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Tasty Techniques for Savory Slow Cooker Meals

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slow cooker meals

Slow Cooker Tips

Slow-cooking can produce some of the most amazing meals. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to use a slow cooker. One of the most common problems is overcooking. Because slow cookers let you “set and forget” the meal, most people just assume that you can endlessly cook food in the crockpot and it will come out amazing. Not true. The results are often bland. Here’s how to turn your slow-cooking around and create savory and scrumptious meals.

Buy A Slow-Cooker With a Temperature Setting

Most cheap slow cookers don’t have a timer. Get one that does. Bed Bath and Beyond’s website has a long list of cookers that should fit the bill. When you can control the temperature, you can control the damage to your food. Low heat settings vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. As with other Kitchen appliances, you want precise temps so that you know exactly what and how you’re cooking your food.

Use Cheap Cuts of Meat

Cheap cuts of meat work well in a crockpot because they’re often very fatty and have a lot of connective tissue – tissue that takes a long time to break down. But, when it does, it’s amazing. Brisket is a good choice, and so are flank steaks.

Whatever you end up choosing, it should be a bit on the fattier side, don’t worry so much about the marbling, and pick up a soup bone (if you’re making a stew). Roasting the meat, and the soup bone, will help preserve the flavor of the meat. The soup bone imparts the flavor of the marrow into the food and water.

Avoid prime cuts like tenderloins. These are easy to overcook and will ruin your entire meal.

Don’t Use Too Much Liquid

Most people think that slow-cooking means you should create an open water bath for your food. Unless you’re making a soup, don’t drench your food in water. An inch or two is all you really need to cook a good meal. You can make a hearty stew with a little more water, but don’t go overboard.

If you do, all you’ll end up with is waterlogged food and that’s why you end up with bland food. You’ve diluted the flavor to the point of non-existence. If you want to retain moisture, and are worried about your meat drying out, brine the meat before putting it into the crock pot.

Don’t Overcook Your Veggies

Carrots and onions can take the heat. Greens, on the other hand, wilt and become a soggy, mushy, mess. To keep the greens bright and lively, add them during the last half-hour of cooking. They will impart their flavor to the dish without being ruined by the liquid and heat.

Overcooking, in general, is a bad idea. Don’t do it. When directions for a roast say 6 hours, cook it for 6 hours, not 8. Paying attention to the little details will help your food turn out as you expected it and will reduce the risk of your food turning bland or mushy.
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Robert Hopkins worked as a cook for many years before retiring. He now spends his days in his kitchen garden and writing at his desk. You can find his informative articles mainly on cooking and home entertaining websites.

 
 



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How to Recognize Danger in the Workplace & at Schools

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 Improved Prevention is a Group Effort, Says Former Doc & Personality Disorder Sufferer

Office Building

Office Building

Shocking acts of public violence continue to dominate the news: Shootings at Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard – considered workplace incidents, a stabbing at a Pennsylvania high school.

About 2 million employees are affected by workplace violence every year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“This is not simply a case of the 24-hour news cycle maintaining a captive audience with fear mongering,” says retired physician Mohinder Goomar. “In addition to the reported cases of workplace violence, who knows how many go unreported? A prevalent common denominator is untreated mental illness,” says Goomar, author of “It’s Just My Opinion,”, which discusses his experience with dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder.

“Because diagnosis and treatment of mental illness hasn’t progressed much in recent decades, we need to encourage lay people to be vigilant toward those expressing tendencies that indicate the potential for violence due to mental illness.”

Goomar, who has personally suffered the destabilizing affects of dissociative identity disorder (DID), reviews indicators of mental illness, which may lead to violence.

•  Marginalized or bullied students/coworkers. Students interviewed at the Murrysville, Pa., high school, where 16-year-old Alex Hribal is accused of stabbing 21 people, have said Hribal is a shy person without violent tendencies. The FBI, however, has found evidence that he was bullied online. Human beings are social creatures which almost always require companionship for mental well-being, especially for the development of a juvenile. Be sensitive to those who are socially challenged; pressure from bullying can have catastrophic consequences.

•  A consistent and emphatic victimization position. After pulling out a pistol and yelling what can be translated in English as “God is great!” Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan pulled out a pistol and killed 13 unarmed people in Fort Hood. Later in court, when Hasan was representing himself, he justified his actions by saying he was defending a group of Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, including a man named Mullah Omar. Those who perpetrate terrible violence often do so citing justice from a victimized position.

•  Readily apparent indicators of paranoia and a history of violent reactions. Aaron Alexis, the former Navy man who was discharged from the service for a violent altercation, was nonetheless allowed to work in the Washington Navy Yard as a contractor. He eventually shot and killed 12 people, and critically injured three. The FBI later said that he was under “the delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency electromagnetic waves,” or ELF. These are clear red flags of mental illness that were ignored.

•  An aggressively litigious nature. The Guinness Book of World Records named Jonathan Lee Richards the most litigious man, having had court filings against Martha Stewart and New England Patriots football coach Bill Belichick, among many others. Having heard of his new title, he filed a suit against the record-holding institution. Richards also is a former federal prisoner. Outrageous legal action is another form of confrontation from those who constantly perceive grievances.

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About Mohinder Goomar

Mohinder Goomar is a former medical doctor who, after emigrating from India, became board certified by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and became an American citizen. He was chairman of the surgery department at Saratoga Hospital, in New York, had a private practice for head and neck surgery. After experiencing mood swings and a distortion of judgment, Goomar was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID). He was rehabilitated at a facility and lost his medical license for two years – to be followed by reinstatement of the license. Due to his DID experience, he did not have his license reinstated. His book, “It’s Just My Opinion,”  details his experience.

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Doctor’s 8 Tips for Handling Holiday Stress

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holiday decorations

Stress Free Holidays

  • Schedule some alone time–The holidays can be a chaotic time with friends and family and it’s ok to schedule some alone time.  Ask your spouse to watch the kids for an hour and go to the spa, or go hit a bucket of golf balls.  Seeking some solitude is both healthy and necessary to reduce stress.

 

  • Don’t procrastinate – There’s so much to do: buying presents, cooking, decorating and more.  Saving it all for the last minute will raise your stress.  Start a few weeks ahead of time and do a little at a time. Making a list from most important to least important will also help you manage your activities better.

 

  • Eliminate financial stressors – Every parent wants to buy that perfect holiday gift for their child, but big ticket items can take a toll on your wallet and your stress level.  Make a budget when it comes to holiday shopping and stick to it.

 

  • Expect things to go wrong – The Thanksgiving turkey may get overcooked; your son may hate his Christmas gift; your daughter might get sick; the point is things will go wrong.  Appreciate the season for the time spent with loved ones and create new memories, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

 

  • Holidays are not the time to resolve family conflicts – Many individuals use the family holidays to try to resolve long standing conflicts with family members often with disastrous consequences, particularly when alcohol is involved. Leave addressing those issues to a later time in a one-to-one conversation.

 

  • Let others help–Don’t feel like you have to be the hero of the holiday season.  Ask each person to bring a dish to dinner, make decorating a family activity where the kids help out, and consider a grab bag gift exchange where each person buys only one gift to alleviate the stress of having to get something for everyone.

 

  • Don’t forget about you–People get so caught up in the holidays that they forget to take care of themselves.  Don’t skip meals, get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and stick to your exercise routine.

 

  • Stay on your medication and keep scheduled doctor’s appointments – If you’re under the care of a psychiatrist or other mental health professional for anxiety or depression, make sure and keep your doctor’s appointments this time of year and don’t taper medication until after the New Year if your doctor recommends it.

 

Dr. Prakash Masand MD is president of Global Medical Education, and a former Consulting professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center.

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