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Monthly Archives: March 2011

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Greatest Moment

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This is a GREAT MOMENT, originally uploaded by alykat.

My heart keeps beating
My mind keeps thinking
Never to surrender
Never to give up.

Even in a sparkle of hope
I struggled to reach
approaching the web of chance
hoping to be there
wrap my life endlessly
in the eternal glory.

The strength of my being
released a beam of hope
emitting in every direction
to where I belong.

I savor the moment
capturing every drop of joy
sipping into my elusive soul
shouting with my heart’s desire.

This is the moment!

My greatest moment!

How to Select Fresh Fruits and Freezing for Storage

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Tropical Fruits – Original Oil Painting, originally uploaded by wizan.

• Bananas are in season all year round, while other fruits are mainly seasonal, meaning that you sacrifice on vitamin and mineral content when buying imported goods.
• As soon as fruit is cut, it starts losing nutrients. Try buying uncut fruits.
• Frozen foods normally hold their nutritional content, unless it has been defrosted and refrozen several times. Being imported, one can almost assume that this is what happened. If you can feel a lot of ice inside the bag, leave it.
• Melons, guavas and strawberries are as high in Vitamin C as citrus fruits. Produce with deep colors normally has high vitamin content. The darker the fruit, the better.

• Apples should be firm, not bruised, wrinkle-free, and good in color. Keep in the refrigerator. It will remain fresh and crunchy for weeks.

If frozen, the freezer life will be 1 year. How to freeze: Cut into slices and blanch for 1 minute, pack into rigid containers. Or puree before freezing.

• Apricots should be orange-yellow in color, plump and medium soft. Keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Take out and leave at room temperature at least 20 minutes before eating. Like cheese, apricots have a fuller flavor when not too cold.
• Avocados must feel heavy for their size and should not be soft or over bruised. Allow ripening at room temperature, preferably in a paper bag or rolled in newspaper. When ripe it could last up to a week.

If frozen, the shelf life will be 2 months. How to freeze: Puree fresh flesh, add lemon juice, pack into rigid containers. Thaw overnight before using for dips

• Bananas are best when light yellow or green in color and not bruised. Avoid when gray-yellow in color, since this shows that it has been frozen. It ripens fast at room temperature and should be eaten immediately once they reach their preferred stage.

If frozen, the shelf life will be 6 months. How to freeze: Puree only for cakes and puddings. Pack in solid container.

• Berries are great when plump, not bruised and without any moisture on the skin. If it is not completely ripe, store in the refrigerator – unwashed – for a few days until perfect.

• Grapefruit should be firm and not soft. The heavier ones have thinner skins and more fruit – meaning more juice and flesh. At room temperature, it will last for a week. In the refrigerator it could last up to 3 weeks.
If frozen, the shelf life will be 1 year. How to freeze: Peel, remove all pith, cut into segments, layer with sugar, pack in rigid containers and freeze. Thaw overnight to use.

• Grapes should have green stems and should be smooth and plump, not sticky. Dry stems indicate age. Grapes do not keep ripening once they have been picked. To know whether it is good, pick one and eat it in the shop. Grapes should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Store in a plastic bag and wash only before served.

If frozen, the shelf life will be 1 year. How to freeze: If seeded, wash, skin, halve and pip. Seedless, wash, Pack in rigid containers and cover with sugar syrup. Seal and freeze.

• Guavas should be small with a green-yellow skin. Only buy not bruised and plump guavas. Once it is soft to the touch, it is right to eat. Store in a cool place.

• Lemons should have rich, yellow color, a thin skin and should be heavy. At room temperature it can last for up to a week. Refrigerated and sealed in a plastic bag it could easily last for 3 weeks.

• Mangoes can vary in color from green with yellowish flushes to red. The red and yellow increases as the fruit ripen. Keep at room temperature and eat as soon as it gets soft. It will keep a few days in the refrigerator after it has ripened.

If frozen, the shelf life will be 1 year. How to freeze: Pack in freezer syrup – 8 oz sugar to 1 pint of water and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Cut mango flesh into strips pack in containers and pour over syrup, freeze.

• Nectarines: Plump, highly colored and unblemished with no shriveling. It could last for several days in the refrigerator.

• Oranges should be thin-skinned if it is used for its juice. If chosen for eating as a whole, the skin should be thicker. Oranges will keep for up to 10 days at room temperature and weeks in the refrigerator.

• Peaches should be yellow with a reddish blush. Store it spread out in the refrigerator to avoid bruising.

• Pears should be firm, not shriveled. Pears can keep up to 5 days in the
refrigerator.

• Pineapples should have deep green crown leaves. Fragrance is a sign of flavor. Pulling out the crown is not a foolproof sign of ripeness. Do not bargain on a pineapple ripening more after it has been picked. Refrigeration is not recommended, since the flavor is best in room temperature.

• Plums have to be plump and deep in color. Choose the ones that are just starting to soften. It can keep for several days in the refrigerator.

• Pomegranates: Pink or bright red. Avoid the hard type. It can last for up to 2 weeks in a cool place.

• Strawberries should be clean, bright, solid red color, free of moisture or mold. Discard any that is too soft or bruised. Stored with the caps on, it could last for a few days in the refrigerator.

If frozen, the shelf life will be 1 year. How to freeze: Buy, hulk, wipe and open freeze on same day. Repack in poly bags and store. It will become mushy on thawing, so use for making desserts, cake fillings or purees.

• Tomatoes: Choose bright red, firm tomatoes that don’t easily dent when pressed. For the best taste, do not refrigerate and serve at room temperature.

If frozen, the shelf life will be 1 year. How to freeze: Whole: wash, place in boiling water for a few seconds, drain and drop into cold water. Skin and pack in poly bags to use for sauces and stews. Halves: Wash, half, then open freeze before packing in bags or rigid containers ready for use. Puree: Pack in rigid containers ready for use..

• Watermelon has to be firm, symmetrical, and waxy. And, the lower side should vary in color to a yellowish tint. Very hard white watermelons are usually not ripe. It is almost impossible to determine sweetness without cutting it. When cut, the flesh has to be deep red in color with a firm texture and dark seeds. Uncut melons will keep for several days at room temperature. Slices will last for several days if wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator.

How to Organize Dinner Party with Style

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Valentine’s Eve Dinner Party, originally uploaded by jacob&corrie.

If entertaining isn’t your favorite chore or you are just looking for some new idea for Valentine’s Day, Wedding, etc., and if you’re working in a restaurant, here’s my helpful suggestions to make those party plans seem effortless.

Entertaining in style is expected these days and interesting suggestions to ensure your parties are memorable. Ladies do it with style this Valentine’s Day, or at least you are expected to. Perhaps you better half has invited “just a few” people for dinner. On closer investigation you find that it’s to entertain the VIP’s of the company who just happens to be in town for a couple of days, along with other important people from the firm.

Basically, the organization has to be “just right” and there is no room for panic or anything other than the best in presentation from the table arrangement to the food.

Invitations:

When sending out invitations, do try to give plenty of notice. The usual time is at least two weeks in advance. If the dinner is informal perhaps for friends or relatives often just a phone call, mobile phone, or a short note would be sufficient. If you do arrange formal parties and celebrations, it is worth having set invitations printed at the printers; all you need to do is fill in the date, time and details of the event.

However, if your formal entertaining isn’t a regular event, then a typed or neatly written invitation is best. Send it out at least two weeks in advance, a month is better). To ensure that the guest is informed of all details make sure the following details are included. The day, date and time; if there are pre-dinner drinks or a reception beforehand, the occasion and style of dress (formal/informal/national dress).

When giving the venue do include a map for those who are unfamiliar with your location. Most importantly, include the name of the host or hostess and easily RSVP contact number or reply card for the guest to confirm.

When planning the meal take into consideration the guests who will be attending: are there any special diets required for health, personal or religious reasons? Maybe one or two of the guests are known to have light appetites and would appreciate smaller portions.

Dinner Party Planning:

For a formal dinner, the courses generally are as follows: Cold hors d’oeuvre, soup, warm hors d’oeuvre, fish, sorbet, main course with side dishes, cheese or fruit, dessert and tea/coffee with petit fours. Of course not every dinner party demands such formality therefore most people cut the courses down to a starter, main dish and dessert. If you are not sure which way the menu should be planned, offer a cold hors d’oeuvre, a warm soup or fish course, a main dish, then dessert. In this way, much of the preparation can be done well in advance and frozen ready for the big day.

No dish should ever be repeated, however crustaceans are an exception. Dessert should be light if the main course is rich. Consider a balance of colors – all white food is boring, so the emphasis should be in varying the colors of each course, yet ensuring the dishes complement each other.

At times it may be preferable to serve small hors d’oeuvres with pre-dinner drinks and move straight into the fish/soup course when guests are seated at the table.

Place Settings:

When it comes to place settings for formal dinner parties, it really pays to invest in an attractive and sophisticated dinner service and cutlery. It will be money well spent for they could last a lifetime. One of the first impressions a guest may have of the host is the table presentation. A crisp white table cloth with a pretty overlay is often all that is required to show off your tableware to its best.

Add to this color coordinated candles, a pretty posy of flowers (nothing too high or it will obstruct your guests’ views of each other) and condiments in dainty containers and you have the perfect setting around which to serve a meal.

Linen:

To keep your linen in top condition treat any stains immediately. Spills can be treated with a proprietary stain remover available in many supermarkets. Don’t be tempted to bleach your linen cloth as it will only damage and weaken the fibers. Linen can be laundered in an automatic washing machine. Once washed, the linen should be line dried (not tumbled dried) and taken off the line when it is still damp, then ironed. Spray starches can be used and if possible, steam iron on a medium setting. If you are particularly worried about your linen, take it straight to a reputable dry-cleaning firm the following morning and point out any stains, describing what they are.

Setting the Table:

To get a clear idea of the space required to put the dinner plate you will be using on the table. The plate should be placed one thumb nail in from the edge of the table. Place the side plate to the left of the dinner plate with the bread knife on the right side of the plate, its blade turned to the left.

Cutlery should be laid with the main course knives and forks nearest the plate, and the other courses working outwards until, on the very outside should be the cutlery for the first course. Knives should be placed on the right blades pointing inwards, forks on the left, while the soup spoon traditionally lies on the knife side. Dessert spoons and forks are placed at the head of the plate with the fork handle facing the left and the spoon handle to the right. If there is cheese, the cutlery is placed the same as the dessert cutlery with the spoon being replaced with a dessert knife.

Setting Glasses:

The glass which accompanies the main course (the leading glass) is placed directly above the dinner knife. Glasses which accompany courses before the main dish are set before the leading glass and glasses which accompany a course after the main dish are set behind the leading glass.

This order is important as it ensures the guest has unrestricted access to the glassware for each course. Glasses should be removed after each course, apart from the water glasses which should be placed in line with the first course glasses. No more than four glasses should be placed on the table. Additional glasses can be added later if required.

Crystal Care:

Dish washers are too harsh for crystal as heat and abrasive cleaners may mark the surfaces. Jostling in a dishwasher can also cause chipping and cracking. It’s better to hand washing in water that is hand-hot using a mild washing up liquid. Rinsing well in lots of clear water – vinegar in the rinsing water will help remove any stubborn stains. Wash away from the taps to prevent chipping and drain on a plastic coated rack or towel.

When drying, use a clean linen dish towel (keep several ready for the task) and hold the glass by the bowl, not the stem, for twisting the stem in the opposite direction to the bowl can cause it to snap. Polish the glasses then store standing on their bottoms not the rims, well spaced out to avoid any potential chipping in your cupboards or glass cabinets.

Vases and decanters can be cleaned by filling them half-full of moderately hot water, a small amount of mild detergent, two tablespoons of white vinegar or ammonia and ¼ cup of uncooked rice. Swirl the rice around for a few minutes to remove residue inside. Rinse well with moderately hot water and air dry, upside down on a rack.

Accessories:

Accessories provide the ideal finishing touch to a table: add some fresh flowers, candles and place cards but always remember that the decoration should be unobtrusive yet attractive. With practice and even inexpensive decorations, it is easy to create elegant table settings. Keep an eye out for attractive fabrics which could be made up into inexpensive table mats and napkins.

Gadget Gourmet for Busy Housewife

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Gourmet food and gadgets, originally uploaded by simiusnu.

The modern housewife has so much more to be thankful for than her predecessors. Why? Because she has every kitchen gadget imaginable at her fingertips – a far cry from the days when “blending” meant whisking with a fork then forcing through a sieve.

With modern gadgetry it’s possible to achieve so much more in less than a quarter of the time.

Indeed, today’s vast range of kitchen electronics may even put some of the existing kitchen gadgets we have in our cupboards in the shade, because each season something new and more exciting comes onto the market.

Blender:

A blender is essentially a motor unit which houses a blender goblet on top. There is usually one operating speed, although some of the larger capacity blenders have a speed selection. In some cases, a coffee mill attachment is supplied with the blender, a very handy gadget for many pureeing needs. Blender is ideal for soups, desserts and making those special mélanges of vegetables, to add to a sauce. Not only that, no Mum with a baby should be without one!

Food Processor:

Food processors are very hostess’s dream machine. Capable of every type of process from blending, chopping, grating, mincing and slicing, to work whisking and grinding, it quite literally stops short of actually cooking the food for you!

This ultra-handy machine, comes with various blades for various processes, and providing you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, it can cut preparation time for any recipe by more than half.

Some machines only have an “on” switch while others offer speeds of one to three or “flash” (for high speed processing).

Care must be taken however during washing u – those blades are very sharp. Always hold the plastic area of the disc or blade and rinse under hot water, when necessary, brushing down with a washing u brush and detergent.

Never use scourers, steel wool or scouring powder to clean the bowls, as this will scratch the surfaces. Wipe the motor base with a damp cloth and never immerse in water.

Pressure Cooker:

Pressure cooker is the ideal companion when making anything from curries to casseroles and soups to puddings, against the clock. Pressure cookers are also ideal for cooking tougher cuts of meat and, when doing vegetables it comes out tops because by cooking under pressure, it seals in the nutrients and flavor.

Deep Fat Fryer:

An appliance which is ideal for busy cooks, who would normally deep fry in a large heavy pan on the stove top. Ideal for deep frying anything from fish in batter to French fries to doughnuts – and a host of other exciting treats in between. Always remember to sieve oil after each frying and change frequently to maintain the crispness of the food.

Online Retailing Our Way of Life

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IRCE 2010 Tony Paolella 1, originally uploaded by Cotendo.

While e-business describes a sea change in the way large companies are interacting with customers, most of us will be more affected by the technology revolution in more ordinary ways in our daily lives. Whether we are purchasing sporting equipment or sending flowers, the way we buy and sell all kinds of goods and services will never be the same.

In this new era, just about everything is changing positively for the consumer. First online retailers are offering us greater convenience, and wider variety in items as diverse as books, CD’s, DVD’s, toys, travel, etc..But the advantage doesn’t stop with convenience. Online retailers are offering lower prices, more information at the point of purchase, and personalized shopping experiences to all of us wherever we live and at any hour of the day or night.

Even though there are still many uncertainties about this online revolution, there are clear characteristics that we can look at that will determine who will survive in this industry. The winners must all create three important outcomes: (1) They must attract consumer traffic. (2) They must convert the browsers to buyers. (3) They must sell merchandise or services without giving away the “store.” Without these three elements, a retailer, whether online or not, doesn’t have a chance to survive.

Many people believe that the online distribution channel will eventually allow product manufacturers to cut the middleman out of the value chain.

The ultimate question for businesses involved in e-tailing will be: Who owns the consumer? Product manufacturers will try to gain direct access to the end consumer, while online retailers will try to win consumer loyalty through multi-brand product offerings and value-added services.

An investor who considers the e-tailing future naturally wants to know which retailers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of online commerce.

Will I Ever Love Again?

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The whisper, originally uploaded by Stephen Nelson Photography.

On the vine you are of beauty, supple and lovely.
You locked your heart, for me to touched!
To hold firmly! To embraced tightly! To kissed tenderly!

Would you blame me for what I’ve done?
With your heart’s divine, love holds eternally,
I’ve been so unkind, to your being sublimed,
Taming me to felt, the love you desired.

Ever wanting me, for the sky’s so high,
To the zenith of joy you contrived about,
Truth hurts, I knew my feeling’s adorned,
I can’t teach the way you wanted me to be.

Love’s the only reason, cared nothing more,
What you dwelt within, no reason at all,
Again, you’ve taught me, the love you have had,
But my heart says, I don’t love you anymore!

I have needs and soulful wants,
But those belongs to the woman I love,
You blend lies and feelings with mine,
Molding into mountains, of your heart’s desire.

Your love poisoned my soul!
Your beauty entwined my heart!
Sipping drops of blood!
Into everlasting ecstasy!

You poured your heartaches,
Clutching my flesh! Dragging my soul!
Squeezing my heart! Dying to get hold!
The true love of your life!

At last my darling…
You kissed me goodbye,
Whispering the last words,
Will I Ever Love Again?