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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to Perfectly Hard-Boil an Egg; & 6 Ways to Dye Hard Boiled Eggs

Happy Easter!!!

I'm guessing not many people will be reading this blog the day of, since Easter is kinda a major holiday. That's why this is published a little early. There are many great things about Eater. Egg hunts, baskets of presents and candy, Cadbury eggs, chocolate bunnies, Easter Sunday brunch. If you're religious, that church part. Since a major part of Easter is coloring hard boiled eggs (or at least it always has been for me), it's important to know how to properly hard boil an egg. It's gross when you peel an egg to eat it only to find a grimy green ring around the yolk, or the yolk is still runny.

There are many theories on how to perfectly boil eggs. First rule though: DO NOT TRY TO MICROWAVE IT. Seriously. Even thought BuzzFeed claims there are 12 ways to do it right. (Most of those ways don't involve in-the-shell eggs, so that's cheating). If you just put a raw egg into water and stick it in the microwave, the steam will build up quickly. You will spend the next 2 minutes oblivious to the imminent explosion, then the next 10 minutes after that cleaning dripping raw egg and shell shards from your entire microwave. Not that I know from experience or anything...


How to perfectly boil eggs

1. Place 6-12 eggs in a pan which has a lid. Cover the eggs with cold water, add a little salt, and maybe a tsp of vinegar.
2. Bring the eggs to a boil on the stove. As soon as they start a rolling boil, remove them from the heat and cover.
3. Let them sit in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
4. To peel, bang the egg on a hard surface, or roll it in your hands to break the shell. Start at the larger end and pull off shell pieces, running under cold water if you need extra help to get the shell off.

This version from MarthaStewart is actually closest to how we do it at my house. (Should I be upset about that?). This article from SimplyRecipes is also a good detailed explanation. The green ring is caused by boiling water, so the best way is to have the eggs at a rolling boil as short a time as possible.


Fresh eggs are usually harder to peel, so if you have eggs you bought last week rather than this morning, use those. Adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the cooking water may make peeling easier too. This is also a good idea to add if you're boiling the eggs to dye them. 

Ways to Dye Easter Eggs

First of all, you will want to cover the surface where you are dying eggs with newspaper or cloth to prevent staining your family heirloom table. This can get messy. Then make sure you have plenty of eggs for each person dying, because this is fun and it's easy to get carried away! Just one more pretty egg, please....
 
1. Food coloring or Kool-Aid
You can use plain food coloring to dye cooked, cooled eggs, no need for expensive store-bought kits. Just add 20 drops or so to 1/2 cup water and 1 tbsp vinegar, then leave them in the water until they are the color you want. Or add one whole packet of KoolAid (NO SUGAR) to 1 tbsp vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Adding more vinegar or leaving it in the color longer will give more and more vibrant colors.
2. Decorations
There are a lot of ways to decorate your egg, just be sure you do so before you put them in the dye. You can add stickers, draw on them with a crayon (anywhere the wax is, there will be no color and it will stay white) or wrap with rubber bands to create stripes. Then place in bought dye kits or food coloring.
3. Layering
Starting with the lightest color, dye the egg. For example, yellow. Then, use wire, a spoon, or string to dip the egg into the next color only part of the way, leaving part of the egg unsubmerged. For example, blue. This will make the overlapping areas green. If you don't dip it all the way in the yellow, you can have a yellow-green-blue egg. You can do this multiple times to create many layers of color.
4. Sponge painting
If you intend to eat these eggs, make sure you are using food grade dye and paint. If these are just for show, go crazy with whatever. Using a small piece of sponge (kitchen or makeup kind) dip into paint, and dab across the dyed or non-dyed egg surface. You can use multiple colors to create works of art.
5. Swirled/Marbelized
Once you are SURE you don't need a dye color alone, add a tbsp vegetable oil. Where the oil sticks to the egg will dye lighter or not dye at all as compared to the color you add it to. But be sure, because once you add the oil you cannot remove it! This creates beautiful swirled eggs.
6. Cracked Dye
After you cool cooked eggs, break the shells just a bit on purpose by banging them on a hard surface once or twice. Then dye as usual. When peeled, the egg will have spidery dye patterns of color! Use food grade dye if you intend to eat them.

Once you're finished with the fun of dying eggs, put on a baking rack or back into the carton to dry and set.

Have fun decorating, hiding, and/or eating your eggs this Easter!

What's your favorite part of Easter?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

No pain no gain? -- Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Anyone who has ever begun a weight-lifting regimen, shoveled a long driveway, or lifted something heavy only to be sore the next day (or two, or three...) is familiar with the concept of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is the constant ache in your muscles that you feel 24-48 hours after doing something strenuous to which you are not accustomed. To be clear, it is not the same as the sharp, immediate pain of a pull or strain, nor is it the same as the muscle fatigue you feel while working out.

What causes DOMS?

There is some misinformation on the internet and in common knowledge that a build up of lactic acid or lactate, created through aerobic respiration, causes muscle soreness. While it is true that a build-up or inability to get rid of lactate can hinder workouts, this is not the cause of DOMS. This is caused by microscopic tears in the muscles during the "eccentric", or lengthening, portion of an exercise. This causes the muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens. The opposite is the "concentric" portions of an exercise. Examples of eccentric moves include walking or running down hills, the lengthening portion of a bicep curl, the downward portion of a squat or lunge, or jumping. It is believed these microtraumas to the muscle fibers combined with inflammation and swelling cause the associated pain.

I once had a "leg day" where I did over 200 squats/lunges per leg, and was then limping around for three days after. Hopefully that was just a 'beginning to build muscle' stage and won't be the norm. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent this soreness, especially if it is a new activity. When you first begin letting weights or playing a sport, there is going to be some amount of discomfort. There are a few things you can try to prevent or ease soreness.

To ease muscle aches:


  1. Take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or Aleve. This will help calm the 'pain' signals to your brain and decrease any swelling so you heal faster.
  2. Take a hot/cold shower. Let me explain. If you take a very cold shower or bath right after the workout, anecdotal evidence says it may help decrease how sore you are later. The next day, if sore, try a soothing hot bath to ease achy muscles.
  3. Try foam rolling. These rolling-pin looking foam tubes are designed to relax the tissue layer surrounding muscles and easy achy soreness. Here's a Yahoo article about it.
  4. Massage the sore areas. It may hurt a lot while happening, but some swear that it gets rid of pain faster after.
  5. Active recovery. Do light exercise like yoga, walking, or swimming. This makes the muscles continue to move, gets blood flowing through the sore areas, and hopefully help them heal quicker. 
  6. Take Vitamin C before and/or after a workout. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and may help prevent muscle damage caused by free radicals created when muscles work hard.
  7. Try a creme like IcyHot or Bengay to soothe deep muscle soreness.
  8. Drink lots of water and green tea. Staying well-hydrated is always a good idea, but your muscles can be up to 70% water, so keeping them hydrated means keeping them able to work.

While time is really the only thing guaranteed to help make muscle soreness go away, hopefully this article will inspire you to be safe and smart, and ease your way into weights. Please, DO NOT use this soreness as an excuse to just stop working out! It just means you pushed a little too hard this time. In fact, some think that DOMS is a necessary part of building new muscles. Here's an article from fitness magazine Runner's World on "Why Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Is a Good Thing" by Mackenzie Lobby

Your muscles will build themselves back up and get bigger and stronger, especially with repeats of those motions (so keep legs, arms & shoulders days on the schedule). The severity of the soreness will decrease over time as your muscles build and adapt to the exercises. Eventually whatever left you sore and weak will be no problem at all. Rest and recover, then get back out there! Regular movement is the number one best thing you can do for your heart, blood pressure, and overall health and wellbeing. 

For more information you can see This PDF from the American College of Sports Medicine.


Do you have any advice for sore muscles?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Under 100 Calories per Bowl: Cruciferous vegetable soup

I'm always a big fan of recipes that help "clean out the fridge or pantry", and if they are healthy as well then bonus! We all have some assorted cans, boxed, half bag of frozen mixed vegetables, etc. that have been sitting around since approximately we moved into whatever abode we inhabit. Even the most strict, list-making, meal-planning, leftover-eating of us have odds and ends we need to try to use up before expiration dates. It is especially hard with produce. I have a bad habit of buying everything that's on sale, I want to cook eventually, sounds healthy... and then I have a fridge packed full of five-day-old veggies beginning to wilt and lose nutrients. Sad face. 

That's why this soup is fantastic! You can mix and match what vegetables you add based on what you have waiting to be used, and choose whatever protein and grain is in the half-empty box in your cupboard. There is of course a few caveats. You need a huge ratio of veggies to other stuff, and a large portion of it must be water. IF you are going for a filling, vegetarian, healthy, low-cal, low-fat soup. Try to choose mostly cruciferous vegetables and/or leafy greens, as those pack the most nutrients and fiber for the least carbs and calories. And limit the beans and the grains to one cup each. If you have a "meat tooth" feel free to throw in some cooked shredded chicken or steak.

Ingredients:
1 whole head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach
1 cup barley
1 cup pinto beans
1 can diced tomatoes
Garlic salt
Lots of water (stock or bouillon for extra flavor)


Step 1: Chop all your veggies and add to the crock pot. Add the grain (barley) and protein (beans) as well as diced tomatoes. You can sub fresh chopped tomato or tomato sauce, or get rid of it. I just super love diced tomatoes in all the things.
Step 2: Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until veggies, barley and beans are tender. Add any other seasonings you like. Enjoy for under 100 calories per bowl as often as you are hungry!


*Disclaimer: I do not recommend crash diets like the cabbage soup diet where this is all you eat all day, but I do believe that soup before a full meal will help dampen hunger and make it easier to eat healthy and manage a healthy weight.






Nutrition Facts

  12 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 94.1
  Total Fat 1.0 g
      Saturated Fat 0.2 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 766.7 mg
  Potassium 412.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 18.8 g
      Dietary Fiber 5.1 g
      Sugars 1.2 g
  Protein 4.2 g

  Vitamin A 42.4 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.2 %
  Vitamin B-6 10.1 %
  Vitamin C 73.5 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 1.5 %
  Calcium 7.6 %
  Copper 5.7 %
  Folate 21.8 %
  Iron 8.9 %
  Magnesium 9.1 %
  Manganese 19.7 %
  Niacin 5.6 %
  Pantothenic Acid     3.7 %
  Phosphorus     7.5 %
  Riboflavin 6.2 %
  Selenium 6.0 %
  Thiamin 7.5 %
  Zinc 4.2 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Art of Ethiopian: Part 4 - Cheese, Greens, & Injera

This is the fourth and final post in my Art of Ethiopian Cuisine post series. From a 100%-not-Ethiopian-American, I must say this all tasted really dang good. And it doesn't take too much hands-on work time. If I had had a real Ethiopian over to try it, I'm not sure what their opinion would be. But if you want the "Americanized" easy version, these recipes are sure to do the trick!


The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 1 - Beef & Pork
The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 2 - Chicken & Fish
The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 3 - Potatoes & Lentils
The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 4 - Cheese, Greens, & Injera


Ayib

The cheese is called "Iab or Ayib" and is like a cottage cheese/ricotta hybrid. You usually need it to temper the heat in these types of dishes, but my recipes leave out the Berberi spices you will notice. If you like super hot foods, feel free to pick some up and sprinkle it into all these stews. Because I don't have hours or days to make it the proper way, THIS recipe from Whats4Eats comes close to approximating Iab.  


Ingredients (Ayib):
1 cup large curd cottage cheese
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sprinkle sea salt
Step 1: Rinse the cottage cheese in cold water and let it drain. Press dry with paper towels if you like. I tried that and the towel got cheese curds stuck all over it so try at your own risk.
Step 2: In a bowl, mix the cheese curds, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt. Refrigerate until serving.


Gomen Wat

The greens are called "Gomen Wat" (guess Wat...again) and the recipe I used is based off the one HERE on my trusty AllRecipes site. I didn't have collard greens, so I used what I had, which was kale. I bet you could use spinach instead as well, any leafy green will do.

Ingredients (Gomen Wat):
2 cups chopped kale
2 cups water/stock
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt
Step 1: Put the greens, spices, and liquids in a small crock pot. Cook on low for 1-3 hours. 
Make sure to stir every now and then. The greens will wilt and take up less room. I like my greens extra tangy to counteract the bitter. I also sprinkle them with a healthy dose of fresh coarse ground sea salt. Keep on low until you serve.



Injera

And of course, the cornerstone of the meal, that which holds it all together and is both plate and utensil, the Injera bread. Usually it is made from pure Teff flour and allowed to ferment and rise for three days. I unfortunately had neither the grain nor the time. So I based mine off this cheat recipe HERE from Whats4Eats, which does not need either. It rather ingeniously uses club soda and lemon for both the bubbles and the tang.

Ingredients (Injera):
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups club soda
As you can see, I had lemon-lime club soda so at first I didn't use the lemon juice. Several other recipes I found also use vinegar if you don't have lemon.
Step 1: Combine all ingredients and stir just until all flour is incorporated. The club soda will bubble quite a bit. 
Step 2: On a hot, sprayed griddle, pour about 1/2 cup of batter. 
Step 3: Typically injera is only cooked on one side, but I found that this better was just thick and pancake-y enough that I had to let it mostly cook, then flip for a final minute or two. There were still bubbles, which approximates injera. However the consensus was that the dough is thicker and sweeter than usual. So these are the Americanized Ethiopian pancake version of injera. And actually some said they prefer it, so perhaps this is a better way to ease an American palate into ethnic cuisine.


And this was the final meal. Ground beef, pork, chicken, fish, lentils, potatoes, greens, cheese and my injera pancakes. You of course don't have to cook all these at the same time, but I encourage you to at least make some injera and try one or two stews. You may find that you crave the flavors of Ethiopia from now on! And by cooking all this at home, you control the ingredients, so this meal turns out to be quite healthy, and very filling.



What's your favorite ethnic cuisine?