Friday, March 18, 2011

Freezing green beans

Green beans taste good and are known for their high nutritional value.  They are loaded with Vitamins A, C, B1 & B2, omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, iron, calcium, copper, phosphorous, manganese and dietary fibers.  However, fresh green beans are not available all year-round.   For steady supply, many people freeze green beans rather than have them in cans. Freezing green beans is the easiest method and yet maintaining their dietary value.  This can be done in very simple steps.

To start with, prepare at hand desired quantity of the freshest green beans to freeze.  If the beans are taken from your own backyard, harvest early in the morning.  The flavor is at its best if picked while the weather is hot.  If purchased from the market, you can test the freshness by breaking it in half.  If it cracks, then it is fresh.  Freshness can be seen as well from its color.  It is fresh if the color is bright green and has no brown stains.  If there is time gap between harvesting/purchasing and freezing, put the beans in the refrigerator.  Never use beans that are already overripe or had dried out.  Freshness is crucial when freezing green beans, otherwise the freezing process doesn’t serve its purpose.

Wash the green beans in lukewarm or plain cold water in a colander or strainer.
The next step is to remove the stem ends of the beans and the strings, if any.  You may cut them to pieces that you prefer.

Blanche the green beans.  Fresh vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that change the color, texture and taste of vegetables and destroy the nutrients.  The blanching process removes these enzymes and bacteria.  This is done by first dipping the beans in boiling water for at least 3 minutes (or enough time to prevent the action of enzymes and kill the bacteria, usually 3-3.5 minutes).  Don’t overdo it.

After 3 minutes or so, the beans should be cooled immediately to prevent overcooking.  Immerse the green beans into a big bowl with ice-cold water.  Keep adding cold water until the beans have lost warmness.  Cool the green beans the same duration as they were blanched.  Drain thoroughly.

Place the cooled beans inside a vacuum food sealer or zeeper bags. Remove as much air from the bag and seal tightly.  Store the bags in the freezer. 

In less than an hour, we are done.  Freezing green beans consumes lesser time and only a colander, pot to boil water with, a container for ice-cold water and vacuum food sealer or zeeper bags as tools. 
Frozen green beans usually last until 12 months.  Beyond that, it won’t taste as good.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Effects of Nuclear Radiation

Talking about the rush of messages coming from unknown about the radiation leak at Fukushima, who wouldn't get worried? Imagine how people reacted - passing the text message to as many as the phone prepaid load can spend, calling loved ones to come home quick (before 4 pm!), rushing to schools to pick up sons and daughters, closing doors and windows (any holes, if possible!), betadine!, face masks!, movies about the effects of nuclear radiation suddenly recalled.  What an ugly sight!  As it turn out, the message is not true, a hoax.  According to the Department of Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, that Philippines is safe from radiation exposure as consequence of the damage to Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Nakakatuwa, nauwat tanan.

If it was true, we should be scared. The effects of nuclear radiation on humans and animals are very harmful:  cancer (known to skin and thyroid), tumors, and birth defects.  The rate of survival decreases as dosage of radiation exposure increases.

We should be thankful to God Almighty that the radiation leak at Fukushima was a false alarm. However, since the nuclear plant was indeed damaged, we must be prepared.  Know how we can prevent ourselves from getting harmed.  Be informed of the current news.

Erroneous text

In relation to earlier post, the radiation leak is a hoax.

Radiation leak at Fukushima

I got text messages to my mobile phone apparently flashnews from BBC network, that says:

Japan government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima Nuclear Plants.  Asian countries should take necessary precautions.  Remain indoors first 24 hours.  Close doors and windows.  Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first.  Take extra precaution, radiation may hit Philippines at starting 4pm today (March 14, 2011).  Please send to your loved ones.

We have to be vigilant.  Check the veracity of this news; then take necessary steps to prevent yourself and your loved ones to be exposed to this harmful radiaton.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to cook new potatoes

Learn how to cook new potatoes and thereby get most of its nutritional value. New potatoes, also called creamers, baby potatoes, chats, potato nuggets, or earlies, refer to harvested potatoes before they reach maturity and not fully grown. You can tell new potatoes by the look of its skin.  Skin of new potatoes is flimsy and thinner and can easily be peeled off with your fingers.

Since new potatoes are gathered before they are completely full grown, they are prone to damage easily. When you buy new potatoes, carefully select those that are without discoloration. They are susceptible to sun damage too, because of their thin skin. Avoid new potatoes that have green patches under its red or yellow skin. This green patch contain toxic alkaloid solanine; so either you throw them away or just cut off the entire green patch before cooking. New potatoes spoil easily and will only keep for about a week. Thus, buy new potatoes as you use them while they are still fresh as possible. You are guaranteed the best flavor when new potatoes are fresh. Fresh potatoes will look firm, no wrinkles, no discoloration, odorless and solid to touch. New potatoes are tasty and more nutritious if cooked with skins. So just scrub and wash off the dirt gently.

There are different ways how to cook new potatoes, but they are best boiled and roasted because of their small size and can be cooked whole. Many people love new potatoes because of their moisture content and smooth grain.

Old and new potatoes are treated differently by experts when they are boiled. Obviously, new potatoes take only about 20 minutes to make it tender. So, when cooking new potatoes, match their sizes as much as possible.

Arrange the new potatoes in a pan and cover with enough water.

Cover with a lid and leave it simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, until just tender. After 15 minutes, check with the point of a sharp knife or a fork. If they pierce easily, they are tender enough if not, boil for a little longer. Add a drop of lemon juice to the boiling water in order to retain the color of the new potatoes.

Once done, drain immediately. The Vitamin C in new potatoes might be dissolved in the water.
Arrange the newly cooked potatoes in a nice dish. Serve with a lump of butter or sprinkle with salt and pepper, and your favorite herb, chopped.

If you like roasted new potatoes, just add ¼ cup of olive oil to a large pan where potatoes are arranged in just one layer. Add 1 clove minced garlic and toss to coat. Add 3 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake at 4000 for 40 minutes until tender.

The easy way how to cook new potatoes and you still get the same nutritional value. 

How To Make Hard Boiled Eggs That Peel Easy

There are many ways to cook an egg.  The simplest and classic way to prepare it is to boil.  However prepared, whether soft- or hard-boil, we want it to look good when cooked.  That is, egg still in its original form, shiny white and no crates when peeled.  Ah, peeling egg shells is fun and messy, too.  Sometimes we can’t avoid breaking the outer layer or leave bits of shells.   Removing egg shells is an effortless thing if we know how to make hard boiled eggs that peel easy.

First, we need the following :  a stove, a large pan or a pot, cold water, kitchen or any timer and uncooked eggs .  Check for cracks before boiling.  Others use eggs refrigerated for a few days because they said new eggs won’t peel easily.

Ok, let’s start. 

First, pour cold water into the pan until half-filled.  Add the eggs (don’t drop! Avoid cracks).  See to it that the water level is above the top of each egg.  Add more water, if necessary.  If the eggs are not as cold as the water, let the eggs sit in the cold water for awhile.  The water should not be warmer than the eggs, otherwise the water will heat up faster and the eggs may crack.  If cracks are unavoidable, add a teaspoon of salt or a drop of vinegar.  This will prevent the insides of the egg from leaking out. 

Second, position the pan on the stove and turn on high.  When water starts to boil, turn heat to medium and set timer to 15 minutes.  Make use of any timer available, if you don’t have the kitchen timer.  Learning the skill on how to make hard boiled eggs that peel easy is really simple, no need to use urbane kitchen tools. 

Third, when the timer goes off, turn off the stove.  Move the pan to the sink; be careful, it’s hot! Let cold water run in the pan and pour out the water.  Be wise not to pour the hot water directly to the sink, it might damage it.

Fourth, dip the eggs in the cold water for about 30 minutes.  Replace the water if it gets warm.

Fifth, remove the eggs from the pan and refrigerate immediately.  The quicker the boiled eggs get cold, the better.

Follow these simple steps how to make hard boiled eggs that peel easy and you will have nice looking deviled eggs .