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Dinner for two-Easy Valentine dinner is perfect for the non-cooking spouse

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Hey, there is a lot of romance in making dinner for your love.

If you aren’t a cook, here is a one-pot complete no-fail meal that really makes itself. It’s so easy to put together, nearly anyone can do it, even without lots of cooking experience.

There aren’t a lot of ingredients and the slow cooker does all the work, so this is a Valentine’s Dinner that can be made with confidence.

This recipe uses chicken leg quarters, but other chicken pieces can be substituted, including boneless, skinless breasts. If made with a cut that has little to no skin or fat, make sure to include about one-fourth cup of water or chicken broth to the slow cooker, as those pieces won’t make as much liquid content.


Here’s what you will need to make a cozy dinner for two:

Heavy duty aluminum foil
2-4 chicken leg quarter pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 large potatoes, cut into half-inch
cubes
Two ears of corn, cut into halves
or third
Butter or margarine to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

To get started, situate the chicken pieces on the bottom of the slow cooker. If using a cut of chicken that has no skin or fat, pour in one-quarter cup of water or chicken broth. Drizzle with barbecue sauce and add garlic powder and curry powder.

Next, cut potatoes into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil big enough to accommodate them and fold to seal tightly. Lay this packet on top of the chicken.

Take the sections of corn, wrapping them tightly in the foil after dotting them with butter or margarine and situate them on or around the packet of potatoes.

Turn the slow cooker to high and don’t look at it for six hours.

After the cooking time has passed, it’s time to plate the meal. Remove the pieces of corn, unwrap and plate them, putting a couple of sections on each plate. Gently remove the packet of potatoes and open carefully, as the packet will release steam when opened, and spoon out an amount onto each plate. Finally, put a serving of chicken on each plate. Use a slotted spoon since the chicken will be tender, juicy and falling apart.

As a finishing touch, some of the barbecue sauce can be spooned over the chicken and potatoes for a savory addition to the overall plate.

How easy was that?

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Food

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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Food

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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Local producers: making quality a top priority

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Across the country, there’s an increasingly high demand for products that are grown and produced locally. Given the benefits, it’s not hard to see why you should opt for goods made in your region.

An abundance of choice
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to products grown and produced in your area. Depending on where you live, the selection at your local markets may include:

• Fruits such as strawberries, apples, blueberries, and more
• Vegetables like onions, zucchinis, cabbage, and others
• Grains including wheat, corn, and oats
• Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream
• Fish and seafood items like trout, lobster, shrimp, and crab
• Meats including pork, veal, duck, and chicken
• Alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and cider

What’s more, since small-scale farmers tend to prioritize sustainable practices, you’ll get to invest in products that are safe for your family and the planet.


A local touch
In addition to local farmers and producers, your community is filled with small business owners who offer a variety of goods that can’t be grown in the region. From chocolates and teas to coffee and spice blends, these passionate entrepreneurs use their knowledge to curate a selection of products to suit even the most refined palate.

An accessible option
As regional goods become increasingly popular, it’s easier to find them in supermarkets, specialized grocery stores, and public markets. In many cases, you can even have them delivered right to your door. With just a few clicks, you can track down a variety of businesses in your area that can introduce you to the joys of local goods.

Stock your fridge and pantry with tasty local products this summer and throughout the year.

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