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Archive for January, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Clean Your Water Bottle


If you carry a refillable bottle of water, or reuse disposable water bottles for water, that’s great for the environment.

But, says Prevention magazine, you should clean your water bottle daily to wash away the germs that collect. This video shows how.

We must admit to using both refillable bottles and disposable bottles several times before washing them. We’ll have to watch the video a few times!




Check it out in our Water Glossary. You’ll be surprised how many different types of water there are.

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NEWS: A New Post Office Wedding Cake Stamp

First class postage goes up tomorrow: to 45 cents for the first half ounce of a letter and 32 cents for standard-size post cards (3″ x 5″ to 4″ x 6″).

The U.S. Postal Service has also issued a 65-cent Wedding Cake stamp, to accommodate those thick wedding invitations (up to two ounces).

First introduced in 2009, this latest addition to the U.S. Postal Service’s Weddings series is available at Post Offices nationwide, online at and by phone at 800.782.6724.

The three-tier wedding cake in the photo, topped with white flowers and green leaves, was created by pastry chef Peter Brett of Washington, D.C.

Like Stamps?

Follow the new issues on Facebook, through Twitter or at, the Postal Service’s website that focuses on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.


Getting married? Here’s your stamp.
Photo courtesy USPS.



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COOKING VIDEO: It’s Easy To Make This Homemade Granola Recipe


Our next Top Pick Of The Week will review 140 different granolas and mueslis. But you can make your own perfect mix of oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits right now.

If you eat lots of granola, you can save a goodly amount of cash by buying rolled oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits in bulk and making your own.

You can also tailor your recipe to a specific calorie count and/or sugar grams, and use lower-glycemic alternatives to honey and maple syrup, such as agave nectar and brown rice syrup.

Homemade granola can even become your signature special gift (it’s healthier than brownies). Whether in a clear plastic treat bag tied with a ribbon, or in a reusable gift tin or canister, any cereal eater/snacker will welcome it.

You can also buy gluten-free oats to make gluten-free granola—a wonderful gift for friends limiting their gluten intake.

Check out the video below to see how easy it is to make your own granola.

  • Granola bar fan? Here are our favorite granola bars.
  • Cereal lover? Find more of our favorite cereals in our Gourmet Cereal Section.


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    WEEKEND COCKTAIL: Rum Spiced Cider

    Serve something different this weekend. We’re inviting friends over for rum spiced cider, a popular winter warmer.

    This recipe, Orange Spiced Cider, was created by tea expert James Labe for Ron Abuelo rum. It blends añejo (aged) rum with orange spice tea and apple cider.


    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 orange spice tea bag (Constant Comment*
    or Numi)
  • 8 ounces apple cider
  • 2 ounces añejo (aged) rum
  • Optional garnish: cinnamon stick
    *Constant Comment, originally made with black tea, is also available as a spiced green tea. There’s also a decaffeinated Constant Comment made with black tea.

    Cooler months inspire warm cocktails.
    Photo courtesy Ron Abuelo.

    1. Heat cider until very hot.

    2. Steep tea bag directly in cider for 5 minutes, covered.

    3. Uncover, add rum and stir. Garnish with cinnamon stick.
    Find more of our favorite winter cocktail recipes.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Vacu Vin Instant Marinating Container

    The Vacu Vin Instant Marinating Container is
    a handy aid for anyone who cooks.


    We’ve had a Vacu Vin for some 20 years—the Vacu Vin Wine Saver. It removes air from an open bottle of wine, to preserve the wine quality until you get around to finishing the bottle.

    Then Chef Johnny Gnall introduced us to the Vacu Vin Instant Marinating Container for meats and vegetables.

    Marinating helps retain natural juices, enhances flavors and helps to deliver better results when grilling, pan searing or roasting.

    The easy-to-use Vacu Vin Instant Marinating Container, with a vacuum seal, makes it possible to marinate food in minutes instead of hours. Simply place the food in the container, add the marinade, fasten the lid and pump out the air to create a vacuum.

    Explains Chef Johnny:


    The difference between good cooking and exceptional cooking often lies behind the scenes. There are tricks that good cooks know that can unlock incredible flavors.

    Marinating is one of these tricks: Taking a great piece of meat and marinating it, even in something as simple as olive oil and sliced garlic, can take things to that exceptional level.

    Marinades work to infuse meat with flavor; but if you add salt, citrus, vinegar or some other acid, you actually tenderize the meat as well.

    Moreover, you build flavors in rich layers. A sauce can add something special and complex, but marinating that food in the same sauce will deepen those flavors significantly, creating a fuller, rounder taste.

    In the simplest terms, the Vacu Vin Instant Marinating Container is a Tupperware-like container with a vacuum pump attached to the lid. You pump it to remove air from the container and create a vacuum seal—a simpler approach to the Cryovac machines used in the kitchens of Ferran Adria, Thomas Keller and other chefs of reknown who vacuum marinate their foods to get a high concentration of flavor in a short amount of time. The Vacu Vin does the same thing to a lesser degree (because you’re paying $40, not $4,000).



    It’s not just about meat. You can (and often should) marinate vegetables, fruit, even certain grains. It’s all about getting the most flavor you can out of the food.

    The added depth of flavor can make some foods even more appealing. Maybe your kids don’t like broccoli. Try marinating it in some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and Parmesan cheese (grated as needed from a piece of cheese, not the product in the green can), then roasting it. There’s no guarantee your kids will devour it, but at the very least, you will have had them try some darn tasty broccoli!


    Remember that when you’re marinating, time makes a real difference. The minimum something should sit in its marinade to make a significant difference is 30 minutes. Granted, you can marinate for 10 minutes and you’ll get some flavor, but most of what you’re tasting is the marinade that adheres to the outside of the food. You’re not getting the most out of your marinating.


    What’s for dinner? Start it with a 15-minute
    marinade in a Vacu Vin. Photo courtesy Allen Brothers.


    If you don’t have those 30 minutes, the Vacu Vin Instant Marinating Container will cut the time in half. It may become your new favorite kitchen toy.

    So pick up a Vacu Vin and marinate your food as the very first step in cooking. Place the meat, vegetables or whatever into the Vacu-Vin for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking. The food will still benefit if you can marinate it for longer, but you are looking at a significantly shorter time requirement and a way to get more out of your cooking.

    Plus, you can have some fun and play around with it.

  • Try pickling vegetables in the Vacu Vin: They will probably take half as long as they normally do.
  • Keep meat and leftovers fresher longer by vacuum-storing them.
    You can really get some miles from this handy utensil: a time saver, a flavor unlocker and a pretty good deal all around.

    The bottom line is this: the more love you give your food, the more love you’ll get out of it.


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