January is a challenging month in many ways. There’s a lot of pressure to start the New Year with a set of ambitious New Year’s resolutions, a new healthy eating plan and an intensive gym schedule to incorporate into your daily routine.
Added to that recently was the “Dry January” initiative, a campaign by Alcohol Concern to increase awareness of alcohol misuse and raise money to help those adversely affected by alcohol. Participants sign up to abstain from alcohol for a month, to give themselves a break after the relentlessly boozy celebrations of the festive season.
To cater for these brave souls, the first alcohol-free bar has opened up in the UK in East London to remove the temptation of booze you get while drinking soda and lime in a pub as your friends drink wine. The Redemption bar opened in 2013 to much debate as to whether it could become the norm to visit a bar like this for alcohol-free nights out, or whether it would be a short-lived novelty. If the food and drink is good, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be a success.
Cutting back on the booze could save you a few pounds (in terms of money and losing weight). If you have been feeling the effects of the Christmas excess, then now’s a good time to try out the quiz on the Drink Aware website. You can use the unit calculator to see where you sit compared with the government’s daily unit guidelines, and whether the amount that you are drinking is putting your health at risk. I believe that alcohol can be a part of a healthy balanced diet, but we should all be aware of what a unit of alcohol is and how many units we consume each week to make sure that we’ve got the right balance.
So, how many of us are aware that women and men shouldn’t be drinking more than 14 and 21 units of alcohol a week respectively, and how many of us know what a unit of alcohol actually means? One alcohol unit is measured as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which equates to one-third of a pint of beer (ABV 5-6%) or half a standard glass (175ml) of red wine (ABV 12%). Bear that in mind next time you pour yourself a drink at home and compare it to what you drink in a typical week (perhaps not in the run-up to Christmas!). You might be surprised by how quickly the units stack up.
The NHS recommends that if you’ve had a heavy drinking session you should avoid alcohol for 48 hours. Really though, to minimise the risk of harming your health, it’s wise to stick to the daily limits of 2-3 units for women and 3-4 units for men, rather than drinking all your week’s units in a single night. Regularly drinking more than these daily amounts increases the risk of liver disease and certain types of cancer. When you take care in exercising regularly and eating well, don’t ruin the good work when it comes to alcohol!
If you’re doing Dry January or if you just fancy mixing it up with some tasty alcohol-free recipes, check out Jamie’s mocktail drink recipes. He’s got lots of ideas, from zingy ginger beer to simple flavoured water. You can also go to the Dry January website to get inspired. Their recipes are all free from added sugar, so aren’t laden with calories either!
4 Common Biscuit Problems and How to Solve Them
Got biscuit issues? Worry not &mdash we have the answers.
There’s nothing better than a flaky, buttery, freshly baked biscuit on a lazy Sunday morning. But all too often, we struggle to replicate the perfect diner-style biscuit in our home kitchens and instead end up with a dry, dense, or crumbly baked good that barely passes the muster. To the rescue: We dug into the most common problems people experience when baking biscuits and the strategies that will help you produce a fluffy, golden-brown breakfast treat every time.
Stand back and ask: 'How does drinking serve me?'
"When we are looking to change habits, including non-addictive alcohol consumption, we need to stand back and assess how the habit is serving us," says Kristin Koskinen, a registered dietitian nutritionist. "Are there components of the habit that we aren’t willing to abandon, like the social nature of having drinks? Are there ways to work around it? What are the root drivers that make the habit appealing?"
I Tried It I gave up drinking for a month — and what I learned about myself surprised me
People drink for a variety of reasons, Koskinen notes, but "stress-management and social connections" tend to top her clients' lists.
"When clients decide to move away from an evening glass of wine (or two) to unwind, it can be helpful to find strategies to help bridge the gap from drinking alcohol to not. The association with relaxation can come from the process, as well as the chemical influence of that glass of wine. Components of the process include choosing a bottle, opening it, pouring into a special glass, and that first 'bite' that comes from the tannic and acidic players," Koskinen says. "I ask clients to assess what it is about having a drink that serves them. Is it the feeling they get from the alcohol? Is it the suggestion that a glass in-hand means that the day is done and the pressure is off? What if we took the alcohol out of the picture, but kept the rest?"
Asking these questions helps you to reveal the drive behind the choice to drink in the first place. It can also help you to find alternatives to drinking that satisfy those needs.
"When we work through and tap into each component, break down the drives and processes, we can make choices that support our priorities (like hanging out with friends) without feeding the habit (polishing off a bottle of wine)."
When Is It Important to Sift Flour?
In some instances, the chefs concurred, sifting is worth the added step—and not just when it comes to run-of-the-mill flour. Cake flour, almond flour, baking soda, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa powder tend to form clumps, either in their unopened packages or once they’re exposed to air. As DeMasco put it, “It's terrible to skip the sift only to find a pocket of dry cocoa in your cake!” To save repeated sifts, when opening a new box of baking soda, she sifts the whole thing and puts it into another container. Once that's done, she says, “you don't have to sift it each time you use it.”
Yang follows a simple protocol, “If I'm folding dry ingredients into a [delicate] batter [such as angel food cake], I generally sift. If I'm beating dry ingredients into a batter [with an electric mixer], I don’t bother. With the beaters, the clumps tend to work themselves out.” She also offered a great pro tip: “If lumps appear in oil-based batters, you can strain the whole batter through a medium- or large-mesh sieve.”
Keep your sifter close, but your whisk closer.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, food styling by Katherine Sacks
One other instance where sifting is imperative: if your recipe calls for 2 cups sifted flour (as opposed to 2 cups flour, sifted). The former means that the flour should be measured after sifting, while the later means that it should be measured first and then sifted. The differences in volume are more extreme that you might believe and can make or break some baked goods. Give the two methods a test run in your own home—weigh them out on a kitchen scale and you'll see what I mean. You may never ask "why sift flour?" again!
Before you go.
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Why do dry January? - Recipes
Richard Piper | January 2021 | 10 minutes
The number one sign of a successful Dry January is that you’ve learned something about yourself that you can use in the future to take, or keep, control of your drinking.
January 2020 | 19 minutes
Whether you’re thrilled with your new-found energy, svelte physique and bulging wallet, or still having trouble seeing the benefits, this month will have made you think about your drinking - so where do you go from here?
January 2020 | 9 minutes
Everyone in this blog is alcohol-free or moderating their drinking long-term - here they give their advice about what to do after Dry January.
My appetite was poor, my anxiety was through the roof and my blood sugars were high. I decided to do Dry January. The benefits have changed my life. It's like a light bulb has finally been switched on!
Buy your Dry January alcohol-free and low alcohol drinks now!
When you buy drinks from online retailers Drydrinker and Wise Bartender using these links, Alcohol Change UK gets a proportion of the sales, helping us work to end the harm caused by alcohol.
An enthusiastic 23% of adults nationwide decided to abstain from drinking alcohol during the month of January – with a view to improving their health.
How to Make Our Delicious Dry January Drink Recipes
Many people have decided to continue abstaining, even with January in the rear-view mirror, once they realized how much better they feel daily.
Giving up alcohol – even for a short period of time – can lead to some FANTASTIC benefits for both mind and body.
Dry January-ers have reported moving the needle with personal goals such as weight loss, better sleep, and more energy…and who couldn’t use at least a couple of those?
And it’s not as though there aren’t plenty of cold-weather alternatives to drinking alcohol.
So, why don’t you give one of our delicious beverage ideas a go?
Dry January Drink Recipe #1: Apple and Rosemary Warmer
- 1 cup pressed apple juice
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Large sprig of rosemary
- A small thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cup of Tyent alkaline water from your water ionizer
- Honey to taste
- Simply warm all ingredients (except the water and honey) gently in a saucepan…but, don’t bring to a boil!
- Once warmed through, strain into a glass
- Stir in honey and alkaline water to taste!
Craving something cold and tasty instead? Simply chill and serve over crushed ice!
Dry January Drink Recipe #2: Spiced Green Chai
- A small piece of cinnamon bark or ¼ tsp powder
- 2 or 3 whole green cardamom pods, smashed
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 piece of star anise
- 3 tbsp green tea leaves
- Honey to taste
- Alkaline water from your Tyent water ionizer
- Roughly grind the spices with a pestle and mortar
- Add in the green tea and store in a jar
- To serve, warm one cup of alkaline water until hot…but not boiling
- Add a decent-sized pinch of the spice mix
- Steep the tea for a few minutes before straining and serving
- Stir to taste!
What Are Some of the Alkaline Water Benefits from a Water Ionizer?
Coming back to those benefits of going alcohol-free, did you know that you can also enjoy similar benefits from drinking alkaline water straight from a water ionizer machine?
Here are just a few of the immediate results that many people report once they start drinking ionized water:
- More energy
- Deeper, more restful sleep
- Weight loss
- Boosted immune system
- Healthy, radiant skin
How You Can Double Up the Benefits of Alkaline Water with a Water Ionizer!
If you’re still reaping the rewards of Dry January, imagine how much more you can achieve by switching to drinking delicious, ionized hydrogen water!
In fact – there’s never been a better time to buy an alkaline water machine to improve your health and well-being than right now.
Call our friendly team today at 855-TYENT-US (855-893-6887) to find out about the incredible deals we have going on right now on our award-winning water ionizers!
Did you or someone you know participate in Dry January? We would love to hear how it went…so please comment below!
Advantages to Fermented and Dry Cured Meat
Cured meat increases in flavor as it ages, as opposed to time in the freezer where over time your meat slowly degrades. Hanging and aging your whole muscles cuts and salami it concentrates the flavors and gives it a more intense flavor process. Plus, there's the cool factor of being able to have shelf stable meat cured like the pioneers did.
How to Dry Cure Meat at Home
Purchase a culture specifically for meat SausageMaker.com or ButcherPacker.com You can keep them in the freezer until you're ready to do your meat.
The easiest way to preserve your meat is taking a whole muscle cut, make a salt and spice rub and cover it with the rub, and put it in the fridge for a few days. This way you don't have to use nitrates or any special ingredients.
After a few days, when the salt has had a chance to get in there and draw out some of the moisture, hang it in a controlled environment at 60 degrees Farenheit with 70% humidity and let it dry until it's lost about 30% of its water weight. That is preserved traditionally and you can eat it raw.
Resources for Dry Curing Meat at Home
Kitchen Scale– digital kitchen scale weighingup to 18 pounds at a time to make sure you can accurately tell when 30% moisture loss has occured.
Salt This is a pink Himalayan sea salt with no additives
Curing Salt– for use in ground up cured meats to help prevent the growth of botulism
The Cave – unit that allows you to control the temperature and humidity on any refrigerator or freezer.
How long do you let your muscle cut cure?
Prosciutto cuts can take up to a whole year, but smaller cuts don't take as long. It depends on when it looses the 30% of its water weight. So you need to weigh the cut going in and then after its aged.
You can make Panchetta, which you usually cook, so if you cook it, and don't eat it raw, then the 30% weight loss isn't as crucial.
How do you store your cured meat and how long is it good for?
You can continue to store it in The Cave to continue to age it and concentrating the flavors. If you keep curing it will get really hard, otherwise you can store it in your fridge. Lowering the temperature slows down the aging. You can freeze it as well.
Once the meat is completely dry cured, it is shelf stable. You can keep it out on the counter. But to keep it as palatable as possible, you store it in the fridge or freezer to extend the shelf life and keep it from drying out too much.
Karen says they take they're salami camping and don't worry about keeping it in the fridge.
What cuts are a whole muscle cut?
The most popular would be your back leg of a pig, deer, or lamb. You can do something smaller like a loin or neck muscle. Just a whole muscle group, just follow the line and separate that muscle from the rest of the muscle groups. This way you don't need a grinder.
A grinder is a small investment and you can find both manual and electric
meat grinders here–>stainless steel meat grinder
You can take any piece of meat and do this process of salting and dry curing it.
Back when people naturally cured their own meant, they'd use an basement, cellar, or attic.
You want a slightly warmer temperature so the good bacteria blooms and forces the bad bacteria out, and not being to cold helps with this.
You can use cheese cloth to wrap your meat while its hanging if its in an open environment like a basement or attic. For ease and safety, a contained chamber is best, not only to keep the bugs off, but to help with humidity and temperature levels.
Karen and James created a product, called The Cave, to control your humidity and temperature that attaches onto any refrigerator or freezer. It has a touch screen that allows you to set the humidity and temperature for dry curing meat, cheeses, and even culturing yogurt and sourdough. It has a wireless app so you can easily change the settings if you're not home.
Right now (thru June 8, 2016) they have a kickstarter campaign going for the Cave including some special kits and e-books.
The fridge or freezer you put it on should be a single unit (no separate freezer) and the heater for warm cultures works best at 10 square feet.
With cheese and meat, if it gets to dry on the outer layer of your meat and cheeses then it creates a hard crust and that hard crust traps the moisture inside and creates a safety issue. This is why the humidity level is so important.
This is also true of your cheeses, if the good mold doesn't start to form. We had some disasters in the first few years, before The Cave, which is why we ended up creating.
How to Make Bacon at Home
Take your pork belly and throw it in a container with spices, maple syrup or brown sugar is a favorite, and put it in the fridge and flip it once a day for a week. Then throw it in the smoker or in the oven and cook it to a set temperature and you've got your bacon.
On the Kickstarter campaign is bacon making kit, both ginger garlic and apple cinnamon bacon.
Sifting Flour and Other Dry Ingredients
Why do some recipes and cookbooks tell us to “sift flour” and other dry ingredients? As flour sits, it slowly settles and becomes more compacted. Sifting breaks up clumps, adds air to the flour, helps produce lighter cakes and pastries and makes measurements more uniform.
Plus, a cup of sifted flour generally weighs 20-25 percent less than a cup of flour that has settled. This is a huge difference and can significantly affect the results of various pastries.
It’s also a good idea to sift flour if you are combining it with other dry ingredients, such as salt, baking powder or soda and other powder substances. This is done by placing all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, stirring and then sifting them together. Sifting incorporates air into the ingredients, making them lighter.
There are a number of ways to sift flour:
- Use a sifter specifically designed for the job (pictured above) – Fill the sifter with flour and either shake or squeeze the handle. Make sure the flour lands in a bowl, onto a surface covered with wax paper or into a measuring cup.
- Use a fine mesh sieve – Place the flour in a mesh sieve and shake it gently, allowing the flour to flow through and into a bowl, onto a surface covered with wax paper or into a measuring cup.
Word of caution: If your recipe calls for “one cup sifted flour” this means that you sift the flour before measuring. If your recipe calls for “one cup flour, sifted” this means that you sift the flour after measuring.
Don’t have a sifter or a sieve? Don’t worry…use one of the following methods below:
- Shake the bowl – Gently shake the bowl of flour to introduce air
- Toss like a salad – Lightly lift the flour up into the air with spoons and let it drop back into the bowl
- Use a strainer – Stir with a fork and then use a strainer or colander to sift
- Whisk – Use a wire whisk or fork to whisk the flour
You might notice that some flour packages today are labeled as pre-sifted. This means that the flour was actually sifted prior to packaging. However, due to shipping and handling the flour gets compacted and is usually no longer sifted by the time it gets into your kitchen.
Quite a number of recipes call for sifted flour (often older recipes) and a lot don’t. This is because some commercially-produced flour today enables it to have a more even, consistent texture which can make sifting unnecessary. Therefore, a lot of people often skip the step altogether. I generally sift when recipes call for it. What do you tend to do?
For example, let&rsquos say you&rsquore making cookies.
Peanut butter espresso cookies, to be precise. The first step of the recipe calls for whisking together flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
The next step is to use a separate bowl to combine the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar (and eventually the egg and vanilla).
Then you add the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients &ndash which is also why you&rsquoll see that I always call for the bowl of wet ingredients to be the larger of the two since that&rsquos where all your ingredients are going to end up together.
If we didn&rsquot do it that way, we could risk having an uneven distribution of the all the leavening agents and flavors. So you could end up with cookies that are deflated on one side, have none of the espresso flavor and entirely too much salt.
And I don&rsquot think I have to explain that lopsided, weird-tasting cookies is not a good look.
Told some rugby fans in town that they should submit to my teachings or face the wrath of my almighty brain. They wedged me upside down in a bin. I really need a drink right now.
Had a drink. Feel much better now. I remember something about Spider-Man and being a God, but that was probably just a dream.
Sometimes you can end up so sick of not drinking. Photograph: Radius Images/Alamy
So there you go. In truth, the impact of giving up drinking is something that can’t really be generalised in any useful way as it depends on so many factors. Your regular intake, you age, body type, diet, genetics, family history, all of it.
Each person responds differently, and while abstaining from alcohol is probably a good move overall in a health-sense, don’t expect it to be some ‘magic bullet’ that solves all your problems in one easy step. It might even have a negative impact, like making you think up ridiculous events for the amusement of strangers online.
Dean Burnett isn’t drinking this month, but doesn’t expect you to sponsor him so don’t worry. @garwboy