Posts Tagged: Thanksgiving
Before you gobble down that Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie, take a moment to maximize your enjoyment.
The University of California has experts on every topic imaginable, including food and the science of taste and sensory experience. Here are their pro tips on making the most of your holiday meal.
1. Slow down and pay attention
People get the most pleasure from their food when they take the time to savor it fully, said UC Davis sensory scientist Michael O'Mahony. Try having everyone at the table taste the same food and then describe all the sensations they get from it. Everyone can write them down and then share their lists with each other. The person who finds the most sensations wins.
2. Smell your food
Flavor comes from both smell and taste, but the brain makes it difficult to tell the difference. When you smell your food while eating it, the volatile molecules go up to the nose through a back passage and stimulate the smell receptors. That's one of the ways the brain knows there is food is in your mouth. But rather than triggering a smell sensation, it feels like a broadening of taste.
Here's an experiment to show how much smell contributes to flavor: Hold your nose while putting some food in your mouth. Concentrate on the taste sensations you are getting. As you swallow, release your nose and notice how the flavor expands. The experiment works best with foods that have a strong odor such as a wine, sweet fruit drinks or gravy.
“Every time you eat you experience an illusion,” O'Mahony said.
3. Add salt in a pinch
If your host happens to serve a cheap red wine that is high in tannins (bitter), here's a tip to make it taste better: Put a pinch of salt in your mouth, O'Mahony said.
“The salt suppresses the tannin,” O'Mahony said. “Taste it again and it will taste like a mature wine.”
4. Think beyond bitter, salty, sour, sweet and umami
Are there more than just five basic tastes?
“It depends what you mean by basic taste,” O'Mahony said. “No one has ever really defined it properly. So it is a bit silly to say there are five things when we haven't actually defined what we are talking about. Whatever definition we choose, we don't know how many there are. There are certainly lots of different tastes.”
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, convened a taste panel to help develop the honey flavor wheel with more than 100 flavor profiles from leather and lemon to cotton candy and even cat pee.
“In general, honey is called sweet, but it has a huge amount of flavors,” Harris said. “Cat pee,” she adds, “is real. It's very pungent.”
5. Try new things
There are more than 300 honey varieties available in the United States. Citrus has even more diversity.
Tracy Kahn curates UC Riverside's Citrus Variety Collection, one of the world's largest with more than 1,000 varieties of citrus and citrus relatives.
“We have ranges of colors, sizes and shapes,” Kahn said. “There are fruits that are red, blue, purple, orange and yellow. There are fruits as big as a person's head and as small as a green pea, and a tremendous amount of aromas.”
UC Riverside itself has developed more than 40 citrus varieties, including popular Tango mandarins, and is working to develop new varieties all the time, including ones resistant to citrus greening disease.
For young children, Kahn suggests Kishu mandarins, which are small, seedless, sweet and easy to peel.
6. Be bold
Try mixing in your time-honored traditions with something new.
Kahn suggests making an appetizer with Australian finger lime, a citrus relative that tastes like lime but looks like caviar.
“Specialty chefs are using this,” Kahn said. “You could serve it with cream cheese and smoked salmon on crackers.”
Yuzu looks like a yellow mandarin, but it's not sweet and has a strong aroma. Its acidic juice can be used in sauces such as ponzu, she said.
Kahn also likes to add citrus to water. She suggests using variegated pink-fleshed Eureka lemons, which have rinds that are green, pink and white.
“They look beautiful in water,” Kahn said.
If you're looking for an alternative adult beverage, try mead (honey wine), said Harris, whose center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science hosts courses in making the popular drink.
This Thanksgiving, Harris plans to make a walnut-cranberry tart with honey instead of corn syrup while her daughter will make samosas instead of mashed potatoes.
“It's fun to push the envelope,” Harris said. “Let's go play.”
7. Know your limits
The holiday spread can be filled with temptations. Enjoy, but choose wisely. Don't eat until it hurts. Remember, some of the dishes might taste even better the next day.
“There are always leftovers,” Harris said.
This story en español.
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- Portion control: Thanksgiving is about choices. Think about which dishes you don't mind skipping, and plan to fill your plate only once. It's easy to get carried away going back for second and third helpings.
- Fruits: Get your serving of fruit with a fruit-based dessert. Baked apples, poached pears and fresh figs are a few festive options.
- Grains: Use whole grain or 100 percent whole wheat bread for a stuffing rich in fiber.
- Protein: Serve yourself 3 ounces of roasted turkey or a portion the size of your palm. Skip the fat by removing the skin on your turkey before eating it. Go easy on the gravy.
- Vegetables: Choose vegetable side dishes that include roasted or cooked vegetables, and skip the creamy sauces and added fat. Instead, season vegetables with fresh herbs to add flavor.
- Dairy: Try non-fat Greek yogurt as a healthier topping for side dishes than sour cream or butter.
- Don't forget to be active. After the holiday meal, go for a walk, bike ride or play football with the family.
Not sure what to do with your leftovers? Reinvent your Thanksgiving feast with these quick and easy one-sentence leftover recipes.
- Cranberry smoothies
Whirl cranberries with frozen low-fat yogurt and orange juice.
- Crunchy turkey salad
Toss cubed turkey with celery, apples, and light mayo with shredded spinach.
- Stuffing frittata
Mix stuffing with egg and cook thoroughly, pancake-style.
- Turkey berry wrap
Wrap sliced turkey, spread with cranberry sauce and shredded greens in a whole wheat tortilla.
Recipe source: www.eatright.org
Author: Melissa Tamargo
Any connoisseur of meat or vegetable stocks would tell you that the flavor of homemade can't be matched with something store bought. Homemade stock is easy to prepare and can be preserved for future use by simply freezing or using a pressure canner. Consider using homemade turkey stock for soups or as a cooking liquid for quinoa. A good stock adds a sublime flavor to any cooked grain.
Quick and easy homemade turkey stock
To prepare homemade turkey stock, place cooked turkey bones into a large stockpot and cover with water. (It's fine to still have some meat attached to the bones, it only adds to the flavor.) Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the slurry for 30-45 minutes.
Once simmered, remove bones and let stock cool. Fat will rise to the top of the stock. Use a spoon to remove fat leaving only the turkey-infused liquid. At this point, strain stock through cheesecloth to remove any leftover herbs or bits of meat. This step is optional – many prefer to keep meat trimmings in the stock. Once the fat is removed and the stock is strained, the next step is to preserve the stock for future use.
To freeze, simply seal the stock in a freezer-proof container, freezer gallon storage bags work great for this method. Clearly label and date the storage bag or container – remember that this method has a freezer storage life of 6 months. If freezing the stock in storage bags, it is best to lay the bags on a cookie sheet and freeze flat for easy storage.
For a longer shelf life, consider pressure canning your stock which will preserve the delicious turkey stock for up to 12 months in your pantry.
Simply bring your stock back up to a boil and fill sterilized jars, leaving one inch of headspace. Clean rims of the jars before putting on the two part lid, tighten the lid rings only to “finger tight.” Process in a pressure canner using guidelines available from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
If you are intrigued by pressure canning or need a refresher course, take a class from your local UC Master Food Preserver Program before getting started.
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