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Do you know when to throw away food? part 1

If you don´t, you’re not alone. Statistically we waste 20 pounds of food per person and month; that’s about three times more than we did in the 1960th. Most people throw out food when it reaches its expiration date, but that doesn´t necessarily means that the food has gone bad.

There are different types of expiration dates, but none of them tells you when the food is unsafe from a health perspective. The "sell by" date shows the retailer how long they can display the items in the store; the "best by" date indicates when the food reaches its quality peak. The latter depends on how you store and handle the food, but it says nothing about when it´s unsafe to eat.

Our Grandmothers relied on their nose and taste buds and that´s probably why they didn’t throw away as much as we do. So let’s forget about the expiration date and instead look at how food behaves and when it becomes dangerous.

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How to make your own vinegar

I have a Mother of Vinegar! I’ve had it for over ten years no and it continuous to produce vinegar. I must admit though that it started out as a mistake. 

A Mother of vinegar is a bacterial entity developed from fermenting cellulose. It turns alcohol and oxygen into acetic acid, i.e. it produces vinegar.

We make our own apple juice and during the first year in our orchard, I hadn’t learned the difference between different apples. Anyway a huge batch of apples where crushed and then pressed in our apple press. They where nice, sugary apples; though not juice-apples. The liquid was turbid and not really appetizing. I transferred it to a five gallon can and set it aside. The idea was to try to filter it, or find another way to clear it up. 

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Apples, part 3

Let's wrap up the apple postings. We have two types of apples left. Juice- and wax apples.

Lets start with the Juice-apples. In our orchard we have both red and green juice apples. When you microwave them they behave similar to compote-apples, though you feel the difference when you eat them. They are so moist so they drip when you cut into them. In our orchard the juice-apples mature late September, early October. Even when they are ripe they stay on the tree, much longer than other apples.

If you cook them they behave similar to compote-apples, though they become apples pieces in sauce. Very delicious, but not at all fun if you expect apple jam. What makes these apples so special are their ability to make a clear, golden, sweet, beautiful apple juice, in large quantities. You can use a normal juicer, just cut them into pieces.

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Apples, part 2

Let's continue to talk about apples. In our garden these apples are the next batch to mature and I simply call them Apple-pie apples, since that's what they do best. You can probably find them in different colors; but our varieties are yellow-red and slightly larger than our other apples, more oval than round in their shape.

These apples are perfect in food and baked dishes. They always retain their shape, meaning that even when they are soft; your apple pie has nice wedges. If you microwave a wedge it will hold its shape, regardless for how long you cook it. I don't know any other apples that does that, so they are easy to recognize.

If you puree these apples you get a grainy puree that feels like eating sand. These apples are very dry and the meat is firm, you can even chop and fry them without any problems. 
I use these apples for pies, in casseroles and I also dry them.

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Colored sugar and candy floss

Colored sugar can be really funny. I use it on cookies, porridge and anything that needs sugar to bright it up.  

To make colored sugar you need food color and regular sugar. Mix the color into the sugar, it usually becomes lighter when the sugar dries; so make it darker then you want it. Then spread the sugar on a baking tray and let it dry completely.  

I usually put the tray into the oven after I’ve done some baking. I let it dry in the left over heat. You can dry it in the oven, but make sure the heat is set to very low so it doesn’t melt the sugar. 

Turn the sugar around now and then and chop or crush it if it becomes lumpy. When it’s completely dried chop it again and store it in an airtight glass jar. I’ve noticed, at least in our climate, that storing sugar in a plastic container makes it lumpy so I prefer glass. 

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Stock or broth

Is there a difference between stock and broth? I had an old relative that was a chef and this is how I learned the difference. It’s basically the same thing, except for one major difference; broth is a seasoned version of stock. My relative used to say that; broth is nice to drink on a cold winter’s day, stock in a bowl and you call for the chef.

He had learned the difference the hard way, when he was a young man and started out in a professional kitchen. He was supposed to fill a bowl with broth and add some garnish as a small warming welcoming soup for the guests, this was during WWII and the taste for fine dining was obviously a little different back then.

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An ode to pasta

According to Washington Post yesterday, the sales of dried pasta has fallen 6 percent since 2009. The trend is the same all over the western world, even in Italy where the sales of pasta has plummeted by more than 25 percent. There’s mainly two reasons, gluten and carbs. Anti-carb diets have banned pasta as something evil.

When I was a kid, I was probably the only one who didn’t like to eat macaroni and cheese… or for that matter any other type of pasta. The reason could be traced back to my childhood summers in Italy. I don’t remember that much from it, except the food. We stayed at this family owned seaside resort, run by the matriarch of the family.

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The last barbecue of the year.

One more picture from my new cookbook that will be out the week before Thanksgiving. The weather is getting cold, but that didn’t stop me from doing a nice barbeque yesterday and of course I need a picture.

My husband claims that most food we eat right now goes cold before we can dig into it, since it has to be photographed. I don’t like food to go to waste so we have eaten everything I made for Christmas Magic, though sometimes a little colder that intended.

It’s not easy to take pictures of food, especially when it smells delicious and the smell spreads out into the house. If you’re not hungry before, you will be after a few minutes starring at a plate through a camera.

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Our dinner

Right know I’m working on a Christmas cook book, the first book in a new series called “The Ultimate Christmas Handbook.”

The first book is called Christmas Magic and is all about Christmas traditions and where they come from. This is just a small sneak peek at one of the pictures in the book.

This is what we ate for dinner tonight, a fried beef with cranberry jelly on a salad. Delicious if I may say so myself.

More about my books

Imagine the day when your life is turned upside-down, you can also call it a life altering event. Something completely unexpected, that alters the life you are used to, which can only be restored by intense determination and a strong will to survive. This is my story. I had a stroke, and it... more

Did you know that your Christmas tree can look smaller or larger depending on how you decorate it? Or that the color of your Santa Claus can change from orange to dark red depending on where you place him? Have you ever bought a gorgeous Christmas decoration and brought it home just to realize that... more

Unexpected Journeys is a heartwarming novel about Helena, a young widow trying to find a new life for herself and her little boy. Helena thought that her marriage would last forever, that life would give her happy ever after – it came to an abrupt end. Could she ever love again, trust another... more

Let me show you my Christmas. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit down at my kitchen table and let me tell you why I love Christmas, how it has influenced me and what it means to me. Christmas Magic includes more than two dozen of holiday recipes, all beautifully illustrated with large full-... more
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