Originally created 01/18/06

Small bites

Walnut keepers

Walnuts can be healthful items to include in your food planning, and here are some pointers to storing and using them to good advantage.

-Walnuts have a long shelf life, so it's practical to keep them on hand for adding to recipes or for snacking. In-shell walnuts keep best; shell them when you are ready to use them. Unopened packages of shelled walnuts have a shelf life of up to one year. Open packages of shelled walnuts or chopped walnuts can be refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container and kept for six months.

-The best way to open an in-shell walnut is to place the nutcracker at right angles to the shell's seam and crack.

-To chop walnuts, use a knife or a food processor. Make sure nuts are at room temperature before grinding in a processor, or their natural oils will make the nuts soften to a paste.

-To blanch walnuts, add shelled nuts to boiling water. Take the pot off the heat and let the nuts stand for two minutes. (Some recipes call for blanching, to make the walnuts' flavor a little milder.)

-To toast walnuts, which brings out their full, rich flavor, place them on baking sheets, spray with nonfat cooking spray or add a dash of vegetable oil and bake in a 375 F oven for eight to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally during baking.

If desired, toss with your choice of salt, sugar or spices during baking, to produce varied flavors for making quick walnut snacks or toppers for salads, soups or pastas.

(Source: Walnut Marketing Board)

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Which bacon to bring home?

In case you wonder when you're buying bacon at the grocery counters just what the distinctions are, here are some points on different kinds of bacon you can find on sale:

-Traditional bacon is cut from the pork belly and has a fairly even ratio of fat to lean. It is cured and smoked for flavor and may be sold raw or fully cooked. When cooked and ready to eat, it is crisp and chewy. Traditional bacon is a much fattier cut of meat than Canadian bacon. and when fat content is a consideration, Canadian bacon is a popular substitute for it.

-Canadian bacon is from the loin, a muscle that is generally lean with minimal visible connective tissue or fat. The loin is cured and smoked to make Canadian bacon, which has a flavor similar to ham but is slightly milder.

Canadian Bacon has a tender texture and is typically sold ready to eat either in combination with other ingredients or on its own. It's well known for its role in eggs Benedict and as a pizza topper, but it's also a versatile ingredient in salads, pasta, soups, sandwiches, omelets and more.

-Canadian-style bacon is a term that is often used interchangeably with Canadian bacon. However, unlike real Canadian bacon, it can include additional pork muscles including sirloin hip meat and ground pork trim, and will be labeled accordingly. This can mean lower quality that real Canadian bacon, and may result in visible connective tissue or fat.

(Source: Jones Dairy Farm)


Tea drinkers note

LAS VEGAS - The World Tea Expo, which calls itself the nation's premier marketplace for the tea industry, has scheduled the first tea auction ever to be held in the United States.

The auction, featuring specialty teas from Nilgiri, India, is to take place on March 29, during this year's Expo at the Las Vegas Hilton March 27-29.

The tea auction, organized by the World Tea Expo, the Nilgiri Planters Association, and the Tea Board of India, will give buyers an opportunity to bid on 42 of the Nilgiri region's finest teas. The evening before the event there will be a special tasting of all the teas to be auctioned.

The World Tea Expo describes itself as the first trade show in North America dedicated solely to the tea industry, aiming to provide resources for the industry and spur its growth.

Organizers say they expect this year's show to be attended by about 200 companies from around the world and 3,000 buyers. Events that have been planned to inform, entertain and connect members of the industry include demonstrations on cooking with tea, Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies, an Iced Tea Shake-Off competition, and 45 educational seminars.

Information and registration is available on the Web at:



More than just mustard

NAPA VALLEY, Calif. - Local restaurants, caterers and wineries and, yes, mustard and specialty food companies from around the world plan to present their best at the 13th Annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival, billed from Jan. 28-April 1.

It's the season when the wild mustard is in bloom over the region's fields, vineyard gardens and hillsides. Mustard the condiment shares center stage with the flowering mustard backdrop at what organizers call a marathon of food, wine and art events.

The Napa Valley Mustard Festival describes itself as a nonprofit community service organization. Information about tickets and a calendar of events is available by telephone from Summers-McCann, event producer, at (707) 938-1133; by e-mail from info(at)mustardfestival.org, and on the Web at:



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