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The Dark History of Mayhem Manor

In 1981 at the worldwide Psychological Convention…

Dr. Morpheus MayhemDr. Morpheus Mayhem, the leading authority on the emotion of FEAR, presented the results of his life-long research. Dr. Mayhem’s theories were so radical that the other doctors attending the convention were unwilling to consider them. Scoffed at and ridiculed by his peers, the Doctor was literally laughed out of the auditorium.

Outraged by his humiliation, Dr. Mayhem set out to prove his theories. He built “Mayhem Manor,” a state-of-the-art research facility disguised as a family Halloween Haunted House and began experimenting on unsuspecting visitors. the Mad Doctor Mayhem.

The obsession of proving his theories eventually drove Morpheus mad. His experimentation became more and more radical, often pushing his subjects into cardiac arrest. There were even rumors of torture and mutilation at the hands of the “good doctor.”

In 1991, a sudden increase in missing persons reports …

Forced the local authorities to search Mayhem Manor. Inside, they were confronted by a huge, maze-like labyrinth with room after room of diabolical gadgetry designed to strike terror into all who entered. In the last room, they found the body of Dr. Mayhem, dead from his own personal experiment in fear, his lifeless body still convulsing from the electrical stimuli. Mayhem Family Portrait.

Locals claim that Mayhem Manor is haunted to this day by the ghost of the dead doctor and his many victims. But you can find this out for yourself, because Mayhem Manor is once again open for public tours. You can visit the manor house, left exactly as it was found by the authorities in 1991, less the dead body of the infamous Dr. Mayhem, of course.

How Japanese Craft Beers got Started and what they have become

To explain the concept of ‘kurafuto bia,’ Japan’s craft beer, it qualifies most easily as the product of commercial operations that sprang out of beer deregulation in Japan in the 1990s. Many Japanese recognize any brew that is not the product of any of the five major corporate beer manufacturer labels as craft beer. In effect, the trend of starting up a craft brew operation has become something of an exciting economic explosion, a recent but ongoing phenomenon that involves beer enthusiasts, home brew hobbyists, and private business such as pubs, bars, and eateries who trade in various formulations and sample each other’s love for ji-biru, local beer.

Brief history of beer in Japan

As the Brewers Association of Japan (est. 1953) explains, the first brewing of beer on the island was attributed to Koumin Kamamoto in 1853, instructed from a Dutch book. In the 1870s, beer began to be manufactured for the first time and sold, qualifying for government regulation by 1876. In but a single decade, imports were overtaken with in-state production, until from out of its economic boom emerged a national tax in 1901.

Japanese craft beer, or ‘ji-biru,’ has only been available since the legal deregulation. Previously, Japan’s entire beer industry was a government-regulated oligopoly of four or five brewers.

Already adept in the science of carbonation from their many years of offering sparkling saké, a number of “saké-only” breweries responded to deregulation by concocting their own craft beer, typically by expanding into both brew forms. For those companies, making saké differed little over that of making beer and was to make for an obvious addition of craft brew. Since, other establishments have also seized on the opportunity, at the least to offer more choices to patrons. Eventually came the move to recognize new production efforts as something of an artisan occupation pursued throughout Japan. Thus the phrase “kurafuto bia” entered the popular lingo to recognize the uniqueness of crafting that may not be limited to the beer, but extend to the label and even to the marketing.

Saké, it shall be important to distinguish, refers to alcohol in both a general as well as a specific sense for the Japanese. The equivalent “craft brew” in matters of rice-based saké, as distinct from ji-biru, goes by the name ‘jizake.’ Some microbreweries, such as Hitachino Nest, incorporate special fermentation of rice in with their malted portions, so don’t be surprised to find saké in any style of alcohol whatsoever.

Bryan Baird, quoted in the Washington Post, introduces the business nature of ji-buru as it was from its inception. “When ji-biru started, it was at least 50 percent German-style.”


At the onset of deregulation in 1994, 175 craft beer breweries emerged between 1995 and 1999. By 2005, another 100 entered the vie for kurafuto bia popularity. The number eventually rose to over 300 and then fell dramatically due to a major number of bankruptcies to the present estimate of 250 craft beer brewers.

Kiuchi Brewery represents one of over 300 new craft beer breweries to spring up by the year 2000 prior to dwindling to the present estimate of 250. Its production was 250,000 gallons in 2010 with earnings of about m$8. And as sales of saké have dived, the company has increased its operations by as much as 40% in recent years.

Slate reports that as much as 40% of kurafuto bia purchase occurs by shipment. And according to Wayne Gabel of ‘All About Beer Magazine’;

“…[A] road trip is about the only way you’ll be able to sample the handiwork of most of this country’s small-scale brewers.”

Visit a definitively Japanese home brew site on the Web, if you read Japanese, to get a sense of what ingredients that craft brewers can purchase in Japan.

Favorable conditions

Too soon to say whether the future of Japan’s beer could be blowing in the wind in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and its contamination. Whether or not a groundwater threat exists at present, breweries have been storing water in the meantime and in many cases shipping the water to regions of the northeast most in need. Other sources claim that reverse osmosis can be one way to render contaminated water pure again through use of graphene, an allotrope of carbon one atom in thickness. If filtration is the only issue then Japan’s microbreweries can possibly bounce back from this disaster practically in a flash.

The Japanese have otherwise long enjoyed an abundance of high quality spring water to brew with. The Fushimi region of Kyoto Prefecture illustrates this importance of water to brewers. And these waters have attracted more than thirty various brewers of saké and craft beer there.

Water sources are known by name, such as “Fusui water source,” and have been chronicled as matter of public record in a top 100 list. If you want to locate some breweries, refer to this list. Swan Lake Brewery, located in Niigata Prefecture, uses pure Niigata spring water and has earned World Beer Cup awards in various categories.

Japanese craft breweries

As of 2010, only three food dispensaries in Tokyo, Japan operated their own in-house breweries. the bar, Craft Beer Moonlight; dock-side pub and restaurant TY Harbour, and Tokyo Disney Resort restaurant Harvestmoon, reports ‘Beer in Japan.’ Craft Beer Moonlight, a thoroughly Japanese bar, serves homebrew quantities straight from the keg in multiple varieties, the regular beers selling for 300 yen apiece and special brews from 500 – 800 yen. Menus in the English language were reported to be on the way. Also of note was that the bar sells homebrew supplies, the only source in the city apart from the Tokyo Hands chain store.

At the south end of the island, 250 miles west southwest from Tokyo, Dining Room You of Horikawa serves up some Japanese microbrews, including Angry Boy Brown Ale (by Baird Brewing Co. of Numazu, situated 35 miles due southwest of Tokyo on the Izu Peninsula).

Japanese craft beer gatherings

A considerable number of craft beer festivals and competitions can be found in any given year throughout the major cities of Japan. Parties at bars such as Akasaka’s international brew exhibitor, BierVana (in Tokyo), also offer a way to get together and try brews of any origin while highlighting local craft brews. Online sources such as IBU and JCBA cite some of the key annual kurafuto bia fests:

• Craft Beer Festa Kyoto
• Great Japan Beer Festival, hosted in prefectures Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama, hosted by JCBA
• Japan Craft Beer Selection, hosted by Japan Craft Beer Support
• Japan & Asia Beer Cup, hosted by Japan Craft Beer Association (JCBS rival)
• Tokyo Real Ale Festival
• “Grand Biere” Festival, hosted by JCBA
• International Beer Competition, hosted by JCBA
• Tokyo Microbrew Beer Festival

Craft beer vs. craft tax

Taxation controls the economics of beer sales without always determining what brews people choose to buy. In order to qualify for paying less tax, brewers elected to phase out malt quantities from the 66.6% minimum composition designated to define ji-biru to lower than 66.6% for second and third tax sector beers. These types may be brewed with or without malt.

Any consumer can estimate immediate economic destiny, fortune cookie style, by looking at consumption of ‘happoshu’ or ‘daisan,’ the lesser brews. But consider, in terms of brewing, the genuine craft in terms of flavor and food pairing. Being the product of tax code convenience, although certainly not the harpsichords of craft beer, these types should not be altogether ignored as sources for inspiration, critique, or appreciation. Happoshu’s mandatory production minimum holds at 6 kL.

Though Japanese critics, apart from home brew regulations, do not generally consider “near-beer” — what sells in America as “non-alcoholic beer” such as O’Douls at 0.5% or low alcohol content — to be beer in fact, the craft brewer could certainly identify that the distinguishing fact about beer concerns its fact of being brewed with gastronomic purpose, regardless of how tax breaks factor in. Similarly, in America, it is not “beer” but rather ale and “malt liquor” that has a higher alcohol rating, while all of these brews qualify as beer in Japan. So, at least in America, beer amounts to a low-alcohol beverage. Although in Japan, beer occurs on a critic-by-critic basis outside the government’s categorical scheme. Inevitably, the decision will be one of palatable and gastronomic predilection.

Thus happoshu and happosei/daisan brews, beer or not as 2nd and 3rd tax sector concepts, tend to be regarded as “faux beer.” It’s not all bad, but that’s not enough to silence the critics about its proper place in society.

Government regulation & statistics

Japan’s National Tax Agency offers positive insight as to the popularity of beer as a national drunken beverage. The production figures popularity of beer far out-foams that of any other alcohol beverage, double that of sparkling liquor and roughly six times that of saké, going by figures for the most recent year on record. The figures also show the regions that make the most beer (Osaka, Kanto Shinetau, Tokyo) and the prefectures with the most beer buyers, or sales (Tokyo, Osaka).

These findings equate with formal statistics such as established by the Wands Review (2006) that nearly half of Japanese citizens consume beer as their alcohol of favor. International Beers Unlimited claims the figure to be at two-thirds in the nation as a whole.

A brewer’s license of either class, temporary or permanent, can take as many as 6 months to be approved. In Japan, qualification consists of meeting legal requirements for a minimum brew of 60 kL per year, the equivalent of 512 U.S. barrels. Prior to deregulation, the minimum had been 2,000 kL.

Homebrew of craft beers on the rise

In stark contrast to Japan, cities in China and Hong Kong, Seoul South Korea, and Singapore where home brewing is legal in the practical sense have opened their veritable gateway to craft beers. The United States recently saw a decline in home brewing regulations in all states nationwide.

While in Japan’s land of artisans before the corporate dominion, the legality of home brewing remains limited to the 1% alcohol content rule, under law. That’s why home brewing supplies may be readily available throughout the nation. Although freedom to blend, formulate, and share brews freely suffers undeniable restriction. Still, with favorable water and its gratifying carbonation, any home brew concoction can be shared as long as it does not exceed 1%. Home brew carbonation typically occurs in-process, whereas many breweries dilute using carbonated water prior to bottling. While home brewing is not Japanese craft beer per se, it’s still only a license and 80 kL dream away, in a year’s mass production, so there should be no ignoring that ji-biru has to come from somewhere local.

For the most part, Japan’s craft beer comes directly from the prefecture supply house where it has been brewed. Japan’s contests and festivals, as well as craft brew operations in bars and eateries, make kurafuto bia most accessible. And then there are the microbreweries themselves and their online shops. Private establishments that serve patrons beer may also elect to carry any number of kurafuto bia varieties. The Japanese craft beer scene makes for excellent opportunities to travel and get out more to socialize in the simplest of ways, beckoning an adventure of discovery in the making.

Hamburger Drippings Gravy

A Saturday evening delight is one spent with friends and family accompanied by great comfort food. A cold evening indoors calls for juicy homemade hamburgers and lots of fries a frying pan and a willing stove top. The possibilities are endless, prepare the food station and encourage everyone to get involved to help keep nice and warm, move the social into the kitchen. Let’s of course remember to wash those hands people before we go grabbing the thick slabs of hamburger patties from the fridge, it’s now time to get to cooking. A cool kick to a great hamburger, try substituting plain ketchup with a homemade country style gravy to boost the flavour. For this you will need:


Salt and Pepper

Beef Stock

Fresh herbs

Cooking time is also a fun time so don’t worry about mistakes. The greatest recipes out there started with an ooops or two. It just adds to the flavour. After the hamburger patties have been cooked to perfection, ease off the last of the mouthwatering goodness from the pan. With every cooking process of making hamburgers in a frying pan, there is bound to be some great burned treats left at the bottom; this is good stuff.  In a measuring cup, pour out all the fat and juices from the pan and set aside for a few minutes to allow the fat to rise to the top. This is a good way to separate the fat from the juicy goodness the hamburger left behind. Now it’s time to make the roux (mixture of fat and flour) which is the thickening agent. The measurement provided here makes about one quart gravy, you can add or subtract ingredients if a greater or smaller quantity is required. By now (about 3 minutes) the mixture should have separated sufficiently. Skim off excess fat from juices, place in a another container.

Using the same frying pan, pour in 4 tbsp fat over medium heat and slowly whisk in 4 tbsp flour. The ratio used here is 1 tbsp fat to 1 tbsp flour. Take great care not to burn the roux.

To the roux ,add 4 cups beef stock while whisking slowly to avoid lumps. Allow to simmer and thicken to desired consistency, then add salt and pepper to taste along with your fresh herbs of choice for flavour. At this stage, the gravy would be a bit thin, but don’t be alarmed; the longer it cooks, the thicker it will get.

Some recommended herbs:






After 5-8 minutes, the gravy consistency should be thick enough with a delightful brown colour. If greater thickness is your thing, allow to reduce down a little longer. For the added “kick” enthusiast, hot pepper flakes may be a good addition. To get a smooth gravy, you may strain it before serving to remove the fragments of herbs added. Well done team! Time to eat, serve gravy straight on the hamburger patties just as you would ketchup. You may even pour some gravy in a bowl as the dip for the fries. Enjoy friends and happy cooking!

Optifast vs Medifast

When it comes to healthy diet programs, two strip brands are the household defamation among dieters and eudaemonia buffs alike: Medifast and Optifast. Apiece has its own incomparable skyway to losing weight and thriving consumption. Let’s sport them against each another and see who wins the Medifast metric failure vs. Optifast weight decease match-up.

Medifast boasts of low-calorie nutrient options that warranty faster results. Finished their special 5&1 Substance Counselling, you can decline up to 20 lbs of per month. This capital ingestion 6 meals a day, all of which are purchased from a sort of over 60 matter choices. On the other power, Optifast aims to turn your over-all eudaimonia. It does not exclusive bring around losing unit but extends its stretch to reaction wellbeing risks much as cholesterol, glucose and lycee execution pressure. A mull of 20000 patients showed staggering results: an norm of 52 lbs weight red, 15% minify in cholesterin, 29% minify in gore sweetener and 10% minify in essay to be a lignified object to get utilized to. You would love to eat shakes, exerciser and soups finished the continuance of the Optifast performance.

When it comes to punter results, it seems that Optifast wins on the Medifast weight death vs. Optifast metric diminution head-to-head. However, if you’re hunt for a wholesome and easy way of losing coefficient, then Medifast is the papers for you. Through its countywide chorus of easy-to-cook products, you can plant enjoy a tasteful and luscious fast while incorporating intelligent consumption habits into your routine turn.

How to Fix a Dinner that’s Burnt when you have Guests

How to fix a dinner that’s burnt when you have guests – well this is something that we should all learn how to do because it can happen to anyone.

You may even be quite a good cook and usually capable of arranging a fantastic meal for your whole family while talking on the phone at the same time but it is so normal to get a little more nervous when it comes to cooking for guests. They are not used to your cooking and you are obviously going to try and impress them a little and above all want them to eat well. So all of these extra desires will add to your being slightly more nervous than usual.

Trying to cook too many dishes at the same time, laying the table with your best table cloth and cutlery, dusting, passing the Hoover over the rugs or carpets, arranging some flowers, cleaning the windows not to mention all the beauty treatments that you will want to give to yourself, will all add to a higher chance of burning the dinner.  It’s just a lot more things involved than when you just produce the normal meal for the family!

But anyway, there’s no good crying over spilled milk as they say and never said in a better context as now! So while you are laying the table in the dining room, knowing that the roast pork in the oven only needed just a tiny bit more time, the worst happens and you get carried away by trying to do fancy napkin arrangements and damn it when you get back to the kitchen to your utter dismay and shock the pork is completely burnt and black all over! (By the way this meat could also have been a roast lamb or roast beef)

Take a deep breath and keep calm because there is always a solution to every problem but if we get our knickers in a twist we will be too nervous to see it.

The first thing that has to be done is to remove all of the burnt crust on the outside with the use of a sharp carving knife and fork, or if you have one, a fine electric meat slicer. Then cut the rest of the meat into small cubes.

You will unfortunately find that the meat looks quite dry and so in a deep casserole pot you need to get some chopped onions, a little crushed garlic and red peppers frying until they are soft and the onions transparent. Now add 2 spoons of Madras Curry powder and some sultanas and mix everything well together.

Add the diced pork to the casserole pot adding enough chicken stock to cover and let it all simmer until just before serving time.

You will find that whilst the pork is simmering in the juices of the stock, onions and curry paste that it will regain some moisture, eliminate any last tell tale signs of having gotten burnt and now taste of curry – slight change of menu that’s all.

How to fix a burnt dinner

Entertaining guests is a fun and challenging task. The most important aspect of ensuring guests are happy, is by serving good food. A lot of preparation goes into planning the perfect meal; however, there are occasions when all may not go to plan, and dinner can burn. It is easily done, and it can cause chaos and panic. It is nerve-wracking to discover that the food has become overcooked, yet in some instances, all may not be lost.

Here are some quick fixes to save dinner:

Hide the evidence

Guests will be none the wiser if dinner is burnt, as they will be busy chatting and having fun. Ensure that the window is flung open immediately to eradicate any unpleasant burnt smells. Light a couple of scented candles, as they can mask the smell and leave a pleasant fragrance in the room. Place any burnt cookware out of sight, and once you have removed all of the incriminating evidence, you can set about saving dinner. Remain calm and think fast, as dinner can still be a success.

Be prepared

Entertaining guests can be a demanding task, so always be prepared for every event, especially where food is concerned. Have light refreshments and nibbles on standby for situations that are unexpected. If dinner should become burnt, then serve a few light nibbles, which will give time to get dinner fixed. Smile innocently as you present nibbles and refreshments, and use this time to fix any disasters. Have plenty of supplies in the pantry that can help save burnt food. Seasoning, sauces, herbs and garnishes can be a savior in times where food has become a little charred. However, have a backup plan, in case dinner cannot be salvaged.

All is not lost

In some instances, certain foods can be saved if you act quickly. Foods such as meat can easily be fixed, by simply cutting away the offending burnt outer layer. If the meat has dried out, then pour over some of the pan juices. This can still look presentable, as once it is served up and arranged on the plate with gravy or sauce, then it won’t be noticeable. If food is burnt around the edges then a bit of careful trimming can remove the burnt parts, leaving the rest which can be served and some careful creativity can be used here to make it look appetizing. Use pantry supplies to fix the meal; a nice garnish or dressing can make all the difference in these situations.

Save what you can

Certain foods that cannot be carved may still be saved. If you have a pan of food on the stove that has started to burn, act quickly. Remove the pan from the heat, and don’t stir the food. Take a clean pan and spoon the top layer of food into the fresh pan, leaving behind the burnt remains. Sample the food to ensure that no burnt taste is evident, and if it still tastes good, then it can be used. If it seems that there won’t be enough, bulk the meal out by adding thickening agents or ingredients to complement the dish. If part of the meal is burnt, then improvise and change the meal slightly.

Start from scratch

Unfortunately, some things just can’t be fixed. If dinner is burnt to a crisp and is beyond repair, it is time to start from scratch. Have a second dish planned that can be put together quickly. Providing you have a well-stocked pantry, you can easily put a simple meal together. Pasta is great for making simple dishes, it cooks quickly and is versatile. Just add in a few ingredients, or a prepared sauce and you will have a simple dish to serve. There are many quick fix meals that can be easily prepared; they may not be as exciting as the first option, but dinner will still be enjoyed by all.

It can be easy to burn food when there is a lot to prepare, but quick thinking and a well-stocked pantry can help save dinner, and the occasion can still be a success.

How to cook chicken on skewers

Chicken on a stick is easy, portable and so delicious. In this article, you will find a few easy recipes for this fun food. Flying Chix-On-Stix, EZ Sweet and Sour Chicken on a Stick and Hibachi Sesame Yakitori are all recipes are tried and tested for taste and ease of preparation.

Flying Chix-On-Stix

1 pound chicken wings, rinsed and patted dry


1 bottle of your favorite Italian Salad Dressing

1/3 cup hot pepper sauce

2 cups blue cheese Crumbles, or Blue Cheese Dressing

2 tbsp. olive oil, for grill

Pour the dressing into a large non-aluminum bowl. Place chicken wings into the bowl. Toss to coat. Let these wings marinate in the dressing for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to 375-400 F.

Thread chicken wings onto metal skewers, about 5 per skewer.

Grill on an oiled rack until cooked through and golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Brush generously with hot pepper sauce in the last 5 minutes of grilling time.

Serve with blue cheese crumbled over top, or Blue Cheese dressing for dipping.

EZ Sweet and Sour Chicken on a Stick


3/4 cup apricot preserves

3/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1 pound fully cooked chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut in two

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the apricot preserves, Dijon mustard and the pineapple juice. Cover with saran wrap to prevent spattering. Heat in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high power.

If using wooden skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes before grilling.

Drop the chicken pieces into the sauce and stir gently to coat all pieces.

Place meat on skewers and grill until hot through and then turn grill to low and cook until sauce is browned.

Serve these with a cold rice salad.

Hibachi Sesame Yakatori

2 bunches green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cups Sake

1/4 cup Mirin

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp. dried ginger root

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half, pounded to flatten

3 tbsp. sesame seeds

Charcoals for Hibachi

(15) metal skewers

Fire up your Hibachi!

Combine soy sauce, Mirin, sugar and ginger in a sauce pan, heat enough to melt the sugar, add the sesame seeds. Reserve a small bowl of sauce.

Place meat on skewer alternating with green onion pieces. Pour the remaining sauce over meat/onions after securing to skewers, 3 pieces meat for each skewer.

Place skewers on hot Hibachi and grill 3 minutes per side until cooked through. Brush with sauce while cooking.

These make great appetizers!

Do experiment with these recipes, making adjustments and posh it up all you want! Have fun, it’s your life!

How to Cook a Hearty Beef Stew

Many of the recipes that were highly fashionable years ago are now making a comeback. Years ago stewing beef was not expensive to buy and beef stew was regularly served as a budget meal. Today diced stewing beef is not a cheap option but it certainly makes a delicious warming winter meal. Shin of beef makes a tasty casserole or stew but beef shin or stewing steak should be cooked for hours to get the full favour from the meat. It is far easier to prepare all of the ingredients for the dish before starting to cook it. A hearty stew deserves the best ingredients and a traditional beef stew would contain diced beef, carrots, onions, swede and parsnip. Naturally every cook would make a stew that contains vegetables that their family enjoy to eat.

Ingredients for a Warming Beef stew:

One pound of diced stewing steak or diced shin of beef

One large onion – peeled and finely sliced

Four large carrots – peeled and cut into rings

A small portion of swede – diced into very small chunks

One medium sized parsnip – peeled and cored and cut into small chunks

One litre of beef stock – fresh stock or made with stock cubes

A dash of oil

Plain flour

Seasoning to taste


Spoon two tablespoons of plain flour into a large dish. Lightly season the plain flour. Place the diced beef into the seasoned flour and coat the meat with the plain seasoned flour. Place a dash of oil into a large saucepan and heat the oil very gently. Put the finely sliced onion into the hot pan and add the flour-coated diced beef. Take a spatula and keep turning the diced beef and onion over in the pan until the meat is sealed. Sealing the diced beef in this way helps to retain the flavor of the meat.

Add the sliced carrots and the diced parsnip and swede to the meat and onion. Use the spatula to blend the meat and vegetables together. Cover the meat and vegetables with the beef stock. Bring the stock to the boil and when boiling turn the heat down quickly. Place the lid on the pan and allow the beef stew to simmer very gently.

Diced beef needs to be allowed to cook very gently and very slowly. As the meat cooks it tenderizes and the meat juices infuse the beef stock. The sweet carrots will add further flavor to the meaty stew and the diced swede and parsnips will add yet another dimension. Allow the beefy stew to simmer for an hour before testing the meat. If the stewing steak is not properly cooked it will be tough so do test the meat a few times whilst it is cooking. This can be done by spooning out a chunk of beef and putting it onto a plate. When the meat is fully cooked the blade of the knife will slide through it with ease. In general diced beef takes between one and a half and two hours to cook until it is tender.

The tasty beef stock will need to be thickened to turn it into rich hearty gravy and this is very simple to do. Place a couple of dessert spoons of plain flour into a cup and add some cold water. The flour and water mixture should then be poured into the warm stock. As the stock is thickened with the plain flour and water mixture it should be stirred continuously.

The pan will be filled with an aromatic meaty beef stew and it can be served with mash potatoes, boiled potatoes or dumplings.

How to Choose a Cucumber

Cucumbers come in more than fifty different varieties, from the long, thin English and Armenian cucumbers, to the tiny gherkins.  There is even one variety that looks like a lemon.  It is yellow, and rounded, just like a lemon!  Most folks are familiar only with what they find in the grocery store.  Usually people buy slicing cucumbers for salads and sandwiches, and to eat out of hand as a snack.  

There are several things to look for when buying cucumbers to insure freshness, and taste, regardless of the variety of cucumber chosen.  The first thing to look for is unblemished fruit that is a deep green, dull, uniform color. The cucumber should look fresh.  Some varieties have creamy white mottling, but avoid cucumbers that are starting to yellow.  Supermarket cucumbers are shiny because they are waxed.  This wax is to replace the fruit’s natural wax, which is removed in processing, and to prevent bruising during shipping. 

The wax can be removed, if desired, but it is FDA approved for human consumption.  To remove the wax, soak the cucumbers in a basin of very warm water.  This will soften the wax so it can be scrubbed off with a vegetable brush.  If the skin is thick, or bitter, one can peel the cucumber before eating.  English and Armenian cucumbers have thinner skins and fewer seeds, so peeling is usually not necessary.  Because the wax helps to retain moisture, it is best not to peel them, or remove the wax, until it is time to eat them.

Next, check for firmness.  A good cucumber is firm when pressed with the thumb, and should be firm all the way to the end.  Avoid cucumbers that yield to thumb pressure.  There should be no soft spots.

The final indicator of taste one should look for is size.  Avoid overly large cucumbers because the seeds are often hard and unpalatable, and sometimes the flesh is woody.  Smaller cucumbers tend to be sweeter and crisper.  The seeds of smaller cucumbers are finer, making them a better choice for salads and sandwiches and for eating out of hand.

Once the cucumbers are home, store them in the crisper of the refrigerator.  Cucumbers have a very high water content.  It is best not store them with fruit, as fruit will cause the cucumber to yellow and deteriorate quickly.  If not using the entire cucumber immediately, put some plastic wrap, or waxed paper secured with a rubber band, over the cut end.  Store it in the refrigerator.

If one follows these guidelines in choosing a cucumber, one will enjoy deliciousness from the garden when used in any salad, sandwich, sliced, or eaten out of hand.  The inside of a cucumber can be up to twenty degrees cooler than the air around it, making it truly a refreshing summer treat!

How to Clean Pesticides off Fruits and Vegetables

Many people these days are more aware of pesticides on most commercial fruits and vegetables. There are safe ways to remove pesticides, using  mild soaps, and or, a few simple household alternatives.  Also important is a  thorough rinsing.  Here are some safe and healthy ways to eliminate pesticides from your foods.

Organic and locally grown produce is best, but since it cannot always be avoided, non organically grown commercial, supermarket produce is the most common kind in most households.

Keeping healthy habits is more a concern behaviorally than any thing else. People are often lulled into a false sense of confidence.  They grab an apple, or plum, and maybe just give it a quick rub across a sleeve. Parents who teach children to always wash hands, and with soap and water,  make the best teachers by doing it first themselves.  Washing the food off becomes just an extension of this crucial step.

Besides the obvious advantage of not ingesting pesticides, which are poisons, after all,   careful cleaning of all your kitchen produce and surfaces will also remove many harmful bacteria, fungi, and even repel some virus.  It makes sense, and more appetizing meals, to remove a wide variety of pesticides, both herbicidal and insect toxins,  when preparing any food.

Researchers at Cornell University tested simple soaps and water cleansing.  It works well if done with a vigorous amount of friction.  A long handled scrub brush works well. Soaking those fruits and vegetables which are not harmed by pre-soaking is a good way to give them a reasonable bath in mildly soapy water. A warm soak of a minimum of four minutes is recommended. Hand soap and mild dish washing detergent are effective. If working with those foods which are best not to soak, such as tender berries, have a spray bottle handy with diluted, soapy water. Then rinse thoroughly.

Soap and water is not the only solution. White vinegar, lemon juice and even hydrogen peroxide greatly diluted will remove pesticides  without harming produce. Just one tablespoon per gallon makes a difference.

Keep vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in dark bottles with clear labels.  A sprayer will make them more convenient for everyday use.

Lemon juice has the added advantage of keeping some fruits from turning brown so quickly. It also cuts through grease, and makes hands and kitchen surfaces smell nice.

Keep a fresh lemon in the refrigerator at all times, and most important of all, take the extra time to scrub; first the hands, then all the most  wholesome food one can feel most proud to serve a healthy family.

Herb Cooking

The world of herbs: The wonderful world of herbs is at your fingertips since most of them can be grown on your window sill year round. A leaf or two from a basil or sage plant, a few sprigs of parsley, a nasturtium leaf, a few blades of chives, can add a dash of flavor to most dishes. Not all of these at once, of course, but each do have their own special place in your kitchen. Taken separately they tell different tales:


This genus of herbs is onions, chives, garlic, leeks and many more. Believe it or not, the lily group is the family of the clan. Each has their own distinct flavor but they share common characteristics. In this case the flavor they share is not so much that strong onion flavor but their growing pattern. All seven hundred varieties grow from bulbs. Another common thing about bulbs in general is that they are “fleshy leaves that grow underground and surround the stem.” That is not common knowledge and is probably known only by the most avid gardeners and botanists. Yet, now that I know I will henceforth look at an onion differently. Furthering that food for thought, even though it is a lowly onion, I now see that the reason onions are keepers is that their food storage, the leaves that form the bulb, was designed that way. A very clever idea. Who, except the master planner could have planned this so well?


Botanically listed as Ocinum Basilcum, basil, of the family Lamiaceia, is a wonderfully fragrant herb that is popular with cooks. It is known to practically everyone. It is easy to grow, although delicate needing to be protected from cold. Its uses are many in the food industry as well as in fragrance factories. Just sniffing it is a treat. The fresh variety is preferred over the dried but both work well in the kitchen.


Dill or Anethum genus belongs to the carrot family. Anethum graveolens is the botanical name, dill is the common name. Whatever its name it is a mouth puckering herb with a sour taste. Its association with carrots is not in the taste but in the shape of the feathery leaves and its overall above ground growth. Its most popular use, other than in pickling, is as a salad ingredient. Parsley: Parsley is an old herb but is modern as a kitchen herb. It is so common it’s almost overlooked and often not treated more than a weed. As to the shape of the leaf, there are flat leaved parsley and curly leaved parsley and a third one that is not as commonly used, Humburg parsley. Its tuberous roots are used in soups. Its leaves are considered too strong for salads and for cooking. Petroselinum, the botanical name for parsley is so named because it was found growing among the hilly rock-strewn areas of Ancient Greece. Legends about it abound; having claims both to medicine and to religion. Symbolically, it represents birth and renewal during Passover to the Jews. From Italy, its native habitat, it has spread all over the world.

How Baking Relates to Math

Math has a lot to do with baking. Baking is focused around different types of math. Baking can teach children math and they will not even realize it. Baking has been used to teach children math for many decades. Many children also learn to be independent and have the skills to cook when they are older from learning to bake.

Baking involves different temperatures. If one batch of cookies has to be put on a lower temperature or uses less heat, then math is involved because the person has to subtract the heat. The same goes for adding. Baking also calls for doubling, or tripling the batch size. In this case, multiplication is involved.

The math involved in baking is a much simple mathematical system. A person only needs a basic knowledge of math in order to succeed. This is because even though there are many math calculations, it is all simple measurements and most can be done with a calculator if needed. Always double-check ones’ math in order to not ruin the dish that is being prepared. Even though the math is simple add, subtract, multiply, divide, and fractions, people can still make beginners errors when cooking.

When working with baking there are many fractions involved. Most recipes are written with the flour and many other cooking supplies in fraction form. There is also clocking the amount of time a baked good needs to bake. If the batch is bigger than the recipe is intended to make as far as serving size, the person will need to add time to the cooking length. If the recipe is shortened, then the person will need to subtract time.

Baking meats and other substances that are baked by the pound will need the time needed for one pound multiplied by the whole poundage. Baking is often made harder when an oven does not heat properly.

If math were not involved in baking, there would be no such thing as baking. Even if someone followed the recipe exactly, there is still adding subtracting and multiplying involved. There are even measurements written on measuring cups and measuring spoons .Each cooking spoon or cup has a specific fraction involved, regarding the amount the cup or spoon can hold. This is a great way to teach children fractions at an early age.

Math is even sued when buying baking supplies. There is sales tax to consider. When buying the items that a person baking is going to need; they must factor in sales tax. In addition, if the recipe asks for a certain amounts of an ingredient and the store does not carry that specific amount, they will have to multiply or divide the amount of packages they need for a recipe so they do not run short on supplies.

Handy Freezer Foods

In today’s world, the majority live very busy lives. And although there is advancement in the high tech age and better communication, it seems like there isn’t sufficient hours within a day in order to complete tasks. With the long commute to and from work, kid’s school and extra curriculum activities, and in between all those activities, each household has to deal with daily nutrition. Therefore, it’s imperative that the right food supplies are available so as to ensure a smooth and efficient running of the kitchen.

Not only is it important to stock the pantry, but, it’s also makes good sense to keep the right food supplies on hand in the freezer. This important habit saves on precious time and money. Foods in the pantry and refrigerator have shorter shelf lives; however, the ones in the freezer will naturally last longer and can be retrieved when needed for an extended time. Some of the recommended foods to have on hand in the freezer are:


Fruits are picked and packed at their ripest. Moreover, they are cheaper than their fresh and canned counterparts. Because they are packed at their ripest they retain their beneficial vitamins and minerals. One great rule of thumb is to purchase supplies when there is a glut on the market Wash and pack them securely; then, place in the freezer. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries and other berries are excellent choices to have on hand in the freezer. They are great for smoothies and homemade pies. Instead of tossing those wilted bananas, peel them and place them in ziplock bags.


Vegetables are also excellent to have on hand in the freezer. Try to shop seasonal for the fresh ones and save on prices. All you need to do is to blanch these veggies, remove the excess liquid and store them securely in the freezer. Blanching means to cook quickly and then stop the cooking process by placing in a cool or icy bathe. This process ensures veggies to retain their bright hues and crispiness. Like frozen fruits, veggie prices are competitive compared to the canned and the fresh ones. Some of the popular veggies to purchase are green peas, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, carrots and a variety of others.

A frozen pumpkin puree can be defrost and then add to a creamy macaroni and cheese dish or even a sweet pie. Frozen veggies on a whole a great for soups, salads, and stir-fries.

When purchasing both frozen fruits and vegetables, make sure to examine for freshness. You do so by shaking the packet or bag to see that they are loose which indicates freshness.

Lean protein

Another important food item to have on hand is protein. This can come in the form of seafood, chicken, turkey, and/or chopped meat. It’s a great idea to have on hand dark and white poultry. These are handy to make a succulent bake chicken or turkey dish along with a medley of root vegetables. A one pot meal can be had by cooking a hearty chicken or turkey soup by utilizing fresh and frozen vegetables.

Secure omega fatty acids by cooking a quick and healthy seafood dish. Defrost shrimp and make a tasty stir fry meal by adding veggies and serve over a bed of rice. Defrost, season and pan sear a great piece of snapper or sea bass after brushing with orange juice, honey and mustard. When defrosting seafood, it’s a good idea to move excess liquid on a paper towel.

Chopped meat, whether beef or pork, is another good idea to have in the freezer. Any one of these can be added to a homemade tomato sauce. Brown beef or pork and set aside. Stir fry diced onions in olive oil. Add garlic and fresh/canned tomatoes along with parsley/basil. Proceed to add browned meat and simmer. Bear in mind that meatballs could be substituted and added to sauce.

Breakfast foods

When you are swamped for extra time in the morning hours and there is no time to prepare a pancake batter from scratch, it is a perfect idea to grab a wholewheat frozen waffle or pancake from the freezer. All that is needed is the toaster. A splash of honey or a quick defrosting of a few berries in the microwave oven to spread on top. 

Historic Dobbins House is home to Spring House Tavern

The basement of the historic Dobbin House in Gettysburg, Penn. is home to the Spring House Tavern. The Spring House Tavern offers tourists and locals alike a unique dining experience. The Battle of Gettysburg took place in Gettysburg on July 1-3, 1863 but the ambiance of the Spring House Tavern is of the mid 17th century as diners and pub goers dine and drink by candlelight. Patrons are served by drink wenches. The menus are printed in Olde English style and even some Olde English favorites, such as spit chicken are found on the menu.  

The ambiance is second to none in the Spring House Tavern and it really transports diners to a different place in time.  It is a bit dark in the Springhouse Tavern even with the candlelight and three fireplaces but diners don’t seem to mind a bit. Unfortunately, the basement is also quite small so diners are crowded during busy meal hours and another negative about the basement, depending on your preference, is that the basement, with its stone foundation is always chilly. Even during the hottest days of July, diners often find that they need sweaters. 

The Tavern’s menu also includes some modern American favorites such as tuna salade (written in Olde English), and steak.  There is quite a selection of lunch and dinner items and they all are numbered. Instead of telling the serving wench the name of a dish that you wish to order you will give her a number. It makes it easier for both the server and the diner. Most lunch plates come with a side choice of potato chips, cole slaw or potatoe salade.  The Springhouse Tavern also has a wine and beer menu as well.

The food is always served in a timely fashion and it is always well prepared and delicious. Spit chicken is the specialty. If spit chicken, which is roasted over a real spit, isn’t to your liking the Springhouse Tavern’s menu offers a wide variety of different types of foods including homemade soups and desserts. The souvenir menu is yours to keep. The history of the Dobbin House is printed on the back.   

The Springhouse Tavern is located in the basement of the Dobbin House.  The Dobbin House was built in 1776 by Reverend Alexander Dobbin and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest free standing structure still standing in Gettysburg today. When the house was built, Reverend Dobbin and his wife had quite a large family and needed such a spacious home. During the years preceding the Civil War, Dobbin House was used as part of the Underground Railroad. It was the first stop on the Underground Railroad north of the Mason- Dixon line. During the war, Dobbin House served as a field hospital. Upstairs visitors can visit a slave hideout and the Dobbin House Museum which displays the history of the house. 

Dobbin House is located at 80 Steinwehr Ave. in downtown Gettysburg.  The telephone number is 717-334-2100.  Reservations aren’t necessary to dine at the Spring House Tavern although the wait can be quite lengthy especially on weekends during the month of October, Gettysburg’s busiest tourist month.