Join Me for a Tea Party — May 5, 2021

Join Me for a Tea Party

Hard to believe that school will soon be out and it will be officially summer…amd summer family-friendly parties, poolside get-togethers and other fun afternoon treats…

And along with these, the dreaded summer heat…especially here in Texas.

Being from Mississippi, there is one thing required on such hot summer days—

ICED TEA!!!!!

But for years, every time I tried to make my own iced tea, I was sorely disappointed and homesick.

So I started asking my Southern counterparts and doing reseach as to how to make my own iced tea taste as good as the iced tea I so enjoyed when I was growing up.

And I learned that there are four basics methods for preparing the perfect iced tea—the how brew method, the cold brew method, tea concentrate, and sun tea…and about a billion different ways that you can sweeten it or flavor it or both.

So let’s take a step back in time and put a foot back in the Deep South…and make some sweet iced tea.

By the way, where I’m from, we’d probably laugh if you asked whether we want out tea sweet or unsweet…I didn’t even know that unsweetened tea exist until my husband joined the military and we left our roots in Mississippi…

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Health Benefits

There are four basic types of tea—green, black, oolong and white. Let’s take a look at the specific advantages of each type of tea…

Black Tea…Black tea is probably the tea that is most popular and most consumed…as in such varieties as English breakfast, Darjeeling, and Earl Gray among others. Black tea contains catechins and polyphenols that have many health benefits…including making it easier for asthmatics to breathe by expanding the air passage, keeping kidney stones from forming, preventing breast cancer, and reducing cholesterol levels.

Green Tea…Green tea contains the highest levels of the antioxidant known as EGCG…meaning that green tea helps burn fat, discourages the growth of cancer cells, encourages the growth of healthy skin cells, helps prevent clogged arteries, improves cholesterol levels, minimizes your risk of stroke, reduces stress on the brain, and regenerates skin cells.

Oolong Tea…Oolong is the best tea to grab if your main objective is to lose weight because it helps dissolve triglycerides, dietary fat that’s stored in cells.

White Tea…White tea has the mildest flavor of the four traditional teas…and can help prevent cancer properties, boosting glucose tolerance in diabetics, and reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

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What’s Next

Now that we have a basic understanding of the four main tea types, let’s dig a little deeper by looking at the different methods that can be used to make the perfect tea…as well more fun and exciting teas that are available—such as herbal and flavored teas as well as some recipes that you can make with tea…(never thought about the fact that you can not only drink tea, but also eat it, have you?!)

BBQ Jackfruit…”Their” Way and Mine — April 19, 2021

BBQ Jackfruit…”Their” Way and Mine

I grew up in the deepest part of the Deep South…a place known for its good cooking, love for fried food, ability to prepare and eat almost any carnivorous thing that happens to cross our driveway(?!), a high propensity for eventually developing type 2 diabetes, and the list could go on and on and on…

Where I’m from there’s no questioning if you “might be a redneck or not”…even the lawyers and doctors in my hometown wove their redneck flags with pride…just wearing better quality and more expensive clothes than most of their other counterparts.

So I shoulda known that eventually the dreaded d-word “diabetes” would enter our daily planet. 

And I also shoulda know that changing a lifetime of bad eating habits and poor diet choices was not gonna take place overnight. I mean there are certain things that a redneck girl just can’t give up too willingly—such as barbecue pulled pork sandwiches.

Growing up two hours south of Memphis, I must have eaten BBQ pulled pork or chicken at least once a week…loved it then…love it now…and probably couldn’t imagine life without it.

So living without my BBQ pulled pork or chicken was not even an option.

When we first received the official stamp across our doorpost reading “diabetic family,” I switched from the family meal section of my emeals meal planning subscription to the vegetarian section.

One of the first meals that I made when we ventured into vegetarian or plant-based or whatever-else-you-wanna-call it eating was BBQ jackfruit.

I had never heard of jackfruit, but it was on the menu…so it was now on my grocery list…and in my grocery cart…and in my freezer…and on my list of meals to cook for that week.

I kinda dreaded pulling the package out of the freezer to make the meal that first day that I tried it. I am from the Deep South. Leave my perfectly awesome pulled meat world alone.

That perfectly awesome pulled meat world that can find pulled meat topping anything from tortillas, buns, taco shell, wrap, whatever…maybe a baked potato…heck, where I’m from we could all probably eat bbq pulled pork three meals a day, every single day of the week and never get tired of it….kinda like Elf and his maple syrup.

But out of a sense of obligation, I prepped the BBQ whatever-the-heck-jackfruit-is stuff…

And I liked it…and my husband liked it…and my kids liked it…and even my brother Sam liked it.

Honestly, there are times when the crockpot full of bbq pulled pork or chicken just waiting to be plopped onto a bun with some coleslaw and served with baked beans and potato salad and sweet iced tea just keeps calling out my name…to me, this is the ultimate comfort food…

From now I save that meal for special occassions…

And on a more “regular” basis, I am quite content to go with the flow and settle for bbq jackfruit instead.

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BBQ Jackfruit

  • 2@14 oz cans green/unripe jackfruit packed in water
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 1/3C chopped onion
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 1Tbsp paprika
  • 1Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2tsp chili powder
  • 1/2tsp onion powder
  • 1/2tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4C BBQ sauce
  • Drain jackfruit. Shred the pieces apart hand. Heat 1Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook 5min. Stir together paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl. Add shredded jackfruit and spices to the skillet. Turn heat to low. Add BBQ sauce. Stir well so that all the jackfruit gets covered in the barbecue sauce. Cook for about five minutes.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Freezing the BBQ jackfruit will change its overall texture…so I wouldn’t recommend freezing it yourself…just grab some the next time you place your grocery order or stroll through the frozen food aisles.

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Their Way

Black Beans

Even though we’re originally from Mississippi, my husband was active duty Army until he retired…so we have lived four different places in the last thirty-four years—Frankfurt, Germany…Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri…Fort Jackson, South Carolina…Fort Polk, Louisiana…and Dallas-Fort Worth, actually Arlington.

We have actually lived in the DFW area since 1992…and one thing I have learned—Texas is very different from the Deep South, states like Alabama and Mississippi.

And people here in Texas thing barbecue totally different from us…

The first time that I was invited to eat barbecue when we moved here, I was seriously disappointed to find that actually meant dried-out brisket…thankfully I’ve had much better barbecue here since…or have at least gotten used to brisket and acquired a taste for Tex-Mex food…as opposed to pulled pork barbecue sandwiches with coleslaw and potato salad and coleslaw…

Black Beans

1-1/2Tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1/2tsp paprika

1tsp cumin

14oz can drained and rinsed black beans

salt

Put everything in saucepan. Heat…(kinda obvious, right?!)

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Guacamole

4 medium avocados, scooped out and roughly chopped

1/2 small onion, diced

1/4tsp salt

2Tbsp lime juice

1 garlic clove

1/2 medium white onion, minced

cilantro and/or chives, optional

The key to making great guacamole is choosing the perfect avocados…avocados that are at that perfect stage of ripeness for making truly great guacamole. The avocados that you use to make your guacamole should have “give” all across its surface…in simple terms, should be mashable…

Just like using butter that has set out on the counter to reach room temperature before baking instead of simply using butter straight out of the fridge can make a huge difference in baking…choosing the right smooshability of avocados is important in making the perfect guacamole.

You also want to avoid any avocados that are past their prime. You can tell if this is the case by looking at how dark the skin has become. Trust me, there’s no telling how many overripe avocados I’ve reluctantly had to throw away.

But hey, I did learn a new fact today…I’ve always known to store them in a dark place or even in a paper bag to ripen them more quickly, but I’m gonna now start keeping mine in the fridge so that when my weekly supply of avocados arrives they will ripen less quickly. Just make sure that you set them out of the fridge and let them reach room temp before starting to make your guacamole.

  • Scoop the pit out of the avocado…Just be careful if you try to do this using the method I found on youtube where you pit the avocado using a tumbler or glass…My recent attempt at doing this ended up in two surgeries and lots of unpaid medical bills. Anyway, after you pit your avocados, use a potato masher or fork to mash them up until a few chunks still remain but most of the avocado is smooth—probably goes without saying, we’ve all eaten guac before, right?!
  • Once you finish smooshing up your avocado, add the onion and salt. Then drizzle lime juice over the top surface of the guacamole to prevent it from browning…waiting to stir the lime juice into the guac right before serving.

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  • Pico de gallo
  • 4 large Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 1/4C finely chopped coriander
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 2Tbsp lime juice
  • Put tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit there draining like this for at least twenty minutes. This will allow any excess moisture to drain out. When you are ready to finish making your meal, gently press the tomatoes to squeeze out even more juice. Combine the tomatoes, onion, coriander, chili and lime juice.

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Our Way

Coleslaw

  • 1 head cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • ½C mayonnaise 
  • ⅓C white sugar 
  • ¼C milk
  • ¼C buttermilk
  • 2Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2Tbsp vinegar
  • ½tsp salt
  • ⅛tsp pepper 
  • Mix cabbage, carrots, and onion in a large salad bowl. Whisk mayonnaise, sugar, milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and black pepper in a separate bowl until smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and mix thoroughly. Cover bowl and refrigerate slaw at least 2 hours (the longer the better). Mix again before serving.

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Mr. Potato Head’s Canadian Friend — June 5, 2019

Mr. Potato Head’s Canadian Friend

The Yukon Gold potato is Mr. Potato Head’s Canadian friend who was born at Ontario Agricultural College in the 1960’s and named after the “gold rush country” around the Yukon River.

  • Flesh…yellow to gold, firm, moist, and waxy
  • Shape…ound to oblong with a slightly flattened shape.
  • Size…medium to large in size
  • Skin…smooth, thin, with a gold to light brown xoloe…relatively eye free but speckled with many small, brown spots.
  • Taste…rich, buttery, and sweet with a creamy and tender consistency

 

 

 

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Buying Tips

Avoid potatoes that are soft, wrinkled, or blemished.

Choose potatoes that feel heavy and firm.

Do not buy potatoes that are contained in plastic bags. There is no way to really check them out until you buy them and take them home and it’s too late.

Do not buy potatoes that show even a hint of green. This means that the potatoes have been exposed to enough light that they may contain a mildly poisonous alkaloids that can cause an upset stomach. However, if your potatoes turn green after you get them home, peel off all traces of the colored flesh before cooking.

Do not store potatoes and onions together because they will release gases that interact and make each other spoil more quickly.

Store your potatoes in a cool, dry, and dark location away from light.  They will stay good up to two weeks. After two weeks they will have the starch will turn into sugar, and the potatoes will be unpleasantly sweet..

 

 

 

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Nutritional Value

Yukon Gold potatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals…containing nearly twice as much vitamin C as a regular baking potato. Typically one Yukon Gold potato contains…

  • Calcium 2%
  • Calories 110
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Dietary Fibre 2 g (8%)
  • Fat 0 g
  • Iron 15%
  • Potassium 770 mg
  • Protein 3 g
  • Sodium 10 mg
  • Sugars 3 g
  • Total Carbs 26 g (9%)
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 50%

 

 

 

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Uses

Yukon Gold potatoes can be used in both dry and wet-heat cooking methods,

  • boiling
  • frying—both deep frying and pan frying
  • grilling
  • sautéeing
  • roasting
  • steaming

So in the next few posts, we will looking at how to make the perfect…

  • French fries
  • hash browns
  • mashed potatoes
  • potato salad
  • potatoes au gratin