Archive for July, 2010

Summertime brings with it scorching hot days, cooling delta breezes, and some of the best fruit of the year. Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, berries, cherries, and melons are at produce stands now. My sister-in-law was kind enough to share her bounty of pluots with the rest of the family, so I thought I would thank her by sharing a pluot recipe. Although a pluot is a delicious cross between a plum and an apricot, it more closely resembles a plum in appearance. There are many varieties of pluots available, but the type I received are golden-green on the outside and yellow on the inside. No matter what they look like on the outside, they all contain healthy amounts of fiber and vitamins A and C.

Here’s a recipe for a Pluot and Strawberry Salsa that’s great on grilled seafood or meat:

About 1 pound or 5-6 pluots, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
Big handful of strawberries, washed, hulled, and diced
1/4 cup green onions, both white and green parts sliced
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper – depending on preferred heat, finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/8 tsp cumin, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Wash and dry pluots. Cut vertical segments off around the pit and dice. Place in bowl. Note: Some recipes call for removing the skin first, but I leave it on for more nutritional fiber.

2. Juice the lime and pour over the diced pluots.

3. Add strawberries, green onions, jalapeno, cilantro, and cumin (if desired) to the bowl of pluots.

4. Carefully combine ingredients, being careful not to smash the fruit.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 -3 cups.

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Fourth of July weekend usually means patriotism, fireworks, barbecues, picnics, and cooling down in some form of water. No matter what you do for your holiday weekend, please take necessary precautions and be safe! Wear sunscreen and hats, store picnic food at safe temperatures, and if you are going to a lake, river, or beach don’t forget to pack life vests! My little dog wears his life vest when he swims in my pool. He’s had two surgeries to repair torn ACLs, so he begrudgingly dog paddles to rehabilitate his knees and stave off arthritis.

#1 -Independence Day Trivia
Here’s a sampling of Fourth of July trivia questions from Starpress.com and a few I threw in to keep you are on your toes:

Q: July 4 celebrates the passage of what important document?
A: Declaration of Independence

Q: What is the name of the group that passed the Declaration of Independence and when?
A: Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

Q: Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
A: Thomas Jefferson was the primary writer. Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingstone and John Adams also were members of the committee charged with writing the Declaration of Independence and revisions.

Q: By what title did the Continental Congress call the Declaration of Independence?
A: The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.

Q: How many people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776?
A: Two

Q: How many signatures are on the Declaration of Independence?
A: 56

Q: The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are familiarly known as?
A: The Bill of Rights

Q: What do the colors on the flag stand for?
A: There is no record stating why red, white, and blue where chosen for the flag.

Q: The dollar amount of all U.S. fireworks imported?
A: $211 million

Q: Estimated number of Fourth of July cookouts?
A: 150 million

#2 – Picnic Safety Tips
If you’re planning a picnic this Fourth of July, take care that you’re following these safety tips as provided in an article by whatscookinginamerica.net. Click on the link to read the entire article, otherwise here’s a synopsis:

A. As always, wash hands and work areas before preparing food.

B. Cook foods in plenty of time to thoroughly chill them in shallow containers in the refrigerator.

C. Have enough coolers with ice or frozen gel packs and pack foods right from the refrigerator into the coolers.

D. Don’t put the cooler in the car trunk; Carry it inside an air-conditioned car. At picnics, keep the cooler in the shade and keep the lid closed. Replenish the ice if it melts.

E. Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing the food won’t constantly be opened and closed.

F. Find out if there’s a source of safe drinking water at your destination. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning; or pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling, and serving food is a prime cause of food borne illness.

G. Pack raw meats, poultry, or seafood on the bottom of the cooler.

H. If you plan on getting takeout foods such as fried chicken, eat them within an hour of pick up.

I. Do not partially grill extra meat or poultry to use later.

J. Don’t put the cooked items on the same platter which held the raw meat.

K. Two Hour Rule. Don’t leave perishable food un-refrigerated for more than two hours.

L. Discard leftovers.

#3 – Patriotic Flower Pots
Buy red, white, or blue flower pots and plant them with red geraniums, blue salvia, and white petunias or any other combination of red, white, and blue summer annuals. Purchase some patriotic-colored, wide, wired ribbon at your local crafts store. Plant the flowers, tie the ribbon in a bow at the front of the pot, and place pots wherever you need a pop of patriotic color that will last all summer long.

#4 – Patriotic Drink
The secret to creating a red, white, and blue multilayered drink is finding beverages with different sugar contents, so says an article in Disney Family Fun. Beverages with more sugar, like fruit juices, are denser and are poured first. The second layer the article suggests would be something like an athletic beverage and the top layer, which would have the least amount of sugar, would be a diet drink. The following recipe from the article is for a children’s patriotic drink, but think of all the possibilities for adult drinks!

Ice cubes
Cranberry juice
Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce
Diet 7-Up

1. Fill a clear glass with ice cubes. Pour the drink with the most sugar (check the nutrition label) into the glass. For our red, white, and blue recipe, start with the cranberry juice.
2. Very slowly add a beverage that contains less sugar — in this case, Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce. Be careful to pour it onto an ice cube — not directly into the other drink — to keep them from mixing.
3. Use the same technique to add a layer of Diet 7-Up.

#5 – Freedom
Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend!

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