Important Advice When Using a Slow Cooker

Using a crock-pot should be a no brainer, right? You put the food in the crock-pot and come back four to eight hours later to a home cooked meal. Sounds simple? It is, really, but there are some tips to remember when using a slow cooker, to keep your family safe and healthy and to … Continue reading “Important Advice When Using a Slow Cooker”

Using a crock-pot should be a no brainer, right? You put the food in the crock-pot and come back four to eight hours later to a home cooked meal. Sounds simple? It is, really, but there are some tips to remember when using a slow cooker, to keep your family safe and healthy and to help the food you cook keep their delicious flavor.
Slow Cooker

Maintain the correct temperature. While this might sound straightforward, it’s one of the more important ones, and the one people are most likely to forget.

Health and dietary guidelines recommend reaching 140 degrees as quickly as possible to reduce the opportunity for bacteria to grow. For the first hour or so of cooking, turn the crock-pot up on high, and then turn it to low at the end of the hour. If you are unable to do this because you are out of the house, perhaps it might be easier to purchase a programmable slow cooker for this reason alone. A crock-pot will reach a temperature of about 300 degrees Fahrenheit on high and about 200 degrees on low. Unless you or someone in your family is in a “risk group” for suffering ill effects from possible bacteria, there really isn’t much to worry about.

Don’t over or under fill your crock-pot. Again, this should be an easy one but some users forget and the circumstances, while not usually dire, can either create a big mess or cause you to abandon your crock-pot entirely. A crock-pot should be filled at least 1/3 full and no more than ½ full. Most advertisements will show a crock-pot filled to the brim with some of the most delicious meals you’ve seen outside of the Bon Appétit magazine. This is not the way to do this, however. To over fill is inviting a spill from bubbling liquid seeping out of the edges of the lid. To under fill might mean the liquid drying up, causing your food to burn, though in a crock-pot liquid loss to steam is greatly reduced to almost nothing but why risk it? Either way, you are not allowing your crock-pot to meet its full potential as a cooker.

Adding the spices too soon. When baking in a conventional oven, adding the spices in the beginning is the norm. With a slow cooker, your food is cooking for several hours. By adding the spices too soon, they lose their flavor, thereby denying you the richness of their taste and blends. Add most spices in the last hour to hour and a half and enjoy the full flavor of each one. One exception to this rule might be salt. A piece of meat soaking, cooking and marinating in a slightly brine solution is never a bad thing. (One side note: Though the jury is still out on this, but some studies are beginning to show sea salt as having slightly less sodium than does your average table salt. More and more cooks and chefs are using sea salt rather than table salt in their recipes.)

Don’t use too much liquid. When modifying a recipe for the crock-pot that calls for the addition of liquid, cut the amount you are using by about a half cup. Crock-pots don’t lose liquid during the cooking process like normal cooking will. With a slow cooker, you are removing the lid less often allowing the cooking steam to remain with the food, where it belongs. Also, each time you remove the lid you add an additional 30 minutes of cooking time so resist the urge to open it up and stir every time you walk past it.

These are some of the more important tips to provide for new or first time crock-pot users. While none of them is critical, they certainly bear remembering when you use your slow cooker. By following these few, simple tips, you are assuring your crock-pot will remain a welcome and delightful member of your kitchen appliance repertoire for many years to come!

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Neck Pain Causes – Unlocking The Mystery Of Brain Tumor Symptoms

The common person hears about someone dying from a brain tumor and then questions why the medical personnel did not pick up on this diagnosis during routine physicals, or that the individual had not noticed any ailments early on and sought medical help before it was too late. What most people do not understand is how very difficult it is to detect a brain tumor in its initial stage of growth. And, although the main emphasis of the tumor is most certainly within the brain itself, there are many other areas of the body that will be affected by this devastating medical condition.

Neck Pain

As it grows, if the brain tumor has increased its pressure upon the central nervous system, the individual will most likely experience associated tumor symptoms, such as headaches, neck discomfort or even signs that their body’s intestinal system has been aggravated. Another danger to that individual is that the brain tumor might also be the cause behind recurring seizures. Unfortunately, because these symptoms are very slow in appearing, but the time a patient starts describing their unique and irregular sensations to their doctor, the chance that a stroke may occur has been elevated.

Another obstacle that prevents a brain tumor from being detected at any earlier stage in that this medical condition often parallels numerous other stressors of the neurological system. Varying locations of the tumor within the brain itself can stimulate assorted tendencies. Some of the more common symptoms described by brain tumor patients themselves are double vision, confusing thought patterns, memory loss, increased drowsiness and a weakened sense of motor function throughout the body.

The most common denominator shared by individuals who have actual brain tumors are the headaches associated with this abnormal swelling. Although frequent headaches by no means translates into an immediate medical diagnosis of a brain tumor, if you are experiencing them, that symptom alone is enough of a red flag and should be mentioned to your physician at your earliest convenience.

Another intriguing fact that puzzles the layperson is that there are different types of brain tumors, with each one prompting a range of treatments. Although its cause is still under investigation, when a patient is diagnosed with a primary brain tumor, the medical team looks at that individual’s family history, as well as a range of environmental factors from that person’s life circumstances. It is very important for all of these factors to be taken into consideration as the prognosis and treatment of a brain tumor patient is directly correlated to the diagnosis.

Through extensive medical research, it has been revealed that tumors located within the brain are the most common form of central nervous metastasis.

(Metastasis is when there is a spot of cancer that moves from one part of the body to another.) Thanks in part to today’s advanced technology, an exact determination of a brain tumor has been made possible through the examination of a cell sample beneath a microscope. Fortunately, metastatic brain tumors usually have very distinct symptoms and tendencies which enable doctors to rule them out as primary brain tumors. Knowing the tumor’s diagnosis can make a difference in the type of treatment plan the patient pursues.

Also interesting to note is that brain tumors can occur in people of all ages, although those tumors that fall within the metastatic category are more prevalent in adults than children.

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Fowl Ball – The History of Chicken Stew

Chicken stew is a delicious, warming meal. It is simple to make and you can make a lot of different variations of this tasty dish. Chicken stew actually has a fascinating history and this dish has been enjoyed for many centuries.

Chicken Stew

A stew is a combination of two or more foods simmered in a liquid. Coq au vin, Hungarian goulash, beef bourguignon, and beef stroganoff are all examples of stews.

The “Apicius de re Coquinaria” is the oldest cookbook ever discovered. It contains fish and lamb stew recipes, although chicken had been domesticated by then too. There were three Romans with that name living between 1 BC and 2 AD and the book is believed to have been compiled by one of them.

You can actually go back even further because primitive tribes used to boil foods together, which is what a stew essentially is. Amazonian tribes uses turtle shells as pans and would boil the turtle entrails with some other ingredients. Other cultures used large shells, such as clamshells, instead of pans. Archeological evidence points to this type of cookery going back seven or eight thousand years. The invention of pottery, about ten thousand years ago, made cooking stews easier.

Fowl such as chicken has been domesticated for thousands of years and chicken stew has been a longstanding popular dish. Different cultures have different chicken stews, such as the peanut butter chicken stew preferred in parts of Africa and the spicy chicken stew made in Morocco.

Chicken Stew Varieties
One type of chicken stew, which is a couple of hundred years old, is chicken booyah. This is like a thick soup or a thin stew and is eaten in northeast Wisconsin. The first Belgian immigrants came to Wisconsin in 1853 and they spoke a language called Walloon, which is nothing like English or French. It is thought that the Belgian wrote down booyah because he did not know how to spell bouillon and the name stuck.

Delicious Southern Chicken Stew
You might have heard of southern chicken stew too and it is still a very popular dish in some states, especially North Carolina. To make this dish, a whole chicken is parboiled in a milk or cream based broth and butter, salt, and pepper are added as well as other ingredients. This stew varies from thin to thick in consistency and from white to yellow in color, depending on the amount of butter or margarine used. Saltine crackers are often served with this dish.

Southern chicken stew is often served in the coolest months of the year and the phrase “chicken stew” can refer to the gathering itself rather than the food. A chicken stew recipe is usually thought of as a comfort food because these recipes are cheap to make, enjoyed by nearly everybody and they are warming and flavorful. This is a common dish served at social gatherings such as church fellowships, family reunions, and community fundraisers.

The chicken stew at these events will often be made in a big cast iron or stainless steel cooking pot, maybe outdoors over an open fire. You might get coleslaw, a grilled cheese sandwich or rice served with the chicken stew.

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Cooking Your Own Chicken Soup

There is nothing like a good bowl of chicken soup. It makes you feel better when you are sick. It warms you up on a winter day. It is kid friendly. How can you find anything better? Instead of just opening a can and adding some water, why not try making your own homemade chicken soup? It is not hard at all, and it tastes so good.

Chicken Soup

Basics for Cooking Chicken Soup
First, you need some chicken bones. These can be leftover from the roast chicken you had last night. Didn’t know you could get two meals out of that single chicken, did you? Put the entire carcass in a stockpot and cover it with several quarts of water. Add some seasonings and a carrot, an onion, some celery and herbs. Bring the water slowly to a boil, and then turn it on low to keep it simmering. Skim off the foam that will appear on the top. This is caused by the protein in the chicken. Do not worry… the good stuff stays in the soup!

Simmer this slowly for several hours… all day if you have the time. Add more water if you need to, although covering it will help reduce the evaporation rate. On the other hand, reducing the stock will intensify the flavors. It all depends on how much soup you need to make to feed your family. Strain the stock. The bones and vegetables can be tossed at this point; they have given all they can.

Add in new vegetables, and the meat you have leftover. If you want to add potatoes, add them with the other vegetables. You may want to add any of the following: turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, or anything else you like.

Towards the end, you may want to add some rice or noodles (rice will take longer to cook than noodles), and any vegetables that cook quickly. This may include cabbage, broccoli, or anything else you have left in the garden.

What Else Can You Do with Chicken Soup?
The above description makes a classic chicken soup with a clear yellow stock. However, you may be wondering what else you can do with chicken soup. Creamed chicken soups are hearty, creamy, and delicious. You can serve them plain or you can add a little vegetables or noodles to it.
You can thicken a classic chicken soup by adding a roux and make it heartier. You can also turn a chicken soup into chicken and dumplings just by adding the dumplings in for the last twenty minutes of cooking. There is nothing better on a cold winter’s night.

Change the flavor of your chicken soup by adding some ethnic ingredients. Soy sauce, some Asian vegetables, herbs, and some glass noodles make the usual chicken soup seem exotic. Add some spice and tortilla pieces to create a trendy tortilla soup.

You can also simplify. Reduce your chicken stock until you have a tasty golden consommé. This consommé can be eaten by itself, used to make gravies and sauces, or frozen for later use.

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The Vegan Diet – Is a Vegan Diet Safe?

The vegan diet has been know for its amazing benefits and one of the best ways to prevent diseases in the long run. Many vegans have share their experiences on this diet and with an increasing number of vegan athletes and famous people joining the list, it is no doubt that this diet is going to remain a top choice for people wanting a better health and lifestyle.

Vegan Diet

But how safe is a vegan diet?
Along with many other diets, there are two sides of a coin. One side is the health benefits you can get by doing the vegan diet the right way and the other is the unhealthy side of the vegan diet.

You need to understand that a change in your diet requires a lot more attention and knowledge from your part. You need to understand the type of nutrition your body needs and how to meet all those requirements in your new diet. Failure to do this can bring negative consequences.

If you think you can be a vegan and survive with just fruits and salads, then you are playing with fire.
Eating only fruits and salads would not get you your recommended daily intakes of protein, calcium, iron, zinc, carbohydrates and all the other nutrients your body needs in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you want to really get all the benefits from a vegan diet, then you must pay close attention to your body and its nutritional needs. You need to become a student and learn more about nutrition. Get this right and then you can start collecting all the benefits you get from a vegan diet.

To give you one advice right now, one of the major concerns you should have as a vegan is regarding vitamin B12. This vitamin is essential for the functioning of the brain and is a must for your health. Getting this vitamin requires proper planning but it should not be hard to get. With so many fortified foods out there, you can find vitamin B12 in products such as soy milk, but remember it requires your attention.

So a vegan diet is really safe if you know what you are doing. It might seem hard at first, but with practice and more knowledge, your vegan lifestyle is going to start getting easier and more enjoyable. Just don’t give up on this diet and journey as the benefits are waiting for you.

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