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Cooking Basics for Beginners

  • Posted on September 19, 2018 at 6:33 pm

When it comes to cooking, it is important to keep in mind that everyone started somewhere. I do not know of a single person who was born with a wooden cooking spoon and ready to go. There is a lot of learning that must be done in order to become a prolific cook and then there is always room for improvement. Not only do you need to begin with the basics when it comes to cooking but you almost need to begin again when learning to cook a new cuisine such as Chinese, Thai, or Indian food.

Bad Dog Food – Is Your Pet Dog Eating Deadly Food?

  • Posted on September 19, 2018 at 5:05 pm

With all the new and controversial pet food recalls, it is no wonder that pet owners have preferred making homemade dog food for their pet animals in lieu of commercial and, quite possibly, bad dog food and cat food considered as contaminated. So what’s all the fuss about? What unlikely result can bad contaminated dog food do to your pet dog, and more importantly, what can you do keep it from happening? Just what are in these supposedly good dog food that has got pet owners in an uproar?

We humans are discouraged from consuming too much canned goods for various health reasons. The same holds true for dogs.

Moist dog food is packed in cans. You can just think of all the harmful ingredients injected into the dog food package, mostly to bring a good taste, enhance palatability, and even improve appearance.

What’s truly disconcerting is the fact that animal by-products, the main components of pet food, are already bombarded with chemicals long before they reach the processing plant. So even if the can’s label tells you otherwise, there’s really nothing like a ‘No Preservatives’ guarantee.

Dry dog food is even worse. And because canning in itself is already a preserving process, moist dog food contains less of the contaminated materials used to prolong shelf life compared with its dry counterpart.

Another problem is the ingredients themselves, usually meat, poultry, and grains. Any part which is not good for human consumption, such as innards, blood, and bones, make up the by-products that are ground and blended into what we know as commercial pet food. In reality, they are bad dog food.

The thing is, it is not always slaughtered animals that make their way into these meals, but oftentimes, unhealthy meat of farm animals are included also. And the drugs and bacteria, like Salmonella and Escherichia coli, thriving in these meats do not always die during product making, which incidentally, destroys much of the nutritional content as well.

Furthermore, when moldy grain is thrown in, as well as all the other synthetic and unnatural additives the numbers of which are too many to count with both hands, you then have a lethal canine cocktail. It doesn’t take a genuine nutritionist to know that this spells disaster for the end user, i.e., innocent little Fido.

Injurious outcome of bad dog food include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. But that’s just for starters. The more dangerous toxins, like cf1 butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and ethoxyquin, which are all permitted in small doses, can cause cancer, organ failure, and ultimately, death when ingested after sometime.

So what can you, the dog owner, do about all this? Voice your concerns. Call pet food manufacturers and demand for better quality products so you get your money’s worth. Better yet, try making your own homemade dog food. At least then, you can be sure about what your loving dog is actually eating. If you have any doubts on the food you’re feeding your dog, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Interested in Becoming Personal

  • Posted on September 16, 2018 at 11:28 pm

I talk to a lot of people who are interested in becoming personal trainers. In this article, I will briefly share some thoughts on motives, attitudes and resources if you are thinking of becoming a personal trainer. I would recommend that you start by getting a legitimate certification. You can research the internet or talk to personal trainers at health clubs or private studios.

As a suggestion, you could check out the International Association of Resistance Trainers, ISSA or ACE. These three certification organizations can be found on the internet and have several areas for you to consider. When considering a legitimate certification program, check out personal training / liability insurance. Be sure that the certificate you earn will have clear guidelines on how to purchase insurance once you actually start to train clients. There are many fitness certifications that are not recognized by any insurance companies, stay away from these. If you choose to train without insurance, you are taking a big risk. Depending on the physical location of where you will train your clients (club, private training studio, corporate fitness center) you will need to check with their individual requirements regarding acceptable certifications and insurance policies.

After you have done your research on the above issues, if you are still interested, get started today! Whether you remain interested (out of the people who go into fitness training, many more drop out than stick with it) you can always use the information to further your own personal fitness programming. I believe that your initial training / certification will never be a waste. You will want to check out other certification programs later (may be required based on place of employment) in order to get plenty of exposure to all the different training methodologies.

Try to stay grounded – many programs are not that reality based. With any training information, ask yourself the question: How will I use this for my own, as well as my clients, fitness program? I have many doctors, other trainers and people with sports / human performance degrees who hire me to help with training issues. The rubber hits the road when you have a client who is depending on you to give them a cardio, strength training, eating, supplementation, injury recovery and / or flexibility program complete with personalized scheduling. You do not need to have all the answers but try to establish your own process for giving them the answers or effective referrals for what they need.

Books on Candle Making

  • Posted on September 10, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Making your own candles is a favorite craft and hobby many individuals. They find the process to be enjoyable and relaxing. Candle makers have been know to turn to their hobby in times of stress. For some candle makers, once they learn the basics they are ready for new challenges. Purchasing books on candle making can provide you with everything from basic instructions, tips, and creative ideas to make beautiful candles. Most candle making books offer wonderful illustrations as well as step by step instructions.

It is Easy to Follow Simple Pear and Chocolate Tart Recipe

  • Posted on September 9, 2018 at 7:17 am

Baking used to be something which was popular and almost every girl was taught how to bake and cook. These days it seems that the art of baking is fading away and many people find it difficult to manage even the simplest cooking. This is why I was glad to see my nephew trying out some baking in the holidays and he produced some amazing results by following an easy clotted cream recipe along with a homemade toffee apples recipe. This is the simplest pear and Pear and Chocolate Tart Recipe which he perfected.

Turkish Coffee FAQ

  • Posted on September 6, 2018 at 11:58 pm

Turkish coffee is the oldest way of making coffee. This is a short article answering frequently asked questions about Turkish coffee. You can also post your question as a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Questions are in bold.

What kind of coffee must I use for Turkish coffee?

Turkish coffee nowadays is usually made of Latin American blends. Usually the blends contain two kinds of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Except for the Latin American coffees the blends may also include coffees from Asia or Africa. Some of the best coffees for Turkish blends come from Brazil, Ethiopia and Yemen.

Should I use a coffee particularly made for Turkish coffee or can I use any blend?

Turkish blends are created in a special way to be optimized for Turkish coffee making. Most people that drink the popular Turkish coffee brands are used to a special characteristic taste. This doesn’t mean that you cannot use another coffee blend to make Turkish coffee. For example you can use an espresso blend. The only requirement is that it must be ground very fine like powder. If it isn’t ground fine enough there will be no foam on top of the coffee after you make it and the taste will be weak.

So, in other words you can experiment with any blend you want if you grind it fine enough for Turkish coffee. The taste will be different than the usual though.

Is it healthy?

Turkish coffee is as healthy as any regular coffee. Actually according to some some researches a quantity of two small Turkish coffee cups (demitasse cups) can be beneficial for the heart. If you exceed this amount then it may become bad for your health like any other coffee. Bear in mind that Turkish coffee is made almost as quickly as instant coffee but it’s far better for your health.

What is this thick thing on top of Turkish coffee? Is it like espresso?

When you make Turkish coffee properly you will notice on top a layer of dark, thick and homogeneous foam. This is also known as kaimaki in Greece. If the coffee doesn’t have kaimaki then something is definitely wrong with the coffee making:

  • small quantity of coffee used
  • not properly heated
  • ground coarser than required
  • very stale coffee

In some Eastern countries it is an insult to serve Turkish coffee without this special foam on top.

Kaimaki foam is looks similar to the espresso crema but it very different in terms of physical properties. The espresso crema is formed not only due to heat but also because of high pressure so it’s quite different.

Do I need any special expensive equipment for Turkish coffee?

Making Turkish coffee is very easy and very fast. All you need is a small coffee pot and a heat source. You can use a small stainless steel pot and your electric stove top but it’s preferable to use a traditional copper or brass Turkish pot. Regarding the heat source it’s better to use low fire to make the coffee. A gas burner or an alcohol burner is my favorite heat source for home use.

What size coffee pot do I need?

This is a question that creates a lot of misunderstandings. Basically it depends on how much coffee you are going to make each time.

First, what you need to know is that you will need a coffee pot that holds approximately double the amount of coffee. This is because coffee must have enough room in the pot to foam up and furthermore because of the so-called “oven effect”.

Let me explain…

Traditional Turkish coffee pots have an hourglass shape. This special shape creates an oven-like effect when making Turkish coffee. The oven-effect is highly desirable for better taste. The only requirement for this “oven-effect” is to fill the pot till the point where the pot diameter is smaller. Usually this means a half-full pot.

So, If you want to make two demitasse cups, for you and your friend, you will need a 4 demitasse-cup size coffee pot.

Please note that sizing differs among manufacturers. So instead of looking for a 4-cup size coffee pot look for a coffee pot that holds 4*60ml which equals 240ml. 60ml or approximately 2oz is the size of a demitasse cup.

What about a coffee pot for just one cup?

In this case you will need a coffee pot that holds 2*60ml=120ml coffee.

What about one normal cup?

One normal cup is approximately 250ml so you will need a 500ml pot.

These numbers are not exact. They are just guides to help you. Most of the times buying a bit smaller coffee pot will also be adequate.

Can I grind Turkish coffee with my coffee grinder?

Turkish coffee is ground at the most fine grind setting. Most grinders for home use are incapable of grinding so fine. If you have a blade grinder consider upgrading to a burr grinder. This doesn’t mean that every burr grinder can grind Turkish coffee. So if you are in the market in research of a burr grinder make sure it has a Turkish coffee setting. Some burr grinders don’t have a Turkish coffee setting but they can be modified very easily to grind fine enough for this coffee. This information can be easily found if you make a couple of searches in a search engine.

Another solution are manual-operated Turkish coffee grinders. These grinders are much cheaper than burr grinders and because of their low speed coffee is ground gently without getting heated. In cheap burr grinders because of the small burr dimensions the rotating speed is higher. This way the friction is bigger and the heat generation is higher. More heat means more coffee taste destruction! So in other words small grinding speeds of manual grinders are better for your palate! The big drawback is that this sort of grinding can remind you of manual labor sometimes…

Is there any special way to serve Turkish coffee? Any special tradition?

If you have guests and you want to impress them with your coffee making mastery and your hospitality you can do some simple things. First use a big traditional looking serving tray and put some glasses of water for your guests. Water is used to clean the mouth before tasting the coffee. Prepare the coffees immediately before serving time so that they keep their kaimaki foam and their temperature. You can pair the coffee with some cookies or muffins.

For dessert after the coffee you can offer traditional Turkish delight or baklava. Your guests will be grateful!

If you have any questions about Turkish coffee please post your comments. Enjoy!

Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

  • Posted on September 1, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Ever wondered how the morning cup of coffee washes off all the lethargy of sleep and kick starts your brain to face a brand new day? Does credit for coffee’s legendary refreshing effect go to the diminutive but obvious presence of caffeine? Can we reduce the virtues of such a great beverage to a mere work of a chemical? Clearly, the flavor, smell and arrogant upshot of caffeine all contribute towards making coffee a complete experience, rather than just a beverage.

Coffee is basically prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. The coffee beans – as the seeds are referred to – are roasted and powdered. The processing of coffee beans is a very labor intensive process. The roasting phase of processing considerably influences the final taste and odor of coffee and is thus the most significant part of the whole process. Roasting causes extremely complex chemical action that metamorphoses the insipid taste of the coffee seed to the great taste we all know and love. In some cases the coffee beans are even aged for a considerable period of time before they are roasted.

The range and variety of the experience we call coffee is considerably huge. For the stringent coffee buff that prefers an experience devoid of caffeine, decaffeinated coffee hits the mark. There are the darker roast styles that justify the word ‘black coffee’. There are even special flavored coffees in the market for people who need a twist in the tale. There is no end to the ways you can get your cup of coffee.

But, coffee is more than just a hot liquid in a cup. Its significance and influence extend in all aspects of society and culture. The coffee houses of the 16th century started off a trend of using coffee as an excuse and means of getting people to socialize. Coffee is the greatest social lubricant ever invented, capable of bringing people together to mingle, talk, debate and decide. The coffee houses of India became the axis and base camp of the workers struggle where people and propaganda celebrated the birth of a new political age. In Sweden and the Nordic countries, coffee is an important cornerstone of their culture.

In the past, coffee had a religious and spiritual significance. This appears quite natural given the experience of coffee is nothing short of divine. The early Arabs created wine from the coffee fruit which was used during religious ceremonies. In many cultures coffee naturally substituted wine when wine was prohibited.

The experienced connoisseurs of coffee indulge in coffee cupping. Coffee cupping is simply a great excuse to turn your love for coffee into a professional pursuit with all the semblances of any grave enterprise. Some professional coffee tasters are so proficient in drinking coffee they can identify the geographical origin of coffee from its taste.

Coffee is a great accompaniment for any informal meal, typically as an integral component of breakfast. In relatively more formal settings, like for instance, in a restaurant, coffee fits in perfectly during the dessert course. It’s obvious that coffee is a great accompaniment to anything from pastries, cookies, shortbread to muffins. But, if the coffee lovers of the world are to be taken seriously, coffee goes with any occasion or time no matter what.

Becoming a Personal Trainer

  • Posted on August 29, 2018 at 11:19 pm

I talk to a lot of people who are interested in becoming personal trainers. In this article, I will briefly share some thoughts on motives, attitudes and resources if you are thinking of becoming a personal trainer. I would recommend that you start by getting a legitimate certification. You can research the internet or talk to personal trainers at health clubs or private studios. As a suggestion, you could check out the International Association of Resistance Trainers, ISSA or ACE. These three certification organizations can be found on the internet and have several areas for you to consider. When considering a legitimate certification program, check out personal training / liability insurance.

Be sure that the certificate you earn will have clear guidelines on how to purchase insurance once you actually start to train clients. There are many fitness certifications that are not recognized by any insurance companies, stay away from these. If you choose to train without insurance, you are taking a big risk. Depending on the physical location of where you will train your clients (club, private training studio, corporate fitness center) you will need to check with their individual requirements regarding acceptable certifications and insurance policies.

After you have done your research on the above issues, if you are still interested, get started today! Whether you remain interested (out of the people who go into fitness training, many more drop out than stick with it) you can always use the information to further your own personal fitness programming. I believe that your initial training / certification will never be a waste. You will want to check out other certification programs later (may be required based on place of employment) in order to get plenty of exposure to all the different training methodologies.

Try to stay grounded – many programs are not that reality based. With any training information, ask yourself the question: How will I use this for my own, as well as my clients, fitness program? I have many doctors, other trainers and people with sports / human performance degrees who hire me to help with training issues. The rubber hits the road when you have a client who is depending on you to give them a cardio, strength training, eating, supplementation, injury recovery and / or flexibility program complete with personalized scheduling. You do not need to have all the answers but try to establish your own process for giving them the answers or effective referrals for what they need.

Not knowing what your previous experience is regarding working with people in general, I would suggest that you assess what your tolerance is for complainers and whiners as there are so many issues for so many people that you will need to address at some level (as a fitness professional). If you want to be a good trainer, you need to commit to the total client. I think too many trainers end up wanting to legitimize their own training priorities and believe that by becoming a personal trainer / fitness professional, they can focus all their time on themselves (not an acceptable mindset). They should stay out of personal training if they are not ready to commit to their clients. Do not fall prey to canned programs or using a cookie cutter approach for everyone you will train.

I come from a human service background (double major in Social Work / Criminal Justice) and worked my way up to manager in a juvenile diversion program over a period of 10 years before getting into personal training. BUT, in the first three years of being a personal trainer, I placed in three international personal trainer contests. These were great experiences but in all three instances, success was based on the commitment to the client more than caring about winning any contests.

Purchasing a Food Sealer

  • Posted on August 28, 2018 at 8:51 am

Have you considered purchasing a food sealer for your home but are not quite sure which one is right for you? There are a number of different options available on the market today, and deciding which type is appropriate for your situation can sometimes be a challenge. This article will identify some of the different types of food sealers and hopefully help you decide which one is perfect for your own home.

One of the most popular types on the market today is the personal food sealer which is made to be used in homes for personal use which includes the occasional sealing of meats, vegetables, dried foods, and more. These types of sealers have become more and more popular these days since people are becoming more and more conscientious about what they are doing with the excess food that is produced in their daily lives. The personal models are generally smaller than commercial models and are capable of sealing small amounts of food at one time. They are typically not used every day, but on occasion when there is excess food that can be stored away.

Another type of food sealer that is frequently purchased is the commercial food sealer which is quite a bit large than personal models and is capable of sealing large quantities of food at one time. The commercial models are typically purchased by businesses such as restaurants, meat shops, grocery stores, delis, and any other business where there is a large amount of food inventory turnover. You may also consider purchasing a commercial sealer if you plan on constantly sealing large amounts of food at home.

When it comes to price you are going to pay less for a personal model because they aren’t capable of doing the amount of work that can be done by a commercial model. Also, personal sealers are smaller and more compact so there is less material required to make one when compared to the bigger, more robust commercial models. You can typically expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a personal food sealer, and $150 and up for a commercial model.

If you’re planning on using your product occasionally in order to seal and store excess food, then perhaps the personal model will be your best solution. Otherwise, if you plan on using your sealer to seal and store large quantities of food items on a consistent basis, or if you have a business that requires the use of a food sealer, then you would want to consider purchasing a commercial food sealer.

Emergency Food and Food Storage

  • Posted on August 26, 2018 at 3:08 am

Having food and water stored are key for survival when a disaster strikes. There are many types of foods that can be stored, but this article will focus primarily on foods for emergency situations. Creating a food storage can seem like an over whelming task, but when taken one step at a time this task can be accomplished with ease.

When disaster strikes and the power is off for a prolonged period of time the first food that should be eaten is in the refrigerator. I know this seems like an obvious answer but most people avoid opening the fridge because the items in the fridge will be exposed to air temperature. The reality is the food in the fridge will maintain its coolness because the food itself is cool, and the refrigerator will work like a cooler. The first time the refrigerator is opened a list should be made of the items in the fridge so the door isn’t open needlessly. Having a list will decrease the amount of time the door is open.

After the refrigerator food is eaten, next go to your freezer food. Freezer food is usually good for up to three days after the power is off. As long as there are ice crystals in the center of the food, it is still good to eat. After the perishable foods have been eaten during an emergency you will next want to consider consuming your food storage.

Let’s talk about how and what to store in your food storage. When creating a basic food storage all items can be broken down into the following seven categories:

  • Water
  • Canned or bottled goods
  • Paper products
  • Dried foods and grains
  • Snacks
  • Fats and oils
  • Sugars or sweeteners

Make sure you store appropriate amounts of items from each category. You can determine what the proper amount is by taking inventory of what you currently consume and use.

The first step when beginning to store food is to create a two week supply. When going to the grocery store start getting into the habit of shopping the ads and buying extras. You should store foods that are delicious and nutritious. Also, you should store foods that you are familiar with and that you currently eat. Consistently purchasing foods your family is familiar with will provide a sense of security when a disaster strikes.

Make sure while you are storing this food that you create an inventory system so you are naturally rotating your food. Placing new food items in the back of the storage area will force you to use the older items in front. Before storing these foods make certain you date and label each item. This will help in your rotating system. If items get disturbed or fall off the shelf you will know what order to put them back in and what foods you should eat first.

If possible, store all food in a dry, cool, and dark place. When storing crackers, cookies or boxed items store them in air tight containers to maintain freshness and keep moisture out. Try to store mainly non-perishable and staple items. These will sustain life and last longer in emergency situations.

After completing a 2 week food supply and creating an inventory system, move on to create a 3 month supply. This can be accomplished easier by first creating a master menu schedule. Without having a master menu schedule it would be very difficult to know what kind of supplies you really need. Over a period of time purchase the items for the menus on the master menu schedule and store and track them with the inventory system you created earlier.

After storing all of this food, secure a way to cook it in an emergency. Inexpensive charcoal grills, propane barbecues, and camp stoves are great sources of cooking in emergency. You can also use simple chafing dishes or fondue pots. Make sure you have stored matches. Without matches, cooking is next to impossible.

By following these simple suggestions you will feel prepared the next time an emergency situation arises. Have fun with your food storage, and try new things as you rotate your food.