Friday, May 24, 2024

Memorial Day Traditions and Safety

Memorial Day Weekend Food Safety

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.  Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials of soldiers who lost their lives protecting our freedoms.  On Memorial Day the flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. At 3 p.m. local time, a national moment of remembrance takes place.

Memorial Day often marks the start of the summer vacation season. Families gather together for a long weekend marked by barbecuing, fireworks, and trips to the beach. This is an important time to remember food safety practices.

USDA Joins Grill Sergeants For Safe BBQ Advice

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Explore the World of Salads - From Classic to Creative.

Explore the world of salads!
From classic to creative,
salads fit every occasion.

Salads are a great way to add Nutrition and Color to your day. Choose the right ingredients and keep them handy to create a healthy meal.

Salads can easily become unhealthy if you are not careful with the toppings. Be mindful about what you add and the portions. Measure more caloric items, such as cheese, nuts, and salad dressing.

Your options are endless. Load your plate up with colorful vegetables. Raw vegetables are great and add a pleasant crunch. To add variety, choose some cooked vegetables, such as grilled, roasted, or streamed.
List of Ingredients to Create Endless Salad Possibilities

Start with Leafy Greens (1 1/2 – 2 cups)
·        Arugula
·        Beet Greens
·        Bok choy
·        Boston lettuce
·        Collard Greens
·        Endive
·        Escarole
·        Green leaf lettuce
·        Red leaf lettuce
·        Iceberg lettuce
·        Kale
·        Microgreens
·        Mixed greens
·        Napa cabbage
·        Radicchio
·        Romaine lettuce
·        Spinach
·        Swiss Chard
·        Turnip Greens
·        Watercress

Add Vegetables (Fresh, Canned or Cooked)
Vegetables (2 tablespoons)
·        Avocado
·        Asparagus, chopped
·        Artichoke hearts
·        Bean sprouts
·        Beets
·        Bell Pepper
·        Broccoli florets
·        Carrots, shredded
·        Celery, chopped
·        Corn
·        Cucumber slices
·        Green beans
·        Mushroom slices
·        Onion
·        Peas, boiled
·        1 Roasted Red Pepper, julienned
·        Radishes, slices
·        Squash, sliced or diced
·        Tomato slices

Add Meat, Meat Alternatives and/or Dairy for a Main Dish Salad
·        1 boiled Egg, sliced
·        2-3 oz Chicken: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2-3 oz Turkey: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2-3 oz Salmon: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2-3 oz Shrimp: Grilled, Blackened, Curry
·        2 tablespoons crumbled Blue cheese
·        ¼ cup Cottage cheese
·        2 teaspoons crumbled Feta cheese
·        1 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
·        2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
·        2-3 oz Sardines in water
·        2-3 oz Tuna, canned in water
·        ½ cup Tofu
·        2-3 oz Tempeh

Add Beans and/or Grains
Beans (1 tablespoon)
·        Black beans
·        Cannellini beans
·        Chickpeas
·        Kidney beans
·        Lentils
·        Pinto Beans

Grains (1/4 cup)
·        Couscous
·        Barley
·        Bulgur
·        Farro
·        Quinoa
·        Wild rice

Nuts and Seeds (1 tablespoon)
·        Almonds, raw
·        Cashews, raw
·        Pecans, raw
·        Walnuts
·        Poppy seeds
·        Pumpkin seeds
·        Sesame seeds
·        Sunflower seeds

Fruits (optional)
·        1/2 Apple, sliced
·        1/3 cup Blueberries
·        Cranberries, 1 Tablespoon
·        2-3 Dates or Figs
·        10 Grapes
·        6 Mandarin wedges
·        1/2 Pear, sliced
·        1/3 cup Pineapple, slices or diced
·        2 Tablespoons Raisins or Dried Cranberries·        2-3 Strawberries, sliced

Other (optional)
·        1 Anchovy
·        5 Olives, Black, Green or Kalamata
·        2 Tablespoons Whole Grain Croutons

The Finale and Salad Dressing
·        Dash of fresh Oregano, Parsley or Coriander
·        Choose from a variety of Spices and Herbs
·        2 Tablespoons Homemade Salad Dressing:
       Use Olive Oil, Vinegar, Citrus Juice, Salsa,
       Low-fat Yogurt and/or Mustard

A salad can be delicious, healthy, and inexpensive.

1. Fat-free vinaigrette Recipes are easy to prepare and can be used as a marinade, salad dressing, or sauce.
2. The Types of Salad Everyone Needs to Know About, Allrecipes. 
3. How to Mason Jar Salads, The Country Chic Cottage

May, National Vinegar Month - Uses and Recipes

Vinegar has been around for more than 10,000 years. The Babylonians used it as a preservative and as a condiment and it was they who began flavoring it with herbs. Romans used it as a beverage. Hippocrates proclaimed its medicinal qualities and, indeed, it was probably one of our earliest remedies. The Bible references show how it was used for its soothing and healing properties. As recently as World War I, vinegar was being used to treat wounds. And today, it is being researched as a means to lower the glycemic index of foods and decrease the appetite.

Vinegar is defined as an acidic liquid produced from the fermentation of ethanol in a process that yields acetic acid (ethanoic acid). It also may come in a diluted form. The acetic acid concentration usually ranges from 4% to 8% by volume for table vinegar and up to 18% for pickling. 

Vinegar, as defined by the FDA
CPG Sec. 525.825 Vinegar, Definitions

No standards of identity for vinegar have been established under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, however FDA has established "Compliance Policy Guides" that the Agency follows regarding labeling of vinegars, such as cider, wine, malt, sugar, spirit and vinegar blends. In other countries, they have regional standards for vinegar produced or sold in that part of the world.

Historically, definitions have been developed for different types or combinations of vinegars. The United States FDA requires that any product called "vinegar" contain at least 4% acidity. This requirement ensures the minimum strength of vinegar sold at the retail level.

FDA considers the following to be satisfactory guidelines for the labeling of vinegars: Natural vinegars as they come from the generators normally contain in excess of 4 grams of acetic acid per 100 mL. When vinegar is diluted with water, the label must bear a statement such as diluted with water to _______ percent acid strength", with the blank filled with the actual percent of acetic acid - in no case should it be less than 4 percent. Each of the varieties of vinegar listed below should contain 4 grams of acetic acid per 100 mL.


VINEGAR, CIDER VINEGAR, APPLE VINEGAR. The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations of the juice of apples.

WINE VINEGAR, GRAPE VINEGAR. The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations of the juice of grapes.

MALT VINEGAR. The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations, without distillation, of an infusion of barley malt or cereals whose starch has been converted by malt.

SUGAR VINEGAR. The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations of sugar sirup, molasses, or refiner's sirup.

GLUCOSE VINEGAR. The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations of a solution of glucose. It is dextrorotatory.

SPIRIT VINEGAR, DISTILLED VINEGAR, GRAIN VINEGAR. The product made by the acetous fermentation of dilute distilled alcohol.

VINEGAR, MADE FROM A MIXTURE OF SPIRIT VINEGAR AND CIDER VINEGAR. The product should be labeled as a blend of the products with the product names in order of predominance. This labeling is applicable to a similar product made by acetous fermentation of a mixture of alcohol and cider stock.

VINEGAR MADE FROM DRIED APPLES, APPLE CORES OR APPLE PEELS. Vinegar made from dried apples, apple cores or apple peels should be labeled as "vinegar made from ______," where the blank is filled in with the name of the apple product(s) used as the source of fermented material.

Cooking with Balsamic Vinegar

Some of the uses found on the Internet are listed below. Many have not been tested or researched, which makes recommendations difficult.

How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Work?

Food Preparation

 1. Soak fish in vinegar and water before cooking it. It will be sweeter, more tender and hold its shape better. When boiling or poaching fish, a tablespoon of vinegar added to the water will keep it from crumbling so easily.

 2. Use vinegar in pickling, vinaigrettes, marinades and as an ingredient in sauces such as mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise.  

 3. When boiling an egg and it's cracked, a little vinegar in the water will keep the white from running out. (Forget this one. If the egg is cracked, throw it out.)

 4. A teaspoon of white distilled or cider vinegar added to the water in which you boil potatoes will keep them nice and white. You can keep peeled potatoes from turning dark by covering them with water and adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar. 

 5. Freshen up slightly wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water and vinegar. 

 6. Fruits and vegetables. Add 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to 1 pint water and use to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, then rinse thoroughly. This is supposed to help kill bacteria on fruits and vegetables. 

 7. Flavor Enhancer. Add your favorite specialty vinegar to soup, gravy or sauce to add flavor.

 8. Use as a meat tenderizer for tough meat or game.

 9. Simmer a small pot of vinegar and water solution to get rid of unwanted cooking smells.

10. Rice will be fluffier and less sticky if you add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar to the boiling water before adding the rice.

11. Remove fruit stains from your hands by cleaning them with vinegar.

12. Remove heavy stale smells from lunch boxes by dampening a piece of fresh bread with white distilled vinegar and leaving it in the lunch box overnight.


 1. White vinegar is often used as a household cleaning product. The acidity is said to dissolve mineral deposits from glass, coffee makers and other smooth surfaces. Dilution with water is recommended for safety and to avoid damaging the surfaces being cleaned.

 2. Vinegar can be used for polishing brass or bronze.

 3. Vinegar has been marketed as a green solution for some household cleaning problems, such as an eco-friendly urine cleaner for pets and as a weed killer.


 1. Experts advise against using vinegar preparations for treating wounds. 

 2. Acetic acid solutions were ineffective at inhibiting the growth of Escherichia coli, group D Enterococcus, or Bacteroides fragilis bacteria, and only slightly effective at inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.

 3. Experts caution against using vinegar as a household disinfectant against human pathogens because chemical disinfectants are more effective. 

 4. Undiluted vinegar may be used effectively for cleaning dentures, unlike bleach solutions, vinegar residues left on dentures were not associated with mucosal damage.

 5. Vinegar is commonly recommended for treating nail fungus, head lice, and warts, however scientific support for these treatment strategies are lacking.

 6. Vinegar may reduce hunger by reducing the meal-time glycemic load. 

 7. The use of vinegar in controlling blood sugar as an adjunct therapy for individuals with diabetes or prediabetes has yet to be determined.

Additional uses and tips can be found at the Vinegar Institute.

Fat Free Vinaigrette Recipes are easy to prepare and can be used as a marinade, salad dressing, or sauce.   

Oriental Vinaigrette, Yield: 1 cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
1 clove garlic, cut in several pieces
1 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 slice fresh ginger, cut in several pieces
Combine all ingredients, stirring well to combine. Let stand for 45 minutes. Strain dressing. Discard ginger and garlic (or use in food preparation at a later time).

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, Yield: 1 cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons capers
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1½ teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Combine the ingredients. Adjust vinegar to taste. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Chili-Cilantro Vinaigrette Dressing, Yield: ¾ cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
1 small green chili, diced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup water
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic
pinch, artificial sweetener
freshly ground pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.

Citrus Herb Vinaigrette Dressing, Yield: 1½ cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
½ medium-sized red bell pepper,
2 medium tomatoes, diced
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup loosely packed fresh parsley
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until pureed. Makes approximately 1½ cups

Indian Vinaigrette Dressing, Yield: ¼ cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
¼ cup orange juice
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon prepared hot mustard
Put all ingredients in a small bowl, and stir. Let sit about 10 minutes.

Orange and Lemon Vinaigrette, Yield: 1 cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
½ cup wine vinegar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons orange juice
grated rind of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon French mustard
pinch garlic
ground black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly. Keep in the fridge and use within 2 days.

Orange Thai Vinaigrette Dressing, Yield: ½ cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
5 Tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
pinch of cayenne
Whisk together all ingredients with a fork.

Parsley-Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing, Yield: ¾ cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
¼ cup tomato juice (low sodium)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon oregano, fresh
1 Tablespoon onion, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup parsley, chopped fresh
½ cup tomatoes, chopped, fresh
1 garlic clove, minced
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.

Red Pepper Vinaigrette, Yield: ½ cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
¼ cup apple juice
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons white onion
1 cloves garlic, pressed
Pinches of rosemary and thyme
½ teaspoon dried whole oregano
½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ of a roasted red bell pepper
Mix in a blender. Blend thoroughly and chill overnight.

Tomato Vinaigrette, Yield: ½ cup; Serving Size: Unlimited
½ cup tomato, chopped
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Mix in a blender. Blend thoroughly and chill overnight. Lasts about 2 days. Serve on salads.

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