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How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

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How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

Have you ever reached for a favorite recipe to find that it requires you marinate the chicken overnight? You had to rule out that recipe as an option for the evening and need to rethink your plans. This question may have popped into your head: is it necessary to marinate food and for how long exactly?

Should you bother to marinate your meat overnight, or skip it entirely?

I advise that you try your recipe with the marinade anyway, because even a few minutes sitting in a marinade can greatly enhance the flavor of your ingredients.

That marinade will also improve the texture. Chicken thighs marinated will seem more succulent and juicy than regular chicken thigh fillets.

So should marinating really take hours? It doesn’t have to, but if you have the time, there are two primary reasons to consider marinades: They add flavor and they tenderize the meat.

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Here are some further tips for delicious and safe marinating.

1. Marinating doesn’t have to be complicated.

The best marinades are often very simple, some oil and vinegar or lemon juice will do. Herbs, spices or garlic can add interest, but aren’t essential.

2. Use “non-reactive” containers.

You should mix your marinade in a glass or ceramic bowl and toss the meat in. Metal or plastic containers are best avoided. You could also use a zip lock bag because it’s a great way to get lots of contact between the marinade and the surface of the food, but I often worry about plastic leaching into food.

3. Know when to refrigerate.

If you’re going to cook right away, just leave the marinating ingredients sit while you get ready to cook. However, if you’re not going to be cooking for a few hours or longer, do cover and refrigerate.

4. Cook or discard any used marinade.

You can use the leftover marinade for a sauce. If a marinade has been used for raw food, definitely discard it or boil vigorously for at least 5 minutes before using as a sauce.

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5. Consider a “post-cooking” marinade.

This works when you’re short on time because you can get the food on to cook and mix up your marinade or sauce while it cooks. The post-cooking technique works well for meat because as it rests in the marinade, the juices combine with the marinade to make a delicious sauce. Try cooking a steak then drizzling over lemon juice and olive oil while it rests.

Marinating is also a wonderful way to add flavor to grilled or barbecued vegetables. Try tossing grilled zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant in a post-cooking marinade of one part balsamic vinegar and three parts oil spiked with a clove of garlic and some chopped rosemary. Just remember to remove the raw garlic before serving.

In the recipe below, you can get the same great harissa marinade flavor merely by applying the harissa to the meat before it goes into the pan. If you have time to marinate, do go ahead.

Harissa is a hot spice paste from Morocco and Tunisia. You can buy it in tubes from a good deli. I usually cook my steaks at a very high heat, but I find it’s better to use a more gentle heat here to keep the harissa from burning.

Harissa Steaks with Yogurt Sauce

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Harissa Steak by Jules Clancy

    Serves 2

    2 steaks, trimmed

    2-4 tablespoons harissa

    6-8 tablespoons natural yogurt

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    3-4 handfuls baby spinach

    1. Heat a frying pan or BBQ on a medium high heat.

    2. Combine harissa with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Taste and if it’s not hot enough add more harissa. Toss steaks in the harissa mixture.

    3. Sear steaks for 2-3 minutes each side or until well browned and cooked to your liking.

    4. Season yogurt with salt and pepper and divide between 2 serving plates. Top with steaks and baby spinach leaves.

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    Featured photo credit: Jules Clancy via flic.kr

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2021

    The Importance of Making a Camping Checklist

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    The Importance of Making a Camping Checklist

    Camping can be hard work, but it’s the preparation that’s even harder. There are usually a lot of things to do in order to make sure that you and your family or friends have the perfect camping experience. But sometimes you might get to your destination and discover that you have left out one or more crucial things.

    There is no dispute that preparation and organization for a camping trip can be quite overwhelming, but if it is done right, you would see at the end of the day, that it was worth the stress. This is why it is important to ensure optimum planning and execution. For this to be possible, it is advised that in addition to a to-do-list, you should have a camping checklist to remind you of every important detail.

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    Why You Should Have a Camping Checklist

    Creating a camping checklist makes for a happy and always ready camper. It also prevents mishaps.  A proper camping checklist should include every essential thing you would need for your camping activities, organized into various categories such as shelter, clothing, kitchen, food, personal items, first aid kit, informational items, etc. These categories should be organized by importance. However, it is important that you should not list more than you can handle or more than is necessary for your outdoor adventure.

    Camping checklists vary depending on the kind of camping and outdoor activities involved. You should not go on the internet and compile a list of just any camping checklist. Of course, you can research camping checklists, but you have to put into consideration the kind of camping you are doing. It could be backpacking, camping with kids, canoe camping, social camping, etc. You have to be specific and take note of those things that are specifically important to your trip, and those things which are generally needed in all camping trips no matter the kind of camping being embarked on.

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    Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next camping trip.

    1. First off, you must have found the perfect campground that best suits your outdoor adventure. If you haven’t, then you should. Sites like Reserve America can help you find and reserve a campsite.
    2. Find or create a good camping checklist that would best suit your kind of camping adventure.
    3. Make sure the whole family is involved in making out the camping check list or downloading a proper checklist that reflects the families need and ticking off the boxes of already accomplished tasks.
    4. You should make out or download a proper checklist months ahead of your trip to make room for adjustments and to avoid too much excitement and the addition of unnecessary things.
    5. Checkout Camping Hacks that would make for a more fun camping experience and prepare you for different situations.

    Now on to the checklist!

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    Here is how your checklist should look

    1. CAMPSITE GEAR

    • Tent, poles, stakes
    • Tent footprint (ground cover for under your tent)
    • Extra tarp or canopy
    • Sleeping bag for each camper
    • Sleeping pad for each camper
    • Repair kit for pads, mattress, tent, tarp
    • Pillows
    • Extra blankets
    • Chairs
    • Headlamps or flashlights ( with extra batteries)
    • Lantern
    • Lantern fuel or batteries

    2.  KITCHEN

    • Stove
    • Fuel for stove
    • Matches or lighter
    • Pot
    • French press or portable coffee maker
    • Corkscrew
    • Roasting sticks for marshmallows, hot dogs
    • Food-storage containers
    • Trash bags
    • Cooler
    • Ice
    • Water bottles
    • Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
    • Cups, mugs
    • Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
    • Cutting board
    • Foil
    • soap
    • Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
    • Paper towels
    • Extra bin for washing dishes

    3. CLOTHES

    • Clothes for daytime
    • Sleepwear
    • Swimsuits
    • Rainwear
    • Shoes: hiking/walking shoes, easy-on shoes, water shoes
    • Extra layers for warmth
    • Gloves
    • Hats

    4. PERSONAL ITEMS

    • Sunscreen
    • Insect repellent
    • First-aid kit
    • Prescription medications
    • Toothbrush, toiletries
    • Soap

    5. OTHER ITEMS

    • Camera
    • Campsite reservation confirmation, phone number
    • Maps, area information

    This list is not completely exhaustive. To make things easier, you can check specialized camping sites like RealSimpleRainyAdventures, and LoveTheOutdoors that have downloadable camping checklists that you can download on your phone or gadget and check as you go.

    Featured photo credit: Scott Goodwill via unsplash.com

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