Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Camping Trip to LBL

For those that enjoy the outdoors, a weekend of camping with friends and family is the perfect summer getaway. Summer is full of fun activities to do, and whether you’re close to home or hours away at your favorite camping spot, having all your outdoor essentials prepared for your trip means more fun, less hassle and countless opportunities to share and create special memories!

Camping at Land Between the Lakes
The weekend before the 4th of July my boyfriend’s two cousins drove down to visit, so we all took off for an overnight camping trip. We met up with some friends on the Kentucky side of Land Between the Lakes for some camping on the cool lake-shore.

Essential Camping Gear
Prior to hittin’ the road, we loaded up the insulated compartment of my Hamptons Picnic Backpack for 4, by Picnic At Ascot, with condiments for burgers and hot dogs and made sure the salt & pepper shakers were filled. I didn’t even have to pack any plates, napkins or utensils because the Picnic Backpack was fully equipped with everything the four of us needed! After making sure the First Aid Kit, Extra Large Mega Mat, tent, tarp, pillows and sleeping bags were stowed away, we turned our focus the most important part of a camping trip: THE FOOD.

Fundamental Camping Food
S’more Necessities – Graham Crackers, Marshmallows, Chocolate
Meat – Burgers, Steaks, Ribs, Hot dogs, Bacon, Sausage, Chicken, Sandwich Meats
Bread – Buns for your meat, Sandwich Bread
The Best Junk Food – Cheese (for various needs), Chips, Dips, Cookies, Trail Mix, Beef Jerky, Granola Bars, Popcorn, Gummies
Fruits ‘n Veggies – Watermelon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Carrots, Apples, Oranges, Corn
Condiments – Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Steak Sauce, Salad Dressings, Hot Sauce, Syrup
Drinks – Water, Sodas, Gatorade, Beer, Drink Mixes and Milk
Seasoning – Spices to suit your needs
Breakfast – Eggs, Potatoes, Bacon, Sausage, Instant Pancake Mix, Dry Cereal, Instant Oatmeal
Storage – Aluminum Foil, Plastic Bags (various sizes), Garbage Bags, Plastic Containers, Clips & Chip Ties

The most important thing to have on a summer camping trip is ICE. We filled 3 large coolers with ice and loaded them up with all the goodies we’d need for the weekend. The next most important thing is firewood and start up paper (and a lighter or matches of course). Usually camp grounds offer firewood, but bring your own if you can to save some money. Also, start up paper for your fire is essential, so stop at a convenience store or gas station and grab a handful of the Free Ads, or bring some old newspapers.

So, with the truck loaded up with coolers, large water jugs, camping equipment, a Portable BBQ Grill, a fully equipped Picnic Backpack, garbage bags, Sports Chairs (my boyfriend wishes his looked like this), food and fishing poles – we went camping!

Outdoor Games & Entertainment
After setting up camp near our friends, we took in an Ice Cream Social by the “beach”, and spent the afternoon swimming and playing some Outdoor Games. It’s too bad we didn’t have a Glow-in-the-dark Ladder Toss Set to keep playing even after the sun set. Games are a great way to meet new people as well, and we had some campers from neighboring sites come by to meet us and join in!

That night, everyone took their Portable Blankets and Chairs and Picnic Coolers to the other side of the campground for a great outdoor concert hosted by Land Between the Lakes. It was an entertaining site to behold with couples dancing; little girls doing cartwheels and dragging their Moms onto the dance floor; kids running around with their bicycles and playing tag; and the older kids playing basketball next to the pavilion. To top it off, there was a beautiful full moon reflecting off the lake and a cool breeze that kept the bugs away all night!

A quick camping trip this summer can make your weekend extraordinarily special. Bond with your family, get to know your kids better, or find some peace and quiet with that special someone away from the world at your own secluded camping spot. Just remember to have your camping essentials ready to go and have all the necessities before you get to the campsite. The last thing you want to do once you get there and get settled is to have to drive 30 minutes to pick up a loaf of bread. Prepare early on, so you can completely relax and have fun on your next camping trip!

Friday, June 11, 2010

National Corn on the Cob Day!

Melt In Your Mouth Corn On The Cob!

June 11th we get to celebrate National Corn on the Cob Day! Today, we paid tribute at lunch with some fresh corn from our local farmer's market. Mmm.. Mmm!!

Every summer, fresh shucked corn becomes a staple sight at many households across the country.Who doesn't have a slight addiction to fresh, steaming, buttery white 'n yellow corn that melts in your mouth?

Corn is easy to cook and in minutes you are ready to pick out the prettiest, plumpest cob and slather that baby with butter until its shiny with little rivers of melted goodness. There's not much that compares to some really good corn on the cob.

Seasoning Your Corn

Rich in flavor and taste, don't be surprised if your mouth explodes with happiness as you chow down on some good ole corn on the cob! If you like to change up your corn every now and then like we do, add some seasoning and you're ready to go. If you're feeling spicy, lightly sprinkle some Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning, or Old Bay Cajun Seasoning on your corn.  A delicious alternative to spicy corn is to make a little mixture of garlic powder, onion powder and seasoned salt to dash across the length of your corn. If you really want a taste of heaven, combine the spicy seasoning with the alternative mixture and get ready to have a meltdown from the flavor!

Corn Is Used For Many Things

Other than being delicious in its natural form, corn is an essential item found in hundreds of products we consume every day. Most of us know corn is used in Ethanol. But, can you tell me what else we use corn for?

Did you know corn is found in one form or another in at least 25% of what we buy from the grocery store?

Alphabetized below is a list of just a few things you'll find corn has been used for either during production or in the processing.

  • Adhesives; Aluminum; Antibiotics; Asbestos Insulation; Aspirin; Automobiles (cylinder heads, ethanol fuel, spark plugs, synthetic rubber finishes, tires, windshield washer fluid)
  • Baby food, Batteries, Beer, Breakfast Cereals
  • Candies, Canned Vegetables, Carbonated Beverages, Cheese, Chewing Gum, Chocolate, Coatings on Wood, Paper & Metal, Corn Chips, Corn Meal, Cosmetics, Crayons, Chalk
  • Degradable Plastics, Dessert Powders, Dextrose (Icing Sugar), Dyes, Disposable Diapers
  • Edible Oil, Ethyl & Butyl Alcohol, Explosives (firecrackers)
  • Finished Leather, Flour & Grits, Frozen Foods, Fructose
  • Ink for Stamping Prices in Stores, Insecticides, Instant Coffee, Instant Tea, Insulation (fiberglass)
  • Jams, Jellies & Preserves
  • Ketchup
  • Latex Paint, Leather Tanning, Licorice, Livestock Feed
  • Malted Products, Margarine, Mayonnaise, Mustard
  • Paper Manufacturing, Paper Cardboard & Laminating, Paper Plates & Cups, Peanut Butter
  • Pharmaceuticals, Potato Chips

  • Rugs & Carpets

  • Salad Dressings, Shaving Cream & Lotions, Shoe Polish, Soaps & Cleaners, Soft Drinks, Starch & Glucose (over 40 types), Syrup

  • Tacos, Tortillas, Textiles, Toothpaste

  • Wallpaper, Wheat Bread, Whiskey

  • Yogurts

  • Interesting, isn't it? Makes you really think about all the things out there, and what they're made of.

    Now that you have a deeper appreciation for that little yellow kernel of corn, go out and enjoy some fresh sweet corn while it's in season! Remember that all year long you're enjoying products made from corn, whether you know it or not.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    America's Favorite Iced Tea Recipe!

    Good Livin' Means Good Iced Tea!

    The majority of Americans have no idea that June is National Iced Tea Month. And no, it ain’t just for us Southerners. Down here, we pay tribute 365 days a year. We know how to enjoy the little things in life; iced tea being one of ‘em. On June 10th, ya’ll get a chance to celebrate National Iced Tea Day with the rest of the country. We’re glad you joined us, because we’re gonna set ya’ll up real nice with America’s Favorite Iced Tea Recipe.

    All ya’ll up above the ole Mason-Dixon enjoy iced tea as much as we do. But, we all know Southerners are the seasoned pros. In the South, making great iced tea is a simple thing. If you can boil water and follow a few instructions, you can do it. That’s why we all like it!

    Iced tea is a glorious thing. Keep it unsweetened and add your dash of Splenda if you’d like, or buckle down and really get serious by making it a good ole fashioned sweet tea. First, let’s go over some tips for all you newbies to save ya’ll from somehow messing up a perfectly good pitcher of tea! Then ya'll can figure out for yourselves if you can handle our sweetness!

    TIPS for Perfect Iced Tea:
    * Use a glass or glazed pitcher that can withstand boiling water.
        Ø  No plastic or metal containers if you can help it because that’ll mess up the taste.

    * Use only orange pekoe. Brands like Lipton and Luzianne are perfect.
        Ø  Why orange pekoe? Because it’s an extremely healthy alternative to green tea. Health benefits of orange pekoe: helps fight cancer, helps clogged arteries, fights respiratory diseases, helps with inflammation, and helps treat diseases.

    * Add a pinch of baking soda (about ¼ teaspoon); it won’t change the taste, darkens the tea, and helps take out any bitterness you newbies may complain about.

    * CHILL your tea before you serve it. Don’t dilute the tea by adding ice cubes to hot, warm, or room temperature tea.

    * Add fresh slices of lemons to enhance the fresh flavor and taste of your tea. Not just to your individual glass, but also to the entire pitcher. If you need more of a reason: it looks purty too!

    * Iced Tea is best the first day, maybe the second day too. After that, pour it out and make yourself a fresh pitcher!

    Now that ya’ll are prepped and ready to boil water and throw in some tea bags, let’s get to it.

    America’s Favorite Iced Tea Recipe:

    Ingredients (for 1 quart)
    1 Family size tea bag (Luzianne or Lipton is recommended)
    3-4 Cups of water
    ¼ teaspoon or pinch of baking soda (optional)
    1 Cup of sugar(optional)
    Lemon Slices (optional)

    Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Throw in the tea bags and turn off the stove. Don’t boil the tea bags; just remove from the heat and let it steep. Steep for 5 – 15 minutes (depending on how strong you want it). Discard the tea bags before you pour the tea in the pitcher.

    Now, I find pouring your 1 cup of sugar in the empty pitcher and then adding the warm tea makes more sense; but, you may not. Either way, add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.

    Now, there are 2 ways to fill the rest of your pitcher. You can add in 1-2 cups of cold water; or use less water and add more ice to your tea. Whichever you prefer, just remember too much water will dilute the tea.

    Squeeze in some lemon slices (optional) and remember to refrigerate within 1 hour!

    Wasn't that hard was it?  'Course not, we're easy-going here in the South. We like to keep it simple and fun!

    Ya’ll enjoy yourselves and come on back now, ya hear!?

    Saturday, June 05, 2010

    Benefits of Fresh Vegetables

    Farmer's Market Tradition
    Every Saturday morning my parents lounge out on the patio, several cups of coffee on hand to help wake them up while peaceful birds sing in the quiet stillness of a world still half-asleep. The kids are still asleep and the dew's wet kiss lingers on every surface. Soon, the caffeine kicks in and they're ready for a cool sunny morning of gathering fresh vegetables and fruits at either the Daytona Beach Flea & Farmer's Market, or another Florida community farmer's market. Grabbing their Reuze double tote bags and some cash, they head out to buy organic green beans, fresh yellow squash and cucumbers, green bell peppers, ripe cantaloupe, juicy watermelons, big ole' red tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, banana peppers, and fresh white 'n yellow corn. They enjoy talking to the farmers in the local community, and finding out where the produce they buy comes from and how it's grown. Usually, we know what they'll end up coming home with, but today they came back with something different.

    Something that looks like it flew itself here to Earth!

    I have no idea what this pale light green squash is; but, it reminds me of a flying saucer and it is delicious! My mom fixed a healthy recipe, sauteing chopped onions in butter before adding the squash that she'd chopped and boiled beforehand. A few minutes of sauteing and you're ready to eat!

    Benefits of Fresh Vegetables

    Delicious, fresh, homegrown foods make your mouth smile when you eat, did you know that?

    Did you also know that fresh green vegetables are considered "nature's laxative", because they help operate nearly all of your natural bodily functions?

    Fresh vegetables are low in calories, high in complex carbohydrates, contain no cholesterol and almost no fat. Rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C, vegetables also provide essential dietary fiber that keeps your body running like a well-oiled machine. They are nature's best source of a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, trace minerals, and dietary fiber, and many other classes of antioxidants. These nutrients may be your best weapon against age-related diseases, and help keep your heart healthy and strong.

    Sure, eating rubbery dried out frozen vegetables is convenient. I have bags of frozen broccoli, vegetable medleys, strawberries, and blueberries in my freezer just like the next person. I just never use them. They are there "just in case". Who wants to open up an icy bag of soggy, frozen pieces of warped produce that have barely any taste?

    Not me.

    I like to taste the natural sweetness
    of a handful of fresh blueberries, knowing that I'm also providing my body with a ton of healthy antioxidants.

    I crave those rich colors that are evidence of the healthy nutrients embedded within each bite.

    I enjoy the explosion of flavor from a fresh strawberry's kiss. It's like no other!

    Fresh vegetables and fruits provide not only health benefits, but also what I call "mood benefits". We should be happy with what we are putting into our bodies, because our minds and bodies live off of it.

    Mood Benefits of Fresh Vegetables and Fruit
    The mood benefits of fresh vegetables and fruits comes from knowing you're eating the best possible sources of nutrients designed by nature.

    Fresh vegetables and fruits make every cell in our body sing with joy. We weren't made to be drenched in fatty oily foods, day-after-day.

    Our bodies were made to consume the sweetness of a fresh Georgia Peach. Think about the exploding juiciness of Florida's ripe red tomatoes. I know my landlord up in Tennessee is jonesin' for some. He made sure to tell me several times to bring him some the day before I drove to Florida. I'm glad he's just hooked on the tomatoes and isn't addicted to Florida's sweet oranges and soft seductive strawberries, yet. And we all know how exciting it is to enjoy fresh cold watermelon slices on a hot sunny afternoon.

    Happiness for me comes with watching my family enjoy fresh corn like it's going out of style. Nothing beats munching on fresh ears of corn while warm melted butter drips down your chin. Who isn't smiling and laughing at the site of the devotees, who are so into eating that corn that they wait until the last kernel is gone before setting down the cob to lick their chin and mouth for those last few drops of buttery nectar?

    Mmm...so good for the mind, body and spirit!

    Always health conscious, our family uses Smart Balance butter to melt on fresh steaming corn. Sprinkle on some Tony Chachere's Spicy Seasoning, or Old Bay Seasoning and your mouth is ready to do a happy dance. Actually, it's soooo good your whole body might join in on that dance!

    Eating Healthy Never Felt So Good

    So, tell me how good it feels to enjoy nature's bountiful harvest. Ask yourself if you like knowing where your fresh vegetables and fruits come from. For the best fresh produce, learn when vegetables and fruits are in season so you can enjoy them while they're fresh!

    I know that at our house, fresh vegetables are on the table at every meal. Whether it's a plate of fresh green beans, a bowl of cheesy broccoli, or platters of corn so delicious it passes as dessert, we feel better knowing that the food we are enjoying is making our bodies stronger, and our minds happier!