Preparing food for your family and friends is a necessity and can be fun too. Enhancing your cooking skills makes the task easier and will impress anyone who has the opportunity to enjoy a meal you prepare. While practice makes perfect, having the right tools is important too. For instance, outdoor cooking with BBQ grills is easier if you have a clean grill that allows you to cook food evenly, and properly mixing your sauces and batters is easier with an Oster® blender.
Probably the hardest part about shopping for kitchen accessories and tools is knowing what exactly you need. Sure, you enjoy BBQ cooking on grills, but do you prefer to cook using propane or BBQ charcoal grills? Perhaps you know you need a blender, but do you want a basic model or is it necessary for you to have an Oster ice-crushing blender? Consider what type of meals you make on a regular basis and figure out which tools are most important. You do not need to buy everything right away; adding new kitchen gadgets as you go along is more economical and lets you understand your needs.
As you can see, there are many considerations when it comes time to start building your collection of kitchen tools. Spend some time researching what’s available and consider asking other, more skilled chefs for recommendations. You should find your cooking skills improve as your selection of tools does.
The second most consumed beverage behind water is tea. Interestingly enough the 3,200,000 tones of tea produced worldwide come from only one plant species, named “camellia sinensis.” But how a plant becomes a beverage? Tea is made by steeping processed leaves, buds, or twigs of the tea bush in hot water for a few minutes, a great variety of tea tastes, aromas and colors can excite even the more skeptical drinker. If you do like tea drinking, but simply never had the opportunity to learn more about it beyond the fact that you enjoy it, you should know that there are thousands of kinds of tea offered on today’s market. Shades in flavor derive from the region of cultivation and the method of processing the tea leaves. It is the processing techniques that produce the four simple tea categories are considered the art of tea making. In its most basic form, processing is the taking of the raw green leaves and deciding whether or not, and how much oxidation (or fermentation) should take place before drying them out. Oxidation is the reaction of the enzymes contained in tea leaves when they are broken, bruised or crushed.
The first category is that of black tea. Black tea is nothing more than the leaves of the camellia sinensis after being exposed to 8-24 hours of open air. After the leaves are picked up they are spread out to let the water they contain evaporate. You have probably witnessed it happening to a flower that is left without being watered. The foliage curls up and begins to dry. After this part of the process, the tea leaves are balled into rolls that encourage oxidization. When fully oxidized, the leaves turn into a rich black color. Tea producers then put the tea leaves into the final drying period before sorting and packaging them.
Oolong tea is another tea category and is considered to be the most difficult of the four types of teas to process. The best way to describe oolong tea is that it is somewhere in between green and black tea. This is because the leaves are only partially oxidized during the processing. As with black tea, the leaves are spread out to dry for 8-24 hours, but after that, they are tossed about in a basket in order to create a bruising and partial exposure to the air. The final step involves steaming the leaves, which neutralizes the enzymes in the tea and prevents further oxidization.
Green teas, like white teas, are closer to tasting like fresh leaves of grass that the other two tea categories. This type of tea is also lower in caffeine and has higher antioxidant properties. The whole process of creating green tea revolves around preventing oxidization from taking place in the leaves. Though the tea leaves are sometimes laid out to dry for a few hours, then, in order to neutralize the enzymes and prevent further oxidation, the leaves are steamed or pan fried. It is this very technique which results in the preservation of the enzymes which have recently become the focus of medical research. After steaming, the leaves are rolled up, still quite green in color.
Finally, white tea has recently become a popular item in the west as it is the least processed tea and thus tastes the most like fresh leaves or grass. White tea is made of the little buds of the tea plant. Again like green tea, white tea is steamed or pan fried to prevent any kind of oxidization, and great care is taken to avoid bruising or crushing the tea. The dried buds have a silver-like appearance because the tiny white hairs of new growth are still present.
Election season is in full swing, and it’s time to get out and vote. For president, you say? Of course, but there’s one more candidate to elect this year – America’s fish.
Think about it: America has a national anthem, a national flower and even a national tree, but not a national fish. Therefore, the Catfish Institute has nominated U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish for the honor.
Why is this fish worthy of such a title? A true American original, U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish can be found on plates all around the country, from California to New York and all the way to Washington. This versatile fish is adaptable to a variety of seasonings and can be grilled, baked, poached, broiled or fried. So where does this candidate stand on the important issues? Read on:
* On the environment: A friend to the environment, U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is fed a grain-based diet and raised in closed, freshwater ponds.
* On family values: Affording Americans time at home with family is a valued priority for this candidate. Because catfish is so easy to prepare, families can spend less time cooking and more time together.
* On health and nutrition: Low in fat, calories and sodium, carb-free, and high in protein, this candidate is ideal for every health-conscious American.
* On the economy: With prices that are easy on the pocketbook, voting for this candidate is smart economics.
Try this quick, easy recipe to see what else “Candidate Catfish” has to offer.
CLASSIC FRIED CATFISH
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish
For garnish: sliced tomato
and parsley sprigs
Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Coat farm-raised catfish with mixture, shaking off excess.
Fill deep pot or 12-inch skillet half full with vegetable oil. Heat to 350 F. Add catfish in single layer and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes, depending on size. Remove and drain on paper towels.