Did You Know?

  • Rice is a cereal grass and belongs in the same family as oats, barley, rye, and wheat. Brown rice has only the hull and a small amount of the bran removed, thus retaining more minerals and vitamins than highly processed polished rice.
  • Brown rice is an excellent starch. It is rich in fiber, extremely low in sodium and fat and is cholesterol free. Brown rice includes thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, carbohydrates, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, potassium, silicon, sodium, fat, iron, and protein.
  • Long grain rice is about 5 times long as it is wide. It keeps its beautiful, long, slender shape as it cooks. It cooks up very light and fluffy, not gluey, and each kernel is separate. Long grain rice is well suited to pilafs, paellas, stuffing, rice salads, fried rice, and casseroles.
  • Brown rice should be stored in a cool, dry area. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to prolong shelf life. Under these conditions, it can last from 10 months to a year.

What Not to Freeze

Freezers are wonderful inventions. They save us time and money. How many times do we head for the freezer when it's time to think about a meal? And for many of us, the freezer houses much of our emergency supply of food. But some things freeze better than others. Here is a partial listing of things that don't freeze well.
• Fried foods (especially deep fried foods): They taste stale
• Gravies and sauces with wheat in them: They tend to separate.
• High water content vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, celery, etc.): They get limp.
• Raw fruit: They turn dark or get mushy unless blanched.
• Potatoes: They get grainy and soft.
• Cooked pasta (unless very firm): Tends to get soft and mushy.
• Crumb toppings on casseroles: They tend to get soggy.
• Soft cake frostings: They tend to get tacky.
• Sage: It tends to get bitter.
• Cloves: It tends to get sharper in the freezer.
• Garlic: The flavor tends to get stronger when frozen.
• Salt: It tends to loose savor when frozen.
• Onions: They tend to loose their flavor.
• Green peppers: They tend to get stronger tasting when frozen
• Artificial sweeteners: they tend to lose their effectiveness once frozen.
Most spices and many extracts are altered by freezing, some getting stronger and some losing flavor. The longer they are stored, the more pronounced the change. Most baked goods freeze well. You can freeze breads, cookies, and cookie dough.
Taken from www.preparedpantry.com

Tips for Getting the most from Your Freezer

Avoid freezer burn: Freezer burn is actually dehydration. It destroys cell structures and affects both flavor and texture. Plastic is not an adequate oxygen barrier. Use wrapping paper designed for freezing. If you do use plastic, it should be the heavier “freezer” bags designed for the freezer and the food should not be stored long.
Stay organized: Mark and date everything. Group foods by type with all meats going in one area of the freezer and baked goods in another. Meats should be stored on the lowest shelf so that in the event of an outage, melting juices will not drip on other foods. Keeping a pad on the freezer to jot down inventory items and dates is a good idea.
Rotate: If you don't rotate the food in your freezer--use it--you'll throw it out. Know what's in your freezer and use it often. Don't wait until the food is marginal.
Freeze only best-quality foods: Freezing never improves quality.
Do not overcook foods: Food will continue cooking when reheated.
Practice safety: Do not let lukewarm foods sit on the counter before freezing. Remember that bacteria will grow below 140 degrees and freezing does not kill them--they only go dormant to grow again when removed from the freezer. If you need to cool foods quickly before freezing, consider placing them in ice. Do not put so much food in your freezer at one time that the freezer cannot freeze the food solid within 24 hours.

Does a freezer really save you money?

Cooking for Your Freezer

If your home is like ours, we routinely put leftovers in the refrigerator. Then we forget about them and in a few days, throw them out. How much better to wrap them, freeze them, label them and use them at a later date. And when you're cooking that favorite casserole, why not double the batch, make two, and freeze the second? If we have a selection of favorite family foods in the freezer, we can bail ourselves out on those busy days when we just don't have time to cook. On those busy days when there is no time to cook—and for most of us, there are too many of those days—we either reach for a store-bought prepared food, call out to the restaurant for delivery, or jump in the car and go out to eat. All three solutions are expensive. Grabbing a casserole, some frozen rolls, and a dessert from the freezer is quicker, better, and will save money. In an emergency, it's nice to have food put by. While it's true that in an extended power outage, you may lose some of that food in the freezer (you may not lose frozen breads and many desserts), there are many emergencies where the freezer is the perfect resource. And if you are hospitalized or out of work, that food in the freezer may be a savior.
Consider freezing:
Foods that take a long time to prepare
Seasonal fruits and vegetables
Wild game
Food that you can buy in bulk (like half of a beef or food at a case lot sale)
Foods you can prepare in quantity

March 2009 - Soups, Soups & MORE Soups!!!

Funny that even in Arizona (in March) we are talking soups! But, soups are such a backbone of our country. There are soups for the cold weather (surely not in Arizona this year), and soups for the hot weather (Gazpacho here we come), and there are soups for the in-between (surely you have served Snack Ramen before....)! So grab your hat, hang on and let's get some of these FABULOUS recipes on the web!

Here We Go!

This site is to follow-up with the Estrella Hills Ward Cooking Class! Enjoy.