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Pasta, Pasta and More Pasta

Pasta, Pasta and More Pasta

Did it ever cross your mind why pasta comes in so many shapes and sizes?

Technically, there’s no “wrong” choice when it comes to putting a specific type of pasta in a recipe. However, you may find that certain shapes or types of pasta are more harmonious in certain dishes. For instance, the same elbow macaroni that absorbs oozy cheese in creamy mac ‘n’ cheese might not be as effective when served with a thick, chunky tomato sauce.

The more you cook and experiment with pasta, the easily you can figure out what types of sauces or preparation methods are most appropriate for each type. Read more to find out how to use some of various pasta shapes.

Conchiglie: These small shells have a large opening, which makes them best for dishes where fillings can get stuck inside. Think hearty meat sauces and creamy pasta salads. Oh, and of course, this shape is ideal for mac and cheese too.

Farfalle: Also known as “bow-tie pasta,” farfalle (which literally translates to “butterflies”) works best in dishes with chunks of vegetables or meat.

Spaghetti: Carbonara (helllllo, creamy cheese sauce with bacon) is the only way to save it. Other decently acceptable sauces, such as tomato (and meatballs) or olive oil-based concoctions, should coat the noodles completely.

Fettuccine: While “Alfredo” is basically fettuccine’s last name, try folding other thick sauces, like creamy tomato with browned sausage or a classic Bolognese, into these wide, flat noodles. They can take it! Red pepper and nut-based romesco is another acceptable (and encouraged) option.

Penne: Make the most of penne’s ridges by throwing them into a casserole with tomato sauce and cheese for a variation of baked ziti

Fusilli: A windy noodle full of cracks deserves a sauce that can stick to it, like pesto. And tomato sauce and Bolognese and olive oil and... we could keep going.

Linguine: Ah, linguine. Slurp it up with a light white wine and butter-based sauce and a protein. Shrimp scampi, anyone? If you're feeling a meal that takes minimal effort, it pairs perfectly with a simple combo of lemon zest, olive oil, and parsley.

Orecchiette: This pasta, which translates to "little ears" in Italian, does well with other bite-size foods, such as broccoli, cauliflower, sausage, and cherry tomatoes. You also can’t go wrong with a quick toss of peas and bacon.

Ziti: The best choice for mac and cheese (and baked ziti, of course)! Here’s why: Ziti's tubular shape is perfect for trapping cheesy sauce. And just so you know, ziti are actually a type of macaroni, so any recipe that calls for ziti can easily be swapped with elbow-shaped noodles.

Did you learn something new today? Let us know in the comments below.

Eddie Pile
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Cooking Terms You Should Know to Become A Better Cook

Cooking Terms You Should Know to Become A Better Cook

Ready to start cooking? Learn to decode common cooking terms and ensure that recipes turn out right, time after time. 

1. Slice, Dice, Chop, Mince 

Your first challenge comes before you even start cooking: learning how to prepare ingredients. A recipe has two basic components: the ingredients list and the step-by-step instructions. The ingredients not only tell you what to include but also how to prepare it. Don’t know the difference between a slice, dice, chop, or mince?  

Slice refers to cutting large ingredients into similarly shaped, flat pieces. (Picture slices of bread, onion rings, carrot coins.) Slices can be thin or thick, and the recipe will direct you accordingly (i.e., thinly slice, slice into 1/2-inch rounds). For example, onion slices should be thinner for a burger (you don’t want a big mouthful of onion), and thicker for grilling or frying. 

Chop has to be the most popular direction. It’s the most generic way to say “cut food into smaller pieces.” Like a slice, a chop doesn’t refer to any particular shape or size. When you see chop in a recipe for vegetables or proteins, you can assume they mean similarly sized, squarish pieces between 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch. When referring to herbs like parsley, chop is often modified as roughly chop or finely chop to indicate whether the pieces should be large or super small. 

Dice means to cut ingredients into square-shaped pieces that are smaller and more precise than a chop. The goal is to make beautiful, same-sized shapes that will look nice in a salad or will cook evenly when sauteed. Sometimes a recipe will specify the size: a small dice means 1/8-inch, medium dice is 1/4-inch, and large dice refers to 1/2-inch pieces. 

Mince is the smallest cut. These pieces should be as small as you can make them. Their tininess means they don’t have to be uniform. Oftentimes, you can use a back-and-forth rocking motion with your knife instead of making precise cuts. Garlic and herbs are often minced. 

2. A Dash, a Pinch, a Smidgen, and Seasoning to Taste 

Recipes can guide you, but they often leave the final seasoning up to you, as everyone’s taste is different. A cup and a tablespoon are pretty self-explanatory, especially once you know how to measure ingredients, but what about those vaguer terms? 

A dash is approximately 1/8 teaspoon. 

A pinch is even smaller, about 1/16 teaspoon. 

A smidgenis so small it’s not even worth talking about (1/32 teaspoon), but you might see if from time to time. It’s often used when you want a haunting note of the flavor, like nutmeg in a savory dish. 

Generally, these measurements happen with the fingers. Start adding a pinch of salt from a bowl, and you’ll quickly get the hang of it. 

Seasoning to taste almost always refers to salt and pepper and it is exactly what it sounds likeit’s up to you. If you like it spicy, bring on the freshly ground black pepper. Always start sparingly with salt and taste: you can add more. Above all, don’t stress about this instruction! Just add seasoning as you go till it tastes good. 

3. Roast, Bake, and Broil 

Dry heat cooking uses air, or fat, to transfer heat to the ingredient (as opposed to using moisture). Roasting, baking, and broiling are the most common oven-based dry heat cooking terms. 

Roast and bake are actually the same thing. If you preheat your oven to 375 degrees, for example, the air in the oven heats up to that temperature. The heated air then surrounds the baking dish or roasting pan on all sides and remains constant, cooking your food at an even rate. It is usually called baking when it refers to cooking desserts, breads, or pastries, and roasting when it refers to meats (like roast chicken) or vegetables. 

Broil is similar to bake except the food is directly exposed to very high heat on one side only-the top side. It’s like a grill in reverse. In most restaurants, the grill is actually called the broil station. Broiling is commonly used to melt cheese on top of a casserole to achieve that golden-brown look, but you can also cook whole fish or char vegetables using this method.  

4. Saute, Sear, Brown, Char 

These cooking techniques are more dry-heat cooking methods, and they all have the same basic principle: quickly invoke the Maillard reaction. What the heck is that? Just a chemical reaction that browns food and gives the exterior a distinct flavor. The difference between a good breakfast potato and a great one is that crispy brown exterior. That’s the Maillard reaction at work. 

Saute means cooking food quickly over high heat, usually using oil or fat as the cooking medium. It literally means “to jump” in French, referring to the constant motion of food in the pan either by stirring or shaking. The food is lightly browned and cook through during this process. Remember those uniformly diced vegetables we made earlier? It’s important that they’re the same size so they cook at the same rate when cooking via saute. 

Sear is an important skill to learn, both for meat and vegetable cookery. Searing cooks an ingredient over very high heat for a brief period of time. Unlike sauteing, the food is not moved until it has become fully browned. Searing seals in the flavor and gives your food a deliciously crusty exterior and a moist, tender interior. 

Brown is generally interchangeable with sear. When searing, it’s important to cook in small batches. Overcrowding the pan causes the temperature to drop, preventing a good crust and steaming your ingredients instead of searing them. 

Char is similar to sear, except it takes everything to the next level. Charred food is not burnt, but it is almost burnt. Think about charred peppers for making chiles rellenos. You can char by exposing the ingredient directly to a flame underneath a broiler, or you can place it in a very hot pan or on a grill grate. Once the food bubbles and blackens, it is charred. If it smells burnt or tastes bitter, you have gone too far!  

5. Deep Fry and Pan Fry 

Believe it or not, frying is actually a dry-heat cooking technique: no water is used in the cooking process. Have you ever dropped water onto a pan full of hot oil? It spits at you because oil and water do not mix. 

Most recipes will instruct you to fully dry the ingredient before cooking it via one of these methods. This minimizes the chance that water will transfer from the ingredient onto the oil. You may want to dredge the ingredient first, coating it in something dry like flour or breadcrumbs, to provide a protective coating. This not only protects the meat or veggie skin, but it also crisps up nicely. 

Deep fry means fully submerging your ingredient in hot oil. Since it is completely submerged, the ingredient cooks on all sides and gets a fantastically crisp exterior. You want it to cook just through to the inside, so the interior stays moist and tender. You don’t need a fancy fryer to do this: it’s actually pretty easy to deep fry at home. 

Pan fry uses much less oil than deep frying but more oil than a typical saute. The recipe will usually specify the amount of oil (i.e., heat 1-inch of oil), but a general rule of thumb is the oil should come halfway up the side of the ingredient. This method is great for delicate items that may fall apart in the deep fryer, like crab cakes or zucchini fritters. 

6. Braise 

Braise stands in a category of its own. It’s a combination cooking method that uses dry cooking techniques in the beginning to brown the meat followed by moist cooking methods to finish cooking it in liquid. Braising almost always refers to cooking something low and slow to tenderize tough cuts and well-worked muscle proteins. 

If you’re not braising, then you’re losing out on an opportunity to impress your dinner guests. Seriously. People can’t resist the tender cuts of meat in chili, a shredded pork shoulder, or fall-off-the-bone lamb shanks. Inexpensive cuts of meat transform into something totally amazing when braised. 

Stew is really another kind of braising. When cooking large cuts of meat (like that pork shoulder), it’s called braising. When you cut the meat into smaller pieces and completely submerge them in the liquid (like pork green chile stew), it’s called stewing 

7. Boil, Simmer, Poach, Steam, Blanch (and Something About an Ice Bath?) 

All of these cooking terms involve cooking with water, so they’re known as moist cooking methods. 

Boiling brings water to a temperature of 212 degrees at sea level. The water is in full motion with bubbles rising rapidly (and noisily) to the surface. Boiling is a common cooking technique for pasta. Many recipes will instruct you to bring water to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Boiling is also essential for steaming and blanching. 

Simmering refers to cooking in a liquid that is just below the boiling point, between 180 and 205 degrees. You should see bubbles forming, but they should be gentle and not at a full roll. Simmering is the most common moist cooking method, used for everything from simmering stocks and soups to cooking vegetables. 

Poaching falls in the temperature range between 140 and 180 degrees. There should be few to no bubbles in the water, although the water should gently ripple to maintain its heat. This method is perfect for cooking delicate foods, like fish and eggs, that would be disturbed or destroyed by aggressive bubbles. 

Steaming uses boiling water, although the ingredients never touch the water itself. By placing a steamer basket above boiling water, the ingredient cooks at 212 degrees without losing any of its flavors to the water. Tamales are a perfect example of a steamed dish, although steaming is also used for cooking vegetables and fish. 

Blanching also involves boiling water and is well known for setting the color of a vegetable. The ingredient is plunged into boiling water for a brief time before being removed to an ice bath. This process brings out a vibrant, bright color without cooking the vegetable all the way through. The result is a tender-crisp vegetable. Delicious! 

  • What’s an ice bath? A large bowl filled with water and ice. Dropping the food in here immediately halts the cooking process, preserving bright color and optimal texture of ingredients, from peas to hard-boiled eggs. 

From – Taste of Home



Eddie Pile
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8 Steps to Making the Perfect Weekly Menu

8 Steps to Making the Perfect Weekly Menu

The Benefits of Making A Weekly Menu Plan

You will save money. When you make a menu plan, you also make a grocery list for the week. Going to the store once results in fewer temptations and impulse purchases. As you grow more confident, you’ll be able to plan your menu around the store’s sales too.

You will reduce stress. If your family eats three meals a day, seven days a week, you have to come up with meal ideas twenty-one times a week. If your family as picky as mine, that means you also have twenty-one small arguments. A weekly menu plan lets you schedule meals everyone will happily eat.

You’ll save time. Making just one trip to the store is just the beginning. By properly planning your weekly menu, you’ll be able to turn leftovers into entirely new creations, saving you an enormous amount of time.

You’ll eat better. Once you’re not making decisions at the last minute, you’ll be able to think about whether your family is eating an appropriately varied diet. Are they getting fruits and vegetables with each meal? What about whole grains? Making these part of your weekly menu plan improves nutrition, too.

How to Make a Weekly Menu Plan

Rather than jumping into planning every meal for an entire week, start by choosing one meal to focus on for the first week or two. Does your family eat breakfast together in the morning? Start by planning a week of breakfasts they’ll love? Is dinner more your thing? Make the other two meals each day grab-and-go things, and put your effort into crafting a dinner menu for the week.

Step One: Create a list of trusted recipes. Now isn’t the time to test a bunch of new recipes you saw on Pinterest. Sit down with your tried-and-true family recipes and come up with seven you know your family already loves. It’s a good idea to ask for their input, too. Doing so gives them ownership of the menu and they’re less likely to complain when you serve something they’ve requested.

Step Two: Sort the recipes by protein. Even avid chicken fans get tired of eating it for dinner every night. If your list of trusty recipes is all chicken-based, head back to your recipe file and mix things up! For my family, I try to serve two chicken meals, 2 meatless meals, 2 fish meals, and one beef meal per week. Then I alternate the proteins, so we aren’t eating the same one on two nights in a row.

Step Three: Make Your lists. Once you know which meals you’ll be serving, write them down on one side of a sheet of paper. On the other side, make a list of all the ingredients required. Don’t forget to list the spices and condiments, too. Consolidate as you work, so instead of having “1 cup brown rice” on your list three different times you wind up with “brown rice: 3 cups.” This is your Master List for the week. (More on how to use that in a bit.)

Step Four: Figure out what you already have. Look through your cupboards, refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to find out what ingredients you don’t need to buy. If you’re short on something or don’t have it at all, put it on your grocery list. Don’t be afraid to make substitutions, either. For example, if a recipe for 1 lb. ground beef, but you’ve got 1 lb. ground turkey in the freezer, go with what you have!

Step Five: Post it! Hang your weekly menu plan where family members can see it. Next time they ask what’s for dinner you can point to the list. This isn’t just about saving your voice: once they see you’ve got the week’s meals planned, and that none of them include the drive-through, they’ll stop asking for it as often. You might even find they start looking forward to Meatloaf on Friday or Pad Thai on Tuesday.

Step Six: Just do it. Get your shopping done and start serving meals based on your weekly menu plan. Make notes as needed about things that didn’t work well and what did. Maybe baking a quiche for breakfast on a school day wasn’t such a great idea, but your family loved the French Toast you served Saturday morning. Next time, perhaps you could make a double batch of French Toast and freeze the extras to reheat for school mornings? Or make the quiche over the weekend to heat-and-serve on weekdays?

Step Seven: Do it again next week. Put your Master List for Week One away. Now, go through Steps 1-5 for Week Two, taking just as much care to create a Master List and adding notes about your trials and successes.

Step Eight: Rotate them. Once you have two Master Lists of meals and ingredients, rotate them! Your kids won’t remember they had oatmeal with raisins and dried cranberries precisely 14 days ago, so why go through the effort of coming up with all-new, unique menu plans week after week?

Advanced Menu-Planning Tips

When you’ve perfected two or more weeks of menus, you’re ready for advanced planning.

Swap in ONE new recipe per week. Found a great soup on Pinterest you’d like to try? Swap it for one of the trusty meals on a Master List, then repeat steps 1 through 6. Now you’ve created a third Master List. Sweet!

Double up. Are chicken breasts on sale this week? Buy extras and double your recipes throughout the week. Stash the second batch in the freezer. Next time you rotate through that week’s menu you’ll be able to defrost, reheat, and serve.

Cook once, eat twice. Speed up dinner prep by cooking things you can use in two separate dinners. Roast a chicken for dinner one night, for instance, then use what’s left to make chicken noodle soup. Make a large batch of quinoa to serve as a side dish one evening, then add chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil, and red wine vinegar to turn it into a salad. This is a fantastic way to save time.

Shop the seasons. Buying what’s in season is a great way to get the most out of your grocery dollars. Once you’ve made and used your Master Lists for a few months, you’ll probably find yourself ready to move on to other meals, anyway. That doesn’t mean you should toss your lists — you’ve put a lot of work into them! Store them in your household notebook or recipe file for next year, and create a new set of Master Lists for the new season. Do that four times in a row and you’ve got an entire year planned. Talk about saving a ton of time!

From- Housewife How-To’s

Eddie Pile
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Benefits of Online Grocery Shopping

Benefits of Online Grocery Shopping

Trying to find time in your busy schedule to make dinner is one thing. Trying to find time to go to grocery store is a whole other. There are plenty of strategies you can use to make grocery shopping more efficient. One of the most recent trends is to take advantage of online grocery shopping. Whether you order for pick-up or delivery, online grocery shopping can not only make your weeknights less hectic, but it can even help you save on groceries too!

Here are five benefits of online grocery shopping that might make you consider trading in your squeaky shopping cart for a digital one:

1. Groceries from the comfort of your own home

This is the most obvious benefit, but it’s still worth talking about. Instead of trying to squeeze into a parking spot or running into someone you know when you are definitely not up for it, you can get everything you need for dinner while finally catching up on episode of your favorite tv show. And if you have kids at home, need I say more.  Grocery shopping with young children is not for the faint of heart.   If you’re not going to be at home at a convenient time for the delivery, check to see if your store has pickup.  Then you can just order your groceries for a set pick up time, pull up to the store, and they will come load your groceries into your car.  Magic!

2. Less time wasted walking up and down aisles

Unless you’ve got a Fitbit goal you’re trying to meet, nothing is more frustrating than getting all the way down to the produce aisle – before realizing you forgot to get milk way back in the dairy aisle. Or when the cashier is ringing you out and you remember you never grabbed eggs. When you’re shopping online, you don’t have to worry about making such mistakes. Instead of wasting several minutes, it just takes a couple clicks to make sure the contents of your cart are perfect.

3. Lighten your paper trail

Depending on what service you use, a lot of online grocery services will have sales from your local grocery store right there in the interface. Some will even let you filter groceries by what’s on sale and what isn’t. This is a simple way to take advantage of all the great deals your grocery store has to offer.

4. Shop by history

Imagine if every time you went to your grocery store, your favorite products were already waiting in your shopping cart for you. This can be a reality when you shop online. Once you’ve used an online grocery website once, the next time you order you may be able to select groceries from what you’ve previously purchased. This is especially convenient for essential items that you have to buy every week.

5. Keep track of how much you’re spending

Another great advantage to shopping online in general is that the total cost of your cart is easily visible at all times. It’s easy to go over budget when you’re buying dozens of different items at once, especially when math is not your strong suit. Impulse purchases are just too tempting in the store and can be a big add to cost. Or, if you are hitting the stores with kids, they can often sneak in a few packages of this and that when you are not looking.  When you’re shopping online, you know what your total is at all times, and it’s easy to remove something if you later realize you don’t need it. And it’s totally kid proof. Double win!

While there are definite advantages to shopping in store, shopping online may be the perfect antidote to your busy life.


Source – The Dinner Daily.

Eddie Pile
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How to Identify Red Herring, Bloaters and Kippers

How to Identify Red Herring, Bloaters and Kippers

Red herrings, bloaters and kippers all begin life as herrings but are transformed by being cured in different ways. Before electrical refrigerationcuring fish by salting and smoking was an important method of preservation. 

Of the three, red herrings have the strongest taste. They are made by soaking whole herrings in brine for up to three weeks and then smoking them for another two or three weeks. This turns the flesh red. Red herrings have been made for centuries.   

These strongly flavoured fish have fallen out of favour but they live on in the phrase “red herring”, i.e. a misleading and irrelevant distraction. 

Bloaters are a lot like red herrings in that they are not gutted or split before being cured, but bloaters are only lightly salted and lightly smoked. The cure for bloaters is considerably quicker than for red herrings. This produces a mild tasting soft fish.   

John Woodger is credited with inventing the kipper in Northumberland during the 1840s. His innovation was to split the herring along its back (not along the belly) and remove the guts. Once this is done the herring is soaked in brine for 20-30 minutes and then smoked for 12-20 hours. Regional variations mean that there are lots of different types of kipper. 

To summarise, 

  • Red herrings – an old cure for whole herring that produces salty and highly smoked fish.  A good keeper. 
  • Boaters – lightly salted and lightly smoked whole herrings.  Mild tasting. 
  • Kippers – a 19th century innovation.  The fish are split, gutted and smoked. 

 Source – Food Heros & Heroins 

Eddie Pile
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How to Make Chores Fun For Your Child

How to Make Chores Fun For Your Child

  1. Hide treats, stickers, or pennies in, on, or under knickknacks, then ask your child to dust. She gets to enjoy the rewards only when everything is dusted.
  2. Post individual lists of chores kids can do (one for each child in your family). Whenever your child accomplishes a task, have her mark it with a sticker. Whoever has the most stickers at the end of the week gets the Helper of the Week award.
  3. Play "Go Fish" with a basket of clean socks. Divide the socks among the players, leaving a pile to draw from. Each player, in turn, holds up a sock and asks another player if he has the mate. If not, the asking player must take a sock from the top of the draw pile. When finished, the player with the most pairs wins.
  4. Turn any socks that stay single into child-friendly dust mitts. Insert child's hand into clean but dampened sock and use it to remove dust from houseplants and furniture.
  5. Have a scavenger hunt. Make a list of everyday items (newspapers, magazine, shoes, etc.). Set a timer for 5 minutes, then have kids collect stray items throughout the house. The winner is the child who picks up the most (and returns them to their rightful spots).
  6. After dinner, do a "10-minute Tidy." Set a timer and have family members scatter through the house putting away the day's clutter.
  7. Appoint someone to be Inspector D. Clutter. Armed with a laundry basket and plastic police badge from the dress-up box, this person roams the house and puts stray belongings into clutter "jail" (the basket). To set an item free, its owner (Mom and Dad included!) must do a chore.
  8. Turn a bucket into a personalized cleaning caddy. Use permanent marker to write your child's name on it and have him decorate it with other drawings. Store supplies such as sponge, dust rag and roll of paper towels, etc.
Eddie Pile
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10 Tips for Grocery Shopping

10 Tips for Grocery Shopping

Plan out a weekly menu
Making a meal plan BEFORE shopping is key, so you know what you need to pick up to complete any recipes and meals.  

Keep a list on your fridge and write things down immediately
When you run out of something, don’t leave it to your memory. Jot it down immediately, and you’ll never have to run back to the store because you don’t have eggs. 

Always go with a list
It is easy to think you’ll remember every item you need once you’re browsing the store, but in the hustle and bustle of shopping there’s bound to be something you forget. Before you leave home, take stock of your pantry items and make sure you’ve got things like olive oil, pasta and other staples you might not buy weekly. Plus, making a list beforehand lets you move more efficiently through the store. Pro tip: If you organize your list by product type, it’s a breeze to pick everything up as you work through the aisles.  

Prepare your grocery list by aisle
If you regularly shop at the same stores, organize your list so that you can easily find and check off items as you walk down the aisle. So you’re not constantly running back and forth in the store. 

Cut back on your “one-item” trips
They waste gas, and almost inevitably, you buy more than that one item. If you plan ahead, make a weekly menu, and shop with a list, this should drastically reduce the number of trips you make for a small number of items. But if you still find yourself running out for a few items, analyze the reason — are you not making a good list, are you forgetting some items from your list? Stock up on the things you frequently go out for. 

Don’t go when you’re hungry
On top of making it hard to concentrate, being hungry while grocery shopping can potentially cause an increase in your spending. Past research has proved that shopping for food on an empty stomach is a pricey risk. Hungry shoppers have the potential to buy items they don’t need or to fill their cart with unhealthy snacks. Instead, shop after meals. 

Always Grab Meat and Dairy Items Last
When you plan a longer shopping trip, you need to consider what items could lose their cool. On lengthy shopping trips, begin in the produce section and end in the dairy or meat aisles, as those products can spoil if left in a non-chilled environment for too long. 

Understand best by, sell by and use by dates
Understanding these dates will help you get the most life out of your groceries. 

  • Best By dates are recommendations only and have nothing to do with safety: they indicate that the taste or texture of an item may change but they're still safe to eat. 
  • Sell By dates indicate how long a store is willing to display an item on their shelves. It's not a safety indicator, as the product is probably still good for a few days (or weeks) after you bring it home. 
  • Use By is the only safety designation and it indicates that the product is not safe to use after the date listed. 

Check the date
Avoid the risk of eating unsafe perishable foods, especially chilled or frozen items. A ‘use-by’ date shows the date by which a product should be consumed, while a ‘best before’ date indicates the date until which the food will remain at its best quality.  

Look for specials
Every store has specials. Be sure to look for them in the newspaper, or when you get to the store (they often have unadvertised specials — look on the higher and lower shelves for deals). Don’t buy them unless they’re things you always use. 

Eddie Pile
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Benefits of Children Doing Chores

Benefits of Children Doing Chores

Few of us enjoy doing chores, but for a household to run smoothly these tedious and time-consuming tasks must get done. It’s a given that the adults will do their part around the house, but when it comes to assigning housework to children, there’s some debate.

Many parents want to preserve childhood for as long as possible, letting the “kids be kids” and enjoy plenty of playtime while they’re still young. Others may see children as less capable, preferring to finish the housework as quickly and efficiently as possible. These arguments make sense, but they also overlook the many positive benefits of giving kids chores.

Consider these seven reasons why children should help out around the house:

  1. Chores help teach life skills
    They’re young now, but they won’t be kids forever! Laundry, cooking and budgeting are just some of the skills your kids will need once they finally move out. These are also things that schools do not fully teach, making learning them at home even more important.
  2. Chores help kids learn responsibility and self-reliance
    Assigning children regular chores helps teach them responsibility. Tasks that personally affect your kids, such as cleaning their room or doing their own laundry, can help them become more self-reliant at the same time. Your kids or grandkids may also take pride in being considered mature enough to take care of themselves.
  3. Chores help teach teamwork
    Being a productive member of a team can be modelled for children through housework. Members of your family “team” are accountable to each other, and there are consequences when you don’t meet each other’s expectations. Learning these lessons at home, where mistakes are more easily forgiven, can help kids develop strong teamwork skills to use at school or work.
  4. Chores help reinforce respect
    It takes moving away from home for most of us to fully appreciate all the hard work our parents did around the house. Our children are likely no different, but assigning them chores may help this insight come a little quicker. Kids may become more aware of the messes they make if they’re tasked with cleaning up around the house, and more respectful of the work that goes into maintaining a home.
  5. Chores help build a strong work ethic
    This trait is valued by teachers and bosses, so why not instill a work ethic in your kids from a young age? Chores are commonly tied to a reward, such as an allowance or TV time. Paying children for a job well done can also spark an entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring them to work outside the house once they reach their teens.
  6. Chores help improve planning and time management skills
    It feels like there are a million things to do in the day, and fitting it all into our diaries is a challenge! Chores can help older kids and teens build good habits early. Juggling schoolwork deadlines, housework and their social lives helps them learn to set priorities and manage their time, important skills for the working world.
  7. Chores give families a chance to bond
    People often lament that chores take up time they could be spending with their kids or grandkids. But chores can actually create special moments between children and adults. Little ones who always want to help will feel important and receive a self-esteem boost, and moody teens may decide to open up over a shared task.

    Source – Momentum Life. Gif - The Wall Street Journal
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Food to Buy in Advance of Hurricane

Food to Buy in Advance of Hurricane

While there’s no avoiding the weather, it’s not that difficult—or expensive—to stock up on basic items in case you lose power or are temporarily unable to leave your home. 

When it comes to hurricanes, an integral part of your emergency preparedness checklist is food. 

An emergency food supply is extremely important because, in the aftermath of a major hurricane, basic necessities are often hard to come by. Once you survive the storm, you still need to survive until your area returns to normal 

You should create a survival food list before hurricane season even begins so you are familiar with what to purchase ahead of times. When meteorologists forecast hurricanes, hysteria can set in weeks before landfall. The faster you get to the supermarket to buy supplies the less stressful the whole experience is and the more likely you are to get the things you need. When it comes to weather-related disasters, planning is everything. Here are 10 you should consider on your to buy list: 

  1. Bottled Water

The most important thing you can have on hand before a hurricane strikes is water. This is the number one item on any food survival list because you can easily lose access to drinking water during a natural disaster. It could be days – even weeks – before the water from your sink is safe again. If it’s not contaminated, there is a chance it’s cut off completely. 

The average person needs 1 gallon of water per day. You actually need more than this in hot weather. make sure you stock up on at least a three-day supply per person in your home when a hurricane is coming. The more water the better. 

  1. Apples & Oranges

Apples stored in a cool, dark place can last for several weeks. This makes them one of the best fresh foods to buy in advance of a hurricane. They are full of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and water which are all important for hurricane survivors without potable water, electricity, or means of transportation. Oranges are another great fruit to have on hand. While they only last two weeks in comparison to apples when stored at room temperature, they provide a high dose of vitamin C. They also include calcium, potassium, and water. If you’re going to buy fruits, buy these two! 

  1. Dried and Canned Fruits

The next item on our hurricane emergency rations list is dried and canned fruits. While fresh apples and oranges are ideal, dried and canned fruits can also supply you with nutrients during a natural disaster like a hurricane. Try to buy fruits with no gels, syrups, added sugar, or artificial sweetener. Read labels carefully and always try to get apples and oranges fresh if you can. 

  1. Canned Meats

While canned fruits are good, so are canned meats. Canned tuna, salmon, and sardines are great sources of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines are actually a great source of calcium as well. These are great alternatives to other meats that you won’t be able to cook without power during a hurricane or other natural disaster. 

  1. Canned Vegetables

The third canned items on our list that is perfect for hurricane preparedness is canned vegetables. Ready-to-eat canned vegetables like green beans and soups can be very nutritious, as long as you purchase “low sodium” versions. Be wary. A lot of times canned foods are loaded with sodium, which is not only unhealthy in a normal setting but can make you thirstier as well. 

  1. Vitamins

Since there’s a high chance you won’t be able to eat meals normally, you may have to stock up on vitamins to make sure you are getting the necessary nutrients every day. Experts recommend a two week supply of vitamins for everyone in your house. Multivitamins are great, but if any family member have special medical conditions those vitamins need to be included as well. 

  1. Nuts

If you don’t have power to make chicken or steak, don’t’ fear. Nuts are packed with protein. They are actually one of the healthiest pantry foods you can have on hand in case of an emergency. Nuts are also full of healthy fats. Just make sure you buy unsalted nuts because you don’t want to get thirstier than you already are. Trail mixes are also a good way to go to get some sugar added into your diet as well with raisins and candies. 

  1. Power Bars/Protein Bars

If you don’t have power and can’t cook full meals, protein bars are a great way to get the necessary nutrients. If you’re lacking in caloric intake, protein bars will give you a big dose of calories. The best part is these come in small, nonperishable packaging so you can eat them anytime. 

  1. Comfort Foods

The last real food on our survival food list are comfort foods. Hurricanes and other natural disasters are very stressful events. It’s difficult to go about your day-to-day with no potable water, no electricity, and no safe transportation. It’s always good to have your family’s comfort foods on hand to lessen the burden of the weather-related stress. If these comfort foods need electricity it’s still a good idea to get them for once you get power back. Trust us, it makes a big difference! 

  1. Paper plates and utensils

A lot of times, clean water is not accessible after a hurricane. That makes washing dishes a tough job. To avoid this problem, purchase paper plates and plastic utensils ahead of time to ensure an easy and safe clean up. While you’re at it, make sure you get garbage bags as well.

Western Wholesale Inc. can help you prepare. A hurricane kit will be available in store soon for purchase. 


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Everything You Need to Know About Cocoa Butter

Everything You Need to Know About Cocoa Butter

What exactly is cocoa butter? 

Cocoa butter might bring to mind decadent desserts like chocolate bars, fudge layer cake, and chocolate chip ice cream. Yet this tasty ingredient is also a staple in skin creams and other health and beauty products. Unlike the cocoa butter in your dessert, the one in your skin care regimen won’t make you gain weight. But can it improve your appearance? 

Cocoa butter is a type of fat that comes from cocoa beans. To harness cocoa butter, the beans are taken out of the larger cacao plant. Then they’re roasted, stripped, and pressed to separate out the fat—the cocoa butter. The remnants are then processed into cocoa powder. 

Cocoa has been used in medicine for around 3,000 years. It was a favorite ingredient of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, who even used cocoa for currency. More recently, researchers have discovered that compounds called phytochemicals in cocoa might help keep both your body and skin healthy. 

Can cocoa butter really improve your skin’s appearance? Let’s take a look at the science behind the claims about this sweet beauty treat. 

What are the benefits of cocoa butter? 

Cocoa butter is high in fatty acids, which is why it’s often touted for its ability to hydrate and nourish the skin and improve elasticity. The fat in cocoa butter forms a protective barrier over skin to hold in moisture. 

Cocoa butter is also rich in natural plant compounds called phytochemicals. These substances may improve blood flow to the skin and slow skin aging by protecting against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. 

One common use of cocoa butter is to smooth scars, wrinkles, and other marks on the skin. Many women believe cocoa butter creams and lotions can be used during and after pregnancy to prevent and minimize the appearance of stretch marks. Cocoa butter has also been promoted to heal rashes from conditions like eczema and dermatitis. 

How to use cocoa butter 

You’ll often see cocoa butter as an ingredient in body lotions and creams. Because it’s edible, it’s also an additive in some lip balms. Many cocoa butter products have added sunscreen or vitamins. You can rub one of these cocoa butter products on your skin or lips every day as part of your skin care regimen. 

Many cocoa butter lotions and other products contain only a small amount of cocoa butter, along with other ingredients and additives. 

Risks and warnings 

Cocoa butter is considered safe to use on your skin. The makers of cocoa butter creams say it’s safe to use during pregnancy. For people who are sensitive to cocoa butter or other ingredients found in cocoa butter products, it may cause a rash or other allergic reaction 

You can find cocoa butter formulas in supermarkets, drug stores, online, and at natural food stores. If you’re concerned about additives, buy 100 percent cocoa butter and make your own skin care products. 

If you’re seeking treatment for a specific skin care need, consult your doctor or dermatologist. They can help develop a skin care regimen that best suits your needs. 

Source – Healthline 

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