Monday, October 28, 2013

Keep Your Car Safe From Thieves


My Nationwide agent sent this and I felt it needed to be shared.  I'm classifying this as food related because we all shop for groceries and if you're like me, I simply don't pay attention to my surroundings and many times what I have visibly showing within my car.  This has made me more aware of how easily a car can be stolen and broken into.

“One of the worst feelings in the world is to get back to your car and see your window broken and some of your possessions gone,” says Bill Windsor, associate vice president of consumer safety for Nationwide. The fact is, it’s far too easy to become a victim of a vehicle break-in: Every year, there are about 1.85 million such incidents, with more than $1.2 billion in personal items and accessories stolen from cars.1 “Fortunately,” says Windsor, “there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chances of a break in.”

Protect your property by taking the following steps to avoid a break-in:

Avoid eye appeal. Criminals scout for opportunities, looking for purses, computer bags, smartphones, iPods, etc. that can be seen from the window of a vehicle. Make sure these valuables are not visible. And take the car keys with you on your way out. These tips may seem obvious, but sometimes when drivers are rushing or distracted, common sense can falter. Two out of every five people don’t hide their valuables in vehicles. One-quarter leaves a wallet or purse inside, and one-half display mail in their car.2 (If either of these items were swiped, not only would there be property loss, but also potential identity theft.)

Leave no trace. Even if drivers remember to stash electronic devices, they too often forget about the telltale accessories that tip off intruders, like power plugs, iPod adapters and navigation-system windshield suction-cup mounts. Place these giveaways out of sight, too.

Hide it before you drive. Here’s what law authorities say about thieves: They stake out retail parking lots and look for shoppers who are placing items in trunks. Although it’s advisable to load personal items (such as computer bags or packages) in the trunk as a precautionary measure, it’s best to do so before you leave your home for the store, so you don’t tip your hand.

Stay visible. Although you don’t want the vehicle’s interior to attract attention, you need to increase the profile of your actual ride. If you don’t have a garage, park the car in a well-lit part of the street that has lots of traffic. Likewise, if you’re shopping, park in a highly visible location.

Turn it off. One-third of motorists admit they’ve kept an unoccupied automobile running, either to heat it up during the cold months or while running a quick errand. That’s not only inviting a break-in, it’s a perfect setup for outright car theft. More than 720,000 vehicles were stolen in 2011, according to the most recently made available annual data from the FBI data.3 Turn off your car and lock your doors and windows each and every time you exit your car.

Choose your next car with safety in mind. “Before buying a car, visit the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety and check the list of favorite cars that thieves like to steal,” says Windsor. Want another deterrent? “Many cars today have factory-installed auto-theft devices; look for these when buying a car,” adds Windsor. “These devices will discourage break-ins and can earn you a lower insurance premium.”

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Storing Fruits and Vegetables Part 5 (final)


This information came from SparkPeople and is worth sharing as a final addition to the food preservation ideas.


The freezer is often underutilized. Bread, scrambled egg mix, leftover coffee, tea, and broths can all be frozen for later use. Your homemade soup, cooked rice and other dinner entrees can also be frozen if you don't have a chance to eat the leftovers in time. Try using an ice cube try to store single serving pieces of purees, sauces and beverages. Freeze leftover coffee for an iced coffee drink, or a cube of frozen veggie broth to whip up some gravy later in the week. Make smoothies down the road by freezing mashed or chopped fruit. Almost anything can be frozen except for canned foods in the can (although they can usually be removed and frozen) and eggs in the shell. The USDA’s Freezing and Food Safety information sheet offers tips on freezing food and thawing it successfully.

Keep your eyes on the size.
Serving up the correct portion size can help stretch you food dollars and eliminate waste created from uneaten portions—not to mention cut calories for weight management. You should be getting two servings from each boneless, skinless chicken breast. If you’re cooking for one or two, cut your meat into the correct portion sizes and freeze the rest that you won’t eat right away. Stick to these proper portions to feed more people per dollar and cut down on what you may be scraping off the plate!

 

Compost.
Throwing away (or composting) food should be your last resort if you can't eat it or preserve it first. When food lands in a landfill, it's out of sight, out of mind. So what's the big deal? Well, food and lawn waste makes up 25% of all waste in landfills, which are so densely packed that oxygen isn't readily available. When oxygen is lacking during the decomposition process, the food emits methane gas, which is 20 times more toxic than carbon dioxide. All this methane is bad for the environment, and the inhospitable conditions of landfills make it difficult if not impossible for natural materials like food to break down properly. Each ton of organic matter we can divert from a landfill can save 1/3 of a ton of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. Plus, composting can provide you with your very own "black gold" for free, allowing you to condition and enrich your soil, saving money and turning your food into nutritious fertilizer that will nourish future plants.

If you can’t think of a way to utilize extra foods and food scraps, composting is a better alternative than the trash. Think of it as a way to save the nutrients you’ve paid for by transferring them into new foods as you garden! Many foods can be composted, and it's a lot easier and sanitary than you might think. Check out SparkPeople's
Composting Guide for Beginners to get started.


Overall, reducing food waste requires you to become more aware of what you’re tossing and come up with creative ways to utilize the scraps—or prevent them entirely. Becoming a leftover king or queen, being a savvy shopper, and serving up proper sizes will all help you become a more efficient user of food, saving you money and helping preserve our natural resources.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Storing Fruits and Vegetables Part 4


 
I found these tips to help us conserve our food and money.

Create a plan—and stick to it!
Meal planning is a critical step to help you spend less and waste less. When you know what you're going to eat today, tomorrow and this coming weekend, you will only purchase the foods you need at the store, preventing you from buying foods on a whim only to have them spoil before you eat them. Creating the plan isn't enough—you must stick to it if it's going to work. Setting your sights for making chili next weekend is great, but when you lose track of time during the week and let the veggies wilt, you are throwing away more than spoiled food; you're wasting your money, too. Stay on top of your planned meal schedule by keeping a calendar on the fridge to remember what’s on the menu each day. When planning, account for all the foods you have to buy and creatively use them throughout the week. Use that eight-pack of whole-wheat hamburger buns for a cookout one night and tuna sandwiches for lunch the next day, for example.

Scrape your scraps.
Look for new ways to use food scraps. Instead of throwing away half an onion or extra bits of carrot, store extras in a container in the freezer. Once you’ve saved enough, boil them in water to make your own homemade vegetable broth that you can use when cooking rice and soup.


Don't like the heels of a loaf of bread? Chop them up and bake your own croutons, or dry them to use as breadcrumbs.

Leftover bits of chicken, fish, shrimp, or tofu can be used in a soups or salads the next day. If you have a dog, you may be able to treat her to certain scraps from fruits, vegetables, and meats as a treat, but check with your vet first.

Plan to preserve.
Consider preserving your own food if you don't have time to eat it before it goes bad. Pickling, canning, drying (dehydrating) and freezing are all ways to extend the shelf life of many fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. We often only think of cucumbers when it comes to pickling, but in reality, almost any vegetable can be pickled. Canning your own fruits, vegetables, sauces and soups can be a fun family event, and it can make farm-fresh foods available all winter. Raisins are dried grapes, but have you ever considered drying mango, pineapple or apple slices? This can be done in a food dehydrator or on a low setting in your oven. However you do it, drying fruit is a great way to make your own grab-and-go snacks and to prevent fruit from going bad.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Storing Fruits and Vegetable Part 3


    How to Store Fruits & Vegetables
    Refrigerator
    Apples (7 days) **** High Ethylene Producers
    Apricots **** Keep away from other fresh
    Canteloupe **** produce to slow down
    Figs **** ripening/spoilage.
    Honeydew ****  
    Blackberries Unwashed in a Single Layer  
    Blueberries Unwashed in a Single Layer  
    Raspberries Unwashed in a Single Layer  
    Strawberries Unwashed in a Single Layer  
    Broccoli Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Carrots Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Cauliflower Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Corn Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Green Onions Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Lettuce Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Peas Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Radishes Unwashed in a Plastic Bag  
    Mushrooms Store in a Paper Bag  
    Okra    
    Artichokes    
    Asparagus    
    Beets    
    Brussels Sprouts    
    Cabbage    
    Celery    
    Cherries    
    Grapes    
    Green Beans    
    Herbs (not basil)    
    Lima Beans    
    Leafy Vegetables    
    Leeks    
    Plumbs    
    Sopinach    
    Sprouts    
    Summer Squash    
    Yellow Squash    
    Zucchini    
    Countertop
    Apples ( 7 days) **** High Ethylene Producers: Keep
    Bananas **** away from other fresh produce
    Tomatoes **** to slow down ripening/spoilage
    Basil    
    Cucumbers    
    Eggplant    
    Garlic    
    Ginger    
    Grapefruit    
    Jicama    
    Lemons    
    Limes    
    Mangoes    
    Oranges    
    Papayas    
    Peppers    
    Persimmons    
    Pineapple    
    Plantains    
    Pomegranates    
    Watermelon    
    Cool, Dry Place
    Acorn Squash    
    Butternut Squash    
    Onions **** Keep away from each
    Potatoes **** other
    Pumpkins    
    Spaghetti Squash    
    Sweet Potatoes    
    Winter Squash    
    Counter/Fridge
    (Ripen on Counter, then
    Refrigerate)
    Avacodos **** High Ethylene Producers:  Keep
    Nectarines **** away from other fresh produce
    Peaches **** to slow down ripening/
    Pears **** spoilage
    Plums ****  
    Kiwi    
     
     
     
     
     

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Storing Fruits and Vegetables Part 2


REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RELEASERS:

Apples
Apricots
Canteloupe
Figs
Honeydew


For produce that is best stored in the refrigerator, remember the following guidelines.

Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)

Keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene can build up in the fridge, causing spoilage.

When storing herbs (and interestingly, asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.

“The main way to lengthen shelf life is by using cold temperatures to slow food’s respiration, or ‘breathing’ process,” explains Marita Cantwell, PhD, a postharvest specialist at the University of California, Davis. In general, the warmer the temperature, the faster the rate of respiration, which is why refrigeration is critical for most produce. But while you want to slow it down, you don’t want to stop the breathing altogether. “The worst thing to do is seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University. “You’ll suffocate them and speed up decay.”

Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables. Put spinach or kale in the same bin as peaches or apples, and the greens will turn yellow and limp in just a couple of days. So the first trick is to separate produce that emits ethylene from produce that’s sensitive to it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Storing Fruits and Vegetables Part 1


According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away about 31.6 million tons of food every year!  A University of Arizona study found that the average family throws away 1.28 pounds of food every day.  That is a total of 470 pounds a year!  And that comes to about $600 each year.  I don't know about you but that is a lot of wasted food and a lot of wasted money. 

After reading these numbers I decided to go in search of ways to conserve my foods and money and quit throwing so much away.  I've looked at many articles and finally found a way to compile them in a way that will help us all.  Since the information is so lengthy I'm breaking it down into parts.

If your produce rots after just a few days, you might be storing incompatible fruits and veggies together. Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas—a ripening agent—will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Keep the two separate. Use trapped ethylene to your advantage: To speed-ripen a peach, put it in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana. One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. Mold proliferates rapidly and contaminates everything nearby, so toss any spoiled produce immediately. For longer life, keep your produce whole—don’t even rip the stem out of an apple until you eat it. “As soon as you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University, “you’ve broken cells, and microorganisms start to grow.”

 These are some of the produce items called 'Gas Releasers' and should be stored on the counter:

• Avocados
• Bananas, unripe
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Plums
• Tomatoes

Cold-sensitive fruits and veggies lose flavor and moisture at low temperatures. Store them on the counter, not in the fridge. Once they’re fully ripe, you can refrigerate them to help them last, but for best flavor, return them to room temp. Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tomatoes

 
 
Extremely popular and nutritious, tomatoes are in moderate to liberal supply throughout the year.  Florida, California, Texas, and a number of other states are major producers, but imports supplement domestic supplies from late winter to early spring.
 
Best flavor usually comes from ‘home grown’ tomatoes produced on nearby farms.  This type of tomato is allowed to ripen completely before being picked.  Many areas, however, now ship tomatoes which are picked after the color has begun to change from green to pink.  These tomatoes have flavor almost as satisfying as the home-grown ones.
 
If your tomatoes need further ripening, keep them in a warm place.  Unless they are fully ripened, do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator – the cold temperatures might keep them from ripening later on.  Once tomatoes are ripe, however, you may keep them in the refrigerator for some time.
 
When buying look for tomatoes which are well formed, smooth, well ripened, and reasonably free of blemishes.  For fully ripe fruit, look for an overall rich red color and a slight softness.  Softness is easily detected by gentle handling.  For tomatoes slightly less than fully ripe, look for firm texture and color ranging from pink to light red.
 
Avoid overripe and bruised tomatoes (they’re both soft and watery) and tomatoes with sunburn (green or yellow areas near the stem scar) and growth cracks (deep cracks around the stem scar).  Also avoid decayed tomatoes with will have soft, water-soaked spots, depressed areas or surface mold.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Working Wives Cook Book 1963


This is a book that is still useful.  The Working Wives (Salaried or Otherwise) Cook Book is copyright 1963.  It's hardcover with dust jacket and needs to be adopted.  Check out it and others by going to Books, Books & More - Adopt a Book

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Peanut Butter, Banana & Marshmallow Cream


Some of you may remember my post where I mixed marshmallow cream with peanut butter and served it on crackers.  Well, a few days ago I wanted something sweet so I made myself a delicious sandwich.  I used 2 tortillas for my bread.  I spread a thin coat of peanut butter on one, added slices of banana and sprinkled them with a little cinnamon.  On the other tortilla I spread a THIN (not thick, it will be too sweet) coating of marshmallow cream.  Put the 2 together and sliced.  This is delicious!  I think kids would like it better than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I know I did.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Food Labels


This is an article I found on Eating Well that I had to share. 


1. Be Wary of Nutrient Callouts

That tabbed banner of nutrition information emblazoned on the front of various products (cereals, granola bars, pasta) is called Facts Up Front and is food-industry-created. You’ll see numbers for saturated fat, sodium, sugar and calories, as well as two "nutrients to encourage." For example: Lucky Charms cereal can tout its calcium and vitamin D levels, even though a 3/4-cup serving has 10 grams of sugar and marshmallows is the second ingredient. In addition, nutrient-content callouts, such as "low fat" or "cholesterol free," sometimes appear on unhealthy foods. Sure, Jujubes are a fat-free food, but they also have 18 grams of sugar per serving.

2. Read the Fine Print


In a 2010 report, "Food Labeling Chaos," the Center for Science in the Public Interest said that many ingredient lists are intentionally unclear. "They are often printed in small, condensed type, and many manufacturers use all capital letters that studies show are more difficult to read than [a combination of] upper and lower case letters… some companies print the list in various colors of ink against poorly-contrasting backgrounds or insert the ingredient list in a fold or other area where it will not be visible unless the consumer makes an extra effort to reveal the list."

3. Misleading Healthy Claims


Phrases such as "Helps Support Immunity!", "Helps protect healthy joints!" that describe how a food component may affect the structure or function of the body can be vague or misleading. A 2010 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that nutrition marketing, such as health claims on the front of a box, is commonly used on products high in saturated fat, sodium and/or sugar, and more often in kids’ products. Stick to the Nutrition Facts Panel to determine how healthy a food is.

4. Don’t Believe High-Fiber Fibs


Sixty-six percent of consumers look for the phrase "high fiber," according to Technomic, a food-industry consulting firm. Yet the product might be "high fiber" because it contains isolated fibers in the form of purified powders, such as maltodextrin. These fibers don’t have the same beneficial health effects as intact fibers from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Other faux names: oat fiber, wheat fiber and oat hull fiber.

7. Look for Whole Grains


The phrase "Made with Whole Grains" doesn’t guarantee the product is made predominantly of whole grains. In fact, only a miniscule amount may be there. Look for the word "whole" (whole wheat whole grain, whole + name of grain) listed first in the ingredient list. Similarly, the Whole Grain Stamp—which appears on products that contain at least 8 g whole grains per serving—doesn’t guarantee the healthiest choice. A recent study in Public Health Nutrition found some grain products marked with the stamp higher in sugar and calories than grain products without the stamp. The best way to identify the healthiest grain product? Look for at least 1 g fiber for every 10 g total carbohydrates.

6. Don’t Judge a Product by Its Name


To get around FDA labeling regulations (which don’t cover product names), companies create wholesome monikers for their unhealthy foods and beverages. Vitamin Water, for example, is basically sugar water (31-32 g sugar per bottle) with some vitamins thrown in. Other health-evoking product names include think Thin nutrition bars, SmartFood popcorn and Snackwell’s snacks.

7. Wee Serving Sizes


Tiny serving sizes make unhealthy substances (fat, sugar) look less bad. Example: a 15-ounce can of organic soup labeled "healthy" contains "about two" servings; each serving has 480 mg of sodium. The FDA says that a food can’t be called "healthy" if it contains more than 480 mg per serving. But most people eat the whole can (960 mg). A better way: a February 2013 study found that for products containing two servings that are customarily consumed at a single eating occasion, displaying two columns (one for the entire package and one for a split of the package) on the label helps consumers make healthier choices.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cleaning your Blender


A few years ago I cleaned my blender and ended up cutting the tip of my finger rather badly on the blades.  After that I found myself looking for other ways to blend foods which was a pain in the rear.  Now I know how to clean the blender without touching the blades.

Simply fill the blender about half-way with very hot water and a generous amount of dishwashing liquid.  Before turning it on, throw in a couple medium-size ice cubes.  These will dislodge any insistent pieces of food that may be attached to the blades.  Rinse well and you're ready for the next use.