Some food items we buy are clearly marked to refrigerate after opening, as an example foods like dairy products and meats among others.
There are some items we buy that are not marked as to how to store it once you have it at home in your kitchen.
These food items include the following.
Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator can make tomatoes dull and mealy.
In his book, “Food and Cooking” – food scientist Harold McGee explains that ripe tomatoes, are especially sensitive to chilling at temperatures below 55ºF and suffer damage to their membranes that results in minimal flavor development, blotchy coloration, and a soft, mealy texture when they’re brought back to room temperature.
Store them on the counter (under-ripe ones can go on the windowsill).
If your tomato is a little overripe, putting it in the fridge will stop the ripening process preventing issues like mold.
Serious Eats tested over ripe tomatoes by storing them in the refrigerator, and the results showed that the flavor was not negatively impacted by the cold.
If they ripen to fast on the counter top, you could roast them and make them into tomato sauce.
Serious Eats is an award-winning food and drink website, visited by hungry readers every month to view rigorously tested recipes, science-driven cooking techniques, and robust equipment reviews.
Never store ground coffee or coffee beans in the fridge or freezer.
Starbucks states that roasted coffee beans should be kept at room temperature. They go on to say when you store it in the freezer or refrigerator, moisture condenses on the coffee and can extract the flavor.
The fridge and freezer are far too humid and will make your coffee tasteless and less aromatic.
It’s important though, to watch your sodium intake.
Too much sodium could contribute to high blood pressure, which may increase your risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other health concerns.
On average, Americans consume about 3,393 mg of sodium per day, that’s about 1/2 tablespoon or 1.5 teaspoons.
The recommended dietary guidelines from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for Americans is to consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
According to JAMA (American Medical Association), about half of all Americans, those aged 51 years or older, African Americans of any age, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, are recommended to only consume 1500 mg a day of sodium.
What Should You Do?
Eat salt in moderation and remember it is found in processed and restaurant foods in high amounts.
Therefore, your salt intake can be decreased by eating out less often, especially at fast-food restaurants and eating less prepared or packaged foods.
Cook your own meals and remember, “salt to taste.” As you want to taste the real flavors of food, not the salt.
To think about cooking as purely functional would be to look at just one aspect of it. When in fact there are several reasons why we cook.
Cooking makes food more edible and in doing so cuts down on the time it takes to digest it.
Some foods we can eat raw, but there are others that need to be cooked, like meat or eggs for example.
Humankind has been on the earth for thousands of years and throughout the centuries we have learned the art of cooking.
Yes cooking is an art. If you are a professional-cook or not – when you put together different flavors you are creating a dish to satisfy your taste and hunger.
The More You Know
We spend just five percent (5%) of our day eating. So make the food you eat count towards a healthier you. Read more here: First Step To Being Healthy
The bottom line is, we have learned through trial and error that some foods need to be cooked.
So again, ever thought while you are preparing something to eat, why you cook it?
Why We Cook
It makes eating food safe, as cooking destroys bacteria, and the toxins they produce.
The food flavors multiple with using heat to cook. The heat browns meat, vegetables, breads, and cakes.
Cooking caramelizes sugar and helps herbs and spices to release their locked in flavors in a process known as the Maillard reaction.
Read More Here About Cooking With Herbs – Spices – and Caramelizing Sugar
Food that has been cooked helps with your digestion as it softens starches and releases foods nutrients.
Cooked food tastes delicious and brings new textures to food.
Cooking To Gather Family and Friends
You may have heard the expression, make friends by “breaking bread together.”
Research has shown that the ritual of cooking and sharing your cooked food with others is entrenched in our psyche, and it brings family and friends together.
Regularly eating cooked food with others also improves our well-being.
Cooking Supports A Healthy Life Style
Here’s a great response to why we cook.
Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, lead author of a study on home cooking and weight lossat the John Hopkins Center, says if you are trying to lose weight or not, people who cook most of their meals at home, consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all (Study Suggests Home Cooking is a Main Ingredient in Healthier Diet).
According to Civil Eats – The power of a communal meal, or eating together – either it be a Thanksgiving feast, a community potluck, or a dinner-table gathering can build cultural ties and tear down political walls.
Vanilla beans themselves provide wonderful flavor to any recipe that calls for it. The bean can cost between $7 to $13 for a small jar of two or three beans. They are a little time consuming to work with, but you will find the flavor they produce to be well worth the time.
You want to find vanilla beans that are plump and smooth with a slight shine and that are highly fragrant. Avoid overly dried beans. Using the vanilla in dessert recipes that call for it, gives the finished baked good an intense vanilla flavor that you might never want to go back to using another form of vanilla.
Be warned though, the bean can leave specks of brown throughout the baked good. To some this is great, but if you are baking a white cake, then employing the vanilla bean for such recipes may not work. That brings us to another form: vanilla extract.
Vanilla extract is the common form used in baking.
To acquire the extract, the bean is mashed, and it is infused with a mixture of alcohol, a clear drinking alcohol is used, like Vodka.
Vanilla extract readily available, not only as pure, but also artificially made. The extract is simple to measure out and use in your baking.
Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla paste, though spendy (between $12 to $16 for a 4 ounce jar), is the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing between vanilla beans and vanilla extract.
Vanilla paste is the flesh of the pod scooped-out, and make available at market in small jars. So you are getting all of the flavor of the bean without all of the hassle. It will still provide those flecks of color in your baking like the actual bean does.
For vanilla paste, consult the jar to see how much to use in your recipes. It usually shows the conversions between vanilla extract and the paste.
When in doubt, gradually add to your baking, tasting after each addition to help you determine the right amount of vanilla flavor.
Which One To Use
Most recipes do call for vanilla extract but if you do decide to substitute the bean or paste for the extract, you can. One bean actually equals about three teaspoons of vanilla extract.
The next time you bake, try using vanilla beans or paste instead of the more common vanilla extract. Of course, what you decide to use depends on your personal preference.
Hot Chicken is prepared using the breast, thigh, or wing of the bird, and are marinated in a water-based blend of seasonings, and flour. After the chicken pieces have been breaded and fried, a spicy hot sauce using cayenne pepper is drizzled over the chicken pieces. The hot chicken is served over slices of white bread with pickle chips.
Already mentioned, there are several restaurants in Nashville that serve up hot chicken. There is even a city-wide festival and competition commemorating the dish. Check it out here: Nashville Hot Chicken Coalition.
Here’s a easy Hot Chicken recipe, so you can give it a try.
½ cup vegetable oil for frying, such as refined coconut oil or avocado oil for high heat cooking
Sprinkle the tenders with salt and pepper.
Whisk buttermilk with hot sauce in a large bowl, then place the tenders in the bowl.
Cover and chill for two or more hours (or overnight).
Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce for buttermilk breading mixture in a large bowl.
Whisk all of the ingredients for the seasoned flour together in another large bowl.
Fit a deep pan with a lid, or a Dutch oven with a thermometer, and pour enough vegetable oil to measure 2 inches inside the pan.
Heat the oil over medium-high until the thermometer registers 325°F.
Remove the bowl of marinating tenders from the fridge, then take the tenders out of the bowl and pat them dry.
Working with 1 tender at a time, dredge in flour mixture, shake off excess, then dip in buttermilk mixture. Allow any excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge the tender again in flour mixture and place on a baking pan.
Place 3 to 4 tenders in the hot oil, one at a time.
Fry tenders, turning occasionally, until coating is golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. If you want, you can check the tender doneness by inserting a meat or instant thermometer into the tender; it should register 165°F.
Continue to fry your tenders in batches of 3 or 4, allowing the oil to return to 325°F between batches.
Place finished tenders on a tray lined with paper towels.
On the side, whisk cayenne, brown sugar, garlic salt, and paprika in a medium bowl; then whisk in ½ cup frying oil.
Arrange the finished tenders on a serving platter and drizzle with the spicy oil.
Chickenbreasts, particularly boneless, skinless breasts, are the healthiest cut of chicken, but they can also be dry and flavorless if not prepared right. You might say that cooking chicken breasts is easy, and we agree. But getting them moist and tender all the time can be a problem.
No matter which cooking method you use, that is grilling, baking, or pan cooking them, there are two important steps you should always take.
McGee says the Maillard reaction begins at approximately 230 degrees Fahrenheit, were as water turns to vapor at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and washing the meat with water before cooking it simply won’t get hot enough to allow the Maillard reaction to occur.
That means a washed piece of meat won’t start browning until all the water is cooked off, and by that time your chicken breast may already be well done.
Marinating Your Meat
Making small crosswise slits on chicken breast no only helps the marinade penetrate the meat, which disperses the marinaded flavor throughout the meat and not just on the surface, but also helps the chicken cook evenly.
Also most marinades call for vinegar, which is a great meat tenderizer as well as cooking meat evenly and juicy.
Pound Chicken Breasts To An Even Thickness Before Cooking Them
This is a very important process to perform as each piece of chicken breast can be a different thickness or size. If you don’t pound them out, some breasts will cook faster than others, leaving the thinner breasts dried out, while the thicker ones can be under cooked.
Pounding also tenderizes the meat, making the meat more tender.
Tools For Tenderizing
Image credit: William-Sonoma
When it comes to pounding your chicken breasts for an evenly cooked meat as well as tender and juicy, you can use a meat mallet.
But if you don;t have one you can also use a rolling pin, the back of a skillet or even the bottom of a mason jar.
Wrap the breasts in plastic wrap or wax paper, and pound until all the pieces are even in thickness, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness is ideal, but the important part is making sure the width is as uniform as possible.
Here are some of our favorite chicken breast recipes from our kitchen to yours.
A condiment includes a spice, herb, salt, pepper, and sauce. The word “condiment” was coined from the Latin word condimentum, which means spice, seasoning, or sauce. The Latin word condere, also means, to preserve, pickle, or season.
The preparation of a particular condiment is added to food to render a distinct flavor, and/or to intensify a culinary dishes flavor. The term originally described food items like pickles, tarter sauce, mustard, ketchup, or Tabasco sauce, but has shifted meaning over time.
About Food explains that the term “mother sauce” in culinary arts, refers to any one of the five basic sauces just mentioned, which are the starting points for making various secondary sauces. They say that they are called “mother sauces,” as each sauce is like the head of its own unique family of sauces.
Salsa is the Italian and Spanish word for sauce, and in English speaking countries salsa usually refers to the sauces typical of Mexico’s cuisine, referred to as salsa picante, particularly those used as dips.
Salsas are most often prepared with a tomato-based sauce or dip which is heterogeneous or diverse in character, as it can include the addition of onions, chilies, beans, cilantro, corn, and assorted spices that are customarily piquant, ranging from mild to very hot.
Salsas can be runny or thick. Both types of salsas are also used as dipping sauces, such as platters that are prepared with corn chips, beans, sour cream, and salsa.
Guacamole With Corn Chips
Dips are a thick food item, for dipping other finger foods into.
Dips are usually dairy based, like a buttermilk based dip, or a sour cream or cream cheese based dip, as well as tomato based.
You can even mix a salsa with sour cream to form a dip.
Dips can be thick or a liquid, and they can include a spinach dip, fruit dip, like guacamole, or a pizza dip, such as a tomato sauce based dip, or a garlic sauce.
Creative Condiments – Sauces – and Dips
Add coconut to your curry sauce. This gives it a more south-east Asian flavor. Just sauté some onions, ginger, curry powder, and sugar. Add some coconut milk and allow to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Add fresh, frozen, or peach preserves and spices to a favorite barbecue sauce. Mix in some peach preserves, a little sriracha, and your favorite barbecue sauce, and turn some yum into a wow in an instant.
Soaking dried beans or legumes in water first, helps with dissolving the raffinosesugars that can cause discomfort in the digestive system. Rinsing the beans after soaking and draining any water after cooking will further help to reduce the sugars as well.
Image credit: EHow
Here are some steps you can take to reducing the raffinose sugars, a complex carbohydrate found in most in most dried beans.
This type of sugar is also found in cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus, among other vegetables, and including whole grains.
The California Dry Bean Advisory Board recommend this method for gas-free beans.
Place 1 pound of beans in 10 cups of boiling water for 2-3 minutes
Remove from heat, cover and set aside overnight
Soaking the beans overnight helps to remove or dissolve between 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible raffinose sugars.
If you want, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water to help remove the raffinose sugars as well.
After soaking the beans, drain them of the water, then rinse thoroughly. Now your beans are ready to be cooked.
When cooking the beans, you can add any herbs and spices, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or juice, which can considerably slow the cooking time. Add these ingredients when the beans are done cooking.
When cooking your beans you can use either water, or a stalk made from vegetables, beef or chicken.
Cooking times will vary depending on the type of beans you will be using. Most cooks will tell you that dried lentils or split peas do not require soaking, but they do require sorting and rinsing.
Keep in mind that cooking lentils in too much liquid, or over cooking them, will make them mushy. They should only be cooked for 20 minutes or until tender.