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Cooking

  • Create chicken dishes by using your own tasty sauces

    Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the ultimate fast food for family and guests—quick to prepare and low in fat. But if you’re like me, they can be boring. You throw them in a skillet and then wonder, “Now what?”

    A magazine once published more than 50 ways to prepare chicken. I’ve since decided that figure must be closer to 5,000!

  • Many Southern dishes were created with frugal ingenuity

    Southern food is home cooking, comfort food, Creole, Cajun, Carolina low country, soul food and Tex-Mex. It includes an abundance of fresh vegetables, rice or corn, inexpensive cuts of meat (usually pork or chicken) and fresh seafood.

    Popular Southern dishes include barbeque, country fried steak, catfish, smothered pork chops, black-eyed peas, grits, biscuits and gravy, fried green tomatoes, collard greens, okra and sweet potatoes. And no Southern meal is complete without libations, especially sweet iced tea and mint juleps.

  • Iced tea: A popular year-round southern tradition

    Southerners drink iced tea year-round, and have been drinking iced tea since the 19th century when ice became generally available.

    If you order tea in a restaurant in the South, you’ll get iced tea, probably sweetened, so if you want it hot or unsweetened, you’d better say so!

  • Fresh peaches are now available at local fruit markets

    When selecting fresh peaches, look for ones that are soft to the touch, blemish free and have a fragrant smell. Peaches that are mildly fragrant ripen into sweet and delicious flavors. Choose fruit that has a background color of yellow or cream and has a fresh looking appearance. Peaches may have some red “blush” depending on the variety, but this isn’t a sign of how the fruit will taste after it’s ripened.

  • Spinach is great for salads, soups, pasta sauces and dips

    Spinach may have provided Popeye with superhuman strength, but its real-life potential is far less lofty. In fact, its nutritional reputation is somewhat inflated.

    Spinach contains oxalic acid that inhibits the absorption of its calcium and iron. In addition, it contains other nutrients that are not fully absorbed when it is consumed raw.

    This is not to say spinach is not good for you, but like many health and nutritional claims, the surface hype usually obscures the underlying scientific reality.

  • Control salmonella risk with careful food preparation

    Food poisoning is the common term many people use to refer to foodborne illness. When a source for an outbreak is identified, salmonella is one of the most common types of foodborne illnesses reported. It is responsible for millions of cases of foodborne illnesses each year.

    What is Salmonella?

  • Celebrating the N.C. Blueberry Festival in historic Burgaw

    Pender County is hosting its fifth annual North Carolina Blueberry Festival this weekend on Friday and Saturday, June 20-21, in historic downtown Burgaw.

    Last year’s event attracted an estimated 25,000 people and this year organizers expect to surpass that number.

    Celebrating the home of the first cultivated blueberry in North Carolina, the Blueberry Festival celebrates the historical, economic and cultural significance of blueberries in the southeastern region of the state.

    Currently, Pender County ranks second in blueberry production in North Carolina.

  • Low fat, low carb desserts should also taste good, too

    There are lots of lot fat, low carb dessert recipes out there, but few really meet the standards of good taste as well. That is a hard task to meet. When you lower fat content, you usually compensate with sugar. To offset this, use more natural sugars and fruits.

    Desserts can easily become an obsession when trying to change lifestyle patterns. Don’t over-do. Enjoy small portions and you will stay on track.

  • Sesame oil is a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking

    Sesame is one of the oldest seeds known to man. Thought to have originated in India or Africa, the first written record of sesame dates back to 3,000 B.C.

    According to Assyrian mythology, sesame's origins go back even farther—there is a charming myth about the Gods imbibing sesame seed wine the night before they created the earth. References can be found to Babylonians using sesame oil, and to Egyptians growing their own sesame to make flour.

  • Whole grain brown rice a good source of vitamins and minerals

    The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend grains as the foundation of a healthy diet. In fact, the new Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid recommend at least three servings of whole grains daily, or making half your grain servings whole, with the other half coming from enriched or whole grains. Yet currently, less than 10 percent of Americans eat three servings daily and most eat an average of less than one serving per day.