No. 80 - August 2009
Welcome to the August 2009 Recipes4us Newsletter. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at Newsletter@Recipes4us.co.uk .
What's in Season in
Click here to see what's in season this month and to find a UK Farmers' Market near you. There are Lots of seasonal recipes too
4th August is National Watermelon Day (UK)
The US have had a National Watermelon day for ages which is celebrated on 3rd August, so if you really like watermelon, there are now two days on which you can celebrate! In the UK the day has been designed to raise awareness of the health benefits of watermelon and a spokesman for UK National Watermelon Day said “We are delighted to launch National Watermelon Day in the UK, which we hope will show people just what a fantastic, addition to their diet watermelon can be.” You can visit www.watermelonday.co.uk for more information.
Here are a few watermelon facts you may not already know
Watermelons are believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert
Watermelons were cultivated in Egypt and India as far back as 2500 BC
Watermelon seeds were found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun
There are over 1000 varieties of watermelon worldwide
Certain wild varieties can produce up to 100 melons per vine
Watermelon Nutritional Values
One serving of watermelon provides 80% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. It is also a good source of potassium, high in fibre and beta-carotene and contains Vitamins A and B6 and a higher concentration of lycopene which has antioxidant capabilities, than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. It also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine which are thought to maintain blood flow and heart health.
Total Fat 0.0645g
Saturated Fat 0.0072g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0219g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0161g
Total Carbohydrate 1.08g
Dietary Fiber 0.075g
Below are 3 watermelon recipes courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board (USA). Although they are very different, all are great for the whole family.
Watermelon Berry Slush
4 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
275g/10oz Fresh Raspberries
360ml/12fl.oz. Sparkling Mineral Water
Place watermelon and raspberries in a single layer in shallow tin and freeze until firm.
Remove from freezer and let stand 5 minutes then drop the watermelon through food chute of a food processor or blender with the motor running.
Add frozen raspberries alternately with mineral water, processing until smooth.
This Fresh Dip with a Hint of Sweetness Makes a Treat Kids Will Love.
240ml/8fl.oz. Sour Cream
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Watermelon stix or small wedges
Blend together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small serving bowl. Use as a dip for the watermelon.
Watermelon Star Cake
1. Cut a three-inch thick slice from the center of an oblong, seedless watermelon. Place flat on a cutting board and use an oversized star-shaped cookie cutter (or sharp kitchen knife) to cut a star shape. Set on paper towel to drain excess water. Wash the watermelon and pat dry.
2. Place on a serving dish or cake stand.
3. Pipe whipped cream or a light frosting between the bottom edge of the star and the plate. Dot with blueberries.
4. Frost the cake with topping and arrange blueberries and cut strawberries on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
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Save 32% on NEW Taste Britain magazine
Other food celebrations in August include:-
5th National Mustard Day
(see the Mustard Page)
8th National Hot Dog Day (UK)
(see the Hotdog Page)
19th Potato Day (US)
(see the Preserving Section)
It launches on Thursday 20th August and every issue will be packed with over 50 inspiring seasonal recipes, the best of British beer, cider, wine and whisky, wonderful travel features on undiscovered and favourite UK gastro hotspots, and coverage of the very best British ingredients and produce. With contributions from all the top British chefs, it's sure to please your taste buds.
You can save 32% on every issue and guarantee your copy of the first edition by subscribing now for just £15 every 6 issues.
Click here now to get your savings!
August is Peach Month (USA)
The Persians are believed to have introduced the peach to Europe from China and Spanish explorers took them to the Americas in the 16th century.
Not only are they delicious but they're full of goodness too with medical studies having shown that their content of the antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin help guard against blindness caused by Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) which is now the biggest cause of irreversible blindness or partial loss of sight in the western world, affecting millions of people over the age of 50. 1 Medium sized peach provides one of your recommended 5-a-day. Why not try one of our peach smoothie recipes.
August Site Updates
Perfect Picnics - New!
August is National Picnic Month
Picnics are a fun and pleasurable way to spend a few hours on a warm summer's day or evening and whether in the back yard, local park, countryside or on the beach, with little effort, they can be as simple or elaborate as you like.
I've set up a whole new page on the site dedicated to picnics including picnic ideas, tips on picnic-friendly food, advice about packing picnics, equipment available, food safety plus, of course, lots of recipes for perfect picnics and al fresco eating.
A Perfect Picnic food
A frittata is basically a thick flat omelette which originated in Italy.
In most cases, extra solid ingredients such as vegetables, meats or pasta are added making it more substantial and seasonings such as herbs are also often added for extra flavour. Because they are often just as good, if not better, eaten at room temperature, they make a wonderful addition to any picnic.
For more information about making frittatas plus lots of frittata recipes visit our new Frittata page.
August Weekday Menus
Help plan your meals and shopping weeks ahead. Designed so that you can interchange one day's menu with another in the same grouping, most of the main courses are ready to serve in less than 40 mins - great for working people. Many of the recipes also feature seasonal vegetables or fruit.
Quick Mango Cheesecakes
Chicken w/ Blackcurrant
Ice Cream with Warm Anise White Chocolate Sauce
Chicken, Blueberry and Feta Salad
Cherry Yoghurt Dessert
Watermelon Glazed Chicken
Chocolate Brioche Trifles
Duck with Raspberry Sauce
Honeyed Pork Chops
Oranges in a Duvet
Courgette & Liver Fry
Sorbet of choice
Grilled Lamb's Kidneys
Layered Nectarine Cheesecakes
Gammon with Apricot
Ice Cream of Choice
Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad
Bananas w/ Fudge Sauce
Melon on the Rocks
Parsley Lemon & Pine Nut Linguine
Baked Summer Fruit
Potato and Salmon Salad
Fresh Fruit Salad
Food in Film
Click the film to see the next in the series.
Click the picture to find the latest Recipes4us additions plus the next in the Phil Vickery pudcast series
August in the Kitchen Garden
Plants such as courgettes, marrows, runner, dwarf and green beans and outdoor cucumbers should be romping away by now. Make sure you keep them well watered and weed free.
Continue to make small sowings of carrots, lettuce, radish, spinach and spring onions to ensure a continuous harvest. Alternatively just harvest every other plant. that way, you can have young small tender veggies now whilst leaving some to grow on. This method works especially well with Carrots, spring onions, turnips and beetroot.
When harvesting spinach, leaf beet and loose leaved lettuce, only harvest a few outside leaves from each plant, allowing the plants to keep throwing up new leaves.
Check the ties and staking of taller plants such as beans and tomatoes , loosening or tightening as necessary.
Pinch out side shoots which will appear where the leaves join the stems, when they are about 2.5cm/1" long. Once tomatoes have developed on 4 or 5 trusses, pinch out the growing tip.
Aubergines, Peppers & Capsicums
Fine spraying of plants with water helps encourage fruit to set. Limit to 5 or 6 fruits per plant. Once the fruit start to swell, feed with tomato food each time you water.
Butternut Squash, Courgettes & Marrows
Pinch out growing tips of trailing varieties when they reach 60cm/2ft long or have 6-8 leaves. Keep very well watered but only water around the plants and feed with liquid fertiliser once the fruits begin to form. Continual cropping is necessary to prolong the harvesting period. Start cutting courgettes at about 10cm/4" and Marrows and butternut at about 20cm/8".
For detailed growing instructions visit growing herbs and vegetables section
Focus On . . .
What to do with all that ripe, luscious summer fruit?
Well, apart from just enjoying them fresh as they come, here are a few suggestions
Summer fruit jellies are fabulous and can be made more "adult" by the addition of alcohol in the jelly mix
Smoothies are a great way to use up berries especially if they are over ripe. A great way to get some of your 5-A-Day
Jams and conserves are an easy way to use up large quantities of fresh berries with the added bonus that they'll keep for months.
Made into purées or coulis, summer berries go equally well with savoury foods such as goat's cheese and poultry as well as sweet recipes
Cooking Skills . . .
Making Panna Cotta
Carrying on with the summer berry theme, here is one of the latest Recipes4us videos in which I show you how to make delicious Italian vanilla Panna Cotta with a summer berry coulis. Although this one shows strawberries and raspberries, you can easily substitute any other soft berries such as blackberries, blueberries or redcurrants.
The video also briefly discusses the difference in the methods of using sheet gelatine and powdered gelatine. For the written recipe and full sized video click HERE
Food in the News . . .
The following 3 news items were published earlier this year. The titles say it all, and although the company concerned has been imposing its will for many years, I think it's worth raising awareness of what's going on again, especially in view of the most recent news article which I've published in full below.
Germany Bans Monsanto's GMO Corn > > > More
Monsanto files suit against Germany over GM ban > > > More
Ban of genetically-modified maize upheld > > > More
If you are thinking "so what" then I'd urge you to read the final news article which I've published in full below .
Monsanto sells their patented GM seed "under licence" to farmers, who are required to sign an agreement promising not to save any of the seed produced after each harvest for re-planting or give the seed to other farmers. This means that farmers must buy new seed every year.
On the Monsanto website they say:
"We're excited about the potential for genetically modified food to contribute to a better environment and a sustainable, plentiful, and healthy food supply"
In reality, it seems to me that it's just big business trying to force their will on governments, farmers and therefore indirectly on consumers.
A fantastic business model
It's reported that Monsanto has purchased most of the seed companies across the U.S. Midwest, making it difficult for farmers to purchase anything other than Monsanto products and to tighten the noose further, it has also been reported that Monsanto has sued 1500 farmers in the US whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM-crops. (see diagram below).
Helping the Third World
Their spin about helping poorer nations to feed themselves is also debateable as these extremely poor farmers also have to buy new seed every year and in some cases, they need to buy other Monsanto products, such as fertilisers, to ensure the crop performs well.
Monsanto feeds the poor .... forever .... for a price.
Now even that's proven not to be true as the story on the right demonstrates, because their product is not infallible.
What damage is done if just 25% of a crop fails let alone the 80% being claimed in the article? Not only would there not be enough food but the prices would rocket. The fact that a "laboratory mistake" can result in crop failure opens up even more worrying possibilities.
In order to be fair, I have also read that Monsanto has agreed to compensate the SA farmers for the crop failure.
Bear in mind the more GM crops grown commercially, the more possibility of hybrid plants being created which may not only enter the food chain at a commercial level, but may also eventually affect individuals' garden/allotment crops.
Monsanto GM Corn a Disaster in South Africa
(July 2009) from www.naturalnews.com
Farmers in South Africa have reported an inexplicable failure to seed in three different varieties of corn genetically modified (GM) by the Monsanto Corporation.
"One can't see from the outside whether a plant is unseeded," said Kobus van Coller of Free State province. "One must open up the cob leaves to establish the problem."
The problems occurred only in corn engineered by Monsanto for increased yields or for resistance to the company's trademark herbicide, Roundup (glyphosate). Failure to seed has been documented in the provinces of Free State, Mpumalanga and North West.
According to Monsanto, the crop failure occurred due to "underfertilization processes in the laboratory," and has only been a problem in "less than 25 percent" of the seed from the three corn varieties.
Marian Mayet of the Africa Center for Biosecurity disputed the company's claims, however. According to her sources, some farms have experienced crop failures as high as 80 percent. She also expressed doubt over Monsanto's explanation for the problem, laying the blame instead on the GM technologies used to produce the seed.
"Monsanto says they just made a mistake in the laboratory, however we say that biotechnology is a failure," Mayet said. "You cannot make a 'mistake' with three different varieties of corn. We have been warning against GM-technology for years, we have been warning Monsanto that there will be problems."
Mayet called on the government to launch an investigation into the crop failures and to institute an immediate ban on the cultivation of all GM crops in South Africa.
South Africa was one of the first countries after the United States to adopt GM corn. Like the United States but unlike many European countries, South Africa does not require that GM ingredients be labelled as such on food packaging.
* * * * *
Apparently GM corn cannot pollinate normal corn BUT the diagram on the left shows how nature does her thing with GM crops - in the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm (played by Geoff Goldblum) in the film Jurassic Park
"Nature will find a way"
Biotechnologists can use numerous methods to insert designer genes from a variety of organisms into plant genomes. A transgenic or genetically modified (GM) plant produced this way may have genes added to improve flavour or nutrition, but most transgenes are designed to improve resistance to insects or herbicides.
Definition of a Transgene:
A gene or genetic material that has been transferred naturally or by any of a number of genetic engineering techniques from one organism to another
For more information visit the scq.ubc.ca website
Recipe of the Month
Orange and Fennel Salad
Orange and fennel are a classic combination that is enhanced by the addition of cheese, in this instance Dutch Edam, and an orange and olive dressing. Perfect as a light lunch or summer meal.
Serves: 4 - Prep time: 15 minutes
2 large oranges
1 medium head of fennel
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
75g (3oz) mixed spinach, rocket and watercress leaves
150g (5oz) Edam wedge, cut into cubes
For the dressing:
15g (½oz) pitted black olives, finely chopped
15ml (1tbsp) freshly chopped parsley
30ml (2tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
30ml (2tbsp) orange juice
5ml (1tsp) balsamic vinegar
1. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin and pith from the oranges. Then, holding the oranges over a bowl, cut into segments between the membranes. Reserve the orange juice and place the segments into a salad bowl.
2. Discard the tough outer layer from the fennel, then thinly slice. Place in the bowl with the orange segments, red onion, salad leaves and Dutch Edam.
3. To make the dressing, place 30ml (2tbsp) of the reserved orange juice and all the remaining dressing ingredients together in a screw top jar and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Shake well, until combined, then pour over the salad. Gently toss together until the salad is evenly coated.
4. Divide between 4 bowls and serve immediately.
You can marinate the cheese, orange, fennel and red onion in the dressing, but remember to add the leaves just before serving or they will wilt from the acid in the dressing.
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