citronella wine bottles…a diy

wine_bottle_tiki_torches

GOT BUGS?  Here’s how to make a do it yourself citronella wine bottle torch!

Check out all the scoop from Jennifer at When Pigs Fly or click here and stop swatting!

just a ‘grillin…..

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Backyard grilling!  It wouldn’t be summertime without it! 

ALTHOUGH……………… (leave it to me to throw a wet blanket on your picnic)

Grilling – whether by gas flame or charcoal or even an electric element – demands temperatures 4 – 6 times higher than can be reached in your oven!  And unfortunately, the high heat that makes that wonderful caramelization and browning has a less desirable aspect…..

Your food may become charred before the inside is cooked through!

burnt-chicken[source]

Another hazard is cancer causing substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which form when the fat from the meat drips onto hot coals and then sneak into your food through the smoke.  HCA’s or heterocyclic amines, are created from heating meat, poultry or fish to a too high temperature and have been linked to cancer.

But before I totally destroy your backyard plans….here are ways to minimize the cancer risks for you and your family:

  1. Avoid flare-ups, since burning juice or fat can produce harmful smoke.  If smoke from dripping fat is too heavy, move the food to another section of the grill, rotate the grill or reduce the heat.
  2. Cook meat until it is done without charring it.  Remove any charred pieces — don’t eat them.
  3. Don’t place the heat source directly under the meat.  For example, place coals slightly to the side so the fat doesn’t drip on them.  Keep a water bottle handy for coals that become hot or flare up.
  4. Cover the grill with punctured aluminum foil before you cook.  The foil protects the food from the smoke and fire.
  5. Keep meat portions small so they don’t have to spend as long on the grill.
  6. Defrost frozen meats before grilling.  {source}

Grilling is best reserved for quick cooking foods, like fish or even thinner cuts of meat and poultry.  How about throwing some vegetables , such as eggplant, zucchini, peppers or mushrooms on that grill?  Even fruit like, apples, peaches or bananas are great grilled!

Now, get outside and have some spring-time-can’t-wait-for-summertime, BACKYARD FUN!!

sunshine

seasonal eating…

Since produce is available to us year round, it can be difficult trying to understand what is actually in season and what is not.  Of course you should always look for ripe, fresh fruits and vegetables, however you might want to check with your local grocer to see what is the perfect food for each season.  But until then…..here is a simple guide to help get you started…

FALL FOODS

winter squash (acorn, butternut, buttercup, delicata, hubbard, kabocha)

apples

beets

belgian endive

brussels sprouts

cranberries

figs

grapes

mushrooms

parsnips

pears

pomegranates

pumpkin  

sweet potatoes

swiss chard

WINTER FOODS

chestnuts

grapefruit

kale

leeks

lemons

oranges/tangerines

radicchio

radishes

rutabaga

turnips

SPRING FOODS

apricots

artichokes

asparagus

avocados

carrots

cherries

chicory

chives

collards

dandelion greens

fennel

mangoes

mustard greens

new potatoes

peas

rhubarb

spinach

spring lettuces

strawberries

sugar, snap and snow peas

watercress

SUMMER FOODS

bell peppers

blackberries

blueberries

raspberries

broccoli

corn

cucumbers

eggplant

green beans

nectarines

okra

peaches

pineapples

plums

summer squash

tomatoes

watermelon

zucchini

HEY, WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?:

  • healthier
  • cost effective
  • enjoy a greater variety
  • better for the environment
  • very delicious!

According to Esther Blum, author of Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist’s Guide to Living Well While Living It Up, fresh food is also the most nutritious. And that nutritional boost might pay off under the mistletoe: “When your diet is naturally richer in vitamins and minerals then you are going to increase your chances of beating a cold and keeping your immune system solid through the holiday party season,” says Blum.

Yummm!!!  That’s good enough for me!!

a berry berry good idea…

 Once again, my friend, Rea, has stumbled upon genius.  I think she wakes up in the morning with a brilliant thought (or email)  and then shares it with other brilliant minds (i.e. me).  Here’s the dealio….vinegar….Yup, vinegar.

Berries are delicious, but they’re also kind of delicate. Raspberries in particular seem like they can mold before you even get them home from the market. There’s nothing more tragic than paying $4 for a pint of local raspberries, only to look in the fridge the next day and find that fuzzy mold growing on their insides.
Well,   we can tell you that how to keep them fresh! Here’s a tip I’m sharing on how to prevent them from getting there in the first place:
Wash them with vinegar.
When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider probably work best) and ten parts water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (though the mixture is so diluted you can’t taste the vinegar,) and pop in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit, and voila! Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft. So go forth and stock up on those pricey little gems, knowing they’ll stay fresh as long as it takes you to eat them.  
So take it from a berry good friend of mine…….and try it for yourself!