Thursday, October 8, 2009

Most Popular Upcoming PS3 Games You Should Not Miss

Sony PlayStation 3 is designed to fulfill all of your gaming pleasures especially with the right games. Here are the most popular upcoming games to watch out for!

NCAA 09 Basketball

Do you want some hard court action at home? If so then order for your own copy of NCAA 09 Basketball!

Formerly named as NCAA Mega March Madness, the latest installment to the series comes with a new game engine

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to Choose a Bottle of Wine

So, you've finally hooked up with that girl you've been oogling at work and you're on your first date at a local Italian restaurant. You already know you want some spaghetti, but you're on a date and you want to impress your woman. One great way to do so is by ordering some wine. If you've aren't much of a connoisseur, don't pretend to know what you're doing and order the most expensive bottle. Instead, read through this article and learn just enough to know what to do.

The best and easiest thing to do is simply to order something you've heard of. If you already know of a wine that's good, simply order a glass. Or if you know the wine is good, order a bottle and impress your date (plus if the date works out, you'll have something to remember it by). The good thing about ordering what you know is that it's safe. That could also be a bad thing because you could miss up the opportunity to try something new. Because even if you like a wine, it doesn't mean your date will have the same taste.

Every restaurant carries different wine, so if there's nothing you recognize and if you're going to try something new (and it's advised that you should), ask for the restaurant's wine list. This way, you'll be able to see how much each wine costs and the wine's country of origin without having to ask. From there, you can simply order something at random or ask your date. You never know when you'll come across a great new wine. And even if the wine you order isn't any good, it could still end up being a fun experience: Remember back on our first date how terrible that wine was!?

The last option is simply to just ask. Ask for a wine list and then after looking through it for a while, don't be afraid to ask the waiter which wines are good. He'll usually offer a few selections based on different types of taste. From there, try a glass. Remember, it's only a first date; so unless you're made of money, don't spend too much (you're only trying to impress her a little bit). Only order a single glass per meal (some restaurants will think it rude when people ask for a second glass if you didn't like the first) and don't ever tell the restaurant that their wine wasn't any good or that you didn't care for it.

A few things to remember are that the waiter usually offers you the cork to the bottle you're drinking from. If you're only ordering a glass, and not a bottle, don't hesitate to take up his offer. Remember to swirl your glass and to breathe in the aroma before and while you're drinking. Swirling it in your mouth a little can also be a nice feeling and may exaggerate the taste. Many people are intimidated about ordering wine, but as long as you have a basic understanding of what to do, it will almost always be worth it and be a good experience.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Effects of Absinthe - Fact or Fiction

Absinthe is one of those mysterious beverages that combines a certain mystique with a sense of wonder. Throughout its storied history, even absinthe connoisseurs have wondered at the mysteriously seductive powers of the "Green Fairy." Long popular with late 19th and early 20th century French Impressionist artists and writers, the seemingly psychedelic abilities inspired by the alcoholic beverage aroused curiosity in even the most conservative sampler.

In its purest form, absinthe is a powerful herbal liqueur. The invention of the "Green Fairy" is most commonly attributed to France's Dr. Pierre Ordinaire in 1792. However, most experts believe Ordinaire was a physician who romanticized about the herbal tonic's healing capabilities and capitalized on the possibility of absinthe's commercial use.

The earliest references to absinthe derivatives are attributed to two Herriod sisters in the Neuchatel region of France as far back as the 1750's. Regardless of the "Green Fairy's" origins, the French made the drink famous when the Pernod Fills Absinthe Company was founded in 1805 in the village of Pontarlier in the quiet Doubs region of rural France near the foothills of the Jura Mountains. Absinthe was also produced near Couvet in Switzerland, but it was the French who embraced the bitter herbal beverage and undertook active distilling.

The first absinthe distillery was run by Henri-Louis Pernod who oversaw the manufacture of the company's two stills. Pernod Fills Absinthe produced about 16 liters of Absinthe per day in those early years. The limited quantities did nothing to decrease the mystique associated with the liqueur.

By the early 1800's Absinthe Alcohol fast became one of Europe's favorite drinks. France dubbed the herbal liqueur La fee verte or the Green Fairy. As the popularity of absinthe grew, so did Pernod Fills' ability to produce the drink. Henri-Louis Pernod's son, Louis purchased 36,000 square meters of land alongside the Doubs River and constructed a factory capable of manufacturing 400 liters per day. At the time of his death, his successors Fritz and Louis-Alfred Pernod operated 26 stills and produced 20,000 liters of absinthe per day.

The Pernod boys were financed by the Veil-Picard Swiss banking family and by the famous Swiss engineer, Arthur Borel. Borel was responsible for innovative distilling methods and for creating the effective bottling and packaging equipment that allowed for bulk distribution of the alcohol throughout Europe. The Pernod-Borel combination was a good one. Pernod Fills soon became one of France's most successful companies.

As successful as the company was, one of their more remarkable accomplishments was their enlightened approach to women's rights. The company relied heavily upon its female employees and Pernod Fills responded by treating the women humanely, providing insurance against accidents and even developing a profit sharing and pension system as early as 1873.

As a strong herbal liqueur, absinthe is distilled with many flavorful herbs including anise, veronica, fennel, lemon balm, angelica, licorice, hyssop, Florence Melissa, and Roman wormwood. The modern absinthe has a distinctive flavor of anise or licorice. Other variations may use angelica root, sweet flag, dittany leaves, coriander or other mountain herbs.

In the early 1900's, absinthe, in its original form, was banned by Switzerland and France. The original herbal liqueur is still banned in the U.S. The culprit is wormwood or Thujone. It was believed that absinthe was so powerful that not only did it unleash the creative juices but also it became addictive with disturbing side effects.

Absinthe is marketed over the counter in the U.S. but not in the original form. Most of Europe has lifted bans against the variations of the beverage. Today, absinthe is most commonly used as a mixer for classic cocktail recipes. This is a far cry from portrayals of absinthe imbibers by Degas, Picasso, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec, who revealed disillusioned patrons overcome with absinthe. Perhaps the closest commercial grade absinthe is Absente, which has developed a balance that neutralizes the licorice flavor.

The "Green Fairy" bears a lot of history and a lot of romance. With each sip, the herbal liqueur takes you back to a different time and a different place and that is just part of the mystique.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chinese Cooking Sauces: An Extra Something To Make Your Dishes Delicious

Chinese cooking and sauces go hand in hand. There cannot be one without the other and for good reason too! These two are main components in Chinese culinary culture. Usually, American Chinese cooking uses vegetables and the sauces are generally used as garnishing or to prepare authentic recipes. It is important to know that in Chinese dishes, many types of spices are used, and even more sauces are utilized. Fried rice, noodles and Manchurian are the three common dishes which are prepared using different varieties of sauces and tastes absolutely delicious.

In America, Chinese cooking sauces are better known as dipping sauces and as a cooking sauce to prepare chicken. In earlier times, the sweet and sour sauce that we all have grown to love began as a basic sauce that was used in preparing fish in different parts of the world. When this humble sauce made its way to America, the concept of ketchup was brought forward. This paved the way for popular American-Chinese dishes like the sweet and sour chicken. Other types of sauces that are widely used with Chinese meals include the Chinese dipping sauce, chilli oil, garlic sauce, oyster sauce and the ever-popular sweet and sour sauce. Besides being used in meals, these sauces can also be used in preparing fried rice or noodles.

Chinese appetizers like spring rolls and pot stickers are normally complemented by the Chinese dipping sauce. This and other Chinese cooking sauces are usually served and presented in little bowls along with the other dishes. Chilli oil is delicious when added into stir fried dishes or noodles. This oil is made from chilli peppers and can enhance the flavors of your dishes. The sweet and sour sauce is made from sugar and wedding vinegar. You can try adding some tomato sauce to the sweet and sour sauce. This will guarantee you a mouth-watering meal.

These different types of Chinese cooking sauces can be incorporated into your everyday meals to make it appetizing and delightful. Another example, the hot mustard sauce is very often used as a dip in Chinese dishes such as egg rolls and spring rolls. The hot mustard dip also goes well with other appetizers. Another sauce which can also be used as a dip or for cooking is the garlic sauce. What you would need is oyster sauce added with finely shredded garlic.

Chinese cooking sauces are very much favored in Chinese cooking as it adds instant flavor to any dish you cook. There are many varieties which could easily be adapted into your cooking, thus can be easily used with other dishes that you love. Be adventurous, and experiment with all the different types of cooking sauces. Add different ingredients to them and find one that suits your palate. You will find that by utilizing Chinese cooking sauces and dips, your cooking will evolve into more scrumptious and appetizing dishes.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cashing In On Cooking Contests

Do you have a mouth-watering dish that everyone loves? Do friends call and beg you to bring your culinary masterpiece to their next dinner party? Are you starting to suspect that the only reason that you're on so many party lists is because of that dish? Well, my friend, it sounds to me like you just might be cooking contest material!

Winning a cooking contest can mean a lot more that hearing some hearty burps after a panel of judges devourer your great-grandmother's rhubarb pie recipe. If you're lucky enough to win the Pillsbury Bakeoff, for example, then you'll be taking home a very tasty one million dollars and a complete state of the art kitchen.

Many cooking contests are sponsored by food companies who are looking for new and unique ways to sell their products. They generate a lot of publicity for their company and sales of their food items go up correspondingly. Some contests are sponsored by cookbook publishers and food or home and garden magazines. People love to get new recipes and they'll snap up a magazine that's full of the best of the best from the latest contest.

While not every contest gives away 1 million dollars, there are lots of $5,000, $10,000 and bigger prizes out there as well as contests that award new appliances, home kitchen makeovers, and lots of other things that you've probably always wanted but couldn't justify dishing out the dough to buy. There's a huge number of smaller contests where you can win prizes including recipe books, aprons and more while you learn how to develop recipes the judges love.

Entering a cooking contest is easier than you think; and if you follow some simple rules, you could be stirring up a pot of money with Uncle Al's Meat Chili Pie, or Grandma's heritage cake. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Rule #1 is: Follow the rules

Don't assume that some requirement in the rules isn't important. Many people get disqualified from entering contests because they ignored one of the small or even one of the big rules. For example, if the rules say to print your name in block letters on a 3x5 unlined file card, then don't type your name on the back of a napkin. Keep a copy of the rules in front of you when filling out and responding to the contest application and check each item off as you complete it. You'll be crying like an onion peeler if you lose the one million dollars because you didn't pay attention.

Rule #2: Make your dish sound delish!

Did you ever notice that finer restaurants serve 'fresh brook trout lightly sauted in a demi glaze sauce with toasted almonds, fresh truffles and baby asparagus,' while the corner hash slinger serves 'Broiled Fish and Vegetables?' Making it sound delicious the first step down the path towards winning that prize.

Rule #3: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And your panel of beholders, the judges, aren't going to spend too much time over a dish that looks like it was served in the mess hall of the 4077th MASH unit. Arrange your dish professionally. Presentation is the next step down that path.

Rule #4: Taste.

Your goal is to elicit a silent but honest 'Oh my, this is the best chili I have ever tasted in my life' comment from every judge that slurps from their spoon. After all, if they can get better chili out of a can then you're not blue ribbon material in spite of how good your dish sounds or looks.


No one can win every contest. If the cook-off bug bites you then keep on cooking until you take home the big one. Remember, there's only one grand prize, but somebody's got to win it. Learn a bit more every time that you lose and, one day, you could be spending one million dollars!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coffee And Tea - Caffeine Source Revealed

Caffeine, that magical element in coffee that shakes you up and wakes you up, is present in an even greater amount in a sister beverage known as tea.

We are all busy and a lot of us are overloaded with work. Managing a family and at the same time juggling a packed schedule can prove to be a daunting task. Under such circumstances, a dose of freshly brewed coffee or tea is the best thing that keeps people going.

Coffee and tea can be consumed in different ways in different seasons. During the winter and cooler months, when we wish that everything liquid could pass over our tongues and down our throats, should be warm or perhaps scaling hot. Brewing becomes an affair involving steaming cups of coffee and tea being served with wild abandon, not just for the freshness of the drink, but also for the warmth they provide by the additional caffeine supplied energy. Come summer and the recipe changes. Coffee goes into the blender instead of the coffee pot, where it is joined by ice cubes and other ingredients to make a cool shake. Tea manages to escape the violence of the blender and gently seeps away into ice water.

While previously, both coffee and tea were available in the state that they were grown. There is a choice available today, in the sense, that you can purchase either of them as caffeine free (decaffeinated) products.

Caffeine is good, but for people with sensitive sleep cycles it can be a bit of a bother. There can be a craving for coffee and tea at odd times (like just before going to sleep) and a cup that is not decaffeinated can keep these people awake for a long time. By choosing the decaffeinated option, they can enjoy their coffee and tea more casually.

What remains a constant mystery is that downers made out of alcohol are such great party makers, while the brain sharpens and activity enduring caffeine laced beverages like coffee and tea are more associated with comfort.

Most people will usually stick to either coffee or tea as their caffeine beverage of choice. This distinction can get pretty difficult when you consider that there are plenty of people who will drink coffee at certain times and switch to tea at other times, all within a single day.

There are even some places and cultures where the beverage is chosen, not on the basis of the time of the day, but on the gender of the drinker. When you are over there, you will notice that tea is decidedly a ladies' drink (much like gin and tonic) while coffee is bit more like cigars and usually men indulge in it.

However, like everything the beverage culture is also undergoing a change and today the choice of beverage is solely dependent on personal preference.

The Truth About Espresso Coffee

What is better than a nice, warm cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning? Anyone? That is right, there really are not many other ways to warm and wake you up everyday.

A great cup of coffee can give you that extra rush of energy you need to not only get through the day, but to power through the day. However, visiting your favorite local coffee shop each and everyday can not only take a drain on your wallet, but also your sanity. Not only can coffee drinks cost up to $4 a cup, but when you are in a rush trying to get to work on time, you do not want to wait in line while someone in front of you can not decide if they want non-fat, 2 percent or whole in their coffee.

If you are like me, you like to save your money and spend it wisely. We all work hard for our green, so it is obvious that most people would want it spent in the smartest way. Your average cup of coffee (a medium at most places) will run you about $3.50 (on average). Doing a little simple addition, we see that $3.50 a day, five days a week equals 17.50 dollars. That is just for a week.

Granted, most people do not just drink coffee for a week and then call it quits. At this rate, have a cup of coffee everyday would cost you around seventy dollars a month, and up to 910 dollars a year. Imagine a way to completely eliminate these two factors from your life: insane coffee spending, and long lines at coffee shops. There has to be an answer, you say. Yes, yes there is; and I have it. The answer is simple: invest in an espresso machine!

With an expresso machine, you get the best of both worlds. First of all, you can make great coffee drinks in the comfort of your own home, whenever you want! Secondly, you save a lot of money in the long run by avoiding evil coffee shops like the plague. You might need to experiment to find your favorite drink, but anything that most coffee shops can make, you can make also! Experiment with different syrups, flavors of coffee, and methods of concocting your beverage of choice to find your favorite, signature drink that will have others lining up outside your door waiting for their coffee fix. There is an idea!

Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee, much stronger than your average cup of black coffee. Espresso drinks are generally stronger and give a greater rush of energy and alertness than normal coffee. Most espresso drinks are mixed with other ingredients (syrups, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, etc.) to create mouth watering concoctions of coffee goodness! I can see it now, all you coffee lovers out there reading are drooling over the idea of a smooth cup of Joe right now. Go ahead, go get a towel, wipe up the drool and move on.

For any occasion, an expresso maker is a great investment. Depending of course on how much you are willing to spend on your espresso maker, you should quickly make it back and then some by not shelling over your hard earned cash to those coffee shops each and every day.

Your time and sanity are also not to be forgotten. Nobody likes waiting in lines, so just imagine how better off your life would be not having to stand in line at a coffee shop all day. Waiting, just waiting to shell over your cash for a few minutes of taste bud joy.

Now, before you run out the door in a mad dash, be sure to sit down and do some research about the many kinds of espresso machines out there (and believe me there are quite a few). Decide what kind of features you want, how much you are willing to spend for the extra frills (you know, the cool stuff that is nice to have but you do not really need), and finally, visit your favorite local store and just browse through them and decide on one you like. This is an investment, so obviously it is going to cost more than a few cups of coffee, but in the long run you are saving yourself money, time, and more money.

So what are you waiting for? I think I have presented more than enough evidence that an expresso maker is a great and probably necessary investment for any coffee lover out there. Make coffee in the comfort of your own home whenever you like, save tons of money, and even make plenty of coffee for all those get togethers and family events at your house! Get an espresso maker today!