Tips for Storing Coffee Beans

The most important tip for storing coffee beans is to keep them away from air, heat, moisture and light. These elements will destroy the flavor of coffee and cause the taste to become flat.

Buying green coffee beans and roasting them yourself at home is the best way to ensure a fresh cup of coffee, and green coffee beans will keep for years. However, because the roasting process is a bit time consuming and it takes practice to get the beans roasted just right, purchasing coffee beans that are already roasted is much more convenient.

While buying roasted coffee beans is much fresher than buying coffee already ground, they must be stored properly in order to preserve the taste. Roasted coffee beans start to loose some of their flavor immediately after roasting, and can become flat in a week or more, even sooner if not stored properly. With this in mind, it is important to buy only enough to last for a week or two, and to follow the tips below for storing coffee beans in order to keep them from going stale and losing flavor.

Contrary to what most people believe, keeping coffee beans in the refrigerator does not keep them fresh. In fact, when coffee beans are exposed to dampness, it causes the beans to act like a sponge, and retain moisture. This causes the coffee to weaken and lose its flavor. Coffee beans stored in the refrigerator can also absorb the flavors of other foods in much the same way as baking soda. Therefore, coffee beans should not be stored in the refrigerator.

The same goes for the freezer, while this may prolong the process of the beans absorbing moisture, it will not stop it. Even storing coffee beans in a deep freezer will cause the oil in the beans to break open and loose their flavor.

The best tips for storing coffee beans are to store them in an airtight container, and ceramic containers are best. If you use glass containers, the darker they are the better, as this will keep light from filtering in.

Do not store coffee near a window, or in any other place where there is direct sunlight. It is also important to keep coffee beans away from the oven, or anywhere near heat.

Storing coffee beans in a cool and dark place is best, such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet that is away from light, heat and moisture. A vacuum-sealed container or bag is an even better way to store coffee beans.

Many places sell containers just for storing coffee beans. It would probably be a good investment to purchase these types of containers that will help keep coffee beans fresh, as there is nothing like that first cup of coffee in the morning to start the day off right.

Source:
1. National Coffee Association USA > About Coffee > How to Store …
2. Atkins Advantage Bars
3. How to Store Coffee Beans | Blue Bottle

Image Credit
blogs.southtownstar.com

Tips for Throwing a Party

Parties can be satisfying yet nerve wracking and stressful. Last year I had a housewarming/anniversary party that was a great success and didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

I started by getting inexpensive invitations to send out to friends and family. I sent them out far enough in advance so that people could make plans to be there. I sent each invitation out a month in advance and including an RSVP at the bottom so I would know how many to plan for. I also called most of the individuals before I sent the invitation to make sure that the date I had planned, which was flexible, was acceptable for everyone. One thing to keep in mind is a reminder. You can do this by a phone call to your guests. There’s a catch-22 to sending out invitations. If you send them out too early, people forget. Send them too late, people have other plans.

Make sure you are prepared for the early guests. We had errands to do that day and since the party wasn’t till 7 pm, I was sure I’d have enough time to prepare my food. Imagine my surprise when I had guests call and see if they could come at 6:00 pm instead. I had to scramble to get things done for those special guests. However, I’d never tell them it wasn’t possible to show up early, I just made different accommodations.

The food was actually fun to shop for. I made sure I had the usual that you would find at any party but I wanted to have things that were fun to eat and a little different. I used my most of my own serving dishes since I have some unique items. I bought a few things to add to my collection as well, such as charger plates. Ironically, after this party I received a chocolate fountain for Christmas so you can be I’ll be using that for our next party next year.

I shopped at Sam’s Club and got lots of food items. We bought plenty of vegetables and dip, meatballs which we made with sweet and sour sauce and barbeque sauce, mini quiches, party crackers (we got a sweet deal on fancy crackers that included about 5 different styles, blue tortilla chips and salsa (we make our own salsa from scratch so that was a nice addition), a lovely chocolate cake, spiral rolls, mini egg rolls and duck sauce, crab dip, strawberries and chocolate dipping sauce, spinach dip, and stuffed rolls with broccoli and cheese. All of this was less than $200 and we had plenty left over.

We made this a casual affair so I put in a concert DVD that would appeal to most everyone. We chose the Eagles Live Tour and I set the volume at a comfortable level so people could still talk and enjoy the music as well.

Gifts weren’t something we had really planned on but every person who arrived brought a gift for us so we set up an area to place all of the gifts. We also took pictures of these gifts and since they were in one area, it was easy to do. We also bought a picture frame that guests could write a special note on and sign. We included a wedding picture in the frame and made sure all guests signed it. Now not only do we have pictures, we have this special picture frame to remind us of our party and guests.

I sent out thank you notes about 3 days after the party. I have to say that this was my first real party and it turned out to be a huge success. One thing I might do differently in the future is to get some trays from Publix since their prices are very affordable and offers a variety of options. I’ll still get food from Sam’s Club since part of the fun was making the food and displaying it.

Source:
1. How to Throw a Party (with Pictures) – wikiHow
2. Gallbladder Diet
3. 10 Easy Techniques for Throwing an Awesome House Party …

Image Credit
www.leaderpost.com

Traditional Foods for Lent

One of the many beautiful Catholic customs is the celebration of Lent. Lent refers to the forty days that Christ spent in the desert. It is a tradition that Catholics attend Confession at least once during the Lent season. Many Catholics spend the Lent season as a forty day spiritual retreat. During this time special prayers for the Lent season are said and some of these prayers include the beautiful Seven Penitential Psalms and St. Ephraem, Doctor of the Church. Another very important part of the celebration of Lent is food. Fasting and abstinence is another tradition that Catholics follow. During the Lent season, Ash Wednesday, all Fridays and all Saturdays should contain three meatless meals and no snacking.

Traditional foods for Lent usually include meatless soup, vegetables, seafood, salads, beans and pasta. Hot Cross Buns are a favorite and are usually eaten for breakfast on Good Friday. These rules for the Universal Church during the season of Lent is based on the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Lent is also celebrated in the East. There are a few symbols that are used to represent the Lent season and they are the Cross, Crown of Thorns, Three Nails, Chalice, and Host. Purple is the beautiful color that represents Lent. Food like pretzels have a very symbolic meaning as well. The three holes of the pretzel represent the Holy Trinity. Many Catholics have special recipes for large, soft and chewy pretzels that they use to make them during the Lent season. These traditions are always passed on to their children.

In the East, local traditions vary during the Lent season. Pre Lenten festivals are a tradition as well, where festivals and carnivals take place in many cultures. One of the famous of these carnivals takes place in New Orleans and it is called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. In ancient times, the rules of Lent were more severe than based on the modern society of today. During ancient times no animals products were eaten. In some places, Catholics consumed only bread. During the early Middle Ages, no meat, eggs or dairy products were consumed because they were forbidden. Today, many Catholics choose to give up a certain food that may be their favorite during the season of Lent. Others may choose to give up going to the movies or playing games. During the season of Lent, it is a tradition for many churches to hold sunrise services.

Source:
1. Lent
2. Cookout Calories
3. The story of Lent and recipes to see you through the holy days …

Image Credit
upload.wikimedia.org

Tips for Eating in Restaurants on a Gluten Free Diet

Gluten is a protein composite that is a very common ingredient in many foods.  Wheat, barley, and rye products typically contain gluten, but it is also often used as a stabilizing agent in a wide range of products from ketchup to ice cream.  There really aren’t many foods one can know with confidence contain no gluten without inquiring.

People with celiac disease have an intolerance for gluten, sometimes to a severe degree where they will be made very sick by even a small quantity of gluten.  It is imperative that they have as close to a gluten-free diet as possible.  Some people without celiac disease may have some lesser difficulty digesting gluten, and seek to lessen or eliminate gluten in their diet as well.

As hard as it is to avoid foods with gluten, the situation for the person trying to eat gluten-free is further complicated by the fact that if other foods, plates, the cook’s hands, etc. came in contact with a food that has gluten, then even the trace amount that is spread to the food they eat can cause them serious problems.

Obviously it can be especially difficult for a gluten-intolerant person to dine in a restaurant.  But here are a few tips to at least make the process a little easier:

1.  Research food and restaurants in advance.

The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you are.  You need to know what foods always have gluten, usually have gluten, sometimes have gluten, usually do not have gluten, and (almost) never have gluten.  There are countless books, articles, websites, etc. that you can use to educate yourself on these matters.

As restaurants have become more aware of the problems some diners have with gluten (and other dietary and food allergy issues), many have become a lot more sensitive to their customers’ needs.  Nowadays you can use Google and probably find restaurants in your area advertising the fact that they have a gluten-free menu, or at least a few gluten-free items on their menu.

2.  Follow up.  Don’t assume that what’s claimed to be gluten-free is necessarily gluten-free.

If you find a restaurant that claims to have gluten-free items, that’s a promising start, but you’re not home free yet.  Call them and ask them relevant questions to make sure you really will be able to get a gluten-free meal there.

Once you’re in the restaurant, continue to make inquiries.  Make sure the server fully understands your dietary concerns and will pass them on to the person preparing your meal.  If possible, speak to the cook directly.

A lot of this is feel.  If they’re telling you “Yeah, yeah, sure, we can do gluten-free,” but they seem only dimly aware of what it even means, or they’re relying on you to tell them what foods do and don’t have gluten (they need to know all the ingredients of their foods; you cannot be expected to), you know you’re in trouble.

Talk to them enough to where you’ll know if they’re on the ball, experienced dealing with this issue, concerned and responsible enough to be meticulous about any possible contamination from other foods, etc.  You’re putting your health in their hands; make sure they’re worthy of that level of trust.

3.  Don’t be embarrassed about changing your mind.

You might think everything is fine, but then realize it’s not.  Maybe you see something in the kitchen that tells you there’s no way your meal won’t come in contact with other dubious items while it’s being prepared.  Your salad that you were assured would be gluten-free might be served with croutons because the cook or waiter forgot they contain gluten.  (If they forgot that, what else might they forget?)

Politely cancel your order and leave.  It’s not worth it to take chances.

4.  If everything goes well, give them your business in the future.

If you really did manage to get a gluten-free meal (and enjoyed it), make a note of the restaurant, what you ordered, and perhaps some of the personnel, such as who was doing the cooking.  Let them know you appreciate their effort, and that you’ll be back.

Having a short list of restaurants where you know you can dine with confidence can be a real boon for a gluten-intolerant person.

Sources:

“Gluten-Free Dining in Restaurants”

“Traveling and Eating Gluten-Free at Restaurants”

Source:
1. Dining Out – Celiac Disease Foundation
2. Yogurt Smoothie Recipes
3. Let's Eat Out: Tips for Safe Gluten-Free Restaurant Dining | Gluten …

Image Credit
downtownrob.com

Tips for Roasting Chestnuts in the Oven

Chestnuts are flattish nuts with glossy brown shells, creamy texture, and rich earthy flavor. They are traditionally served as an accompaniment to meat, but once they have cured in the refrigerator for a few days and some of their starches have turned to sugar, chestnuts have a characteristic sweetness that highlights both sweet and savory flavors.

October is the time to keep an eye out for freshly harvested chestnuts. For a first-of-the- season treat, the best way to roast chestnuts is over the coals on the backyard grill. Stir the chestnuts around as you allow the flames to lightly touch them for a deliciously smoky note.

If the grill is not an option, roasting the chestnuts in the oven is your next best choice.

Roasting Chestnuts in the Oven

* The characteristic cross-hatch cut at the bottom of each chestnut is not a bow to tradition but serves two important purposes: It keeps the chestnuts from exploring as they cook and it makes them easier to peel.

* An old, cheap plastic knife with a serrated edge is said to be the choice of chestnut experts; it will get the job done, and is easy to hold onto. Also, the hard peels will dull a sharp blade. Some roasters put the cross hatch just through the skin on the under, or round, side; others like to lay the chestnut flat and make the cut on the flat side of the chestnut. Both seem to accomplish the end of keeping the chestnuts from exploding.

* When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425-degrees.

* Arrange chestnuts on either a rack or a foil-covered cookie sheet. Allow chestnuts to roast until the skins pull away from the cuts and nut meat is soft. Roasting time will usually vary from 20 minutes to almost an hour,

* When chestnuts have roasted, mound them into an old towel, wrap them up, and squeeze hard. The chestnuts will crackle. Let them steam for a few minutes. When you open the towel, you will be able to rub away most of the peel and skin. You are now ready to taste the first roasted chestnut of the season at its very best.

Once the chestnuts are roasted:

Chestnuts become rancid quickly and are best stored in an airtight container in the freezer.

Try them as an appetizer with just a light sprinkle of salt

Traditionally, dressings and stuffings for roasts and fowl benefit from the flavor of roasted chestnuts.

Add roasted chestnuts to your favorite risotto.

Roasted chestnuts are surprisingly delicious additions to braised cabbage dishes.

Once you have tasted freshly roasted chestnuts, straight from the oven, you will think of dozens of reasons to use this wonderful nut.

Source:
1. How to Roast Chestnuts > Start Cooking
2. Are Onions Good For You
3. How to roast chestnuts | BBC Good Food

Image Credit
fs.christonium.com

Tips for Buying Gourmet Foods Online

For those with a taste for the finer things in life, the Internet has changed everything. High-quality, gourmet foods that were once difficult to find are now only a click away. Following are a few tips for buying gourmet food online that will save you time and money, and ensure you get just what you’re looking for.

Relax

The blessing of buying online is convenience and ease. Secure sites can be identified by ‘https’ in the site address, or a gold padlock icon near the address bar when you make your purchase. Also, any gourmet retailer worth their kosher salt will have shipping methods in place to ensure the freshness of your order.

Research the item you’re looking for

The point of gourmet food is to find the best. Again, the Internet comes to the rescue on this one. Search gourmet sites and forums for information and opinions on the best brands for the product you want. This will aid you as you are faced with the plethora of products available online. Another great place to glean information is gourmet magazines or books, and even newsletters from online retailers e-mailed right to your inbox.

If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask

Online retailers should be responsive to your questions, and are usually more than willing to help you find that special something. They can also clue you in to seasonal and specialty items.

Shop around

There are several gourmet vendors at your fingertips thanks to the Internet, and many of them carry the same items. This gives you the opportunity to easily compare products and prices with the click of a button. Don’t be afraid to shop at a few different stores; some may have better prices and quality on different gourmet products. A few retailers to get you started include Dean & Deluca, ChefShop.com, igourmet.com, and Zingerman’s.

With these simple pointers, gourmet shopping online is easy…giving you more time to enjoy the epicurean fruits of your labor.

Source:
1. Where to Buy Artisanal and Specialty Foods Online: 7 Great …
2. Are Seedless Grapes GMO
3. Gourmet Buying Guide to Food, Tools, and Cookware

Image Credit
i.huffpost.com

Tips for Cooking Squash

Have you seen those large yellow squash in the market? They look like a cross between a yellow zucchini and a watermelon, and are called “spaghetti squash.” They are called that because when they are cooked, their flesh separates into long strands that look like bright yellow spaghetti. They taste similar to other summer squash, and being bright yellow, are probably loaded with beta-carotene.

Here are a few ideas:

Cut the squash in half (lengthwise will probably give you longer strands, but it doesn’t really matter) and scoop out the seeds. To cook, you can:

1: Pierce the skins multiple times with a fork, and place them cut-side down in a glass or ceramic dish with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water. Microwave on high until soft to the touch. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1/2 an hour or more, depending on the power of your microwave and the size of the squash.

2: Place in a baking pan with a little water and bake at about 350 degrees for around an hour (again until soft, depending on the size of the squash). Start with them cut-side down, but you might be able to turn them halfway through.

3: Place cut-side down on grill, and cook, (covered) for about an hour. You will probably want to brush the squash and or the grill with a little olive oil first, and I would recommend an indirect heat method.

Once they are cooked, you take a fork and rake the flesh out of the skins. This raking should break the flesh into lots of long strands. I like the strands with a little butter and maybe salt and pepper as a side dish, but if you want you can toss them in a skillet with a little minced garlic cooked in a good extra virgin olive oil. Heck, you can even add a few garden veggies and a light tomato sauce (say a pomodoro sauce) have a light (vegetarian) summer meal.

Bon Appetit!

Source:
1. 4 Easy Ways To Cook Squash: {Plus Tips} : TipNut.com
2. Subway Diet
3. Winter Squash: How To Cook It – Allrecipes Dish

Image Credit
whatscookingamerica.net

Tips for Improving Restaurant Service

If you want to improve service in a restaurant, the answer is simple… keep the employees happy. I am writing from experience.. I have been a server for the past two years. Waiting on tables is sometimes a very thankless job. Sometimes the tips are crappy and sometimes you get tables that like to run you for every little thing. These things can wear on a server, and lead to poor service.

The thing is, if employers would take better care of their employees they would in turn be better to the restaurant’s guests. It’s a trickle down theory. I know on days that my boss orders us food.. or brings in treats.. I see a difference in our wait staff. For example, last night the air conditioner in our store was broke, and it was sweltering hot in there. One of the servers said we should get something to cool us down. The next thing I know there are fudge bars, Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches. Let me tell you, it really helped. Before the treats mostly everyone was a little crabby because of the heat. Afterward, I noticed more people smiling, even though it was still hot as hell in there. It doesn’t take much to let your employees know you care. In this case less than 20 bucks made everyone working feel better.

Every restaurant has some guidelines for how your supposed to “greet” a table. Often times it is a rehearsed speech. All servers have them.. “Hello welcome to ____ my name is ____ I’ll be the one taking care of you.” I’m guilty of it too. They make servers do it because we are supposed to sell you things when you sit down at a table. This is all part of the restaurant game. The key is to make it sound natural, like you’re saying it for the very first time. Eye contact is essential along with a genuine smile. When you smile it disarms people.. they feel at ease. When people are at ease they tend to have a better time no matter what environment they are in.

This goes back to keeping your employees happy. Happy employees smile, smiling makes guests feel good, and things in the restaurant run a little smoother.

Source:
1. 10 Things Restaurant Owners and Managers Can Do to Improve …
2. NutriSystem Meals
3. How to improve the speed of service | Restaurant Business

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$picResult.picDomain

Tips for Bagging your Groceries


Bagging up groceries is always a problem especially if the supermarket is busy. One can be pressurised into rushing and food items can be squashed and battered by the time one reaches home.

How can one bag groceries so they come to no harm during transit from the supermarket to the home?

First if you buying frozen goods during the summer months it might be a good idea to either carry a cool box in the car or buy a cool bag. Cool bags are sold in almost all supermarkets these days and are not terribly dear to buy.

So one has a cool box or cool bag handy and your in the process of pushing the trolley around the store. It might be a good idea to place all the tinned items at one end of the trolley, followed by bottles and frozen goods. Next fruits that cannot be squashed easily like apples, melons and oranges etc.  Lighter goods like bread, cheeses and yogurts should be placed behind these. Last to go in the trolley is soft goods like some breads, tomatoes and especially eggs.

If one has the trolley loaded correctly when you reach the check out you can place the good on the conveyor belt in order that they might be packed. Tinned items can go in one or two bags without damage. The important thing is not to overweight the bag. Bottles can be carried back to the car lose in the trolley or again packed in a couple of bags.

The frozen goods can go straight into the cool bag or carried lose in the trolley to be placed directly into a cool box in the car. Next pack the heaviest items like cheese and fruit into a bag. If there is space at the top of the bag you might consider filling it with a light item like a loaf of bread. Vegetables like tomatoes will need to be packed with other light items.

Always put bleaches, washing powders and the like in their own bag away from food in case of leakage.

If you have purchased eggs make sure you know which bag they are in so it can be handled gently back to the car.  Lastly when you return to the car, remember if you have a cool box, to plug it to the cigar lighter socket. This is in order to keep your frozen items in good condition until you reach home.

Source:
1. Top 10 Tips for Bagging Groceries – IFT.org
2. Calories in Almonds
3. Grocery Store Jobs 101: How To Properly Bag Groceries | WorkPulse

Image Credit
s.hswstatic.com

Temperature and Wines

It is extremely important to serve a wine at the correct temperature. It is not enough to open a bottle, pour wine in a glass and swallow it in one gulp. Wine is probably the only drink to talk about before tasting and after drinking or at least after the first sip. There is a whole ritual that anyone interested in wine can observe even though he is not an expert.. As we talk about the best temperature we are not meaning herein the so-called picnic wine to quench one’s thirst, the one you can drink at the top a dune overlooking the sea when the sun sets before crunching greedily on a sandwich.

We are talking about the choice of a correct temperature and therefore the atmosphere in which we find ourselves namely the dining-room. The dishes are known. The hostess has made her choice and will be cooking the dishes. Eventually it might be an important family gathering and a restaurant owner may have been called in to deliver the meals, quite a luncheon then.

However and whatever the way meals will be coming from out of your own cooker or from an external specialist, you have decided to serve your own wines because you have some good bottles lying in your cellar. Even though you are not a specialist you have indeed some knowledge over the fact that there must be a good match between the meals and your wines. Your reputation is at stake in a way !

 Ideally, you will proceed as follows:

 – A few days before this “luncheon”, you will take care of your selection. It is assumed that you already have the wines in your cellar or that you will be purchasing them from a fine wine-shop in your district..

– The day before the meal, bottles must be brought from the cellar into the dining-room and be put up on a furniture. 48 hours would be preferable so that the wine can adapt itself to the room temperature at least for the first 24 hours. Of course we are talking about red wines that need not be refreshed !

 – The day the ceremony open the bottles and put the corks back onto the bottle neck. This is meant to aerate the liquid and have the bouquet expand. Let us not forget that he wine has been kept locked up for a very long period or several years as may be the case. This operation is meant to have the bouquet develop and the temperature of liquid matching slowly that of the room. However there is a warning: our aim is not to overheat the wine just because the room temperature is 23°C since the hostess is cold, has got a cold or a headache and needs the heaters to be turned on. We are talking about a normal temperature, namely 19 or 20 degrees. There is no question of overheating a red wine

 – Let us summarize now the conditions against each existing categories (red, white, rosy, sweet wines, champagnes):

– red wines like Bordeaux: between 16 and 19 ° C. At this temperature, the claret will be releasing a pleasant bouquet.

– light red wines like Beaujolais: between 11 and 13° C. It is practically the cellar temperature. Therefore, you will not bring the wines out of cellar 48 hours in advance as said before but will take them in the dining-room a few minutes before service. In doing so, we will avoid trying to refresh them a bit in cold water.

– white sweet wines like Sauternes: between 5 and 8.

– dry white wines: serve between 6 and 12 ° C.

– rose wines: same as dry white wines as white and possibly at 12 °C if the alcohol level is high in the bottle (ie: 13% by volume indicated on the body-label).

It is important to treat the wine correctly from beginning to end and thus avoid the refrigerator if you want to chill a wine (maximum 2 hours), avoid ice cubes, overheated rooms, avoid placing a red wine near a heat source to accelerate its rise in temperature. Do not put a white or rose wine in the freezer to accelerate cooling! As far as white wines are concerned, whether dry white or sweet white, rose or champagne, use an ice bucket filled with cold water.

– champagne is also to be served between 6 and 8 degrees.

If you follow these instructions you will be praised for your knowledge on wines and your wife will certainly be honored with compliments on the service of meals along with wines. Your reputation will be growing as a wine specialist and in the long run people will know that upon crossing your doorstep that “inn” is indded a good place for food and wines.

Source:
1. Storage of wine
2. Magic Bullet Reviews
3. Wine Serving Temperatures – SkyBar

Image Credit
www.wineanorak.com