A modern renaissance of winemaking in Italy is making wine lovers and critics stand up and take notice. In the 20th century, wine in Italy frequently meant low-cost, low quality and high volume-think straw covered bottles-with little to get excited about. However, things have changed in past 25 years and thanks to new laws further regulating Italian vintners, the standard of winemakers in that country is reaching new levels of excellence.Today, Italy is seen as one of the most prolific and versatile wine regions in the world-with over 100 official vitis vinifera vines- and thousands of grape varieties. Italian wines are food friendly and affordable, with many of the wines available in specialty retail stores. Italian red varietals offer a nice alternative to California cabernets and merlots. Sangiovese is the grape of Chianti Classico that hails from the hills of Tuscany in Northern Italy, and in the hands of a talented wine maker, this red wine can be absolutely elegant. Look no farther than the cuisine of Italy to find the perfect match for Chianti. Try pasta pomodoro (or any red sauce), pizza and roast lamb with this lovely red.The great Barolo, made from the Nebbiolo grape grown in Piedmont, is the King of "red wine" s in Italy. And though Barolos are rare and pricey, these big-gun reds are prize cellar candidates, with at least 5 (if not 15) years of patience required before the wines mature to a divine richness. Boutique wine retailer www.personalcellar.com has only a limited supply of the 1999 Cordero di Montemezolo Barolo, priced under ($40). This is a great value from one of the best vintages of the last decade. If pasta and pizza are on your menu this week, try the 2000 Il Mandorlo Chianti Classico ($25) from another great vintage. It is blended with a little cabernet and merlot, to create a lush, mouth-filling wine with just the right acidity to balance tomato sauces- and not break the bank while still impressing your guests.
Most of us experience busy mornings. Baking for breakfast is just out of the question. But how would you like to have healthy, out-of-the-oven bran muffins for breakfast while investing little of your busiest time? With these Refrigerator Bran Muffins, you can have hot muffins in less time than it takes to stop by the bakery. And with all natural ingredients, bran, and whole wheat flour, you'll know that you are starting your day right. With this recipe, you can save time and effort on those hurried occasions by making up the batter ahead. Better yet, make double or triple batches and always have batter on hand. Store it the refrigerator in a covered container for up to three weeks, then fill the muffin tins that you need and return the rest to the refrigerator for another day. Let the muffins bake while you do your other tasks. If you prefer, you can make these muffins without refrigeration and still store any leftover batter until you are ready to bake more muffins.The following recipe makes about 18 large muffins. The recipe can be doubled or tripled to make plenty of batter for later occasions. Refrigerator Bran Muffins RecipeIngredients3 cups all-bran cereal such as All Bran or Bran Buds1 cup raisins1/2cup melted butter1 cup very hot water2 large eggs2 cups buttermilk1 cup sugar2 cups all-purpose flour1 cup stone ground wheat flour1 tablespoon baking soda1/2teaspoon saltDirectionsPreheat the oven to 400 degrees.1.In a medium bowl, add the cereal and raisins and then the very hot water. Stir in the melted butter. Set it aside to soak.2.In another bowl, whisk the eggs and stir in the buttermilk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. 3.In a large bowl, whisk the flours, salt, and baking soda together until well combined. 4.Make a crater in the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg mixture and the cereal mixture and then stir with a spatula until combined. 5.If you choose to make muffins now, fill well-greased tins two-thirds full. Refrigerate the remaining batter in a covered container in the refrigerator.6.Bake the muffins for 14 to 18 minutes or until they test done. Let them sit in the tins for several minutes and then remove them to wire racks to cool. Freeze any leftovers. This is a great recipe to use in your RV. Simply mix the muffins in the kitchen at home and pack the batter in the RV. You can bake up as many muffins as you need anytime that you need them.Copyright 2003-2007, The Prepared Pantry (http://www.prepraredpantry.com ). Published by permission
Is there such a thing as organic fish? Surely all fish comes from the sea and eats whatever fish eat? How can we control that?As far as I know, fish caught in the wild cannot be marketed as organic in the UK. However, several supermarkets and many independent organic retailers now stock organic trout and salmon produced in fish farms. Several types of farmed mussels and shellfish are also likely to become more widely available in the future.In organic fish farming, many of the pesticides, dyes and antibiotics widely used in conventional fish farming are not permitted and so these fish products are generally accepted to be credible organic products by both the soil association and consumers.However, from an animal welfare point of view, there is some controversy about allowing farmed fish to be labelled as organic. Organic principles demand that livestock (which includes fish) should be able to express its natural behaviour pattern and be kept as close to natural stocking densities as possible. How can this be when they are kept in cages in either inland or in fish farms out at sea?The true cost of fish farmingFish farming seems like a practical solution to the problem of overfishing. Fish farming, however, is the cause of many problems. In the UK, its salmon thats most closely associated with farming - and its shortcomings. Public demand for cheaper food means that farmed salmon are often kept, for financial reasons, very densely stocked, with huge numbers of fish crammed into very little space. In this state, the fish can more easily become diseased, and these diseases can spread to wild fish. Huge amounts of antibiotics are required to keep the fish moderately healthy. Also a confidential study for the UKs top organic body highlighted gaps between its principles and the standards it accepted, BBC Newsnight reported.Is organic fish sustainable?Other problems are escapes, when farmed fish interbreed with wild fish and potentially weaken wild stocks, as well as pollution to the water and seabed around fish farms. Farmed salmon, which are carnivorous, eat three times their body weight in fish feed, which is made from other fish - not the best use of resources from an environmental point of view.
Organic Food Information: The BenefitsOh how the world has changed over the last 50 years, not all of it has been good. As you are looking for organic food information you have obviously become aware that a better alternative exists and you are taking a critical look at the source and production practices of the companies entrusted with producing the worlds food supplies.The purpose of organic food information is to give you an understanding of what is going into your food. You will see that there are many benefits to organic food that you didnt know before. The basis behind knowing about organic food information is the fact that farmers are resorting to using a lethal cocktail of artificial fertilizers and pesticides to control disease and insect attack in order to produce more crops to satisfy growing demand. These artificial additives leave a toxic chemical residue in and on the fruit and vegetables we consume which in turn is absorbed and stored by our bodies .Even the quality of food has gone down in recent years. Todays fruits has nowhere near the Vitamin C levels they did at one time. However, with organic food information you learn that organic food has fifty percent more nutrients, minerals and vitamins than any other form of produce that has been grown under intensive farming. If you arent eating non organic produce you will have to eat more fruit in order to make up for this deficiency. But then the dangerous cycle continues since you will be eating more chemicals that are worse for your health than they are good for you.Animals and HormonesAnother aspect of organic food information is the production of meats and poultry, most only consider produce when it comes to organic food information disregarding the antibiotics and hormones that are given to both cattle and poultry that are being force fed. Ask yourself what happens to all these antibiotics and hormones when the animal is s;slaughtered, the residue of these antibiotics and growth hormones reside in the meat which are then consumed ,digested and stored in human bodies. There is no way that an animal that isnt kept in healthy conditions can produce healthy food for humans to eat.You have nothing to lose by trying organic product, not only will it be healthy for you but you will also be able to eat produce and meat the way they are supposed to be. You will likely be so impressed with the taste of organic fruit that you will never return to the mass produced fruit again. While cost and availability can be a big issue for some, you can do a bit of research online and find a local store that stocks organic produce for a reasonable price.Have a look around and I am sure you can find an organic farm near your home this will allow you to go direct to the farmer who produces organic produce.With the increase in organic food information many farmers are turning to organic methods so you should have no problem finding one in your area. In addition, you can often get cheaper prices when you purchase from the farmer and not getting your produce from the store.
Coffee, the brew, that more than half the people around the world need to kick start the day. Ever wondered about the origins of this humble but oh so important cup of joy and how it landed up on the shelf in your neighborhood store? Did you also know that everyday there are about four hundred million cups of coffee consumed around the world? It all began about two thousand years ago and today it has a market where the output as a commodity is a close second to petroleum in its dollar value.Coffee by itself is broadly categorized into two main types - the Arabia which started out on the Arabian Peninsula and the Robusta which has twice the amount of caffeine. Apart from this there are at least a dozen bean varieties in existence today. The beans are red or green in type and here the red is known for its higher aroma and lower acid content and it is this type that is used to make some of the finer coffees of the world.The coffee berry or cherry as it is called, is not of any value by itself but yes, the bean inside it, thats the one which has all the importance attached to it. It is this bean that is aged, roasted, ground and then sent on for brewing. The picking is done by laborers who pick a few baskets a day and they have to be skilled in separating the red from the green beans. This has a very definite role to play in the final product. The time of picking of this cherry is of the utmost importance as it has to be done when the berry goes from green to red.Once picked, the fruit undergoes a process of being soaked, scoured and rubbed mechanically and the bean is then washed to ensure no flesh of the fruit remains. The beans that are the result of this fermentation stage are then sun dried on large concrete or rock surfaces till their water content drops to about 12 percent. This is followed by the sorting of the beans based on size and color. After the polishing to remove any remaining skin they are then sent on for roasting or kept to age from three to eight years. Roasting happens at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit where the beans expand to almost double their size, then crack and turn brown as the oil inside is secreted out. This oil is where the difference in the basic flavor comes from. Post the roasting, the beans are de-gassed which means that the beans produce a lot of carbon dioxide and this is removed by airing them out or packaging them in semi permeable bags for shipping.At the roasting stage, a lot of in-house techniques have been developed which basically account for the difference in flavors. So coffee in Kenya or Java will taste different from say some other country. At the grinding level there are again a lot of differences in styles and the results of those styles. The Turks pound the beans into a powdery consistency using a mortar and pestle and in some other places the burr grinder crushes the beans to a regular sized granule and yet others chop the beans to a less homogeneous size using a chopper.The final cup that you get is actually either boiled, which means hot water is poured and the grounds are allowed to settle or it is pressure-prepared, which refers to the espresso type where not quite boiled hot water is poured through the grounds at very high pressure or then the third way of percolating where hot water drips onto the grounds and is filtered or otherwise it is steeped like tea is, but the bags tend to be larger.So there you have the journey of coffee from the plantation to your cup and with research coming up with the benefits of drinking coffee, lets raise a toast to the cup that cheers!