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Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Back To Basics: Clover Honey Offers Great Versatility In Cooking

If you’re trying to expand your cooking knowledge and recipe repertoire, one of your most basic kitchen staples, honey, is the food to go to. Honey can add a sweet edge to anything, from meat marinades to cake flavorings. Even plain butter benefits from the addition of some mild honey to make a delicious but simple spread. Honey is available in several different flavors, some of which are easy to find at your local store. However, clover honey remains the best option if you want to add a “classic” honey flavor.

Changing Flavors

Using honey made from other flowers will give your foods a much different taste. Orange blossom honey, for example, is known for its orange-y, citrus-y flavor. If you use orange blossom honey in foods, you’ll get a definite orange taste lingering in your mouth. But if you want the taste the people tend to think of as “honey,” you want clover honey.

Most Common Honey

Most of the honey produced commercially in the United States is clover honey. Bees can make honey from any nectar they pick up, but large commercial operations tend to cluster around vast clover fields because as bee season progresses, bees need more and more food to build up their hives. The season starts with bees grabbing pollen from nut and fruit trees, but all the honey produced then is used up by the bees themselves.

By the time tree-pollination season is over, the hives are big and need a good food source. Enter the clover fields in the upper Midwest, especially North Dakota. The bees feed on the clover nectar but no longer need the honey. Hence, vast amounts of clover honey are available to humans. That means clover honey is easy to find and reasonably priced. It doesn’t need refrigeration and has an amazing shelf life.

Use clover honey to flavor butter, along with a little cinnamon. Add clover honey to a chicken marinade to create a sticky, sweet coating and the chicken bakes. Or, just drizzle a little honey on a biscuit for a quick snack. You can even mix honey with sugar syrups to create an even milder honey-flavored dessert topping.

Experiment, but Keep Clover Close

Clover honey is available in just about every store and online as well. Local producers can usually verify where the bees went to get their nectar, plus, if you buy from a local producer, you support local farms. Definitely experiment with other honey flavors, including wildflower, macadamia, and others. But always keep some clover honey on hand.

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Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Figuring An Appropriate Tip For Your Server

Servers, waiters and waitresses work for tips. Yes, the restaurant (such as The Turtle Club) they work for pays them an hourly wage, but the bulk of their income depends on how well their customers tip. It’s tricky, however, to come up with the perfect amount to tip your server, especially if she went above and beyond and made your meal enjoyable. With a few unofficial formulas, it’s easier to come up with the appropriate tip that shows your appreciation.

Use Math

The standard restaurant tip is around 15 percent of your total check, including beverages and dessert. If you take that total and multiply it by 0.15, you’ll determine exactly what 15 percent is. The same formula stands if you wish to tip a larger percentage. For example, if you have a large party of 8 or more people, the standard tip is often increased to 18 percent, so you would multiply your total by 0.18.

Consider Your Service

If your server did a good job of making sure your drink order was taken shortly after being seated or accommodated a variety of special requests, you might consider tipping more than the standard amount. Many people decided on a nice round number, such as $10 or $15, depending on the total on your ticket. You might also consider leaving a few extra dollars if there were children in your party who made a mess on the floor or spilled a drink that your server cleaned up for you. This is a way to show your appreciation as well as to say thanks for taking such good care of your table.

Be Generous

If you have a bit of extra disposable income one month, do a good deed and give your server a bonus tip. When you notice your server having a bad day, consider adding an extra $5 or $10 to the total tip. These bonuses can really boost the spirits of a server, and most waiters and waitresses fondly remember at least one instance where they got a completely unexpected tip. Every once in awhile doing something so generous will make your eating out experience more enjoyable as well.

When Your Server Doesn’t Live Up To Your Expectations

Instead of docking your server’s tip when your service is slow or the food is cold, ask to speak with a manager. Often, waiters bear the brunt of cooks getting backed up in the kitchen or are responsible for so many tables that they aren’t able to deliver food as soon as it’s ready. In these instances, it wouldn’t be fair to take this out on your server who did, in fact, do the job required. Speaking with a manager might get you a discount on your total bill, which will make up for your unacceptable service without also causing your server to lose a tip.

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Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Beat The Heat: How To Enjoy Spicy Foods

From Mexican food to Indian, spicy food is delicious and satisfying. Many people love the burn of chili peppers and other strong spices, but some are a little more sensitive and have difficulty eating hot, spicy food. This is a shame because many health benefits come from eating spicy food, including improved breathing, less fat storage, and reduced cravings. If you want to enjoy the benefits (both to your health and your taste buds) of spicy food, below are some ways to help counter your sensitive palate:

1. Work Your Way Up:

Do not start with the spiciest item on the menu; you will just end up with a burning mouth and watery eyes. Start with something fairly mild that you know you can handle and gradually increase the spiciness of the item from there, or order a spicy item as a side dish rather than your main meal.

It also helps to eat spicy food slowly, particularly if you’re new to it. According to TheKitchn.com, you should limit the amount of capsaicin, the chemical in chili peppers that makes them hot. Eating slowly will keep the amount tolerable rather than overwhelming your system with heat.

2. Dull the Pain with Dairy:

If you are not used to eating spicy food, but plan on trying something with some kick, make sure that you have something on hand to cool your mouth. When it comes to spicy food, water is not as effective. Chemicals mix with oils in the food, and they cannot be dissolved with water. Instead, dairy products are more effective when it comes to cooling your mouth. A glass of milk or a spoonful of sour cream are great for minimizing intense burning. If you don’t have dairy on hand, lime and cilantro accompany many spicy dishes and are also helpful. 

3. Go for Texture:

When your mouth is burning, sometimes what your brain needs is a distraction. Rough foods like crackers or starchy foods like bread and rice offer your brain a different sensation to focus on. The starch in these foods can also help absorb some of the heat-causing capsaicin, minimizing the time you spend trying to cool your mouth. 

While spicy food is not for everyone, if you want to enjoy the excellent flavor peppers add to food and the health benefits that come from the heat, following the steps above can help increase your tolerance and develop your palate. Start slow, choose dairy, have a variety of textures, and enjoy!. 

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