Even though pasta is usually linked with Italy, its origins, in fact, are in ancient China. Legend has it that Marco Polo brought back to Europe this culinary technique after traveling to the Far East. Wherever it comes from, “noodles” always make for a meal that is easily prepared and easily varied with limitless sauce possibilities. It’s no surprise that pasta is so popular around the world.
It usually takes less than fifteen minutes to obtain al dente pasta, which means it is tender on the outside but still firm inside. Be sure to use a large enough pan with plenty of water so that the pasta won’t stick together. When the water starts to boil, add a pinch of salt before putting it in the noodles. Use a wooden spoon to stir short pasta or a large fork for long pasta such as spaghetti, which should not be broken into smaller pieces for authenticity. Egg noodles take less time to cook than other types of pasta. Even after being drained in a colander, the pasta will continue to cook, so be sure to follow the cooking instructions as indicated on the package. You might even shorten the recommended cooking time by a bit if the pasta will be sitting for a while before serving.
One trick used by great chefs is to set aside a small quantity of cooking water before straining the pasta. They will then add this extra water to the sauce as they heat it up for service. This allows them to add volume back to the sauce as it reheats and reduces and helps the sauce stick better to the pasta.
Al dente means “firm when bitten,” or cooked ’till tender on the outside but still firm inside.
5 ways to enjoy and preserve your harvest
Did you pick your fill of fruits and vegetables from local growers, get carried away at the farmers’ market, or harvest plenty of veggies from your garden? Here are five ways to reduce waste and enjoy your bounty all year.
1. Pies. Use apples, plums, blackberries, pears, and pumpkins to make delectable pies. Store them in the freezer for several weeks.
2. Jams. Nearly any fruit can be made into jam. In addition to being spread on toast, you can use your jams to brighten up baked goods like cakes, cookies, and buns.
3. Pickles. Pickle beets, radishes, peppers, cucumbers, and other tasty vegetables to create a tangy side dish.
4. Soups and broths. Vegetables like squash, onions, leeks, and cauliflower are the perfect addition to soups and broths. Make a big batch and defrost it whenever you want.
5. Dried fruits and vegetables. Dried strawberries, apples, tomatoes, carrots, and kale have a long shelf life. They can be used in various recipes, including sangrias, salad dressings, and sauces.
Get creative when whipping up a healthy and tasty meal.
3 environmentally friendly food-packaging options
To reduce your waste, buying food in bulk is ideal. However, it’s not always an option. Here are a few tips for choosing the most environmentally friendly food packaging on your next trip to the grocery store.
1. Metals like aluminum, steel, and tin are easily recyclable. For instance, aluminum can be recycled indefinitely without losing its integrity. It’s one of the most recycled metals in the world partly because doing so doesn’t require much energy or resources.
2. Glass is another highly recyclable material, regardless of whether it’s tinted or clear. Moreover, it’s made from natural elements. Ideally, look for glass bottles that have easy-to-remove labels and caps. Light¬weight glass is preferable because it costs less to transport.
3. Paper and cardboard are also great packaging choices, as they can be recycled often. However, the manufacturing process for these materials uses a lot of water, increasing their carbon footprint. Avoid paper and cardboard packages with cellophane windows as these are more difficult to recycle.
Use your own containers
Did you know bulk food stores and some businesses like butcher shops allow you to bring your own reusable containers?
How to know if you’re buying local food
As communities worldwide rediscover the virtues of small, local businesses, free trade seems to be losing popularity. As a result, consumers are increasingly turning to regional products. However, knowing if you’re buying locally made products can be challenging. Here are a few tips.
Pay attention to labeling
Various laws and regulations exist to guide consumers. For example, food labels in America must include the manufacturer or distributor’s name and the full street address. This information must be accompanied by a qualifying phrase stating the company’s relationship to the product, such as “manufactured for” or “distributed by.”
Since buying local is a marketing asset, companies are generally happy to display the origin of their products. In fact, grocery stores and supermarkets must follow Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) standards for certain foods like farm-raised fish, shellfish, and perishable agricultural commodities.
Adopt good habits
Although labeling is an excellent way to help you identify local products, it’s not always the most reliable. The following practices can help ensure you buy products made in your region:
• Visiting farmers’ markets and meeting the producers
• Supporting fresh produce stands in rural areas
• Signing up for an organic food basket program
• Going to a U-pick farm
• Growing your own vegetables and sourcing seeds from a local company
If buying local is important to you, surf the web to get informed and discover the wealth of local products.
Local producers: Barriers to buying local
Buying fruit and vegetables grown thousands of miles away from home is becoming more and more questionable, especially when equivalent products exist locally. However, many Americans still can’t understand the importance of buying locally. Here are a few reasons why some people still shy away from this essential practice.
They want quick and easy
Local products require extra time and effort, which isn’t appealing to people with busy lifestyles. For instance, reading labels or detouring to a farmers’ market to get your hands on local produce can seem inconvenient. However, the easy way isn’t always the best.
They don’t realize the impacts
In North America, enjoying fresh raspberries in the dead of winter isn’t unusual. Therefore, it can be easy to overlook the ecological and economic impacts of purchasing foods out of season. If you want to enjoy fresh raspberries in January, look for ones grown in a local greenhouse.
They want to save money
Locally grown food is less appealing if it’s not competitively priced. However, favoring imported products to save money is short-sighted. For example, if the food distribution chain is disrupted and costs skyrocket, you’ll pay more in the long run. A robust local economy increases a community’s resilience to recession and inflation.
Support your local producers year-round by choosing their products.
Apple and salt pork pie satisfies the sweet tooth
Don’t let the name fool you, this is still dessert.
Richly spiced apple balance with tiny pieces of salt pork for a fall treat that’s just sweet enough. Lightly pre-cooking the apples ensures that the finished pie won’t be soupy or lose too much volume in the oven. Granny Smith apples are easy to find and make excellent baking apples. Don’t worry too much about the exact quantity of apples — the most important thing is filling the dish.
8 to 10 apples (around 2-1/2 pounds)
3 quarts boiling water or cider or a mix of both
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 pound salt pork (or bacon)
1 egg white
Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit with a baking sheet on the center rack.
Peel and slice apples about a 1/4-inch thick, place in a large heat-proof bowl or pot, and set aside. Slice salt pork into small pieces and fry over medium heat until fat renders (5 to 8 minutes). Remove pork and drain, then set pork and rendered fat aside. Heat water or cider in a large pot over high heat until boiling, then pour boiling liquid over sliced apples. Cover apples and liquid and set aside for ten minutes before draining. While apples sit, assemble all dry ingredients, along with maple syrup, and set aside.
After draining the apples, let them sit in a colander in the sink for ten minutes, tossing occasionally until completely dry before transferring them back to a large bowl.
Add 4 tablespoons of rendered pork fat and stir, then add spice mixture. Toss until apples are evenly coated. To assemble the pie, place the bottom crust in the bottom of a pie pan, then add about half the apples, then a layer of salt pork (how much is up to you).
Follow with another layer of apples and more salt pork. Arrange top crust and brush with egg white, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Chill for about 20 minutes, then place the pie on a hot baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry begins to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake for 25 to 30 more minutes until the pie is golden and bubbling. Cool for at least two hours before serving.
How to safely handle and cook poultry
National Chicken Month is celebrated every September in the United States. Chicken eggs and meat are packed with tasty, nutritional goodness and are a great addition to your family’s meals. However, you must follow certain safety precautions to prevent food poisoning when handling and preparing chicken. Here’s what you need to know.
How to prevent food poisoning
Salmonella and Campylobacter are leading causes of bacterial foodborne illness, which frequently contaminate raw poultry. Each year, thousands of people suffer food poisoning because of these pathogens. Although most healthy people may only feel mildly unwell for a day or two, children, seniors, and immunocompromised people may experience severe complications from food poisoning.
Here are a few tips to ensure you and your family don’t get sick from eating chicken:
• Buy your chicken near the end of your shopping trip and store it in your fridge or freezer as soon as you get home.
• Avoid buying chicken past its “best if used by” date.
• Don’t buy chicken in ripped or leaking packaging.
• Don’t rinse your chicken before preparing it. This could spread bacteria elsewhere in your kitchen.
• Never eat raw or insufficiently cooked chicken. Make sure a whole bird reaches an internal temperature of 180 F and pieces reach 165 F.
This year, celebrate National Chicken Month by looking for new and delicious ways to prepare poultry.