Simple home recipes and food stories

Salmon Caviar and Smoked Salmon on Pasta

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Simple Carbonara

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Trout, Butter, Dill and Lemons

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Get Started with Organic Tomato Gardening with These Tips

By on May 17, 2013


Many people have discovered a backyard hobby that is fast becoming a favorite – organic tomato gardening. Supermarkets, groceries, and most farmers’ markets sell these for a higher price because it is grown slowly, naturally and without fertilizers and pesticides.

organic gardening, tomato
image courtesy of

Below are six tips to get you started with organic tomato gardening:

1. Find a location that is conducive for growing the organic tomatoes. Organic tomatoes thrive on sunlight. At the most, these need around 8 to 12 hours of sunlight each day. Plenty of sun is needed not only to ensure the growth of the tomatoes but also for the soil and roots to keep warm. Now supposing you’re trying to grow your organic tomatoes indoors, it would be a good idea to take these outside during the day since this would allow the plant to soak up sunshine and heat.

2. Even if organic tomatoes like soaking up the sun, you need to remember that the soil needs to have a temperature that is favorable for the plant. The ideal daytime soil temperature for organic tomatoes is at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If temperature drops or gets cooler at nighttime, you may need to shield your tomatoes overnight with buckets or perhaps sheets that would keep the cool air from seeping through.

During summertime, when temperatures could soar to over 90 degrees, it is imperative that you provide a shade over your organic tomatoes. Direct exposure to the scorching rays of the sun could kill your plant. Therefore, make sure there is enough shade to block off the sun’s rays.

3. Inasmuch as organic tomatoes thrive from the warmth of the sun, these also need regular watering. Failure to water the organic tomatoes regularly can make the fruits grow sporadically. Moreover, irregularly watered tomatoes are more susceptible to rot diseases. You need to water the tomato plants twice a week, making sure that the water soaks the soil around 6 to 8 inches deep. If the temperature is extremely hot, you need to water the plants more.

4. The idea behind organic gardening is to grow crops, fruits, plants, and vegetables using all-natural fertilizers. With this said, use only natural organic fertilizers when growing organic tomatoes as these are free from harmful synthetic ingredients that prove to be toxic for plants. The ideal organic fertilizers for organic tomatoes are manure, fish emulsion, seaweed, and composted grass or weed clippings since these are rich in micronutrients and have high nitrogen content.

5. Because you want to preserve your organic tomatoes and keep them free from toxic chemicals, use of pesticides for pest control is a big no-no. Instead of using chemical-laden pesticides, use animals and insects as “natural pest controllers.” Aphids and caterpillars are known to eat and pester the leaves and fruits of tomatoes. To drive these away, make sure birds, lizards, frogs, and ladybugs are nearby.

If you don’t want to use these natural pest controllers, it is best to stake the plants so that these are kept off the ground.

6. When it comes to mulching, you can use black plastic around the tomato plants to prevent weed growth and to keep the soil warm. This also helps direct the water to the roots.

Indeed, organic tomato gardening can be a great hobby. However, more than that, it can also be a great source of income. Once you have it in your own backyard, there’s no need to pay the high price for the much-coveted fruit.


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Dukan Diet Phases

By on February 28, 2013


Like any diet, the Dukan 100 foods diet has been debated about by critics and scientists, as well as the public and celebrities. For instance, it has been said that there is no solid scientific basis behind it and that although the Duchess of Cambridge herself successfully followed the diet, her mother found it to be inefficient. Of course, it is always difficult to know whether things like these are rumours or not so I always find it best to investigate for myself.

tuna (best source of protein)

To begin with, I looked into the four Dukan diet phases. After being told your True Weight online, which is calculated with the weight at which you would be most healthy (taking into account age, height, past illnesses, previous weight range and so on) and the weight you would like to be, you are then shown how long you will spend on each phase including when you will reach your True Weight (which is by the end of the second phase).

The first phase is called Attack and it is what it sounds like; a short period of eating high-protein meals combined with rigorous exercise. It can be a shock to the system but at least it is getting the hardest part of the diet out of the way first. The second phase is called Cruise which sees the introduction of vegetables. It is by the end of this phase that you will reach your True Weight which is then consolidated in the aptly named Consolidation phase. This in turn prepares you for the final stage which is called Stabilisation. 95% of people who diet put any weight they lose back on in the following weeks after the diet ends. These final two phases teach you how to avoid this.

It seems to be quite simple learning how to lose weight with Dukan as every step of the journey is guided efficiently and in depth meaning you can successfully track your progress. Of course, it isn’t going to work out for everyone as some people simply aren’t suited to this kind of dieting but if you don’t try you’ll never know.


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Kitchen corner

Five Apps for Interior Designers

By on January 31, 2013


Interior designers need applications to organize ideas and provide inspiration for client designs. Interior designers need ways to spark creativity and increase productivity. Consider these five apps for interior designers to improve home design.

1. Houzz

Houzz allows interior designers around the world to post their portfolios. With this web-based application, designers can create Ideabooks or photo libraries from bookmarks. Designers create Ideabooks for bedrooms, tile installations, and photo walls. Each designer’s works can be organized, searched and retrieved by city. Houzz has often been compared to Pinterest in its operation, and designers get their inspiration from this application.

There are over 70,000 photos and 150,000 ideas featured in this application from other architects, designers and landscapers. Favorite ideas can be retrieved from the application without a WiFi connection. Houzz is free.

houzz, interior designer app
get this from

2. MySurface

Kitchen and bath designers love this application because it aids in the tile selection process. Selecting complementary colors, textures, and counter samples is simplified with MySurface. This application does not contain every surface available, but it does have popular selections from Corian and Zodiaq.

3. Moodboard

Designers who need to create concept boards will love Moodboard. Designers crop photos and save links to aid in the creation of concept boards. With paint strip, designers can fill the color palette with colors to be used in concept boards. Creations can be emailed, and frames for photos can be created.

4. Room Design for iPad

This floor plan designer is a lifesaver if customized measurements and furniture layouts are needed. According to evaluators, this application is one of the best on the market and has minimal glitches. Though Room Design for iPad does not support three-dimensional images, the application is recommended for basic black and white photographs. The application features customizable elements such as flooring and other architectural elements. There are also 800 different furniture items to select.

Some people find this application somewhat more difficult to navigate, but the functionality is worth the effort of learning the application. Once the application is mastered, it provides maximum flexibility.

5. StonePedia

StonePedia has a vast array of various stone and marble selections. Designers peruse the application for flooring, fireplace slabs and countertops. StonePedia is advanced enough to sort by color. Designers revel in the bevy of stones and slabs offered. Common surfaces found on this website include granite, marble, Caesarstone and Curava.

Designers Benefit From These Applications

Designers benefit from applications. The creativity of designs created in the home are significantly improved. Consider how these applications can be incorporated into home design. When applications are integrated, creativity and productivity improve and unique designs are created. The applications are affordable and user-friendly.

Cameron is a Designer from Queensland, Australia. He has just finished decorating his new house from Metricon Homes at Maddison Estate and found these five to be very helpful and would recommend them to anyone.


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Is Beer Made at Home Just as Satisfying as Store Bought Beer?

By on January 25, 2013

It goes without saying that companies that manufacture store bought beer generally have more workers, larger pieces of beer brewing equipment and roomfuls of beer brewing supplies so they can mass produce bottled beer. Clearly, when it comes to volume, store bought beer has an advantage over home brewed beer. However, store bought beer might not have an edge over home brewed beer when it comes to flavor and taste, and isn’t that the reason people drink beer to start with, to enjoy the taste.


Homemade Beer Offering Beer Lovers More Options

Home brewed beers come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, tea, mustard, tomato, bacon steak flavored and oyster. Depending on the beer brewing kits home brewers get, they could blend ingredients and develop more unique tasting beers in a matter of weeks. It could take manufacturers of store bought beers months, if not longer, to work through red tape and get approval to start making and marketing new flavored beers.

When made with dependable home beer brewing equipment, homemade beer can also stay fresh. It’s this freshness that beer drinkers appreciate. As Mark Roessler shares in the January 8, 2013 Valley Advocate “No Beer Like Home” article, “The best-tasting beer is the stuff that’s the freshest and travels the least distance to your glass.”

It’s hard to find a more locally made beer than home brewed beer. Stop by the home of a friend or relative who stocks and uses home brewing supplies in their basement, kitchen or garage, and you might get the chance to drink some of the freshest tasting beer around. Unlike some store bought beer, homemade beer can easily be tweaked and refined throughout the year. Home brewers can also create their own recipes, giving drinkers more options.

Homemade beer: Delicious & Fascinating

One thing homemade beer won’t do is bore you. Some homemade beers are made with beer brewing supplies that add loads of foam, color or thickness to the drinks. You can also enjoy the smell of fresh beer, especially if the brew was recently removed from a kettle. Get your homemade beer from a local brewery and you could also save money on price whether you buy one beer or a case of beer, in part, because homemade beer is made in smaller quantities than store bought beer.

But, perhaps it’s the range of flavors, the unique taste of homemade beers that continue to make locally brewed beer popular. After all, imagine that, after walking inside a home brewery and purchasing beer, you walk out with six bottles of different tasting beer, making you feel as if you’d bought highly flavored beer from a shop that offers as many beer options as Starbucks does coffee. If those types of rare beer options, combined with robust flavor, is what you’re looking for, you might find homemade beer unbeatable.

Sources:,1104.html ( A Cost Comparison of Home Brew Vs. Store-Bought Beer) (Valley Advocate: No Beer Like Home) 

This article was written by Rhonda Campbell  

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Drinks | Food Stories | Wine

A brief history of time – and wine

By on January 20, 2013

Traces of it were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. Homer sang of it, the Greeks were transporting it across wine-dark seas it as far back as 750 BC, and the Romans were the first to put it into barrels and give it the name we still use today.

 Blanc de Blancs Champagne, wine history
Blanc de Blancs Champagne

No prizes for guessing that we’re raising our glasses to the fruit of the vine, vinum in Latin, wine in English, and translatable into virtually every tongue on Earth. A history of wine would fill several hefty volumes, its DNA stretching back into the dimmest reaches of time and the furthest corners of the world – and more pages written even as we eagerly anticipate a vintage year or brace ourselves for a poor one.

A social history of wine would make for a pretty solid tome too, appropriately enough for a drink that is firmly embedded in every strand of social culture. Faiths and belief systems have co-opted its jewel-like richness into ceremony and sacrament, investing the liquid with rich symbolism. Keen-eyed entrepreneurs through the centuries have built business empires on the tenderest vines. And the health-giving properties of wine, while much debated, have ensured wine makes it on to shopping lists everywhere. Democratising, popular, cross-cultural and spiritual, our relationship with wine might justly be seen as the story of an enduring, often passionate, love affair. The wild excesses of a classical bacchanalia might be a thing of the past – but only just.

And what colour were the first wines? There’s evidence to suggest that they were white, which may surprise anyone whose immediate image of ancient wine is a goblet of ruby-red, heavy-bodied liquid held to the light (just as confusingly, champagne began life as a dry red). White wine has travelled a different path from its more iconic red twin, its journey to our tables a series of happy accidents; the accidental discovery of Reisling in the late 18th-century, first made from rotten grapes that were probably afflicted by botrytis or noble rot is a case in point; the story of Sauternes bears similar hallmarks.

Little about the story of New World wine owes much to accident. The fertile vineyards of Australia have been producing some of the finest wines in the world for some time (just check out these wine reviews), and the country is now reckoned to be the fourth-largest exporter of wine in the world. Our putative history book would need several chapters to chart the rise of Australian wine, and the ground-breaking shift in perception that put paid to a stubborn association of wine with the ancient vineyards of Europe.

Australian wine is to be found as often in the connoisseur’s boutique collection as it is in the weekly shopping trolley. Grown throughout the country, Australian Chardonnay has the widest reputation, but the country’s wine-growing regions tell a rich and varied story. From the sparkling wines from Tasmania to South Australia, where the continent’s oldest vineyards produce most of country’s wine, and to New South Wales, the ideal home for Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the graceful, much-admired Viognier.

New worlds, new wines; old vineyards, ancient lineages. The story of wine continues…

wine chardonnay grapes, brief history of time and wine
Chardonnay grapes

This article courtesy of Wine Companion – a leading Australian resource for wine reviews and news.  

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Food Thoughts

How to Manage Your Cravings!

By on January 17, 2013


If you feel like you’re flagging a bit it can be all too tempting to grab a chocolate bar or a fizzy drink to give you a quick lift. The problem with doing so, however, is that the effects are short lived and you soon crave more. So, what is the best way to manage your cravings and what are the alternatives?

The appeal of sugar

When we’re tired we tend to want something sweet. There are a number of possible reasons for this. It may be that humans naturally prefer sweet things. From birth the first tastes that we encounter are sweet. When we are little we are often given sweets as a reward and this association continues into adulthood. Carbohydrates such as sugar also help release serotonin in the brain which makes us feel good and endorphins that relax us.

Whilst the old adage “a little of what you fancy does you good” is true when it comes to sugar the difficulty arises when we over consume. Too much sugar is bad for our waistlines, teeth and general health. And, it’s easy to have too much without really thinking about it, particularly when eating processed foods such as bread, sauces and yogurt. So, what can you do to limit your sugar intake?

Doughnut,toblerone cake, manage cravings, chocolate passion

In the short term

There are a number of tactics that you can employ and you may find that some work better for you than others. Some people find it helpful to have a little bit of what they’re craving such as a fun size chocolate bar or to limit themselves to one expensive chocolate rather than a whole high street bar. If this won’t leave you feeling full, however, then you may find combining foods helpful, for example, by dipping a banana in chocolate sauce.

Others find the only way they can manage their cravings is by going cold turkey and cutting out all sweet treats. Chewing gum or keeping fruit and foods such as nuts and seeds close to hand can help and these foods also aid serotonin release. And distractions techniques such as going for walk when the cravings hit can also work. Try to avoid using artificial sweeteners though as there is little evidence that they’ll help your cravings to reduce.

Think about the times of day when you crave sugary food. Do you go a long time between meals? If so, this might be the problem. Rather than eating a lot at each meal think about ways that you can spread what you eat throughout the day. Have cereal or toast at breakfast and then a yoghurt mid-morning. Enjoy your sandwich or salad at lunchtime and then an apple or banana mid-afternoon.

Food for thought

There are also some longer term actions that you can take to help beat the cravings. Most of us lead such busy lives now that we simply grab the first thing we fancy in the supermarket to eat. Planning your meals, however, will help you to make healthier choices and enable you to eat what you’re intending to eat rather than making the easiest choice when hungry.

Also think about whether there are any other reasons why you’re craving sugar. Many people reach for the chocolate when they’re unhappy or stressed. Try and find other solutions to any emotional issues as food won’t make them go away.

Finally, remember that it takes a while to retrain your taste buds and habits. Reward yourself for your successes, both large and small.

This article was contributed by John, a freelance health writer, who is currently working with Range Cookers.

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Health Talk

Top Foods That Help Fight Cancer

By on November 26, 2012


In the United States of America alone, cancer is responsible for a half million deaths every year. Scientists and cancer researchers maintain that if the U.S natives were more careful with their diet, most of these deaths could be prevented. The fact that some health and medical conditions cannot be avoided is undeniable, yet we cannot overlook the fact that the food we eat makes us what we are, what we look like and what our bodies consist of.

Essentially, the eating habits of a people can either invite or ward off cancer infections. Although cancer does not really originate from food, some kinds of food can increase or reduce one’s risk of getting cancer.

food fight cancer, berries
Berries from

Research has it that no food or nutrients can exclusively protect against cancer; however a variety of foods can help ward off cancer or reduce the size of tumors. These are the top priority foods that the enlightened person should seek for in the grocery or food market. Luckily, these foods are common, easily available and generally affordable. To start with, foods that provide antioxidants in the body are highly recommended. Antioxidants work to eliminate free radicals originating from metabolic processes or from the immune system. However, free radicals also arise from others factors such as radiation, smoking, inhaling herbicides as well as pollution. These radicals are very reactive and if no antioxidants are available to neutralize them, they can result in the damage of body cells. This therefore indicates that foods supplying antioxidants to the body are necessary. Such foods include dried prunes, artichokes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, wild blueberries, cherries, pecans, plums, apples, walnuts, beans and other legumes. Some spices like cinnamon and ground cloves are also good sources of antioxidants. In broader terms, components such as vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and selenium are excellent antioxidants and foods containing these elements help reduce chances of getting cancer.

Other foods that help protect against cancer include spices. In addition to their property of adding flavor to food, spices such as garlic, turmeric, ginger, coriander, rosemary, basil and curry powder are good immune boosters. Besides, a vast range of fruits and vegetables avail much in the prevention and management of cancer. For instance, apples have been found to reduce the risk of colon, throat, mouth, and lung cancer especially when taken regularly. They contain quercetin, an important nutrient that preserves cells from degeneration, thereby reducing its chances of resulting in cancer. Apples are best eaten raw with the skin as most nutrients are concentrated on the skin. Remarkably, all fruits should be washed thoroughly before eating.

On the other hand, most cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kales, Brussels sprouts have been found to have components that lower the risk of cancer. Actually, colored fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals, which are considered to provide significant oncology solutions as well as a myriad of other health benefits. Finally, one should make it a habit of drinking plenty of clean water, which helps eliminate body toxins and stimulates the immune system.


This article is shared by Phyllis Cottrell.


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Back to the Seed: Boosting Nutrition Through Sprouting

By on October 30, 2012


The world we live in has become a dirty world (true story) – and that’s not just in terms of the air that we breathe or the trash that’s accumulating in our landfills. Even the food products that we eat have become tainted with preservatives and additives that could have adverse effects on our health. These additives might make our food tastier but they do settle inside our bodies and fester until they cause illness and disease. We all have a choice: to live long and healthy eating the right foods or to enjoy present pleasures and suffer from debilitating disease at the end of a short life.

sprouting The choices do sound like an exaggeration. But, the truth is, it’s not at all difficult to eat healthy. It also does not have to be expensive. I came across some material recently about an organic way of eating called sprouting. Advocates of this healthy eating practice make use of a sprout maker to grow sprouts that they eat in order to get their daily nutritional supply. According to studies, these sprouts contain the most amount of vitamins and minerals – as much as ten times more, in fact, than their full-grown counterparts. The nutrients in these sprouts are easily digested and absorbed into the body.

Unlike produce, sprouts are easy to grow right in your own home. It also does not depend on the weather or the season. Tending to your sprout maker does not take up too much time, with just several minutes every day. This gives you exactly the nutrition that you need, when you need it. It sounds simple enough for me. I have yet to come to terms with the idea of eating only sprouts. But, they said that there are delicious recipes with these sprouts as the main ingredients. I could probably give it a try to see what kind of changes it can do for my body.


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Other food related

Cooking With Wine: Tips for Beginners

By on October 15, 2012

More often than not, when you keep doing the same thing in pretty much the same way, you tire of it. What would otherwise be a fulfilling task then turns into a mundane job which you detest just as much as you do your neighbor’s bright orange polka dotted skirt.

t-bone steak

Same goes with cooking. When you cook using the same old techniques, you soon lose the sense of gratification you derive from it. If you want to jazz things up a bit in the kitchen, why not try something new like cooking beef in red wine?

When cooking red meat dishes with wine, it’s best to use young, full-bodied red wine. The function of wine in cooking is to enhance the food’s flavors and aromas without masking it.

Be careful when using wine, just as you would with any seasoning. Too much overpowers, too little does nothing. As you cook with wines, the alcohol evaporates, but the flavors remain. If you use too much wine, the acidity and sweetness may overpower your dish.

Remember not to add the wine just before serving. When cooking with beef, for instance, put the wine in the casserole as you simmer, in order for it to enhance the natural flavors of the meat. As the wine reduces while cooking, it becomes a flavor enhancer. If you add the wine too late, it will give the dish a somewhat harsh quality. If you want to add more wine, wait at least 10 minutes to taste it first. It does take some time for it to work its flavor into your dish.

Cooking with wine introduces your palate to a whole new world of flavor. Start slow, and then feel free to experiment. You’ll then realize that it will bring depth and dimension to the entire cooking experience.

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Tips on Choosing Reliable Cookware

By on October 10, 2012


Cookware is very much like women’s legs: not all are created equal.  Some women’s legs stretch for miles, while some leave much to be desired.  Same goes for cookware.  It’s not all just about pots and pans.  There are a lot of important things to consider when buying quality and reliable cookware.


Choose cookware which conducts heat smoothly and efficiently.  Copper cookware is believed to be the one that does this job the best.  Make sure that the base is thick and flat to make sure that heat is distributed evenly.  Although stainless steel is more popular because of its affordability, durability and convenience, it’s not so good at conducting heat.


When it comes to cookware, non-stick isn’t the end all and be all.  It’s nice to have, but not always necessary. Cooking on a non-stick at high heat can damage the non-stick coating.


fish mozarella
Pizza Mozarella and toppings


Handles are also important.  Choose ones that are riveted, and not screwed-on.  This is safer to use in the oven.  Be sure to choose cookware with good-fitting lids.


The weight of your cookware should be heavy enough to be stable, but not so heavy that you can barely lift it without feeling like you’re pulling a muscle.
More than your culinary expertise, your fate in the kitchen will be greatly determined by the quality of cookware you use.  If you want to try something new and start making pizza, for example, you can buy a pizza stone online @ Pro Cook.
Though ready-to cook pizzas are better to just chuck in your oven or perhaps a  deliverywill be more convenient, I still try once in a while to make them at home with the help my able little helpers, the kids.


Choose the right cookware for the job depending on the kind of cooking you’ll do, and you won’t be wasting precious money on sub-quality pots and pans.


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