Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Using Recyclable Items to Create an Indoor Organic Garden: Lesson #1

Lunar Planting Cycle
Tampa, Fl -- If you live in the middle of Downtown of any city, there are sometimes that space could be a constriction on your ideas about what to do in the house or any little project you want to do because you don't see the space to execute them, also there are many and innovative ways on how you could use your space and materials and the key could be in recycling every day things in order to achieve something cool, new and that could create a positive impact on your home economics as well the maintenance of the local surroundings.

Bottle and glass container
On a previous tutorial we explained the basics on what you could buy on a nursery or a retail store such as Home Depot or Lowe's but also you could replace much of the items with everyday things you can find in a supermarket. The items you can buy in a nursery are the seeds as well the soil, solutions (if you feel you will need them) as well much (it is optional on the first steps as we are going to be working with small containers before passing them to bigger ones) and soil. Also you will need a sharp knife and scissors or optional a box-cutter which can facilitate the process of breaking the plastic containers, also in another chapter we are going to explain the process of breaking a glass container without damaging the plant inside of it.

Breaking the bottle
As we said before a plastic container, in this case a Welch's Juice (TM) bottle, scissors and a flat surface which in the showed graphic is the sink of my house could be the best work areas in order to avoid making a mess as well to prevent any accidents or damaging any other surface. Always be careful when cutting or using a sharp object as you can get hurt and if you feel this is too dangerous for you to do, as we say in the previous  you can always buy the pots and everything else in a convenience store of your choice such as Lowe's, Walmart, Home Depot or whatever is close to your place of residence.

Break the bottle as a Funnel
When you cut the bottle, mold the upper section as a funnel and puncture some tiny hols on the lower section of the funnel, insert the funnel into the lower opening of the bottle and place the soil inside the funnel. Why all this.? Simple because we need to let water run as the plant grows. Also the bottom part can be reused and we can save money instead of buying the parts. As soon we have ensemble the pot the next step is to plant the seeds inside it.

Burpee Seeds, Organic
Planting the seeds is really easy but before we speak about, finding the seeds is really easy but it can be annoying as they aren't sold anywhere, the best bet is to find them in a nursery or in our case Lowe's as by a mere convenience due our home being only 1.5 miles away from home and spending an entire day looking for seeds in the middle of Tampa. Burpee are quite easy to prepare, they are also cheap and also they last for over 10 months as they are kept air tight; and, you can buy them online on Burpee's website.

Planting the seeds.
If you want to know a simple tip on how to plant the seeds in a low surface as the home-made pots just simple use your thumb to create a hole in the soil, it will be around 1.1 inch and you will deposit the seeds inside. One tip when you are planting seeds before passing them to a bigger space, try to plant seeds of the same family as they can help each other to grow and eventually you will know which one are the ones you planted when they germinated but as a side tip, "mark the containers which the seeds you placed inside so you will know which one are which. And it can be handy to repeat the process when you pass the seeds to a big container."

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Killer with The Friendly Name: Bath Salts

Array of "Bath Salts"
Tampa, Fl -- Every time I read the newspaper, see in the news or read a status from people I know and strangers about the use and experimentation of Methylone and Methiopropamine, chemical terms related to bath salts or synthetic marijuana my heart and soul die a little. This topic is not referenced to organic food or animals but to a problematic that started in Europe and the Middle East and found the way to the continent in order to some fools to make profit at the expense of other people health even if they trade the bath salts as safe item.

The list of banned chemicals in the United States keeps growing every year and the substances that are modified every year in order to keep the makers out of prison keeps changing and many variations of the recreational chemicals are still being sold openly on some convience stores as well gas station across the United States. Florida as what is of 2012 has shown some of the most gruesome side effects of what these drugs can do such as the Miami Cannibal, just to name a few; the real problem with these cannabinoids  are the chemical reactions that cause in the body which can be said as giving the users a over empower feeling as well liberating toxins around the body that in some cases cause insanity, dead or both as they are not made for human use at all; which made me think probably to win this cyclical-war the laws against cannabis shall be regulated and execute the use to avoid more deaths by the use of these chemicals.

According to the Tampa Bay Times edition of Sunday, October 14th of 2012; the use of these drugs have multiplied 20 times by the end of 2011 and the end of 2012 in a 304 : 6,000. Jairous McGhee was the first known victim of bath salts in Tampa by dying on April the 3rd of 2011 by being subjugated by several police officers after McGhee resited a Taser impact after attacking an officer while he was screaming rap songs and beating car windows along the intersection of Kennedy Blvd and N. Dale Mabry Ave. As Jairous there are around 20 other known mortal victims that succumbed to the effects of the hallucinogens.

According to the aforementioned edition of the Tampa Bay Times the business of dealing with bath salts and  synthetic marijuana goes into a circle where you pay to one point in the world and the product is delivered from another country from the one you paid; as the example they placed was they paid to a bank in London and got the product from Spain which a legal operation wouldn't be on that level to sell and create a profit margin from a product.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Supermarket Survival Guide of A Single Guy: Yogurts


Fat Free and Dessert Yogurt

I know regarding yogurts and men, it is not a winning combination by a general consensus but yogurt can be such a beneficial item for the intestinal flora as well a really good snack after midnight. If you plan to eat a midnight snack, a single serving container around 6oz with 110 calories or less are the best to keep in the fridge and also they make such a great addition to make smoothies and parfaits. The supermarket that I go to buy my dairies, Publix, has an amazing line of the dessert type yogurts with different flavors that range from the tropical flavors of the Caribbean up to Chocolate Mousse; but when you go to the supermarket check the labels because not all the fat-free yogurts are low on calories.

Fat-Free Plain Yogurt

It seems boring but fat-free plain yogurt it is quite versatile at the moment of cooking, it can be use to marinade lean meats and some seasoning as it will make your protein of choice tender and delicious. It is also good in tangy cream sauces, sweet salad dressings, and anywhere else you want to add creamy texture.  Look for yogurts with 110 calories or less per 6 ounces serving in order to make a sweet snack with fruit and sweetener, but my advice is go for the larger tubs as the calories per serving size will go around 130.

Low-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is amazing and the reason on why is amazing it's because it goes under a straining process that makes the yogurt super thick in consistency compared to the regular fat-free yogurt and it has more grams of protein (around 20 grams/cup), fewer carbs, less sodium and less sugar; but, standard yogurt has more calcium, but what is also fantastic.? It can be a substitute for sour cream as well amazing for a dip base. A 6 ounce serving of fat free plain yogurt has about 100 calories which is the same amount of 2%.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Easy Recipe: Curried Carrot Soup with Roasted Pistachios

I saw this recipe on Vegetarian Times and I have to say it's amazing and it's really easy to make as it takes 30 minutes or less to prepare it. 


2 Tbs of olive oil.
1 20oz package grated carrots (8 cups)
2 Large leeks, light green and white parts thinly sliced (2 cups)
1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. vadouvan spice or curry powder
1/4 cup roasted shelled pistachios, chopped.

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add carrots, leeks and baking soda.
  • Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are tender and browned in spots.
  • Stir in curry spice and cook for half a minute.
  • Add 4 cups of water and bring it to a simmer.
  • Remove from heat, puree with immersion blender and season with salt if desired. Serve sprinkled with pistachio

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pecan, Storage Tips and a Recipe for the Fall Days

Pecan nuts on a tree
The pecan is native to North America; a long time ago Native American tribes used this wonderful nut as a major energy source because of the fatty acids of Omega 6, which today it's still recommended by nutritionist as it can reduce the risk of gallstones in women as well it can reduce LDL cholesterol.

This wonderful nut is harvested from trees in the fall, so right now it's the best time or the peak of the season to enjoy the amazing buttery-crunchy flavor of the pecans.

Tips When Going to The Store to Buy Pecans:

The best pecans you can buy in the grocery store are the unshelled ones is a good way to know you are purchasing a fresh product  - I can tell that after working for so many years - the best thing you can do at the moment of buying them is to avoid nuts with cracked shells; also check the weight, they need to feel heavy for their size and don't rattle when you shake the bag or the can; also if you are buying shelled pecans check the color as they need to look uniform and without any dark spot around the shell; as any grain with high oil content they can turn rancid in less than a month and quickly develop a bitter test, buy small bags and use them as necessary because if you buy large bulks and you are not going to use them on the moment but one good thing is that you can extend their shelve life after you open them by simply placing them in an airtight in the freezer as they can last around 3 years if they are shelled. In-shell pecans can be kept in a cool dry place around 10 months before they get spoiled.


Taken from Vegetarian Times, you can crack the shelled pecan to free the nut from the shell, spread the shelled pecans to dry on a baking sheet fro 24 hours. To toast the nuts once they've dried, place the baking sheet in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes.

  1. Saute sliced sunchockes, rosemary, and garlic; toss with toasted pecans, baby spinach and lemon vinaigrette.
  2. Finely grind 1/2 cup pecans, and comine with spelt flour, mashed banana, and cinnamon for a pancake batter.
  3. Toss cooked spaghetti squash strands with chopped pecans, diced apple, sliced green onion and olive oil. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Nickname Game

The Nickname Game
Newly parents as well veteran ones always try to chose  a good name for their kids, something meaningful but at the same time when a names comes there is always going to be a nickname from the very beginning. It is probably's a parents thing, my own parents used to give me a few nicknames and I never minded them but there is a point in every child life that will try to distance themselves from their parents and the parents should know when is time to give their children some space in life.

One good thing about nicknames at the moment there are large group of children and also to create a bond between their parents because it create a playfulness interactions with your child.

There is a minor detail with nicknames, the best situation is not to stray away from the original name one example with my own name Gustavo, it can go to Tavo, Gus, Gussy, Gusty, Gus-Gus which is difficult to get away from but so is not the rule to exception because one of my nicknames went to Ta'to, which was difficult to be reminded and raised some doubtful questions by many kids when I was younger, but to other kids having a really sticky nickname could be a major problem as it can follow them all their lives as well a stigma to their parents on the reason why they place that specific nickname to their kid.

There is also another problem, really catchy-cute nicknames as "bear" could look sweet when the kid is younger but once the kids is older, the simple nickname could become a problem by hurting the child self-stem, so think as a parent as if the child ask you to stop calling him or her the nickname in public you should  pay attention on what the child say because the child is trying to create an identity and create a roll among his or her friends, even on an older stage in life when they ask you to stop taking him or her to school or going to the bherus stop, you can listen and give the space but don't feel discouraged because the child may be quite content to hear you continue to use the special nickname.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Hidden Sugars in a Kid's Diet

There is the classical argument that fruit drinks, sodas and other sweet beverages have too much content of sugar in their bodies but a new research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows what we know before " that food choices can contribute significantly more added sugar calories to your child's diet than beverages and much of that sugar is gobbled up at home and not necessarily at day care or school (think about it, schools and day cares in a general consensus have strict lunch policies that control every single gram of calories that goes in and out of the dinning rooms.)

Many parents don't realize that when fat is taken out, sugar is put in and it is labeled low-fat, it sounds healthier than it really it is but it has more sugar content than many people realize it because this kind of foods have more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

On Low-Fat Peanut Butter, manufacturers take out the fat, but to give it the texture and taste of regular peanut butter, they add sugar; the fat in the peanut butter that naturally occurs is healthy and beneficial for the health of the consumer, so the best it is to go with the regular item instead of anything else. If you live in Florida and you have access to a Publix supermarket the peanut butter they prepare in the supermarket it's completely made using only peanuts and nothing else, adding one point to our list of good items that you can find by a good price and are perfect for lunch.

Talking about cereals,  some of the children cereal contain more sugar than a Kit-Kat or a Twix, the problem don't lay on the colorful ones but on the selection of choosing one that contains five grams of sugar or less per serving. One trick my mother used to do when she served cereal was to add bananas with part skim milk and and to add an extra sweet flavor to the flakes she used to sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar in the bowl.

What about flavored milks as Nesquick.? The answer is quite simple, keep these goodies as an occasional treat, the best alternative it's to make your own at home and there are many of combinations you can use with Ovaltine, Carnation or Instant Breakfast, both which have additional vitamins and less sugar.

Yogurt Since milk already contains sugar thanks to lactose, added flavors can really spice the sugar quota, the best best is to buy plain or vanilla and add your own sweetness.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

4 Questions to Ask Dog Breeders Before Buying a Puppy

There is a special time in the life of people where they want a new addition for the family and a dog much of the time seems to be the right answer specially when there are kids around or if you live by yourself and you would like some company at night times. My best advice it is to adopt a pet, not to buy them as there are many dogs and cats in need of a good home and you can have a trustful companion for a fraction of what buying them costs.

If you are going to purchase the new member of the family here are four essential questions you can ask a breeder:

  • Meet the breeder in person, don't do it online or through a middle man and ask to see at least one of the puppy's parent to see any possible behavior or congenital defects.
  • Check out the dogs were housed.
  • Request for copies of the puppy health records.
  • Ask for a guarantee of the health of the puppy for the first few weeks after the purchase and a refund if a veterinarian finds a congenital defect.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On Breastfeeding

Infant being Fed
Tampa, Fla -- The annual World Breastfeeding Week, and what is always intended to educate women and families that the practice is beneficial for both infant and mother it always sparks controversy form conservative sectors who think that the simple exercise of a woman feeding their child is immoral.

Breastfeeding has been under intense publicity in last few months of 2012, since Elisabeth Badinter book hit the shelves and the debate started again if it's OK that mothers should feed their babies on a comfortable public space.? It's OK but since America is based on a patriarchal model there are people who consider this act just another form of pornography and it is wrong to think that a bond between a mother and a child is lewd while it shows that is beneficial to the child's development.

There are some strange taboos as well behaviors regarding some mothers as they decide to extend the breastfeeding period to an age the child is mature but it can be related to some psychological problems related to the mother. But why such an archaic and a common practice is suddenly a hot topic.? Because people feel uncomfortable due as the stigma of a woman body and as we said before the patriarchal influence where is OK to discriminate women. Last week there were several mass nurse-in to coincide with the World Health Organization designated Breastfeeding Week around Wuhan, China where 30 mothers decided to stage a flashmob to protest about the lack of conditions regarding equality to women so they would have a place to feed their children at peace and also to influence social acceptance regarding that is not wrong to feed your child n public.

The organizer of D.C. nurse-in Rachel Papatonakis organized the event because of different reactions she got about the attitudes of people asking women to button up in public - We've all been told that breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed a child, but still people regard the breast as something purely sexual -. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on hospitals to promote breastfeeding on newly mothers and to keep formula under lock as it would be treated as medication and only used as an ultimate option because breastfeeding it's healthier for the baby and people should learn how amazing it is instead of sexualizing everything.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Easy Recipe: Cucumber, Watermelon and Mango Salad

Cucumber, Watermelon and Mango Salad
I have to share with everyone this, I read it on the Seattle Times and I tried right away because it looked so easy to make, it was extremely easy to make and it was amazing to enjoy because it mix hot and cold temperatures, think of a hot brownie with a vanilla ice cream except this is a delicious and healthier alternative.

You can play with the contrast when you make a salad it don't have to be lettuce and leafs, it can be colorful and cheerful and the creator of this delicacy Arthur Potts pairs a juxtaposition of flavors and intensities to create a vibrant meal.

This is will make six servings:

  1. 2 -Cups peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber.
  2. 2-Cups diced watermelon.
  3. 2-Cups diced fresh mango.
  4. 3-Tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus whole leaves to serve
  5. 1-Red chili, thinly sliced.
  6. 1-Green chili, thinly sliced.
  7. 1-Tablespoon of fish sauce (You can actually replace this with something sour of your enjoyment)
  8. 1-Tablespoon mirin
  9. 1/3 Cup olive oil.
  10. Salt and ground black pepper.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, watermelon, mango, chopped mint and red and green chilies. Always mixing gently.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the fish sauce, mirin and olive oil. Drizzle over the salad, then mix gently. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with mint leaves.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

In The Hunt of Mobula and Manta Rays'

Underside of Manta Ray
I recently read an article on Nat Geo magazine, it's a short article accompanied by a big panorama photo of dead rays in what it seems to be a supermarket in a Middle African or Southern Asian nation, it's impossible to identify but the photo is quite powerful enough. I opted not to put such a crude photo instead I found this one on Wikipedia which I think is fantastic.

Now there is a new trend mixed with an old tradition of so called millenial medecine which is putting these creatures more on the verge of extinction beside the already major problems they present on the ocean because of the fishing vessels. China's demand for dried grill rakers as purported medicine for chicken pox and other ailments means a big manta can fetch several hundred of dollars versus the US$20 up to US$40 for their meat.

According to National Geographic, last year around 100.000 of the rays landed in the global fish markets, placing some concerns around the preservation communities. "As quickly as rays started appearing in markets, we fear they could disappear from the sea as just quickly", says Shawn Heinrichs, lead author of the report released by conservation groups WildAid and Shark Savers.

One of the most well known charities that is trying an effort to keep this deviled giants of the oceans afloat is the Manta Trust located in the UK, where they accept donations as well volunteers who want to help in the fight.

Organic Indoor Garden, First Tutorial (Video #1)

Organic Indoor Garden, Tutorial #1
This is a small project I initiated last year but opposite to last year indoor garden I am going to show different stages on how to ensemble one from buying the basics to using recyclable items you can find in your house.

One this very first tutorial we are going to explore what items to buy on a really good price and what kind of soil to use as well seeds and the in the process. As we go on further we are going to explore the deeps of indoor garden and what benefits it creates to your pocket as you can save some extra bucks in spices as well some produces'. If you want to know more about organic garden, this book is really enlighten Burpee By Cutler, Karan Davis/ Cavagnarok, David (PHT)  I hope you enjoy the book and the video.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Organic Mini Sliders with Hawaiian Bread

Hello people, again thank you for reading my website; today we have something really easy to made and it can be done under ten minutes as we are doing an hors d'oeuvre - Mini Sliders with Hawaiian Bread. All the instructions are in the video, it's really easy to make and enjoy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Supermarket Survival Guide of A Single Guy: Talking About Cheese Substitutes

Cheese Substitute

OK people let's going to talk a little bit about some vegan alternatives regarding to dairy. Yes, there are some people who are lactose intolerant (you have to live in the moon to ignore this common allergy), I have some friends who are lactose intolerant and my better half has a mild allergy where dairy cause certain inconvenient's. Yes, you are probably thinking that something that is vegan - gluten free - dairy free will taste like an insult but they are actually quite tasteful.

Much of these cheeses are made of soybeans, rice, nutritional yeast and almonds as well other ingredients but basically they have to be dairy free in order to qualify as substitutes but that doesn't mean some of the brands which we are not going to mention because it can take a lot of space and the best advice is to read the components of the substitute cheese in order to find casein.

1) Not all the alternative cheeses are created equal, you have to know that; there is not an exact method to make them and all the companies production vary. The nutritional values are different and if you are on a diet or you are wanting to keep in control your weight turning away unnecessary calories is a good idea to compare and make charts on which one suits your needs.
2) Not all the cheeses are dairy free, some of them contain peptin or similar components that give the flavor. If you have certain allergy it's better you read it before you take the first bite.
3) They aren't usually placed around with other dairy products, much of the supermarkets tend to place them around the produce section, opposite to the soy milk or almond milk which they tend to be placed by commodity on the dairy section.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Are Plastic Bags OK Ma'am?

Is plastic OK ma'am?
So, let's talk about environmentalism for a moment and of a never ending question that you can find in many supermarkets across the USA, EU and Oceania, the eternal question "Are plastic bags OK Ma'am?" then, if you are quite an uneducated and rude individual who berates and take anything personal you will get offended by the clerk question and you will try to give to him or her an ecological debate on why paper it's better.

Wrong, paper it's not ecological friendly and can barely be reused and twice wrong if you dare to say that plastic bags come from rubber or aka plastic trees, so let's start from the very beginning and you want to start saving the planet one step at time, so my best advice if you want to start saving the planet it is abstain from having sex or just ignore the use of prophylactics, avoid using paper bags and user plastic bags because you can reuse them a great amount of time before they get unusable. You are wondering why I said all of these statements?.

Let's start from the very beginning, plastic bags and condom have one thing in common, both items are fabricated in their majority with derivatives of petroleum. Ethylene and Polyethylene. Let's talk first about the plastic bags, the big pain for people who are just really plain ignorant and lazy into not researching the basic components of these bags. While it's true that plastic bags it's composed ethylene monomeners, recently they also being produced by biodegradable oils or bioplastics  simple materials that when decompose they won't cause a big harm to the environment by the accumulation of toxins and gasses. Almost the same component of the condoms, yet both are really necessary evils, why.? Because of venereal diseases and to carry your groceries, so what would you do.? Fornicate and avoid an STD or an unplanned pregnancy or have a container that can carry your groceries if you don't want to invest in re-usable bags or you feel paper it's more eco-friendly?

Think twice, and now let's talk about condoms, condoms as we said before they are also produced by a spin-off of petroleum in their vast majority, I dare to check the components next time you go ashamed or happily to the supermarket but that's true, and if we want to play with the six degrees game we can even talk about the origins in the Goodyear Corporation when Charles Goodyear discovered a way to process rubber. So you see how interesting this is.? Plastic bags from your local supermarket have a relation with the tires of your car as well what you put around your wee-wee so if you want really to save the environment don't buy plastic that you can't reuse, don't buy paper, just find an alternative to reuse your reusable bags or reuse plastic ones because by buying paper or rubbers you are hurting the planet but in the meantime if you don't want to buy the rubbers you can get a really nasty STD or you can save a rubber tree?.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Back to School Sales - Don't Miss Them, What is Good for Your Kids

The Fee Hery Theory
( Tampa, Fl) -- It's a little bit early to talk about this topic, - back to school - the dreadful time where parents have to think about buying new items for their children who are going back to re-start their class, but as we said before it's a little bit early on some States where right now kids, teens and college students are enjoying their summer break from any activity.

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the time between June and July that is known as the back-to-school specials; according to the RadioShack Corp, Vice-President of Marketing Paul Okimoto it's their number 3 seasonal occasion where they get a boost on sales, so we can make a small inference that many parents and smart-savvy people are looking at the different sales of a variety of many items where can be get on a really low price much as Cyber Monday and Black Friday prices.

The problem with the early push of the Fall sales relies on the problematic economy that has affected many people from the middle-class around the country and by default affecting the different retail markets. On Thursday, retailers will release their June sales figures for stores open more than a year. The 20 retailers that report are expected by Thomson-Reuters to show 1.2% growth, hurt by strong comparisons from last year and signs of economic duress. (Wall Street Journal, 07/02/12 - Marketplace - Corporate News). But it is too early for showing the Fall sales?. It is a little bit early, many people are trying to enjoy their Summer with their savings and with the family vacations they planned, it can be overwhelming by some families but looking from the business perspective, the different companies are trying to conquer the markets the economy fragmented during the last 4 years.

Summer sales are going to be everywhere, Macy's is already showing the Fall line and products as Levis are going off during the next few weeks with the sale prices around a 40%. Target had a 70% sleeveless shirts and shorts as well several items for the back to school during the next couple of weeks, along with the basics such as pens and pencils, consumers electronics that can position the company with the Summer and Fall sales; but the main winner are going to be the electronics aimed toward a generation of college students who are going to be far away from home but not only for college students who use technology for everything,  taking the path of researching on the internet libraries as well using smart-phones to find their way through their new environments thanks to the different applications.

American Eagle Outfitter created a different approach to create fidelity as well to boost their sales for the Summer, they will hold a contest in where the winner will be featured in the company's spring promotional material for 2013. Staples is one of the many companies that is rolling out essential school products through their Back-to-School Saving Pass. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Organic Homemade Whole Wheat Cheese Pizza (Video Tutorial)

Homemade Organic Pizza
So let's make something really interesting from the scratch, albeit today we are not going to explain the process of creating a pizza sauce (as we are going to left that to another tutorial) but rather in the creation of the dough using our bread machine and every day utensils we have in our house. On the bottom part there is a tutorial on how to make a pizza as well the dough but before that I am going to give you the instructions on how to do easy and organic.

Recipe for an Easy Dough:

Not long ago, I was having a small chit chat with my friend Elisa from Colombia, for the first I actually gave the reason to someone else;  as she is probably right, one of the most cathartic process in the creation of the pizza comes from mixing the dough by yourself to create perfection, I guess she was right; on another similar conversation that same day, talking with another friend from Colombia who is a chef (Jairo) he said something similar and also gave me some really good advice as well some tips in the creation of the pizza as for the sauce (which we are going to do in another entry). I gave them both the answer of the lazy, I am happy that I found a bread machine really cheap that can batter and make the dough but that I am going to try make the dough without the aid of the machine eventually.

  1. 1 1/2 cups of water.
  2. 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil.
  3. 3 1/2 cups of organic whole wheat flour.
  4. 1 tablespoon sugar
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 1/2 teaspoon bread machine yeast
  • Place all the ingredients in the container according to the order that is specified in the manufacturer instructions. Program it on the right cycle, in the case of Oster machine the liquid ingredients come first, then the dry ones and last the yeast.
  • When the machine ends the cycle just pull quickly the dough, don't let it dry inside the machine or it will be ruined; take out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into the desired number of portions or in a lesser case flat the dough into a disk and you can have a large size pizza, or manipulate the portion into creation a Deep Dish pizza. The dough will need to rise so it's a good option to let it rest for about half an hour (30 minutes) until the dough has increased his size.
  • The remains of the dough can be stored for about 24 hours in the fridge, beyond that point it's better to discarded as it won't be fresh anymore.
Deep Dish Organic Whole Wheat Cheese Pizza

  1. 1 Pizza dough of your choice.
  2. 1 Cup of Tomato Sauce.
  3. 8 Ounces of Mozzarella cheese ( or add it to your own discretion).
  • Before baking, set the oven around 450F to 500F.
  • Spray flour around the pizza work surface and then place the dough in the work surface and start creating a circle with your hands until it reach the desire proportion.
  • Put evenly the sauce of your selection starting from the center and going outside the dough without touching the borders.
  • Add cheese.
  • Wait around 30 minutes to 45 minutes before pulling the pizza out and let it rest for 15 minutes before consuming it. Then cut it on the way you want and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Make Organic Sparkling Cherry Soda with a Hint of Peppermint

OK people, it has been 60 days since I made a cooking tutorial on my Youtube account and this is also the first one I've ever write on this site on how to make homemade beverage as sparkling water and sodas. Today we are going to do something simple and enjoyable sodas' but eventually will also cover sparkling waters, creamy drinks and energy boost drinks (all homemade). It's not difficult to make them at home if you have Seltzer as Club Soda; but if you have a siphon which you can buy at Target and carbonate the water, then you have a treasure gem in your kitchen which you can exploit.

The carbonating tanks are quite cheap and they are durable, but you have to be extremely careful at the moment of operating them as they are fragile if they fall on the floor because they can cause harm. So lets start our first tutorial in the world of homemade, non-alcoholic beverages.

So our first recipe as we said before it's cherry soda with a hint of peppermint. One thing you need to know, freshness it's always the key for the flavor and much of the naturist flavor based sodas and beverages are made with fruits who aren't inside cans which they fruits as natural as they can be they can add an extra flavor. Remember, if you want an optimum flavor get your items from the produce section from your supermarket but if you want to create something easy, fast and yet with a nice flavor, the canned options are always a nice alternative.

The three main ingredients for this recipe are cherries, peppermint and molasses. I rather recommend using unprocessed  cane sugar because it accent the sweetness, albeit molasses even if they are a product processed of sugar cane give a different taste to the drinks you make.

To start we will need to cool in the fridge two cups of water, each cup measures the quantity of consumption. I use bottled water as it serves perfectly two cups. You will leave the water cooling down until the end before you take out the syrup of the pan. In my opinion a wide pan as the one shown in the graphic it's the best surface to work with as it offers all the space we need to avoid big messes around the kitchen.

So the first step we need is to open the canned cherries and wash  the can as well the cherries before using them; we don't need the the liquid that is in the container as the cherries or the fruit you use it's going to exhume their syrup which are the keys to the soda flavor. We are going to heat the cherries on a low fire for about 15 minutes, we don't need to over cook them.

When we finish heating, we are going to break the syrup and discard the cherries, so the trick it's simple because we are going to use a filter and below the filter we will place another pan or bowl to contain the syrup that was extracted from the cherries.

The syrup will look like this it will have a reddish pinkish consistency and it won't be gooey. The "sticky" syrup will be a product of the addition of the sugar and milk. Talking about the sugar, with the production of the home made sodas it's that you can use different kind of sweeteners. In theory homemade sodas' should be healthier but because of the addition of Carbon and breaking all the elements of the compound, it becomes a drink of leisure that doesn't give any healthy nutrition to the body. I love trying different kinds of sweeteners to the sodas' because I get variations with the flavors, and talking about sweeteners' we are going to dedicate a section of the blog to talk about them.

This is a tricky part because you can't add in excess the ingrident that will give the after flavor, in the case of our soda it will be peppermint; peppermint it's such an amazing plant and the extracts add some amazing hints to many recipes but also if you add more than you are instructed it can overwhelm other flavors. For this cherry soda we are only going to add half a tea spoon, no more, no less; if you add more beyond the half of a tea spoon you will have a soda who looks as a cherry soda but taste minty and spicy. Remember we are going to be heating the mix while we add the elements.

Next step it's actually a simple one, we are going to add 2 2/3rds' of milk into the boiling mix. Yes, much of the sodas' are composed by milk; and yes, that was the reason that previously we spoke that sodas should be healthy but they aren't, even if they have on their syrup a lot of stuff that are essentially nutritious.

 The next step it's probably the most fun of them all, creating the carbonated water to add the syrup inside; but we need to talk about a few steps in order so you would know what to do. First: there are two ways to create the flavor, some people say that it's better to carbonate the water first (a is shown in the graphic) and the one applied on this tutorial but I like to mix the cherry syrup into the water and carbonate all together to create the amazing homemade soda.

Second, to store the syrup you can use any container and it will be OK in the fridge for about three days, and, so the soda.

Third, when using the siphon in my opinion to have a really good drink who won't be extremely gassy, you only need to push the button once.

One of the last steps in the production of our homemade soda it's to add the concentrate into the water (at least in this case), I rather use the entire concentrate and carbonate it along the water so it will create an amazing flavor and flavored bubbles. Yes, if you carbonate the concentrate you can have flavor bubbles and in the presentation of the drink, the drink itself will loo more appetizing.

And this is it, our homemade soda it's ready to be enjoyed. Thank you for reading me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Supermarket Survival Guide of A Single Guy: Talking About Cheeses

Dairy Aisle, Photo by Tinytopia
So, let's talk clear, going shopping for groceries can be a pain in the buttocks, cooking can be another topic especially since if you know about high caloric dishes such as the ones related to Southern Cooking and Soul Food; we don't need to satisfy our hunger through calories but rather eating smart and thinking what are you going to buy, it's something you are going to eat and eventually it is going to be an item which is going to cause an impact on your organism.

So on this first journey on the intrinsic world of groceries, let's go to Aisle One; the dairy aisle. On aisle one you will mostly find the dairies (I know on your supermarket could be difference but in my regular one, is on aisle one), dairy products are composed of cheese, yogurt, pudding, desserts, dessert toppings, egg products, milk, milk swaps, creamers, sour cream and butter.

These are all products you buy at least once a week, some of them probably more because of your tastes but let's take a small review on what you can find on the dairy aisle.


Shredded  Cheeses (Fat Free)

What about cheeses?, they are amazing, tasty and they can add an extra spark to a sandwich or a sub; but also there is a different slang with the world of cheeses as well several other dairy products. Fat free cheeses, are quite interesting yet in terms of flavor they are not exciting and they barely melt if you are trying to do a fondue or a sandwich; but don't get me wrong, fat free cheeses can be amazing to snack or if you want to top an already high caloric dishes.

When you are thinking about the dishes, any brand of 2% milk Mexican blend it can be amazing because it will give a really unique flavor to what you are making i.e. Lasagnas, souffles, even sandwich.

Fat Free Slices:

Unlike no-fat shreds, the fat free slices they melt well, and they are perfect for burgers and open faced sandwich melts. The reduced slices are better for snacking as well in terms of flavors are quite good if you are in the mood of a Swiss sandwich.

Reduced Fat Block-Style Cheeses:

For some weird reason, cheeses that you shred yourself in the comfort of your own kitchen they tend to melt quicker and easy than pre-shredded cheeses. They also amazing for making stove-top cheese sauces with a milk reduction; also the blocks are much of the time cheaper than pre-wrapped individual snacks and they can be great for snacking as they contain less calories than much of the processed snacks, but they can be tricky to keep the portions on check if you have difficulty to control your appetite, which in that case is not money wise to buy a big block if you will eat it in less than a week.

The Fat and Calorie of the Shreds, Slices and Blocks:

This is a small guide inside this guide, to know more about the labels and calories you can find:

Fat Free Cheese
1 Slice = 25 to 30 calories aprox.
1 ounce = 1/4 cup (shreds) = 45 calories
1 ounce in a 1-inch cube / block = 45 calories

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pillsbury Easy Recipes: Croissants with Nutella (Non Organic)

So let's continue our exploration with the foods; probably this is not a best idea if you are aiming at natural foods but is actually one easy dessert to make as it doesn't require too much preparation. One fantastic thing about the Pillsbury rolls it is that they are malleable and you can adapt them to create something of your own authority.

So what would we need to do this easy recipe?. Simple a jar of Nutella, a roll of croissant from Pillsbury and a cooking surface such as a pizza table that you can place inside the oven. So to start we need to preheat the oven with the directions that are in the cooking roll container, keep the surface that we are going to place inside the oven outside so you can put the uncooked croissants before doing something else. The next it's the simple one. Open the croissant containers, spread open the little sheets and with a knife spread the Nutella evenly in the middle and close the wrap so it can take the form of the croissant. When you finished with the rolling and preparation place it in the oven, it usually take about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the power of the oven and when you take the croissants out of the oven just let them breath for about 20 minutes before any consumption.

I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Colombian In America: The War of Fast Food vs. The Culture of Cooking

The Big Letter M
To any future reader, my name is Gustavo, as known as Gus Calvo, I am a Colombian leaving in America, specifically in the Deep South but just to be honest I am just in Florida. I am probably the antithesis of a Latino but also I am an nonconformism who can't subdue his ideals to fast food after trying them over year  and finding my stomach and weight suffering after putting myself in an unhealthy diet. As a Colombian I wasn't a fan of much of the dishes because of the high caloric content as well too much of them based on meat but also as an American and someone who the south as take as an adopted child I can satisfy myself either with much of the South Cousine, Soul Food or anything in particular even if I can eat them every now and them my attitudes toward the food tend to be picky because I see in my new home a culture that rounds about fast food and easy solutions to eat, instead of cooking and seating in the table to enjoy a meal that was  cooked properly.

The worst thing an adult can pass by, it's too modify behaviors learned when they are children, relearn to eat can be a traumatic experience if you are obligated by life itself. As Colombian I was never used to the majority of the dishes, I envy the French kids as they can eat anything, but I don't blame my parents they didn't knew how to handle their first born child but I can say it Colombian kids eat also anything. but clearly I was the exception. There are many things amazing in the Colombian cuisine but maybe I never gave them a chance, probably right now I wouldn't in their vast majority but that doesn't mean I won't close my options. Then it came the problem, globalization and McDonald opened in Colombia around 10 years ago and it became a factor in modifying the habits of eating of Colombians because the fast food restaurants were more oriented into barbeque and they took more time to make rather than 3 minutes or less.

I always was familiar with fast food in America since I was little and traveled to vacationing in Florida, I never liked at all and much of the time were I ate a hamburger was when my family and I didn't knew what to eat after spending the day outside. Still many years later, I barely enjoy them because they feel synthetic, fake, not real food that was in the oven or the stove and was prepared with a certain amount of time and not in a rush; that's cooking, and seating in a table or just in front of the television and taking your time to enjoy it, not eating in a rush.

That's probably the mistake of the vast majority of the Americans, they don't take their precious time to eat, they prefer to go outside and snack, or buy something that was made in less than 10 minutes. There is no enjoyment of food in many cities because of the invasion of the fast food restaurants or the convince of the deli's in the supermarkets. That's not eating or cooking, that's an unexplained phenomenon to justify the rushes of he day and that's the worst because there are plenty of options to explore in the culinary world that don't go in the two categories of being restaurants of franchises or really expensive ones.

I know those rushes, but I don't put my food as something that won't fulfill me physical and spiritual, I do enjoy cooking, going to the oven, create something complex, yet simple, yet delicious and yet organic which is my motto at the moment of cooking, "Keep it Simple and Keep it Organic" which is the philosophy we are going to explore on this journey of easy and organic cooking.