If you've taken a shot of hard liquor, you know how badly it burns on the way down. But how can a room-temperature or even a cool liquid cause this burning sensation? The answer isn't what you might think.
If You Can't Stand the Heat
Your body's normal temperature hovers at, or very close to, 98.6 degrees (37 degrees Celsius). When you drink something cold, that beverage becomes slightly warmer as it travels down your throat and into your stomach. When you drink a hot beverage, the opposite happens: Your body absorbs some of that heat.
And your body can take a lot of heat. For example, coffee drinkers prefer their cup of joe around 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science. So even when you sip on something nearly 30 degrees hotter than your core body temperature, you don't feel like your throat is on fire.
To protect your insides, your mouth and throat both have pain sensors called vanilloid receptor-1, or VR1. VR1 are finely tuned to react to food's temperature and acidity by stimulating neurons to transmit the sensation of pain to the brain. These receptors are super sensitive to both actual high temperatures and perceived heat from compounds like capsaicin, making them react similarly to a sizzling hot slice of pizza as they do to a habanero-laden scoop of salsa.
Fool Me Once
Things change when alcohol comes into play. Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages such as tequila. Unlike capsaicin, which makes VR1 think a food is hot to the touch, ethanol binds to these receptors and makes them more sensitive to heat. This bond actually changes the heat threshold, lowering it to just 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius). This might not seem like a big swing in temperature, but it's enough to cause a flurry of responses in your skin, esophagus, and spinal cord, giving you a sudden sensation of warmth all over and a nasty burn in your throat.
The human body has warning signals in place to protect you from danger. Whether it's a sudden release of adrenaline in life-threatening situations or a pain signal when you eat something that's too hot, reactions in your body are there to tell you not to do something. In the case of downing a shot of liquor, that burning sensation isn't real heat; it's your own body's warning signals gone awry.
Live on Curiosity.com
Not just a great tune by Dean Martin (one of my all time favorites) but "That's Amore" is how many people might express their sentiments about pizza. Today, Food Network Magazine announced their selection of the 50 Best Pizza Slices - one from each state - in a great pictorial review.
Without even looking I immediately decided that my favorite, a sausage and pepperoni marvel from a place in Stratford, CT called Paradise Pizza had to be on the list. The original owners of Paradise Pizza were from Greece and, to this day, I will swear hands-down that Greeks make the best pizza ever. Their pizza was like those found in New York City - fabulous dough that wasn't too yeasty, fresh, locally made meats, and scamorza. Scamorza is a type of mozzarella cheese that is harder to come by. It gets really stringy when heated and leaves a long trail when you take a bite of the pizza. Boy, their pizzas are good. I get back to the area once every couple of years and I make it a point to stop by and get a pie, savoring each bite since I know it may be years before I get it again.
Anyhow, I started going through the Food Network site to see if my beloved Paradise Pizza was selected. It wasn't. However...it listed something else that I hadn't thought of in years. White Clam Pie. Oh...let me tell you, this is a treat in itself. Thin dough with a good brushing of garlic oil, cheese, and then clams baked up nice. I LOVE this kind of pizza. The featured selection is from Pepe's, a great pizzeria in New Haven that people line up for. I've been there several times and always like whatever I got.
Anyhow, the site shows pictures of some very unique concoctions. Many look very appetizing (the Pizzaleta from Louisiana) and some look utterly strange (the Purple Pig from Indiana that has red cabbage on it). There's even a taco pizza from Kansas. To me that's cheating. Either it's a pizza or it's a taco. Pick one people! Maybe it was created in one of those places that have KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut all under one roof.
Any way you slice it (pun intended) the site presents a great look at the creativity that can be found pizza, one of America's favorite comfort foods.
Originally posted on Comfort Food Party, August 2011.
It's funny how certain foods can bring back memories. I have a lot of people around me that are trading the bounty of their summer gardens right now. Zucchini is at the top of the trading list. Whenever I think about this wonderful vegetable, I recall a particular woman that I used to work with. Her name was Lee but since she was short, older, and a bit of a pain in the neck with a rather shrill voice, we all called her Aunt Lee - you know, like Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show.
In the building where we worked there was a really long room. She worked at one end of it and used a big old sheet-fed printer way at the other end. My desk was in a cube in the middle. On the days when she seem to be the most irritating, I would wait for her to get within a few feet of the printer then call her phone extension. Every single time she would stop midstream, turn, huff something under her breath, and walk all the way back to her desk. I timed the call so that I always hung up just as she got to the desk. She would then start back towards the printer and just as she got close - the phone would ring again, and back she would go. My colleagues would watch and laugh like crazy as this was repeated a few times in a row.
Yes, this was a bit of a bad prank to play on somebody. Never-the-less it was tons of fun and more often than not, Aunt Lee was in a decent mood so we didn't have to get her more riled up.
At this time of year, she was often in a fantastic mood since her own garden was providing lots of goodies for her to use in her cooking. She was a really good cook and liked to bring in samples for us to try and one of my favorites was a homemade zucchini bread.
Though she called it "bread" is usually was very much flatter in shape, like a casserole, and had a heavily concentrated taste and texture. No matter - it was GOOD! Just thinking about the great flavor of this concoction of hers gets my mouth watering. I've had the recipe on a small yellow scrap of paper that I've lost, found and since cherished since the mid 1980s and make faithfully every year.
Here's the recipe for what I officially call Aunt Lee's Summer's Best Zucchini Bread:
Mix all ingredients. Bake in a greased 9 x 11 casserole at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Originally posted on Ellery's Kitchen, August, 2011
Why I Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree from Scratch for Pumpkin Pies and More
Several years ago I began getting interested in cooking pies around the holidays. Since I really prefer to cook from scratch whenever possible, I thought the best place to look for recipes was in a collection of cookbooks that had been handed down from my grandmother. I come from a long line of Yankees and this was reflected in the types of cookbooks I reviewed - they all featured very basic recipes from the New England area.
The beauty of recipes from that region is their simplicity - both in terms of the number of ingredients, and also in the amount of steps needed to cook something. I found a pumpkin pie recipe that sounded good except for one thing. It said to use fresh pumpkin, but it didn't tell how to prepare the pumpkin. Several years later, and after many different methods were explored, I developed a way to cook the pumpkin and then process it into a puree with a consistency that makes for a fabulous pie. Baking the pumpkin lends to the process - it keeps the flavor from being parched out as it does when you boil the pumpkin. Plus, baking the pumpkin allows the sugars to slightly caramelize - another bonus in any dessert.
In this short video, you can see how to make both the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie. This will give you the instructions with many pictures showing the process of making the puree plus a great pumpkin pie recipe - one that I've developed over time as well. If you'd like to see the printed how-to guides, click here for the pumpkin puree process, and this link shows how to make my Best Ever New England Deep-Dish Pumpkin Pie.
The best part about this pumpkin puree is that you can store it in the freezer for quite a long time. I put mine into small Ball or Mason jars (one-quart or smaller) and use a vacuum sealer machine to close them off. Done this way, the puree can keep for many, many months - allowing you to make fresh pumpkin goods for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even July 4th if that's what you like!
Other really good things to make from the pumpkin puree include muffins, cookies, breads, cakes, pumpkin rolls, and even soup.
Though it may initially seem like a lot of effort to bake and process the pumpkins, it really isn't. Most of the time is taken up by the baking process (about 45 minutes) and then the cooling process (another 30 to 45 minutes). Take that as an opportunity for a little "me" time!
You'll find that this method of processing pumpkin is well worth the effort and that you will end up creating pumpkin-based dishes that your family and friends will love.
Originally published on Yahoo.com, October 7, 2009
Are you using brown as one of your main colors for your wedding? Maybe you want to use the very popular Tiffany’s theme – blending the now popular brown and blue combination. Are you considering having chocolate or coffee flavors as key ingredients in your food items? If any of this applies, then this edible wedding favor may be just right for your needs – plus it becomes a very simple, yet elegant, decorative piece for your guest tables.
How to Make Chocolate and Espresso Bean Wedding Favor & Decoration Combo
This favor combines two key ingredients, coffee and chocolate, in one of the easiest ways imaginable. Here’s what you’ll need:
You’ll need to do some figuring to get the exact number of espresso beans and malt balls for each cup. The cup that is shown here measured approximately 1″ square and was nearly 1″ high. It held about a dozen espresso beans with one malt ball in each. Be sure to order several extra chocolate cups since they are somewhat fragile and you don’t want to run short from last minute breakages. Additionally, you should order a couple of extra cups of espresso beans and malt balls, since you may spill some or eat them as you do your assembly. It’s best to order your espresso beans and the malt balls in bulk as a cost-savings measure. The edible ingredients used here were ordered from A Taste of Chocolate and the flowers were silk sprigs that were picked up at a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store, but they can be ordered online as well. If you order your chocolate, espresso beans, or malt balls early, be sure to store them in an air-tight container and keep them in a cool and dark location until you are ready to use them.
Since these items are temperature-sensitive (you can’t leave them out in a room that is too warm or refrigerate them to keep them cool as the chocolate will sweat), you should plan to do your assembly no earlier than the afternoon before your wedding reception. It’s easiest to lay out all of the cups on a tray and then first drop in the espresso beans, followed by the addition of the malt ball on top. Then simply place a sprig of flowers into the cup wherever it looks best and will stay put. Each cup can then be easily transferred to a simple bread plate on the guest table.
Originally posted on Yahoo Lifestyle
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!