Tag Archives: homemade

Not Politically Correct Seasons Greetings – Merry Christmas

Tis 21 days till Christmas.
A mess is all around the house.
Even my mouse is seeking a better house.

Think before you spend. Young children are more likely to play with the box your expensive gift came in.

Older children, like me, would prefer to be with family, sharing the warmth of the fire, laughing, getting kid hugs, hugs from older kids, like my 48 year old are some of the best.

Merry Christmas to all

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Mustard and Turnip greens – Easy to grow

Turnips and mustards, members of the cabbage family, cool season crops that must be grown in the cool temperatures of early spring and fall.

Mustard is grown only for it’s leaves. Turnip is a dual purpose crop the leaves are used for greens, and the root is cooked similar to potatoes and beets.
When cooked properly, mustard and turnip greens are high in minerals and vitamins A and C.

Turnips can be used either for greens or for roots.
A variety developed for root production can be harvested for greens.
However, a variety developed for greens will not produce a good root.
Mustard varieties can be broadleaved or curled. Broadleaved mustard has a wide, flat leaf. Curled leaf mustard produces narrow, wrinkled leaves like those of spinach. Curled mustard will stand colder temperatures and can be grown later into the winter than can broadleaved mustard.

Mustard and turnips like a full sun location. For best production, they also need well drained soil.

Hint Mustard works well as a border to a flower bed or sidewalk. Both the broadleaf and curled leaf varieties are attractive and add green to a flower bed.
Mustard and turnip greens are also easily grown in window boxes and containers on an apartment balcony or patio.

Mustard and turnip seeds will sprout if the soil temperature is 40 degrees F or higher.
For a fall crop, start planting 8 to 10 weeks before the first expected frost. Sprinkle the row regularly with water to prevent soil crusting until the small plants break through. Under good conditions, most of the plants should be up in 3 to 7 days.
For a continuous supply of fresh, tender mustard and turnip greens, make two or three plantings 10 days apart.

Turnips and mustards need adequate nitrogen to develop a dark green color. At planting scatter 2 to 3 pounds of complete garden fertilizer such as NPK 15-5-10 over each 100 square feet. If only one row is to be planted, use 1 cup of fertilizer for each 10 feet of row.

Spring planted mustard and turnip greens are good until the weather gets hot. Too much heat causes them to be tough and strong flavored. Harvest mustard greens when they are young and tender. Cut the large outer leaves and leave the inner leaves to continue growing.

Turnip varieties produce greens in 40 days.
Turnip roots generally take 50 to 60 days to produce. Harvest turnip greens by pulling the entire plant when the leaves are 4 to 6 inches long. Turnip roots can be harvested when they are 2 inches in diameter. If left longer they will get tough and stringy.

Tip Cook greens in 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs butter. (Optionally add 1 whole clove peeled garlic.) Use only the water that remains on the leaves after washing. Cook greens in a pan with a tight fitting lid until they are tender. (Do not overcook them.)

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Dill – Easy to grow

Dill is a perennial herb that typically reaches 2 to 4 feet tall at maturity. Its leaves are used fresh or dried as an herb in dips, soups, salads, and other dishes. The seeds are used as a spice for pickling and for adding flavor to stews and roasts.

Dill will grow well in poor soil conditions. But it grows best in well drained, sandy or loamy soil that is slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5). Dill likes a soil temperature near 70°F.

Dill can also be easily grown in containers, both indoors and outdoors. Choose a deep container to accommodate the tall plant and its long roots. Use normal potting compost and keep the plants well watered.

If the container is inside, place the plants where they will receive at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. You may need to support the plants with a stake. Dill plants will be ready for harvest within about 8 to 12 weeks after the seeds were sown.
Dill contain the most flavors if picked before flowering begins.

Fertilizer may be broadcast (spread on the surface throughout the planting) or applied as a side dressing (applied to the soil on or around the sides of the plant).

In general, apply a formulation such as NPK 20-20-20 once in late spring at the rate of 0.70 pound per 100 square feet. A better formulation that doesn’t apply too much phosphorus is 15-5-10, and it is available at most garden centers. When using 15-5-10, apply 1 pound per 100 square feet.

To save Dill seed and the flowers form, they will bloom and seed. Cut the seed heads 2 to 3 weeks after bloom. Place the cuttings in paper bags, and allow to dry. The seeds will fall off when they are ready to be used.

Dill is a member of the parsley family. While it is possible to buy and use dried dill, dill is one of those herbs that loses its flavor rapidly, so fresh is always your best choice.​

Dill is an herb that is particularly tasty with salmon. It can be paired with salmon in any number of ways.

Dill Sauce for (fish) Salmon. Stir half a cup of finely chopped dill into a cup of plain yogurt. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and optionally a clove of minced garlic. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Dill flavored vinegar.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups 2-1/2 percent acid rice vinegar
* Optionally use 1 cup water with 1 cup 5 percent acid white vinegar.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
This will keep for a month or more.

Dill flavored oil.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups olive oil.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
Strain out dill weed. This will keep for 1 or even 2 weeks.

Hint Posted by wordsfromanneli | November 21, 2017
Dill freezes nicely. I put a clump of leaves and seeds into a ziploc and keep it on the door of my fridge freezer. I take it out when I need it and use the scissors (or a knife) to snip the amount I need. Then I wrap it up again and put the rest back in the freezer. Very handy and almost as good as fresh.

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Eggplant (Aubergines) – Easy to grow

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, which includes potato and tomato. It is a great source of fiber and has a fair amount of iron, potassium and protein.

Eggplant prefers well drained, fertile, sandy loam soils with a pH between 5.5 and 7.2. The higher the organic matter content of the soil the better, so incorporate a 3 to 4 inch layer of compost if possible.

There are many different varieties of eggplant, including the small, round, green ‘Kermit’ eggplants, the skinny, long Japanese pickling eggplant, and the traditional large ‘Black Bell’ eggplant.

Although eggplant can be seeded directly into the garden, it is better for the beginning gardener to use transplants. If you can’t find the varieties you want in garden centers, make sure you start seeds 6 to 8 weeks before they are to be transplanted outside. Grow the seeds indoors. They will germinate in 5 days if kept at 86 degrees F, but could take up to 14 days at 65 degrees F. Eggplant is a tropical plant, so it is very sensitive to cold and should not be planted outside until after all risk of frost has passed and daytime temperatures are at least 65 degrees F. The plants will grow to 2 to 4 feet, so space them 24 to 36 inches apart.

Eggplant needs a consistent supply of nutrients. Add a total of 2 to 3 pounds of a complete fertilizer (6-12-12, 10-10-10, or 9-16-16) per 1,000 square feet. Apply half the fertilizer before planting and the other half after the first fruits appear.

It is helpful to pour 1/4 cup of starter solution around each plant. Make a starter solution by dissolving 2 tablespoons of a complete fertilizer in 1 gallon of water.

Eggplant also needs consistent water, at least 1 inch per week. It is better to give one thorough soaking than several frequent, short waterings, frequent watering promotes shallow roots. Weather and soil type, of course, will affect water demand. High temperatures, high winds, and sandy soils will all increase the need for watering.

The fruit can be harvested when they are 1/3 to full size. Harvest before the skin becomes dull and the seeds become hard. General rule is if you lightly press the side of the fruit with your thumbnail and the indentation stays, then the fruit is ripe and ready to be picked.
Handle the harvested fruit gently so they don’t get bruised.

Eggplant can be cooked many ways. It can be baked, stewed, sautéed, fried or stuffed. It can be cooked whole or in pieces. It can be cubed and used in curries and stews. Eggplant Parmesan is always a dinner time success dish.

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Artichoke – Easy to grow

Artichoke, a member of the thistle family. It is a nutritious vegetable and a beautiful landscape plant. Plants can reach 3 feet in height and width, and the flower, if allowed to bloom, can be 7 inches in diameter.

Globe artichoke produces best in deep, fertile, well drained soil, but will grow in a wide range of soils. Avoid very sandy soils.

Artichokes grow well when fertilized regularly.

If manure is available, mix 100 to 140 pounds of composted manure per 100 square feet into the soil before planting.

Phosphorus and potash are best applied before planting and should also be worked in. Apply about 0.25 pound of P205 and 0.25 pound of K2O per 100 square feet. Artichokes require about 0.1 pound of nitrogen (N) per 100 square feet. Apply an additional 0.3 pound per 100 square feet 6 to 8 weeks later.

Foliar feeding of a liquid fertilizer containing calcium and zinc are recommended every 2 weeks during active growth begins in early spring.

Artichokes are deep-rooted and require adequate moisture when growing and producing fruit. Moisture stress may result in black tip, which is only cosmetic damage because the edible portion of the bud is not affected. Black tip is most common when conditions are sunny, warm and windy. Note: Artichokes are susceptible to root rot, so do not let the soil become too wet.

A healthy plant should produce six to nine buds per plant. All buds of suitable size should be harvested by cutting the stem 2 to 3 inches below the base of the bud. Old stems should be removed as soon as all buds have been harvested to allow new stems to grow.

Artichoke is a perennial plant so once the harvest is finished cut the plant back to soil level. This will put the plant crown into a dormant stage during the summer. The plant will send out shoots in the fall. The new shoots can be dug out to be replanted into a new location in the garden or left in place to produce another year.
Make sure you leave only the most vigorous shoot on the old plant for production next spring.

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Diseases

Rosemary – Easy to grow

Rosemary is an excellent choice for any fish, poultry or pork dish.

Rosemary is relatively easy to grow, making it a good choice for any home herb garden. Its pungent flavor and pine like scent make rosemary a popular ingredient in foods.

Rosemary pairs particularly well with, honey, garlic and lemon.

Rosemary can be grown as an annual (completes its life cycle in 1 year) or a perennial (completes its life cycle in 3 or more years). In herb gardens, it is often planted along with thyme, oregano and sage. When planting, choose a variety that is suitable to your climate, soil, and desired use.

Scented rosemary is best for cooking because of its excellent flavor and soft leaves.
Blue Boy, Spice Islands, and White rosemary are also used in cooking.
Arp, Dancing Waters, Golden Rain, Pink, and White varieties are more often used as landscape plants.

Rosemary can be grown in containers or in an herb garden. Most varieties grow best in well drained, loamy, slightly acidic soil. They preferred a soil between 6.0 and 7.0.

Rosemary should receive at least 6 hours of sun each day, however it grows best in full sun. If you plan to use rosemary as a perennial plant, choose a site where it will not be disturbed.

Like most herbs, rosemary is fairly drought resistant and, if healthy enough, can tolerate a light freeze. It is most successful when grown from cuttings or transplants. Although seed is readily available and usually inexpensive, its germination rate is usually only about 15 percent.

The best way to propagate rosemary is by taking a cutting from an already vigorous plant:

Clip a 3-inch branch from the stem of the plant.
Trim off most of the lower leaves to 1½ inches up the stem.
Plant one or two cuttings into a 3-inch pot.
Water the cuttings.
Place the pot in a windowsill with indirect sunlight and temperatures between 60° and 70°F.
After about 8 weeks, the cuttings will be rooted and ready for transplanting to their permanent location.

Rosemary seldom needs fertilizer. But if growth is slow or the plant appears stunted or pale yellow, apply fertilizer once in early spring before new growth appears. Any allpurpose fertilizer in dry or liquid form is suitable as long as it is applied correctly. To prevent leaf burning, avoid applying fertilizer directly onto the plant.

Too much water can cause root rot. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine when a rosemary plant needs water because its needles do not wilt as broad leaves do. On average, water rosemary every 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the plant size and climate conditions. Allow the plants to dry out thoroughly between watering.

Rosemary plants can be harvested several times in a season, but they should be allowed to replace their growth between harvests. Some varieties are valued for their small flowers, which are harvested for use in salads.

The clippings can be used fresh or dried for later use. Fresh cuttings will retain their best flavor for 2 to 7 days in the refrigerator. To store rosemary for longer periods, hang it in bundles to dry.

* Rosemary as a scented bath oil or flavored salad oil.
A rough rule of thumb, use two cups of oil to one cup of Rosemary.

Make your own rosemary infused oil, place a sprig or two of completely dry rosemary leaves into a glass jar, (the more rosemary leaves the stronger the flavor and scent) top with olive oil, replace the lid, and shake lightly. Store in a warm, dark place for two weeks, strain your oil and pour back into the glass jar.
Use ¼ cup for a fragrant bath.
Blend with balsamic vinegar to drizzle all over a salad for a delicious dressing.

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Thanksgiving Food Safety

turkey
Butterball Turkey Talk provides a free service to answer your questions about proper handling, thawing and cooking Turkey.
You can reach them by telephone, email or via live chat line.
Butterball also has a informative page of FAQ’s that you may find useful.

Butterball said:
FROZEN WHOLE TURKEY
Thaw in refrigerator (not at room temperature). Place unopened turkey, breast side up, on a tray in refrigerator and follow our refrigerator thawing instructions. Allow at least 24 hours for every 4 pounds.

To thaw more quickly, place unopened turkey breast down in sink filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound. Change water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.

When thawed, keep in refrigerator up to 4 days until ready to cook.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) has a nice and very informative fact sheet as well as a useful PDF file on the safe handling, cooking, Storage and re-heating of Turkey.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey USDA’s information applies to any poultry, Turkey, Chicken, Duck, Goose and so on that you may plan on cooking and serving to your family.

For more information about food safety, call: USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or
E-mail: mphotline.fsis@usda.gov Or “Ask Karen,” FSIS’ Web-based automated response system – available 24/7 at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

Hints:
Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.

Thawing In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days
Roasting Time
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Alternate methods to cook Turkey / poultry Grilling a Turkey, Covered Gas Grill, Covered Charcoal Grill, Smoking a Turkey, Deep Fat Frying a Turkey.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Basics: Safe Cooking Turkey A PDF file. Great 1 page tip sheet on cooking Turkey / Poultry.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Turkey Roasting Chart Everything you will ever need to know about Roasting your Turkey.
Hint:
Reheating Your Turkey
In the Oven
Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
To keep the turkey moist, add a little broth or water and cover.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC 24/7: Saving Lives. Protecting People. Safely Prepare Your Holiday Meal Important cooking information to providing Safe food preparation information.

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Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
or
* 6 tablespoons dry cultured buttermilk mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* optional 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
If using dry buttermilk powder add 1 1/2 cups milk or water to make a thin batter.

Heat oven to 425°F.
Heat oil on stove top to near smoking temperature in a 10 inch or larger cast iron skillet.
In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients with spoon until blended.
Beat eggs and add to milk or water, mix batter quickly. Don’t over work(mix) your batter.
Carefully pour batter into your very hot skillet. Transfer skillet to your preheated oven.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

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Cattle Drive Chili – A Cowboys Staple Food – American Cattle Drives 1865-1886

This is a reworked, edited version of a 2011 posting.
With the holiday season fast approaching I thought it might be a fun to rework and repost this tidbit of American food history.

The first thing you must do is understand what life in the mid to late 19th Century [1865-1900] was like. You must understand what was and was not available to the average family or trail cook.

In many cases a cowboy was really a boy. Many young boys some only 12 years old moved millions of head of longhorn cows to market buyers. Many buyers headquartered in rail head towns like Abilene, Kansas. Longhorn cows were shipped to stockyards in Chicago and other midwest and eastern markets.
Trail drives were no place for old men or the weak.

Moving a herd of longhorns from Texas to Kansas was no small undertaking. Herds could number in 1 to 3 thousand head, could be moved only about 10 or 12 miles a day without the loss of much body weight. Cattle buyers would pay little if anything for poor starved down cows. It could take 2 or 3 months to move a large herd of longhorn cows from Texas to railheads in Kansas. It required as many as 20 sometimes more cowboys and a experienced, inventive trail cook.

Cattle drives were moving millions of cattle from Texas Midwest markets. There was stiff competition among different cattle drivers, recruiting a good cowboy was difficult. The Goodnight-Loving cattle trail, co-founded by Col. Charles Goodnight, decided to gain interest in his trail drives through good cooking.
Side note: An injured or dead cowboy was more easily replaced than a good trail cook.

Col. Goodnight needed a mobile kitchen and a good cook. He used a military wagon to hold supplies and a makeshift kitchen. The military wagon was strong enough for all the supplies and could withstand harsh weather and bumpy trails. With the help of his cook, Col. Goodnight developed an efficient layout that was soon adopted by all trail drivers across the west. It was named the chuck wagon after Charles “Chuck” Goodnight.

Cooks were the kings of the chuck wagon. Chuckwagon food typically included easy-to-preserve items like beans and salted meats, coffee, and sourdough biscuits. Wild game would also be harvested en route.
There was no fresh fruit, vegetables, or eggs available and meat was not fresh unless an animal was injured and had to be killed.
The meat they ate was greasy cloth-wrapped bacon, salt pork, and beef, usually dried, salted or smoked.
It was common for the “cook” who ran the wagon to be second in authority only to the “trailboss.” The cook would often act as doctor, barber, dentist, and banker.
You wouldn’t want to annoy the person cooking your food or treating your medical needs would you?
The cook enforced the rules of the wagon.
Cowboys were required to ride downwind so dust would not blow into the food, and no horses could be tied to the chuck wagon wheels. The cook worked the hardest with the least amount of sleep. He had to get up before the rest of the cowboys to prepare the food and had to clean up pots, pans and dishes after meals.

A typical day’s food on the trail was meat based generally beef or cured salt pork bacon, hot bread or biscuits, dried fruit and coffee for breakfast.
Lunch and dinner meals included roast beef, boiled potatoes, beans, brown gravy, bread or biscuits and coffee.
Dessert consisted of dried fruit pies, stewed dried fruit and spiced cake made without butter or eggs. These items would be cooked in a Dutch oven or skillet over hot coals.

Foods like butter, milk, eggs and fresh vegetables would soon spoil [no ice or refrigeration on the trail] and were not part of a cowboys daily menu.

Some say that ‘real’ chili can not contain beans, rice or other fillers. I disagree with this assessment. A chuck wagon cook had to feed 20 or more hungry boys 2 or 3 times a day. He had very limited resources in the variety of foods available, the number of cooking utensils and was always on a very tight time schedule to prepare and serve meals.
I think that it would not be uncommon to add fillers such as beans and rice to any one pot meal. It would cut down on preparation time, number of pots required and allow the cook to feed more cowboys using less meat.

There are thousands of ‘chili’ recipes that can be found when you do a chili recipe search. Find one that is to your liking, adjust spices to fit your taste. You can call bean soup with a bit of chili spices added chili [meatless] if that’s what you like.

Here is another Texas Red Chili Recipe
In Texas, they often refer to Texas Chili as ‘a bowl of red’ which is an old slang term carried over from the trail drive days. Unlike most other Chili, real Texas Red Chili never contains beans or other fillers. It is generally made with beef, but it can be made with goat meat.

1 pound lean ground beef [it is unlikely trail cooks had meat grinders on the chuck wagon.] More likely it was cubed meat.
6 cups water
2 pounds boneless stew meat or ground meat(beef or goat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil [trail cooks used beef fat or pork lard. Vegetable oil had not been invented].
1 strong flavored yellow onion coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Black pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
Ground red pepper to taste (to start, about 1/2 teaspoon)
6 tablespoons Masa Harina (Mexican corn flour) or [trail cooks would have most likely used 4 tablespoons of regular yellow corn meal]

**Please note this recipe does not call for tomatoes, tomato sauce or that awful tasting ketchup. Tomato’s would go bad quickly on a trail drive.

Meantime, heat oil. When hot, brown meat, searing on all sides. When browned, add goat and or beef mixture in pot.

Place meat, beef or goat into a large pot with water. Stir vigorously to separate meat and incorporate it throughout water.

Stir in onion, garlic, salt, chili powder, cumin, vinegar, black and red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a minimum of two hours, 4 to 6 hours is better.
Add water if necessary.
Just before serving, stirring briskly to keep from forming lump slowly add Masa Harina. Continue to stir briskly to make a smooth, thick sauce.

Adjust salt and red pepper to your taste.

Do’s And Dont’s of a Texas Chili Cook Off

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Safe Minimum Cooking Temperature Is….

You can’t tell whether meat has reached the safe cooked temperature by looking at it.
Cooked, uncured red meats including pork can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.

Rest Time is Important
After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature will remain constant or continue to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

Instant read meat thermometers are inexpensive and are an essential kitchen tool to ensure food safety for you and your family. If you don’t have one consider food safety and invest in a quality thermometer.

United States Department of Agriculture recommended minimum safe cooking temperature chart.

Category Food Temperature (°F)  Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking. None
Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. None

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