Fresh News



“Back to school”. Three words that push fam­i­lies into tem­po­rary mad­ness.

New back­pack, book and sup­ply pur­chases tax fam­ily bud­gets. Clothes shop­ping adds another bur­den on already stressed out par­ents.

The last demand for launch­ing kids back to school might be the sin­gle most sig­nif­i­cant one in terms of A+ per­for­mance.

Appeal­ing break­fast and lunch meals are impor­tant for get­ting stu­dents on track to a good year of learn­ing. How we approach these meals has a broad range of tac­tics.

Past gen­er­a­tions of school kids (ages 612) ate what was put in front of them. The “take it or leave it” mes­sage was enforced to the baby boomers.

Today’s young peo­ple are far more exposed to a vari­ety of foods with vary­ing degrees of nutri­tional value. Many life-​long food habits are formed dur­ing these crit­i­cal years.

Read more: Kid Friendly →

Sum­mer wed­dings take on a spe­cial glow given the venue selected. The happy cou­ple go together like peas and car­rots.

Those two veg­eta­bles aren’t exactly known for being sum­mer pair­ings, though For­rest Gump thinks they are still a match made in heaven.

Corn and toma­toes, toma­toes and cucum­bers, cucum­bers with sweet red onions make solid sum­mer mar­riages.

As chefs and cooks look to step up their weekly menu offer­ings, the best inspi­ra­tions come from avail­able, local, in-​season ingre­di­ents. Recipes, new and revived, get updated as more vari­eties of breads, cheese, oils and spices get our atten­tion.

Suited to sum­mer pair­ings are the fruits and veg­eta­bles we see grouped together on farm­ers mar­ket tables. Green beans, sum­mer squashes, toma­toes, sweet and hot pep­pers, egg­plants, basil, mint and chives piled high tickle the cook­ing gene.

Cre­ative ideas swirl around flat­breads and pizza, gaz­pa­cho and cold chow­ders, grilled veg­gie med­leys and chilled herbal potato sal­ads. Allow regional or global cuisines to push the direc­tion on even the most mun­dane mid­week din­ner plans. Bring sum­mer travel back to the table.

Read more: Wed­ded Bliss →

Doesn’t it seem like we all know some­one who has recently had or is about to have a surgery of some kind?

Besides “Get Well” card greet­ings, feel­ing bet­ter and quick recov­ery depends on the right post surgery meals.

Eat­ing the right foods after surgery can pro­mote faster heal­ing and min­i­mize the swelling, bruis­ing and the inflam­ma­tion that often accom­pany any type of sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure.

Cer­tain foods can also min­i­mize diges­tive upset caused by antibi­otics and pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion caused by pain med­i­cines. Prop­erly fuel­ing the body sup­plies the energy needed to get back to nor­mal rou­tines.

Whole, unprocessed foods are the best way to approach post op meals. Lean pro­teins, fiber filled foods and fer­mented dairy (pro­bi­otics) assist in get­ting things on track diges­tively and heal­ing wise.

Read more: Quick Recovery →

Bril­liant food ideas that save some kitchen time, improve taste or ele­vate pre­sen­ta­tion are those which get adopted and are used over and over again.

Youtube is full of amus­ing video con­tent that show the magic of every­thing from using ice cube trays to den­tal floss in the kitchen.

Tips for mak­ing the per­fect poached egg or sin­gle serve gua­camole are not exactly life-​altering. They can be enter­tain­ing and maybe even make us feel smarter.

The tricks of putting a microwave oven to good use are fas­ci­nat­ing. Dry­ing fresh herbs or effort­lessly peel­ing gar­lic and toma­toes put heat­ing water or broth on the bot­tom rung.

Other brain­storms are fun and make impres­sive food theatre.

Read more: Food Hacks →

Sum­mer eat­ing occa­sions are inher­ently more for­giv­ing. Many foods are hand held, eaten out­doors and have a cer­tain casual put-​together-​look about them.

No need for name call­ing or sham­ing, but sloppy look­ing foods get by this time of year out of sheer good­ness.

Less for­mal pre­sen­ta­tions give us more time pool­side or on the patio. We’re more inter­ested in less meal prep and more face time with our peeps.

A Cap­rese salad of rough cut toma­toes, torn basil leaves and ran­dom Buf­falo moz­zarella pieces is quite suit­able. Pep­pered and oiled, this sum­mer cold plate rivals any pris­tine sliced and shin­gled ver­sion.

Sum­mer fruits and veg­eta­bles are well groomed for a quick toss with herbs, dress­ings and light sea­son­ings. A squeeze of lime, lemon or grape­fruit may be all chopped and sliced mel­ons need.

Grilled corn is a stand out and stand alone messy food to rav­ish over bar­be­cues and cam­pouts. Shaved from the cob, the cooked ker­nels pro­vide a back­drop for wickedly good sal­sas, sal­ads or relishes.

Read more: Shrink Control →

Sum­mer eat­ing occa­sions are inher­ently more for­giv­ing. Many foods are hand held, eaten out­doors and have a cer­tain casual put-​together-​look about them.

No need for name call­ing or sham­ing, but sloppy look­ing foods get by this time of year out of sheer good­ness.

Less for­mal pre­sen­ta­tions give us more time pool­side or on the patio. We’re more inter­ested in less meal prep and more face time with our peeps.

A Cap­rese salad of rough cut toma­toes, torn basil leaves and ran­dom Buf­falo moz­zarella pieces is quite suit­able. Pep­pered and oiled, this sum­mer cold plate rivals any pris­tine sliced and shin­gled ver­sion.

Sum­mer fruits and veg­eta­bles are well groomed for a quick toss with herbs, dress­ings and light sea­son­ings. A squeeze of lime, lemon or grape­fruit may be all chopped and sliced mel­ons need.

Read more: Sloppy Good →

Stay­ing prop­erly hydrated is impor­tant year round but espe­cially crit­i­cal dur­ing hot sum­mer days.

Summer’s heat and humid­ity increases hydra­tion needs because our bod­ies are per­spir­ing more. Increased humid­ity pre­vents per­spi­ra­tion from evap­o­rat­ing or low­er­ing our body tem­per­a­tures.

Dehy­dra­tion can lead to exces­sive thirst, fatigue, cramp­ing, nau­sea, heat exhaus­tion or even stroke. To pre­vent dehy­dra­tion, drink water reg­u­larly and replace lost elec­trolytes with nat­ural sports drinks that don’t con­tain too much sugar.

Fruits and veg­eta­bles with high water con­tent can improve hydra­tion and effec­tively reg­u­late an active human body. Take notice of some sea­sonal favorites that can act as nour­ish­ment and also aid in fluid replen­ish­ment.

There are lots of foods that nat­u­rally aide hydra­tion. Most fruits are very hydrat­ing. Water­melon is an obvi­ous easy choice. Rich in vit­a­min C, beta carotene and lycopene, the appro­pri­ately named water­melon is about 92 per­cent water.

Read more: Drink Up! →

Sure­fire sea­sonal items are the things we antic­i­pate with glee and giddy. The dev­as­tat­ing losses of the Cal­i­for­nia cherry crop this year make the 2019 North­west fruit even more desir­able.

Cher­ries are one of the fresh­est pro­duce items avail­able for a very short dura­tion in the sum­mer.

Tree-​ripened, they are gen­er­ally har­vested, packed and shipped within two days, start to fin­ish.

North­west grow­ing regions are scat­tered through­out Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Idaho, Utah, and Mon­tana. Small dif­fer­ences in the micro­cli­mates allow cher­ries through­out the region to ripen at dif­fer­ent times through the sea­son.

As har­vests win­dows depend on weather, Mother Nature had a heavy hand in this year’s late start. The sea­son has finally arrived. Now through August, we expect to enjoy scrump­tious North­west cherry varieties.

Read more: Cherries! →

The beauty of sum­mer pro­duce is that meal options become more abun­dant with very lit­tle effort. Life activ­i­ties rule. Exces­sive time in the kitchen is counter to the casual vibe we all desire.

Lucky then that fresh herbs, toma­toes, squashes, corn, avo­ca­dos, and let­tuces lay a foun­da­tion for sat­is­fy­ing one bowl or one plate meals.

Pro­tein addi­tions (eggs, poul­try, meat, fish, tofu or grains) enhance an already quick fix ensem­ble of col­or­ful and tasty veg­eta­bles.

Grilled or roasted arti­chokes, egg­plant or sweet pota­toes boost inher­ently good char­ac­ter­is­tics. Their smoky or earth­i­ness traits stand up to any culi­nary scrutiny.

Secret weapons like a very good Bal­samic vine­gar or honey-​whiskey glaze build more depth and dis­tinc­tion. Hardly any prepa­ra­tion is due when sim­ple and high qual­ity ingre­di­ents are in the bag.

Read more: Keep­ing It Simple →

In the land of fresh mar­ket sum­mer pro­duce, size does mat­ter. We can quan­tify cases by weights and by piece counts.

Cal­i­for­nia sum­mer stone fruits and mel­ons are poised to spoil con­sumers this sea­son. It’s impor­tant to know the value of size and how to pur­chase.

With an abun­dance of rain in most major grow­ing areas, we’re see­ing a larger-​size pro­file on early apri­cot, cherry, peach and nec­tarine har­vests. The plea­sure of eat­ing a nine or ten row cherry over, let’s say a twelve row, is super obvi­ous.

The row count, sim­ply put, is how many of the same sized cher­ries will fit lined up in a row across the car­ton. Nine across the box is a nine row cherry. Cher­ries mar­keted as “Nine Rows” mean that not more than 5 per­cent of the cher­ries may be smaller than 7564 of an inch. That is a very large bite of juicy cherry flesh.

Think of the visual impact of a large, plump cherry, glow­ing in gar­net, ver­sus a smaller, not even a mouth­ful (dare we say puny?) piece of fruit. Larger fruit implies higher qual­ity and typ­i­cally com­mands a higher price. Stone fruits like peaches and nec­tarines, will run the full gamut of sizes. Case weights reveal the net weight of the box. Fruit will be tray packed or vol­ume filled.

Sprouts are those skinny lit­tle veg­etable threads that are high on nutri­tion­als. They begin as seeds. When those seeds are exposed to the right tem­per­a­ture and mois­ture, they ger­mi­nate into very young plants. These ten­der young ten­drils are the edi­ble sprouts.

Com­mon sprout vari­eties include grains, beans or leafy sprouts. Three of the most pop­u­lar bean selec­tions are alfalfa, soy and mung bean sprouts. They can be served raw or lightly cooked.

The crunchy, tasty good­ness of bean sprouts can be incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial to over­all health. They are packed with plant pro­tein, con­tain no fat, and are very low in calo­ries.

While sprouts have been a part of East Asian, Indian sub­con­ti­nent and Mid­dle East­ern cui­sine for thou­sands of years, they’ve only recently become pop­u­lar in the rest of the world, includ­ing the West.

Edu­cated fans know that eat­ing sprouts can help pro­mote good health. At the same time, there is quite a bit of debate and dis­agree­ment regard­ing the safety of bean sprouts.

Like any fresh pro­duce that is con­sumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of food­borne ill­ness. Unlike other fresh pro­duce, seeds and beans need warm and humid con­di­tions to sprout and grow. These con­di­tions are also ideal for the growth of bac­te­ria, includ­ing Sal­mo­nella, Lis­te­ria, and E. coli.

Read more: The “S” Word →

Memo­r­ial Day was orig­i­nally known as Dec­o­ra­tion Day.

After the Civil War, it was des­ig­nated as a time to dec­o­rate the graves of fallen sol­diers with flow­ers. By the 20th cen­tury, the day became known as Memo­r­ial Day and was extended to honor all Amer­i­cans who have died in mil­i­tary ser­vice.

As we com­mem­o­rate the coura­geous men and women who’ve paid the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice, let’s look for mind­ful ways to show our respect.

There are many mil­i­tary memo­ri­als, muse­ums, and mon­u­ments through­out the United States. As sum­mer vaca­tions and trips are writ­ten on the cal­en­dar, plan a visit to one of these extra­or­di­nary des­ti­na­tions.

Learn about our mil­i­tary his­tory and get an up-​close– and-​personal per­spec­tive of what our com­bat men and women expe­ri­enced. Pow­er­fully mov­ing, each memo­r­ial has a nar­ra­tive unique to time and place.

Read more: Honor & Respect →

Humans have been pick­ling and pre­serv­ing food for nearly 5000 years.

Queen Cleopa­tra attrib­uted her good health and remark­able looks to her indul­gent diet of pick­les.

The United States gov­ern­ment rationed pick­les in the 1940’s, dur­ing World War II. Forty per­cent of the nation’s pro­duc­tion went to our armed forces.

Aunt Bee (the fic­tional tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter of the 1960’s Andy Grif­fith Show) entered her home­made pick­les in a local con­test, cre­at­ing angst in the fam­ily over her “kerosene cucum­bers”.

Over cen­turies, the love affair for pick­led foods has only grown stronger. Cur­rent pickle trends move well past a cucum­bers only rule. A wave of “DIY” pick­les of fruits and veg­eta­bles in acidic baths or brines keeps us inter­ested.

Sweet, sour, salty, spicy or hot cre­ative and com­plex com­bi­na­tions make us pickle happy. Cus­tomized blends of vine­gars, salts and spices are the for­mula to win­ning secret recipes.

Read more: Pickle Pantry →

It’s not that we hate cake. Most of us have enjoyed a deca­dent slice of choco­late, coconut or red vel­vet cel­e­bra­tory cake before.

It tasted great as we toasted the bride and groom, grad­u­ate, retiree or anniver­sary couple.

Birth­day cakes are a bit dif­fer­ent and very per­sonal. Young ones get tur­tles, trains and car­toon char­ac­ter cakes molded and dec­o­rated to their surprise.

Teens fre­quently bake their own or one for their friend. They choose ice cream cakes, fun­fetti or Oreo cookie cake. Cup­cakes included for teens and sweet­ness is off the charts.

Adults get the wide open cake range from car­rot with cream cheese frost­ing to molten choco­late lava and every­thing in-​between.

Birth­day choices run the spec­trum with­out any guilt over bak­ery pur­chased cakes. Bundts and spe­cialty types go over the top on stun­ning designs. Where to place the can­dles might prob­lem­atic between the swirls, curls, rib­bons and fresh flower petals.

Read more: Birth­day Wishes →

It’s cus­tom­ary on Mother’s Day to honor mom with break­fast in bed or a din­ner menu made on the bar­be­cue.

Col­or­ful flo­ral bou­quets, arrange­ments, and pot­ted bloom­ing plants are an expres­sion of love for those moms who pre­fer botan­i­cal signs of affec­tion.

While the orig­i­nal idea of a day devoted to moth­ers was con­cep­tu­ally a day of observ­ing peace dur­ing wartime, today’s remem­brances have more to do with fam­ily gath­er­ings and activ­i­ties.

There are some moms out there who just want a quiet day of gar­den­ing, read­ing for plea­sure or leisure time. That could include a dream of nap­ping on a lounge chair or ham­mock. Sleep deprived moms are largely fueled by cof­fee and the next item on the daily “to do” list. Check.

Expen­sive pur­chases of jew­elry and the like mat­ter less than catch­ing our col­lec­tive mom breath. Cre­at­ing space and time to slow down is really what moth­ers may need most. In par­tic­u­lar, moth­ers of small chil­dren rel­ish a few min­utes to themselves.

Read more: Mama Mia! →

Even though straw­ber­ries are grown year-​round in Cal­i­for­nia, it seems like we appre­ci­ate them more when they are at peak of sea­son.

Inclement weather this year has kept us guess­ing as to when the robust strawberry-​producing regions around the state will see some good spring vol­umes.

From San Diego to Mon­terey (Watsonville/​Salinas), Cal­i­for­nia has sev­eral straw­berry vari­eties in com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion. Each one has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics, advan­tages and har­vest time.

Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia sci­en­tists have bred straw­berry qual­ity stan­dards for size, firm­ness, shelf life, yield, and resis­tance to dis­ease. By name, some vari­eties include Aro­mas, Camarosa, Camino Real, Chan­dler and Ven­tana.

Con­sumers usu­ally never see the vari­etal named, but we know what we like. Sup­ple, juicy, sweet-​tart berries that make us grate­ful for short­cake, waf­fles and chocolate.

Read more: Oh Berry! →

Every day is Earth Day in the demand­ing world of agri­cul­ture. Today’s farm­ers are keenly aware of the value of water, soil and clean air.

These irre­place­able assets are essen­tial to pro­vid­ing for our food secu­rity. Sus­tain­able farm­ing prac­tices con­nect the dots for farm­ers and the land and sur­round­ing nat­ural habi­tats.

The future of food and that of the planet are insep­a­ra­ble. What we choose to grow, how we grow it and what we want to eat in the future deeply influ­ence the nat­ural envi­ron­ment.

It’s been sug­gested that adopt­ing one of three (Mediter­ranean, pescatar­ian or veg­e­tar­ian) dietary plans would not only improve human health fac­tors (Type 2 dia­betes, can­cer and heart dis­ease) but would also pos­i­tively affect envi­ron­men­tal impact.

Data is stack­ing up to sup­port the links between diet-​health-​environmental challenges.

Read more: Earth Days →

Fresh pineap­ple can be cut, cored and peeled in a vari­ety of ways. Once we learn how, we adapt our meth­ods to how the fruit will be served.

A recent social media sen­sa­tion fea­tured a pineap­ple hack that had hun­dreds of thou­sands of pineap­ple lovers doubt­ing their tech­niques.

The Japan­ese Twit­ter share makes eat­ing pineap­ple as easy as peel­ing away each bite as if peel­ing away an arti­choke leaf.

There were many naysay­ers who went on to chal­lenge the hack with failed video ver­sions of pineap­ple rolling, cut­ting, carv­ing and pulling. It turns out, the smaller, snack pineap­ple ver­sions in the orig­i­nal video may be more accom­mo­dat­ing than what we typ­i­cally find in our local mar­kets.

In any event, its ter­rific to have such wide atten­tion paid to pineap­ples this time of year. Easter cel­e­bra­tions, along with upcom­ing grad­u­a­tions, Mother’s Day and other spring menus put pineap­ple in the spotlight.

Read more: Pineap­ple Glow →

Chan­nel surf­ing through the tele­vi­sion cook­ing shows usu­ally yields at least one good prac­ti­cal tip.

If its not about learn­ing some­thing new, then it def­i­nitely serves up a friendly reminder.

The use of fresh culi­nary herbs is one such recent prompt. Any recipe really comes alive with the power of fresh herbs.

How­ever sub­tle or heavy-​handed in use, herbs have the magic to trans­form any appe­tizer, entrée or dessert. Con­sider their astound­ing sen­sory appeal. Visual, taste and smell. Inhale.

Coin­ci­dence to the tele­vi­sion watch­ing week­end was atten­dance at a din­ner party of a really fan­tas­tic home cook. Full dis­clo­sure, she is an indus­try pro­fes­sional who knows her way around good food, excep­tional restau­rants and many signed cook books.

Read more: Culi­nary Heroes →

The word veg­etable is based on culi­nary and cul­tural tra­di­tions, not science.

Edi­ble plants used to make savory dishes are typ­i­cally con­sid­ered vegetables.

Herba­cious plants that have edi­ble leaves, stems, flow­ers, or roots all claim the veg­etable moniker.

We exclude some plants that bear fruits, nuts, legumes, pulses and grains. Iron­i­cally, we then arbi­trar­ily deem cour­gettes (squashes, pump­kins, cucum­bers, and the like) in the veg­gie group.

As Spring emerges, flow­ers are in bloom. There are some veg­eta­bles that tech­ni­cally are flow­ers too. We’re eager for them as the shift of sea­sons hails to locally-​sourced Cal­i­for­nia vegetables.

Aspara­gus– Cal­i­for­nia pro­duces more than sev­enty per­cent of the nation’s fresh mar­ket aspara­gus. Peak of sea­son depends entirely on weather. This flow­er­ing peren­nial blooms and sprouts on cue depend­ing on the elements.

Read more: Flower, Veg or Duo? →

Have you ever cooked with grapes? We asked our team mem­bers, and most of them said, “No, I just eat them fresh,” so as you might imag­ine, we were met with a lot of skep­ti­cism when we decided to host a recipe chal­lenge with grapes. Seven brave chefs took on the chal­lenge, and supris­ingly, not one of them made a salad.

Fruits from Chile kindly spon­sored this recipe chal­lenge, and pro­vided 3 Ama­zon gift cards for the 3 win­ning recipes. Account Man­ager Romana Har­ris won first place with her Grape Cookie Bars and Zesty Grape Ice Cream. The two dishes she made com­ple­mented each other very well; the grape fla­vor was there but not over­pow­er­ing. Buyer Gina Back­ovich brought her top-​notch gourmet taste to the table once again, craft­ing a Chardon­nay Grape Pep­per­corn Tar­ragon Broil that won her sec­ond place. Direc­tor of Pro­cure­ment and queen of hor d’oeuvres & hos­pi­tal­ity Traci Ennis won third place with her Roasted Grapes on Bal­samic Cros­tini.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the win­ners & thank you to all of the par­tic­i­pants. We enjoyed a very tasty Tues­day thanks to you!

Check out all of the recipes & pho­tos below:

Read more: Grapes from Chile Recipe Challenge →

Pitch­ers and catch­ers reported for duty mid-​February to attend early work­outs.

Spring train­ing gives spec­ta­tors a rea­son to break free from winter’s grip and look for­ward to baseball’s open­ing day games.

Hall­marks of tra­di­tional base­ball game snacks are peanuts and Cracker Jacks. The worry for those suf­fer­ing from peanut aller­gies does not melt away when they go to a ball game.

Enjoy­ing America’s favorite pas­time is get­ting to be a bit friend­lier towards those with adverse reac­tions to roasted peanuts. Sev­eral ball­parks offer ded­i­cated whole seat sec­tions, suites or even entire game days devoted to no peanuts allowed.

While no sta­dium can tout being com­pletely “peanut-​free”, being “peanut con­trolled” gives fam­i­lies some mea­sure of assurance.

Read more: Spring Training →

The Spring equinox brings a bal­ance of light and dark­ness as the sun rises from the true east and sets in the true west.

The first day of Spring arrives this Wednes­day, no mat­ter what the weather reports might claim.

Most of us in the United States wel­come the new sea­son pos­si­bil­i­ties and the promise of milder days and nights. No one more so, per­haps, than the Cal­i­for­nia farmer.

It’s been a cold, soggy win­ter in the Golden State. This year’s storms are a dra­matic change com­pared to last year, which was extremely dry.

Snow totals are above aver­age in most of the west. The high­est snow to water totals are in California’s Sierra Nevada moun­tains, which is great news for farm­ers of the San Joaquin and Sacra­mento val­leys.

At this writ­ing, num­bers are about 200 per­cent higher than 2018 totals. This is good news for the reser­voirs in west­ern states.

Read more: Ver­nal Equinox →

Cab­bages belong to the Bras­sica fam­ily of cole crops and are closely related to broc­coli, cau­li­flower and Brus­sels sprouts.

This cru­cif­er­ous veg­etable is widely used around the world in prepa­ra­tions from raw to cooked, shred­ded to leafy rolls.

While we most likely think of a com­mon cab­bage head as that large, green can­non­ball type, there are other vari­eties that make spe­cific appli­ca­tions and recipes stand out.

Red Cab­bage – Sim­i­lar to green cab­bage, this has dark reddish-​purple leaves. The fla­vor is a lit­tle deeper and earth­ier. Pick heads that are tight and heavy for their size. It adds great color to slaws and cold sal­ads.

Napa Cab­bage – Also called Chi­nese cab­bage, this oblong-​shaped cab­bage has wide, thick, crisp stems and frilly yellow-​green leaves. The fla­vor is sweeter and milder com­pared to heartier green cab­bage. Its soft tex­ture works great as a fill­ing for dumplings or as a del­i­cate fresh salad com­po­nent.

Savoy Cab­bage – This attrac­tive cab­bage is round in shape but the leaves are deep green and crin­kled. The fla­vor is mild and earthy. The leaves are ten­der even when eaten raw. Heads should be com­pact and tight and will yield to light pres­sure due to the crin­kled leaves. Soups, sal­ads and stir fry dishes are all good savoy cab­bage methods.

Read more: Cab­bage Head →

Food trends come and go. Some which are started in metro cities like San Fran­cisco and New York may com­pletely skip over the entire mid­dle sec­tion of the nation.

One trend look­ing to accel­er­ate this year is the seduc­tion of sour. Adding a punch of sour can bal­ance rich or savory dishes.

Global cuisines heav­ily influ­ence our own restau­rant offer­ings and choices. Take a page from Per­sian, Korean, Fil­ipino or even Ger­man menus to inspire new twists on fla­vor pair­ings.

Sour tast­ing foods are indica­tive of higher acid­ity, along with tart­ness or tangi­ness. Bit­ter foods are mostly attrib­uted to unpleas­ant, sharp and some­times unde­sir­able foods. Sour cov­ers pop­u­lar Greek yogurts, kim chees, sour krauts and other fer­men­ta­tions.

Sour fla­vors have piqued our col­lec­tive inter­est, on par with the spicy food addic­tion. Con­sumer demand toward tangy fla­vors has more to do with a move­ment toward well­ness, arti­sanal foods, and eth­nic cuisines.

Read more: Seduced by Sour →

Cities across Amer­ica have been imple­ment­ing bans on plas­tic bags, plas­tic straws, poly­styrene and other mate­ri­als used for food and bev­er­ages.

Retail and food­ser­vice estab­lish­ments have seen oper­at­ing costs rise along with alter­na­tive pack­ag­ing costs.

Con­sumer expec­ta­tions are higher and grow­ing in the realm of single-​use, dis­pos­able items, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to take out foods. Lit­ter and waste are not the only two con­sid­er­a­tions.

The gen­eral pub­lic is sen­si­tive to the envi­ron­men­tal and human health issues related to the overuse of plas­tics. Overuse of the seduc­tive one and done, throw-​aways is get­ting national atten­tion.

In sev­eral cities, cus­tomers must request plas­tic straws for drinks. Some have begun to carry their own bam­boo or metal straws to juice joints. We are all, by now, accus­tomed to pro­vid­ing our own reusable tote bags for shop­ping at retail stores.

Read more: Beyond Straws →

Gin­ger, lemon, honey and mint. Four fairly com­mon kitchen ingre­di­ents, they part­ner well as a win­ter home rem­edy for what might be ail­ing us.

The chang­ing win­ter weather con­di­tions and con­stant fluc­tu­a­tion in tem­per­a­tures taxes our resis­tance to catch­ing a cold or the flu.

Immu­nity lev­els tend to dip in colder months. Con­fined to indoor envi­ron­ments, expo­sure to other human’s cough­ing, sneez­ing and wheez­ing puts us at higher risk for those nasty germs and viruses.

Calm jan­gled nerves and sup­press early symp­toms by get­ting into the kitchen. OTC in the pantry means some­thing alto­gether dif­fer­ent from the vast over the counter drug­store nasal, throat and body ache solu­tions.

Stay­ing hydrated and flush­ing out the sys­tem with avail­able fresh herbs, fruits and veg­eta­bles puts the home phar­macy at our fingertips.

Read more: Win­ter Kitchen →

Flow­ers speak a lan­guage all their own. We give them for hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, mile­stones and achieve­ments and to mourn the loss of someone’s pass­ing.

Var­i­ous flower stems con­vey mean­ing through color, scent, and their cul­tural indi­ca­tions.

Bound by tra­di­tion, Valentine’s Day gifts typ­i­cally include cards, candy and in some cases jew­elry. Flow­ers nearly always accom­pany any of those presents.

For many cen­turies, flow­ers were used to con­vey roman­tic mes­sages with­out hav­ing to ver­bal­ize the direct inten­tions. Par­tic­u­larly in the Vic­to­rian Era, it was con­sid­ered impo­lite to openly state emo­tions or show phys­i­cal affec­tion.

The vehi­cle most often used to con­vey roman­tic inter­est or courtship was flow­ers. Spe­cific bou­quet arrange­ments, col­ors or types of flow­ers used would send a quiet lovers message.

Read more: Be Mine →

When we started the sign-​up sheet for the Blue­ber­ries from Chile Recipe Chal­lenge, we assumed we would end up hav­ing a 12 course dessert tast­ing menu. The morn­ing of Feb­ru­ary 4th, we were in for a sur­prise when we entered the con­fer­ence room. “It smells like chicken in here!”

Of the 15 dishes cre­ated, one stood out right from the begin­ning: Linda Luka’s Blue­berry But­ter­milk Chicken. It was truly a win­ner, win­ner, chicken din­ner kind of sit­u­a­tion. Fruits from Chile kindly spon­sored this recipe chal­lenge, fea­tur­ing a Fit­bit Charge 3 as the grand prize.

Check out all of the pho­tos below:

Read more: Blue­ber­ries from Chile Recipe Challenge →

The 2019 Lunar New Year starts on the fifth of Feb­ru­ary. Com­ing off the Year of the Dog, this is the begin­ning of the Year of the Pig in the Chi­nese zodiac. The ele­ment for the year is Earth.

The promise for the new year is one of joy, cel­e­bra­tion and suc­cess in all areas of life.

The pig (known also as the boar) is said to be gen­er­ous, social and sta­ble.

An Earth Pig year com­bines a real­is­tic but happy-​go-​lucky socia­ble pig com­bined with the steady and sen­si­ble char­ac­ter­is­tics of Earth, it her­alds a reward­ing and pros­per­ous year. This will be a year to enjoy friend­ships and social con­tacts and come together for the com­mon good.

Read more: Earth + Pig + Joy →