Juicy stocking stuffers

THE DISH

December 24, 2003|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff

December marks the peak of navel-orange season. The orange's connection to Christmas stretches back more than a century when times were hard and an orange in the bottom of a stocking was a welcome gift.

Today, of course, oranges are readily available in grocery produce sections. According to Sunkist, the average American consumes 12 1/2 pounds of fresh oranges per year.

Doing a dip: Hey, it's easy

Although the Christmas dinner isn't yet on the table, it's not too soon to think about what you're going to serve for New Year's Eve. French's mustard has this easy appetizer idea:

Defrost a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, squeeze it dry, and place it in a food processor or blender along with 1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, 1/4 cup French's Napa Valley style Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil leaves, a chopped clove of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper.

Process just until well blended but slightly chunky. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with cut-up vegetables or crackers.

Kitchen risks: how to be a careful cook

Believe it or not, cooking the holiday dinner can be hazardous to your health. While burns and cuts are the most common dangers, the folks at the American Society of Hand Therapists also warn that all of that chopping, stirring and grating can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries.

The society offers tips to avoid getting hurt:

* Use easy-to-grip spoons, knives and can openers. Look for tools that have fat handles.

* Remember correct posture when standing over work surfaces. If you're going to be standing for a long period of time, use a footstool and put one foot up on the stool to relieve stress to your lower back. Switch feet every five to 10 minutes.

* Avoid lifting heavy pots and pans. Slide them off the burners whenever possible. Slide the shelf out of the oven to get a good, safe grip on panhandles.

* Don't use the naked hand to unscrew jars and tops. Before you open any jar or bottle, turn it upside down and tap the bottom with your hand two or three times to break the suction. Then use a rubber top or jar opener.

For more information, visit www.asht.org.

Tea fans can bag the bag

Does the sight of drooping used teabags get you down? It bothered Morton Simkins enough that he decided to do something about it. He created an aluminum "tea column" -- a disposable tea infuser that contains large tea leaves.

High Tea columns come in Ceylon, grenadine, Earl Grey, peppermint and sangria flavors. Each column makes two to three glasses of tea. A four-pack costs $6-$7. A gift box with 12 tea columns is $20. For more information or to order, call the Company of a Philadelphia Gentleman, 888-TEA-0002.

EVENT

* The Annual Maryland Rockfish Celebration Cooking Contest will be held Feb. 7 in the Ocean City Convention Center. To enter the contest, submit recipes to the Maryland Watermen's Association, 1805A Virginia St., Annapolis, MD 21401, by Jan. 9. Call Noreen L. Eberly, 410-841-5820, to obtain a copy of the rules.

The Dish welcomes food news and notes. Send to The Dish, Attn.: Liz Atwood, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; fax to 410-783-2519; e-mail food@baltsun.com.

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