Did You Know – Pineapples

Did You Know?
When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit in the Americas, they called them “pineapples”, first so referenced in 1664 due to resemblance to what is now known as the pine cone).
Many languages use the term ananas. In Spanish, pineapples are called piña in Spain and most Hispanic American countries. In Argentina it is known as ananá, check out the piña colada drink. They have varying names in the languages of India: ananas in Marathi, anaasa in Telugu, Sapuri-PaNasa in Oriya language,  and in Malayalam, kaitha chakka. In Malay, pineapples are known as nanas or nenas. A large, sweet pineapple grown especially in Brazil is called abacaxi; and along the Swahili-speaking coast of East Africa, the fruit is known as nanasi.
Fresh pineapples are the only known source of bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties.
Pineapples are picked when ripe and do not ripen after harvest. Select pineapples that are fresh looking. Contrary to popular belief, the ease with which leaves can be pulled out is not necessarily a sure sign of ripeness. Avoid fruit that is old looking, dry or with brown leaves. Avoid bruised fruit or those with soft spots.
Store pineapple in refrigerator for 2 to 4 days. Cut pineapple lasts a couple of days if placed in a tightly covered container and stored in the refrigerator.
Twist off crown. Cut pineapple in half and then into quarters. Trim off ends and remove core from center of quarter. Using a thin paring knife remove shell from fruit. Cut into bite-size pieces.
For pineapple “boats” leave on the crown and both ends on the pineapple. Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise. Use a thin paring knife to cut the fruit out of the boats. The boats can be filled with fruit salad, main dish salad or ice cream.
NOTE: While researching pineapple, I was surprised to learn that pineapples are actually an above ground crop.  I for one always thought they grew in trees like other tropical fruit such as bananas and coconuts. At least that wasn’t as bad as a friend of mine who was positive potatoes grew on vines!

Did You Know – Product Expiration Dates

Did You Know?

Dates on products aren’t as important as you might think. By law, only infant formula and certain baby foods are required to have dates stamped on them. (How does a soft drink expire?) Most foods are still edible after the “expiration date” has come and gone. However, the flavor may be affected.

Before you toss out good food based on expiration dates, be sure to know what the codes mean:

Different Codes

• Sell by: Don’t buy the product after this date. This is the expiration date.
• Best if used by: Flavor or quality is best before this date, but the product is still edible thereafter.
• Use by: This is the last day that the manufacturer vouches for the product’s quality.

More Advisory Than Imperative

The dates listed on food products are basically guidelines, for both sellers and customers.

Most of the dates are not actually expiration dates and don’t mean that you’ll get sick if you eat something that is past it’s best-by date.

Use Common Sense

You should, of course, use common sense. If a product has a bad smell or a bad look to it, don’t eat it. If it’s a box of crackers, you should be fine. Eggs are good for 3 to 5 weeks after their dates, and dairy may be, but use caution.

How you store your food products can also make a difference. Many people freeze meats after the use-by/freeze-by dates and find them still good when used.

However, if you don’t wrap meats well enough, then the quality and safety can be harmed.

Sell-by dates usually allow additional time for storage at home. Generally, perishable products can be kept safely in your refrigerator for seven days after you buy them, even if that’s past the given date.

Fresh meat is the exception. Don’t keep beef or pork for longer than three to five days before you use it or freeze it.

And use poultry, seafood, and ground or chopped meat within two days (or freeze it).

Most meats are good for almost a year after you purchase them if you keep them well-wrapped in a freezer.

Did You Know – Powdered Sugar



Granulated sugar that has been crushed into a fine powder with about 3% cornstarch added to prevent clumping. Powdered sugar labeled XXXX is slightly finer than that labeled XXX but they can be used interchangeably. 1 pound = 4 cups sifted.

Season: available year-round

How to prepare: Because it dissolves so quickly it is often used for icings and frostings or dusted over desserts.

Substitutions: 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tsp. cornstarch processed in a blender (NOT a food processor) = 1 cup powdered sugar

Ginger Snaps

Source: Go Ask Alice
Cream until fluffy:
    3/4 Cup Shortening (Crisco)
    3/4 Cup Sugar
Add and Beat:
    1 Egg
    1/4 Cup Molasses
Mix In:
    2 Cups Flour
    1/4 Teaspoon Salt
    2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
    1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
    1 Teaspoon Cloves
    1 Teaspoon Ginger
Put some sugar in a shallow dish.
The dough should not be too sticky to roll into a ball between your hands.
Roll into balls and flatten slightly in the sugar in the dish.
Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes at 375 degrees until lightly browned on the bottom.
If you want the cookies to be chewy, they need to be slightly under cooked.
Turn one cookie over to see how brown the bottom is.

Carolina Sweet Potato Fritters

Yield: 6-8 Servings

  1. 4 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1⁄4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  5. Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  6. 1 large egg, beaten
  7. 1 cup whole milk
  8. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  9. Corn oil, for frying
  1. In a large saucepan, add potatoes and water to cover. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat slightly, and cook 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Drain, and let cool. Peel potatoes, and slice 1⁄4-inch thick. Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Preheat oven to 250°.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  6. Stir until well combined.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and oil until well combined.
  8. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.
  9. In a large deep skillet, pour corn oil to a depth of 11⁄2 inches.
  10. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°.
  11. Line a plate with paper towels, and set aside.
  12. Working in batches, dip potato slices into batter, and carefully place in skillet.
  13. Fry in batches until golden brown, approximately 2 minutes per side.
  14. Let drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
  15. Place in a 200° oven (do not cover) while frying remaining potatoes.
  16. Serve immediately.
  1. Kitchen tip: Fried sweet potatoes tend to become limp and soggy much faster than regular potatoes, so be sure to serve them as soon as possible after frying.
Thank the Lord and Bless the Cook!!!

Homemade Preserved Lemons

Homemade Preserved Lemons


Growing up, my family had a two-tier system for holiday gifts. Acquaintances, far-flung family members, and co-workers got a family Christmas card in the mail. A small circle of close friends and neighbors — deemed the lucky ones — got my mother’s edible gifts. They are personal in a way most purchased presents aren’t, no matter how thoughtfully chosen. A good edible gift should be easy to ship or carry, it should taste fantastic, and it should be unusual. Our favorite for this year?  Preserved lemons.

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Preserved lemons are the Scotch whiskey of the pantry — better with age and always welcome at a party. Salt mellows out the sweet, intense citrus flavor and dulls the bitterness of the lemon, and preserving softens the peel so it’s easy to dice and add to everything from mashed potatoes to braised lamb. You’ll traditionally find them in Middle Eastern recipes, but don’t stereotype them as such: Take your cues from their flavor — salty, slightly-sweet, tangy, citrusy — and mix them into pasta, toss them with salad, or blend them into guacamole.


Preserving sounds complicated, right? It’s not: The recipe takes about 10 minutes and the only skill required is slicing citrus. This is an everyman’s recipe that yields impressively fancy-looking results (a win-win!).

The method is simple:

  1. Cut your lemons into quarters lengthwise, without slicing through the base.
  2. Fill glass quart jars with a layer of salt and pack the cut lemons into the jars, pressing slightly to release their juices, and salting each layer.
  3. Leave about an inch of space at the top, add some more salt, and seal the jar.
  4. Tie a pretty ribbon around the top.
  5. If you want to get fancy, include a handwritten recipe (like Israeli couscous with preserved lemons and herbed tuna).

Any jar will do, but we like to using green quart-sized heritage Ball jars. They brighten up the kitchen — and when the lemons run out, use them as a vase, a water glass, or cocktail shake — they’re endlessly useful.

Photos by James Ransom