I recently read an article about peppers, the advice was to choose a red (or green or yellow) pepper based on the number of bumps on the bottom of the pepper. It said that peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom (the male pepper) have fewer seeds than peppers with 4 bumps (the female pepper), making it easier to clean when chopping – and you’d be paying less by pound if you’re not paying for all those seeds inside!
I thought this sounded great! I never knew the difference between the 3 and 4-bump peppers before, I guess that was it! Yay!!
The next time I was at the grocery I was picking up a pepper and decided to search for one 3 and one 4-bump pepper to see for myself. I found 2 red peppers that fit the bill, went home, and cut them in half…
Male & Female Peppers
The 3-bump pepper is on the left and the 4-bump pepper is on the right. The one on the right is slightly larger and had slightly more seeds, but that’s just due to it’s larger size. This myth is DEBUNKED!
Upon further research I found that there is no male or female pepper, the different number of bumps on the bottom is due to the variety, not the sex. Fruits have no gender AND peppers are a fruit! Fruit comes from a flower and flowers have both sexual parts, something-something-something, it’s here that I get somewhat confused so I’ll just go back to my previous statement that: fruits have no gender.
Go ahead and buy a 3-bump or a 4-bump pepper, I think the amount of seeds is truly hit-or-miss, but generally the larger the pepper the more seeds you will encounter.
Also, I read that one is sweeter than another, but again that has to do with variety – some varieties are sweeter than others, but you’ve got to know your varieties to be able to confidently choose a sweeter pepper.
Cutting onions and crying just go together; one expects the old familiar burning and tearing up when the onion gets chopped in half. It’s life – it’s the onion’s defense system against getting eaten! It’s what we endure to enjoy an onion.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the desire to avoid crying over a cutting board of chopped onions and I’m trying some of them out to see what works for me! Short of wearing goggles (see image at the bottom) while I chop my onions, I’m going to try as many methods as I can – if you know of something I haven’t tried, please add it to the comments below!
Controls: I always use a wood or bamboo cutting board and I use the same super-sharp ceramic knife. I am also always chopping the onion into a medium sized chop (unless otherwise stated). I always cut off the top, then the root, then cut the onion in half to peel (except with the Onion Under Water experiment).
An Onion on Ice
Method: Place the onion in the freezer for 10 minutes prior to cutting. I tried this with the highest of hopes! It sounded a little strange, but the idea of cooling the onion in the freezer sounded so odd that I’d hoped it was the method that would work best. I mean, who would think of this to begin with? And why would it be a known method if it didn’t work?
I chilled the onion in my freezer for 10 minutes. I then sliced into the onion, cut it in half and I could already feel the familiar burn in my sinuses. I peeled the two halves of the onion and began chopping one of the halves, at this point I was already crying. FAIL!
A Toothpick to Chew On
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It may seem self-explanatory or obvious, but I hadn’t heard about water sauteing until a year or so ago. I’ve also had some other people asking me about it lately, so I thought I’d throw this idea out there.
It is a simple and much healthier option than cooking your vegetables in oil on the stove! I’m thrilled to be cutting out 1-2 tablespoons of oil per meal, those calories really add up. Each tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories and 14 grams of fat – 2 being saturated fat. Fat that will never get to see my thighs or stomach!
I use this method to saute onions mostly, because that’s what I saute most often, but it can be used for most any vegetable that you’re cooking and trying to soften. However, I don’t think this method will get you a nice crispy crunch or sear.
A little boiling water
I can’t give an exact measurement because pan sizes vary, but I use just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. I heat the pan over the heat I plan to cook over (medium-high) and let the water start to bubble and boil.
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I can now include myself in a very small group of people who can say that “I’ve made my own ketchup.” I don’t know anyone else who has. Maybe there’s a MeetUp for that?
It started with a handful of simple ingredients that I already had on hand – mind you, I have an extensive spice cabinet – and about an hour of my time. Originally I thought it would just be a bunch of stuff in the blender or food processor, but it turns out I needed to cook it on the stove to reduce for a while.
The end result is NOT the plain red ketchup you’ll find at fast food restaurants or even in grocery stores, though there are a growing number of “gourmet” ketchups on the shelves these days. This is a darker red and has a lot of flavor; spices make all the difference. I would say that plain ketchup is just a salty lubricant to help get my french fries down, but this homemade ketchup is a complimentary flavor to add to my dining experience. So far, my only taste testing has taken place with french fries…we plan to buy a grill next week so I’ll have to try it on some sort of burger soon.
Here’s the recipe (This is a recipe that was inspired by a ketchup recipe in “Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it” by Karen Solomon:
Reducing the tomato/onion puree
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To keep my herbs and other small rooted things fresh in the kitchen I’ve been keeping them in a glass of water on the counter. When I get them home from the grocery I rinse them off and either cut off the bottom of the stems in the case of rootless herbs or I put the whole thing in water, like with green onions since they still have roots. This keeps them fresh and vibrant much longer than if I just throw them in the fridge while they wait their turn to become supper. I change the water every day or so and they seem to last several days longer for me. I got this idea from a fellow blogger, Feed Your Skull. Check it out!
Replanting Green Onions
I might be kind of neurotic like this, but I hate to waste food and I hate to throw away something that may still be good – if there’s value in it I like to put it to work. My husband will often grab some premixed salad from a box of salad and leave 3-4 leaves in the box and say it’s gone. I get defensive of those lonely leaves and say that those pieces of greenery were grown and should be consumed – out of respect for the plant. They were planted, grown, cared for, harvested, washed, packaged, shipped, purchased, and placed out to be a dinner salad; it seems a crime to just let them rot in the garbage can. Am I crazy?
So, anyway, with my green onions, after I chop the green tops off for use in something, I place the root end back in water and they’ll shoot back up. It’s really amazing. Their roots continue to grow too! Just last week I decided to plant the growing root end of the green onions in my little garden area next to the wild strawberries. They grow back and I can keep using them! Miracle? Maybe not. But I sure do feel great about giving them a second life in my garden. :)
2nd Life in the Garden
I keep my baking powder and baking soda in my cabinet until they’re completely gone. I’ll use every last 1/4 teaspoon, no matter if it’s been in there for 3 years or longer. To me, it’s just a magic white powder that is required for baking – it does something really cool, but I’ve never been sure exactly what. Ignorance is bliss.
So, ahem, according to my copy of Larousse Gastronomique, Baking Powder is: A raising (leavening) agent invented in America and introduced to Europe in the 1840s, it consists of 2 parts bicarbonate of soda and 1 part cream of tarter mixed with a flour or starch…Baking powder is commonly used in domestic baking, particularly for cakes and scones (biscuits).
And according to Wikipedia, Baking Soda, aka Sodium Bicarbonate, is primarily used in cooking (baking), as a leavening agent. It reacts with acidic components in batters, releasing carbon dioxide, which causes expansion of the batter and forms the characteristic texture and grain in pancakes, cakes, quick breads, and other baked and fried foods.
Hmm, still not clear what the exact difference is here except baking powder contains baking soda, but I already knew that.
Anyhow, here’s how you can test to see how fresh and active they are!
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Okay, I’ll admit it, I was probably a milkmaid in a former life. I just can’t stop experimenting with making new non-diary milks. Today I thought oat milk would be a great one to try. I’m not absolutely fond of yesterday’s peanut milk and I love oats, so oat milk should be delicious, right? Let’s go ahead and see!
I’m using organic thick cut oats and decided to use 1/2 of a cup of oats for this recipe. I soaked the oats in 4 cups of water for half an hour.
After the half hour passed I poured the mixture into my blender and blended for 1 1/2 minutes. If you want to save on dishes you can certainly soak your oats in water right in your blender.
- Oats and water freshly blended
I decided to use cheesecloth to strain the mixture this time, I wanted to make sure I got out all of the little chunks and debris from the oats. If you haven’t yet gotten used to small chunks in your milk, cheesecloth is a great idea!
- Straining the oat milk with cheesecloth
Then I poured the oat milk into a clean jar. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been slightly obsessed with making my own non-diary milks lately and I got to thinking about all kinds of nut milks. I began to wonder why I’d never heard of peanut milk and figured it isn’t mainstream because so many people have peanut allergies. I don’t know. I’m not allergic to peanuts, I like peanuts, so I decided to try it.
I got 1 cup of raw Spanish peanuts from the bulk section at Sunflower Market (Hey, did you hear they were just bought out by Sprouts? Crazy news!) The peanuts tasted really beany, that’s when I remembered that peanuts are actually not nuts, they’re legumes. Very beany…in a bad way.
Raw Peanuts Soaking
I let my 1 cup of nuts soak in a bowl of water overnight, well about 10 hours – I sleep long nights when I can. The peanuts absorbed A LOT of water so make sure you put in more than you think they’ll need! Then add a little more water. Read the rest of this entry
I recently read a book titled Can it, Bottle it, Smoke it by Karen Solomon, it inspired me to make my own homemade vanilla extract. It’s a simple item to buy at the grocery store, but it sounded so romantic to make it myself…so I did.
As she suggested, I bought my vanilla beans at Saffron.com, they’re much cheaper than I’ve seen in grocery stores around here, even including the extra shipping charge, and the quality is great.
Vodka and Vanilla
I took 8 vanilla beans and my husband so kindly picked up some organic vodka for my experiment. Yes, that’s all you need to make vanilla extract…and two months of your life. Read the rest of this entry
I made the almond milk previously so I felt to be fair to non-diary milk everywhere I needed to do the rice milk too…even though I know I’m not a huge fan of rice milk, which is why I decided to make it all into horchata which is just a sweeter version of rice milk with cinnamon in it. Yum.
The recipe I based my experiment on called for long-grain white rice, I had to go buy it since we don’t typically eat white rice these days. I soaked 1 cup of white rice in a bowl with enough water to cover the rice by 1-2″ and kept it in the fridge for 24 hours. The water was fairly cloudy from the time I put the rice in. Read the rest of this entry