Monthly Archives: February 2017

Brew the Best Coffee With a French Press

If you want to taste coffee in a whole new way, try making it with a French Press coffee pot. Most people are used to their coffee being brewed in an electric, drip coffee maker a la Mr. Coffee. This method has one flaw in the brewing process that takes away from the true essence of coffee: the paper filter. The paper retains some of the coffee essence, and deprives you of coffee’s true potential. Granted, we cannot simply dump ground coffee into a cup, pour in hot water and start drinking; the grounds must be separated from the liquid that is consumed. Coffee grounds are bitter, gritty, and stick to your teeth. The French Press method removes the grounds, but lets all of the flavor of the coffee come to life.

Although French Presses come in various shapes, sizes, materials and manufacturers, the Chambord model by Bodum is a good example of a ubiquitous style found throughout the industry . The handle attaches to the holder for the glass carafe. The carafe holds the coffee and hot water. The carafe looks like a beaker from a chemistry lab, with a spout for easy pouring. The “pressing” apparatus of the French Press sits atop the beaker. It consists of a dome which covers the coffee as it brews. The plunger is a skinny metal post with a plastic ball at the top that slides through a small hole in the middle of the dome. At the bottom of the post is the filter, a wire mesh disk.

A quick note about ingredients. A cup of coffee is made of coffee beans and water. Therefore, start with freshly roasted whole beans ground just before brewing. Whole beans maintain their freshness twice as long as ground coffee. The water is just as critical: make sure it is cold, fresh, and filtered.

Let’s assume a 12 oz. cup is being prepared. Using 1-1 ½ tablespoons of whole beans, set your grinder to coarse. This produces the largest grounds possible, and allows water to extract the maximum flavor from the coffee. It also reduces the amount of smaller grounds that will end up in the bottom of the cup.

Dump the ground coffee into the carafe. Before adding hot water, take a moment to inhale the aroma of the dry coffee. The aroma of freshly ground coffee will take you to a better place.

Next, heat your water (12 ounces). The optimal brewing temperature is 195-205 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, simply bring your water to a boil and wait thirty seconds.

Pour the water into the beaker and stir for a couple of seconds. This will agitate the mixture and allow the coffee to brew more completely. Place the plunger apparatus on the carafe, but do not depress. Set a timer for four minutes. This amount of time allows all of the flavor and oils to be extracted perfectly from the coffee.

At four minutes press down the plunger completely, then pour the freshly brewed coffee into your mug.
Look at the coffee before adding any condiments. The coffee will appear more complex (richer) than if it were brewed in a drip coffee maker. There will even be a thin layer of crema (light brown froth) resting on top of the liquid. Put your nose close to the cup and breathe in the aroma. The smell is stronger, more pure than if the coffee passed through a paper filter. Taste the coffee before adding sugar etc. When you reach the end of the cup you will notice some residue. These are simply micro-grounds that made it through the mesh filter.

You can purchase French Presses that double as travel mugs. There are also double-walled glass, and stainless steel thermal units as well. Some are beautifully crafted and look like museum pieces. The reason for this is that coffee made in this manner is the height of the coffee brewing experience. So, if you love coffee, you owe it to yourself to purchase a French Press and make the best-tasting coffee in the easiest possible way. Prices start at around 13 dollars for a two cup (12 oz.) unit.

Food Catering Home-Based Business

Food is a consumable item on a daily basis. While people need to eat, parties and cocktails are held everywhere. All occasions as birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, product launches, company affairs and community festivals won’t be complete without having a table of sumptuous dishes.

Because parties take place not only in big crowds of 50 people anymore, food catering home-based business is picking up. Now, clubs and event organizers opt to get a caterer to provide their food and beverages during small meetings of 5 or 10 people. Instead of picking food on the dot, they prefer pre-ordering and having them delivered on a specific hour. This scenario has inspired good cooks and food preparation enthusiasts to offer services as snack time delivery. Cocktails, buffet and ala carte parties make the bigger bulk of markets in food catering.

If you think you are a good cook or skilled in the aspect of preparing food with great presentation, you might want to expand the scope of your interest. You must take note if your hobby is converted into anything that gives you more income, it becomes more meaningful. You have a large market to cater which includes private homes, commercial shops, clubs and organizations, etc. Tying up with event organizers and party hosts is a working strategy that you have to increase sales.

Food business can be challenging in that people expect the dishes to be good. As the caterer, you must set a consistent quality of your food, promptness in delivering and reasonability of your costing. If you don’t have any background in food business, you can start by enrolling in culinary school to equip yourself. It is important that your business is a passion of yours in the first place.

The Best Coffees in the World

When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.

History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.

Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)

Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.

Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.

Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.

The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.

When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.

Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)

Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.

Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.

Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.

When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.

Sumatran coffee has a taste unlike any other and once you try it for yourself, you may find that it will quickly replace your current brand or at least be a coffee that becomes one of your favorites.

Panamanian Coffee (Central America)

Although Panama is the smallest of all coffee producing countries, they grow most of the best rated coffees every year. The coffee region surrounds the town of Boquete in the western province of Chiriqui close to the Costa Rican border. Some say Panama has the ideal micro climate to grow coffee receiving winds from the north along with a light mist and cool breeze. Most of the coffee is grown on farms and is called an Estate coffee which signifies the farm it is from.

The process includes hand picking, washing and sun drying. The farms work closely with the indigenous people enhancing the community with social, medical and educational services. Because of this, fair trade is not a concern. It is a harmonious relationship between farm and worker.

For years, coffee from Panama was not well known amongst the public but the quality was apparent to the traders. So much so, that one trader was caught selling the lower cost Panamanian coffee beans as Hawaiian Kona beans, a much well known high end arabica bean.

Currently, Panamanian coffee has come of age winning numerous cuppings to the point in 2003 when the competition was changed. Previously, each entry was individual and Panamanian entrants would win up to five of ten awards. Now, they have groupings and each group can produce up to two winners that move up to the next level.

It should be noted that although Panamanian coffee has been established as the best in the region, wonderful coffees do come from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Columbia.

Even though most of the world favors the western coffees, a true coffee lover should be adventurous and taste the best coffees of the world. Try Ethiopian and Sumatran coffees along with those that are in close proximity to those regions. You may be surprised at what you have been missing.

Sproutarian

Vegetarianism and raw food enthusiasts fall into many different groups with different theories of what kind of natural foods are best. Most vegetarians eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Vegans eat no animal by-products at all, including dairy or eggs. Fruitarians eat primarily fruits. And some vegetarians eat only sprouts.
Sprouts are very nutritious because they contain all the elements a plant needs for life and growth. The endosperm of seed is the storehouse of carbohydrates, protein and oil. When the seed germinates, these become predigested amino acids and natural sugars upon which the plant embryo feeds to grow. This life force we eat is filled with energy which is capable of generating cells of the body and supplying us with new vigor and life. For this reason sprouts can retard the ageing process.

Sprouts contain goodly amounts of male and female hormones, as well, in their most easily assimilated form. Research shows that sprouts are among the highest food in vitamins. They are not only a low cost food but are also tasty and easy to grow. Children and the elderly can make sprouting a profitable hobby. All of us can profit from the boost to health they provide.

Almost any seed, grain or legume can be sprouted though some are tastier than others. You may try mung beans, alfalfa, wheat, peas, fenugreek, chickpeas, radish, fennel, celery seed, etc. These are most readily found in natural food stores. Remember to soak small seeds only for 4 hours and beans for 15 hours. You also can mix these seeds. Get a 2 liter wide-mouth jar and a piece of cheesecloth or old nylon stocking to fasten as a cover with a rubber band. Put seed into the jar as follows:
2 Tsps alfalfa, 2 Tsps radish or fenugreek, 1/4 cup lentils, 1/2 cup mung beans. Soak these seeds for 15 hours and drain the water. Afterwards rinse and drain well twice daily for about 3-5 days. If you wish to make larger amounts of sprouts, so you may share with others, place 2 cups of mixed seed into a large porcelain pot, in the bottom of which holes have been drilled for easy rinsing. Simply place underneath the faucet and rinse morning and evening with warm water. Cover with a plate. The seeds grow beautifully and abundantly in a few days.

Introduction to Parker Tube Fittings

Parker Hannifin Corporation is the World’s Leading Tube Fitting Authority. Since 1924, Parker has served the marketplace with dependable fluid power technology. Tube Fittings were among the first products manufactured by the company, and Parker has deep roots and expertise in the design of Tube Fittings. The company manufactures Tube Fittings to a very high standard to conform to all major specification requirements. Continue reading

Preserve your Food with food sealing machine

One of the basic necessities of life that is food is perishable. Thanks to the sedentary lifestyle which a person is living up these days, it has been noted down that more intake of unhealthy food is consumed by the individual. This has related to many health issues like cancer and tumor. To help the person live a healthy life, it is always advisable to have food which is fresh and cooked well. If you are quite busy in your life and looking for easy to cook and store services fridge won’t be a better option. To get the best services, you need to buy food sealing machine. Continue reading

Improve Your Health and Fitness

Over aeons of time, our bodies have adapted to cope with survival in a harsh environment. Although we achieved civilization thousands of years ago, our bodies have not evolved to adapt to this change. If we imagine ourselves back in the distant past we would have eaten less sugar, salt and fat in a year or more than we now eat in a week or less. We would have eaten a diet of meat and fish, mostly vegetable matter, fruit, berries, nuts, seeds and roots. We would only have drunk water, and may have sampled the splendour of honey. Foods would be rich in fibre, some protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, but low in sugar, salt and saturated fats. We would have been in almost constant motion; playing, working, foraging, preparing food, but rarely staying still. (I think that it is important to remind ourselves that our body is designed to be active, but that we often think of exercise as formal, vigorous, structured pursuits. It can be easy to persuade ourselves that going swimming or playing football twice a week is enough [and so we have an excuse for driving to work and to the local shops]. And although it is great to do these things, we can stay fit and healthy without a gym membership, just by doing everyday movements; walking, cleaning the house, and gardening, and yes I shall say that well-worn phrase- leaving the car at home.)

Don’t think that our person from the past would have been feasting on jumbo mammoth steaks Flintstone-style all day long either. Meat may have been in scant supply for much of the time (have you ever tried to catch a rabbit?) and women and children spent a large amount of time foraging for nuts, roots, berries and vegetable matter. Everyone would have been involved in acquiring food, and all methods of obtaining food would have used large amounts of energy; you have to cover wide areas to provide enough food for a family. Even when farming became a way of life huge amounts of energy would have to be invested in producing the fruits, vegetables and animal products. Animals too would have been reared on a diet of more complex foods rather than modern high-energy processed feeds. It is thought that their meat would have been much less rich in saturated fats and so healthier for the people consuming it.

Food production would have been part of every day life, unlike today where food arrives pre-packed, smothered in cellophane, produced days, weeks or months ago in a factory hundreds of miles away, glazed with wax, identical in size and colour to its neighbour, lacking any aroma, and likely to be lacking in nutrition. Our imaginary person would have experienced real, largely unprocessed food, and a varied seasonal diet (no strawberries at Christmas for Ms Caveperson). It is likely that they would have a relationship with what they had produced. If you ever grow your own fruit and veg you will understand how exciting it is to watch things grow, then how good it feels to harvest and prepare them. People would have wasted nothing- all parts of every fruit, vegetable or animal would be used for something, almost nothing was unusable; today in the UK one third of our food is thrown away and wasted, out of every 2 bagged salads purchased today, one will go in the bin (sounds familiar?).

Another aspect of our imaginary person’s relationship to food is the social aspect. People would have produced and processed the food together, celebrated harvests and abundant times, and eaten together as a family or group. Children would help the adults, and learnt how to grow and prepare food ensuring that they would be able to look after themselves as adults. Meal times may have been the only time when the extended family would be gathered together to swap the day’s news, gossip and stories. This way people eat more slowly, and eat less allowing their body to feel full and satisfied. Food would have produced social bonding and been a central and essential part of social life.

Life would have been hard, and still is for many people today who have to provide their own food, and so I don’t want to over-romanticise this imaginary person. However, I think that this person from the past is a useful tool for understanding what our eating and activity profile should be more like if we wish to be healthier and happier. There would have been no slouching on a sofa in front of the TV, no Chicken Dippas, micro-chips, and definitely (and thankfully) no Pringles. Our imaginary person may not even recognise these things as food.

Underneath it all we are still cave people, our bodies and brains have evolved to take nutrition from simple whole foods, we thrive on human contact and still feel the need to eat together and share food, and our bodies are healthier if we exercise consistently. We need a diet rich in whole foods, in raw foods, and home cooked foods. We should pick foods which are low in sugar, salt and saturated fat. If you are doubtful about the validity of a food, ask yourself how far-removed it is from its natural state, could you make it yourself, would it have existed a hundred years ago or more? If the answer is no then the chances are that it is not very healthy. We need to explore the excitement of foraging for food, growing it and preparing it, we need to rediscover the simple pleasures of podding peas, chopping fresh herbs, picking blackberries, and making pickles and jams.

Setting Up a Commercial Fitness Center at Hotels and Resorts

Onsite commercial fitness centers have become an expected offering at any high-end hotel or resort. But even mid-level and budget accommodations are now benefiting from offering their customers a place to exercise while staying at their establishments. For vacationers, onsite commercial fitness centers are important for working off all of those wonderful, but high calorie meals typically eaten while on vacation. It is not uncommon for people to look in advance to see if a hotel or resort offers a fitness center before choosing a hotel for their vacation. Business guests often prefer hotels with well-equipped gyms that enable them to unwind from a full day of business meetings. An onsite commercial fitness center is especially important for fitting their normal fitness regime into their busy travel schedules, and many won’t stay at a hotel or resort without one.

When developing a commercial fitness center in a hotel or resort environment, there are a number of things to consider:

What level of quality is expected?

If the hotel or resort is high-end, customers will expect the fitness center to match. Care should be taken to select high-end, commercial grade equipment that delivers the workout experience expected by customers. Many won’t return to a hotel, no matter how nice the accommodations, if the fitness center doesn’t meet their expectations. Also, hotels or resorts seeking a hip or forward-looking image should consider including specialized equipment that may be new on the market. This will help convey that the hotel knows its customers and is current with the trends.

Fitness Travel

Do you always feel fifteen pounds heavier after coming back from vacation? All that eating out and indulging can pack on a few pounds. Whether you are worried about packing on the pounds while traveling, already have a few to lose or just simply love exercising and would like to tone up; consider trying a fitness vacation. It is one of the hottest new trends in travel, not only do you get to get away, which in itself feels good, but you also get to lose weight and get fitter. There are plenty of fitness friendly travel options, but here are just a few of the many fitness vacations out there. Continue reading

Lose Weight Successfully With a Fitness Journal

If you want to lose weight or you’re just interested in getting in shape, a fitness journal can be your key to success.

Much like a personal diary a journal is the one place where you can share all of your dreams and goals and at the same time create a plan to make those aspirations a real part of your life.

I’m sure by now, you know that in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. Keeping a fitness journal can be a fun way to assess your current eating and exercise habits and formulate a strategy to reduce calories while increasing your physical activity.

Start your fitness journal by recording your current weight and measurements, if you like, you can even add a current photo of yourself. This is your starting point, so make sure you take the time to complete this important step. Months from now when your body is changing, you’ll be able to look back and see how much you have achieved. Once this base is established it will provide the motivation you need to keep you going.

Motivation or the lack thereof, can be the driving force behind your exercise program or the biggest obstacle in your efforts to lose weight. As a personal trainer who specializes in women’s fitness, I have found that women who keep a fitness journal have a far greater chance of success than those who do not.

You see a fitness journal makes you accountable for your weight loss plan. Once you’ve established your starting point and written down your goals, you’ll want to make some time everyday to record everything you eat and drink. That means everything. You many even be surprised when you realize how much food you consume.

Once you begin coming face to face with your food consumption, you’ll be able to determine which foods to keep in your diet and which foods you need to replace with healthier substitutes. There is a certain connection that your brain will make when you put pen to paper and become responsible for your own health. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that you are eating a somewhat healthy diet when you keep these thoughts locked away in your mind.

Along with recording your eating habits, you’ll want to write down your daily physical activities. Are you exercising regularly? For optimum women’s health you’ll need to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for 6 days of the week. You can use your journal to determine your fitness level and increase it gradually for best results.

Challenge your fitness workout by making goals each week. For instance, you could set a goal to add more weights to your exercise program or to take longer walks, swim more laps, take a spinning class or learn to play tennis. The secret is to write down anything and everything that will keep you motivated to exercise regularly and eat healthy.

You can get the body that you desire, all it takes is a desire to succeed followed by a commitment to see it through. But the good thing is you don’t have to do it by yourself. Faithfully keeping your fitness journal will keep you focused on your goals and give you the motivation you need to excel.