Tip of the Day: How to Pick a Good Watermelon!

Posted in Fruit & Veggie Selections, MUST KNOW TIPS & TECHNIQUES! on May 4, 2010 by Meals of Asia

There’s nothing better than a sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe watermelon. However, all watermelons aren’t created equal. I’ve been disappointed with many watermelons that I’ve brought home from the supermarket or produce stand. After bringing home one too many disappointing watermelons, I decided to learn how to pick a good watermelon once and for all.

When choosing a watermelon, there are a number of characteristics that indicate how good the fruit is likely to be.

Characteristics of Good Watermelons

The first thing you need to check is the shape of the melon. A good watermelon has a symmetrical shape. It doesn’t matter if the fruit is round or oval in shape, as long as it is symmetrical.

It is also a good idea to press the skin of the watermelon in many different spots to test for firmness. Good watermelons will not have soft spots.

While looking at the exterior color of a melon isn’t sufficient to determine if a melon will be good, dark green melons tend to be sweeter than those that are lighter in color.

When you pick up the melon, pay attention to how heavy it is. Watermelons are more than 90 percent water, so the juiciest melons are going to be the ones that seem very heavy for their size.

How to Check For Ripeness

There are several different ways to tell if a watermelon is ripe.

  1. Look on the bottom of the melon. You will find a discolored spot where the melon was in contact with the ground while it was growing. If this spot is light green, the melon is not yet ripe. If the spot is a yellowish-white color, the melon is probably ripe.
  2. You can also test for ripeness by scratching the surface of a watermelon with your fingernail. A greenish-white color beneath the outermost layer of the rind indicates a ripe watermelon.
  3. You can also tell if a watermelon is ripe by thumping it, if you know what you are listening for. When you thump the side of a ripe watermelon, it will sound as if the fruit is hollow. If you hear a thud or a tone that is high in pitch, you’re dealing with a fruit that isn’t ripe.

Interesting Fact about Watermelons: Don’t buy a watermelon that you know isn’t yet ripe thinking it will be ripe by the time you eat it. Watermelons do not continue to ripen once they have been picked.

Thank you for sharing!

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Tofu Delight Curry

Posted in COURSES/ENTREES on May 4, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 9th!

Remind mom how special she is by cooking her a delicious Thai curry dish!

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 1 pound firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 cups chopped bok choy
  • Salt to taste

 Directions:

  1. Remove white parts of green onions, and finely chop. Chop greens into 2 inch pieces.
  2. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, mix coconut milk, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, brown sugar, curry powder, ginger, and chili paste. Bring to a boil.
  3. Stir tofu, tomatoes, red pepper, mushrooms, and finely chopped green onions into the skillet. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring   occasionally. Mix in basil and bok choy. Season with salt and remaining soy sauce. Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but crisp. Garnish with remaining green onion.

Tip of the Day: Check the Entire Shelf

Posted in GROCERY SAVING STRATEGIES on May 3, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Grocery stores will often place the higher priced items at eye-level.  Again, consumers choose more items to buy from eye level.  So look at the top and bottom of the shelf for potential better bargains.

 Also, often the healthier (and less expensive) items are more difficult to find.  Packaged, prepared foods are more costly and generate bigger profits, so try to find the healthier items.

Thank you, MoneyInstructor.com!

Pud Eggplant Chicken Curry

Posted in COURSES/ENTREES on May 3, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 9th!

Remind mom how special she is by cooking her a delicious Thai curry dish!

This easy Thai Red Curry is fragrant and sumptuous, and can be made anywhere from mild to red-hot, depending on your spice preference. This is a healthy and hearty curry dish that will awaken your senses and boost your mood.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of Red Curry Paste
  • 1 cup sliced chicken breast
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 cups chopped Chinese eggplant (leave skin on)
  • 6-8 kaffir lime leaves, each leaf torn in two
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 Thai chili peppers (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 cans (5.6 oz each can) coconut milk

Directions:

  1. In a wok, heat the oil and fry the curry paste for one minute.
  2. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  3. Add chicken, bell peppers, eggplant, and kaffir lime leaves.
  4. Season with fish sauce and sugar.
  5. Keep on medium heat until chicken is cooked, then add basil and chili peppers. Serve with freshly-steamed Thai jasmine rice.

What is Thai Curry?

Posted in PA NHIA'S COOKING DICTIONARY on May 3, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Thai curry refers to dishes in Thai cuisine that are made with various types of curry pastes. Curry is usually a soupy dish consisting of coconut milk or water, curry paste, and meat or tofu. Thai curries tend to be more soup-like compared to their thicker Indian cousins. Curry is one of the richest dishes of Thai cuisine with ingredients mainly based on aromatic herbs and spicy pastes. There are many different types of curries in Thailand depending on the type of curry paste, meat, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and addition of either coconut milk or water.

 Curry pastes include:

  • Yellow curry
  • Green curry
  • Red curry
  • Massaman curry
  • Khing curry
  • Panang curry

Thank you, Thai Temple, for sharing!

Tip of the Day: Buy the Deals, Avoid the Rest

Posted in GROCERY SAVING STRATEGIES on May 2, 2010 by Meals of Asia

One shopping technique is to shop more often, and focus your shopping on the special deals given by the store.  Then go visit other stores to buy their special promotions.  Many stores rely on the fact that you will buy more than the specials, to make their money and maximize profits.  However, you must remain disciplined and don’t be tricked into spending more than you plan when entering the store.

Thank you, MoneyInstructor.com!

Steak and Vegetable Kabobs

Posted in APPETIZER on May 1, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Dash dried basil
  • 2-1/2 pounds beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-1/4 inch pieces
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 24 large fresh mushrooms
  • 1 large green or sweet red pepper, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 small zucchini squash, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • Hot cooked rice

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine first seven ingredients; set aside.
  2. On metal or soaked wooden skewers, thread meat and vegetables. Place in a large glass dish. Pour marinade over kabobs; cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, turning several times. Discard cloves.
  3. Grill over medium-hot heat until the meat reaches desired doneness and vegetables are tender. Serve with rice. 

Thank you for sharing, Taste of Home!