Monday, 8 February 2016

Cleanliness Is Half the Faith

It is said, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." 

Another old saying,"A healthy mind is in a healthy body." 
Nutritionists and environmental groups all agree that increasing consumption of conventional and organic produce can improve health and prevent diseases.
Fruits and vegeables

Parents sometimes give apples or other fruits in their baby's hands to play with or to bite on when they are teething. Has the fruit been washed first?
What compelled me to choose today's topic, are the unhealthy habit and wrong ways people handle fruits and vegetables at home. Once I was visiting a household and saw that the housewife used a Philips citrus press juicer but she was so untidy that she literally started juicing oranges without washing them first! When offered, I politely refused. i have even seen doctors carrying the same behaviour at home.
I have always seen my parents demonstrating it is vital to wash all fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure they are safe to eat.
Most people are aware of the importance of handling meat safely, but many consider the risk of food poisoning from vegetables to be minor.
Dr Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at Food Standards Agency say that it's a myth people believe that a little bit of dirt doesn't do any harm.
"Soil often carries harmful bacteria and, although food producers have good systems in place to clean vegetables, the risk can never be entirely eliminated."
Those risks were highlighted in the 2011 Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection outbreak in the UK. Food-borne illnesses may result from the consumption of food contaminated by microbial pathogens, toxic chemicals or radioactive materials. Washing loose produce is particularly important as it tends to have more soil attached to it than pre-packaged fruit and vegetables.
Figures show that 72 per cent of apples and 81 per cent of pears have residues, and it was recently reported that 61 per cent of grapes and 63 per cent of kiwi fruit contained toxic chemicals.
What is the key advice for safely storing, handling and cooking raw vegetables?
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw food, including vegetables and meat.
  • Keep raw food, including vegetables, separate from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash chopping boards, knives and utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods thoroughly in between uses.
  • Check the label – unless packaging around vegetables says "ready to eat", you must wash, peel or cook them before eating.
How can I avoid cross-contamination?
Produce with cracks, holes and dents have to go in the dustbin. No trimmings please.
It's also important to clean chopping boards, knives and other utensils after preparing vegetables to prevent cross-contamination.
People who are vulnerable to infection, such as pregnant women, the elderly or anyone with a weakened immune system, should follow the guidelines on preparation and good hygiene carefully. 
Children should be trained to wash their hands after handling loose vegetables as part of food preparation, shopping or during craft activities. If you intend to eat foods immediately after shopping, then it would be advisable to wash your hands and those of any children that might have handled loose vegetables.
However, illness linked to root vegetables is much less common because most root vegetables are cooked before being eaten.
So how should fruit and vegetables be washed?

Here's what the Federal Food and Drug Administration (agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) recommends:
  1. Wash fruit and vegetables with large amounts of cold or warm tap water. It is better to rub in a bowl of water, rather than under a running tap. This will help reduce splashing and the release of bacteria into the air that could result from cleaning directly under a running tap. Scrub with a brush when appropriate; do not use soap. 
  2. Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage.
  3. Start washing the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse. This is to be done just before eating, cutting or cooking.
  4. Dry fruits are most dangerous when store bought product is directly popped in to the mouth. All nuts, figs ,raisins and big chunks of dried coconut must be first washed, soaked in warm water for a minute and then dries on a clean kitchen towel in order to be consumed.
Healthy eating! 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

There Are Lot of Good Things Coming Your Way!

Greetings To All ! 

I know yesterday's post was soul stirring and deep. But as I say in my blog's description, so yesterday was We Humans and today is about World Outside. Besides being a hyper sensitive human being, I am also known as a little chef by my family and friends. 

We all need soul food but at the same time we need home food. Now a days there are numerous websites and blogs about cooking. No, my discussion about food & cooking is certainly not going to be anything like Julie/Julia project. 
It would be more like Food for Thought, with practicality. 

My parents always had a proper cook at our home but my beloved mother's cooking surpassed others'. There's been something amazing and inspiring about the way the cooked since my childhood. She never measures sugar or spices and yet the taste is always deliciously accurate. 
Today I am going to share her unique recipe of Qulfi with dried apricots & figs. A dessert that she invented with a TOTAL different flavour, nowhere to be found in the whole world. 

3 cups  full fat milk
4 tbsp khoya (evaporated milk) crumbled
10 dried figs (washed and roughly chopped)
10 dried apricots (washed and seeded)
3 tbsp regular sugar 
1 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp milk (to dissolve corn flour) 
20 pistachios (shelled and finely chopped)
20 almonds (finely chopped)
4 cardamoms (seeds powdered)
     In a wide pan, heat the milk on a low flame along with the figs and apricots for at least about 18 to 20 mins. The milk will now reduce and thicken in the meanwhile. By this time figs and apricots will be softened, so sieve the milk, take out the fruits and blend it well with little hot milk. Pour this back into the sieved milk and put it back on the flame. Dissolve the corn flour in 3 tbsp milk and keep aside. After 18 to 20 mins, add the sugar and stir well. Let the sugar dissolve and after few minutes, add the corn flour mix. Keep on stirring after adding the paste, so no lumps are formed. After 5 mins, when the mixture has thickened, add khoya, chopped, almonds, cardamom powder and saffron. Just simmer for a minute or two on low flame, constantly stirring so that the khoya is diluted evenly and the milk mixture is heavy. Remove from the flame. Add kewra water. Let the qulfi mixture cool while covered. While still very warm, pour the qulfi mixture in moulds or in an air tight ice cream plastic container. Freeze it. Once well set, unmould, slice it and serve it on a plate immediately.
Secret tip: add salty biscuits on the side of qulfi for a kick of flavour. 

Bon Appetit  and Enjoy !