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Wacky fruits that might tickle your taste buds (or put you in a coma)



Apples. Oranges. Bananas. In any given year, about 65 percent of Americans will eat at least one banana. Sixty-three percent will have had apples and 51 percent will have eaten oranges. Yet how many people do you know who’ve had an ackee fruit or jackfruit? There are tons of wild fruits out there and plenty of strange delights that you can find at the store too.

If you happen to make a lot of smoothies, you might appreciate the jackfruit. The largest fruit in the world, some jackfruits can weigh nearly a hundred pounds. Found in India, the fruit tastes similar to mangoes.

If daring suits your taste, the ackee is a bold choice. Unripened ackee fruits contain high levels of the compounds hypoglycin A and hypoglycin B, which are toxic to humans. In fact, these compounds can put people in a coma or even kill them. As the fruit ripens, toxin levels decline, making it safe to eat. Though the ackee is native to West Africa, it’s now the national fruit of Jamaica, most likely arriving centuries ago on a slave ship.

Pond apples, AKA swamp apples, are also poisonous, or at least their seeds are. The seeds from swamp apples can kill fish. Along with the leaves, the seeds can also be used as a natural insecticide.

If you have the patience to wait for an ackee fruit to ripen, you might also consider the Arkansas black apple. Fresh black apples are extremely hard and all but impossible to eat. If you put them in storage, however, they’ll slowly soften while remaining fresh and crisp. Typically, you need to let them sit for at least 30 days but they can last up to eight months.

Then there’s the durian. You may have passed by some of the fruits already discussed and never realized it. Most encounters with a durian, however, are hard to forget. The fruit has a strong, pungent smell akin to sweaty gym socks and fresh sewage. Popular in Southeast Asia, the durian is considered a delicacy in many areas and is also known as the king of fruit.

Another potentially dangerous fruit may be in your fridge and a regular part of your diet. Grapefruit, known for its strong, bitter taste, contains various compounds, such as furanocoumarins (don’t ask us how to pronounce that), that can alter the body’s biological processes. Grapefruit can have a huge impact on some medications, often making them stronger, which could increase the risk of overdosing.

So should you stick with apples, bananas, and oranges? That’s a safe, but perhaps boring route. You could be missing out on some daring fruits that wow your palate.

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This summer, cool down with a cocktail



This summer, enjoy lounging on a restaurant patio or in your own backyard with one of the following delicious cocktails in hand.

• Hard lemonade. Lemonade is a hot-weather staple. Jazz it up with some bourbon served neat or on the rocks. If you want some fizz, try a sparkling vodka lemonade.

• Irish ice. This simple cocktail has only two ingredients: Irish cream and ice cream. Smooth, creamy, and ice-cold, this treat is perfect on a hot day.

• Sangria. Whether made with white or red wine, sangria is everything you want in a festive summer cocktail. If you’re making it yourself, shake things up by using different types of fruit or another wine like sparkling or rosé.

• Daiquiri. Put your own unique spin on this classic cocktail. There are endless flavor variations — from strawberry and lime to lemon to pear.

• Mimosa. This low-calorie cocktail is a brunch must-have. In addition to the traditional mix of orange juice and champagne or sparkling wine, indulge in an updated version with strawberries, watermelon, and mint.

Cheers to summer!

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Make the classic Reuben sandwich at home



The sweetness of corned beef paired with the salty sourness of sauerkraut, nutty Swiss cheese and tangy Russian (or Thousand Island) dressing, all on earthy slices of rye bread.

The messy, glorious Reuben is a classic American sandwich for a reason: It’s incredibly delicious. And with just a few very common ingredients, it’s easy to prepare at home. Make just one for yourself or whip up a pile of them for family or guests — either one won’t take much time. This recipe makes four sandwiches, but scales up or down easily.

8 slices good-quality rye bread
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 c. Russian dressing (or you can use prepared Thousand Island dressing)
8 slices Swiss cheese
3/4 pound corned beef
1 c. sauerkraut, drained

For the Russian dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

First, prepare the Russian dressing (if desired). Whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire, sugar, and paprika until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Next, butter each slice of bread on one side. Spread Russian dressing on the unbuttered sides of each slice. Top four slices with cheese, corned beef, and sauerkraut, then top each sandwich with the remaining slices, dressing side down. Place sandwiches in a skillet over medium heat and grill until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted — two to three minutes per side.

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25 foods you should always have on hand



Here are 25 food staples you should always keep in your kitchen.

In the fridge
1. Tofu
2. Eggs
3. Lettuce
4. Condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise
5. Milk
6. Deli meat
7. Cheese

In the freezer
8. Vegetables like peas and corn
9. Boneless chicken
10. Fish fillets like cod, salmon, and sole
11. Ground meat like pork, beef, and turkey
12. Pre-cooked seafood like crab, pollock, and shrimp
13. Fruit
14. Sliced bread

In the pantry
15. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans
16. Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
17. Canned tuna
18. Pasta like macaroni, penne and spaghetti
19. Rice like brown, basmati, and jasmine
20. Condensed soups like tomato, celery, and mushroom
21. Canned tomatoes
22. Potatoes
23. Onions
24. Flour
25. Sugar

Visit your local grocery store to find everything you need to prepare delicious meals.

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5 tips for making mashed potatoes



Mashed potatoes pair well with a variety of other foods. Here are five tips for making this side dish great every time.

1. Use the right potatoes
You can use any kind of potato to make mashed potatoes. However, Idaho®, russet, and Yukon gold potatoes are ideal for mashing because they provide superior texture and taste.

2. Adjust the cooking time
Boil your potatoes in a pot of heavily salted water. You can peel them or leave the skin on. The potatoes are ready once you can easily poke through them with a fork. Peeled and cut potatoes cook faster. However, they absorb more water, which can affect their texture.

3. Add butter immediately
Coat your potatoes in butter before mashing them. This will help lock in the starch and give your mashed potatoes a silky texture.

4. Don’t over mash them
For an even texture, use a potato masher with small holes. However, make sure you don’t over-mash your potatoes. This can make them gummy and unappetizing.

5. Add milk at the end
Adding milk helps prevent your potatoes from becoming gluey. If you want, you can heat up the milk in the microwave to prevent your mashed potatoes from cooling down too quickly. If you want to make this side dish more decadent, swap the milk for cooking cream.


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5 clever cooking tips



Whether you’re new to cooking or have been whipping up gourmet dishes for years, there’s always more you can learn. Here are five tips to level up your cooking game.

1. Don’t overcrowd the pan
Food releases moisture as it cooks. Therefore, if you overcrowd your pan, the food will steam instead of sear. This will leave you with mushy, dry, and unappetizing food.

2. Taste as you cook
It’s a good idea to taste your food while you cook. This will help ensure the dish is cooked properly and isn’t over or under-seasoned.

3. Preheat your pan
Always let your pan heat up for a few minutes before cooking. Carefully hover your hand over the pan to feel when it’s hot. If you’re using butter, simply wait for it to melt.

4. Don’t add oil to your pasta water
Putting oil in your pasta water prevents the sauce from sticking to the noodles. Instead, drizzle your cooked pasta with a bit of olive oil.

5. Read through the entire recipe
Making sure you understand the recipe you want to use will help you manage your time wisely so that the entire dish comes together at the right time.

To get the cooking supplies and ingredients you need, visit your local stores.

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Reduce food waste with gleaning



Do you enjoy being outdoors and eating fresh produce? If so, you may want to try gleaning. This activity combines both these elements and helps reduce food waste. Here’s what you should know.

What’s gleaning?
Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover or overlooked fruits and vegetables from fields and orchards after they’ve been commercially harvested. This practice limits food waste by allowing people to pick produce before it’s thrown away or no longer edible. It also allows people to eat fruits and vegetables that don’t meet the strict aesthetic requirements of retail markets.

How does it work?
Gleaning has been around for hundreds of years and was often practiced on grain crops. However, today it applies to a wide variety of produce, including blueberries, strawberries, apples, squashes, pears, cucumbers, and more. The harvested food is usually divided between volunteers, producers, and community food banks to help those in need and prevent large quantities of fruits and vegetables from going to waste.

You can enjoy fresh, local food and save on your grocery bill by looking for gleaning groups in your area.

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