you think tastes better?

Well, then there are Shirley Temples, Everyone has grown to admire Shirley Temples. It is a drink blended with Sprite and cherry flavors and they will serve it most of the time with cherries, but there is one drink that I have grown to love.

You can only find this at an O”Charley’s restaurant. It’s called a Cotton Candy Shirley Temple and it is to die for. Instead of Sprite, they fill it with Sierra Mist and when they bring it out to you, it comes with this huge ring of cotton candy around the straw. You can either eat the cotton candy or you can dip it. I would definitely recommend your dipping it into the  Sierra Mist, because when you do, the whole drink  within seconds, becomes pink. It taste incredible and you can get them bottomless; therefore, once you are done, you may keep drinking them.

I went to a school in the south, I think you know what that means, I had sweet tea, pretty much all the time. You can even still find it in grocery stores in the north. Arizona has sweet tea and I really like they way  they make it. There are so many choices and brands you can find sweet tea in, I’m sure you will love sweet tea, if you haven’t had it yet, I suggest next time you go to the store, look for it in the juice aisle or you can head to a Chic Fil A nearest you and order one.

Another great one, I would say is Green tea, although, I have required a certain taste for certain Green Teas. I’m not a huge fan of the Lipton one, but I do love the Arizona Green tea There are also the Arnold Palmer’s, which are named after the great golfer. They are half tea and half lemonade, they are also quite refreshing.

These drinks will leave your taste buds wanting more, so which one are you going to try first?

Source:

  1. What Your Favorite Beverage Says About You | Real Simple
  2. SONIC Information: Nutrition, Food Menu and Calories
  3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage (let us know …

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The History of Coffee

The History of Coffee

Coffee is the most popular beverage in the United States, with 54% of Americans drinking between one and one-half to three cups daily. Today, the United States is also the world’s largest coffee consuming country, and accounting for 24% of the world’s coffee exports. However, coffee as a drink and coffee houses as community centers have been around for centuries.

The Origins of Coffee in East Africa and Arabia

Some sources say that coffee originated in Abyssinia, but the majority of experts agree that the cultivation of coffee originated over a thousand years ago in Ethiopia with the Oromo tribes of East Africa. Originally, the berries and leaves of the coffee plant were mixed with animal fat, rolled into little balls, and eaten as an energy snack before battle. At this time the closest the coffee was used as a drink was when it was fermented into wine or the husks of the bean were roasted into a liquid. As the coffee plant spread into Arabia, probably carried by traders, the beans were boiled or roasted and boiled and the liquid consumed as a drink.

Sometime between the sixth and ninth centuries, Muslims in Arabia, who were forbidden to drink wine, developed a drink called “qahwa”-or that which prevents sleep-which they used as a stimulant. Qahwa was drunk during daily prayers, at the mosques, and at the Holy Tomb of the Prophet Mohammad in Mecca. For several centuries, coffee was used as a food product and as medicine and consumed as wine, spreading with the Arabic Muslims throughout North Africa including Sudan, and the Eastern Mediterranean including Persia and Turkey.

Coffee was first widely cultivated after it arrived in Yemen between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. Although the coffee plants were carefully guarded and the shipping of live seeds was prohibited, some plants were smuggled out of Arabia through the trade routes. The most famous and the busiest port in the world at that time was named “Al-Mokha”; and that name, which was shortened to “Mocha” became synonymous for both the coffee drink and the medium-brown color.

The first coffeehouses also originated in Arabia: called “kaveh kanes”, these gathering places became very popular. Men came to the coffeehouses to play chess (which also originated in Arabia), discuss politics, conduct business, and generally socialize while drinking coffee. The first coffeehouse, called “Kiv Han”, is thought to have been started in Constantinople (later called Istanbul) in the later part of the fifteenth century by the Ottoman Turks. Kaveh Kanes subsequently spread to the cities of Medina, Cairo, Alexandria, and Baghdad; and Turkish warriors brought the drink and the coffeehouse tradition to Spain, Central Europe, and the Balkans.

Fearing political uprisings, several Arabian political leaders tried without success to ban coffee throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The coffeehouses and coffee itself was subsequently taxed, but those taxes did little to suppress the spread of coffee and coffeehouses throughout Arabia and eventually to Europe.

Coffee Comes to Europe
Before the seventeenth century, coffee was barely known in Europe. European royalty had developed a love for chocolate instead, which had been brought to Europe from the New World. However, Venetian traders with the Middle East started bringing the green coffee plants to Europe for sale. In the first half of the seventeenth century, the drinking of coffee was mostly limited to Venice and Marseilles. The first European coffeehouse, was opened in 1620 in Venice; and the “Caffe Florian”, which began in 1720, still operates in Venice today. A Polish army officer, Franz Georg Kolscitzky, is credited with the development of filtering out coffee grounds, and inventing “Venetian Coffee” by adding sweetener and milk.
The Turkish Ambassador introduced coffee French high society through the Court of the King of France Louis XIV, although at the time, the King preferred hot chocolate. The first French coffeehouse is said to have opened in Paris in 1686; and a coffeehouse called Le Procope, established by a Sicilian, Francesco Procopio, is still in existence at the present time.
Tea was the preferred drink of the British, of course, and that preference has continued to the present day. However, England was the first European nation to adopt coffee on a wide-scale commercial basis. The first British coffeehouse was opened in 1650 in Oxford by a Turkish Jew; soon there was hundreds of coffeehouses in England. In 1688, a coffeehouse was started by Edward Lloyd, which eventually grew into the largest insurance company in the world, Lloyd’s of London. Stockbrokers met at Jonathan’s Coffee House in Change Alley; the beginning of the London Stock Exchange.
The coffeehouses in London were not the swanky and fashionable shops that they are today. They were dark, smoky, noisy, smelly, and crowded. To find a coffeehouse in London in the 1600s and 1700s, one would walk down the street to catch the aroma of roasting coffee beans, or look for a wooden sign shaped like a Turkish coffee pot. The custom of “tipping” the waitresses started in the London coffeehouses. If patrons wanted the best seats and better service they would put money in a tin can labeled “TIPS”, which stood for “To Insure Prompt Service”.
Many coffeehouses in England came to be known as “Penny Universities”, because the information and knowledge people gleaned from the artists, intellectuals, banks, and political activists who populated the establishments. For the cost of a cup of coffee, one penny, it was said that a man could learn as much in the coffeehouses as he could by studying books for a month.
Just as in the Middle East, however, coffee and coffeehouses had many opponents in several European countries. Around 1600 in Italy, the priests asked Pope Clement VIII to ban coffee, but after he tasted it, he decided to bless and “baptize” the drink instead, making coffee acceptable in Christian circles.
Meanwhile in 1674 in London, the Women’s Petition Against Coffee started. Men were spending so much time in the coffeehouses that the women protested by stating that they were suffering great inconveniences because of the excessive use of the “drying and enfeebling liquor”. King Charles II tried to ban coffee, but there was such a public outcry, the ban lasted only eleven days.
As both an ode to coffee and a rebuke of the German movement to prevent women from drinking it, even Johann Sebastian Bach composed a Cantata, “Kafee-Kantate” in 1732. The Germans thought that coffee made women sterile. In Prussia, Frederick the Great tried to block the import of green coffee and encouraged his subjects to drink beer instead. He even went as far as to employ “coffee smellers” to roam the streets in search of home coffee roasters.
Despite all of the efforts to ban coffee and reduce the influence of coffeehouses, the enjoyment of coffee spread throughout Europe until its use started declining in the 18th century because of increased import duties. The French introduced coffee to the New World, but the British East India Company concentrated on the importation of and taxation of tea, leading to the rebellion in the British Colonies culminating with the “Boston Tea Party” in 1773. It was then that coffee replaced tea as the American “beverage of choice”.

Coffee in Asia and the Americas
The Dutch were responsible for spreading the cultivation of coffee beyond Europe and the Middle East after smuggling a coffee plant out of the Arab Al-Mokha port in the late 1600s. They eventually made Amsterdam the trading center for coffee by cultivating coffee in Java, their East Indian colony, as well as in Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). A gift of a coffee plant was also given to French King Louis IV, who assigned the botanists at the King’s Royal Botanical Garden (the “Jardin de Plantes”) the task of caring for and cultivating the seedlings.
The Dutch also spread the coffee plant in Central and South America; beginning in Suriname in 1718. In the mid-1700s, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, a French naval officer stole a seedling from the royal greenhouses, hoping to develop Java-like coffee plantations in the Caribbean. After several setbacks, Clieu was finally able to plan one tree on his estate in Martinique, where it eventually yielded over 18 million trees by 1777. In 1730, the British introduced coffee to the blue Mountains in Jamaica, where today some of the most famous and expensive coffee is grown.
The first known coffee reference in North America was noted in 1668, and coffee houses were established in major cities of the day such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia. The Green Dragon Coffeehouse in Boston is said to have been used to plan the 1773 “Boston Tea Party”. As in London, where some of today’s largest financial institutions began as coffee houses, both the Bank of New York and the New York Stock Exchange were initiated in coffee houses on what is now known as the Wall Street Financial District.
Although the French and the Dutch tried to protect their monopoly over coffee the way the Arabs had first attempted, an affair between a Brazilian emperor and the wife of the governor of French Guyana had the unexpected result of coffee plant cuttings and seeds being smuggled into Brazil. From this transaction, by 1800 there emerged the great coffee empires of plantations in Latin America. In 1825, coffee was first planted in Hawai’i, which today is the only place in the United States where coffee is produced.

Modern Coffee Developments
Innovative developments in coffee production started appearing early in the twentieth century. Both instant coffee and decaffeinated coffee products were invented, almost by accident in different parts of the world.
“Sanka” (meaning “sans caffeine”) was developed 1903 after a German coffee importer, Ludwig Roselius, perfected the process of removing the caffeine from ruined roasted coffee beans without destroying the flavor of the coffee. Sanka began to be marketed in the United States in 1923.
A Japanese-American chemist living in Chicago named Satori Kato is credited with inventing instant coffee. Mass production of instant, or soluble, coffee, however, started with an English chemist living in Guatemala, who noticed that coffee vapors condensed on the edges of his silver coffee pot. In 1906, he started experimenting with ways to develop dried coffee from its liquid form, and in 1909 started marketing his instant dried coffee under the brand name “Red E Coffee”.
The production of coffee is Brazil had become so successful that the government found itself with huge surpluses. In 1938, the Swiss company Nestle’ developed freeze-dried coffee at the request of the Brazilian government. However, it was during the spread of television in the 1950s that instant coffee really became popular. The commercial breaks were too short to brew either a cup of tea or a pot of coffee, so both Nestle’ and General Mills encouraged TV viewers to fix a quick cup of instant coffee instead. The tea companies developed the tea bag to try to combat the competition, but tea has never been able to compete with coffee in the United States.
An Italian inventor, Achilles Gaggia, perfected the modern espresso machine in 1946. His spring-powered lever system yielded a higher pressure than the steam-powered espresso machines at the time. In the 1950s, Gaggia opened a mocha bar in Soho in London; the beginning of the modern coffee bar. In 1960, the first pump driven espresso machine was mass produced.

In the 1970s, the modern coffee culture in the United States was born in Seattle. New coffee “concoctions” such as latte, cappuccino, double mocha, and others are now available at trendy cafes around the world.

How Coffee is Grown and Harvested
There are actually over 60 varieties of coffee that have been developed from the original coffee plant. For the modern coffee trade, however, the two most important varieties are the “Coffea Arabica” (Arabica) and the “Coffee Canephora” (Robusta). Although coffee trees can naturally grow to heights of between 10 and 15 meters, professional plantations prune the trees to a maximum height of between 1.5 to 3 meters ensure a higher yield per tree and make harvesting easier.
Coffee is exclusively grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Usually coffee trees blossom over a six- to eight-week period, but the labor-intensive harvesting process, done entirely by hand, can take up to nine months.
The coffee bean itself is actually two flat-sided seed inside the coffee berry. It is covered with a thin membrane called a silverskin. Unprocessed coffee is called green coffee.
The country which is the world’s largest coffee producer is Brazil, with about 28 percent of the total world output. The higher altitudes in Brazil allow for slower growing time, which produces more fully-flavored and delicate beans.
Worldwide, two different coffee processing methods have been developed and perfected: wet processing is used primarily in Central America and West Africa (especially Kenya); while less labor-intensive dry processing is used in South America for the Arabica and Robusta beans.
After processing, the coffee is inspected, graded, and prepared for storage and shipping.

The Development of Coffee Roasters
Making the coffee drink we know today is not as simple as roasting beans over a fire and then adding water. If the coffee beans are not kept moving during the roasting process, they will burn. Therefore, over the centuries, many different attempts at inventing the perfect coffee roaster has yielded many different roasting devices.
The first coffee roasters developed for individual home use in the American colonies looked like bed warmers; they actually may have been used for that purpose as well. They usually had a round or square shape and a long handle to hold them over the fire while the beans were constantly shaken.
As coffee became more popular it was necessary to develop larger and more efficient roasters. The drum roaster was the next major incarnation. Throughout the 1800s, the drum roaster, which had sliding doors and was mounted on ball bearings, came in different sizes, and made it easier to roast large amount of green coffee beans at once.
Coffee roasters were still heated over open fire until the mid-1800s when gas and coal became the heat source of choice. Gas and coal were both easier than wood to manage in large amounts for commercial roasters. The problem with both gas and coal, however, especially when used for coffee roasters in huge amounts, was the soot that was produced. Even in the late 1800s and early 1900s, soot and smoke from large coffee manufacturers presented pollution problems.
Enter the electric coffee roasters. Roasters with screens were developed that allowed for more even roasting; but more importantly, the invention of electric-powered roasters eliminated the need for humans to actually turn the beans. This allowed for larger and more efficient coffee roasters, which of course led to higher production.
Today. modern coffee roasters also automatically removed the husks from the beans and dispose of the dust. Consistency of roasting temperature and texture is also possible with modern commercial coffee roasters. Because coffee beans release gases, “fresh” coffee beans are first allowed to completely release the gas before being shipped.

Coffee as a Global Commodity
As the economic influence of coffee exports grew, several Latin American countries started allocating quotas to ensure that those coffee exporting countries would be guaranteed a share of the coffee market. Just before World War II, the first coffee quota agreement was administered by a group called the Inter-American Coffee Board. World-wide coffee export quotas were not adopted until 1962. The United Nations set up an “International Coffee Agreement” which remained in effect for five years. Although the pact was renegotiated several times between 1968 and 1983, several nations refused to sign a new agreement in 1989 causing a world-wide drop in coffee prices. The early 1990s, however, saw a wave of coffee crop failures, particularly in Brazil, dramatically raising the price of coffee.
Today, coffee is one of the most valuable commodities in the world, often second only to oil on the futures exchange markets in New York and London.

Source:

  1. History of coffee
  2. Banana Cranberry Pancake Recipe
  3. National Coffee Association USA > About Coffee > History of Coffee

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The Differences between Fruits and Vegetables

The difference between fruits and vegetables is cultural, not biological. Many of the foods we define as vegetables are biologically fruits. By botanical definition, a fruit is the seed bearing part of a flowering plant, which the flower turns into after being pollinated. Any vegetable that contains seeds is biologically a fruit. What we call fruit in the kitchen is also fruit by botanical definition. For vegetables, the definition is not so simple.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, green beans, okra, and corn are all the fruits of their plants. Yet in the kitchen, we call them vegetables. We also tend to define foods that are the roots, stems, or leaves of their plants as vegetables. Any plant food that we do not define as something else… fruit, nut, grain, seed, or bean… gets defined as a vegetable.

The real differences between fruits and vegetables are their flavors and their usage. By culinary definition, most fruits are sweet, a few are tangy, and many fruits are both sweet and tangy. Vegetables, on the other hand, are savory. While some vegetables have a touch of sweetness to them, they are typically not as sweet as fruits can be and not tangy. Some vegetables are outright bitter, but nothing we eat as a fruit is.

When and how a food is eaten is another clue as to whether it is a fruit or a vegetable. We tend to segregate the two, almost never mixing fruits and vegetables in the same dish. A salad may be a vegetable salad or a fruit salad, but only the most creative of cooks would put fruits and vegetables in the same salad. Fruits are often eaten for breakfast, but vegetables rarely are, at least in Western cultures. Vegetables are usually served at dinner, but fruit typically is not, except as dessert.

In contrast to fruits, vegetables are never dessert in and of themselves. Some of the sweeter vegetables may be main ingredients in desserts, such as carrot cake or pumpkin pie, but no one would ever consider a plain carrot dessert. Fruits are often used as the base for sauces… applesauce is a household word… but that is not something we would typically do with savory vegetables.

Some food plants defy classification as fruit or vegetable. Tomatoes are arguably both. While they are usually eaten as vegetables, they are also commonly used as the base for sauce, and they are more likely than other vegetables to be combined with fruits. Jicamas, popular in Mexico and gaining popularity in the American Southwest, are root vegetables, but are sometimes eaten more like fruits. A jicama is sweet, similar in taste to an apple with a mild flavor. It is just as likely to be included in a fruit salad as a vegetable salad.

The difference between fruits and vegetables has no basis in science. Many vegetables are biologically fruits, and there is no botanical definition for vegetable. Instead, what is a fruit and what is a vegetable is defined by its flavor and culinary uses. A few food plants, such as the tomato and the jicama, arguably meet the criteria for both. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the differences are entirely cultural and not completely clear cut.

Source:

  1. Vegetable
  2. Barbecue’s Best Beers
  3. What's the Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables? | Fruit vs …

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When its okay to not Leave a Tip

In our culture we have a tradition of tipping people who wait on (serve) us. The tip is both an expression of gratitude (hence the term gratuity) and means by which we reward the server for the level of service they have provided to us in carrying out their duties.

In general, most of us feel some bit of an obligation to tip someone who waits on us, simply because it seems rude to not, because regardless of how well they carried out their duties, or not, they did still in fact ask us what we want, and then proceeded to do whatever was needed to make sure we got that dish we ordered or more water in our glass.

Thus, it is the rare occasion that someone who waits on us deserves not a small tip, which would signify that we did still appreciate their efforts, if only in some small way the fact that they did serve us, but no tip at all.

In fact, there are really only five instances where leaving no tip at all for the wait staff is in order:

1 – They do not do their job. If they fail to show up to take your order, or to deliver it, then they didn’t do their job and thus forfeit any tip they might have hoped was coming.

2 – They insult you. One of the jobs of wait staff is to make customers feel comfortable while they dine. This is after all, the reason people eat at restaurants instead of at home. They want to have a comfortable dining experience without having to do the work, and are willing to pay for not just the meal, but the service. If a waiter insults you in any way, you are well within your rights to do the same by leaving nothing for them in the way of a tip.

3 – They forget about you. It is inexcusable for wait staff to forget that you are there. After all, that is one of their main purposes in being there, to note your existence and to offer assistance in getting your meal. If they forget you are there, feel free to forget to leave a tip.

4 – They intentionally ruin your dining experience. Sometimes wait staff, being human, find themselves angry or insulted by the behavior of diners. While this is quite natural as some people can be quite rude when communicating with wait staff, it still does not give them license to intentionally ruin your meal by their behavior or in some way ruining the food or drinks that they serve. Doing so is certainly grounds for leaving them nothing but a bad memory.

5 – There is an emergency. Sometimes bad things happen; it might be a fire, or you get a call saying your wife is dying outside in the parking lot or some other life threatening situation arises. In these instances it is unfortunate for the wait stuff, but people simply don’t have the time to deal with calculating tips and dispensing them. Granted, those that feel bad about it can call back later if they so choose or stop by and leave something for the person who waited on them, it isn’t considered necessary as wait staff understand emergencies.

These five reasons for not leaving a tip for service provided in a restaurant can be used as a general rule of thumb for those who are not sure about what is acceptable.

Source:

  1. Is it ever OK not to tip a waiter? – MarketWatch
  2. 10 Secrets For Optimal Health
  3. The Only Seven Times It's OK to Leave Your Waiter or Waitress a 20 …

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Where to Buy Angostura Bitters

Angostura bitters is by far the most popular brand of bitters around the world.  Angostura is used to marry flavors together in foods as well as being the preferred bitters for classic cocktails like the Manhattan.  However, if you are in the market to purchase some Angostura bitters, you might find yourself waiting in line since it has been in short supply for some time now.

Produced in Trinidad, Angostura bitters’ secret recipe is made from a variety of herbs and spices.  A small 4 ounce bottle averages about 5 US dollars.  This ingredient is essential at prestigious bars and restaurants but has become a hot commodity since it is in short supply.  There have been speculations to the lack of finding Angostura bitters.

Company officials have said that due to a problem with the supplier of their bottles, production of the bitters fell behind but a new bottle distributor has been lined up and regular production should start again soon.  In January 2010, the company reported to the New York Post that the Angostura bitters shortage would soon be over but months later, it is still in short supply.  The shortage of Angostura bitters has caused bars to hoard their supplies and promote drinks that do not require Angostura.

Angostura bitters was developed by scientist Dr. Siegert back in the 1800s as an herbal remedy. But by the late 1800s, the bitters became a popular ingredient for exotic drinks. The company has since prospered from its humble beginnings and is now produced on a 20 acre complex in Trinidad.

Bartenders and chefs are having to adjust to the lack of Angostura bitters which includes turning to other brands.  One good alternative is Fee Brothers brand based out of New York.  But many bartenders say there just isn’t a replacement for Angostura. Even with the hype of these posh bars and restaurants not being able to find Angostura for their recipes and pricy drinks, Angostura bitters is available at Amazon.com.  A 4 ounce bottle averages $9 a bottle plus shipping but it is in short supply with only a few bottle being available at a time.

People who have stockpiled Angostura or have a few extra bottles in their personal stash are putting their extras up for auction on eBay.  With several Internet sources available, Angostura bitters is not impossible to find but you may have to pay a higher price until the company begins full distribution again.

Sources:

http://www.angosturabitters.com/history.htm

Source:

  1. Angostura Aromatic Bitters, 4 oz – Walmart.com
  2. Natural Diuretic Foods
  3. 10 Things You Need To Know About Bitters – Huffington Post

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