Butler County Times Gazette
  • Food for Thought: Gift them with spices

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  • Tip of the Week
    If you struggle finding just the right wedding present for friends and family who are getting married, you’re not alone. You want a gift that is personal, unique and, above all else, something they will actually use.
    Many newlyweds need to build their kitchen supplies, plus with the foodie trend still going strong, you can’t go wrong with food- and cooking-themed gifts.
    Instead of gifting a blender or new pots and pans, think outside the gift box and create a basket of premium spices. A good set of spices makes an immediate difference in any kitchen — high-quality cinnamon, paprika or even salt and pepper, for example, bring an impressive new level of flavor to any meal. It’s also fun for newlyweds to explore spices together.
    When selecting spices for gifting, look for natural and organic spices. You want your gift to communicate your best wishes for the happy couple’s health while giving them a true taste of why high standards matter.
    Here are some top spices the experts at Frontier Natural Products recommend:
    Start with staples: To properly build a spice rack, you must have a good selection of commonly used staples. Great staple spices include basil, bay leaves, cayenne, chives, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric and, of course, salt and black pepper.
    Add blends: Ready-to-use spice blends are quick and convenient ways to add flavor to foods, and they’re perfect for cooks learning their way in the kitchen. Popular spice blends include all-purpose seasoning, chili powder, curry powder, Italian seasoning, Mexican seasoning and pumpkin pie spice.
    Include adventure: Add a surprise element to your gift basket, such as a spice that is reminiscent of their honeymoon location.
    Keep it trendy: Smoked spices are all the rage right now, so be sure to include some delicious smoked sea salt. Another trendy spice is Vietnamese Cinnamon, prized by gourmet chefs.
    Finish with extracts: To round out your wedding gift, consider including some premium extracts and flavorings, such as vanilla extract.
    — Brandpoint
    Number to Know
    1889: Originating from Naples, Italy, a Neapolitan pizza features a thinner crust that is baked quickly at high temperatures, typically in a wood or stone oven. The toppings are minimal with the sauce often being the dominating feature. The classic pizza Napoletana margharita — created in 1889 as a tribute to the queen of Italy — simply includes tomatoes, mozzarella and crust made from wheat flour.
    — Brandpoint
    Easy Recipe
    CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD
    • 1/2 cup Sunsweet pitted prunes
    • 2 T water
    • 1 cup (about 2) bananas, mashed
    • 1/3 cup plus 1 T brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    Page 2 of 2 - • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
    • 1/3 cup plus
    • 1 T cocoa powder
    • 1/2 t baking powder
    • 1/2 t baking soda
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1/2 cup Plum Amaz!ns
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 1-pound loaf pan. In a small bowl, combine prunes and water. Microwave for 45 seconds and let set for 10 minutes. Puree prunes with water in a blender. In a bowl, beat together the prune puree, bananas, sugar, eggs and oil with an electric mixer until incorporated.
    In a separate bowl mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the prune mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the Plum Amaz!ns and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
    Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
    Makes 12 servings.
    — Brandpoint
    Food Quiz
    I am one of America’s oldest snacks, as well as the favorite by volume consumed each year. What am I?
    A. Cracker Jack
    B. Pretzels
    C. Popcorn
    D. Chocolate
    Answer at bottom of rail.
    Wise to the Word
    merguez: A thin, spicy sausage made with beef and/or lamb, merguez is seasoned with sumac and harissa (a hot red chili paste). Merguez originated in North Africa (particularly Algeria and Tunisia), and is popular in France, Belgium and Germany.
    — Cookthink
    The Dish On…
    “The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Feel Amazing,” by Joe Cross
    Since his documentary, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead,” was released in 2010 and became a worldwide sensation, Joe Cross has become a tireless advocate for the power of juicing. “The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet” brings us of the plan that allowed him to overcome obesity, poor health and bad habits, and presents success stories from others whose lives he’s touched.
    — Amazon
    Food Quiz answer
    C. (Today, Americans eat about 16 billion quarts of popcorn every year, making it the nation’s favorite snack food by volume. It is believed the oldest ear of popping corn was more than 5,000 years old)
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