Thursday, May 21, 2015

How­ to Store Fruits & Vegetables without Plastic

Tips and tricks to extend the life of your produce without plastic

Always remove, or loosen, any tight bands to allow them to breathe

APPLES:  store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks, for longer storage place in a cardboard box in the fridge
APRICOTS:  on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe
ARTICHOKES:  place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture
ARUGULA:  arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture
ASPARAGUS:  stand them upright, loosely in a glass or bowl with water at room temperature, will keep for a week outside the fridge
AVOCADOS:  place in a paper bag at room temp and to speed up their ripening place an apple in the bag with them
BASIL:  is difficult to store well and does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside and left out on a cool counter
BEANS, SHELLING:  open container in the fridge, eat ASAP or some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
BEET GREENS:  place in an airtight container with a little moisture
BEETS:  Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.  Make certain to cut the tops off to keep beets firm, be sure to keep the greens! By leaving the greens on root vegetables it draws moisture from the root, making them lose flavor and firmness
BERRIES:  Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too high, only a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well. Wash only before you plan on eating them
BROCCOLI:  place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge
BROCCOLI RABE:  left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible
BRUSSELS SPROUTS:  If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If purchased loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top
CABBAGE:  left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to lose its moisture after a week or so, best used as soon as possible
CARROTS:  cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in a closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long
CAULIFLOWER:  will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s purchased
CELERY:  does best when simply placed in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter
CELERY ROOT/CELERIAC:  wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper
CHERRIES:  store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold
CITRUS:  store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air tight container
CORN:  leave un-husked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner than later for maximum flavor
CUCUMBER:  wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room
DATES:  dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag, as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates
EGGPLANT:  does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage place loose, in the crisper
FAVA BEANS:  place in an air tight container
FENNEL:  if used within a couple days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water; like celery. If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water
FIGS:  don’t like humidity, so no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un-stacked
GARLIC:  store in a cool, dark, place
GREEN BEANS:  they like humidity, but not wetness; a damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container
GREEN GARLIC:  an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out
GREEN TOMATOES:  store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color
GREENS:  remove any bands, twist ties; most greens must be kept in an airtight container with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well standing in a cup of water on the counter or fridge
HERBS:  a closed container in the fridge to keep up to a week; any longer might encourage mold
LEEKS:  leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter; just so the very bottom of the stem has water
LETTUCE:  keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge
MELONS:  uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine
NECTARINES:  similar to apricots, should be storee in the fridge. Okay if ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature
OKRA:  doesn’t like humidity, so a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
ONION:  store in a cool, dark and dry, place:  good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them
PARSNIPS:  an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge
PEACHES:  most stone fruit, refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter
PEARS:  will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them
PERSIMMON: store at room temperature until completely mushy both FUYU (shorter/pumpkin shaped) or HACHIYA (longer/pointed end) The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack; they get very fragile when really ripe
POMEGRANATES:  keep up to a month stored on a cool counter
POTATOES:  like garlic and onions, store in cool, dark and dry place, such as a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well
RADICCHIO:  place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top
RADISHES:  place them in an open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.  Don’t forget to remove the greens to store separately so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots
RHUBARB:  wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator
RUTABAGAS:  in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in
SNAP PEAS:  refrigerate in an open container
SPINACH:  store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold
SPRING ONIONS:  Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper
STRAWBERRIES:  Don’t like to be wet, they do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day
SUMMER SQUASH:  does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut
SWEET PEPPERS:  Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage is needed
SWEET POTATOES:  Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Never refrigerate, sweet potatoes don’t like the cold
TOMATOES:  Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple
TURNIPS:  same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth. Remove the greens to store separately
WINTER SQUASH: store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten

ZUCCHINI:  does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage

Carolanne LeBlanc 
Meeting: Cypress Palms, 400 Lake Avenue N E, Largo, FL 33771

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gluten-Free Events, Survival Tips

Speakers, and Freebies, and Samples!  Oh My!

Looks like 2015 is right around the corner!  And that means a whole new batch of Gluten-Free Events that we can go to.  Have you ever wondered if it’s worth it to travel to one of these events?

**Would you like to hear about the latest discoveries from professionals in the Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance fields?
**Would you like to spend just one day being able to eat and enjoy food without worry?
**Would you like to know what new services and products are available to you.
**Would you like to exchange tips and stories with people who walk in your shoes every day?
**Would you like to see, smell, and taste brand new products that haven’t even been offered to the public yet?
**Would you like to purchase products that are factory fresh and available for discounted prices?

Dress Comfortably, Especially Your Shoes:  You’ll be doing a lot of walking, maneuvering, weaving in and out and even some just plain waiting.  You’ll probably be dealing with some pretty crowded halls.  Concrete parking lots and cement floors do not make for happy feet unless you’re wearing comfortable shoes.  Pockets are a wonderful thing for stashing some cash or card, and if you have to carry a purse go with one that you can wear over your shoulder.

Bring Friends & Family:  Heck, bring everyone!  Whether they’re Gluten-Free or not, if they come with you they’ll see that you’re not alone in your struggle to be healthy.  Attendance does vary, but there will be between 500-5,000 people at any of these Events.  Having friends and family along with you to sample comes in handy too when you’re looking to find something that everyone can enjoy.

Bring The Kids:  These events are generally family oriented and very kid friendly.  You’ll often find small areas set up just for the kids to play.  You can bring the strollers in, but remember there will be crowds of people.  Children simply love to sample, but Vendors will not hand out treats willy-nilly without a responsible adult nearby to give a nod of approval. 

Bring a Bit of Cash:  If you plan to shop bring some extra cash along with your credit/debit card.  A few Vendors don’t have those handy little card swipes.  Not only will you find some of the best prices and bargains around but also the freshest product available.  Trust me, you’re gonna want to shop! 

Bring an Extra Shopping Bag:  Yep, you’re gonna wanna shop!  At most of these Events everyone gets a Goodie Bag simply for walking through the door.  And some of these are already stuffed half full with take home goodies.  If you bring friends and family with you, often they can all get a Goodie Bag for walking through the door.  But it never hurts to have an extra, empty, bag tucked away for any overflow of freebies or purchases.

Handicapped or Handi-capable, be prepared:  Bring what you need to enjoy your day.  Generally, Volunteers are everywhere so
don’t be afraid to ask for help…even if it’s simply to locate a chair to sit for a bit.  If you can’t find a Volunteer, ask a Vendor…it’s just as important to them that you enjoy your visit to the Event.

Please Be Respectful:  Yes, there is a ton of free stuff to be had…but don’t forget you’re in a hall full of other human beings trying to enjoy their day too.  I’ll never forget the idiot who stepped OVER the baby in her baby carriage so that he could get to a free cupcake!  Seriously? It was a 1oz piece of cake with a dot of frosting for heaven’s sake! 

Taste as You Wander:  Now, you have to admit, Samples are the main reason most people attend these Events.  And you’ll find bite-sized samples of just about everything from old favorites, to hard to find gotta-haves, to brand new not-even-on-the-market-yet items. But please pace yourself…nibble here, nibble there and the next thing you know you’re sick on overload.  Pay attention to all those little bites so that you don’t regret it later on.

Bring your ‘Take Away’ Kit:  Granted the Samples are only tiny little 1oz portions, but that doesn't mean you can’t take some home for later.  Pack a couple of those small snap top containers along with a few snack sized zip bags and you won’t be so inclined to overdue the nibbles and you’ll have samples to try out later on when you get back to your hotel room or home.

Check the Ingredients:  Yes, everything is Gluten-Free…but if you have multiple sensitivities it pays to read the label even at one of these Events.  Every Vendor should know what’s in their product, if not they will have a listing of ingredients available.   

Talk to People:  This is not the time to be shy.  Vendors, Volunteers, other Attendees, they ALL 
understand.  It can actually be a little overwhelming at first. But don’t be afraid to talk to people.  Start a conversation; you’ll be amazed at the Community you may not have even known was there for you.

Talk to the Vendors:  Nosh and nibble to your heart’s content…but don’t rush on to the next table so quickly.  If it’s not too crowded and you can find a spot to get out of the traffic flow, stop and speak to the Vendors for a moment.  Tell them how much you enjoy their product, what changes would you like to see, your feedback is priceless to them.  Be pleasant and polite and you just might find them tucking an extra full-sized product into your shopping bag as a thank you! 

If it’s FREE, it Must be for Me:  Well, not

always…this goes back to that ‘Please be Respectful’ reminder. Simply because you see un-attended tables DOES NOT mean you can simply swipe everything into your bag and walk away.  Trust me, I've had Vendors tell me this has happened if they even leave the table for a minute to get a drink or use the bathroom.  It’s rude and very unfair to the many others who want to visit that table to receive their samples.

How far is too far:  That depends on you.  I know a few people who won't travel more than 30 minutes to go to an Event designed specifically for them.  Myself?  I'll drive four fact I do that at least once a year to attend an event.  Living in Florida gives me 2-3 events to choose from every year.  I like to plan a weekend get-away.  Find a nice hotel for two nights, enjoy my day at the event and then take my time driving home again.

Carolanne LeBlanc
Coordinator and Registered Agent
The Gluten-Free for Life Expo is a section 501(c)3 charitable organization. 
All gifts and donations are tax deductible in accordance with the law.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Common Courtesies

It’s the Holidays and parties abound!  It’s a time for visiting with friends and loved ones, and it’s a time for entertaining in our homes.  I grew up with Miss Manners and proper etiquette.  Not only did we learn about respect and common courtesies at home…but we learned them in school as well.  It still amazes me that now-a-days so many of our children never learn these simple tips. So here are some basic Common Courtesies that will help make visiting or entertaining more enjoyable for all.

 ** Respond to your Invitation – please, please, please let your Host/Hostess know if you plan to attend or not…even if it’s to say maybe.  Your RSVP helps in planning for the correct number of guests.  If you don’t respond to your invitation and you just ‘show up’ you’re being more than just rude – and you can’t complain if your Host/Hostess isn’t prepared for you to be there.

 ** Don’t forget to show up – if you’ve extended your RSVP make certain you honor your promise.  If life happens and your plans change, notify your Host/Hostess as soon as you become aware you cannot make it or you may be late.

 ** Be on time – be respectful, ‘fashionably late’ is not fashionable; it’s downright rude.  Don’t create liars out of your friends and acquaintances - don’t force people to give out fictitious times just because they know you so well.

 ** Bring something to eat or a small gift – never arrive empty handed.  Always bring something to contribute.

Special dietary needs:
 ** Bring something you enjoy – if you have special needs pay attention and bring something to share that you can enjoy without worry.  Don’t be the one standing by the table shouting, “isn’t there ANYTHING here that I can eat??”

 ** Learn how to say “No, Thank you.” – be respectful, if offered something you can’t eat don’t proclaim loudly, “Are you trying to poison me??”

Using your favorite baking dish:
 ** Mark your possessions for easy return – whenever possible, use dishes you don’t mind losing.  If you use a prized possession, make certain you mark it with your name and phone # and don’t be afraid to call a day or two later to claim it.  It’s a perfect opportunity to say “Thank you for inviting me.”

 ** Learn how to say ‘Yes” – when someone asks if they can bring something, always say, “YES”!!  Don’t create future monsters - the ones who cause others to complain, “They NEVER contribute anything!!”

 ** Learn how to say “Thank You” – when someone offers to contribute make certain you say Thank you, even if it’s something you wouldn’t use in a thousand lifetimes.

 ** Set understandable time frames – ‘around 7ish’ is not a true time.  Many a Host/Hostess have actually learned to lie just to get people to arrive on time - saying it’s 7:00pm when the time will truly be 7:30pm.

Be prepared for some special dietary needs
 ** Be flexible – make allowances for others.  Provide an alternative whenever possible, example:  Juice or water, fresh fruit or raw vegetables.

 ** Don’t be offended – don’t push the matter if someone refuses what you’re offering.  Saying, “a little bit won’t hurt you” might just actually kill someone.  Accept a “No, Thank you” gracefully.

Finding someone’s favorite baking dish
 ** Returning it to the proper owner – if the dish is marked, so much the better - return it as soon as possible.  If the dish is not marked and you don’t hear from anyone within a week or two - well, you’ve just inherited a new dish.  Don’t be upset if someone recognizes it several months later and wants to take it home again.

 ** Never return anything dirty or empty – returning a dirty dish is simply insulting.  Returning an empty dish symbolizes a future without prosperity.  It’s customary to place something inside, a small gift or food of some sort - symbolizing a prosperous relationship with the other person.

 ** General rule is simple – bring enough to serve at least 6 people, regardless of the number of people expected to be there.  Don’t forget, if everyone brings enough for 6 there will be plenty to feed even 200!!

 ** When do you bring something – always when joining a large group, always when visiting a new location, always when meeting new people, always when you’re nervous and afraid you won’t fit in.

 ** When can you get away with NOT bringing anything – if the person you’re visiting is someone you feel comfortable burping or farting in front of chances are real good that you can get away without bringing something to the occasion.  In fact, by then your Host/Hostess will probably EXPECT you to show up empty handed.

 ** When in doubt:  ask – don’t be afraid to ask what’s needed.  You may get a desperate plea for something needed or special instructions to blend in with the occasion.  After all, you wouldn’t really want to bring liver and onions to a chocolate party, or wine & beer to a recovering alcoholic.

 ** What to do if you don’t cook – the answer to this one is simple * SHOP J There are many delicious ways to fill the need at your local grocers.  Don’t forget to check your own pantry first; you just might have something tucked away in the freezer for a special occasion.

 ** What to do if you’re broke – check the pantry first, it’s amazing what you can bring together to make a great dish.  Example:  1lb hamburger, 1 box macaroni, 1 can stewed tomatoes cooked and combined makes a great dish.  It only takes 10-12 teabags and a bottle of spring water to make a gallon of iced tea.

 ** Even more broke – how about a bag of potato chips, a bottle of soda, or a box of cookies.  It’s amazing what you can buy for a couple $$ if you shop a little bit.

 ** Just plain destitute – Recycle, recycle…in other words, remember that item you received and just couldn’t do anything with??  Chances are good someone else may just appreciate it more than you do. 
NOTE:  Be careful with this one, you don’t want to be the one other people snicker behind their hands about.  “Don’t invite that one!!  They always bring their trash with them!!”

 ** What to do if you're living in a tent –Good rule on this one is to keep it simple.  Something that doesn’t require refrigeration or cooking is your best bet.  Believe it or not some of the most appreciated items are fresh fruit, water, or chocolate.

 ** What to do if you’re living in a cave – this one’s pretty extreme, it’s the person with nothing but ketchup in the fridge, along with some unidentifiable green stuff in the corner; peanut butter in the pantry next to a loaf of bread that’s hard as a rock and not a single clean dish anywhere to be found.  What does someone like this contribute??  What does anyone really WANT them to contribute??  Well, if there’s a fruit tree growing in the yard they just might have it covered.  If not, hopefully, there’s a 7-11 on the way!!