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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

CINCO DE MAYO: Make Menudo, A Hearty Mexican Soup

menudo-tripe-norecipes-230

Menudo, a Mexican stew made with tripe
(chuck roast can be substituted). Photo
courtesy NoRecipes.com.

 

Chef Johnny Gnall’s mother grew up in Mexico City. She discovered her talent for cooking at a young age, and amassed recipes from friends and family while still a young girl.

Her greatest teacher, however, was her nanny, Eulalia, a native Mexican. A tremendous source of knowledge on authentic Mexican cooking, many of Eulalia’s recipes dated back several hundred years. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Johnny shares this one.

“Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made from tripe (cow stomach). It is very hearty and lore suggests it as a hangover cure. Foreign to most Americans, tripe is actually a lot better than it sounds. If cooked right, its flavor and texture become like that of great pot roast.

“Buttery and velvety on your palate, the meat almost melts in your mouth and gives an unmistakable richness to the whole dish. If you’re still not convinced and the thought of stomach is a bit much (or your butcher doesn’t have any on hand), you can substitute chuck roast for a more American-friendly menudo.

“Traditionally, you would use a casuela, a large earthenware pot; but any pot will do if you’re short on Mexican earthenware.”

There is also an unrelated Philippine menudo, a stew made with sliced pork and calf’s liver in tomato sauce.

RECIPE: MENUDO

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chuck roast or tripe
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 tablespoon each: marjoram, oregano and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few pinches of salt
  • 4 cups of Peruvian corn (maiz—see note below)
  •  
    For The Chile Sauce

  • 5 fresno chiles
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Chili powder
  • Chopped white onion
  • Lime wedges
  • Oregano
  • Salsa(s)
  •  
    Plus

  • Warm tortillas
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the bay leaf, garlic and onion in a piece of cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine, or other device for easy removal.

    2. DICE the beef into half-inch pieces and place in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, herbs and salt and fill the pot the remainder of the way with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 4 hours, or until the meat is fall-apart tender. Then turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf, garlic and onion.

    3. BOIL the corn in a separate pot until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

    4. COOK the corn. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

    5. MAKE the chile sauce. Soak the chiles in hot water for 20 minutes. Then combine them in a blender with the other ingredients plus enough of the beef broth to keep things spinning with ease. Once blended, strain and add to the pot of beef. Simmer for 20 more minutes, then add the corn.

    6. SERVE with the garnishes on the side so people can add what they like. Add some warm tortillas into the mix and you are good to go!

     

    peruvian-corn-choclo-peruviandelights-230r

    This is maiz, also called choclo in Peru and Peruvian corn in the U.S. Photo courtesy PeruvianDelights.com.

     
    MORE ABOUT MENUDO

    In Mexico, there are regional variations, which have been brought to Mexican-American communities in the U.S.

    There’s annual Menudo Festival in Santa Maria, California, where you can feast on the different varieties. Here’s more about menudo.
     
    WHAT IS PERUVIAN CORN

    Most historians believe that maize was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico. Numerous varieties were cultivated by the Olmecs and Mayas. Corn had spread throughout Mesoamerica by 2500 B.C.E.

    In a region with so many varieties of corn, names evolved. The type of corn grown in the U.S. is called elote (ee-LO-tay). Peruvian-style corn, with giant white kernels, is called maiz (ma-EES).

    It is also called choclo in Peru (more than 30 varieties of corn are grown in every color and size imaginable). These jumbo kernels have a different texture than American corn varieties and are less sweet. They were first cultivated in Cusco, the city high in the Andes that was once the capital of the Inca empire.

    Choclo has been a staple of the Peruvian diet for thousands of years. It is used to make everything from tamales to soups and pastries.

    It can typically be found frozen or dried at Latin markets and online.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Poached Eggs On Vegetables

    poached-eggs-asstd-veg-ellarysgreensNYC-230

    Poached eggs atop a medley of sautéed vegetables. Photo courtesy Ellary’s Greens | NYC.

     

    When was the last time a plate of poached eggs looked this tempting?

    On the brunch menu at Ellary’s Greens in New York City, the chef changes vegetables with the seasons and uses them as a base for poached eggs.

    If your thoughts are with weekend brunch or what to serve for Mother’s Day breakfast, adapt this idea from Chef Kurt Alexander.

    The photo shows more of a winter palate, with Brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, pattypan squash and sunchoke purée, garnished with fresh dill. You can switch these out for spring vegetables.

    We went to our farmers’ market and came back with asparagus (green, purple and white!), cardoons, fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, morel mushrooms and ramps—a veritable spring feast.

    At any supermarket, you can find broccoli, fennel, pea pods, snow peas, spring peas, Swiss chard and Vidalia onions—and maybe some fava beans or lima beans plus some halved grape tomatoes for color.

     
    ANOTHER TREAT: FARM-FRESH EGGS

    If you do hit the farmers market, bring back farm-fresh eggs. You’ll marvel at how much better they taste than factory-farm eggs that can be in storage for a while before they hit the supermarket shelf.

    We steamed our vegetables and then tossed them in parsley butter with lemon, known in French cuisine as beurre à la maître d’hôtel.
     
    HOW TO POACH EGGS

    1. FILL a large, deep saucepan with 2 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium.

    2. BREAK 1 egg into small dish. Carefully slide the egg into the simmering water (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach the eggs for 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken.

    3. CAREFULLY REMOVE the eggs with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

    If you’re not adept at poaching eggs, get an egg poacher insert. The uniform roundness it creates isn’t as eye-pleasing as a naturally-poached egg, but it beats the frustration of trying to harness meandering egg whites until you perfect the technique.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mexican Haystacks

    Seeking something fun for Cinco de Mayo?

    A food haystack uses a starchy base (tortilla chips, saltines or rice), topped by a protein (beans, grated Cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned meat, and/or a vegetarian meat alternative), and fresh vegetables (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, peppers). It is garnished with condiments (guacamole, sour cream, salsa).

    Mexican Haystacks are like a deconstructed tostada. The haystack ingredients are served individually and assembled on the plate by the person who will be eating it. There are other variations, like Hawaiian haystacks with ham and pineapple.

    Good for a crowd, the concept been popular for at least 60 years. According to Wikipedia, they are particularly popular among Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites and Latter-Day Saints.

    You can assemble the haystacks and bring them to the table, or simply lay out the ingredients and have each person assemble their own haystack, using as little or as much of any particular ingredient.

    RECIPE: MEXICAN HAYSTACKS

    This recipe courtesy of Ginny Stevenson, adapted by Winner Dinners.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package (1 ounce) taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (16-ounces) refried beans
  • 1 bag tortilla chips or cooked, seasoned rice for base*
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Sliced green onions
  • 1 can (2.2-ounces) sliced olives
  • 1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh salsa
  •  

    mexican-haystack-planet-rice-230

    Mexican Haystacks with a rice base. Photo courtesy Planet Rice.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE all of the cheeses, vegetables, and toppings as directed, placing each item in its own small bowl. Store in the fridge while you prepare the beef and beans.

    2. PLACE the ground beef, taco seasoning mix and the amount of water indicated on the seasoning package into a skillet and cook them all together, until the meat is cooked and tender and most of the water has evaporated. While the beef is cooking…

    3. PLACE the refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl and heat.

    4. BRING ingredients to the table and assemble. Place a thin layer of refried beans on a plate and then sprinkle some tortilla chips over the beans. Add the remaining ingredients in whatever order you wish. A recommended order: beef, lettuce, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, tomatoes, olives, green onions, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.
     
    *Even if you don’t use the tortilla chips for the base, you can serve them on the side.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Simple Syrup

    lemon-vanilla-twist-vodka-nielsenmassey-230

    This cocktail uses homemade lemon-vanilla
    simple syrup. Photo courtesy Nielsen-
    Massey. The recipe is below.

     

    Granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold beverages. That’s why simple syrup (also called bar syrup, sugar syrup or gomme, the French word for gum) is used to add sweetness to drinks such as cocktails, lemonade, iced tea and iced coffee.

    Over the last decade, flavored simple syrups have become popular with mixologists. In addition to sweetness, they’re also used to add an extra layer of flavor to drinks.

    There are lots of flavored simple syrups on the market. In addition to common flavors—blood orange, lavender, mint, pomegranate, raspberry—you can find cardamom, peach basil, pineapple jalapeno cilantro, saffron and tamarind.

    Most people buy a bottle of premade simple syrup (also available in sugar-free.) Others simply make their own—not only because it’s easy and so much less expensive, but because they can create special flavors—everything from ghost chile to strawberry rose.

    It couldn’t be easier: Just bring equal parts of water and sugar to a boil and simmer, then add any flavorings. You can even make agave or honey simple syrup by replacing the sugar.

    SUGAR TIP: Superfine sugar dissolves much more quickly than granulated table sugar. You can turn granulated sugar into superfine sugar by pulsing it in a food processor or spice mill.

     

    RECIPE: SIMPLE SYRUP

    Ingredients

  • 2 parts sugar
  • 1 part water
  • Optional flavor: 1-1/2 teaspoons extract (mint, vanilla, etc.)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly until dissolved completely. (Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or it will be too thick.)

    2. ADD the optional flavor once the sugar is fully dissolved. To infuse fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary), simmer them in the hot water for 20 minutes and remove before adding the sugar.

    3. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken.

    4. STORE in an airtight container in the fridge for up to six months.

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: LEMON LIME RASPBERRY TWIST

    For spring, try this Lemon Lime raspberry Twist cocktail (photo above). The recipe from Nielsen-Massey, using their Pure Lemon and Tahitian Vanilla extracts.

    If you like heat, add some jalapejalapeñoo slices as garnish.

    Ingredients For ½ Cup Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 6 fresh raspberries
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 2 ounces lemon-flavored sparkling water
  • Lime twist
  • 2 frozen raspberries
  • Orange wedge
  • Optional garnish: sliced jalapeño (remove seeds and pith)
  •  

    simple-sugar-ingredients-zulka-230

    Just mix equal parts of sugar and water, plus any flavorings. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and lemon extract in a small saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup reduces, about 10-15 minutes.

    2. REMOVE from the heat. After the syrup has cooled, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Refrigerate the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge.

    3. MUDDLE in a cocktail shaker the fresh raspberries, lime juice and simple syrup. Add vodka and sparkling water; shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Drop the lime twist and frozen raspberries into glass. Top with a freshly squeezed orange wedge.
     
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP IN BEVERAGES

  • Cocktails
  • Nonalcoholic drinks: agua fresca, iced coffee and tea, lemonade, mocktails, sparkling water (for homemade soda)
  •  
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP TO SWEETEN FOODS

  • Candied peel (grapefruit, orange, etc.)
  • Glaze baked goods
  • Snow cones
  • Sorbet
  •  
    Bakers brush simple syrup on layer cakes to keep the crumb moist. If you use flavored simple syrup, it adds a nuance of flavor as well.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tomatillo Guacamole

    tomatillo-quacamole-qvc-230

    Guacamole with tomatillos. Recipe and photo
    courtesy QVC.

     

    Plan for Cinco de Mayo with this all-green guacamole recipe, which replaces the red tomatoes with green tomatillos.

    RECIPE: TOMATILLO GUACAMOLE

    Ingredients

  • 4 large tomatillos, peeled, halved, and chopped
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and quartered
  • 1-1/3 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Tortilla chips and/or crudités
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Place the diced tomatillos, avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, salt, pepper, and lime juice into a food processor, in the order listed. Mix until all ingredients are fully combined and the guacamole is smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    2. To keep the guacamole from browning until you’re ready to serve it, tamp plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent air from oxidizing the avocado.

    Here’s another tomatillo guacamole recipe with roasted corn.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOMATOES & TOMATILLOS

    Tomatillos are not little green tomatoes. They are in the same botanical family, but a different species. Here’s the scoop:
     
    THE TOMATO

    The tomato is an edible red berry*, although some varieties grow in colors that range from brown to green (when ripe), orange, purple-black, purple-blue, white and yellow (see photo below and learn more about tomato colors).

  • Originally tiny in size (like the grape tomato), it was cultivated over centuries to its current “beefsteak” heft.
  • Its botanical family is Solanaceae (the Nightshade family, which includes potatoes and eggplant), species/genus Solanum lycopersicum.
  • The plant is native to Central and South America, from Mexico to Peru.
  • It’s an annual plant with a woody stem that typically grows to 3 to 10 feet in height.
  •  
    THE TOMATILLO

     

    kiwi-cherry-berry-tomatillo-thechefsgarden-230

    Tomatillos (top) and their cousins, cherry tomatoes. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden.

     
    The tomatillo is also an edible berry. Small and spherical, it is [erroneously] called a green tomato; and also a husk tomato, a Mexican tomato and other names. But it’s a distant cousin to the tomato. Instead, it is closely related to the cape gooseberry.

  • Like the orange-colored gooseberry, the tomatillo is surrounded by a papery husk. The ripe fruit can be green, purple, red or yellow.
  • The tomatillo’s botanical family is also Solanaceae, but it belongs to a completely different species from the tomato, Physalis. Its botanical name is Physalis ixocarpa.
  • Native to Central America, the tomatillo was a staple of Maya and Aztec cuisine.
  • The tomatillo is also an annual plant, with a semi-woody stem that can grow to a height of 4 to 5 feet. However, it usually grows low to the ground and spreads out instead of up.
  •  
    *Yes, tomatoes are fruits. Here’s the difference between fruits and vegetables.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    mac-and-cheese-grilled-cheese-davidvenableQVC-230

    A grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese! Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We’re closing out National Grilled Cheese Month with something out of the ordinary: a grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese. It’s the creation of Chef David Venable of QVC, who created it to use up leftover mac and cheese. (Really? Who ever has leftover mac and cheese?)

    He uses extra slices of cheddar on top of the mac and cheese, which melt and will help hold the mac in place. And, since you don’t want to wait until you have leftovers, you make the mac and cheese from scratch.

    If you like heat, add some chili flakes to the recipe.

    RECIPE: MAC & CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced, cooked, and fat drained
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1–1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 slices white bread or bread of choice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

    2. ADD the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. When the sauce begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and add the shredded cheese, mustard, optional chili flakes, salt and pepper. Stir until all of the cheese has melted. Add the bacon and the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to fully coat the macaroni. Set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    4. PLACE 8 slices of bread on a work surface and spread the mayonnaise onto one side of each slice. Flip over 4 slices of the bread and place 1 slice of cheddar on each.

    5. DIVIDE the macaroni over the cheese-covered bread slices and spread evenly. Top with the remaining slices of cheddar and cover with the remaining bread slices, mayonnaise side facing out.

    6. PREHEAT a square griddle pan to medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the hot griddle and toast until golden brown on one side, about 5–8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches; then place the griddle, with the sandwiches, in the oven and bake for about 5–8 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese slices have melted.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Potato Crusted Fish

    After we jad this delicious potato-crusted cod at Blaue Gans restaurant in New York City, we created our own version at home.

    You can use cod, halibut or other thick, flaky white fish. Blaue Gans set the fish atop a cucumber, yogurt and tarragon salad. You can use any vegetables or grain.

    There are variations of potato crust that use potato flakes or mashed potatoes. But to look as pretty (and get as crunchy) as this, you need to grate long slices of fresh potato. You also must use a nonstick pan so the potato crust doesn’t stick.

    You need to coat the fish with a flavored paste so the potato crust will adhere. This recipe uses pesto. You can also make a garlic or wasabi paste*.

    And, you can “go gourmet” by making parsley and/or carrot oil, a few drops of flavored olive oil, or a bit of carrot or red bell pepper purée.

       

    potato-crusted-cod-blauegansNYC-230

    A beauty: potato-crusted cod. Photo courtesy Blaue Gans | NYC.

     

    RECIPE: POTATO-CRUSTED COD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cod fillets, 6 ounces each
  • 4 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled into strips and squeezed dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  
    For The Parsley Vinaigrette†

  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    *Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste with 4 tablespoons mayonnaiseor full-fat plain yogurt.

    †Recipe adapted from Chef Michael Schlow.

     

    box-grater-230

    Use a box grater to cut thick strips. Photo courtesy Cuisipro.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the vinaigrette: Blanch the parsley in a saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain, rinse, squeeze dry and pat with paper towels to remove remaining moisture. Transfer to a blender, add the ice cubes and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the remaining olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    3. GRATE the potatoes and squeeze out all the excess water. If the potatoes are wet, they will not get crisp.

    4. SPREAD one side of each fillet with 1 tablespoon of pesto. Press the grated potato onto the pesto.

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a nonstick pan. The oil is hot when it flows smoothly over the bottom of the pan and glistens. It you’re not certain that it’s hot enough, add a small piece of garlic or onion. It will sizzle immediately when the oil is hot enough.

     
    6. PLACE the fish potato side down in the pan. Cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.

    7. MOVE the fish to a baking pan, potato side up. Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.

      

    Comments

    MOTHER’S DAY: Wonder Woman Cups & Mugs

    wonder-woman-mug-zak-230

    Enjoy your coffee with Wonder Woman. Photo courtesy Zak.com.

     

    Wonder Woman was blessed with a wide range of superhuman powers to help her fight the good fight. Many mortal woman do as much with their own skill sets.

    If you’re looking for a thank-you gift for Mother’s Day, how about a token of all the amazing things moms accomplish Pick something from Zak’s new Wonder Woman line:

  • Wonder Woman Coffee Cup (ceramic)
  • Wonder Woman Juice Glass (glass)
  • Wonder Woman Insulated Cup with Straw (high-quality plastic)
  • Wonder Woman Multi Purpose Plate (high-quality plastic)
  • Wonder Woman Travel Mug (high-quality plastic)
  • Wonder Woman Water Bottle (high-quality plastic)
  •  

    Prices are as low as $2.99 for a 10-ounce glass and $4.99 for a mug—affordable enough for party favors.

    Check out the whole line.

     
      

    Comments

    EARTH DAY: 5 Green Things You Can Do To Help Save The Planet

    The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

    Yet 45 years later, the need to save the planet is even greater. Here are five painless food-related things you can do to live greener:

    1. CARRY A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE

    Bottled water purchases continue to grow in the beverage category. A plastic water bottle takes 1,000 years to degrade in landfill; if burned in a furnace, it releases harmful toxins into the air.

    Carry a refillable water bottle. If you don’t like your municipal water, get a home water filtration system.
     
    2. MAKE CARBONATED BEVERAGES AT HOME

    Beyond water bottles, how much soda or sparkling water do you consume? There’s a Sodastream waiting for you!

    In addition to making just about any flavor of soda—regular, diet, decaffeinated—or flavored water, you’ll save lots of money and work carrying those heavy bottles.

       

    reusable-shopping-bag-stylehive-230

    Avoid taking stores’ plastic shopping bags for your purchases. Instead, tuck reusable, folding nylon bags into pockets, purses, glove compartments. Photo courtesy StyleHive.com.

     
    3. CARRY REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS

    Don’t take plastic shopping bags from the grocery store; bring your own reusable bags instead. Most of them, like these, fold up to fit into a pocket.

     

    sodastream-fizz-230

    Make as many different flavors as you like, with reusable bottles. Photo courtesy Sodastream.

     

    If you buy a lot of groceries, here are options for the trunk of your car.

    Be sure to check out Hannah Grocery Cart Bags, which fit into the shopping cart. You fill them as you shop, unload them to pay, then fill and wheel to your car. They’re sturdy and don’t fall over as you drive home.
     

    4. MAKE BETTER CHOICES IN TAKE-OUT FOOD & FAST FOOD

    Take-out and fast food generate more landfill that won’t biodegrade in your lifetime. Avoid styrene, or any type of plastic, in coffee cups, plates and delivery containers.

    Patronize stores and restaurants that use paper coffee cups and plates, and cardboard or recyclable metal take-out containers. Wash and reuse the plastic utensils.

    And when you place your order, tell the establishment not to include any utensils with your order (or soy sauce, fortune cookies, ketchup packets and other things you just toss out automatically).

     

    5. RECYCLE YOUR TRASH

    If your community doesn’t have a mandatory recycling programs, call your Department of Sanitation to see what the options are to recycle paper, tin cans and other metals, glass and plastic.

  • Some retailers, like Whole Foods, recycle #5 plastic yogurt cups when local municipalities don’t.
  • You can also buy a gadget that cuts K-cups apart for recycling the plastic and composting the grounds.
  • There’s also a program that lets you mail in your used K-cups for recycling.
  •  
    BONUS TIP: CUT BACK ON HOME ENERGY USE

    The average American household spends more on home energy bills and gasoline for cars, than for health care or property taxes. You can live greener, saving energy (and money!), by being aware of how you waste it.

    Turn off lights, computers, televisions and other energy-users when you don’t need them. Use this online tool to see how easy it is for you to cut back.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Jelly Bean Day

    April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day. If you’re craving a sugar fix, Jelly Belly’s jelly beans have just 4 calories apiece.

    While there are numerous producers of tasty jelly beans, Jelly Belly, launched in 1976, was the first to sell them in single flavors (as opposed to mixed). The original flavors: Cream Soda, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, Root Beer, Tangerine and Very Cherry (today there are 50 flavors).

    The company also invented the “gourmet jelly bean.” The difference: gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans, and are flavored in both the shell and the middle (traditional jelly beans typically contain flavor only in the shell).

    There are pronounced flavor preferences the world over. The number one flavors by region:

  • Americas: Very Cherry*
  • Asia: Lemon Lime
  • Australia: Bubble Gum (what’s up with that, Australia?)
  • Europe: Tutti-Frutti mix
  • Middle East: Berry Blue
  •  
    *In 1998, Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans.

       

    jelly-bean-bark-tasteofhome-230

    Make jelly bean bark with this recipe. Or, use jelly beans to top a cupcake. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     
    You can tour the Jelly Belly factories in Fairfield, California and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The two locations produce 362,880 pounds of jelly beans per day, equivalent to the weight of 24 elephants.

     

    jelly-beans-paper-cup-WS-230

    For the sweet-toothed, jelly beans are made
    mostly from sugar. Photo courtesy Williams-
    Sonoma.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE JELLY BEAN?

    The modern jelly bean is believed to have been invented in the U.S., sometime after 1850. The earliest recorded advertisement for jelly beans is from Boston confectioner William Schrafft, who may have also been the creator. The ad promoted sending jelly beans to Union Soldiers engaged in the Civil War (1861-1865).

    By the early 1900s, jelly beans had become a staple penny candy. Possibly, they were the first bulk candy. They became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s, when somebody connected their egg shape with the eggs symbolic of the spiritual rebirth of Easter. Their festive colors made them a perfect celebratory candy.

    During World War II, much of the chocolate produced in the U.S. was sent overseas to soldiers. Americans focused on other sweets; flavorful, colorful jelly beans became popular.

     
    And, if you’re old enough to remember, they were the favorite candy of president Ronald Regan. He persuaded the Jelly Belly company to make a blueberry jelly bean so that he could serve red, white and blue jelly beans in the Oval Office.

    Here’s more on the history of jelly beans.
     
    JELLY BEAN TRIVIA

    Each year, U.S. manufacturers produce more than 16 billion jelly beans for Easter, enough to completely fill a plastic Easter egg 89 feet high and 60 feet wide—about the height of a nine-story office building.

    Christmas is the second largest jelly-bean-eating holiday. Who knew?

      

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