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Archive for August, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY #2: Picking Fresh Peaches

A clingstone peach. Photo courtesy
Washington State Fruit Commission.

August 22nd is Eat a Peach Day. Here are tips to choose the perfect peach.

  • Aroma: The peach should smell sweet and perfumey.
  • Appearance: The skin should be bruise-free and covered with an even, downy fuzz
  • Handle With Care: Peaches are a very delicate fruit. Even if they feel hard, place them on top of all the other groceries in the bag to protect them from blemishes.To speed up the ripening of peaches, use the apple/banana trick in the avocado post below.

    Read the history of peaches: They originated in China.

  • Find more of our favorite fruits in our Gourmet Fruits Section.
  • Want to cook with peaches? Use the search box at the top of the page (to the right of the red bar) to search for “peach recipe.” You’ll find everything from peach salsa to peach muffins.


TIP OF THE DAY: Identifying A Ripe Avocado

Avocado is a fruit that does not ripen on the tree: It needs to be picked first. Depending on the variety and other factors, it then takes three to six days to ripen at room temperature.

To speed ripening, place the avocado(s) in a lightly-closed paper bag with two or three apples or bananas. The ethylene gas naturally released by apples and bananas will speed the ripening of other fruits.

How often have you squeezed an avocado to determine if it’s ripe?

Here’s another option: Try to dislodge the stem nub with your fingernail. If it loosens easily, the avocado is ready to eat.

  • If you’re using the avocado for a salad or as garnish, you’ll want it just ripe enough to keep its form when sliced or cubed.
  • If you’re making guacamole, avocado dip, sauce or other soft food, you can let it ripen for another day or two.
  • If you have too many ripe avocados, stick them in the fridge.



Photo courtesy California Department of Education.

Find more tips and recipes in our Gourmet Vegetables Section.



RECIPE: Peach Raspberry Lemonade

Turn ripe peaches into peach lemonade.
Photo by Gerhard Taatgen Jr. | SXC.


We’re on a lemonade kick. Yesterday we came back from the farmers market with ripe peaches and made a delicious pitcher of Peach Raspberry Lemonade. Per person, you’ll need:


  • 2 tablespoons peach purée
  • 4 raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice (use more if you like tart lemonade)
  • 2 teaspoons sweetener (or to taste): sugar, honey, agave nectar or equivalent sugar substitute
  • 1 lemon wedge

    1. Purée peaches in a blender.

    2. Muddle peach purée, raspberries, lemon juice and sweetener in a collins glass or water glass.

    3. Fill the glass with ice water. You can use tap water and ice cubes, but the ice dilutes the drink. Plan in advance and freeze plain lemonade in ice cube trays.

    4. Stir, garnish with lemon wedge and serve.


    To make a whole pitcher of lemonade, multiply the ingredients by the number of people you want to serve, muddle the ingredients in the pitcher, add ice water and optional extra ice cubes. Stir well to blend.

    Don’t over-sweeten this drink: Let the fresh peach flavor shine through.

    Find more of our favorite drinks plus recipes in our Beverages Section.



    PRODUCT: Chocolate Yogurt & Caramel Yogurt From Oikos

    Dessert yogurt with zero fat? Sure, we’ll try that!

    Oikos, one of our favorite brands of yogurt (made by Stonyfield), has another winner. Its Pure Pleasure yogurts in Caramel and Chocolate will change your perception of yogurt.

    Both are absolutely delicious, 0% fat, certified organic, gluten free, and even OU kosher! The chocolate and caramel flavors ring true. It one could ask for anything more, it would be that others browsing the refrigerator would stop eating it and leave more for us.

    The four-ounce cups provide just enough satisfaction for a quick snack or for dessert. Each cup has 10g protein, 17g total carbs, 110 calories and live and active cultures.

    Unlike most Greek yogurt, the consistency isn’t super-thick. This enables the caramel and chocolate yogurts to be used as a dessert sauce—on pound cake or angel food cake, for example. It’s also a great dipper for fruit.

    You can print out a 50¢ coupon at (registration required).

    Caramel yogurt and chocolate yogurt are
    delicious dessert and snack options. Photo
    by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    Ten percent of Stonyfield’s profits go to environmental causes. Feel good yet? You’ll feel even better with your first taste of Pure Pleasure yogurt.



    TIP OF THE DAY: A More Cooperative Ice Cream Scoop

    Ice cream slides off the scoop. Available at

    Just as with any kitchen tool, the right ice cream scoop makes your life easier.

    We had five different ice cream scoops acquired over the years. Our challenge was getting the ball of ice cream to release from the scoop.

    The ice cream scoops with the triggers and spring actions didn’t work for us. The classic style used in ice cream parlors, favored by Mom, wasn’t effective either (she’s a lot stronger than we are).

    Apparently, quite a few other people have the sticking problem. So Norpro created its Nonstick Anti-Freeze Ice Cream Scoop. Plastic instead of metal, it cuts through hard ice cream and just as easily releases the balls into the dish. It costs less than metal scoops—just $6.55 at

    Invite friends over for ice cream to try your new scoop. Have everyone bring their scoops and call it “research.”



    PRODUCT: New Leaf Bottled Lemonade

    We celebrated National Lemonade yesterday by trying the flavors of New Leaf Lemonade.

    The company makes bottled tea, lemonade and a lemonade-tea mix with an emphasis on all-natural flavors. The sweetener is organic cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup.

    The 17 New Leaf options include four lemonades: Black Cherry, Homemade (Original), Strawberry and Tiger, a half lemonade/half tea blend (also known as an Arnold Palmer, after the golf great who popularized it).

    People who do not enjoy the tartness of traditional lemonade will be pleased by the smooth lemoniness of New Leaf. It’s made to be as gentle as a soft drink, with almost no hint of ascorbic acid—even though the products are made with lemon juice concentrate.

    It’s easy to tell which of the New Leaf bottles is lemonade: Look for the stripes on the bottle!

    If you’re looking for a bottled tea, New Leaf will oblige with:

    • Black Tea in Lime and Mint, Sweet Tea and Unsweetened
    • Green Tea in Ginseng and Honey, Mango and Plum
    • White Tea in Honeydew and Strawberry

    Lemonade turns over a new leaf. Photo
    by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    • Blue Tea (oolong) in Lemon, Peach, Raspberry, Diet Lemon and Diet Peach


    Learn more at

    Find our favorite soft drinks in our Soft Drinks Section.

    Find reviews of juices and ades in our Juice Section.



    RECIPE: Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail

    Celebrate National Lemonade Day. Photo
    and recipe courtesy


    Celebrate National Lemonade Day, August 20th, with adult lemonade. You’ll love this recipe from Smirnoff Vodka; we made it even more blueberry by adding fresh blueberry purée.

    In addition to Smirnoff Blueberry Flavored Vodka, you can find Stoli Blueberi, Pinnacle Blueberry and other brands.


    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 3 ounces lemonade
  • 1.5 ounces blueberry flavored vodka
  • Optional: 1-2 ounces blueberry purée
  • 3 blueberries for garnish
  • Ice

    1. FILL a tall glass with ice. Add vodka, lemonade and optional blueberry purée. Stir well.

    2. Garnish with fresh blueberries.


    Find more of our favorite cocktails by clicking the Cocktails & Spirits link in the column at right; and also check Cocktails & Spirits Section on


    PRODUCT: Caramel

    Le Caramel is a new company with a line of caramel products based on recipes from Normandy. There are currently four products:

    • Caramel sauce (called Caramel Cream) in salted vanilla or chocolate
    • Caramel candies made with salted butter or chocolateThe candies and creams (sauces) are made in California in the traditional French method, slowly cooked in small batches in a copper kettle.

      Our favorite in the line is the Chocolate Caramel Cream. It isn’t easy to find chocolate caramel sauce.

      You can learn more and purchase products at

    • Find more of our favorite dessert sauces.
    • Check out the different types of dessert sauce in our Dessert Sauce Glossary.

    Chocolate caramel sauce is delicious on
    desserts or right from the jar. Photo by
    Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Mixing Bowls = Serving Bowls

    Our favorite mixing bowls are available

    Some of the mixing bowls on the market are so good-looking, they can go straight to table. There’s no need to use (and wash) a separate “serving dish.”

    We use these stacked melamine bowls in THE NIBBLE kitchen. Who cares that they have a spout: They add bright color to the table when filled with salad, pasta, soup, sides and especially, chips, popcorn and other snacks.

    Stainless steel, glass and ceramic (pottery) mixing bowls also do handsome double duty at the table.

    If you need to give a house gift to new homeowners, give them something they’ll really use. Consider a set of good-looking mixing bowls. Check out:



    PRDUCT: Haamonii Shochu

    Do you know shochu?

    Like vodka, it’s a grain-neutral spirit—in this case, distilled from barley, brown sugar, buckwheat, rice or sweet potatoes, instead of the potatoes, wheat or rye most often used for vodka. Like vodka, it isn’t aged, and thus it can be infused with a variety of flavors.

    But it has half the calories of vodka, and a fine artisan vodka is smooth with no burn—great for sipping.

    Shochu dates back at least to the 16th century. It is most often used in mixed drinks, but some artisan shochus are smooth enough for straight sipping.

    We recently tried Haamonii “ultra premium” shochu, smooth as silk. The Haamonii Lemon Shochu is a special treat: It has the nose of lemon-infused vodka, and the palate of a sweet lemon-vodka cocktail.

    • Read the full review to learn all about shochu, ways to use it and of course, cocktail recipes.
    • Check out our Cocktails & Spirits section for more of our favorite drinks.

    Haamonii shochu is indeed harmonious.
    Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.


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