Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is it Really Organic?

In an effort to both support our local growers, and ensure that our food doesn't contain pesticides, hormones, or anything else that is undesirable, I started buying only organic foods when possible. However, how do you know it is really organic?

If you're interested in making the switch to organic foods, too, you may also wonder how they tell if you are actually buying organic foods. Don't worry, it is relatively easy to make sure that you are buying truly organic foods.

There are strict standards associated with the making and selling of organic foods. Companies claming to sell fully organic foods may only do so with the backing of Quality Assurance International (QAI) or the USDA. When shopping, just look for certified organic labels. All food that meets industry standards should be labeled properly. This is one of the best and easiest ways to make sure that you are buying truly organic food.

Here's another easy way to make sure you're buying organic foods - choose specialty organic or natural food stores that specialize in organic foods. Locally owned and operated stores are often smaller, and offer the possibility getting to know the manager or owner so that you can speak with them if you have concerns or questions. Since I live in a small beach community, I have come to know most of the people working at our local food stores, but even in a larger community it is possible, especially at the smaller specialty stores. That being said, you shouldn’t have any problems. Most specialty stores go out of their way to ensure that they are only selling one hundred percent natural, organic foods.

You can also shop the Internet for organic foods. Stick with specialty online organic food stores. Some organic product manufacturers, like Earth’s Best Organic, have online stores where their products are sold. We have a local organic grocer that delivers to our neighborhood once or twice a week. You just make your order online. Alternatively, you can pickup at their store.

Don't rule out your local supermarkets, grocery stores, or even warehouse clubs such as Sams Club and Costco. We are seeing more and more organic foods at these mainstream stores. I'm finding fresh organic produce, organic meats, and other organic food products at our local grocercy store and in Costco. Much of it is mixed right in with the other foods, they don't always have a separate organic food section. So, be on the lookout for organic foods throughout the stores.

These are just a few ways that you can take to make sure that you are buying one hundred percent organic foods. Let us know if you have any other suggestions.

If you enjoyed this article Subscribe to my RSS Feed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How To Make Good Tasting Coffee

You know, coffee is one of life's little pleasures, but you don't have to hit the nearest high priced coffee shop to get a good tasting cup of coffee. You can make your own coffee at home and save money. In fact, many people are even carrying coffee to work now in thermos cups. It's true!

To make a good tasting coffee, there are just a few elements:

  1. Good tasting water. You don't have to use bottled water - get a water filter. In fact, for around $79 - $99 you can get coffee makers that have built-in water filters. I have one myself, and it's great. Another hint for the water is to put it in the coffee maker the night before. It will taste better the next morning.
  2. Good coffee. Now, you can grind your own coffee beans, or buy coffee that is ready to go, but you need coffee that tastes good to you. For some people, it's the Folger's that their grandmother used, and for others it's the Starbucks brand. I had a co-worker that refused any coffee that wasn't Maxwell House! Just use what you like.
  3. A proper brewing system for the type of coffee that you like. If you prefer espresso, you can get the stovetop espresso brewer for under $10 or if you have a higher budget there are some Italian espresso makers from $500 to upwards of $12,000. If you prefer good, old fashioned American coffee, a nice drip coffee maker will run you under $100.
  4. Filter - I use a gold filter. It's better for the environment (no paper filter), and it's supposed to make the coffee taste much better. I don't know if I can say that, but it is good, and convenient. I never run out of filters.
  5. A mug or coffee cup that you enjoy. A recent study indicates that people enjoy coffee more if it's in a vessel that they like - no paper or styrofoam. For some people it is a very small, elegant demitasse, while for others (me) it's a huge mug with monkeys painted on the side!

Enjoy your coffee!

Get the world's finest Italian espresso. Sign up for the illy espresso membership program and enjoy easy ordering and home delivery.

If you enjoyed this article Subscribe to my RSS Feed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lemon Juice and Lime Juice Mojito Recipe

Living in Miami we enjoy the famous Mojito cocktail. It is a refreshing mint and lime flavored beverage that you can find at any club, bar, or restaurant in Miami. Next time you have a party, think about a South Beach theme. Serve some black beans and rick, tres leches cake, and some mojitos. It'll be a hit for sure!

Here's a really nice recipe for a lemon and lime juice Mojito:

1 part Bacardi Limon Rum
3 parts Club Soda
12 mint leaves
1/2 lime
1/2 part sugar

Combine mint leaves, lime and sugar in a glass. Crush well with a pestle.

Add Bacardi Limon Rum, and top off with club soda. Stir well, and garnish with mint leaves, lemon and lime wheels.

If you enjoyed this recipe and article Subscribe to my RSS Feed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Disaster Supply Kit

Here in South Florida we are waiting yet again to see if we will be effected by the most recent Hurricane (Ike). We are not sitting idly, though. We are boarding up our homes, and laying in the most essential hurricane/disaster supplies.

One of the most important items to have is a good, portable cookstove. A charcoal or gas grill is also good to have on hand, with an ample supply of fuel. Be prepared to be without power for at least a week, maybe two weeks. Another essential item to have is a cooler to store some food items and ice.

Here is a list of food items to keep on hand in case of emergency or disaster. This list is good for any area of the country, whether you are snowed in by a blizzard, freezing weather, or wind storm.

  • Bottled water
  • Instant coffee
  • Instant tea
  • Powdered coffee creamer
  • Powdered milk
  • Pancake mix (the kind that requires water only)
  • Cans of evaporated milk
  • Soft drinks
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Wheat Thins
  • Tortillas or Wraps
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Canned and jarred meats and fish, such as chicken, sardines and tuna
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Other fresh fruit in season
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Canned and bottled juice
  • Cereal
  • Peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.
  • Cheese
  • Honey
  • PowerBars or other meal replacement protein bars
  • Cookies
  • Marshmallows (Fun for the kids when cooking outside)
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Packaged sliced deli meats (turkey, ham, etc.)
  • Canned beans
  • Rotel's Diced Tomatoes & Chile Peppers
  • Canned soups
  • Ready made baby formula
  • Jars of baby food

In addition you should also have the following suppies:

  • Prescription medications, at least a one week supply
  • Contact lens supplies
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Cold medications
  • Tylenol or Motrin
  • Antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin or Bacitracin)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Insect repellent

And don't forget your pets!

  • Pet food
  • Pet prescription medications
  • Treats
  • Water for your pets

Other essential supplies to have on hand are:

  • Battery operated lanterns
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Extra cash (ATM's and store credit card machines don't work w/out power)
  • Baby supplies - diapers, wipes, baby food and ready made formula, medicines, etc.
  • Fully charged cellular phones
  • Trash bags - the really big ones
  • Mops and buckets for clean up
  • Gallon size freezer bags - use them to make ice a few days before the storm is expected fill with water and freeze
  • Tools - hammer, screwdrivers, ax or hatchet, pliers, etc.
  • Household bleach
  • Battery operated radio
  • Telephone that does not need electricity to use (landline)
  • Paper supplies - napkins, paper towels, toilet paper
  • Paper plates and plastic eating utensils

This is by no means a complete list, but maybe it will help you get a good start on setting up your own disaster supply kit. Let me know if I have left something out.

If you enjoyed this article Subscribe to my RSS Feed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Creamy Potato Soup Recipe

With fall weather in the forecast, what could be better than a nice bowl of creamy potato soup? Have some nice crusty bread on the side, or a grilled cheese sandwich, and you are set. It makes a satisfying dinner or a hearty lunch. In fact, you can even carry the creamy potato soup to work or school in a thermos if you like.

Potatoes are filling, and nutritious, as well as a money saving dinner option. A good source of potassium and other nutrients, potatoes are definitely something you should not cut out of your diet. And, who doesn't like potatoes? Your family is going to love this recipe, so try it out this weekend!

Creamy Potato Soup Recipe

2 cups chopped red potatoes

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 teaspoon Watkins Minced Green Onion or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped Green Onions

1 cup Watkins Cream Soup Base

1/2 cup flour

2 cups milk


1 teaspoon Watkins Bacon Onion Snack & Dip Seasoning

Boil potato, celery, carrots and minced green onion in 1 quart water for 10 minutes or until tender.

Double recipe for thin white sauce on cream soup can. Mix according to directions. Drain water off vegetables and add to cream soup. Stir in Snack & Dip Seasoning.

Makes approximately 6 cups.

If you like a more tangy cream potato soup, try another of our favorites - Sour Cream Potato Soup - it is absolutely delicious. Let me know if you like it too!

If you enjoyed this article Subscribe to my RSS Feed.