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Archive for Fruits, Nuts & Seeds

TIP OF THE DAY: How To Remove Food Stains On Teeth, Hands & Fabric

If you’ve ever drunk more than a few glasses of red wine; eaten lots of beets, berries or carrot purée; you know that food can stain teeth, as well as the hands used to prepare it and the clothes worn to make or eat it.

Even white wine can stain: It has both acid and some tannins that make teeth susceptible to pigments in other foods.

According to Web MD, tooth stains are caused by:

  • Acids, which make tooth enamel softer and rougher, so it’s easier for stains to set in.
  • Chromogens, compounds with strong pigments that cling to tooth enamel.
  • Tannins, plant-based compounds that make it easier for stains to stick to teeth.
  •  
    Red wine is a triple threat, with all three.

    Tea stains teeth more than coffee: In addition to the acid they both share, tea also contains tannins.

    Fortunately, there are remedies.
     
    TO REMOVE FOOD STAINS ON TEETH

  • Brush right away; use a paste with a bit of whitening agent. Keep a toothbrush at work.
  • Swish water around in your mouth if you can’t brush. It’s not as effective as brushing, but better than nothing.
  • Use a straw. The liquids are sucked to the roof of your mouth, so bypass your front teeth.
  • Get your teeth cleaned professionally. A professional cleaning and polishing helps to smooth the fine cracks in tooth enamel where color gets trapped. Regular polishing also helps to reduce the amount of staining.
  •  

    Baby Beets

    Orange Beets

    Except for the uncommon white beets, beets stain (photo #1 courtesy Burpee, photo #2 courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

     
    TO REMOVE STAINS ON HANDS

  • Use a salt or sugar scrub. Some people buy them for skin exfoliation, but you can sprinkle coarse salt or sugar on wet hands and rub to exfoliate. You can also use olive oil instead of water. After rubbing, rinse off the scrub off and wash your hands with liquid dish soap. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
  • Clean fingernails with baking soda. Make a rub by adding some lemon juice to the baking soda. Scrub with a nail brush.
  • Prevent them in the first place. Get a box of plastic food-prep gloves for a song: 500 gloves for $9.
  •  
    TO REMOVE STAINS ON FABRIC

  • Immediately blot, not rub, with a paper towel. Then use a laundry pre-stain stick or liquid detergent. Wash ASAP in cold water (the sink is fine).
  • Soak in cold water with chlorine or oxygen bleach if the stain persists.
  • Launder in cold water if needed.
  • Use a fabric-appropriate bleach: Chlorine bleach is preferable if it is safe for the fabric.

  • Get an adult bib from Dress Tiez. We have two and love them: They’re waterproof and easy to clean.
  •  
    MORE HELP

  • For red wine and other stains, we’ve had great success with Wine Away spray. It aso removes coffee, blood, ink, fruit punch, sauces, red medicine stains, even pet stains. Try it on anything.
  • There’s also a pocket size for dining out.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Watermelon Salad

    Watermelon is one of the edible geniuses in the Cucurbitaceae family, also called the gourd family. The most important family members comprise five genuses:

  • Citrullus: watermelon and some other melons.
  • Cucurbita: squash (including pumpkin), summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini), some gourds.
  • Cucumis: cucumber, some melons.
  •  
    Non-edible members include:

  • Lagenaria: inedible (decorative) gourds
  • Luffa/loofah: a fibrous fruit that provides the loofah scrubbing sponge
  •  
    Sweet melons have long been an anticipated summer treat. Pperhaps the most beloved is watermelon: sliced and eaten as hand fruit; sipped as juice, in cocktails, fruit soup and smoothies; made into dessert as fruit salads, popsicles and sorbets; grilled as a side; added to salsa; and so much more.

    Today’s tip: Consider adding watermelon to your salads. It fits as easily into savory salads as sweet fruit salads.
     
    WATERMELON SALAD INGREDIENTS

    Mix and match watermelon with these ingredients:

  • Cucumber (check out the different types of cucumber)
  • Cheese: bocconcini (mozzarella balls), feta, goat cheese, ricotta salata, other cheese
  • Fruit: berries, citrus, cherries, dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc.), heirloom tomatoes, mango, other melons
  • Greens of choice: bell peppers, endive, mesclun, romaine, radicchio
  • Onion: chive, red onion, scallion, sweet onions (consider pickling the onions)
  • Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, mint, parsley
  • Protein: grilled chicken or seafood
  • Spicy: baby arugula, jalapeño, radishes
  • Also: pistachios, roasted beets, water chestnuts, whole grains for grain bowl, summer squash
  •  
    Dressings

  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Blue cheese dressing (light!)
  • Honey-lime vinaigrette
  • Infused olive oil (citrus, herb)
  •  
    RECIPE: WATERMELON CAPRESE SALAD

    This festive salad [photo #2] can be the appetizer or the fruit and cheese course. It was created by Gina Homolka of SkinnyTaste.com.

  • You can combine the ingredients below into a standard watermelon salad with a balsamic dressing (cube the watermelon and cheese)
  • If you don’t have a large star-shaped cookie cutter, use another shape.
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    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • Half seedless watermelon, in 16 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 thin slices fresh mozzarella
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (buy or make your own)
  •  
    Plus

  • 4-inch star-shaped cookie cutter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT 16 from the watermelon. Save the trimmed watermelon for another use.

     

    Watermelon Salad

    Watermelon Caprese

    Balsamic Syrup

    Watermelon On Vine

    [1] Watermelon and cucumber: cousins in a simple salad with red onion (photo courtesy WinesOfSicily.com). [2] An artistic version from Gina Homolka. See more of her inspired recipes and photos at SkinnyTaste.com. [3] Homemade balsamic glaze (photo courtesy EatBoutique.com). [4] Watermelon on the vine (photo by Fred Hsu | Wikipedia).

     
    2. ARRANGE the watermelon on a platter or individual plates. Top each with the mozzarella, arugula, 1/4 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Top with a watermelon star, drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.
     
    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF WATERMELON
     
    WHAT IS BALSAMIC GLAZE?

    Balsamic glaze is balsamic vinegar reduced into a syrup.

    It can be used on savory and sweet foods.

  • No added sweetener is needed for savory uses: aged hard cheeses*, eggs, grilled meats).
  • Consider adding sweetener only if you plan to use the glaze on sweet dishes: berries, cooked fruit dishes, fruit salad, ice cream, pudding).
  •  
    The better the balsamic vinegar, the better the glaze.
     
    Ingredients

  • 16 ounces balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon honey or sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the vinegar to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes. (The glaze will further thicken when it cools.)

    2. REMOVE from the heat; taste and stir in the optional sweetener and salt. Let cool completely.

    3. STORE in the fridge in an airtight jar.

     
    __________________
    *Hard aged cheeses include Cheddar, Cheshire, Emmental, Gouda, Gruyère, Mimolette and Parmesan/Parimigiano Reggiano, among others. It is also delicious with Roquefort and other strong blues, and with over-ripe bloomy-rinded cheeses like Brie and Camembert.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Combine Summer Fruits & Vegetables

    Corn & Peach Salad

    Removing Corn Kernels From The Cob

    [1] Mix summer fruits and vegetables into a salad or a grain bowl (recipe below; photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers). [2] Use the “bundt technique” to neatly remove the corn kernels (photo courtesy SimplyRecipes.com).

     

    Mix it up this summer. Beyond fruit salads and mixed grilled vegetables, combine the two produce groups into new concepts.

    Almost everyone has made a mixed fruit or vegetable recipe, but how about mixed fruit and vegetables?

    Think grilled pizza with figs and yellow squash or arugula and nectarines; raw or grilled skewers (bell peppers, cucumbers, melon, stone fruit, summer squash), or the corn and peach salad recipe below. Here’s a reference list for your combinations:
     
    SUMMER VEGETABLES

  • Berries: blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, loganberry, raspberries, strawberries
  • Melon: cantaloupe, casaba, crenshaw, honeydew, persian, watermelon
  • Stone fruits: apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums
  • Miscellaneous: avocado, grapes, fig, loquats, longan, lychees, mango, passionfruit
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    SUMMER VEGETABLES

  • Colorful: beets, bell pepper, corn, red jalapeño, radishes, red endive, red onion, tomatoes
  • Green: arugula, baby spinach, butter lettuce, Chinese long beans, edamame, French beans, green beans, sugar snap peas, tomatillos, watercress
  • Pale: bok choy, cucumber, chanterelles, endive, sweet onions, Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Summer squash: crookneck, yellow squash, zucchini
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    Plus

  • Whole grains for a grain bowl
  •  
    RECIPE: FRESH CORN & PEACH SALAD

    This refreshing summer salad is delicious with grilled proteins, roast chicken, or on a salad buffet.

    You can prepare steps 1 and 2 a day in advance.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4-6 ears fresh yellow corn (2 to 2-1/2 cups kernels)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh peaches
  • 2-3 cups greens, washed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup shredded/julienned fresh mint or basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or flavored vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (1/2 lime)
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Optional: red chili flakes
  • Optional: whole grains, cooked
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLEAN the corn and cut the kernels from cob. It’s neater if you use the bundt pan technique: Steady the ear of corn in the hole at the top of the funnel of a bundt pan (see photo 2 above). When you cut the kernels, they fall into the pan for neater gathering. If you have a silicon pad or other nonslip surface, put it under the bundt pan before you begin,

    2. COMBINE the corn, peaches and seasonings to taste in a medium bowl. Add the oil, vinegar and lime juice; toss to coat. Add the seasonings to taste. When ready to serve…

    3. PLACE the greens at the bottom of a serving bowl or individual plates (if using grains, add them first). Top with the corn and peaches, then the mint or basil. If using a serving bowl, toss before serving.
     
    Grilled Variation

    You can grill the corn and peaches before making the salad.

    1. BRUSH the shucked ears of corn and halved peaches with olive oil and grill on a covered grill over medium heat for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn occasionally for even browning.

    2. REMOVE from the grill and let cool to the touch. Then cut the kernels and slice the peaches.
     
    Caprese Variation

    Make a Caprese Salad of peaches and tomatoes, with the corn substituting for, or in addition to, the mozzarella cheese. Garnish with basil and olive oil.

    Here’s a recipe.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Rubik’s Cube Fruit & Cheese

    For a fun dessert, salad course or snack, make an edible Rubik’s Cube.

    Erno Rubik, born July 13, 1944, is a Hungarian architect and inventor. His immortality lies in his 1974 invention, the Rubik’s Cube, just one of the mechanical puzzles he’s created.

    Crafty cooks have reinterpreted the Rubik’s Cube with cubes of cake, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
     
    RUBIK’S CUBE DESSERT TIPS

    A Rubik’s Cube of fruit and cheese is a summery dessert (photos 1 and 4).

  • Start by choosing two fruits and a cheese, or three fruits. With the latter, you can still serve cheese, on a skewer on the side.
  • You need fruits that are firm and won’t brown, and semi-hard cheeses.
  • Aim for different colors (our favorite combination is watermelon, cantaloupe and good feta—not overly salty).
  • If you use kiwi, which is softer, you can peel and firm them in the freezer before slicing. It can help to slightly freeze feta, too.
  • We put out all the garnishes and sauces and let guests dress their own cubes.
  •  
    While you can make a single large cube to share, it will quickly be disasembled to serve. It’s much nicer to keep the visual for a longer time by serving individual ones with one-inch cubes.

    The key to a good-looking cube is having the patience to cut every ingredient the same size. Unless you’re a pro with a knife, you might want to get a square cookie/vegetable cutter.

    RECIPE: RUBIK’S FRUIT & CHEESE CUBE

    Ingredients

  • Melon: cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Exotics: dragonfruit, jicama
  • Cheese: cheddar, feta, jack
  • Optional garnishes: chili flakes, chopped cilantro or parsley, chopped pistachios, Tajin seasoning (see below), watercress sprigs
  • Optional sauces: basil- or rosemary-infused olive oil, fruit vinaigrette (honey-lime or honey-orange juice with olive oil), fruit or vanilla yogurt sauce (thin the yogurt with kefir)/li>
     
    Plus
  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Ruler
  • One-inch-square cutter
  • Patience and precision
  •    

    Watermelon Rubik's Cube

    Vegetable Rubik's Cube

    Rubik's Cube Cake

    [1] Fruit & Cheese Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs). [2] Vegetable Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy VladPiskunov.LiveJournal.com). [3] Rubik’s cake from Cookies, Cupcakes And Cardio.

     

    Fruit Cube

    [4] An all-fruit Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy Laurentiu Iordache | 500px.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. CHOOSE the fruit and cheese combination.

    2. USE a cleaned ruler to measure; then cut the fruit and cheese into one-inch-high slabs. Next, cut the slabs into one-inch cubes, ideally with a one-inch-square cutter. Reserve the scraps for another purpose (salads, salsas, smoothies for fruit; omelets, salads, salsas for cheeses, meats and vegetables).

    3. ASSEMBLE the cube(s) on the serving plate(s). First create the base: four sides with three cubes on each side. Build the second and third layers, alternating so that no adjacent cubes are the same.

    4. GARNISH as desired. We set out different garnishes and sauces and let guests dress their own cubes.

    If you want to watch the process, check out this YouTube video. You don’t need to use sugar syrup to bind the cubes together, as is done in the video recipe.
     
    MORE RUBIK’S CUBE RECIPES

    Veggie: For a first course, here’s an all-vegetable Rubik’s cube salad made with beets, carrots, cucumbers and potatoes (photo 2 above). You can substitute cubed ham, salami or turkey for one of the veggies.

    Cake: Here’s how to make the Rubik’s Cube Cake in photo 3.

     
    WHAT IS TAJIN SEASONING?

    Made by Tajin Products, a Mexican company, this mildly spicy seasoning combines chili, lime and salt. It is delicious on fruits: citrus, cucumber, melon, and tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple, etc.).

    A Mexican staple, you can find it in the Mexican foods aisle in supermarkets, in Latin American food stores, and online.

    It’s a versatile seasoning. You can use it on:

  • Cooked and raw fruit and vegetables
  • Fries, mozzarella sticks
  • Glass rimmer for cocktails or juice drinks
  • Sorbet and ice pops
  • Popcorn, eggs, etc.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fancy Lemonade

    Lemon Grove

    Lemon Tree

    Meyer Lemons

    [1] A lemon grove (photo courtesy Condé Nast Traveler.[2] Ornamental lemon trees can be grown indoors (photo courtesy BrighterBlooms.com. [3] Meyer lemons, less tart than the conventional supermarket lemon (photo courtesy GoodEggs.com).

     

    It took a while for man to turn lemons into lemonade, the quintessential American summer drink.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMONADE

    The origin of the lemon is still not certain, although food historians believe it may be Assam in northwestern India, where lemons have been cultivated for more than 2,500 years.

    It was brought to northern Burma and to China, across Persia and the Arab world to the Mediterranean.

  • Arab traders brought the lemons to the Middle East and Africa sometime after 100 C.E.
  • They are believed to have been introduced into southern Italy around 200 C.E.; and was being cultivated in Egypt and in Sumer, the southern portion of Mesopotamia, a few centuries later.
  • Citron, a different citrus, looking like a larger lemon with a very thick rind and very little pulp or juice, seems to have been known by Jews before the time of Christ. References to the round, yellow fruit grown by the Romans were to citron. The lemon does not appear to have been grown in the Middle East in pre-Islamic times.
  •  
    But for many centuries in the Middle East, lemons were not widely cultivated as food.

  • They were largely an ornamental plant in Middle Eastern gardens until about the 10th century. Arabs introduced the lemon to Spain in the 11th century, and by 1150, the lemon was widely cultivated in the Mediterranean.
  • The first clear written reference to the lemon tree dates from the early 10th century, in an Arabic work on farming.
  • Crusaders returning from Palestine brought lemons to the rest of Europe. The lemon came into full culinary use in Europe in the 15th century; the first major cultivation in Europe began in Genoa.
  • The name “lemon” first appeared around 1350–1400, and derives from the Middle English word limon. Limon is an Old French word, indicating that the lemon entered England via France. The Old French derives from the Italian limone, which dates back to the Arabic laymun or limun, from the Persian word limun.
  • Lemons came to the New World in 1493, when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola. Spanish conquest spread the lemon throughout the New World, where it was still used mainly used as an ornamental plant, and for medicine.
  • Lemons were grown in California by 1751; and in the 1800s in Florida, they began to be used in cooking and flavoring. Commercial cultivation of lemons took hold in California and Florida in the 1800s.
  • Around 200 cultivars (distinct varieties) of lemon can be found in the U.S. alone. Some are best for lemon juice, some for lemon oil, and some are all-around. Some are more disease-resistant, some bear more fruit.
  •  
    Over the millennia, many different types of lemons evolved.

    One of the reasons it is difficult to trace lemon’s origin is adaptability to hybridization, as well as the vagueness of descriptions and awareness levels. A “round citron” reference may actually be a lemon, or vice versa.

    Depictions of citrus fruits in Roman mosaics such as found in Carthage in Tunisia, and frescoes preserved in Pompeii, may look like lemons but are not supported by any botanical or literary evidence (source).

    What we do know is that many varieties proliferated in semi-tropical climates around the world. Here’s a pictorial glossary of the different types of lemons.
     
    And the history of lemonade?

  • The earliest written evidence of lemonade comes from medieval Egypt in the writings of the Persian poet and traveler Nasir-i-Khusraw (1003-ca. 1061).
  •  

  • Records from the medieval Jewish community in Cairo (10th-13th centuries) show that bottles of lemon juice, called qatarmizat, were heavily sweetened with sugar. An 1104 reference shows a considerable trade in exporting lemon juice.
  •  
    Over the centuries, lemonade has been enhanced with fruits, herbs, spices and yes, alcohol.

    National Lemonade Day is August 20th, but why wait until then to enjoy these recipes?

    This recipe is adapted from Leanne Vogel of HealthfulPursuit.com, for Strawberry Basil Italian Lemonade.

    Italian lemonade uses mineral water; you can use whatever water you like.

    You may want to soak the basil overnight, or first thing in the morning.

     

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY BASIL LEMOMADE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 24 organic strawberries, hulled
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Ultrafine sugar*, simple syrup or other sweetener to taste
  • 2 quarts mineral water
  • 48 basil leaves, washed and stems removed and divided
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • Optional garnish:
  • Straws
  •  
    __________________
    *Ultrafine sugar dissolves more easily because the grains are much smaller. You can turn table sugar into ultrafine by pulsing it in a food processor.
     
    Preparation

    1. SOAK half of the basil in the mineral water for 6-8 hour and refrigerates.

    2. CRUSH the strawberries in a large bowl with a muddler or a potato masher, until they can be sipped through a straw. Add the lemon juice and sweetener, stir and refrigerate. When ready to serve…

    3. Add 2 spoonfuls of strawberry purée to the bottom of 8 glasses. Add 2 fresh basil leaves (not soaked) and a couple of ice cubes. Pour mineral water over the top and serve with straws.
     
    MORE EXCITING LEMOMADE RECIPES

  • Jalapeño Lemonade Recipe
  • Lavender Lemonade Recipe
  • Mint Lemonade Recipe
  • Peach Lemonade Recipe
  • Sparkling Melon Lemonade Recipe
  • Spicy Lemonade Recipe
  •  
    LEMONADE COCKTAIL RECIPES

  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail Recipe
  • Lemonade 485 Cocktail Recipe
  • Limoncello Lemonade Recipe
  • Tequila Lemonade Recipe
  • Saké Lemonade Recipe
  •  
    HAVE OTHER IDEAS FOR FANCY LEMONADE?

    Let us know!

     

    Strawberry Basil Lemonade

    Lavender Lemonade

    Jalapeno Lemonade

    [1] Strawberry Basil Lemonade, the recipe at left (photo courtesy HealthfulPursuit.com). [2] Lavender lemonade (recipe, photo © Edith Frincu | Dreamstime). [3] Jalapeño Lemonade (recipe, photo courtesy Melissas.com).

      

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