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4 types of picnic food that are sure to please

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Are you planning a picnic? Whether you’re headed to the beach, park, or wilderness, packing a lunch to eat outdoors is a must. Here are four types of food you can eat pretty much anywhere.

1. Sandwiches. Compact and easy to make, sandwiches are the perfect picnic food. Swap your regular bread for bagels, tortillas, croissants, or French baguettes, and fill them with your choice of deli meats, spreads, and grilled veggies. Serve with chips and raw vegetables.

2. Finger foods. Pack an assortment of snack foods and let everyone choose what they want to eat. For adults, consider bringing olives, nuts, soft cheeses, pâtés, dips, crackers, and crusty bread. If you’re picnicking with children, think veggie sticks, hummus, mild cheeses, tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole.

3. Handheld foods. Foods that don’t require utensils or plates are ideal for a picnic. Think cold pizza squares, individual quiches, spring rolls, or small, savory tarts. Sushi is also a great choice, provided you have a way to keep it cool and fresh until you reach your destination.


4. Salads. There are countless varieties of salad, and most of them are ideal for a picnic. Prepare or buy a pasta, bean, rice, quinoa, or potato salad. If you opt for leafy greens instead, pack the dressing separately to ensure the ingredients stay crunchy and fresh.

Once you’ve decided on your main course, be sure to pack your beverage of choice and one or more desserts.

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Salmon poke bowl

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You might not be able to visit Hawaii any time soon, but this healthy seafood dish will transport your taste buds to the Pacific islands.

Start to finish: 30 minutes (30 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients
• 4 cups calrose rice, cooked and cooled
• 1 carrot, grated or julienned
• 1/2 cucumber, sliced
• A few leaves of green leaf lettuce
• 1/2 cup whole almonds
• 14 ounces fresh salmon, cubed
• 2 ripe avocados
• 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
• 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
• 1 tablespoon dried chili flakes
• 1/2 cup soy sauce
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 1 tablespoon mirin

Directions
1. In 4 serving bowls, arrange the rice, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, almonds, and salmon in separate piles. Set aside in the fridge.


2. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Gently remove the pit and skin. Place one of the halves face down on a cutting board. Cut thin slices width wise, while maintaining the avocado’s shape. Use your hands to gently fan out the slices sideways until they form a straight line (the slices should still overlap). Take one end of the line and curl it inward until the avocado takes the shape of a swirl or flower. Repeat this process with the 3 other halves.

3. Gently place an avocado flower in the center of each bowl. Sprinkle a quarter of the white and black sesame seeds and chili flakes over each bowl.

4. In another bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, lime juice, and mirin. Drizzle a quarter of the sauce over each poke bowl, or serve separately so everyone can add the amount they want.

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Ancient pepper can spice up barbecue

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Black pepper (piper nigrum), the friend to salt on your kitchen table, probably comes to you from Vietnam or Ethiopia, via thousands of years of discovery and spice trade.

But, there is another pepper, today a less known pepper, that competed for a place on tables hundreds of years ago, with a flavor described as a sort of sweet heat.

The Long Pepper (piper longum) was long famous in its native India, where it won a place in medicine and food. Later, it dominated Greek cooking when it appeared in the Mediterranean in the sixth century B.C., according to Gastro Obscura.

The long pepper fell into disuse when the Romans, by the fourth century A.D., were able to bring vast quantities of black pepper from Kerala, undercutting the price of long pepper. By the 1700s, long pepper had largely disappeared.


Barbecue magic?

Long pepper is still available online, and it has reappeared as a key ingredient in pork ribs by Brooklyn barbecue restaurant, Fatty ‘Cue, which specializes in grilling, smoking, and barbecuing.

Writer Sarah Laskow compared the flavors of the black and long peppers, saying that black pepper had a sharp and aggressive pop, while long pepper tended to linger and grow in power with a mellow, floral note.

Long pepper is good with fresh melon or pineapple, salads, or even in cocktails.

On the Web, long pepper is available at SaltTraders.com.

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Watermelon and grapefruit mocktail

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This non-alcoholic beverage is the perfect drink to sip by a pool or barbecue.

Start to finish: 5 minutes (5 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients
• 2 cups watermelon, seeded and cubed
• 1 cup pink grapefruit juice
• 4 tablespoons simple syrup
• Grapefruit-flavored sparkling water
• 8 lime slices
• 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Directions
1. In a small bowl, mash 1 cup of watermelon cubes with a muddler or fork until they have a coarse texture. Divide the purée between 4 tall glasses.
2. Add 1/4 of the grapefruit juice and 1 tablespoon of simple syrup to each glass. Mix with a spoon.
3. Fill each glass with grapefruit-flavored sparkling water. Divide the remaining watermelon cubes between each glass. Garnish with lime slices and a sprig of rosemary.


How to make simple syrup
Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 3 to 5 minutes) and the mixture has thickened. The syrup can be stored in the fridge for at least two weeks.

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Caipirinha

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One sip of this sweet Brazilian cocktail will make you think you’re on a beach in Rio de Janeiro. Cheers!

Start to finish: 5 minutes (5 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients
• 4 juicy limes, quartered into wedges
• 6 tablespoons sugar or brown sugar
• 8 ounces cachaça
• 1/2 cup lime juice
• 1 lime, sliced into rounds
• Mint leaves (optional)
• Sliced star fruit (optional)

Directions
1. Divide the lime wedges into 4 small glasses. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons of sugar to each glass. Mash with a muddler until you get as much juice out of the lime as possible.
2. Add 2 ounces of cachaça and 1/4 of the lime juice to each glass. Stir well with a spoon.
3. Garnish each glass with a slice of lime. If desired, garnish with mint leaves and star fruit slices as well.


Cachaça is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice that’s commonly used for cocktails in Brazil.

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Why you should buy ugly produce

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From crooked carrots to asymmetrical apples, an increasing amount of imperfect produce is finding its way onto the plates of consumers. Here are a few reasons to opt for so-called ugly fruits and vegetables.

An eco-friendly and affordable solution
If you want to do your part to protect the environment, buying imperfect produce that would other¬wise go to waste can be a good place to start. In ad¬dition to helping save the planet, you’ll also save money. This is because ugly fruits and vegetables tend to cost less than their shapely counterparts.

It’s also worth noting that most physical imperfections have absolutely no effect on a product’s taste or nutritional value. Sure, it might be trickier to peel and chop misshapen produce, but practice makes perfect. Next time you’re shopping for fruits and veggies, keep an eye out for less-than-pretty items that are still entirely edible.

Food loss vs. food waste
Whereas food loss occurs when farmers can’t sell produce due to its appearance or for other reasons, food waste refers to goods thrown out after they’re purchased by grocery stores, restaurants, or consumers.



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How to grill the perfect, tender pork chop

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Grilling season is in full swing, and carnivores know that few things are quite as unpleasant as a dry, tough grilled pork chop. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With a little preparation and caution, you can grill tender, juicy pork chops in just a few minutes. The best part? Grilled chops pair well with just about any sauce or side, and pork is more affordable than beef, which means you can grill out as often as you please.

First, choose a thicker pork chop, at least one inch. Thinner chops cook too quickly on the grill, and by the time you develop a nice crust, the inside will be tough. You can choose bone-in or boneless chops — whichever you prefer.

Next, brine your chops in a mixture of four cups of cold water and 1/4-cup kosher salt. Leave them in the mixture for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes have elapsed, pull them out and dry them off with paper towels.

After your chops are dried, you can sprinkle on some black pepper or your favorite spice or rub, but make sure that your rub doesn’t contain salt, or else your chops might end up over-seasoned.


To grill outside, crank up the heat to sear the chops for three minutes per side, which starts the cooking process and leaves impressive grill marks. After that, you’ll want to turn the heat down (or move to a higher rack) for an additional four to seven minutes, depending on the thickness. This completes the cooking process while leaving a nice crust outside. Make sure your grill stays closed during cooking to ensure high, even heat.

When your chops register 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part, they’re ready to come off the grill and rest for three to five minutes, which gives juices time to redistribute and lets muscle fibers relax. The result? A tender, flavorful chop with minimal effort and maximum reward.

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