Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Corn on the Cob

Choosing Fresh Corn

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Corn…The How

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Corn…The What

Corn was first introduced to European settlers cultures by several

Native American tribes, such as the Iroquois of New England and the Pawnees tribes of the Great Plains.

And if we look back at what we learned in elementary school…or what our kids and grandkids are learning now…corn was introduced at the first Thanksgiving feast back iin 1779…(quite timely post since Thanksgiving was two days ago…and we all remember the story about the first Thanksgiving, right?!)

This corn which had been Native Americans had been cultivated in this continent as far back as 1000 BC.

 

 

 

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Facts Abour Corn

One interesting fact that I learned while doing research for the following posts is that corn always has an even number of rows of kernels.

Another interesting fact that I learned about corn is that the eat of the corn is the “female” part of the plant…while the tassel of the corn is the “male” part of the plan.

 

 

 

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Uses for Corn

Many products available on our grocery store shelves…or on the Instacart shopping list are refined or processed corn products…such as…

  • corn chips
  • corn flour
  • corn oil
  • corn syrup
  • cornbread
  • cornmeal
  • cornmeal flour
  • jpolenta
  • taco shells
  • tortillas
  • tortilla chips

 

 

 

 

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Types of Corn

There are currently hundreds of different types of corn, including these

 

 

1.Dent Corn…this is a type of corn that has small indentation (or “dents”) at the crown of each kernel that is typically grown for grain and animal food.

Actually there are two types of dent corn…white and yellow.

White dent corn is typically used to make masa, tortilla chips, snack foods, and grits…as well as producing food-grade starch and paper.

Yellow dent corn is the most commonly grown corn in the United States today…and is the corn mostly used to make cornmeal flour, corn chips, tortillas, taco shells….and even plastics,

 

 

2.  Flint CornFlint corn is called flint corn because the corn is as hard as flint, since each kernel of corn has a hard outer layer that protects the soft inner part of the kernel…. kernels that do not have the same “dents” that dent corn does at the end of each kernel.

The kernels of flint corn can range all over the color spectrum…not only from various shades of white and yellow,

This is the corn that many of us refer to as Indian corn and use to decorate our homes during the fall and especially and Thanksgiving.

 

3. Popcorn.,,Everyone who has been to a movie…or breathes in America knows what popcorn is, but in the next post we’ll learn even more about one of our favorite snacks…

..Ev
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries…The How

Shopping for Blackberries

When shopping for blackberries, remember that the blacker the color, the riper and sweeter the blackberry will be.

The perfect blackberry has a “deep”-flavored and is very juicy.

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Storing Blackberries

Blackberries are highly perishable and delicate. They can turn soft, mushy, and moldy within 24 hours after bringing them home from the store, so you will want to either use them that same day or freeze them.

Once you do bring them home, check for any soft, overripe berries…as well as any squished or moldy berries. Gently blot the berries that you’re keeping with a paper towel and place them in a covered container in your fridge.

Do not wash the berries until you’re fixing to…_(yeah, I am from the Deep South)…to either eat them or cook with them.

To freeze blackberries…which is honestly the best way to use them to make smoothies…flash freeze them by first arranging the blackberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put the cookie sheet with the berries into the freezer. Freeze them until they are solidly frozen. Then put them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag, label, and date…..yeah, I do know that you can also buy prepackaged frozen berries, but we’re trying to avoid processed foods, remember?)

 

 

 

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Recipes

Blackberries have been used to make wines and cordials as far back as 1696..so they must taste pretty darn good, right?.

And of  course you could eat the blackberries that you have bought all by themselves, but why stop there, when you could use your blackberries to make great desserts such as cobbler, jelly, and smoothies. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Be a Smooth Operator

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Green Smoothie

So now that we know the health benefits of green smoothies, how do I make the perfect one…and what should I expect in the perfect one.

The perfect green smoothie is the perfect blended of your favorite fresh fruits and dark leafy greens…blended with the perfect textures and with no bitter flavors….giving you not only great flavor, but also optimal nutrients every time.

And making the perfect green smoothie is more of a method instead of an actual recipe….but let’s first talk about the ingredients….or perhaps a ratio—60% fruits to 40% leafy greens.

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THE GREENS

There are hundreds of types of greens out there–try any of them and mix things up to find flavor combinations you like. , any kind of green will work…All greens have nutrients and anti-nutrients…rotate your greens regularly….be cognizant of flavor when choosing your greens. Spinach will have a milder flavor, so you can get away with using quite a lot without running into taste issues; arugula, on the other hand, is quite spicy, so you might want to add in some other stronger flavors to balance that out…

  • arugula
  • collard greens
  • fresh herbs—such as cilantro, basil, parsley and mint
  • green cabbage
  • kale
  • mâche
  • microgreens
  • pea shoots
  • romaine
  • spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • mixture of any of the above

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THE FRUIT

Fruit gives your green smoothies extra nutrition, texture and flavor…not to mention the fact that adding fruit keeps your green smoothie from tasting like a smooshed-up blended salad.

Adding fruit to your your smoothie also means that you won’t need to add any artificial sweeteners, honey, agave nectar, or processed sugars…because fruit is naturally sweet.

Bananas or avocados are the secret to making perfectly sweet and creamy weapon smoothies….they also help bind together the rest of the ingredients…bananas are also sweeter than  most other fruit. Bananas are especially good if you have peeled and frozen them first.

Ice can be hard on your blender and will dilute your smoothie’s flavor.

You can either chop and freeze your own ripe fruit or berries, or buy the the packaged stuff…and by the way I just discovered that you can freeze your wilting package of greens by simply sticking it in your freezer…learn something new every day, right?

Use about 1C fruit per servingabout twice as much fruit as you have in liquid or greenspreferably frozen fruit because you never want to add ice to your smoothie.

Fruits that you might consider include…

  • apples
  • berries
  • lemons
  • limes
  • mango
  • oranges
  • peaches
  • pears
  • pineapple
  • pitted dates

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THE LIQUID

Obviously if you’re gonna make a green smoothie, or any smoothie, you will need some sort of liquid. You can try whatever liquid you like, but you might want to avoid sweetened liquids because the fruit will add enough sweetness on its own.

Use anywhere from 1/2C to 1C per serving.

A few options include…

buttermilk—not so sure about this, but great for making pancakes or biscuits…might have to try it

  • coconut water
  • cold brew coffee
  • cold brewed tea—especially mint tea or green tea
  • milk

  • nondairy milks—such as unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
  • “plain old water”

 

 

 

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THE EXTRAS

Now that we’ve talked about the three basic ingredients of a perfect smoothie—the greens, the fruit, and the liquid—let’s explore other optional ingredients and a few recipes for the different health benefits that green smoothies are helpful for.

Many of these ingredients will be for helping the smoothies taste better…others will be for getting additional health benefits…while some will do both.

Let’s brainstorm…

  • Bee pollen
  • Coconut oil
  • Cucumbers…cucumber have a high nutrition content, as well as a high water content…and the green peel is excellent for you
  • Fresh herbs—such as basil, cilantro, and thyme
  • Gelatin powder
  • Himalayan salt
  • Honey
  • Maca powder
  • Nuts—such as raw almonds or raw walnuts
  • Oats that have been soaked in water overnight, or at least for ten minutes
  • Oils—such as flax oil
  • Seeds—such as flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
  • Superfood powders—such as cacao, maca, and acai powder
  • Spices—such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne, chili powder, or some combination of these
  • Unsweetened protein powder
  • Vitamin C powder

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Conclusion

So by now, you have probably realized the countless ways to make green smoothies, not to mention smoothies in general…I sure have, especially after studying probabilities in order to take my GMAT in three weeks…

But don’t worry…in the next post we will be talking about how to make your green smoothie…and then looking at various smoothies that you might want to try, based on the specific health benefit you are considering at the given moment.

Beginning with Breakfast

Green Smoothies…The Why’s from A to Z

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Ask the Waiter for Some Water

So how did I embrace the habit of drinking two liters of water per day?
Why  has it become just another step in my daily routine?

 

 

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Tools and Techniques

First of all there are different tools and techniques can I use to help me start drinking the suggested amount of  water each day?

 

1. Carry a small refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go.,,,Using a  reusable water bottle does not create the litter that typical water bottles do, is environmental-friendly, makes you a smarter consumer, saves water, and saves you money.

What factors should you consider when choosing a water bottle?

The first factor to consider is what material the bottle is made from. Water bottles can be found in many different materials—including aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, polyethylene, and copolyester.

  • Glass…bottlesUP, Life Factory, Love Bottle, Takeya

  • Metal…Earth Lust, Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen
  • Plastic…Fit & Fresh, GOBIEH20, Nalgene

In addition to the material that the bottle is made from, you also need to recognize how easy the bottle will be to both carry and to clean, how easy the bottle will be able to fill with ice cubes and water, what type of drinking valve the bottle has, how big the bottle is, and whether or not the bottle has a filter.

Another option would be a specially designed fruit infused water pitcher with an infusion chamber.

They work great, the large pitchers look fantastic on a dinner table and encourage your family to drink more water, and the travel bottles help keep you hydrated all day long.

You can refill the pitcher or travel bottle several times before it starts to lose flavor.
You can even eat the cucumber slices if you like, but discard your batch after 24 hours.

 

 

2. Decide when you want to drink your water. A few suggestions are…

  • Before Meals...makes you feel full and helps you eat fewer calories.
  • Certain parts of your daily routine—such as when you first get up, just before leaving the house, when you sit down to work, whenever you get up from your desk at work to take a bathroom break, after your brush your teeth in the morning, and right before you eat lunch.
  • Hourly...ensures that your water quote is met by the end of the day.
  • Morning…gives you more energy to face the day ahead.

 

3. Enlist other people to help you reach this goal.

 

4. Fill a larger pitcher or bottle with the amount of water you want to drink each day.

 

5. Invest in a filter.

 

6. Make your own carbonated water with the help of a home “seltzer” machine.

 

7. Use a straw so that you drink faster, and drink more at one time.

 

 

 

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“Recipes”

Cucumber Water…One way to make water a little less boring is to add fruit and veggies. The first one that we are going to consider is cucumber.

 

To make the perfect cucumber water, add 1/2″ slices of cucumber to your ice water. Top the cucumbers with more ice so they won’t float up to the top.

In addition to the cucumber, you could also add…

  • lemon
  • lime
  • mint
  • pineapple
  • herbs—such as tosemary or rhyme

 

Water-rich foods….One sneaky way to increase the amount of water you consume on a daily basis: eat your H2O. Addfruits and vegetables with a high water content to your grocery shopping list. Some top picks include cucumber (96% water), zucchini (95% water), watermelon (92% water), and grapefruit (91% water).

Spicy foods…Garnish your meal with chili flakes or fresh peppers and you’ll be reaching for more water in no time. Another benefit of adding heat? Some studies show that spicy food may help boost your metabolism.

Sparkling Water…Choose sparkllng or mineral water instead of Cokes…( yes, I am from the Deep South, so every single carbonated beverage know to man is referred to as Coke)…Sparkling or mineral water is just as good for your body as regular water…and much more interesting..

Other water-based beverages….Gee, both hot tea or unsweetened iced tea contain water. You could also reach your water goal for the day by drinking juice, lemonade, or iced coffee.
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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Brisk Breakfasts to Brag About

I feel like I have gone on so many tangents while writing this blog that they couldn’t possibly be counted.

 

I have gone all the way from learning to live a cruelty-free lifestyle and clean eating…to making scones with lots and lots of sugar and butter.

This latest tangent has been a result of “the resident five year old” going back to school.

Realizing that he never eats his lunch at school, I have learned the importance of making him a good breakfast instead.

So I have wanted to build myself an arsenal of breakfast recipes to keep him well fed…and hopefully well behaved at school.

 

So before we go on, let’s give our “breakfast cookbook” a Table of Contents…

 

 

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Table of Contents

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Scones

hello+lovely+apartment099kIn the last post, we talked about how to make the perfect biscuits…

Now let’s learn how to make the biscuit’s closest kid—the scone—anotherf quick bread that is made using very similar ingredients and techniques.

The perect scones are moist, light, tall and fluffy…slightly crispy on the outside…puffy and tender on the inside…with just the right amount of sweetness…served with jam, clotted cream, butter, or simply eaten plain. the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea.

That is, assuming you’re an American.

 

True British scones are actually drier and more crumbly.

The “original” scones, called “bannocks,” were actually large round breads that were  made simply of oat or barley flour and water…and then dry-fried on a griddle before being cut apart into wedge shapes.

 

 

When it comes to making the perfect scones, you have to have quality ingredients and know the correct method of making them instead of just slopping all the ingredients together and hoping that they come out fit to eat.

By now, whenever you read a recipe for a bread that uses baking soda or baking powder…instead of yeast…to make the bread rise, you should see a pattern emerge.

This pattern of doing things is called the “quick bread method.”

 

 

Once you see just how easy it is to make scones yourself, they will no longer be a rarely eaten treat served only for special-day breakfasts and formal high-tea fare….scones that are just as good, if not better, than the ones that I fork over how much money at Starbucks every time that I splurge and buy myself coffee there.

So let’s get started.

 

 

 

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The Ingredients
  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 2C flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2C sugar
  • 1/2C butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1C heavy cream or buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla

 

 

The Baking Powder…If you forget the baking powder, your scones will not rise…go figure…

 

 

The Sugar…This may seem like a lot of sugar…feel free to experiment to find out if you still like the taste using less sugar…but remember that changing the amount of sugar that you use will chl

If you are making savory scones, reduce this amount to about 2Tbsp.

Brown sugar often makes certain flavors of scones taste even better, but if you are using brown sugar, you should whisk your wet ingredients until you  get out all the lumps of brown sugar…otherwise, guess what your scones will contain…

Lumps of brown sugar…obviously.

 

 

The Butter…Butter is responsible for the crisp edges, flakiness, flavor, and rise of your scones.

 

 

The Egg…Eggs add flavor, lift, and structure.

 

The Milk…The thicker this dairy ptoduct is, the more your scones will rise and the better they will taste. If you are looking for a “politically correct” form of milk, choose one from this previous post regarding milk options.

 

 

The Vanilla Extract… because all baked goods require vanilla, right?!

Wrong…Don’t use the vanilla if you are making savory scones…as opposed to sweet ones.

 

 

Optional Ingredients…The optional ingredients that yuu can incorporate into your batter change the taste of your scones and make them much more fun.

A few options include the following…

Chopped Nuts…Add these after cutting in the butter…but before adding the liquid.

  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios

Citrus Zest…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredient

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange

Extracts…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredients

  • Almond
  • Anise
  • Lemon
  • Mint

Fruit…Use either fresh or frozen fruit. If using frozen fruit, do not thaw the fruit out first. Peel fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears before chopping.

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Glaze or Frosting…Top your cooked, slightly cooled scones with one of the following…

  • Brown butter icing
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Lemon curd
  • Lemon icing
  • Maple icing
  • Orange icing
  • Powdered sugar glaze
  • Raspberry icing
  • Salted caramel frosting

Herbs…Add one of the following into your dry ingredients…

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Spices …Add 1/2 to 1tsp one of the following into your dry ingredients….

  • Allspice
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon,
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg

Other Ideas

  • Chocolate chips
  • Toasted coconut
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The Prep Work

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Adjust oven rack to center position.
Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray or baking spray.
Set aside.

Stick your butter in the freezer.

 

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The Dry Ingredients

Whisk together your dry ingredients—the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder— in a large bowl.

…or simply pull out your KitchenAid to do this instead.

Actually we moved last month and I’ve had to hide the red KitchenAid that I love so much because there’s not enough space between the lower and upper kitchen cabinets for it to fit.

Regardless which method you are using, be sure to use a big enough bowl that will allow you lots of room to work in when combining your ingredients..

Add any herbs or spices that you have chosen at this point.

 

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 The Butter

Now it’s time to “cut in” the butter.

Cut your frozen butter into small pieces.

“Cutting” in your butter makes sure that your butter is evenly distributed throughout the dough. This will create little pockets of steam as the scones bakes, making them flakier.

If making your scones by hand, cut your cold butter into the dough with a pastry cutter or fork.

If using a mixer, mix on a medium-low speed for about thirty seconds.

Be careful not to over-mix.

Over-mixing will make your finished scones dense, instead of soft and crumbly….so work with the dough as little as possible.

You want the butter that you see in your dough at this point to be about the size of large peas.

If you are using any optional ingredients—other than herbs or spices which you should have already added to your dry ingredients by now—

 

 

 

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The Liquid Ingredients

Now lightly whisk together your liquid ingredients—the heavy cream, the egg, and any zests or extracts you may be using.

Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Mix just until liquid is absorbed.

At this point, your dough should be lumpy, with raggedy edges — not smooth at all.

You do not want to over-mix your dough…

Be very gentle with your dough…otherwise your scones will turn out crusty and chewy.

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Working with the Dough

 

Once you have finished making your dough, refrigerate for at least fifteen  minutes. This will keep your scones from spreading out too much wheever you bake them.

You could even refrigerate your dough overnight at this point and finish making them for breakfast the following morning.

Your goal is to Keep your dough as cold as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top or marble pastry board. Using a marble pastry board will help keep the dough cool.

Divide the dough in half.

Sprinkle a pinch of flour on top of each half.

Fold the dough in half.

Turn it 90 degrees. Pat out.

Repeat this folding process five more times….being very gentle with the dough when you are doing this.

Shape each portion into a 6″ circle…about 1″ thick. Use your hands to do this, not a rolling pin.

Cut each circle into six even wedges, using a pizza cutter…making sure that you cut the wedges apart completely.

You could also use your biscuit cutter and cut out circles of dough. If you use a biscuit cutter, remember to push your biscuit cutter straight down instead of twisting it. Otherwise your biscuits and scone won’t rise as tall

If your dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour…but be careful not to add too much excess flour because this will make the scones drier.

If your dough seems too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream.

Lift the wedges, one at a time, with either a pie server or a spatula.

Place the wedges about 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet,

Brush the top of each scone with heavy cream or buttermilk. Doing this will give your scones more of a golden brown, extra crispy, and crumbly exterior.

You could also sprinkle some sugar on top to add even more crunch.

 

 

 

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Baking Your Scones

Bake the scones at for about fifteen to twenty minutes,,,until they have about tripled in height…and are  golden brown on the tops and bottoms.

If your scones seem to be browning too fast as they bake, then tent them with aluminum foil.

After this amount of time, stick a toothpick into the center of a scone to see if they’re done. If the toothpick emerges clean, or with a very few moist crumbs, they’re ready. If the toothpick emerges with anything on it, other than perhaps a few crumbs, then let them bake a bit longer.

Remove the baked scones from the oven,

Let cool for a couple of minutes before topping them with any frosting or glaze.

Scones are best served warm, or within a few hours of baking.

If your scones seem to be spreading out too much as they bake, remove them from the oven and press them back into their original shape using a rubber spatula.