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  • Location: New Braunfels, Texas
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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 27, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas Contact Features Editor Betty Taylor at 625-9144 ext. 222. Food Wednesday, June 27, 2001 IB    ; :  .. Pat RASOR Preserving peppers Peppers are a popular complement to meals as Americans’ palates desire more spice. Different varieties of peppers range in pungency from the sweet bell to the fiery serrano. The general rule is the smaller the pepper pod, the hotter. That’s because the capsaicin (the compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat) is in the ribs of the pepper, and smaller chiles have a higher rib-to-meat ratio. Peppers can be canned, pickled, frozen or dried. When canning and pickling peppers, follow the directions exactly to ensure a safe product. Peppers are a low acid vegetable and when preserved improperly can cause botulism, a dangerous food poisoning that can be fatal. Caution should be taken when handling hot peppers. The volatile oils found in some varieties can cause chemical burns. When working with hot peppers, it’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves and be careful not to touch eyes or face with unwashed hands. Photos submitted Above: Mississippi Mud Cake is a rich chocolate cake that is a hit with kids and adults. A big plus is you can bake and serve in the same pan. Selection Select firm peppers with a smooth skin, free of disease, soft spots and insect damage. If canning peppers, note that an average of nine pounds is needed per canner load of nine pints. Peeling chile peppers Peppers can be peeled by roasting in a hot oven (400 degrees) for six to eight minutes, until the skin blisters. To use the range top, place chiles for several minutes on a hot electric or gas burner after covering the burner with a layer of heavy wire mesh. Turn peppers frequently to prevent scorching and ensure even blistering. Remove from heat and allow to cool. For easier peeling, place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth or dip into ice water to cool. Canning peppers Peppers are low in acid and must be processed using a pressure canner. For proper procedure and information, come by the Extension office and ask for publication L-2217, Home Canning Vegetables. More pepper pointers When your mouth is on fire from eating peppery foods, alleviate the burn by consuming milk or other dairy products. Keep fresh chile peppers refrigerated in a paper bag. If purchased in good condition, they should keep at least a week. (Patricia Anderson Rasor is the Comal County Extension Agent. She can be reached at 620-3440.) Special to the Herald-Zeitung Next week is the Fourth of July, and we will celebrate freedom and independence with barbecues, picnics and family gatherings. Because we experience very hot summers here in Texas, we need to take extra precautions with our food as we enjoy holiday outings. Bacteria grow and multiply rapidly in the heat. Here are some tips from Kraft Foods to keep your July 4th picnics and cookouts safe: • Safe serving temperatures — Serve foods at the proper temperature. Hot foods should be kept above 135 degrees and cold foods below 35 degrees. • Cooler savvy — Always keep the cooler in the shade. To minimize the number of times the cooler is opened, keep the drinks in one cooler and the meats and salads in another cooler. Then, label the coolers. And finally, never leave the cooler in the hot trunk of the car. • Keep picnic foods out of the sun — Set out small batches of food at a time and, as a general rule, discard any foods which have been left in the sun for over an hour. Also, keep foods covered until ready to serve. • Save those newspapers — Newspaper is a great insulator. Pack several layers of newspaper on top of items in the cooler to help keep the cold foods chilled longer. • Homemade ice blocks — Fill clean milk cartons or milk jugs with water and freeze until solid. Add them to the cooler to help keep the chilled picnic foods cold. When thawed, the cold water can be used as refreshing drinking water or for cleaning up everything from the kids to rinsing off the dishes. • Quick clean-up — Moisten several washcloths the night before your picnic, place in a sandwich bag, seal and freeze. Add to your picnic basket or cooler right before you leave to help keep your foods cool and later on provide a refreshing way to clean up after the picnic is over. LAYERED PICNIC LOAVES Taste of Home Magazine, Reiman Publishing 2 unsliced loaves (I pound each) Italian bread 1/4 cup ohve or vegetable oil 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided 1/2 pound deli roast beef 3/4 pound sliced mozzarella cheese 16 fresh basil leaves 3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced 1/4 pound thinly sliced salami I jar (6-1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced I package (IO ounces) ready-to-serve salad greens 1/2 pound deb chicken I medium onion, thinly sliced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper Cut loaves in half horizontally; hollow out tops and bottoms, leaving 1/2-in. shells (discard removed bread or save for another use). Combine oil and garlic; brush inside bread shells. Sprinkle with I teaspoon Italian seasoning. Layer bottom of each loaf with a fourth of the roast beef, mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, salami, artichokes, salad greens, chicken and onion. Repeat layers. Season with salt, pepper and remaining Italian seasoning. Drizzle with remaining oil mixture if desired. Replace bread tops; wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least I hour before slicing. Yield: 2 loaves (12 servings each). MISSISSIPPI MUD CAKE Luby’s Cake 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened 2 cups granulated sugar 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa 4 extra-large eggs 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour I cup chopped pecans 1 teaspoon vanilla Icing 1/2 cup (I stick) butter or margarine 1-3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar 2 cups marshmallows 2 tablespoons plus 2-1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa 1/4 cup milk 1/2 cup pecan pieces Garnish Top with whipped cream oi cherries Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and cocoa until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, pecans and vanilla. Mix just until blended. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire cooling rack. For icing, combine butter, sugar, marshmallows, cocoa and milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat just until marshmallows are melted, stirring frequently. Drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with pecans and cool completely. Garnish with whipped cream and cherries. FDA to inspect food plants for allergenic ingredients By Philip Brasher Associated Press Writer NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration plans to inspect thousands of candy makers, bakeries and other processors over the next two years to make sure ingredients that cause common allergic reactions aren’t getting into food and candy accidentally. The FDA decided on the inspections, which could involve as many as 6,000 plants, after recently testing several plants in Minnesota and Wisconsin. One-fourth of the cookie, ice cream and candy makers tested had ingredients such as peanuts that weren’t disclosed on product labels. “We’d like to go out and see if that is true in the rest of the nation,” said Kenneth Falci, an FDA official. Foods are supposed to disclose all ingredients except for flavorings, colorings and spices, but allergenic ingredients sometimes slip into foods undetected because machinery hasn’t been cleaned properly between different products, industry officials say. Training for the 2,500 inspectors will take up to a year, Falci said. The agency also has asked food makers and their ingredient suppliers to study all of the thou sands of flavorings, colorings and spices that are in use to identify those that are made from common allergens, Falci said. Under federal law, companies are not required to disclose the composition of flavorings, colorings and spices on food labels. Some 7 million Americans who suffer from food allergies rely on ingredient labels to tell which processed foods are safe for them to consume. Some food allergies, particularly peanut allergies, can be fatal, claiming an estimated 150 fives a year. Allergy-related food recalls jumped 20 percent last year to more than 120, according to the FDA. Eight food groups are responsible for most allergic reactions: Crustaceans such as crab and lobster; peanuts, eggs, fish, milk, soy, tree nuts such as almonds and walnuts; and wheat. Water conservation in the kitchen Use a pressure cooker to save water, energy and time. Comal County Extension Office Right: Layered Picnic Loaves will surely be a hit. They are made ahead and easy to transport. Keep your celebration safe and happy with these picnic tips ;