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Tuesday, May 25 2010
 With Memorial Day around the corner, most Americans are thinking camping, barbequing, long weekends, and time to spend with the family. Barbequing seems to hold its fair share of space in American minds as is evidenced by all of the many cooking shows on cable TV that feature the culinary mastery of cooking meat to tender perfection over hot coals or a propane flame.

The history of American barbecue runs deep through cultural diversity and social norms of the Civil War era, and even prior to that. In fact, barbeque in American history is almost as old as American history itself. Barbeque today remains as unique as the region in where it is prepared.

In the South, meat usually consists of mutton and/or beef cooked in the slow cooking method. They have a range of Barbeque sauces that go from fire hot to smoky sweet.

Central South barbeque meat remains to be pork and pork ribs, but the meat is pulled rather than cut up. Slow cooked and hand shredded, they are typically covered with copious amounts of sauce. Ribs are either slathered up with sauce or rubbed with a mix of spices before pit cooking, and the sauce is usually sweet with a hint of pepper and molasses.

The East Coast has its own origins with barbeque, with pork being the meat used and vinegar sauces to go with it. Side dishes are commonly coleslaw and hushpuppies, a cornmeal ball. The vinegar sauces also have many variations, with some being tomato based and some being mustard based.

Whatever your barbeque style preference, you can be sure to get great results by following these tips: 
• First tip: keep your grill clean. Use a wire brush designed for cleaning grills and don't forget to clean the inside of the lid and all surrounding parts. This prevents your meat from tasting like old grease. 
• Boil ribs prior to grilling. If you do not boil ribs before grilling, you will end up overcooking them, leaving them dried out or burned. You can boil your ribs up to two days in advance. 
• If you find smoke flavor too intense for your lighter meats, baste them regularly. Smoke cannot penetrate water, and the frequent basting will reduce the amount of smoke flavor. 
• Start the fire early! Get the coals going at least 45 minutes prior to cooking. 
• Practice good meat handling habits. Don't use the same cutting board for veggies and meat.

Now when you barbeque this coming Memorial Day, you will be armed with a little more information than you had before, and hopefully some of these tips will provide you with a delicious and memorable experience.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 12 2010

A spicy grilled vegetables recipe is a good idea if you want to make something easy yet delicious, and do remember that "spicy" can mean subtly aromatic rather than fiery hot! If you are cooking for somebody whose palate you are familiar with, you will already know whether he or she enjoys hot and spicy food or just something with flavor. It is a good idea to find out for sure, before throwing in lots of chili peppers, especially if that is going to be the only vegetarian dish available for the non-meat eaters!

Ways to Spice Up Grilled Fresh Vegetables

Flavored peppers are a nice way to add a spicy element to your grilled vegetables recipe and lemon pepper is especially flavorful. Mash two tablespoons of lemon pepper into quarter of a cup of melted butter and brush this mixture over your vegetables before grilling them.

The butter will keep them juicy and the lemon pepper will add a spiciness as well as a hint of citrus. Serve these delicious lemon pepper grilled vegetables with Italian dressing drizzled over the top for a gourmet meal. This is also a tasty side dish for any carnivores and fish-eaters.

For a Middle Eastern flavor, try combining the freshness of snipped mint with the spiciness of turmeric. For an Indian taste, curry powder, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds work well. What about giving your vegetarian guests a Mexican meal to remember, by using fresh chilies and lime juice? You can either stick to one kind of cuisine or combine different spicy ingredients for an exciting fusion dish.

Using a Marinade for Extra Flavor

Rather than adding spices to the vegetables before cooking them, what about marinating them in a spicy sauce? You can double the marinade recipe and marinate some chicken, pork or beef in one half and the vegetables in the other half, so your vegetarian guests and non-vegetarian guests can all enjoy the tasty marinade.

Combine hot chilies with lime juice, dried herbs, and soak the vegetables in it overnight. If you are grilling a tough cut of beef, you can marinate that overnight too but do not marinate fish or tender steak overnight because it will go mushy.

Marinades are fun to make because you can be creative with them. Throw in any herbs or spices you fancy, as well as salt, sugar, lemon pepper, soy sauce or chopped fresh chilies. With a little know-how, your vegetarian recipes can be just as mouthwatering as your meat and fish ones.

There are so many wonderful flavors you can use to spice up your grilled vegetables and give them an interesting flavor, and this applies to all grilled vegetables from grilled corn to zucchini, eggplant or mushrooms. - The Veggie Side of Grilling

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:58 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 11 2010
Juicy foie gras and fluffy baked soufflés have not been the food pick in France in their early days. Economic and political adversities have afflicted the country's people on their very long, mounting struggle to success.

Till the time the Bastille was stormed in the year 1789, nearly all French people were underprivileged farmers and their eating habits depend mostly on grains. Decades after, a higher group of people became known - the kind that supported good food as a sign of status in the community. Even with high cooking or grand cuisine being cooked in the private abodes of the privileged, everyone in the country is not healthy. At this period, 70% of the French farmers continued to suffer in scarcity and undernourishment.

The First World War indicated the start of modern cooking in France. Better transportation in the first half of the twentieth century share out the riches and local cuisine that had been separated in the past. Tourism expanded following the Second World War and promoted the importance of haute cuisine or high cooking at a reasonable price. At present, everyone can walk into a restaurant or a pub and experience a sizeable food serving.

Cafes and snack bars that can be seen everywhere mark the ground and French people can choose Croissants or Pain Poilane every day. There is a restaurant for everybody in France. Cooks concentrate on the flavour, appearance and excellence of the food. As authentic as it is, the French cuisine now stands for the French flag, as it gives chaste, almost religious, sensuous experience.

Pollux Parker is an adventurer who loves discovering secret island getaways in each country he visits. Pollux also likes to collect French Flag and buy inexpensive French Flag

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:48 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, May 03 2010

Global food prices have been volatile for a couple of years now, leaving shoppers to make an uncomfortable choice between the cost of their shopping in a recession and buying healthy, natural foods.

So how have food shopping habits changed over this period? What has been the impact on the growing trend for natural, healthier foods and can anything be done to make food prices less volatile?

Oil price rises in early 2008 had a major impact on food prices - both because of the increased costs to farmers of producing them, plus increased costs of packaging materials and of transporting to the shops.

Alarm signals began to sound about food security and food scarcity in some parts of the world with large populations already living in extreme poverty and less able to absorb rising costs.

It was noticed in the more prosperous parts of the world, like the USA, that shoppers were becoming more aggressive in buying products on special offer.

Particularly in staple commodities like milk, bread, meats, coffee and cheese where there is less of a perceived difference between branded and private label quality they were also beginning to trade down to private label and value brand.

Then, in the autumn of 2008 came the credit crunch and by June 2009 the BBC was reporting that in the UK "one of the first things we've tried to cut back on is our spending on food".

Over the previous year food prices had risen by 8% and people had cut back on eating out in favour of staying in and cooking from scratch.

Local independent shops were reportedly receiving £50million less in sales and organic food sales were down 11% year on year.

While it was clear that organic and locally-produced foods - perceived traditionally to be more expensive - might be a loser the picture has turned out to be mixed.

For the year 2009 consultancy and research firm Organic Monitor estimated overall growth on organics in Europe was between 2 and 6 per cent, a drop from the double-digit growth rates of previous years but still unusually strong for a premium priced category.

Within Europe there were significant differences between countries. Growth rates varied according to the severity of the recession with organic sales worst hit in the UK and Spain - countries which were both badly affected by the recession, so consumers traded down to ordinary products and switched to cheaper retailers where organics have a weaker presence.

In Nov 2009, according to data compiled by the Steel Can Recycling Information Bureau, consumers suffering under the credit crunch were also eating 20% more canned food and drink than in 2007. Figures from Mintel highlighted a sales rise, with canned food worth £718m in the UK, with a predicted rise to £792m by 2012.

Shoppers in the US and UK were also buying cheaper custs of meat with 40% of them saying they had changed the way they bought meat and poultry compared with before the recession.

So where are we now?

While the recession has been declared officially over in most places, the after-effects are still being felt by people who have lost their jobs or gone onto part time working.

In the year to March 2010, UK food prices rose 1.2 per cent year-on-year, according to the British Retail Consortium's price index.

One factor that put upward pressure on prices was the return of VAT to 17.5 per cent on 1 January 2010. But also commodity price changes put upward pressure on food retail prices as fuel prices and packaging material costs increased.

In December 2009 The Food Channel predicted that a top food trend for 2010 would be for consumers to focus on buying pure, simple, clean and sustainable basic ingredients and shift from convenience foods to scratch cooking

Despite the rise in food prices there are signs that people are buying organic again. This year organic sales are expected to creep back up by 2-5%, according to the Soil Association's Organic Market Report 2010.

Meanwhile the squeeze on farmers to produce more at lower costs continues and the EU has approved a £20million farming crisis fund to give limited amounts of aid of up to €15,000 (£13,214) to UK farmers affected by the economic crisis until 31 December 2010.

So the pressure is still on to find more sustainable ways of farming to satisfy both consumer demand for healthy, natural, chemical - free food and the farmers' need to increase production in a sustainable way that preserves the quality of their land allows them to earn a reasonable living.

The CEO of the main US-based company researching and developing low-chem agricultural products has agreed on record that organic is currently a "middle class" option and he believes natural, healthy foods should be available affordably to everyone.

One way to achieve all this may lie in the new generations of biopesticides, biofungicides and yield enhancers that companies like his are increasingly developing to replace the older and more damaging chemical agricultural products being taken off the market.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

Consumer journalist Ali Withers asks why shoppers should have to choose between economising in a recession and buying natural, healthier foods. The price of food is affected by the volatility of global commodity prices, which affects the costs of production, packaging and transport. Can the new low-chem agricultural products, such as biopesticides, currently being developed change the equation?

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 12:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email