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Cooking

  • Preparing meals for two can make cooking fun again

     When my wife and I go out to a restaurant, the dinner always seems special. A table for two, whether you’re a couple or just a couple of old friends, always seems like a special occasion. Unfortunately, when that table for two is at home, the occasion isn’t regarded with the same kind of reverence.

  • Bell peppers are amenable to a wide variety of cooking methods

     Possessing a thick, sweet and juicy flesh, bell peppers, or sweet peppers, as we have come to call them, are available in a rainbow of colors, including green, red, yellow, orange, purple, black, white and even striped.

    Named for their bell shape, green bell peppers tend to be the least sweet — almost slightly bitter — while the yellow, orange and the red ones are the sweetest. The green peppers, however, are almost always the cheapest.

  • Cinco de Mayo is celebrated worldwide in many different ways

     

  • What's cookin'?

     Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the ultimate fast food

    Our local newspaper once published over 50 different ways to prepare chicken breasts. I’ve since decided that figure must be closer to five thousand! But if you’re like me, they can also be boring. You throw them in a skillet and then wonder, “Now what?”

  • You can cook almost any vegetable right on your grill

     Many vegetables feel right at home on the grill, but some just aren’t cut out for it, especially those with a high water content. Cucumbers are a no-no on the grill, as is celery, lettuce or most leafy greens.

    A highly skilled backyard chef like me has no trouble grilling asparagus, eggplant, onions and even cabbage. Bell peppers, or even the hot variety, and onions are natural grilling choices.

     

  • Carrots make a tasty addition to a variety of cooked dishes

     Mel Blanc, the original voice of Bugs Bunny, was not very fond of carrots, but his carrot-chomping character sure was!

    Carrots are available all year long. Although there are many varieties from which to choose, the ones typically found in local farmers markets and supermarkets are about 7 to 9 inches in length and 3/4 to an inch in diameter. Many baby carrots are actually longer carrots that have been peeled, trimmed to 1-1/2 to 2 inches in length and packaged. True baby carrots are removed from the ground early and actually look like miniature carrots.

  • Gravy, shrimp add flavor to Southern breakfast staple

     Grits are a staple of the Southern breakfast. For those unfamiliar with them, grits are nothing more than coarsely ground, dried corn. If you grind it a little finer, you have the Italian staple, polenta…grind it finer yet, and you have corn meal.

    I’ve heard that some places like to combine grits with hominy, which is soaked in lye. Why would you want to soak food in lye, and then actually eat it?

  • For most Southern folks, Brunswick stew is pure comfort

     I remember reading somewhere about men being from Mars and women from Venus. If we are talking about the eating department, that could be true. When it comes to comfort foods, most men prefer hearty meals, while women look for snacks that require little or no preparation.

    Most of us men find comfort in foods associated with meals prepared by our mothers, such as mashed potatoes, pasta, meat and soup, rather than snacks and sweets … except for ice cream! But what is comfort for men is just work for women.

  • Preparing meals for two can make cooking fun again

     When my wife and I go out to a restaurant, the dinner always seems special. A table for two, whether you’re a couple or just a couple of old friends, always seems like a special occasion. Unfortunately, when that table for two is at home, the occasion isn’t regarded with the same kind of reverence.

  • Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian, but garlic makes it good

     Garlic has always been recognized for its smell, flavor and medicinal properties. Although it is actually a vegetable, most people, including me, regard garlic as an herb, and powdered garlic is usually found on the spice rack at grocery stores.

    Available peeled, chopped, minced, creamed, preserved in oil or powdered, fresh garlic still remains unsurpassed in its taste. Elephant garlic is really not true garlic, but a relative of the leek. It has a very mild flavor and characteristically has larger heads.