As 2019 comes to a close, make time for some per­sonal reflec­tion and self-​care. Renewal is part of let­ting go and embrac­ing the future.

The well wishes and greet­ings for the New Year can already be heard around offices, sales floors, kitchens and pro­duce cool­ers.

Good genes can help you live a long, healthy life, but they are no guar­an­tee that you’ll be an active older adult.

The aver­age Amer­i­can life expectancy has risen to 78.6 years, accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention’s National Cen­ter for Health Sta­tis­tics. Your life span is deter­mined by a com­plex mix of hered­ity, lifestyle and envi­ron­ment. The way you man­age your body, mind and spirit affects how you feel as you age.

It serves to rea­son, and is well doc­u­mented, that one’s atti­tude toward aging can influ­ence future health.

Read more: The Last Bite →

Fes­tiv­i­ties of the sea­son yield to indulging in hol­i­day cheer. Hot and cold bev­er­ages, alco­holic and non, have grown up by using bet­ter ingre­di­ents.

Craft cock­tails dis­tin­guish them­selves by their bold inclu­sions of fresh, well-​balanced ingre­di­ents.

Happy hour has got­ten more cheer­ful by elim­i­nat­ing pre­dictable canned juices and pow­dered mixes.

Try fresh blood oranges, tan­ger­ines, lemons, limes, grape­fruits, and even mel­ons for the body or base of a cock­tail or hol­i­day bev­er­age. With purer fla­vors and col­ors, there are no addi­tional addi­tives and preser­v­a­tives to weigh down or mask the drinks. Antiox­i­dants and polyphe­nols from most fresh fruits are just an added bonus.

Small batched drinks using house-​made syrups and infu­sions are keep­ing it real. Shaken or stirred, even the ice mat­ters more these days. Pre­ferred are the large, clean cubes that don’t rapidly melt and dilute the drink.
From mulled wines to sparkling drinks, unpack a lineup of good sips through fresh, sea­sonal and bold fla­vors. Fresh herbs add excite­ment and awaken the senses. Mint, rose­mary and thyme, whole or mud­dle, impart a unique taste pro­file. Pome­gran­ate juice and arils come to mind.

Read more: Hol­i­day Cheer →

‘Tis the sea­son for serv­ing up spe­cial treats for every hol­i­day fes­tiv­ity. Snacks, drinks and baked goods have per­mis­sion to go a lit­tle hol­i­day crazy.

Ordi­nary bev­er­ages and plain Jane snack foods get a waver on being one hun­dred per­cent healthy this time of year.

The addi­tion of alco­hol, sugar and but­ter adds up over the extended hol­i­day period. From din­ner par­ties and open houses to office potlucks and neigh­bor­hood gath­er­ings, con­sump­tion of those off limit ingre­di­ents is off the charts.

Good news then that pro­duce offer­ings give us a chance to include some fla­vor boost­ers that are rel­a­tively harm­less. If not for calo­ries alone, their wel­comed pos­i­tive affects seem to present “magic pow­ers”.

The peels of cit­rus fruits such as oranges, man­darins, tan­ger­ines, lemons and grape­fruit con­tain potently scented nat­ural oils that release into the air when the peel is bro­ken. Their scent has been proven to be a pow­er­ful mood booster.

Read more: Sugar & Spice →

Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus vari­eties are so worth the mar­ket­ing hype. Navel oranges in par­tic­u­lar have been the stead­fast fruit we’ve come to rely on for healthy win­ter snack­ing.

Out­side the navel mar­gins are so many juicy cit­rus hand fruits that excite the food world.

Sat­suma man­darins are a Cal­i­for­nia lovely. Believe it or not, they may have first arrived here 700 years ago from Japan via Jesuits who planted them on the banks of the Mis­sis­sippi River in New Orleans.

Grow­ers in the Golden State took it from there. This loose-​skinned, sub-​acid fruit has a zip­per peel and is seed­less. What more can one ask for except the minia­ture size is per­fect for sin­gle serve snack­ing.

Com­pared to oranges in gen­eral, man­darins tend to be smaller in size, have a looser peel, and are less tart. They orig­i­nated in the Far East and were orig­i­nally exported through North Africa, where they were all tagged with the name “tan­ger­ine,” from the city of Tang­iers.

The name “tan­ger­ine” has become less generic and is now usu­ally applied to only one kind of man­darin orange. Retail­ers have come to mar­ket the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars by so called brand names. While all tan­ger­ines are man­darins, not all man­darins are tangerines.

Read more: Sat SUE muh →

Some of us call our­selves cooks. Oth­ers of us are known bak­ers. In most cir­cles, it’s unusual to find some­one highly skilled at both. When the hol­i­days cir­cle around, even those in the “mar­ginal bak­ers’ cat­e­gory find an excuse to break out the rolling pins, cookie cut­ters, bak­ing sheets and cake pans.

Fol­low­ing a recipe for bars, balls or cook­ies shaped like Santa requires atten­tion to detail. Adher­ing to the mea­sure­ments and direc­tions is so dif­fer­ent from just adding a splash of this or a pinch of that.

Restraint and com­pli­ance seem like strong attrib­utes of a good baker. Pre-​chilling the bowl, but­ter and beat­ers is not just a “good idea”. It turns out, this could be the dif­fer­ence in suc­cess or fail­ure. Who knew? Actual bak­ers who take direc­tions seri­ously? Yeah, those guys.

The angst in bak­ing can be linked to the fact that desserts or sweet treats are always the stars of the show. Any cel­e­bra­tion, birth­day or oth­er­wise, has the pres­sure of deliv­er­ing a spec­tac­u­lar some­thing with can­dles or stun­ning dec­o­ra­tions.

Exquis­ite dec­o­rat­ing skills are no acci­dent. Set the stage for achieve­ment by way of invest­ing in some equip­ment that is easy to work with.

Read more: Tal­ent Show →