Fun drinks

Summer is finally here and hot days are soon to follow. These drinks add a nice touch to a small group dinner or just nice to serve while hanging out. I'm not using the standard layout because they don't have any complicated steps.

Sherbet Cooler
It's 1 scoop of sherbet for every cup of lemon lime soda. You can start with a 1/2 gallon carton of sherbet and add (2) 2-liter bottles of lemon lime soda and stir. Adjust as needed. You can use any flavor of sherbet and substitute 1/2 seltzer water to make it less sweet.

Orange cream soda:This one is really easy too and tastes just like the orange cream popsicles we had when we were kids. Just blend vanilla ice cream and orange soda. Some people say it tastes like an Orange Julius.

Strawberry Lemonade Take some frozen strawberries and blend with some Sunkist Lemonade to make a puree. Add to lemonade until desired ratio. Serve.

Sparkling Juice:
http://www.dishgracepoint.com/2009/11/diy-martinellis.html

Smoothies:
http://www.dishgracepoint.com/2008/08/smoothies.html

Just for fun: Terro

Dish Gracepoint Berkeley Miscellaneous: Terro ant killer

Every now and then I want to post stuff somewhat related to food that might be useful.

We get occasional ant problems in our kitchen and after trying different products we stumbled upon terro. The person at Home Depot recommended it and said most of the other brand name products don't work very well. I thought it'd be worth a try and from what I could tell it really works and I haven't seen any ants since. I looked it up on Amazon and they get very high reviews for all of their products. It's a 5% solution of borax in sugar syrup. It takes a lot for a person to get sick (since we weigh so much more than ants) so it's relatively safe. The ants take it back to the colony and within days it kills the whole colony and queen.

We don't have any more ants at our house since we used it and it seems very effective. Of course the best defense is to promptly clean all dishes, trays, and counters to leave nothing available. But when they come, this is an effective, safe, and cheap way of controlling ants. Just another way to keep a clean kitchen pest free!

Blanching

Blanching is a technique of cooking vegetables in boiling water for a short time to preserve structure. Most people make the mistake of overcooking vegetables, causing it to turn soggy and brown.

So how do you blanch?
1. Boil a pot of water.
2. Put vegetables in water.
3. Wait until it turns bright green and wait 30 more seconds. (about 1.5 minutes is good)
4. Remove from water and rinse under cold water.
5. (I like to sprinkle salt to add flavor before serving)

What are good vegetables to blanch?
asparagus, green beans, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower

What shouldn't you blanch?
corn, potatoes...anything that should be soft. Rule of thumb is blanching is ideal for green veggies.

Lid covered or open?
don't close the lid. It should be able to vent out the acids and other compounds into the air to keep it green. By preventing the acids from escaping, it builds up in the water and attack the chlorophyll.

What happens when you boil vegetables longer?
the cell structure breaks down too much and goes from firm and tender to mushy. Next the Mg in the center of the chlorophyll escapes and is replaced by H+, causing it to turn from green to brown. During the minute and half of boiling, the chloroplasts near the surface burst and release the green pigment across the tissue, making it bright green. The chlorophyll begin initial breakdown and the alkaline substances dissolve out, removing the bitter and grassy taste. All it takes is a minute and half of boiling to drastically change the taste of broccoli.

Why rinse it in cold water?
there is still lots of residual heat which continue to cook and break down the vegetables. Sometimes it looks great off the pan, but by the time you serve it, the color changes to brown.