Tuesday, July 10, 2021

Top Five Tips for Cooking a Romantic Meal at Home

Romantic Meals

Romantic Tablesetting


Cooking a Romantic Meal At Home



With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a romantic meal for two is sure to be one of the most popular activities for couples everywhere. Needless to say, February 14 is actually the busiest night of the year for many restaurants so if you want to avoid the crowds and inflated prices and impress your partner at the same time, then rustling up a meal for two at home is bound to hit the right notes.

Even if your cooking skills are not quite Michelin-starred standard, you can still impress with some simple ideas. Here are some simple tips to get you on the right track to cooking up a storm:
Cook something you both like

This may sound like an obvious one, but so often people try to impress by cooking a fancy recipe out of a book because it looks posh, without bearing in mind what their other half actually enjoys. If he or she loves pizza for example, then you can make a fancy homemade version with the base cut into the shape of a heart, or with a romantic message spelled out in the topping. The food might not be gourmet but the presentation will certainly make an impression and choosing your partner’s favourite food will always be a winner.

Add a flourish to the drinks
A bottle of champagne may be standard fayre on Valentine’s Day, but try sprucing it up by turning it into a champagne cocktail or adding fresh strawberries to the bottom of the glass. Turning a bog standard glass of champagne into an impressive cocktail is surprisingly simple too. Add a sugar cube, a couple of splashed of bitters and a drop of cognac and you have a Classic Champagne Cocktail.

Presentation is everything
You can cook the fanciest grub in the world but if it’s slopped on the plate and served on a TV dinner tray then it won’t be the most memorable. Make sure you clear up, lay the table nicely and add some small touches like rose petals scattered around and some candles to help set the mood.

Practice makes perfect
Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure by deciding to attempt a complex dish which you’ve never made before, try and sneak in some practice sessions before the day itself or just make something you are familiar with cooking. If you are really keen to impress, chef experience days and cookery classes are available to arm you with some professional skills to transfer to your kitchen at home.

Make sure you have the house to yourselves
If you’ve got children or housemates, then getting to spend some alone time with just the two of you can often be difficult. But try to make some arrangements to ensure that you get an undisturbed evening while you present your masterpiece in home cooking. Get in there early to book a babysitter, call on family to look after your children or bribe your housemates to go out for the evening. However you manage it, your romantic meal will be a winner if you’ve got the house to yourselves.

Produced by Activity Superstore, the leading gift experience supplier in the UK. With over 1,000 Gift Ideas from supercar experiences to pamper days, you’re sure to find the perfect gift.

Tuesday, July 10, 2021

Why do Onions Make You Cry

Why do Onions Make You Cry

Cry No More

Why do onions make you cry?

They’re a staple ingredient of many recipe favourites but why do onions make you cry?
Although the unpleasant sensation may be familiar, onion tears are not the same as crying in the emotional sense of the word, perhaps as you would at a sad romantic movie. These impulsive tears are called ‘psychic tears’ which occur when a stimulus evokes an emotional reaction. Onion tears, however, belong to the category of ‘reflex tears’.   ‘Reflex tears’ occur when an external stimulus acts upon the lachrymal gland which regulates tear production. When onions grow in the ground, they absorb sulphur from the soil. This sulphur forms a sulphur compound (sulphide), which is converted to enzymes called syn-propanethial S-oxide. It’s these enzymes which act as the stimulus affecting our eyes.



When an onion is cut, the cells are damaged and these enzymes, called ‘allinases’, are released as a gas, causing the familiar unpleasant stinging sensation and tears.



Your body’s natural reaction is to try to expel or dilute the onion irritant from the eye with tears, so when the brain registers an irritation, the lachrymal gland is stimulated to produce tears.



There are various steps you can experiment with to minimise the effect of these unpleasant gases reaching your eyes:

Why do Onions Make You Cry

Why do Onions Make You Cry


1.    Keep your onions in the fridge
Chilling onions for half an hour or so before preparation is believed to slow the movement of the sulphuric vapours, thus reducing their irritating effect on your eyes.



2.    Cut with a sharp knife
A sharp knife requires less pressure to cut through the onion and less pressure means less cell damage. Fast, precise slicing also minimises time spent chopping the onion and releasing the gases.



3.    Avoid the root
The root is thought to contain the highest concentration of the syn-propanethial S-oxide gas. Try avoiding cutting through the root to prevent the irritants from escaping into the air.



4.    Wear goggles
It may seem extreme and may look odd but onion goggles can prevent eye irritation by protecting your eyes from the unpleasant gases.


But although they make you cry, the sulphur in onions has benefits for the eyes in helping to reduce the risk of cataracts. Similarly, onions (particularly red) contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant thought to help prevent cataracts. Antioxidants are compounds which can help to delay or slow the oxidative damage to tissue and cells in the body. Most of these precious antioxidants can be found in the outer layers of the onion’s skin so, during preparation, avoid removing too many of the edible layers.



Victoria writes for DirectSight, supplier of cheap glasses online .

Tuesday, July 10, 2021

Hosting a Tailgating Party…EVERYTHING You Need to Know!

Tailgating season is just around the corner.  Are you ready?  Even the most basic, no-nonsense guys will admit that a certain amount of preparation is needed if you want to host an enjoyable tailgating party.  Here is a very thorough list that will guide you from packing to execution.


What to Pack    

Things to Set-up Shop

For many, tailgating can be an all day event.  Or at the very least…several hours long.  You’ll want the experience to be as enjoyable as possible.  So, you need the best possible set-up.

  • Bungie cords and/or rope (they will come in handy when you need to secure a tent, rain tarp or flag)
  • Tent or canopy (something to provide shade)
  • Table, chairs, and table cloth
  • Flag

Giving your guests directions to your tailgating party can be challenging.  Utilizing things like tents and flags provide landmarks to make the task easier (and add team spirit to your festivities).


Grilling Supplies

You can’t really call a gathering a tailgate unless there is a grill involved.  It doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to get the job done!  And, it would be a real bummer if you were all standing around watching the burgers burn because you don’t have anything to flip them.  So make sure you have the following items:

  • Grill
  • Extra gas or charcoal & lighter fluid
  • Matches or lighter
  • Cooking utensils (spatula, cooking fork, spoon, a good knife, etc.)
  • Oven mitts
  • Apron
  • Water to douse flames before kick off
  • Fire extinguisher



Some people might like to branch out and offer creative food options at their tailgating party.  If women get involved, the food selection might even border on froufrou.  However, there are some tailgating staples that just shouldn’t be messed with.

  • Burgers, hotdogs, brats (with appropriate buns)
  • Chips and dip/salsa
  • Anything that can be grabbed by the handful
  • Sweets

Anything above and beyond that is optional!




While tailgating, you can never have too much…

  • Ice
  • Water

In order to meet the needs of all your guests, you should have plenty of…

  • Non-alcoholic beverages (iced tea, sodas)
  • Alcoholic beverages (beer, rum, etc.) and mixers (orange juice, 7Up, etc.)

Also, make sure you have enough coolers to keep it all chilled.



Serving Necessities

Time to eat!  You will need…

  • Utensils (to serve food and to eat with), plates, cups
  • Napkins
  • Serving platters/plates (remember…cooked meat can’t be put on the same plate that held uncooked meat)
  • All the fixins: cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles, barbecue sauce, salt/pepper, ketchup, mustard, etc.
  • Bottle opener/can opener/wine opener
  • Trash bags



Though they may see small and insignificant, these things can really put your tailgating party over the top.

  • Radio/iPod with play list
  • Extra batteries
  • Containers or plastic bags to store leftovers
  • Toolkit
  • Camera
  • Blankets
  • Rain gear/poncho/umbrellas
  • Sun block
  • Antacid
  • Toothpicks
  • First aid kit
  • Cash for parking


Always plan an activity or entertainment for your tailgating guests.  Eating and drinking can only keep them entertained for so long.

  • A deck of cards
  • Cornhole, ladder golf, washers, or other lawn games
  • Football
  • Frisbee

Perhaps this goes without saying, but don’t forget to pack the TICKETS!



Luxury Items

While not necessary, these items definitely make the tailgating experience more enjoyable.

  • Lighting (flashlights and lanterns) if the tailgating will extend past dusk
  • Extra rolls of toilet paper for the not-so-clean portable bathrooms
  • A bottle of hand sanitizer
  • For hot tailgating parties, a portable fan.  For cold tailgating parties, a portable heater.


Packing It All Up

While you are packing, keep these things in mind:

  • Separate perishable and non-perishable foods.  Also, keep uncooked meat separate from other food items.
  • Creating a tentative guest list will help gauge how much food and beverages you will need.


Execution of a Perfect Tailgate

The ultimate tailgater will take these things into consideration:

  • If you aren’t on home turf, make sure you are aware of applicable traditions, regulations, and expectations.
  • Plan on arriving at your tailgate site early…or you may not be tailgating at all.
  • If you will have a lot of tailgaters, bring multiple vehicles.
  • Upon arrival, immediately set up your tailgate area’s boundaries so others won’t encroach on your space.
  • Make friends with your tailgating neighbors…you may need to borrow something.
  • Plan accordingly.  You will need plenty of time to teardown your tailgate area before the event starts (keeping in mind grills will need time to cool down).
  • It is probable that some of your tailgating guests won’t have tickets for the main event.  Bring a TV so some (or all) of your guests can watch from the comfort of the tailgating party.
  • If you’ve been drinking, make sure you have a designated driver.
  • Bring snacks and drinks for after the game while you wait for traffic to die down.


Extreme Tailgating

Some people subscribe to the concept that a tailgating party can never have enough team spirit.  If you fall into that category, here are a few ideas that will probably be right up your alley.

  • Create unique beverages or unusual snacks to match the setting (your team’s opponent, location, etc).
  • If your event falls near a holiday, create a theme to add to the festivities.

However, every tailgater should set a limit.  You don’t want set-up and teardown to take longer than the actual party!



Deane Adams is a professional tailgater; he has hosted a tailgating party at nearly all of his alma mater’s home football game for the last thirty years.  His parties are never lacking in perfectly grilled food or entertainment (he gets all his cornhole supplies here!).

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