Category Archives: Interesting Miscelleana

The Way Food Used to Look

This is going to amaze you. The vegetables and fruits we know today are vastly different from what they began as.

banana-before

OK, three guesses, what is this?

A. Squash
B. Banana
C. Some kind of starchy vegetable

If you guessed B. banana,  you were right! There were two types of this banana with hard seeds in Southeast Asia, about 7000 years ago. Someone made a hybrid, and our delicious, soft, sweet banana is what eventually came of it.

What about this tasty-looking item?carrot-before2 Those are early carrots.  Carrots started their life in and around Afghanistan. The early ones were purple or white, and they didn’t become orange until at least the 15th century.

wild-cornHere’s wild corn, before it was domesticated.  European settlers started the domestication process in the 1400s.

Eggplant1Eggplant, anyone?? Wild eggplant had a lot more seeds than our modern variety.  It wouldn’t make a very good eggplant parmigiana.

Here are some other foods you may not recognize. These are what certain foods look like when grown, before they reach the market. This is the way they look today, not in yesteryear.

cashewCashews grow from the bottom of these “cashew apples”, which are not edible but can be made into a stringent juice.

cacaoCocoa pods eventually turn into your favorite chocolate bar, but cocoa starts out looking like this.

cinnamontreeThe bark of this tree turns into everyone’s favorite spice, cinnamon!

And finally… the chickpea! These are green when raw, and perfectly edible. A little prettier than those you get in a can, wouldn’t you say?

chickpea-plantMelody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Novel Ways to Keep Warm this Winter

With the arrival of winter comes colder temperatures and, as a result, we all struggle to keep warm without going broke due to high gas, oil or electric bills. Well, here are some unique, if temporary solutions to your cold weather issues, and, despite my perverted mind, none of them include the use of another human being (sorry if you’re disappointed).

chilisEat spicy (not just hot) food – Since this is a food-centric site, this solution only seemed appropriate to list first. If you’ve ever broken out in a sweat during or after the consumption of a spicy Thai dish, you understand the thinking behind this idea. Simply cook up some recipes that include curry, chilies, hot peppers, wasabi, ginger, or any other spice that induces sweating. One side note: remember to account for the workings of your gastro-intestinal system, especially post-meal.

Hot Potatoes – Well, hot, tiny potatoes…that have been nuked (microwaved) and then placed in your pockets, on your lap, or in your slippers. Think of them as inexpensive and primitive hand warmers strategically placed around your body. Fingerling or petite potatoes work best if they’re to be placed in confined spaces, like your pockets or slippers, while russets are best for your lap (just take care not to scald sensitive areas).

Warm clothes – Prior to getting dressed, place your outfit in the dryer and crank it on high for about ten minutes…heavenly! Or do the same with your favorite blanket just before settling in front of the TV, computer, or retiring to bed for the evening. You could also “cook” your clothes in the oven, but then you run the risk of “burning” them. (See “The Calzone” episode of Seinfeld, season seven, episode twenty, in which Kramer does just that- see below).

dog-hugUse your pets – You feed, house and clean up (yuck!) after them, so why not have them contribute to your warmth? While binge watching your favorite series, simply cover yourself with pets; dogs, cats, ferrets, dozens of guinea pigs, snakes…(wait, never mind, they won’t work as they’re cold blooded reptiles), or pygmy goats, it matters not. And if you’d like to be even warmer, convince your pets to cuddle UNDER the blankets with you. It makes quite a difference.

A warm bed – prior to getting in that bed. This can be achieved in any number of ways, to include a hot water bottle, a warm frying pan that’s been rubbed over the sheets, or warm bags of rice or dried beans. Who said food’s just for eating?

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The Master of Illusion Makes 105 lbs. Disappear

pennPenn Jillette has a ton of titles; magician, musician, juggler, inventor, comedian, author and actor, among others. Now, he can add successful extreme weight loser…yes, I realize that’s a contrived and awkward title, but work with me here.

Back in late 2014, Penn, who stood 6’ 7” and weighed 330 pounds, was informed by his doctor that his weight and poor diet was largely responsible for his high blood pressure, which briefly hospitalized him in December. Penn, who tends to take things to the extreme, to include his magic, atheism, libertarianism, and opinions in general, then made the extreme decision to adopt an extreme weight loss program.

He went vegan…no animal products, whole grains, added sugar or salt. He then cut his caloric intake from roughly 3,000 per day to 1,000. This extreme reduction in calories caused him to lose 105 pounds from December of 2014 to March of 2015. Do the math. That works out to a loss of almost one pound per day which most medical experts claim is an unhealthy and dangerous rate.

The fear with that type of calorie reduction is that, without supplements, which Penn eschewed, one is not providing the body with all the vitamins and minerals required to maintain proper health. By eating primarily raw fruits and vegetables, which Penn embraced, it is difficult to get the proper levels of iron, calcium, protein, and vitamins D and B12, again, without supplements. And without those essential nutrients, anemia, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, fatigue and memory loss could be the consequences.

Lastly, when one adopts such a drastic change in diet, maintaining that diet over the long-term can be a problem for most. That’s not to say that Penn will “fall off the vegan wagon” in the future, but the ride could become extremely rough moving forward. One’s dietary enthusiasm tends to wane as you face yet another day of leafy greens and citrus fruit…Mmmmmm, fiber.

While a healthy diet is essential for your well-being, both mental and physical, extreme diets should only be adopted in extreme circumstances under the supervision of a medical doctor or certified nutritionist. Remember, your body requires a variety of nutrients, and a balanced diet it the best way to ensure those dietary requirements are met. Make sure you don’t get too much of anything and enough of everything…no magic necessary.

MagicKitchen.com has delicious portion controlled meals that can help you lose weight in a more healthy, albeit less spectacular way.  We all don’t need to be as showy and flashy as Mr. Jillette, right?

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What Will Food Be Like in 100 Years?

jetsonWhile it’s difficult to predict what will happen tomorrow, let’s not allow that to preclude us from speculating on what will become of food as we move toward the year 2100 and beyond. And futurists are predicting neither a Jetsons-like meal in a pill, nor the mass consumption of Soylent Green (don’t know or remember The Jetsons or Soylent Green?…Google them).

There are two main scenarios that currently exist for our future, optimistic and pessimistic and they are based on the effects of climate change and the growth of the global population. Most think-tanks have the global population growing from its current level of 7.1 billion to 10-11 billion by the start of the 21st century barring a global conflagration, pandemic or extinction event due to severe climate change (think happy thoughts).

Since nobody likes a Debbie Downer, let’s focus on the optimistic models. The other one’s just too depressing to contemplate. What follows are the three most common predictions made by futurists who study, well…the future. They are in no way guaranteed to occur.

  1. We will eat less meat. Especially beef, due to the fact that it is one of the most inefficient methods of calorie production. It takes an average of 13 pounds of grain, fed to cattle, to produce a single pound of beef. We will no longer be able to devote that kind of time, space and energy to beef production. That time, space and energy will be devoted to growing high-yield, high-calorie, and high-protein crops for humans. Could this lead to less McDonald’s and Burger Kings dotting our landscapes? One can only hope.
  1. garden-hiriseA paradigm shift in agriculture. How we grow food will fundamentally change as current crop production must increase by 103% to feed 10 billion people. Some envision urban-based, vertical agriculture in which crops are grown in massive glass skyscrapers as farmland expands upward rather than outward. Others predict exponential growth in self-sufficient agriculture in which crops are grown at home, on campus, or within local communities. In other words, food will become more localized and decentralized. Still others see the growth of both hydroponic and aquaponic agriculture. The former involves soilless crop production with the plants feeding from a nutrient-rich, liquid solution and the latter involves crops and fish living in a symbiotic relationship where the fish fertilize the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish. Lots to think about, no?
  1. We consume the planet’s most abundant, edible lifeform. Yes folks, we begin to eat more insects for nutrition, not because we lost a bet. Many cultures already consume cricket flour, yellow jacket larvae and various kinds of beetles not named Paul or Ringo. Biologists predict, at any moment, there are over 10 quintillion insects just waiting to be eaten on the globe. Why not oblige them?

English scholar, Thomas Malthus, predicted at the turn of the 18th century that, eventually, global population would be curtailed by the spread of famine and disease associated with a more humans than the earth could sustain. Let’s hope that the same humans find a solution before that occurs.

In the meantime, fill up on delicious meals from MagicKitchen.com, and let those images feel from your head.

chicken-cordon_bleu

Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo for two

Beef Pot Roast

A sprig of basil adds taste and beauty<

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Heat Things Up for National Frozen Food Month

1940s“Honey, can you get some frozen vegetables from the ice box?” If you were trying to make something for dinner before 1945, you might have asked this question. That’s because there was no such thing as an electric freezer before then. If you wanted to keep food frozen, you had to put it in an ice box surrounded by ice and insulation which was often kept underground in basements and cellars.

Fortunately, electric freezers are standard in most households these days. When you stop and think about all the healthy foods, like MagicKitchen.com meals, and delicious desserts you can store in your freezer just a door-handle away, it’s a game changer. And it’s a good reason to celebrate National Frozen Food Month.

sub-zeroWho invented the electric freezer?

A guy named Westye Bakke went to work for the refrigerator company Frigidaire in 1926 as a salesman. It was a good learning experience for the experienced entrepreneur, who previously operated a motorcycle business with his brother. And it got him thinking about how cool it would be to have an electric freezer. So he turned in his notice at Frigidaire, developed a working electric freezer, and started filling freezer orders for the company he named SubZero. It was so successful, popular appliance manufacturers soon copied his idea and began marketing their own electric freezers.

Stock up on frozen food

Kids will tell you the best thing about having a freezer is a place to store ice cream, frozen gelatin squares, and fruit-flavored ice pops. But if you’re the one in charge of making meals, you know the freezer is your lifeline to food storage and easy-to-prepare frozen meals.

If cooking in the kitchen, trying to decide what to eat, or making your way through the grocery store to find all the ingredients in a recipe makes you crazy, give yourself a break and stock up on frozen meals.

Meal Delivery
Stuffed Chicken ana Luisa

Fill your freezer with frozen meals made from fresh ingredients

At MagicKitchen.com, our professional chefs have developed hundreds of health and tasty meals from fresh ingredients, flash frozen them, and packaged them to make it easy to prepare in the microwave. We’ve even created meal plans to meet the needs of picky eaters, and just about anyone with specific dietary needs.

In fact, our line of HomeStyle Healthy Meals includes customized entrees, side dishes and desserts for the following special diets: diabetic, dairy-free, gluten-free, low-carbohydrate, low-cholesterol, low-fat, low-sodium, vegetarian, and even a WeightWatchers PointsPlus® option.

If you were trying to make every meal from scratch and keep it healthy, it could take hours of prep and cooking time in the kitchen. But it doesn’t have to be that way, thanks to Mr. Bakke and his invention. Just stock up on your favorite MagicKitchen.com meals, put them in the freezer, and you can be eating a hot and healthy meal in minutes. Pretty cool, right?

Give us a call at 877-516-2442 or visit our site at MagicKitchen.com to place an order and celebrate National Frozen Food Month with us.

product-collage3

 

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Foods for St. Patrick’s Day

cornbeefandcabbageSt. Patrick’s Day is a day for a party all over the United States and of course Ireland, the mother country. Enjoy the day with traditional foods like Corned Beef & Cabbage, Irish Soda Bread, Shepherd’s Pie or Irish Stew. We all know (Or can imagine) what Corned Beef and Cabbage tastes like, but the other dishes might perplex a few readers. Irish Soda bread is a dark quick-bread (meaning using no yeast or other leavener). It has whole meal flour, porridge oats and lots of butter and buttermilk, along with the soda.

Shepherd’s Pie is a classic dish all over the British Isles. Lots of veggies,ground beef or lamb, stock, flour and a bit of red wine, all covered in mashed potatoes, and baked until golden and bubbly. Irish stew uses lamb or mutton,  along with potatoes and barley for a very hearty dish.

Iirsish-bread-dipf you’re not in the mood to throw together a whole feast, here are some smaller recipes that will work just as well. Reuben Braids are the brain child of Kellie Mulleavy, Lambertville, Michigan. What a fabulous and easy way to emulate corned beef and cabbage!

200806-r-avocado-soup-crabNancy Citro’s Emerald Island Dip recipe gives us an easy dish with a wonderful presentation. The shamrock cut-out is perfect for an Irish-themed party.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Crab is just green enough to be pertinent, and definitely delicious enough to be devoured.

Savory cheesecakes like  Pesto Swirled Cheesecake from Elizabeth Jackson, Portland, Oregon, are delightful appetizers, and this one has the requisite green as well as being creamy and divine.

mintbarsReady for some dessert ideas? St. Patrick’s Chocolate & Mint Cheesecake Bars are decadent, creamy, and decidedly green.

Shamrock Milkshake Cupcakes fit the bill, and you can serve them in green cupcake liners.

Last but never least, Martha Stewart, the queen of cuisine, has this dessert recipe to offer:
Lime Squares with Pistachio Graham-Cracker Crust.

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What is 12th Night?

wassailFrom Wikipedia: “Twelfth Night is a festival, in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany. There is disagreement as to whether the Twelfth Night falls on 6th January or the 5th; the Church of England insists that it is on the 5th and “refers to the night before Epiphany, the day when the nativity story tells us that the three wise men visited the infant Jesus. In pagan days, 12 night originally came from the 12 days of Yuletide which began at sunset on December 20, known as Mother Night, and ended on the night of December 31, the Night of the Oak King and the Roman day of Hecate

Food and drink are the center of the celebrations in modern times, and all of the most traditional ones go back many centuries. The punch called wassail is consumed especially on Twelfth Night, but throughout Christmas time, especially in the UK.

Around the world, special pastries, such as the tortell and king cake are baked on Twelfth Night, and eaten the following day for the Feast of the Epiphany celebrations.

In English and French custom, the Twelfth-cake was baked to contain a bean and a pea, so that those who received the slices containing them should be designated king and queen of the night’s festivities.

In Ireland it is still the tradition to place the statues of the Three Kings in the crib on Twelfth Night or, at the latest, the following Day Little Christmas.

12th-2In colonial America, a Christmas wreath was always left up on the front door of each home, and when taken down at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, any edible portions would be consumed with the other foods of the feast. The same held true in the 19th-20th centuries with fruits adorning Christmas trees.
Fresh fruits were hard to come by, and were therefore considered fine and proper gifts and decorations for the tree, wreaths, and home. Again, the tree would be taken down on Twelfth Night, and such fruits, along with nuts and other local produce used, would then be consumed.

In the eastern Alps, a tradition called Perchtenlaufen exists. Two to three hundred masked young men rush about the streets with whips and bells driving out evil spirits.  In Nuremberg until 1616, children frightened spirits away by running through the streets and knocking loudly at doors.

In some countries, the Twelfth Night and Epiphany mark the start of the Carnival season, which lasts through Mardi Gras Day. Modern American Carnival traditions shine most brightly in New Orleans, where friends gather for weekly King Cake parties. Whoever gets the slice with the “king”, usually in the form of a miniature baby doll (symbolic of the Christ Child, “Christ the King”), hosts next week’s party.

12th-1In parts of Kent, there is a tradition that an edible decoration would be the last part of Christmas to be removed in the Twelfth Night and shared amongst the family.

Drury Lane Theatre in London has had a tradition since 1795 of providing a Twelfth Night cake. The will of Robert Baddeley made a bequest of £100 to provide cake and punch every year for the company in residence at the theatre on 6 January. The tradition still continues.

Of course, Twelfth Night is also one of Shakespeare’s comedies, where a shipwrecked Viola pretends to be a man, and much farcical comedy ensues.

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Where Your Favorite Holiday Customs Originated

MagicKitchen.com Turkey Dinner for 2

Where do you think the traditions you love to celebrate came from? Here is a history of holiday traditions!

The origin of Thanksgiving is generally associated with the Pilgrims. When the Pilgrims arrived in the Americas, the Native Americans helped them survive by showing them what crops to plant. A year later, the Pilgrims celebrated their bountiful harvest by preparing a huge feast, which lead to the tradition of Thanksgiving dinner.

The turkey is a native of North America and so may have been one of the main dishes, giving rise to the traditional turkey dinner. MagicKitchen.com can provide you with the traditional turkey dinner, or send it to people who can’t be home for it this year.

Christmas trees may have originated with St. Boniface, who instituted the evergreen as a representation of eternal life. Martin Luther began the tradition of putting lights on the tree, using candles to light the tree. Many of our most valued holidays began as simple affairs, designed to bring a little light into a dark world.

When Christmas lights became electric, they started being used outside, on trees and walkways and houses. By the mid-20th century, it became customary to display strings of electric lights as Christmas decoration detached from the Christmas tree itself, along streets and buildings. In the United States, it became popular to outline private homes with such Christmas lights in tract housing beginning in the 1960s. By the late 20th century, the custom had also been adopted in non-western countries, notably in Japan.(Source: Wikipedia)

Advent calendars started in Germany in the late 1800’s, spreading around the world in popularity. WWII stopped the tradition in its tracks due to the ban on using cardboard, but a man named Richard Selmer started printing them again.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger.

MagicKitchen.com, Delicious Made Simple.

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10 Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas

Isn’t it too bad Valentine’s Day takes place in February? Think of all the romantic things you could do in summer; go for a balloon ride, go for a long scenic drive with the top down, picnics, boat rides..the list goes on and on.

But what can you do in February for a romantic Valentines Day? Here are 10 Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas you will love.

1. Do something different. Sometimes the most fun can be had by doing something you don’t usually do, or something you haven’t done for a long time. Go bowling, roller-skating, ice skating or tobogganing.

2. Give your loved one a tour of your past. If you live near the town you grew up in, your partner will really enjoy seeing the places that helped make you… you. Bring a long some pictures of you at the places you’re going to tour to, if you can.

3. Have a bubble bath together. No need to rent an expensive hotel room if you don’t have the means, just set up the bathroom with candles, and get naked together!

4. Take dance lessons. It can be really romantic to know the classic dances. Commit to dance classes this year, and next year go out and tear up the floor!

5. Couples Massage. Book it, Danno!

6. Make dinner. Whoever does the cooking most of the time gets a night off, while you do the cooking and cleanup. Then go to #3. 😉 If you’re not much of a cook, order from the MagicKitchen.com Valentines Day Menu.

7. Puzzle Love Note: Write out a note from your heart. Glue it to thin cardboard, then cut it into puzzle pieces and give it to her or him.

8. Have a date at home. Rent a couple of DVDs, make some popcorn, and snuggle up on the couch.

9.  Get Away. If your time and budget allow, hop on a plane and get away for a few days. Or if you live near a beautiful spot,  jump in the car and book a cabin in the mountains with a fireplace. (or your equivalent)

10. Plan a Trip. Spend the evening poring over maps and travel guides, and decide where your next exciting trip will be. Plan it all out, and get your savings plan in hand. If you enjoy traveling, this is a great way to spend time!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

 

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The Perfect Picnic Hamper

chocolate cake
Chocolate Cake

Packing the perfect picnic hamper for your picnic is crucial to having a great picnic. You can pack gourmet meals in your picnic hamper, but you have to know what all you need to pack and how you need to pack it in order for the picnic to go off without a hitch. The last thing you want to do is plan that perfect picnic with that special someone in your life or with family and it all fall apart because of your picnic hamper was not packed correctly. Packing it right will ensure you have the perfect meal delivery. Here are some tips to help you pack the perfect picnic hamper for that special picnic.

Plan Ahead

For starters, you will need to plan ahead. Make yourself a little plan of the meal and drinks you want to take to the picnic. Ready made meals are the best, that way you don’t have to make your meals once you get to the location of the picnic. By planning ahead, you will know what you will need in order to fix the pre-made meal and also what type of containers you will need.

Purchase Different Containers

A very important part to packing the perfect picnic hamper is packing the pre-made meals so that it doesn’t spill out, get crushed, or spoil. This can be accomplished by buying different types of containers for the food. So, once you have planned out the pre-made meal you are going to fix, you will know the type of containers you will need.

Don’t Forget Your Supplies

When you are planning, don’t forget to add your supplies to the list of things to get. You will need to pack your utensils, plates, cups, and whatever else you are going to need in the picnic hamper.

Grab Your Cloth

To top the perfect picnic hamper off, grab your cloth or cover that you are going to sit on at the picnic. You can fold this neatly and place it on top of the picnic hamper

There you have a few tips that will help you pack the perfect picnic hamper for your perfect picnic. You can also throw in extra things like flowers and a vase or candles. Try not to pack anything that you don’t need though, it will only weigh you down!

Amanda, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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