The Secret to Cooking: A Full Refrigerator

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

Can you relate to this? You start out with the best intentions. You intend to cook. You even search the web and pick out recipes or make a list. But then something comes up. You get distracted. You stay at work late or go out with your friends. By the time you get home it is eight thirty and you have nothing in your kitchen to cook and no desire to go back out to buy groceries.

The secret to cooking is having a full refrigerator and cupboard. If it is eight oclock at night and you walk into your kitchen to find an empty refrigerator, the chances are pretty low that you are going to cook a meal. Entropy takes overand dinner ends up a series of snacks, cobbled together from the last of the crackers you find in the cupboard and the last bit of hummus in the refrigerator.

To keep your kitchen full, you must have a consistent weekly food shopping plan. Isnt it funny how we can plan our work weeks, our vacations, our family obligations, but somehow, we completely avoid planning in time to shop and cook?

Here are the basics to making a food shopping plan that makes cooking accessible even on weeknights.

1. Create a handwritten or typed grocery list. Make a list of all the staples that you like to have in your kitchen. Also add the ingredients of your favorite recipes. You can use this list every week and keep adding to it as you learn about new foods or recipes.

2. Keep the list handy and up to date. Post the list on your refrigerator. Check off what you run out of as the week progresses. That way you won’t forget those vital ingredients.

3. Plan. Pick the same time each week to make your weekly plan. Sunday morning is a great time for this. During this time, determine which nights you’ll be cooking and what ingredients you’ll need. Then update your shopping list for the week.

4. Shop. Grab the list on your way out the door and do your shopping between your other errands. It is easiest to pick the same shopping day each week to create a habit. Your shopping time should be reduced immensely now that you have a list and a plan.

5. Use Fresh Direct or another shopping service if you are out of town during your shopping day. If you know you are going to be out of town for the weekend or just incredibly swamped, use Fresh Direct. Your shopping list gets saved online and you can order from anywhere.

6. Always have the ingredients for a few Non-Perishable Meals on hand. For those times when you just dont have any fresh greens and veggies in your refrigerator, make sure you have some healthy non-perishable items on hand such as canned tuna and salmon, cans of beans and healthy soups.

A toast of wine to a healthy living

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

If you have read the story of the “French Paradox”, then maybe you are one of those wine drinkers who swirled and rejoiced after knowing the good side of drinking. It was in the mid 90s when this story was released to the media, saying that most French people who have a high cheese diet were not suffering from heart attacks because of their moderate and steady intake of wine. After this discovery, more researchers have shared their findings to defend this habit, which they were proclaiming to have many health benefits. An example of this is about the healing powers of Resveratrol. This antioxidant is said to be found in red grape skins or red wine.

Other benefits would be the reduction of cases on coronary heart disease as mentioned above which was made by the researchers in University of California in the year 1995. Six years after, another research was by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prove its effects on lowering the risk of stroke. A year after, William Harvey Research Institute researchers have backed up this findings and has proclaimed that this is possible because the arteries are kept clean by a substance called polyphenol which is found in red grape skin. Same year when the American thoracic Society declared about the lung health benefits of wine from its antioxidants content. It was also said that ulcer-causing bacteria were reduced because of drinking wine, which was according to the American journal of Gastroenterology in 2003.

In the year 2004, several studies are still made and it was found out that wine also benefits the elderly by giving them healthier blood vessels. It was also said to be responsible for giving stronger bones and decreased ovarian cancer risk for women. For men, it is proven to have been lowering the risk of heart attack for those with high blood pressure. Another is the anti-aging effects found in red grape skins and the protein in red grape skin killed that cancer cells.

In other words, these researchers were saying that wine is in fact, beneficial to our health. However, drinking it should be done in moderation. Anything in excess of this could reverse all the benefits mentioned. So drink moderately, and cheers to good health!

How to make meat pizza at home

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

Pizza is word that makes us hungry. It’s crispy crust, melted cheese pooled on top of the ingredients and a heavy taste of pizza sauce. Distinct flavors in every bite.

You are going to make a good pizza only when your imaginations are to make a delicious pizza at home. Perhaps your image is more like thick, doughy crust, stringy cheese and a heavy taste of pizza sauce. If this description fits your thoughts, then you’re more likely to buying pizza – maybe frozen, maybe delivered, but definitely not homemade.

Great delicious meat pizzas can be made at home. All that’s needed is a decent crust and all imagination. Let’s try to think beyond mozzarella and pepperoni. Making pizza is really fun and an open faced sandwich and mostly any sandwich can be turned into a pizza.

As an example, a pizza can be made with leftover ham. You can use a pre-baked crust; can spread it with mustard rather than a tomato-based sauce, and after all with Swiss chess. There are hundred of combinations, make pizza with your imagination.

Meat Pizza Recipes for Everyone

There is nothing impossible about making pizza at home, if you want to start off easy way, why not use a readymade pizza crust and try to experiment using the toppings a bit? Making dough is basically very easy as well and making a pizza from scratch is something your whole family will love you for.

There are many kinds of meat and poultry; they are hugely satisfying and indulgent, which are great on a meat pizza. If you like to top with beef, ham, meatballs, chicken, bacon, turkey or all of these, you will like this meat pizza recipe.

Especially sausage lovers will love flavorsome sausage pizza, topped up with mushroom, bell pepper, onion and cheese as well as delicious sausage. If you think you all are real carnivore, you can also top your pizza extra high with meat. That is the best thing about making pizza at home.

International Meat Pizzas

Pizzas are very versatile and you can recreate your favorite meal on top of a pizza base. For example, Mexican food is popular and our Mexican chicken pizza gives you all the flavors of Mexico, including corn, avocado, cilantro and fajita style chicken on a thin and crispy pizza base. If you favor authentic Italian pizzas, our turkey Alfredo pizza should tantalize your taste buds. With the mouthwatering combination of turkey, Parmesan, spinach, garlic and more, this is another of our most popular meat pizza recipes.


How to Keep Food Fresh Naturally

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

How many times have we brought food and then forgotten about it only to remember it because it begins to stink? Against this, you cannot do anything, but you can ensure that your food lasts longer and keeps fresh.

How? There are many things you can do, such as regularly clean your refrigerator and regularly check the food in there and also that you keep in the cupboards or anywhere else. But its not just about checking them. This cannot prevent anything. All you will be doing is throwing away food items before they stink up the entire kitchen. So, what can you do to keep the food fresh?

Practical List of Tips for Ensuring Food is Cleaner and Fresher: 1) Spread some cloves on and around the marble surface of your kitchen, and also spread some cloves under the sink.  Why? The Cloves keeps ants away.

2) Place some bay leaves inside your bags of dough, rice and the rest of the packs that insects prefer. Why? Bay leaves keep insects and other such lice away from food products. By placing bay leaves inside the packets, we ensure that insects do not reside there. But please remember to change the bay leaves once every three months.

3) Place half a potato in the refrigerator. Why? If there is any kind of bad smell from food or cooked items, the half potato will absorb it. To make sure that this works, remember to exchange the potato every three days.

4) Store eggs with the pointed side down. Why? Storing eggs with the pointed side down keeps them fresh for a longer period.

5) Place a few cubes of sugar in the jar where you store American cheese. Why? When you place two or three cubes of sugar with the American cheese in an air tight jar, the sugar absorbs the moisture and prevents the cheese from getting bad.

6) Do not store tomatoes and cucumbers in the same draw. Why? Tomatoes give out gases that cause cucumbers to rot faster so make sure that you keep these two apart.

7) Do not store apples along with the rest of the fruits and vegetables. Why? Apples give out certain gases that cause fruits and vegetables to rot.

8) Place slices of apples or raw potatoes in the bread compartment or jar. Why? By adding a few slices of raw potatoes or apples with the bread, you ensure that the bread remains fresh for longer than usual.

9) Store radish in a vessel along with some water. Why? You should store radish in a vessel along with water because water will keep the radish fresh and crisp for a long time. For the same reason, if the radishes have shriveled, place them in a jar of cold water. Water will restore the radish to its previous splendor.

Conclusion: Here, I have presented only a few of the more practical actions you should follow to ensure that the food you and your family consume remains fresh and tasty.

How To Get The Best Out Of A Wine Sale

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

With many wine sales to choose from at this time of year, it’s always useful to know how to pick out the best. Simply follow a few handy tips below to ensure that you get top quality wines at bargain prices and steer clear from all the rubbish that inevitably will be lining the supermarket shelves.

Firstly, beware of the wine sale scams. Unfortunately, some wine sales aren’t as genuine as they may first seem. In order to display the best possible discount, some retailers have a nasty habit of upping their list prices immediately before they discount them. The best way to avoid this is to keep an eye on the prices in the lead up to the wine sale.

Similarly, it’s worth looking out for a discounted wine, rather than wine bought in especially for a wine sale as the quality will be that much better. Again, the best way to do this is to try to familiarise yourself with the wines available prior to the wine sale.

It’s always good to choose wines that you like. Although you can get some great deals in wine sales, you can also end up wasting your money on wines that you don’t really want. So don’t just buy what’s on discount, instead look out for wines that you know you will enjoy and that way you won’t be left feeling disappointed.

Having said all of that, wine sales are a good time to experiment with your wines. So if you fancy trying a wine that you think you might like or that is a variation on what you normally would buy, then a wine sale is the time to do this.

Finally watch out for the rubbish. In particular, look out for any white and rosé wines that are in a wine sale as they may be past their best. Although wine does not have a best before date, most whites and roses should be drunk within 12 months so any vintage earlier than 2006 is best avoided.

Barbeque Techniques: Two Methods to Consider

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

When it comes to barbequing, there are two main schools of thought for the techniques that you can use.

The first of these techniques – and the most popular method for those who grill in their back yards – is the style where the food is cooked directly over the source of heat. This way, the food is rapidly cooked on a hot grill suspended directly over the charcoals, the wood, or the gas burners. Rarely is the lid ever closed. Any foods, including the most tender cuts, hamburgers, steaks, kabobs of all kinds, chicken, and even vegetables are quickly seared and cooked to perfection using this technique. If sauces are desired, they can be added before hand, during the cooking process, or even after the food comes off the grill. These choices will all create different and enjoyable tastes and flavors.

The second barbeque cooking technique uses heat indirectly. This is more appropriate when you’re cooking much larger or whole cuts of meat, such as especially thick steaks, roasts, a whole hog, or a pork shoulder. When you’re cooking using this method, the food is cooked away from the actual source of heat. This usually requires a water pan of some kind in order to maintain the moisture level of the food. The temperatures generally sit in around 250ºF. During this cooking method, the lid of the barbeque remains closed most of the time, and the length of the cooking is much longer than in the first method. When you’re using an indirect barbeque cooker, there is usually an additional fire box that allows you to combine charcoal and wooden logs for burning. This allows the heat and the smoke to rise through the cooking chamber where the meat is, so that it is heated perfectly. The rule of thumb of this technique is a low temperature for a long time.

No matter which method you use, it’s important not to cook your meat too quickly. If the internal temperature of your meat rises too quickly as you cook it, the water and the fat within it will be expelled before the collagen is able to melt. This means that your cut will be dry and tough. However, you cannot cook too slowly or you will risk a bacterial contamination. Though there is a fine line for barbequing properly, it’s important to find that line and stick to it.

If you’re already dealing with a cut of meat that is tough, such as a brisket or a pork roast, consider cooking slowly as the collagen adds flavor to the meat. If you buy a less tough, more expensive cut, you can cook at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This is why ribs and steaks take such a short time to cook, while pork shoulders or beef brisket can run up to 20 hours.

As a final note, it’s important to have fun while you barbeque! Your pleasure will come through in your cooking as it will leave you motivated, and willing to try new and interesting things.

When to Use High Heat on Your Barbeque

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

While some people really seem to have a knack for barbequing – always grilling up a perfect meal – for the rest of us, it is something that must be learned, not something that just comes naturally. Believe it or not, there is technique involved. It’s not just a matter of following your cooking instincts.

One of the main secrets of knowing exactly how to make a beautiful, tasty meal every time is knowing how and when to use high heat or very hot coals.

Though you may have heard the term “seal in the juices” when it came to barbequing, you may even have tried some techniques every now and then, but unless you’re doing it properly, you won’t be getting it right. For the best results, many barbeque chefs cook vegetables and medium-rare steaks by first using a high heat in order to sear the outside of the food and seal both the juices and the flavors inside.

Though this technique is good for foods that you don’t want to cook thoroughly, it shouldn’t be overused. If you’re cooking a meat such as hamburgers or pork ribs, they must be cooked all the way through in order to avoid bacterial contamination. Therefore, searing them to seal in the juices doesn’t do anything but give you dry, or charred food.

This can be explained by understanding the way that meat cooks on a barbeque. As it is heated, the cells and the fibers of the meat will tighten, squeezing out much of the juices. Therefore, if you’re only cooking a meat partially, searing it will help to seal in the juices by quickly cooking the outer layers of the food. However, if you should leave the food on this high heat, the inner layers will cook too quickly, vaporizing all of your precious and tasty juices. Try the technique a few times until you get it right. Pay attention to what you’re doing, so that when you do accomplish the right technique, you know how to repeat it.

When you are using high heat, the rule of thumb is to cook on each side for a maximum of five minutes (a total of ten minutes). After ten minutes, anything that you’re cooking should be moved aside to a medium heat so that it can finish cooking at that lower temperature.

There are many ways to recognize how hot your fire really is, to make sure that it’s always perfect for any kind of food that you’re cooking on your barbeque. One of the most common tests is simply to hold your hand a couple of inches away from the grill. If you’re only able to keep it there for about a second, your grill is at a high heat (that is, over 600ºF). If you’re able to hold your hand there fore a few seconds, it’s at a medium heat (around 400ºF). At a lower heat, you’ll be able to hold your hand there for over five seconds.

Remember, when it comes to high heat, practice makes perfect, and the perfect is well worth the practice!

BBQ Myths Getting You Down?

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

If you’re cooking your food properly on your barbeque, you’re getting delightful results every time. However, all too frequently, people are falling victims to very common barbeque myths. It’s not because we’re gullible or stupid in any way. Many barbeque myths are so well known and so wide spread that they are more frequently passed on as truth than they are as the myths that they truly are.

For example, many people love to try to get perfect grill lines on their barbequed foods. Either straight lines, or the more fancy criss-crossed ones are often accepted as a sure sign of the expert barbeque chef. What this involves is flipping your meat, so that the lines are on the both sides. However, many people don’t ever get to achieve this art form because they have fallen victim to one of the main barbeque myths. They believe that flipping or poking your grilled food makes it tough – this is a myth. In fact, flipping your meat not only creates great grill lines, but it also makes certain that you cook more evenly.

While you read up on the swath of information available for providing tips and tricks for the best results on your barbeque, make sure that your source is reliable. While some of this information is very helpful, much of it can be exaggerated or based on what the author “thinks” rather than what is actually known.

The belief that poking or flipping your food will let all of the juices out and make it tough would only work if your food was shaped exactly like a balloon – which it isn’t. Meat is made up of hundreds of small cells, each filled with its own moisture and juices. Should you poke your meat with a fork while it’s on the grill, you may pop one or two cells, but it won’t let all of the juices out…only that of the cells you’ve punctured. Certainly, if you repeatedly stab and puncture your meat, many of the cells will be broken, and you’ll lose a great deal of your juices, but other than in a horror movie, there really isn’t any reason to treat your meat that way.

Similarly, flipping your meat doesn’t let a great deal of the juices out either. After all, flipping doesn’t puncture any of the cells, so as long as you don’t flip it and smack it hard, then you won’t lose much by the way of juices at all. Be gentle…it’s already dead!

The problem with flipping your meat on the grill lies when cooks use their spatulas and other tools to squish the meat after it has been flipped, often trying to squeeze out the grease. By flattening the cells in the meat, much of the moisture and juices are pushed out, leaving the meat dry.

So flip those burgers and poke that steak! Get those grill lines just the way you want them. Your food will always be good and juicy, just like the pros do it.

Essential Wine and Food Pairing

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

The basic golden rule is balance, neither your wine nor your food should be stronger than the other. Choose them to be complimentary to each other. A lightly flavoured dish should have a nice light wine, while food with depth and body can handle some of the heavier, more robust wine varieties. Simply think of your wine as a flavour enhancer, just as you would a spice, and strive not to overpower the tastes of either one. This is the one theme that underlies all the other nuances of food and wine pairings, of which there are many. If you achieve good balance, you have covered all the rest perfectly.

Here is a short list I have prepared. Please visit our main website for more wine and food pairing ideas and other free wine making related articles.

Starters etc

Green Vegetables – Chablis or Chardonnay  Caviar – Dry Champagne  Quiche – Pinot Gris, Dry White Burgundy, Pouilly Fume Soups – Clear broth soups do not pair well with wine. Creamy or rich soups pair well with a Dry White Burgundy. Thick earthy soups pair well with a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais  Fruits other than Citrus Pair with a Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Port, or Sauternes


Camembert, Brie, and other soft cheese that is not over ripe pair well with just about any red wine such as Red Burgundy, Zinfandel, and Cabernet

Dutch Cheeses such as Gouda pair well with the above mentioned wines as well.

Milder Cheeses fair better with a fruiter red wine such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, or Beaujolais

Most Blue Cheeses have such intense flavours that a sweet wine is needed just to balance the flavours. A Late Harvest or Ice Gewurztraminer, Sauternes, or Johannesburg Riesling should do the trick. Milder blue cheese such as Gorgonzola pair well with a fruity red wine.

Goat Cheeses in general pair well with a dry white wine. Stronger goat cheese is paired better with a sweeter white wine, similar to the wines paired with blue cheese.

As a rule, red wines go well with mild to sharp cheese. Pungent and intensely flavoured cheese do well with a sweeter wine. A little history note: In European Countries it is customary to serve the best wine of the meal with cheese or a cheese course.


Any fine red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Zinfandel, or Pinot Noir


Paring can go many directions depending of the preparation. Lighter more subtle preparations pair better with a White Burgundy, Chardonnay, or Chablis. If the dish is heavy and spicy, it will pair better with a lighter fruiter red wine such as Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, or Beaujolais.

Adventures in Cake Decorating

Published November 22, 2011 by todbrugman

I am no baker.That is I’d by no means put myself forward as a cook at all, unless you’d call making spaghetti and browning minced-meat for bolognaise sauce culinary achievements.However, there’s something about special occasions that brings the frustrated pastry chef out of me and sends me galoping into the kitchen, my head jammed with intricate cake decorating ideas.

It all started when my wife was approaching her thirtieth birthday. I decided to mark her entry into her fourth decade by baking her an amazing cake.I imagined her admiring gaze as she watched me pull this monstrous cake from the hidden depths of our under-used oven.By this time I was so keen to get started that I had to force myself to calm down, sit down, and get my ideas down on paper.I began to sketch a few decorating schemes in red pen on the back of an envelope in time-honored tradition, and eventually decided on a colossal triple-layer chocolate gateau with an enormous suspension bridge spanning a river of blue icing and a little plastic model of our family car perched in safety on top.

I’d like to be able to say that my cake decorating ideas usually come out as gorgeous as I imagine them, but I’m just not so good at being economical with the truth.In this case, the lovely triple-layer chocolate supension bridge cake decorating fantasy turned out as three limp, amorphous layers, crisp at the edges and doughy in the middle, featuring a delightful San Andreas fault running through the centre, as if there had been an earthquake in the oven.It tasted alright but it looked like something that had been salvaged from its own private earthquake.

So when my son’s birthday came around, I resolved to try again.On this occasion I decided to plumb for a less imposing single layer cake swearing that I would sit tight and wait for the cake to cool before even thinking about decorating it.I reckoned that by waiting I would avoid the fault lines that had swallowed up the bridge and family car in the adventure on top of my wife’s cake.Instead of cooking up intricate cake decorating ideas on the back of an envelope like a power-possessed architect, I resorted to a basic design that would be difficult for even me to make a hash of.Really, it’s one thing being able to come up with tons of great decorating ideas, but quite another to pull them off.

I made the body of the cake and let it cool down according to the promise I’d made to myself (and according tothe instructions on the box).It took all my will-power not to dive in brandishing my trusty icing spatula.

This time, I’d chosen to frost with chocolate fudge icing and top it off with my own sketch of a lamb in the centre, which was meant to resemble the cuddly toy my son sleeps with at night, ringed with 5 candles.I figured if I held my natural cake decorating flamboyance in check, the cake would come out okay.And it did.Until I attempted to transfer my creation from the kitchen counter to the fancy plate I’d prepared, lost my balance and dropped it.The result resembled the aftermath of an earthquake, including fires and distraught wildlife.My wife commented on the ‘natural disaster theme’ that ran through my cake decorating repertoire, which was funny, I guess. At least they both had a good laugh.