BROWN SUGAR CRUMB CAKE & HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BROWN SUGAR

BROWN SUGAR CRUMB CAKE
CAKE
1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 JUMBO egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Prepare baking dish with cooking spray and a light flour dusting.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla until well blended.
  • Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients JUST until combined. DO NOT OVER MIX!
  • Spread batter into pan.

TOPPING
1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar**
2 teaspoons cinnamon, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • In a medium bowl sift together the dry ingredients.
  • Pour melted butter over dry ingredients and stir gently until crumbs form.
  • Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter.
  • Use a knife to swirl some of the crumb mixture down into the cake.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
**With the move coming up I’m not replacing food and I was OUT of brown sugar!  Then I remembered I had cut out an article on making your own brown sugar.  I have to say that in the future I may always make my own brown sugar – the flavor was so deep and rich.
HOMEMADE BROWN SUGAR
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Grandma’s molasses for light brown sugar 
2 tablespoons Grandma’s molasses for dark brown sugar
  • Combine together in a large mixing bowl starting with a low speed and gradually increasing until well blended.  This can take as long as 10 minutes.
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PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL

A few years ago we purchased an investment house that came with a multitude of problems.  One of the least was the 35 gallons of ancient paint in the basement.  Some was even lead based.  This was a small town and no local hazardous waste facility.  It took a lot of research, but I finally found through the local trash company’s main office a knowledgeable woman who gave me the instructions on how to dispose of all the old paint.

It took 6 months, a 5 foot tall stack of cardboard and newspaper and 300 pounds of kitty litter to accomplish.  We only have 4 gallons to do here so this will be a quick process.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 1STEP 1 – Arrange the cardboard boxes on top of plastic drop cloths .

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 2

STEP 2 – Open the cans and arrange the lids paint side up along the bottom of the boxes on top of several layers of old newspaper.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 3

STEP 3 – Sprinkle a substantial layer of clay based kitty litter over the can lids.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 4

STEP 4 – Pour the first can of paint over the kitty litter and spread even with a paint stir stick.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 5

STEP 5 – Sprinkle another layer of kitty litter on top and allow to dry.  This process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the paint consistency and amount.  Ideally you want to make very thin layers and not make the boxes too heavy to lift.

STEP 6 – Sprinkle kitty litter all over the insides of the empty cans.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 6

STEP 7 – When the paint is dry, toss the whole mess in your trash can.  Simple as that.

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IT’S ABOUT THE PROTEIN – FLOUR TUTORIAL

Wheat flours contain a protein called gluten which, in the presence of water, forms an elastic network throughout the dough. This is the stuff that gives bread doughs their rubbery consistency. The whole point of kneading bread dough, in fact, is to organize the strands of gluten running through the dough into a strong, resilient, interconnected web. It is this web of protein that will entrap the bubbles of CO2 given off by the yeast as it ferments, enabling the dough to rise. Without the gluten, the CO2 would just bubble up to the surface and be lost.

But flour vary greatly in both the quantity and quality of the gluten they contain because different strains of wheat from different regions and different growing seasons have different gluten profiles. There are times when gluten is not your friend; in a cake batter, excess gluten will create a chewy, coarse-grained cake, and in pastry doughs it will produce a tough pie crust. But for bread you want lots of strong gluten to produce a well-risen and well-shaped loaf. This is why there are special flours for special purposes: cake flour, pastry flour, bread flour, etc.

All-purpose flour is typically a blend of “hard” and “soft” wheats which will perform pretty well in most roles. It usually contains 10-12% gluten. It can be used for bread, but will tend to produce a denser, flatter loaf. Some people will add 1T extra per cup of flour when using all-purpose for bread.

Bread flours have from 12-14 percent protein. They will feel decidedly more elastic while kneading, and will give full, rounded loaves. These flours are made from hard winter wheats from northern states.

Besides the quantity, the quality of the gluten will vary. Some glutens are better at forming the elastic network than others. You can judge this for yourself by making a “gluten ball” from different flours: make a stiff dough using just water and 1/4 c of flour. Knead it until it becomes quite elastic, then continue kneading it between your fingers under a stream of water. This will wash out the starch from the flour and after a few minutes of this you will have a ball of pure gluten. By playing with this ball, stretching and folding it, you will see that some are far more resistant to tearing than others. A good bread flour will enable you to pull the gluten into a thin membrane.

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How to Peel a Pomegranate

Fill a large bowl full of cool water.  Score the tough outside peel with the blade of a pairing knife.  Pull apart the peel to expose the inside chambers.  Place the opened pomegranate in the bowl and separate the seeds from the pulp and internal membranes.   As you seperate the seeds you will notice that the pulp floats and the seeds sink.  Simply remove the floating pulp and drain the water from the seeds.
Remember to wear an old shirt or apron because pomegranate juice stains! 
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LEMON TUTORIAL

The exact origin of the lemon has remained a mystery, though it is widely presumed that lemons first grew in India, northern Burma, and China. In South and South East Asia, lemons are known for its antiseptic properties and it was used as an antidote for various poisons.

The lemon is a small evergreen tree (Citrus limon) originally native to Asia, and is also the name of the tree’s oval yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world – primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind (zest) are also used, mainly in cooking and baking. Lemon juice is about 5% citric acid, which gives lemons a sour taste, and a low pH. This makes lemon juice an inexpensive, readily available acid for use in educational science experiments. Because of the sour flavor, many lemon-flavored drinks and candies are available, including lemonade.

Culinary uses: Lemons are used to make lemonade and as a garnish for many drinks. Lemon zest has many uses. Many mixed drinks, soft drinks, iced tea, and water are often served with a wedge or slice of lemon in the glass or on the rim. The average lemon contains approximately 3 tablespoons of juice. Allowing lemons to come to room temperature before squeezing (or heating them briefly in a microwave) makes the juice easier to extract.

Lemons left unrefrigerated for long periods of time are susceptible to mold.

Fish are marinated in lemon juice to neutralize the odor.

Lemon juice, alone or in combination with other ingredients, is used to marinate meat before cooking: the acid provided by the juice partially hydrolyzes the tough collagen fibers in the meat (tenderizing the meat), though the juice does not have any antibiotic effects.

Lemons, alone or with oranges, are used to make marmalade. The grated rind of the lemon, called lemon zest, is used to add flavor to baked goods, puddings, rice and other dishes.

Pickled lemons are a Moroccan delicacy. Numerous lemon liqueurs are made from lemon rind.

When lemon juice is sprinkled on certain foods that tend to oxidize and turn brown after being sliced, such as apples, bananas and avocados, the acid acts as a short-term preservative by denaturing the enzymes that cause browning and degradation.

VARIETIES

‘Armstrong’ (‘Armstrong Seedless’)–a sport discovered in a private grove at Riverside, California, about 1909. Patented in 1936 by Armstrong Nurseries. Resembles ‘Eureka’ except that it usually bears seedless or near-seedless fruits. If planted among other lemon trees will occasionally have a few seeds.

‘Avon’–first noticed as a budded tree in Arcadia, Florida. A budded tree propagated from the original specimen around 1934 was planted in the Alpine Grove in Avon Park; it produced heavy crops of fruits highly suitable for frozen concentrate. It, therefore, became the source of budwood for commercial propagation by Ward’s Nursery beginning in 1940.

‘Bearss’ (‘Sicily’, but not the original introduction by Gen. Sanford in 1875, which has disappeared)–a seedling believed to have been planted in 1892, discovered in the Bearss grove near Lutz, Florida, about 1952. Closely resembles ‘Lisbon’. It is highly susceptible to scab and greasy spot and oil spotting. The tree is vigorous and tends to produce too many water sprouts. Nevertheless, it has been propagated commercially by Libby, McNeill & Libby since 1953 because the peel is rich in oil. It constitutes 20% of Brazil’s lemon/lime crop. ,

‘Berna’ (‘Bernia’, ‘Vema’, ‘Vernia’)–oval to broad-elliptic, with pronounced nipple, short neck; peel somewhat rough, medium-thick, becoming thinner in summer, tightly clinging. Seeds generally few or absent. Ripens mostly in winter; fruits keep well on tree until summer but become too large. Tree is vigorous, large, prolific. This is the leading cultivar of Spain and important in Algeria and Morocco. It is too much like the ‘Lisbon’ to be of value in California. In Florida, it has been found deficient in acid, low in juice, and too subject to scab.

‘Eureka’–originated from seed taken from an Italian lemon (probably the ‘Lunario’) and planted in Los Angeles in 1858; selected in 1877 and budwood propagated by Thomas Garey who named it ‘Garey’s Eureka’. The fruit is elliptic to oblong or rarely obovate, with moderately protruding nipple at apex, a low collar at the base; peel yellow, longitudinally ridged, slightly rough because of sunken oil glands, medium-thick, tightly clinging; pulp greenish-yellow, in about 10 segments, fine-grained, tender, juicy, very acid. Fruits often borne in large terminal clusters unprotected by the foliage. Bears all year but mostly late winter, spring and early summer when the demand for lemons is high. Tree of medium size, almost thornless, early-bearing, prolific; not especially vigorous, cold-sensitive, not insect-resistant; relatively short-lived. Not suitable for Florida. Grown commercially in Israel. One of the 2 leading cultivars of California, though now being superseded by clonal selections with more vigor, e.g., ‘Allen’, ‘Cascade’, ‘Cook’, and ‘Ross’. ‘Lambert Eureka’ is a chance seedling found in 1940 on the property of Horace Lambert in New South Wales. It is vigorous and productive.

‘Femminello Ovale’–one of the oldest Italian varieties; short-elliptic with low, blunt nipple; slightly necked or rounded at base; of medium size; peel yellow, finely pitted, medium-smooth, medium-thick, tightly clinging; pulp in about 10 segments, tender, juicy, very acid, of excellent quality, with few, mostly undeveloped, seeds. Fruits all year but mainly in late winter and spring; ships and stores well. The tree is almost thornless, medium-to very-vigorous, but highly susceptible to mal secco disease. This is the leading cultivar in Italy, accounting for 3/4 of the total lemon production, and 1/5 of the crop is processed as single-strength juice.

‘Genoa’–introduced into California from Genoa, Italy, in 1875. Almost identical to ‘Eureka’; ovoid or ovate-oblong with blunt nipple at apex; base rounded or slightly narrowed; of medium size; peel yellow, medium-thick, tightly clinging; pulp in 10-12 segments, melting, medium-juicy, with 29 to 51 seeds which are light-brown within. Tree is shrubby, nearly trunk-less, spreading, very thorny, cold-hardy. Grown commercially in India, Chile and Argentina.

‘Harvey’–of unknown parentage; was found by Harvey Smith on the property of George James in Clearwater, Florida. Fruit much like ‘Eureka’. Tree highly cold-tolerant, compatible with several rootstocks. Commercially propagated by Glen St. Mary Nurseries Company, near Jacksonville, Florida, since 1943.

‘Interdonato’ (‘Special’)–a lemon X citron hybrid that originated on property of a Colonel Interdonato, Sicily, around 1875; oblong, cylindrical, with conical, pointed nipple at apex, short neck or collar at base; large; peel yellow, smooth, glossy, thin, tightly clinging; pulp greenish-yellow, in 8 or 9 segments, crisp, juicy, very acid, faintly bitter. Very few seeds. Earliest in season; mostly fall and early winter. Tree vigorous, usually thornless, medium-resistant to mal secco; of medium yield; accounts for 5% of Italy’s crop.

‘Lisbon’ (perhaps the same as ‘Portugal’ in Morocco and Algeria)–originated in Portugal, possibly as a selection of ‘Gallego’; reached Australia in 1824; first catalogued in Massachusetts in 1843; introduced into California about 1849 and catalogued there in 1853; introduced into California from Australia in 1874 and again in 1875. Fruit almost identical to ‘Eureka’; elliptical to oblong, prominently nippled at apex, base faintly necked; peel yellow, barely rough, faintly pitted, sometimes slightly ribbed, medium-thick, tightly clinging; pulp pale greenish-yellow, in about 10 segments, fine-grained, tender, juicy, very acid, with few or no seeds. Main crop in February, second crop in May. Fruit is borne inside the canopy, sheltered from extremes of heat and cold. Tree large, vigorous, thorny, prolific, resistant to cold, heat, wind. Not well adapted to Florida. It is low-yielding and short-lived in India. Surpasses ‘Eureka’ in California. Has given rise to a number of clonal selections, particularly ‘Frost’, originated by H. B. Frost at the Citrus Research Station, Riverside, California in .1917 and released about 1950; also ‘Prior Lisbon’ and the more vigorous ‘Monroe Lisbon’.

‘Meyer’–a hybrid, possibly lemon X mandarin orange; introduced into the United States as S.P.I. #23028, by the agricultural explorer, Frank N. Meyer, who found it growing as an ornamental pot-plant near Peking, China, in 1908; obovate, elliptical or oblong, round at the base, occasionally faintly necked and furrowed or lobed; apex rounded or with short nipple; of medium size, 2 1/4 to 3 in (5.7-7.5 cm) wide and 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 in (6.25-9 cm) high; peel light-orange with numerous small oil glands, 1/8 to 1/4 in (3-6 mm) thick; pulp pale orange-yellow, usually in 10 segments with tender walls, melting, juicy, moderately acid with medium lemon flavor; seeds small, 8 to 12. Tends to be everbearing but fruits mostly from December to April. Tree small, with few thorns, prolific, cold-resistant; produces few water sprouts, and is only moderately subject to greasy spot and oil spotting. It is easily and commonly grown from cuttings. Does well on sweet orange and rough lemon rootstocks; is not grafted onto sour orange because it is a carrier of a virulent strain of tristeza. Grown for home use in California; in Florida, both for home use and to some extent commercially for concentrate though the product must be enhanced by the addition of peel oil from true lemons, since that from ‘Meyer’ peel is deficient in flavoring properties. Has been fairly extensively planted in Texas and in Queensland, Australia, and New Zealand.

‘Monachello’ (Moscatello’)–suspected of being a lemon X citron hybrid; elliptical, with small nipple and no neck, merely tapered at apex and base; medium-small; peel yellow, smooth except for large, sunken oil glands, thin, clinging very tightly; pulp in 10 segments, tender, not very juicy, not sharply acid. Bears all year but mainly winter and spring. Tree not vigorous, slow-growing, almost thornless, with abundant, large leaves; bears medium-well, resistant to mal secco, and has been extensively planted in Italy in areas where the disease is common.

‘Nepali Oblong’ (Assam’, ‘Pat Nebu’)–originated in Assam; fruit resembles citron in some aspects; long-elliptic to oblong-obovate, with wide, short nipple; medium-large; peel greenish-yellow, smooth, glossy, medium-thick; pulp greenish-yellow in 11 segments, fine-grained, very juicy, of medium acidity, with few or no seeds. Everbearing. Tree large, vigorous, spreading, medium-thorny, prolific; foliage resembles that of the citron. Commercial in India.

‘Nepali Round’–of Indian origin; round, without distinct nipple; juicy; seedless. Tree large, vigorous, compact, nearly thornless, medium-prolific. Successfully cultivated in South India.

‘Perrine’–a Mexican lime X ‘Genoa’ lemon hybrid created by Dr. Walter Swingle and colleagues in 1909, but still a fairly typical lemon; it is lemon-shaped, with small nipple at apex, necked at base; of medium size; peel pale lemon-yellow, smooth, slightly ridged, thin, tough; pulp pale greenish-yellow, in 10 to 12 segments having thin walls; tender, very juicy, with slightly lime-like flavor but acidity more like lemon; seeds usually 4 to 6, occasionally as many as 12, long-pointed. Everbearing. Tree cold-sensitive but less so than the lime; resistant to wither tip and scab but prone to gummosis and other bark diseases. In the early 1930’s, was extensively planted in southern Florida on rough lemon rootstock, but no longer grown.

‘Ponderosa’ (‘Wonder’; ‘American Wonder’)–a chance seedling, possibly of lemon/citron parentage, grown by George Bowman, Hagerstown, Maryland around 1886 or 1887; appeared in nursery catalogs in 1900 and 1902; obovate, lumpy and faintly ribbed, slightly necked at base; large, 3 1/2 to 4 1/8 in (9-11 cm) wide, 3 1/2 to 4 3/4 in (9-12 cm) high; peel light orange-yellow, with medium-large oil glands, flush or slightly depressed; 3/8 to 1/2 in (1-1.25 cm) thick; pulp pale-green, in 10 to 13 segments with thick walls; juicy, acid; seeds of medium size, 30 to 40 or more, brown within. Everbearing. Tree small, moderately thorny; buds and flowers white or barely tinged with red-purple. More sensitive to cold than true lemons. Grown for home use and as a curiosity in California and Florida and in small-scale commercial plantings since 1948. Rather widely cultivated as an indoor potted plant in temperate regions.

‘Rosenberger’–a clone found in a grove of ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Villafranca’ trees at Upland, California; was planted in the Rosenberger orchard and gained recognition as a superior cultivar. Tree closely resembles that of ‘Villafranca’. Fruit is somewhat like ‘Lisbon’ but is shorter and broader and less tapered at base. Tree vigorous and prolific. Became popular in California in the 1960’s.

‘Rough Lemon’ (‘Florida Rough’; French’; ‘Mazoe’; Jamberi’)–perhaps a lemon X citron hybrid, but has been given the botanical name of C. jambhiri Lush. Believed to have originated in northern India, where it grows wild; carried in 1498 or later by Portuguese explorers to southeastern Africa where it became naturalized along the Mazoe River; soon taken to Europe, and brought by Spaniards to the New World; is naturalized in the West Indies and Florida; oblate, rounded or oval, base flat to distinctly necked, apex rounded with a more or less sunken nipple; of medium size, averaging 2 3/4 in,(7 cm) wide, 2 1/2 (6.25 cm) high; peel lemon-yellow to orange-yellow, rough and irregular, with large oil glands, often ribbed; 3/16 to 3/8 in (5-10 mm) thick; pulp lemon-yellow, usually in 10 segments, medium-juicy, medium-acid, with moderate lemon odor and flavor; seeds small, 10 to 15, brownish within. Reproduces true from seeds, which are 96% to 100% nucellar. Tree large, very thorny; new growth slightly tinged with red; buds and flowers with red-purple. The scant pulp and juice limit the rough lemon to home use. It is appreciated as a dooryard fruit tree in Hawaii and in other tropical and subtropical areas where better lemons are not available. The tree has been of great importance as a rootstock for the sweet orange, mandarin orange and grapefruit. It is not now used as a rootstock for lemon in Florida because of its susceptibility to “blight” (young tree decline). It is also prone to Alternaria leaf spot (A1ternaria citri) in the nursery, to foot rot (Phytophthora parasitica). Incidence varies with the clone and certain clones show significant resistance. In trials at Lake Alfred, 3 atypical clones showed immunity to leaf spot, while a typical rough lemon clone, ‘Nelspruit 15’, from South African seed, proved highly resistant to leaf spot and also extremely cold tolerant.

‘Santa Teresa’–an old tree discovered to be disease-free in a ‘Fermminello Ovale’ orchard in Italy that had been devastated by mal secco. Budded trees from the original specimen were being commonly planted in the 1960’s wherever the disease was prevalent in Italy.

Sweet Lemon (C. limetta Risso)a general name for certain non-acid lemons or limettas, favored in the Mediterranean region, In India, they are grown in the Nilgiris, Malabar and other areas. The fruits are usually insipid, occasionally subacid or acid. The seeds are white within and the tree is large, resembling that of the orange. One cultivar, called ‘Dorshapo’ after the plant explorers, Dorsett, Shamel and Popenoe, who introduced it from Brazil in 1914, resembles the ‘Eureka’ in most respects except for the lack of acidity. Another, called ‘Millsweet’, apparently was introduced into California from Mexico and planted in a mission garden. It was reproduced at the old University of California Experiment Station at Pomona. Neither is of any commercial value.

‘Villafranca’–believed to have originated in Sicily; introduced into Sanford, Florida, from Europe around 1875 and later into California. Closely resembles ‘Eureka’; of medium size. Tree is more vigorous, larger, more densely foliaged, and more thorny than ‘Eureka’ but becomes thornless with age. One strain is everbearing; another fruits heavily in summer. This was the leading lemon cultivar in Florida for many years; is cultivated commercially in Israel; is low-yielding and short-lived in India. It is little grown in California but has given rise to certain selections that are of importance, particularly ‘Galligan Lisbon’ and ‘Corona Foothill Eureka’.

aprons 3
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Peaches

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Peaches are believed to be native to China. They are cultivated throughout warm temperate and subtropical regions of the world. In the peach fruit, the stone is covered with a fleshy substance that is juicy, melting, and of fine flavor when matured and mellowed.

The popular division of fruit varieties into clingstones and freestones-referring to the relative tendency of the flesh to cling to the stone-is by no means accurate. These two classes merge in different varieties, and even the same variety may be freestone and clingstone in different seasons. The nearly 300 varieties of peaches grown in America have been classified into five races, each with outstanding characteristics, ripening season, and uses.The nectarine is a variety of peach.

The principal peach-growing state is California. World production totaled about 5.5 million metric tons annually; the United States and Italy were the leading producers.

How to Store:
To ripen peaches, store in a brown bag at room temperature. Ripe peaches can be stored in the crisper bin of your refrigerator for up to five or sixdays.

Nutritional Facts:
· Fat-free
· Saturated fat-free
· Sodium-free
· Cholesterol-free
· High in vitamin A
· A good source of vitamin C

August is National Peach Month. Here’s a round-up of facts about one of the world’s favorite fruits.

History Of The Peach

  • The peach originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. It has special significance in Chinese culture: The peach tree is considered to be the tree of life and peaches are symbols of immortality and unity. Peach blossoms are carried by Chinese brides.
  • Peaches traveled west via the silk roads to Persia, earning them the botanical name Prunus persica. In Persia, peaches were discovered by Alexander the Great, who mentions half a dozen types, and who introduced them to the Greeks.
  • By 322 B.C.E. Greece enjoyed the peach, and by 50 to 20 B.C.E., Romans grew and sold them for the modern equivalent of $4.50. The Romans called the peach a Persian apple, and the name for peach in numerous languages is the name for Persia.* Once the Romans cultivated the fruit, they were able to transport it north and west to other countries of their European empire.
    *Pêche (French), Pfirsich (German), pesca (Italian), melocotón (Spanish), pêssego (Portuguese), fersken (Danish/Norwegian), persika (Swedish), persikka (Finnish), persik (Russian), brzoskwinia (Polish), breskva (Serbo-Croat), piersica (Romanian), praskova (Bulgarian), robakinon (Greek), seftali (Turkish), afarseq (Hebrew), khúkh (Arabic), hulu (Persian), arú (Hindi), tao (Chinese), momo (Japanese), persik (Indonesian).
  • Spaniards brought peaches to South America and the French introduced them to Louisiana. The English took them to their Jamestown and Massachusetts colonies. Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages.
  • To this day China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. Italy is the main exporter of peaches in the European Union; the regions of Campania and Emilia Romagna account for more than 50% of Italy’s annual production. California produces more than 50% of the peaches in the United States (and grows 175 different varieties). So many peaches are grown in Georgia that it became known as the Peach State.
  • True wild peaches are only found in China. Unlike the cultivated fruit, the wild fruit is small, sour and very fuzzy.

Peach Varieties

  • Peach varieties can be either clingstone, where the flesh of the fruit clings to the Clingstone Peachesstone, or freestone, where the stone readily twists away from the fruit. The former type is generally used for canning; the latter is generally found in supermarkets. Clingstone and freestone peaches are available in both white and yellow varieties.
    Giant yellow peaches. Available in season at Melissas.com.
  • Asians generally prefer the sweeter and less acidic white varieties of peach. The sweetness is due to the “honey gene,” a dominant gene that is found in all Chinese peach varieties. Europeans and Americans have typically cultivated the yellow-skin, yellow-flesh varieties, which have higher acid.
  • The downy skin of the peach is generally flushed with red coloring, in both yellow Saturn Peachand white varieties. The most widely-available peaches are round with a pointed end, but they can also be flat and disc-shaped. The donut peach, which is flat with rounded sides that draw in toward an indented center, like a doughnut without a hole, is a descendant of the flat Chinese peach.
    A flat-variety “Saturn” peach, so-called because it resembles the rings of Saturn. Available in season (June-August) at Melissas.com.
  • The finest peaches of all are considered to be the pêches de vigne, which are small, red-fleshed fruits grown in vineyards in France and generally found only there. Covered with grayish down, they are not particularly attractive, but the flavor is said to be superb.

Nutrition and Factoids

  • Peaches are a good source of vitamins A, B and C. A medium peach contains only 37 calories.
  • You can ripen peaches by placing them in a brown paper bag for two to three days. Sliced, fresh peaches should be tossed in lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.
  • NectarinesNectarines are a variety of peach with a smooth skin, not a cross between a peach and a plum.
    At right: Honey Royale Nectarines, available in season from Melissas.com.
  • The juice from peaches makes a wonderful moisturizer, and it can be found in many brands of cosmetics.
  • A peach pit contains hydrocyanic acid, which is a poisonous substance.
  • Like the plum and the apricot, the peach is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), distinguished by its velvety skin. It is classified as a drupe, a fruit with a hard stone.

Famous Peach Dishes

  • The Bellini: fresh peach purée and spumante, an Italian sparkling wine; Champagne or other sparkling wine can be used. The drink is said to have originated in the 1930s at Harry’s Bar in Venice, a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, and is named for the 15th-century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini. The peachy color of the cocktail reminded Cipriani of the color of the garments of St. Francis in a famous Bellini painting; Cipriani named the drink in Bellini’s honor.
  • Peach Melba: poached peaches, vanilla ice cream and raspberry purée. The dessert

    is named after Nellie Melba, the great Australian operatic soprano.

Peaches are a favorite fresh snacking fruit and cereal fruit, and make wonderful pies and jams. Peach ice cream is a summer favorite. Ripe peaches also freeze well for later use.

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Carrots

Carrots are an important vegetable, and although they were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, they were not introduced to Europe until the Middle Ages.

The orange-colored taproot of the carrot contains a high concentration of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a substance that is converted to vitamin A in the human body. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked carrots contains four times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A in the form of protective beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant effective in fighting against some forms of cancer, especially lung cancer. Current research suggests that it may also protect against stroke, and heart disease. Research also shows that the beta-carotene in vegetables supplies this protection, not vitamin supplements.

Carrots are also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium and copper.

Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked, but to obtain maximum benefit it is best to eat them raw.

Health Benefits

Carotenes, the famous ingredient in carrots, is an anti-oxidant that has powerful healing virtues for many diseases. Drinking a glass of carrot juice daily will do much more for you than many bottles of supplement tablets. Here are some disorders that can be helped by drinking carrot juice regularly:

Acidosis: The vital organic alkaline elements in carrots help balance the blood acidity and blood sugar.

Acne: Its powerful cleansing properties are effective in detoxifying the liver, thus overall effective for acne which are caused by toxicity of the blood.

Anemia: Carrot’s molecules are closest to human’s hemoglobin molecules, making it very beneficial in blood-building.

Atherosclerosis: The highly cleansing power of this miracle juice scrubs away even the old build-up of arterial deposits, reducing the risks of heart diseases and stroke.

Asthma: The anti-oxidants effectively protects the respiratory system from infections and free-radical attacks.

Cancer: Studies show that adding one carrot per day in our diet significantly reduces cancer risks.

Cholesterol: Pectin in carrots lowers the serum cholesterol levels.

Congestion: Carrot juice is very effective in dispelling mucus from the ear, nose and throat area, easing nasal congestion, sinusitis, phlegm and mucus in the throat and other similar disorders.

Constipation: Take five parts of carrot juice with one part of spinach juice regularly to regulate chronic constipation problems.

Emphysema: If you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke, taking carrot juice regularly may well save your life.

Eyes: Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are some of the finest nourishment that help keep the optic system in tip-top condition, with special protection against astigmatism, macular degeneration and cataracts.

Fertility: One of the reasons for infertility is lack of nutrients and enzymes in your dietary. Carrot juice taken regularly, is able to nourish your body back to fertility.

Inflammations: Its anti-inflammatory effect greatly helps reduce arthritis, rheumatism, gout and other inflammations.

Immune systems: It does wonders for boosting the immune system by increasing the production and performance of white blood cells; building resistant to various kinds of infections.

Nursing mothers: Carrot juice helps enhance the quality and quantity of a mother’s breast milk.

Pregnancy: Drinking carrot juice regularly during pregnancy, especially during the last few months, will reduce the chances of jaundice in baby. No, you won’t get an orange baby!

Skin problems: The high quality vitamin C and other rich nutrients in carrot juice efficiently nourish the skin, preventing dry skin, psoriasis and other skin blemishes.

Thread worms: One small cup of carrot juice in the morning taken daily for a week can help clear up thread worms in children.

Ulcers: The abundance of nutrient present in carrots help nourish cells that have been starved of nutrients which result in ulcers.

Water retention: Carrot juice is diuretic and helps to eliminate excess fluids from the body, reducing water retention, especially for women during their monthly menstruation cycle and in pregnant women.

Carrots that are no longer than 6 inches tend to be sweeter. So choose the shorter variety if you like it sweet or the longer one if you prefer it less sweet.

The most nutrients are concentrated just under the skin so try not to peel off the skin. To clean it, simply use a hard brush to brush the skin.

Cut them lengthwise to preserve the nutrients as when cut in small rounds, they easily lose their nutrients in water when you wash or cook them.

You may have heard of people “turning orange” from drinking carrot juice. It is not the carrot juice that is showing through the skin but is an overflow of materials which have been clogging the liver and are being eliminated with the consumption of carrot juice. This shows how effective carrot juice is at cleansing, a good sign that the system is getting a good clean-up. When this “turning orange” happens, continue to take your carrot juice and the color will eventually go off as it cleanses.

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Mushrooms

Mushrooms and Immunity

In cold and flu season, it is important to eat a balanced diet, including foods that can naturally maintain the immune system. While the science on mushrooms and immunity continues to evolve, we already know mushrooms offer a variety of nutrients associated with immunity. Popular mushroom varieties are a rich source of selenium, a mineral that works as an antioxidant critical for the immune system; and also have ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may help protect the body’s cells.

Mushrooms are low in calories, have no cholesterol and are virtually free of fat and sodium. Mushrooms also contain other essential minerals like Selenium, which works with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize “free radicals” which can cause cell damage. Studies have suggested that selenium may reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, may slow the progress of HIV disease and may aid in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and asthma. Studies show men who eat selenium rich foods may lower their risk of prostate cancer.

Potassium (good for the heart) is also found in mushrooms. It has been suggested a diet with potassium may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Copper is another essential mineral found in mushrooms. Copper aids iron (also found in mushrooms) in making red blood cells and delivers oxygen to the body. Mushrooms also contain three B-complex vitamins; riboflavin for healthy skin and vision, niacin aids the digestive and nervous systems, and pantothenic acid helps with the nervous system and hormone production. These vitamins are found in every cell and help to release energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates in food. Vegetarians should know that mushrooms are one of the best sources of niacin. The vitamin content of mushrooms is actually similar to the vitamin content found in meat.

Early Greeks and Romans are thought to be among the first cultivators of mushrooms, using them in a wide array of dishes. Today there are literally thousands of varieties of this fleshy fungus. Sizes and shapes vary tremendously and colors can range from white to black with a full gamut of colors in between.

The cap’s texture can be smooth, pitted, honeycombed or ruffled and flavors range from bland to rich, nutty and earthy. The cultivated mushroom is what’s commonly found in most U.S. Supermarkets today. However, those that more readily excite the palate are the more exotic wild mushrooms such as cepe, chanterelle, enoki, morel, puffball, shiitake and wood ear.

Because so many wild mushrooms are poisonous, it’s vitally important to know which species are edible and which are not. Extreme caution should be taken when picking them yourself.

Fresh mushrooms should be stored with cool air circulating around them. Therefore, they should be placed on a tray in a single layer, covered with a damp paper towel and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Before use, they should be wiped with a damp paper towel or, if necessary, rinsed with cold water and dried thoroughly.

Alternatively, store mushrooms unwashed and covered with a damp paper towel, then place inside a brown paper bag.

Mushrooms should never be soaked because they absorb water and will become mushy. Trim the stem ends and prepare according to directions.

Canned mushrooms are available in several forms including whole, chopped, sliced and caps only. Frozen or freeze-dried mushrooms are also available. Dried mushrooms are available either whole or in slices, bits or pieces. They should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Mushrooms are one of nature’s most versatile foods and can be used in hundreds of ways and cooked in almost any way imaginable.

Mushrooms are available all year round. They are best November through March. Caps should be closed around the stems. Avoid black or brown gills as this is a sign of old age. The tops are more tender than the stems. Refrigerate after purchase and use as soon as possible.

Never immerse mushrooms in a pan of cold water when cleaning, since they will absorb too much water. This will also make it more difficult to cook them, without losing flavor.

Mushrooms contain the same flavor enhancing substance found in MSG, glutamic acid.

Mushrooms are 90 percent water and do contain some natural toxins. It is best not to eat too many raw ones; cooking tends to kill the toxins.

There are 38,000 varieties of mushrooms, some edible, some very poisonous.

Truffles grow underground, are an oak or hazel tree fungus and are found by pig or dog sniffing truffellors. There are two types, black and white. They have a distinctive taste and are prized by many chefs in France and Italy. They are very expensive.

A chemical compound extracted from shiitake mushrooms has been approved as an anticancer drug in Japan after it was proven to repress cancer cells in laboratory studies.

To keep mushrooms white and firm when sauteing them, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to each quarter pound of butter.

If you are not sure of the safety of a mushroom, do not eat it regardless of the following test. However, the experts use the method of sprinkling salt on the spongy part, or the gills. If they turn yellow, they are poisonous, if they turn black they are safe.

Fact: The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. It is possible that someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident or perhaps there was a demand and someone sought out a growing method.*

Fact: Whether mushrooms are wild or cultivated they continue to grow after they are picked. People sometimes mistake a thin white material called mycelium for mold, but rest assured it probably is the mycelium growing!

Fact: French farmers grew garden beds in the 1700’s which ended up being too small and too expensive. They later moved their crops to caves created when the stone for building Paris was quarried – this is where the name champignon de Paris originated. American farmers followed the same method.*

Fact: While mushrooms are canned, pickled and frozen, drying mushrooms is the oldest and most commonly used way to preserve mushrooms.

Fact: Mushroom compost can range from being manure or wood based (sawdust, wood chips) to utilizing materials like cocoa bean or cotton seed hulls, brewers grains , even exotic items like banana leaves as substrate.

Fact: One Portabella mushroom generally has more potassium than a banana.

Fact: Mushrooms continue to gain popularity, especially the specialty mushrooms such as Portabella, wild Morels, Oysters and Shiitake. Mushrooms, particularly the Portbella are often used in place of meat in many dishes.

Fact: Commercial mushroom farming began in the early 20th century. Pennsylvania and California are the largest mushroom producers.

Fact: Mushroom “farms” are climate controlled buildings; airflow, temperature and light are all constantly monitored.

Fact: Wild mushrooms can range in price for reasons such as taste, historical significance and availability. European truffles can sell for over $1,600 per pound!

Fact: Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you do choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms (they are called false mushrooms) and can be poisonous.

*Facts from The Edible Mushroom A Gourmet Cook’s Guide by Margaret Leibenstein

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Brussels Sprouts

Recently there has been some good natured kidding with Dave from My Year On The Grill over at OUR KrAzY kitchen. LOL He’s been a good sport about it all. But I thought maybe it was time for a little education for those other naysayers out there. Brussels sprouts can be GOOD!

Source

Wikipedia history of Brussels Sprouts

From www.azcentral.com. Like all members of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are moderately low-carb and highly nutritious. A half-cup contains 7 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 5 grams. It also has 2 grams of protein, a decent amount for a green vegetable. They’re a good source of potassium (247 mgs) and vitamin A (561 International Units). They have respectable amounts of vitamin C and folate, too.

Season: Peak season for Brussels sprouts is October through March.

Selection: Look for firm sprouts with tight, green leaves. Avoid puffy or soft sprouts with loose leaves. Wilted or yellow leaves indicate overripe sprouts.

Storing: Place in sealed container; store in refrigerator. Do not wash until ready to use. Use as soon as possible.

Preparation: Wash, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in each to speed cooking. Or slice into roughly 1/4-inch slices, if sautéing.

Seasonings: basil, caraway seed, dill, mustard seed, sage, thyme, curry powder, nutmeg, garlic, onions, garlic salt, pepper, cumin, marjoram, or savory.

For more information about Brussels:

http://www.brussels-sprouts.com/BSINFO.htm

http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/facts/bsprouts.htm

The following information is from www.wholehealthmd.com.

Preparation

Before cooking, drop the sprouts into a basin of lukewarm water and leave them there for 10 minutes as this step will eliminate any insects hidden in the leaves. Then rinse the sprouts in fresh water. Trim the stem ends, but not quite flush with the bottoms of the sprouts, or the outer leaves will fall off during cooking.

Many cooks cut an X in the base of each sprout. This nick helps the heat penetrate the solid core so that it cooks as quickly as the leaves.

Whichever cooking method you choose, test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the stem end, which should be barely tender.

Boiling: Use 1 cup of water for every cup of Brussels sprouts. Bring the water to a rapid boil in a large pot, add the sprouts, and quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the sprouts uncovered just until tender. Drain them, return them to the warm pot, and shake for a few seconds until dry. A little parsley added to the cooking water can reduce the cabbage flavor. Cooking time: seven to 10 minutes.

Braising: If you cook sprouts slowly in stock, you can reduce the liquid after the vegetable is done and use it as a sauce, thereby conserving nutrients. You can braise the sprouts on the stovetop in a heavy covered skillet, or in the oven. For oven-braising, place the sprouts in a casserole or baking dish and pour in enough stock to cover them. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven. Cooking time: 25 to 35 minutes.

Microwaving: Place 1/2 to 1 pound of Brussels sprouts in a microwavable dish; add 1/4 cup of liquid, cover, and cook. Cooking times: for medium sprouts, four minutes; for large ones, eight minutes.

Steaming: Sprouts can be steamed in a vegetable steamer or steam-boiled in a small amount of water. These methods have the advantage of keeping the sprouts intact, minimizing the chemical interactions that cause the sprouts to develop a strong flavor, and maximizing the retention of nutrients. To steam-boil, add the sprouts to 1″ of already-boiling water and cover. Steam or steam-boil for one to two minutes, uncover the pot for 10 to 15 seconds to disperse the strong-tasting sulfurous compounds that form when sprouts (and other members of the cabbage family) are cooking. Cover and finish cooking. Cooking times: steam-boiling, five to 10 minutes; in a steamer, six to 12 minutes, depending on size.

Here’s one of our favorite recipes – Garlic Lemon Brussels Sprouts

Microwaved Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. Quick and easy basic recipe.

1 pound Brussels sprouts (4 cups)

1/4 cup water

Wash sprouts, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in the core of each, if desired, to speed cooking time. Place in a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Cover and microwave at High until fork tender, from 4 to 8 minutes, stirring once. Let stand, covered, 3 minutes.

Season as desired.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan

Two servings.

2 cups small Brussels sprouts (25 to 30 sprouts)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash sprouts, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in the core of each, if desired, to speed cooking time. Place in a medium-size roasting pan.

Sprinkle with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Vinegar and Dill

Twelve servings. From www.justvegetablerecipes.com.

3 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Trim sprouts; cut in half if desired. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook Brussels sprouts for 8 minutes if whole, 6 minutes if halved, or until barely tender. Drain, refresh under cold running water and drain again.

In well-greased 13×9 inch casserole, combine sprouts, dill, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Bake, covered, in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer. Makes 12 servings.

Brussels Sprouts for People Who Think They Hate Brussels Sprouts

From Healthy Cooking with Dr. Andrew Weil.

1 pound Brussels sprouts

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

5 cloves garlic, finely minced (or equivalent minced garlic in jar)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste (preferably freshly grated)

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and remove and discard any discolored outer leaves. If sprouts are large (more than 1 inch in diameter), cut them in quarters lengthwise through the stem end. If smaller, cut them in half.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil, add salt and the sprouts. Boil the sprouts uncovered until they are just crunchy-tender, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook them. Drain the sprouts well.

Wipe and dry the pot and heat the olive oil in it. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the sprouts and nutmeg and sauté for another minute. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and toss the sprouts until the cheese melts.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

12 fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced 1/4-inch thick (do NOT use frozen)

1/2 of a large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup or or 3 to 4 ounces)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth (or chicken-flavored vegetarian broth)

1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet; add Brussels sprouts and onion, and stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup broth and simmer about 5 minutes, or until Brussels sprouts are done, adding more broth if necessary.

Nutty Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. Source: Light & Easy Diabetes Cuisine by Betty Marks

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1 teaspoon virgin olive oil

8 toasted hazelnuts or toasted almonds

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Wash Brussels sprouts and trim off bottoms of stems and loose leaves. Steam sprouts over boiling water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove sprouts to a serving bowl and stir in olive oil, nuts, and cardamon.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Six servings. Source: McCall’s Magazine, November 1992

1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup trans fat free margarine (Brummel & Brown is good)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 teaspoons water

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

In large bowl of cold, salted water, soak Brussels sprouts for 10 minutes. Drain; trim ends and discard any bitter outside leaves. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise.

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt butter. Add sprouts, salt and pepper; over high heat; sauté 5 minutes or until sprouts start to brown. Add the water; cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes, until sprouts are crisp-tender. Stir in lime juice.

Brussels Sprouts Casserole

From www.justvegetablerecipes.com.

1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts

1 medium onion, sliced

Olive oil

5 medium tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup water

1 cup shredded soy cheese

Sauté onion in olive oil until transparent. Arrange Brussels sprouts in casserole with onions and tomatoes. Cover with water. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for about 45 minutes. When sprouts are tender, remove from oven, sprinkle with the cheese, and brown under the broiler.

Browned Brussels Sprouts

Adjust amounts as desired. Very tasty.

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup olive oil (or more)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Prepare sprouts: wash, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (iron skillet is good). Add Brussels sprouts and “fry” them until they are dark brown all over. At the last moment, just before serving, stir in 2 crushed garlic cloves (or use 1 teaspoon crushed garlic from jar, or more to taste).

Lift them out with a slotted spoon, drain well (can put on paper towels to absorb excess oil). Salt lightly.

Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Carrots and Fresh Ginger

Four servings. From chef Maria Scanlon.

1 tablespoon oil (canola, light olive, or other on the approved SBD list)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, grated

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped

12 medium-sized fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons reduced salt soy sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan, add the onion and cook over a high heat until the onion begins to soften and turn golden.

Add the carrot, garlic, and ginger and cook a further few minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and continue stir-frying until they soften a little. Add the soy sauce and the water and mix well.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and allow the vegetables to steam until they are cooked to your liking.

Sunny Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. This recipe uses frozen Brussels sprouts. From http://www.cooks.com.

1/2 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen Brussels sprouts

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

2 tablespoons trans-fat-free margarine (I use Brummel & Brown)

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper

Cook celery, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, and salt in boiling water in saucepan until crisp-tender. Drain. Combine mustard and butter. Spoon mixture over vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

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