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Restaurant Review – Mari Luna

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

This week I went to Mari Luna.  There are two locations, one has the subtitle of Mexican Grill while the other is referred to as the Latin Grill.   Although their names would not indicate that there is a particular difference between the two Mari Luna restaurants, there is a significant difference: the menu.  Mari Luna: the Mexican Grill opened first, and it specializes in traditional Mexican dishes like empanadas and enchiladas while Mari Luna: the Latin Grill focuses on Peruvian dishes like paella and well-seasoned baked chicken.  Although both restaurants are great restaurants in their own right, my personal favorite is the Mexican Grill.

I have been a patron of Mari Luna: the Mexican Grill for the last few years.  It is located on Reisterstown Road – a main street in Pikesville, just over the Baltimore City border. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can expect a wait, but on weekdays it is calm enough so that you can enjoy a relaxed dining experience.

Of course, what is best about Mari Luna is the food.  I have gotten several items on the menu throughout the years.  I enjoy the enchiladas, made from fresh corn tortillas and I get the homemade red sauce.  It is a fantastic dish, but I was feeling in the mood for something that had a bright flavor, so I ordered the ceviche.

The ceviche is actually an appetizer that is meant to be shared with a table of about four.  I enjoyed this as my main course.  In case you are not familiar with ceviche, it is a dish that combines a variety of seafood such as calamari, shrimp and tilapia, cooked by marinating it in a citrus, like lime.  Thin slices of iceberg lettuce are mixed into the ceviche with sweet red peppers.  The ingredients are simple, but a definite palate pleaser. I use my tortilla chips like a spoon to get every last drop of the tangy citrus sauce and seafood.  I had about half of my ceviche so that I  could save room for dessert.

It is almost like a tradition for my family to get a particular dessert on the Mari Luna menu: the Sopapilla.  This is one of the simplest desserts ever. It is fried dough triangles tossed in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey.  It is served with a scoop of ice-cream. The fried dough comes out piping hot and the dough puffs up leaving the center hollow.  I particularly enjoy biting open the fried dough and then stuffing it with a scoop of ice-cream.  The contrast of the ice cold ice-cream and the hot fried dough and honey makes for a perfect dessert.

As always, my experience at Mari Luna: Mexican Grill was exceptional.  If I had a Mexican grandmother, I would imagine that her food would taste something like the food served at Mari Luna.  For more on Mari Luna, visit: http://www.mariluna.com.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Guest Post: Tips To Help Food Retailers Increase Sales

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Although they are quite different channels of distribution, brick and mortar, ecommerce and wholesale retailers can increase their sales by using the same methods. We are going to look at ways of achieving an increase in sales, which can be utilized by all three types of retailer.

Develop Relationships

Once you’ve got customers through the door, you want to start developing a relationship with them straight away. Yes, this applies to brick and mortar shops, but also to ecommerce stores and wholesalers. Make the entire shopping process as pleasurable as possible – for brick and mortar, make sure your store is clean and well-presented and your staff find the right balance between pushy and helpful; if you’re an ecommerce retailer, make sure your website has a simple, easy to navigate design and a checkout process with as little steps as possible; and if you’re a wholesaler, make sure the sales process is easy and uncomplicated.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once a visitor has been transformed into a customer, it’s essential that you try and develop that relationship further to ensure that they become a loyal repeat customer. This is especially important for wholesalers who tend to have fewer customers than other retailers, which makes increasing sales to current customers in the distribution network a key element in sales effectiveness.

Adding value and being able to communicate that value to customers is an important element of increasing sales to existing customers; however, relationship management is also very important in this regard. By focusing on developing and maintaining strong relationships with current customers, sales representatives can use those existing customer contacts to sell more products.

Increase Marketing Activity

There’s only so much that existing customers can do to help boost sales. No matter how valuable a wholesaler is to its customers or how strong their relationships are, their existing customers will eventually reach capacity for purchasing a wholesaler’s products. This means that adding new customers to the existing customer base is crucial to improve the effectiveness of sales. By demonstrating the value of a wholesaler over its competition, a company can attempt to draw customers away from its competitors.

An obvious way to do this is to increase and improve where possible your marketing activity. Ensure that meticulous research, planning, test marketing and monitoring are carried out to help maximize those sales. Thorough research is required to understand which messages will really capture your target audience’s attention, and test-runs of marketing campaigns will ensure that you don’t blow your entire budget on something that’s not going to be effective. Using measureable methods such as social media, coupons and codes, or monitoring website traffic are great ways of checking to see if what you’re doing is working.

Diversify Range of Products

It might be time to start thinking about introducing some new products or services to help grow your business, especially if you’re an older company. Think about what kind of products your target customers are buying but you aren’t selling that you could realistically make and market and generate profit by doing so – it may be that you need to replace some of your old products with updated ones or entirely new ones.

Review Pricing Strategy

Find out what your competition is charging for similar goods and services and raise or lower your prices accordingly: lowering prices can increase revenues to make up for lower margins, while increasing your prices can create a higher perceived value to your consumers and increase your margins. Remember: sales revenue is driven by the price of the products sold multiplied by the number of products sold, which means that sales effectiveness can be increased not just by selling more products, but also by raising prices. The more value you are able to add for its customers, the greater the price you can charge your customers.

How inventory management can help

Both retail and wholesale food operators should be using inventory management software to help make their business run more efficiently. Features can vary from system to system, but most inventory management software will offer the following benefits:

Live Updates

Because the software is running in real time, it is constantly syncing your orders and inventories, so you always know exactly where you stand, reducing the likelihood that you will make mistakes when filling in orders. This is especially helpful if you sell on more than one channel – for example if you’re using Amazon, eBay and a webstore – as it will stop you overselling and disappointing your customers.

Barcode Technology

This is a massive timesaver because you don’t need to spend time inputting long strings of numbers, you simply scan the barcode and all the product info is available from your inventory – the name, price and description for the product are all tied to that number. This will help save you time, reduce errors and increase sales

Reports and Forecasting

Because it has access to all your order history, the inventory management software can produce accurate sales reports on things like profit and how well certain brands are selling. This is great because it means you can forecast your future sales and restock your inventory accordingly.

Retailers can find innovative ways to increase their sales, but the key is to market your product effectively to bring in new customers and develop relationships with them so that they remain loyal and continue to use your services.

About the Author: Appah Prince is a Marketing Manager at Veeqo: Veeqo is a one stop to manage orders, products, inventory, shipping for merchants who sell on marketplaces such as ebay, Amazon, etc.

Restaurant Review – El Quijote and Doughnut Plant

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Last weekend was special in that it was the time in which we celebrate mothers.  More like a weekend than a day’s celebration, Mother’s Day is a time in which we celebrate all that mothers have done and all that they mean to a family.  My family’s celebration of Mother’s Day took me and my family from Baltimore to New York, first to New York City on Friday, then to Upstate New York, where my aunt lives and where my grandmother, who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, would meet us on Saturday.

On Friday, we did some Mother’s Day shopping and that evening we dined at a restaurant called El Quijote in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York.  El Quijote opened in 1930 and has been serving traditional Spanish dishes like paella and seafood dishes for the last 85 years.  The appearance of El Quijote, both on the outside and the inside, is unassuming; however, don’t be fooled by the external appearance – the food is truly to be rivaled.

There was one slight indicator of the food: everyone in my party noticed silver pots at a table next to us.  We collectively assumed that the pots contained mussels or some food that took up a lot of space.  Little did we know that everyone gets a full plate of food in addition to a pot containing at least two additional servings of food. I have never experienced this at a restaurant, and having large food portions is definitely what sets El Quijote apart from other restaurants.

I ordered the namesake El Quijote entrée Chicken Quijote. The dish came with several pieces of chickens with a red sauce that had full pieces of roasted garlic cloves.  The chicken was tender and fell apart as soon as I placed my fork in it.  The garlic cloves were just like butter, as I spread it on crispy pieces of bread.  I was only able to eat one piece of chicken because we had already eaten Camarones Ajillo Shrimp in Garlic Sauce for an appetizer.  There were so many tantalizing flavors, I was hardly able to stop at a few pieces of shrimp and a piece of chicken. Nevertheless, my stomach told me “save the rest for later.”  And so, I did.

As if El Quijote weren’t enough, it turns out that the absolute best doughnut shop ever – called Doughnut Plant – is just a few buildings down from El Quijote.  Doughnut Plant has a variety of unique doughnut flavors like rose petal, hazelnut chocolate and crème brûlée. I ordered my favorites: a chocolate doughnut, which has rich dark chocolate drizzled on a yeast doughnut and a crème brûlée doughnut, which is filled with fresh crème brûlée and topped with a crystalized caramel sauce.  Both are conflations that make for the absolute best desserts.

If you are ever in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, I would highly recommend that you visit El Quijote and Doughnut Plant. One provides old world charm and traditional Spanish flavors  while the other will give you American sweetness at its best.  Until next time, don’t stop eating!

Find out more about Doughnut Plant by visiting: http://doughnutplant.com/. To find out more about El Quijote, visit: www.elquijoterestaurant.com/.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – Broadway Diner

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

This week’s featured restaurant on the Foodem blog, I refer to as “The Diner” because I go frequently and the food is so delicious that it trumps all other diners. “The Diner” – short for Broadway Diner – has been featured on its fair share of food shows and articles.  The menu is extensive and there is truly something for everyone.  “The Diner” serves breakfast all day, it is open 24/7, and the portions are generous.  The food is delectable and tastes as though the chef wanted to make something special, just for you.

It’s hard to go to “The Diner” and not get two things: seafood bisque and tasty bread filled with cream cheese that is topped with sesame seeds.  The seafood bisque is just served from Friday to Sunday and is absolutely out of this world good.  Dipping slices of the bread into the bisque is even better. The cream cheese has a slightly sweet undertone and the cream from the bisque and texture of the big lumps of seafood make a flavorfully and texturally balanced dish.

Just as delicious is the house balsamic vinaigrette.  This dressing makes any salad tenfold better.  I got the Greek Salad, which came with fresh and crispy lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and pita bread.  I poured the dressing over the entirety of the salad and made sure that there was also enough on the plate so that I could sop the dressing up with the pita bread, making miniature vegetable gyros. Although I did not get fries, when I do, I use the balsamic dressing as a dipping sauce.  The balsamic vinaigrette has a tangy, creamy, and sweet flavor that is so distinct and so good.

Another dish that at least one member of my party usually gets is the Broadway Festival. This is a dish that was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and the recipe is shared on the Diner’s website.  Scallops, shrimp, lobster tails and mussels are sautéed with a special tomato based sauce, which is then added to perfectly cooked pasta.  The owner of the restaurant, George Kavourakis, came up with this recipe and, though the recipe is shared online, it is still one of the most ordered dishes at “The Diner.”

On this visit, I did not get a dessert, however what we usually get is the  Baklava Cheesecake. The Baklava Cheesecake consists of a large slice of cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of authentic baklava, drizzled with honey.  I usually take this home because I am stuffed. In this case – having had the seafood bisque, cream cheese bread and a large salad – I could not even begin to think about dessert.

My experience, as always, was enjoyable.  There is always enough food to take home and the food is always satisfying.  “The Diner” does have the ambiance of a diner, with a mini juke or game box at each booth, but the food is truly above and beyond.  To find out more about Broadway Diner, visit http://www.broadwaydiner1.com.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – Earth, Wood and Fire

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

I didn’t realize just how much I liked food until I began blogging on restaurants for Foodem.  Yes, I have always watched the Food Network; but no, I infrequently cook – mainly because my repertoire consists only of sautéed vegetables and omelets. Then again, I have always enjoyed eating food – some good for me, and some not so much. In high school, my favorite was a Snicker’s Ice-cream bar.  By college, I was more likely to enjoy a bowl of green beans topped with marinara sauce. Now, I’m somewhere in between.  I suppose that I’ve always liked food – wholesome or not so much – and this experience has allowed me to share that delight with others.

Recently, I had dinner at Earth, Wood and Fire, on Falls Road in Baltimore.  This restaurant has become a neighborhood favorite that offers burgers, meatball subs, and other tasty dishes.  They are best known for their pizzas – a food that lends itself well to family style dining.  In addition to a regular crust, a whole wheat crust is an option that is especially good for those of us who try to eat well.  Additionally, their pizzas are coal fired, which gives each slice a crispy crust and bubbly, stringy cheese.

On this occasion, my group ordered two whole wheat crusted pizzas – one a scampi pizza and the other a traditional pepperoni pizza. The scampi pizza, as the name would imply, has the ingredients of a scampi pasta dish – sumptuous shrimp with pieces of roasted garlic, dollops of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, shreds of provolone and Romano cheese with a sprinkling of olive oil.  The pepperoni pizza is what you would expect from any high quality pizza pie, only the whole wheat crust was a nice added touch.

The whole wheat crust is maybe just a little bit crispier than regular crust, but it does not at all detract from the amazing flavor profile of each pizza. The pepperoni pizza leaves little drops of flavorful oil that can be used as a dipping sauce for the crust. You can do the same with the scampi pizza, only instead of pepperoni oil, it is olive oil macerated with buttery soft roasted garlic.

I would have opted out of getting dessert, had it not been the case that the special, just for that evening, was upside down pineapple cake.  The cake had the consistency and flavor of cornbread.  The pineapple rounds, maraschino cherry and caramel drizzle gave the cake a little added moisture, and a heap of vanilla ice-cream offered a creamy note that paired well with the acidity of the pineapple.  As if the pizza weren’t enough, I really did enjoy the upside down pineapple cake also.

The food is amazing and the service is topnotch.  Earth, Wind and Fire has become a neighborhood favorite and I look forward to visiting again – especially for more pizza!  To find out more about Earth, Wind and Fire, visit www.earthwoodfire.com.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – Alchemy Modern American Eatery

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

As I made my way to the Avenue, in Hampden – a neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore – I couldn’t help but notice all of the new awnings welcoming customers from all walks of life.  Many of these awnings are welcoming points for restaurants; and these restaurants are made for the foodie inside of all of us.  One of the newer places is Alchemy, a restaurant that is passionate about providing superb and artfully crafted food.

Alchemy is, essentially, the medieval understanding of chemistry that turns base metal into gold.  True to its name, the Alchemy menu transforms simple items into gold on the palate.

My first taste of a full meal at Alchemy was just a few weeks ago for brunch, which is only served on Sundays.  It was precisely this visit that made me want to feature Alchemy in this Foodem blog.  The food was magnificent! Every dish that I saw leaving the kitchen seemed to be like pictures out of a recipe book.  I made a mental note: “the next time that I have a chance, I am definitely coming back to try other items on the menu!” And so, I did; again, for Sunday brunch.  Once again, I had no idea what to order from a menu that has a plethora of delicious sounding items.

Our waiter suggested French Toast or the Baltimore Benedict. The Baltimore Benedict is a classic breakfast dish with a Baltimore twist.  It features poached eggs over ciabatta bread with chunks of tasty lump crab meat and old bay seasoned sausage – all smothered in hollandaise sauce. The French Toast consists of three layers of brioche bread and mascarpone cheese slathered between each layer.  Topped with ripe raspberries, blueberries and black berries, this dish was a winner.  I said to myself, considering the amount of fruit on this dish, it must be healthy…. right? The blend of flavors, from the tartness of the fruit to the sweet tang of the mascarpone – then an aloe syrup that was quickly absorbed by the brioche – the texture was just right, the flavors – spot on.  For a side dish, I got the cheesy grits.  I spooned some cream of crab soup on top of it that I borrowed from my lunch partner.

All in all, the prices are reasonable, considering the excellent service, and quality and quantity of food.  In fact, Alchemy has prix-fixe specials on Tuesdays and Thursday, making it even more affordable to dine there.

One last thing, the menu changes frequently to showcase seasonal foods and several of the regular items on the menu are sourced from Maryland farmers and vendors. I look forward to my next visit to Alchemy, which is sure to be in the very near future.

Footnote: I just learned yesterday that the Alchemy Executive Chef, Michael Matassa, just won the award for the Maryland Chef of the Year through the Restaurant Association of Maryland.  Kudos to him and his team!

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Guest Post: 10 Must-Know Facts on Biodynamic Wines for Beginners

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

What about the label do you look at when you are buying wine?  Do you concern yourself with the varietal?  The vintage?  Maybe you like a particular region.  Many wine drinkers are concerned with the footprint being left by their wine, and the chemicals used in the process.  These and other consumers are leaning toward organic wines.

When looking at organic wines you may come across biodynamic wines, too. This is a sector of the wine industry that has exploded over the past several years as people’s awareness of the environment has increased.

Here are ten facts to introduce you to biodynamic wines and agriculture.

  1. Biodynamic Agriculture uses sustainable practices – those farming practices which have the smallest effect on the land, animals, communities and health of the area where they are grown.
  1. All biodynamic wines are organic, but not all organic wines are biodynamic.  Organic agriculture is farming that does not use pesticides or any other chemicals in the growth or production of food and plants.  Biodynamic agriculture is organic but also includes other components beyond a lack of chemicals.  No biodynamic wines are vegan as the skulls, horns, bladders and other parts of animals are used in the preparation process.
  1. Austrian Rudolf Steiner is credited with the popularity of biodynamic farming.  In the 1920’s Steiner, a philosopher, began promoting the idea that the increased industrialization of farming would damage the earth and eventually lead to its destruction.  He believed in holistic approaches to all things, including farming, by melding the spiritual with the physical and treating farms as one sustainable organism.  The farm, including all of its land, people, animals and processes, are treated as vital components of this organism which is treated with a balance of spirituality, ethics, and sustainability to yield what Steiner believed were responsible, healthy products and retain soil health.  Biodynamics was born from Steiner’s particular philosophical development, anthroposophy.  Asked to talk to farmers about decreasing soil and food quality, Steiner gave a series of lectures in 1924 entitled, “Agriculture Course” – it is believed that these lectures sparked the movement.
  1. The largest number of biodynamic farms are found in Germany, where Steiner first lectured on the topic.  Biodynamic vineyards exist throughout all of the world’s major wine regions.
  1. A wine made with biodynamic grapes is different from a biodynamic wine.  Biodynamic wine, which will be certified by Demeter, not only grows the grapes biodynamically but also uses processes which follow the rules of biodynamics.  This means that biodynamic wines often look different – less clear or even cloudy and with a different color than what is usually seen.  No yeast or other materials are added to the wine to enhance color, flavor or clarity.  If the bottle says, “Made with biodynamically grown grapes” but does not contain the Demeter badge, the wine is not biodynamic.
  1. Biodynamic agriculture relies on natural forces of the world, like lunar phase and position in a particular constellation, to schedule planting and harvesting.  Depending on which part of a crop is used (seed, root, leaf and stem, or flower) it is planted and harvested at a different time.
  1. Biodynamics uses preparations, fertilizers and treatments made of natural products like manure, herbs and minerals, to treat the soil.  Over time these can change the health of the soil, inoculate the plant life growing in it and inhibit certain microorganisms from growing thus creating better soil for what is being produced.  The preparations begin with 500 and run through 508.  Each preparation is placed into a particular vessel, allowed to mature, and then used on the soil.  500 and 501 are field treatments while 502-508 are used to prepare compost.
  1. Biodynamics and its principals are accessible to non farmers through a variety of organizations’ free resources for interested people.  Whether it’s a free introductory course based in Oregon in the United States or paying for recordings from national conferences.  There are also scholarships available for those who wish to learn more from sources requiring payment but with limited funds.
  1. Demeter, a German organization, designates the veracity of all products claiming to be biodynamically grown and produced and provides labeling to certify these products.  While not just wines, you can search their database to find biodynamic wines by starting here.  The database can also be sorted by country, livestock, product and many more categories.
  1. Biodynamicists believe that even when you drink wine should be based on the biodynamic calendar and that biodynamic wine should not be drunk during a full moon but rather a crescent.

While not developed by a scientist nor tested enough to see the long term impact of biodynamic farming and processes on the wine, there is definitely a case to be made for lower impact, humane, ethical products including wine.  The next time you pick up a few bottles, why not try a biodynamic wine?

About the Author: Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim Edison has a deep love for wine and anything that has to do with it. Coming from a family of wine lovers, he developed this passion from an early age and has since had the chance to visit many of the notable wine regions throughout the world, and likes to share these experiences with his readers.

Guest Post: The Dirty Dozen (Plus Clean Fifteen) Infographic

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

The use of pesticides has exploded the past few years. In their latest report the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that over a billion tons of pesticide was used in the United States alone and over 5 billion was used worldwide.

Pesticides have a negative effect on people and have been linked to health problems like hormonal disorders, birth defects and several types of cancers. Even when experts say pesticides found in produce are below threshold levels, a CDC research shows otherwise.

If you ask me that is a lot and given the choice, I’d prefer not to eat pesticide ridden food but there’s a problem – if you’re going to buy everything organic, it will almost double or even triple your grocery bill so we need an alternative.

Fortunately for consumers there is a workaround for that.

The Environmental Working Group has a nifty tool that shows you exactly which fruits and vegetables are the “dirtiest”, hence you have to buy organic and which ones are “clean” – you can opt for the conventionally grown variants. They call this the “Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen” which is published annually to help consumers shop smarter.

You’ll see an infographic equivalent of this list below that you can print out and bring with you whenever you go out to shop. It also shows you a list of 5 places where you can buy organic produce at a lower price compared to a retail store which is a great way to save. I have also included a quick guide to labels that will help you distinguish what is organic, conventional and genetically modified so make sure to scroll all the way down to see those goodies.

DirtyDozenInfographic

Just remember to always wash every fruit and vegetable you buy whether it is organic or not just to make sure it is free of contaminants that may cause salmonella or any other type of food poisoning. Happy shopping!

About the Author: Garrick is a regular guy who loves to juice. He started Juicing with G because his mom gave him a juicer and he wanted to document his journey along with the recipes he has tried to help others who may want to get into juicing and not make the same mistakes he did. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Guest Post: Grilling Pizza on the Barbecue

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Pizza Header

What better way to coast through the final stretch of winter than to begin planning your spring and summer dinner parties? As soon as your barbecue is freed from its winter storage spot, try our methods for grilling pizza on it, and you’ll be ready to impress your guests with pizza that tastes like it came out of a wood-fired oven. For a pizza dough recipe that can be used for any grilling method, check out this article by John Thomas.

Indirect Grilling Method

Indirectly grilling your pizza is the simplest method, as you don’t have to scramble to top the pizza mid-grill. Position your lit charcoal on the left side of the grill, and slide your topped pizza onto the right side. Close the lid and grill for 15-20 minutes. Monitor your dome temperature and adjust your grill-time accordingly. Halfway through, rotate the pizza 180 degrees to ensure it cooks through evenly.

Pizza Indirect

Direct Grilling Method

This method of grilling pizza involves placing the dough directly on the grill, with no toppings. Grill the first side of the dough for three to five minutes. Keep in mind that this will eventually become the top of the pizza, so keep the grill-time shorter if you like it slightly “rarer.” During this time, have your topping handy, as you’ll be topping the pizza while it’s on the grill. After you’ve flipped the pizza to begin grilling the second side, top it according to your preference, and then close the dome for the remaining length of time – around 10 minutes. Closing the dome will allow the heat to be applied to the toppings to ensure the cheese is melted before the crust begins to char too much.

Pizza Direct

Pizza Stone

If you’re a true pizza aficionado, it may be worthwhile to invest in a pizza stone. The stone can be used on the grill in the summer, and also in the oven during the colder months. The key to grilling pizza on the stone is the placement of the charcoal briquettes. Make sure they are distributed properly to ensure that the dough and toppings cook at a similar rate: most charcoal should be placed on the left side of the grill (with the pizza on a stone on the right side), a few briquettes should be scattered on the right side, and a remaining few should be placed in a charcoal basket on top of the grill (on the left side).

Preheat the pizza stone for 10-15 minutes before placing the topped pizza on it, to cook for an additional 10-20 minutes with the lid closed. Make sure to rotate the pizza 180 degrees halfway through.

Pizza On The Stone

Author Bio: Fix.com is a lifestyle blog that aims to bring you expert content about anything and everything in an around your home.

Note:  The images shown in this guest blog post were used with the permission of Fix.com, who is the owner of these images.

Guest Post: Common Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Your Own Food

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Growing your own food in an eco-friendly manner is all about working with the environment and harnessing the power of nature in order to bring the best out of your organic garden. The practice of sustainable gardening has shown its numerous potentials and benefits over the years for both the environment and human health. However, growing organic fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t make mistakes. Avoiding synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides is great, but not if you overdo or skip some other important steps. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes people make when growing their own food.

The importance of proper mulching

Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Essentially, it is the practice of covering the garden soil with organic or inorganic materials to affect both the soil and the growing plants. Its benefits include keeping weeds down, conserving water, improving the soil and creating a garden much more aesthetically pleasing. Unlike inorganic ones, organic mulches are completely natural as they are made from plant materials that decompose, thus staying in the soil.

It is important to know what to use as and how to apply it. According to Brisbane Tree Experts, you should not use live green materials in your mulch because this can extract nitrogen from the soil. Experts add that mulch must be applied to a depth of approximately 3 inches to optimize weed suppression and water retention. Never apply mulch directly around the plant’s base, and cover the root zones as much as possible.

Planting too closely, too deeply or too shallow

Planting seeds too closely to each other is one of the most common beginner mistakes. The young plants have to compete for water, sun and soil nutrients and a fair share of them do not survive in the process. Sometimes it is okay to plant seeds closer than usual, but only if you thin the patch and remove the (mostly edible) seedlings to leave enough space for other plants. Another good way is to leave some of those vegetable thinnings to serve as mulch.

However, it is advised to follow the instructions found on the seed packaging when it comes to the depth of planting. Generally speaking, larger seeds should be planted a bit deeper than the smaller ones, but planting them too deep will cause them to fail to sprout and they will not reach the surface. On the other hand, shallow planting will prevent stronger root growth and cause the young plant to fall out or the seed to simply dry out.

Fertilizing and compost – feeding both plants and the soil

Applying too much or too little fertilizer won’t produce healthy plants that grow the way they should. It is important to find the perfect amount of nitrogen to induce both vigorous growth and ripening in plants. Leafy green vegetables rely heavily on nitrogen, but you should not over-fertilize because this will prevent the plants from becoming ripe. The same goes for root vegetables – too much nitrogen and all you get is extreme growth and no ripe tubers. On the other hand, a couple of inches of compost will keep the soil fed by stimulating healthy microbe growth and neutralizing the negative effects of synthetic fertilizers at the same time.

Neglecting the benefits of insects and spiders

Not all insects are harmful for crops. Quite the opposite – they can be essential for the life of every garden. Bees and spiders are excellent examples of how insects may be extremely useful. Bees are pollinators, while spiders eat most of the harmful insects. Therefore, killing all forms of life, both harmful and harmless can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your plants. It is much better to use organic pest control solutions such as garlic insect repellent and watch your garden flourish.

About the Author: Mackenzie is an advocate of sustainable gardening. She believes that even the smallest urban corners can be transformed into small gardens where food can be produced.