Monday, March 30, 2015

Making a Better meringue

The American Test Kitchen Newsletter recently shared this article about better meringues.

In a raw egg white, proteins are like a ball of yarn—and when you whip an egg white, the proteins unravel similar to how a ball of yarn unwinds. Egg whites contain protein and water, and the water component is what allows these proteins to unwind.

How so? When you whip egg whites, it is much like blowing soap bubbles: Pockets of air are surrounded by a thin film of water and, in this case, unraveled protein. You get large, unstable air bubbles that will deflate easily after a period of time.

Gradually adding sugar to egg whites creates a more stable meringue. The sugar is hygroscopic—meaning that it attracts water. Therefore, it makes for a stronger and longer-lasting protein structure by slowing the drainage of water away from the liquid surrounding the air bubbles. The result is smaller but more stable air bubbles. With the addition of sugar, the whipped egg white foam is now stable enough to be baked in the oven to form a meringue.  Sometimes the resulting meringue was too brittle and dense. It was hard to cut after it cooled. So we needed to create a stable meringue but one that was also more delicate.

The solution was to add the sugar in two parts—half at the beginning and half at the end of the recipe. Adding less sugar at the outset results in larger, more delicate air bubbles. When baked, the resulting meringue is stable yet easier to cut without breaking. The sugar added at the end is for sweetness.


The Effect of Sugar on Whipped Egg Whites

How to create a stable, yet delicate, meringue. Watch the Video

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mind in Making Training

Today I had the opportunity to attend the first of eight Mind In The Making trainings being held here in Tucumcari.  This is part of the school readiness initiative that a committee of professionals has been working on the past couple of years.  Some of the outcomes from this committee include the current Home Visiting program for families of young children, a home visiting program that is just beginning for Child Care providers, a four month leadership training, and the Maze of Life which will be held this week. The Mind in the Making training will revolve around 7 Essential Life Skills that everyone needs including adults.

One of the interesting things we learned today is how early in life babies are able to recognize good people and are drawn to those that exhibit helpfulness.  Researchers showed that children as young as 9 months old will pick the helpful shape over the shape that provides a barrier for another shape to reach the goal.  These babies were completely focused on a story board with shapes helping each other over an obstacle, then they were given a tray with the shapes on it and allowed to pick up the shapes they always chose the helpful shape.

I was thinking as we watched this that even young children are engaged and learning.  We must be good role models and have appropriate TV shows on when they are present.  We also need to take time to be engaged with our babies.  In our plugged in world, are young mothers interacting with their babies enough?  How will children learn if they are not engaging with adults?

If you are interested in learning more check out the parent tips sheets on this website Mind in the Making 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reduce The Amount of Food Your Family Wastes and Save Money

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates food wastes at almost 14 percent of the total municipal solid wastes in the United States in 2010.  Developing habits to save more of the food we already have will put less strain on the resources associated with producing and aid in reducing the creation of greenhouse gas emissions as the population on our planet continues to grow.

This article shares 14 ways consumers can help reduce the amount of food waste and as a bonus save money on their monthly grocery budget.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Healthy Beverages

13 Reasons Tea Is Good for You
Carol W. Turner, Ph.D. Food & Nutrition Specialist

Ever since 2737 B.C., when Chinese legend says leaves from an overhanging Camellia sinensis plant fell into Emperor Shen Nung's cup of boiling water, tea has been recognized by cultures around the world for its capacity to soothe, restore and refresh.  In December 2013, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition issued a Supplement addressing the research that was presented at the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health.  During the symposium research conducted from 2007 to 2012 was shared.

But before loading up on Red Zinger, make sure that your “tea” is actually tea. Real tea is derived from the plant Camellia sinensis and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else, like herbal “tea”, is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea.  But what real tea lacks in variety, it makes up for in its health benefits. Tea’s health properties can be attributed to polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, and phytochemical. Though most researchers focused on the better-known green and black teas, white and oolong also bring benefits to the table.
1. Tea can improve exercise endurance. Scientists have found that the catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which accounts for improved muscle endurance.
2. Drinking tea could help reduce the risk of heart attack. Tea might also help protect against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
3. The antioxidants in tea might help protect against many types of cancers, including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, ovarian, prostrate and oral cancers. But don’t rely solely on tea to keep a healthy body — tea is not a miracle cure, after all. While some studies suggest that tea has cancer-fighting benefits, the current research is mixed.
4. Tea helps fight free radicals. Tea is high in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (“ORAC”), which is a fancy way of saying that it helps destroy free radicals that can damage DNA in the body. While our bodies are designed to fight free radicals on their own, they’re not 100% effective —damage from these radicals has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and neurological degeneration.
5. Tea is hydrating to the body, despite the caffeine!
6. Drinking tea is linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. When considered with other factors like smoking, physical activity, age, and body mass index, regular tea drinking was associated with a lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.
7. Tea might provide protection from ultraviolet rays. We know it’s important to limit exposure to UV rays. The good news is that green tea may act as a back-up sunscreen.
8. Tea could keep waist circumference in check. In one study, participants who regularly consumed hot tea had lower waist circumference and lower BMI than non-consuming participants. Scientists speculate that regular tea drinking lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of diabetes, artery disease and stroke. Although it’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation.
9. Regular tea drinking might also counteract some of the negative effects of smoking and might even lessen the risk of lung cancer. Good news, obviously, but not a justification for smoking.
10. Tea could be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that compounds in green tea could help diabetics better process glucose.
11. Tea can help the body recover from radiation. One study found that tea helped protect against cellular degeneration upon exposure to radiation, while another found that tea can help skin bounce back following exposure.
12. Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.
13. Tea might be an effective agent in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases, especially degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. While many factors influence brain health, polyphenols in green tea may help maintain the parts of the brain that regulate learning and memory.

Important Food Recall For Our Area

Kraft Foods Group Voluntarily Recalls Select Code Dates and Manufacturing Codes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Boxed Dinners Due to Possible Metal Pieces

Kraft Foods Group is voluntarily recalling approximately 242,000 cases of select code dates and manufacturing codes of the Original flavor of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner – due to the possibility that some boxes may contain small pieces of metal. The recalled product is limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the Original flavor of boxed dinner.

Recalled product was shipped to customers in the U.S. 

The affected dates of this product were sold in only these four configurations:

  • 7.25 oz. box, Original flavor
  • 3-pack box of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor
  • 4-pack shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor
  • 5-pack shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor
  • No other sizes, varieties or pasta shapes and no other packaging configurations are included in this recall.

    Visit the FDA website for complete information regarding this recall.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015


    Welcome to our new blog.  We hope to be able to provide you with updated information to help you with issues related to your family and home.   Quay County Extension Office Web Page