Pasta – An Italian Delight

Today the world recognizes pasta as the flavor of the Italians. Pasta has become synonymous with Italian food world over. Its preparation and storage are very easy making it the symbol of Italian food all over the world. Tomato sauce and pizza are also popular Italian foods enjoyed by people in different countries. However the … Continue reading “Pasta – An Italian Delight”

Today the world recognizes pasta as the flavor of the Italians. Pasta has become synonymous with Italian food world over. Its preparation and storage are very easy making it the symbol of Italian food all over the world. Tomato sauce and pizza are also popular Italian foods enjoyed by people in different countries. However the history of pasta dates back to a much older time than pizza or tomato sauce or any other common Italian food.


Legend has it that pasta was introduced to the Italian public by Marco Polo who in turn is believed to have picked it up on his many travels. However, history shows us that pasta had already been popularized around his time. Pasta’s history dates back to a time long before Marco Polo. In fact, it’s believed to have been a popular Italian dish right from the eighth century onwards. It was around this time that Arab’s invasion greatly influenced food in Italy. It is believed that the pasta was born due to the combination of Arabic and Italian foods.

Wheat, a commonly available ingredient in Italy was used in making pasta and therefore it quickly became popular among the general public. By the 1300’s pasta had spread all over Italy. Due to its high nutrition content and long shelf life, it was highly favored by the people. It was also used in long ship voyages due to the same reasons. As a result it spread very quickly to the world becoming the first of the Italy’s foods to be popularized world over. By then, the recipe had been greatly improved upon and different shapes and sizes were introduced. Different techniques to make pasta with more efficiency and at a faster rate had been developed thereby making it an important part of every Italian’s life.

The next and a very important change in pasta came in 1839. By then the tomato had been discovered in America and the rest of the world was still trying to catch up on this incredible fruit. However many Europeans believed it to be poisonous and generally avoided it. It took a while for the people to accept the tomato but when they did, it became an important part of pasta’s recipe. Today the tomato sauce is essential in making pasta and one without the other is unheard of.

The large quantity in which pasta is sold is proof enough of how it has become an important part of Italy’s diet. The amount of pasta consumed by the Italians is almost three times as that of the Americans. An average Italian consumes about sixty pounds of pasta every year. It is due to this reason that Italian food itself is identified with pasta. In fact, Italians consume so much pasta that Italy is forced to import a large quantity of wheat to meet the demand. Although pasta is mass produced, most of the good quality pasta is used up in Italy itself. As a result, the pasta used in American Italian food is of inferior quality. Most Italians cook pasta in the same way it has been for years using the recipes that have been passed down from mother to daughter and father to son. In order to have the best pasta experience, one must travel to Italy and savor the pasta, true Italian style.


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Vegetarian Cooking Retreats – Finding One Just Got So Much Easier

We all love to go on trips which would certainly help us to relax. But just imagine if we had the prospect of getting to enjoy our food also the trip would indeed be unforgettable and rejuvenating. If you want to combine a nice holiday where you could enjoy your meals then you should go to one of the vegetarian cooking retreats. Most of these cooking retreats offer similar basic needs to all its customers though sometimes there can be better amenities and comforts on offer. It all depends on the vegetarian cooking retreat that you opt for. There are a number of these retreats right here in the United States itself and if you are planning to take such a vacation here is a list of such retreats which may be of help to you. Given below is a list of vegetarian cooking retreats along with information about their location and what they are offering in general.


At Angel Valley there is a retreat especially for groups and also individuals and it is located in the state of Arizona. If you care for Vegan raw foods then you should head to Human Nature Vacation retreat centre which is in Santa Barbara or the Sacred Space Healing center in San Francisco. Rasyana Cove Ayurvedic retreat is situated on a sprawling 25 acres land in the wood lands of Florida and here you can avail of Ayurvedic way of treatment and enjoy all their vegetarian meals.

If you want to enjoy the wilderness then head to Shamballa which is in the national forest of Southern Oregon. Another great retreat center is at the Washington Lake where the center is located facing a quiet lake front and here you can enjoy a special spiritual retreat too. In Pentagonia, Arizona you can enjoy good fresh food from s organically grown vegetables and it is also a great place where you can rejuvenate yourself.
Other than the retreat centers in USA you can also go to retreat centers abroad like in Spain at the El Convento where they have retreat programs for the whole family. If you want to spend your retreat on an island then head to Clare Island Retreat centre which is located off the west coast of Ireland.Other centers you can visit are El Nido and Healing Arts retreat centres in Spain, Magical vegetarian centre in Wales where you can have your own apartment and cater to your self, Ocean retreat in Spain, Les Peyrouses in Pyrenees France.

If you are looking for a relaxing time at a spa then Rio Caliente Hot Springs Spa, Yoga and retreat center is the place that will be ideal for you. Here you will not only get wholesome vegetarian meals but also massages and other recreational activities like learning Tai Chi and even horse riding etc.

At Devon you can be assured of getting that relaxation that you wanted as here they teach you yoga, meditation, life coaching skills etc so that you can lead a stress free life. The name of the retreat is Shining Minds.

For lots of fresh sea air and mountains then it is off to Greece for you where you can have sumptuous meals of only vegetarian foods. If you have always wanted to visit the Himalayas I India then it is the Yoga Retreat centers located here where they help to detoxify your body with their yoga postures.

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Italian Pizza – Its True Story Revealed

Pizza is the most ubiquitous of fast foods. It can be bought everywhere. It has a soft base and is loaded with a variety of cheeses, meats, salamis, fish and even pineapple. But this modern Italian-American pizza is a far cry from the original pizzas.

Italian Pizza

Pizza has a long history in Mediterranean food. It goes back to the kind of flat bread that was made and sold all over the Mediterranean and Middle East. Flat bread of this kind would often be spread with oil and seasoned with olives, garlic and herbs, or dates.

Flat bread is still often served for breakfast in the Mediterranean. Originally the main meal would be served on bread of this kind. It could also be used for scooping food out of a common dish like the modern Indian paratha bread.

In Italy flat bread of this kind became known as pizza. The word was also applied to sweet dishes made of flaky pastry.

Pizza as we know it with its characteristic covering of a tomato based sauce only came into being after the tomato was imported into Europe from the Americas. The legend that the pizza was invented by Marco Polo who missed the Chinese green onion omelettes he had enjoyed in China is probably untrue.

In the course of the eighteenth century the poor of Naples began to season their flat bread with tomato. As Naples began to attract tourists so interest in the local specialties grew. The first pizza restaurant was set up in Naples in 1830. From there the pizza has spread all over Italy and the rest of the world as migrants from Southern Italy have taken their cuisine with them.

Pizza began to appear in the USA during the nineteenth century. It was sold in the streets of cities that had large Italian populations such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia. The first pizzeria is thought to have opened in New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. Lombardi’s in Manhattan claims to descend from this original pizza restaurant.

After the Second World War pizza began to become a genuine international food. New varieties of pizza began to appear and the big commercial chains of pizza restaurants began to appear.

The idea of the take away pizza began to emerge and the pizza began to encapsulate all that is enticing and excessive about modern convenience food. Customers could demand any topping they wanted. They could consume vast amounts of fatty cheese and meat. Like the hamburger a once simple food has become a source of obesity and ill-health.

There is no reason for a pizza to be unhealthy. Eaten in moderation and not dripping in high fat cheese and meat it can be a healthy food. Getting back to its roots is surely the way for pizza to go in the future.
Purists claim that there are only two kinds of authentic pizza: the Marinara and the Neapolitana. They are both covered with tomato paste and mozzarella but the Marinara has anchovies added. Both can be seasoned with oregano, basil and pepper.

The base of a traditional pizza is typically much thinner and crisper than that of commercial pizzas available elsewhere. This base is brushed with a light coating of olive oil and spread with tomato paste. It then has rounds of fresh mozzarella added. The grated mozzarella often served even in Italy tastes nothing like the real thing. The masses of cheap grated Cheddar type cheese that is often used in commercial pizzas is an abomination and should be avoided. It has no flavour and is high in heart-stopping cholesterol.

A few anchovies can be added before the whole thing is baked quickly in a wood fired oven. When it comes out of the oven a few basil leaves can be scattered on it. The whole result is light, crisp and flavoursome.
Those who have tried a traditional pizza baked in a wood fired oven, especially if it is fired with vine pruning, will seldom willingly go back to the commercial kind. At its best the pizza, especially when eaten out of doors on a summer evening with friends and a bottle of red wine captures the essence of simple rustic fare.

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Tips For Cooking Crockpot Beef Stew

When you are cooking a Crockpot beef stew, there are some important tips to keep in mind. While there are certainly a number of different recipes you can find, they all have different variances to them and the process can become very confusing. As long as you focus on these tips, you will be able to successfully create any of the different choices that you might find online.


The first tip is probably the most important. When you are making this Crockpot beef stew, it is important that you choose a fatty cut. While many people pick up lean pieces of meat, they do not offer the same flavor and the grease from these meats will end up giving your meal the depth you might find that they are normally missing.

Your next tip to keep in mind is that some vegetables should wait until later in the cooking process to be placed into the mix. The longer that these items cook, the mushier that they are going to be. Potatoes and similar vegetables are fine to put in at the start. These tend to need some extra time to cook. Carrots and celery can be added at the start if you want them to very mushy. If you wait until an hour before you serve them, you should find that they are tender and perfect.

Your third tip in the process of making a Crockpot beef stew is that using gravy mix in place of flour will add in some additional flavor. We find that this move not only deepens the flavor, but it should also help to maintain a good consistency inside of your stew. The best choice would be brown gravy mixes in this case as it is designed to help bring out the flavors of beef more than other choices.

Finally, for the perfect flavor consider adding in your spices at the start and use less than you might think. While these spices have all day to break down and mix with your stew, they will intensify. Putting in too much at the start will only result in your mixture being too spicy to eat. Here is a simple choice for a Crockpot beef stew that you can make.
Toss and Walk Beef Stew
What You Will Need

  • 1 pound stew meat
  • 4 large carrots cut
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 stalks chopped celery
  • 2 diced potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 packet of brown gravy mix
  • Salt & pepper

How to Make It
Begin by preparing and washing all your vegetables, and then place them in the Crockpot with water. Next, add in your seasonings and your gravy mix. Blend it well until it has combined. Finally, add in your stew meat and stir well. Cook on low for about 8 hours and serve warm.

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How to Make 2 Easy Crockpot Beef Stew Recipes

Today, more and more people are making great use of their crockpots while cooking meals for themselves or for their families. Using your crockpot to make meals and snacks for your family is a real time saver whether you work away from home or not. When you make use of your crockpot, you simply add the ingredients you need for the recipe and then cover with the lid. You set the heating temperature and then you let it cook for the amount of time needed to blend the flavors and cook the ingredients until they are tender and delicious.


If you are ready to save time in the kitchen and still make a mouthwatering meal that will satisfy you and your family, you might like to learn how to make these two easy crockpot beef stew recipes.
Recipe for Crockpot Hamburger Stew
What You Need

  • 1 pound hamburger or ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon seasoning salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 sliced carrots
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 package mixed frozen vegetables 10 ounce
  • 1 ½ cups canned tomato
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

How to Make It
Mix the pound of hamburger or ground beef with the seasoning salt and combine well. Using a large saucepan or skillet, brown the meat over a medium high heat. Cook until done and then drain the oils off of the meat.

Add the 3 cups water to the crockpot and set the heating temperature to low. Add the sliced carrots, the beef bouillon, chopped onions, mixed frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, and pepper. Stir to combine while melting the beef bouillon.

After cooking the meat in the skillet or saucepan and draining the oils off the meat, add the browned seasoned hamburger or ground beef to the crockpot. Cook on low heat for about 10 to 12 hours. Of you prefer you can also cook on a high heat setting for about 5 to 6 hours or until the vegetables are tender.
Recipe for Crockpot Steak and Mushroom Gravy
What You Need

  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 pounds cubes steak
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup 10 ounce
  • 1 can drained sliced mushrooms 4 ounce
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt

How to Make It
Mix together the flour, salt and pepper and combine well. Add the steak cubes; roll in flour mixture to cover meat completely. Set aside until needed.
Set the crockpot on the lowest setting. Into a medium size mixing bowl you will add the water, cream of mushroom soup, the drained sliced mushrooms, and garlic salt. Stir to combine well. Place the floured steak cubes into the crockpot and then pour the mushroom gravy mixture over the floured steak. Cover and then cook for about 6 to 8 hours on low. If you are in a hurry, you can also cook the dish on high for about 3 to 4 hours. After cooking serve over a bed of rice or pasta noodles.

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