Benefits of Isometric Exercises

There are quite a few benefits of using isometrics for exercising. This is true especially among people who are relatively inactive and are unable to get to a gym or individuals who are confined to an office space for long periods of time.

There is no equipment or weights needed to do isometrics because it is just performed by tensing targeted muscles or joint angles by pushing against an inanimate object such as a wall. Benefits from using isometric workouts include strengthening the targeted muscle along with helping to increase bone density and strength. One key factor to remember during this kind of exercise is to not keep the muscle tensed for too long at a time. It is recommended to hold the tension for approximately 30 seconds. It’s that short time period repeated several times that does the work. If this type of exercise is held for longer periods, it is could be detrimental to the muscle tissue.

Some uses for isometric exercising is in rehabilitation to help rebuild muscle tone after long periods of inactivity. When used for rehabilitation, isometrics are commonly used in conjunction with other types of exercises. Muscle tone and shape are also enhanced with isometrics, not to mention the burning off of excess fat in the body. If done correctly and effectively, it has at times improved digestion and has lowered cholesterol levels in some cases. Isometric exercises have also shown to be somewhat effective in helping ease the perception of pain in young adults, which is leading to the probability of also using this type to help the elderly manage on-going or chronic pain.

How To Treat Bacterial Vaginosis

Approximately 33% of women experience Bacterial vaginosis or vaginitis at some point of their life. The cause of BV is bacterial infection.A bacterial named gardnerella vaginalis causes this vaginosis. Are you wondering how to cure bacterial vaginosis? This is a simple condition and can be treated by antibiotics.Usually the bacterial is present in female genitalia and when it starts to reproduce rapidly, there is incidence of bacterial vaginosis including the condition of blue waffle disease in women. We shall discuss here how to treat or cure this condition, but it is also necessary to know what are the symptoms of BV. Vaginosis may be caused by bacteria, fungus or parasites. However, this type of bacterial infection is common in women who regularly indulge in sex .This bacteria does not infect men because of sexual intercourse. Hence men do not have to worry about getting this disease from women if the woman is carrying this bacteria. However due to common incidence of this condition, women should be aware about this condition and should resort to treatment to get relief from this diseases. Though there are many causes of the disease, sometimes it may be idiopathic. Bacterial vaginosis may be due to having sex without condom. This may also happen if the woman likes to use lots of perfumed soap. This may happen if the woman is using any intrauterine device or douching the vagina. At different phases of the menstrual cycle the pH of the vagina is different. This regulates the growth of the bacteria inside the vagina.

1. Once it has been observed that there is a grayish discharge from the vagina, the same has to be reported to doctor ( The discharge may have a fishy smell, the smell is worst after periods and after having sex)

2. The doctor would examine the genitalia and collect a sample with a cotton bud

3. This sample would be sent to the laboratory for the confirmatory test

4. Once the exact cause of the vaginosis is confirmed, if it is vaginosis , then antibiotics are to be administered, but with the prescription of the doctor.

5. However if the woman is pregnant or planning to to be, then she should inform this to the doctor before antibiotic therapy is planned.

6. Keeping hygiene of genitalia proper is expected and that helps.

This is a common condition, so one should not worry much about the condition, This can be easily treated.

Tips for Making the Perfect Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of the most delectable desserts. It’s creamy and delicious and can be paired with almost anything from fruit to nuts and chocolate which make it very versatile. Most people, however, feel a bit intimidated by attempting to bake their own cheesecake so here are a few tips to make your cheesecake turn out perfectly every time.

1. Always use a spring form pan to bake your cheesecake and make sure that pan has a good seal. If it doesn’t seal properly, throw it out and get a new one. Next, cut a piece of parchment or wax paper to cover the bottom if you want to transfer your finished cheesecake from the spring form pan bottom to another serving dish. Then wrap the spring form pan tightly in two layers of foil all the way to the top. Finally, make sure to generously butter the sides and bottom (parchment paper) of the pan before adding the crust and filling for your cheesecake.

2. Now on to the cheesecake itself, first create a starting base by adding one packet of cream cheese and about one-third of the sugar and blend them until smooth (add the corn starch as well if your recipe calls for it). After establishing this starter base, continue adding the cream cheese one package at a time. Wipe down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients saving the eggs for last. When you are ready to add the eggs, add them one at a time and make sure that each egg is completely incorporated into the mix before adding the next.

3. Once your cheesecake batter has been poured in your spring form pan, place that pan inside a larger pan (one that is taller than the spring form pan) and add hot water about half way up the side of the spring form pan. The water doesn’t have to be boiling hot, just use hot water from your tap. The foil around the spring form pan will keep the water from seeping into the pan. The water bath itself adds moisture to your oven and keeps the temperature around the pan from fluctuating so your cheesecake will bake evenly with no cracks.

4. Preheat your oven to the desired temperature and add your cheesecake in the pan of water to the oven after it has been heated at the desired temperature for at least thirty minutes. Resist the urge to open the oven door to peak at your cheesecake for at least the first thirty minutes to give your cheesecake time to setup. Opening the door could cause your cheesecake to fall.

5. When your cheesecake is done, it should be a nice golden brown on the top but still slightly wiggly in the middle. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place it on a rack to cool down for at least two hours. Simply walk away and forget about it. After that time, remove the foil and wrap the cheesecake (still in the spring form pan) in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until it is completely cool (approximately four hours but it’s best to leave it overnight).

6. Once it’s completely cool, remove the springform pan surrounding the cake. You may also run a knife under the cake to remove the springform pan bottom if you wish to transfer it to another serving plate. Then, decorate the cake with your favorite fruit, etc. or leave it plain to show off your perfectly smooth, flat, golden cheesecake. Enjoy!


Baby Shower Dessert Ideas

Over the years both bridal and baby showers have greatly changed from two hour, all female parties to “drop by” events that often include the bride’s groom or the expectant mother’s husband. Also during these years, people have become much more weight conscious. We need to take these things into consideration when hosting a baby shower for an expectant mother or couple.

The “drop by” shower came about as a means of allowing those who were invited but lead very busy lives a chance to briefly stop in during the shower without being embarrassed. However, many in the forty and up age group find this type of shower very offensive. One way to appease everyone is to have spectacular food presentation tables and make our guests feel welcome to stay as long as they like during the hours of the shower.

Fruit is always an excellent dessert item and affords those who are watching their calories and fat grams a chance to eat lighter. Creating a striking centerpiece for the dessert table is very easy to do by making a baby buggy from an enlongated shaped watermelon to hold melon balls and assorted fruit. It is best to create the buggy the day of the shower. However, you can create and refrigerate it overnight but do not add your fresh fruit until time for the shower.



1 Large watermelon

2 Large red grapefruit



Honeydew melon



10 inch strip of wide lace

Glue Gun

4 Ten inch wood skewers


2 T-pins

Masking tape

Sharp knives


* To make perfectly straight lines, use masking tape to create the size of large rectangle you need to cut in the middle of the top of the watermelon. The longer sides of the rectangle need to be lenghtwise of the watermelon. This will represent the place you place the baby in the buggy and will be where the fruit is placed. If the watermelon is approximately 17 inches long, make a 6 inch long rectangle beginning approximately 5 inches from the largest end of the melon.

* Cut the rectangle out of the melon with a sharp kitchen knife. Trim the excess watermelon that came along with the rind in the process away from the rind and place the watermelon in a clean container.

* Mask off a small rectangle in the middle of the piece you have cut away. This smaller rectangle needs to run lengthwise with the longer sides of the piece you are cutting it from. Begin about 2 inches from one end and stop approximately one inch from the other end. Set the finished piece aside.

* Scoop out the remaining watermelon with a melon baller into a large, clean bowl or container with lid.

* The skewers will be your tire axles. Run one skewer through the watermelon about 2 inches from the bottom just barely ahead of the front end of the rectangle you cut out. This needs to be on the larger end of the melon. Repeat on the other side of the watermelon with a second skewer. Run the third skewer through the watermelon about 2 inches from the bottom and just barely behind the other end of the rectangle. Repeat on the other side with the fourth skewer.

* Turn the rectangle you cut from the melon so that the green portion of the rind is facing the front end of the melon. The end of the rectangle with the 2 inches of rind above the smaller rectangle in the center needs to be in the upward position. Attach the handle to the buggy by running the 2 T-pins through the lower part of the rind of the handle into the rind of the buggy where the rectangle was cut out. The handle attaches at the back end of the buggy’s rectangle.

* Wipe any juice off the rind of the buggy and handle with a clean, damp cloth. Dry with a paper towel.

* Hold the piece of lace over the front end of the buggy’s rectangle and cut to the same width as the rectangle. Carefully hot glue the lace in place so the lower edge of the lace protrudes a little over the cut of the rectangle.

* Cut the 2 grapefruits in half and attach to the skewers as buggy wheels with the cut portions outward by running the skewers through the center of the grapefruit halves.

* Wash and prepare the other fruits, including making melon balls from the honeydew and canteloupe. Gently mix the fruits together and place inside the buggy.

Partially chocolate covered strawberries are a very pretty and appetizing dessert. They are quite easy to create. Wash and drain the straberries but do not cap them. Use only perfect berries. While they are draining, melt the chocolate. Dip between 2/3 -3/4 of the cold berry into the chocolate and allow the excess chocolate to drip before placing the berry on waxed paper.

Other baby shower desserts can be made by picking up baby themed chocolate candy molds and lolipop molds at a party shop. Bears and hearts are cute for a baby shower. Pour melted chocolate into the molds and allow to cool. For the lolipops, fill the mold partially with chocolate. Insert the lolipop and finish filling the mold. Baby themed cookie cutters are also available at party shops and make cute sugar cookies. Homemade butter mints in pink or blue make a great dessert table presentation and do not forget the cake. You can give the cake equal billing to the fruit filled baby buggy by centering both at an angle in the middle of the table.

If the husband will be present at the baby shower, tone down the cake decorations since you will already be using the baby buggy. The cake could be baked in the husband’s favorite flavor.

Create beautiful tables with desirable food and be sure to have an empty table or two for gifts. Warmly greet the guests and everyone should have a great time.


Creamy Chicken

Creamy Chicken.

This recipe has been a favourite in our family for years and has changed very little since we first made it.


8 Chicken Breast Fillets (skinless)

5 Sm Garlic Cloves

1 head of Cauliflower

3 heads of Broccoli

2 cups Cream

2 tbs Parmesan Cheese (grated or powdered – powdered Parmesan is easier to use)

50g Butter

3 tbs water


Slice chicken breast fillets into strips – making sure to keep the size of each the same for easier cooking.

Peel and chop garlic cloves (if you have trouble peeling the cloves of garlic, you can crush them in their skins which makes them much easier to peel.

In a large electric fry pan, melt butter and add chopped garlic. Saute until garlic is almost cooked and then add chicken strips. Whilst chicken is good, sprinkle salt and pepper to season.

When chicken is almost cooked, remove from pan and put to one side.

Drain excess oil from pan and add water on low heat.

Chop and break up cauliflower and broccoli into bite sized pieces and add to the pan. Turn heat down to low and cover. The vegetables will take approximately 15 minutes to soften. Once the vegetables are ready, mix chicken and garlic mix in and stir.

On medium heat, add cream and stir through the mix with a wooden spoon. Cream will begin to boil fairly quickly so it must be stirred regularly. Turn heat down and allow cream to simmer, reduce and thicken. Once cream has thickened, stir through Parmesan cheese and allow to sit with heat turned off. Cover pan and leave to sit for 10 minutes.

This creamy chicken can be served just as it is (which is less than 20g of carbohydrates) or over a bed of rice (negates carbohydrate count).

1. Creamy Chicken Recipe –
2. Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Skillet – The Comfort of Cooking

The most Tasty Fast Food Items

The most tasty fast food items which thrill the senses depend upon the individual, although there are firm favorites which stand head and shoulder above the rest. Fast food caters for an instant craving to be fulfilled and although many fail to give much sustenance long term, they still tickle the taste buds and act as a temptation to those who have a moment’s craving. Worldwide, the fast food industry differs considerably and that which may sate the temptation of some in one country, certainly other countries will have their own preferences. For the sake of this article, the fast food covered comes from all around the world, stepping into other people’s comfort levels to see what the most tasty items are geographically.

Starting with the United Kingdom, the most tasty fast food is fresh fish and chips. A traditional food with fish which is cooked in a batter, the food used to be served up on a piece of protective paper, and wrapped neatly and warmly in newspaper. It’s a food which is considered the most popular delicious treat in most parts of the United Kingdom. Savor the crispy coating on the fresh fish. Taste the white fish melt in your mouth, and top it off with great chips (otherwise known as French fries). The taste is accentuated by salt and vinegar without which it really doesn’t taste as good.

Regional delicacies in the fast food market do exist. For example, in the Devon region of the United Kingdom, pasties are a traditional treat to tempt the taste-buds. The origin of this meat and vegetable dish wrapped in pastry is that pasties were made for workers who went down the tin mines. Wives ever conscious that their husbands had no comforts within the mines made one half of the pasty with meat and vegetables, and the dessert half of the pasty with apples, all within one pie. Pasties are delicious and although many companies have tried to imitate the pasty in a mass produced way, Ivor Dewdney pasties are the best in the South West of England and even thinking of them has this writer in a whirl of nostalgia and licking of lips.

Fast food across the channel in France takes the form of Crepes. These are made both from wheat flour and from white flour, one being for desserts and one for savory dishes. A strong favorite fast food, this is served freshly cooked from a huge round crepe hotplate and is eaten in restaurants and fast food outlets all over the country. The savory crepes are served up with lashings of butter, and are filled with cheeses of the region and ham. The dessert style crepes are the ones which tickle the taste-buds and tempt all ages to partake in something with a real feel good factor, served up with bananas, or chocolate sauce and chantilly cream.

Down through Spain, nothing tempts the hungry soul like an Ensaimada, which is a sweet meat fast food available in all bakeries first thing in the mornings, freshly baked to be served for breakfast. These deliciously light cakes are so famed that they have been packaged for people to take home as souvenirs, although nothing beats the taste and smell of the freshly baked treat. For more standard fast food in the deliciously tempting stakes, one only has to look as far as a tappas bar. Tappas are small snacks served on the bar of many taverns and cafes. These can be fish such as whitebait, fresh kidneys in sauce, calamares, and delicious offerings special to the particular region. Eaten casually with a drink, the Spanish consume masses of tappas and love these as their own staple fast food dish.

Russia has caught on to western ways, and to replace the caviar people associate with Russia, the McDonalds outlets have taken off big time, favorites among Russians being the hamburger. Peppered up with mustard and served in a bun, these are popular not only with the young, but with the old alike. Replacing more traditional fast food, McDonalds in Moscow is gaining popularity in the fast food market, and particularly the McFlurry dessert. Even in temperatures which reach sub zero, the Russians have a soft spot for ice cream, and the McFlurry is selling like hot cakes.

In China, it’s quite strange. While there are many street vendors selling local dishes as fast food, strangely enough the Chinese are now turning to KFC chicken nuggets as one of their favorite fast foods. Popular all over the world, this is particularly interesting in a country whose cuisine is so different from other countries. Chicken nuggets produced by KFC are the strong favorites, and deliciously presented, the Chinese are finding they appeal to their tastes.

In the US, the firm favorites are items such as burgers, fries and hot dogs, though here, what makes the item tasty isn’t the actual meat itself. It’s the trimmings. Trimmings of sauces, extra onions, and chutneys are making these much more interesting in taste. The variety available is enormous in fast food outlets all over the country, and once a favorite outlet is found, this usually dictates personal favorites.

On a sweeter note, the best of the best in fast food has to be Dunkin’ Donuts. These deliciously tasty and varied treats really do tempt, and boxes of donuts with different toppings makes them a treat to share. Produced in the store, fresh donuts really do take a lot of beating. They are fattening. They are indulgent, and at the end of the day, how we measure the best is by looking at what is available and singling out those first items which come to mind. Dunkin’ Donuts tend to come up trumps as a strong favorite fast food. Eaten as a sugar boost or simply with coffee, they fill that empty spot, which is the idea of fast food, but they do more than that. They leave the eater with a wonderful after-taste of sugar and topping that has the feel good factor in oodles.

Fast food does what it purports to. It’s the lazy man’s way of sating an appetite which wants instant gratification. The variety worldwide is enormously varied, though the one thing all have in common is the convenience and taste. People love them, and with tastes like those described above, who can blame them? From chicken to beef, crepes to McFlurry desserts, fast foods worthy of mention are those which bring the buyers back to get more. All of those varied tastes mentioned above do just that, and that’s what taste buds recognize as the best of the bunch.


Creative Cake Decorating Ideas

If you like to show your artistic talents and have a lot of imagination, then cake decorating may be for you. Decorating and adorning cakes can make even the most basic cake appear spectacular.

For those of us who may not like baking, a store bought cake can also be decorated. Buy a simple cake and use the various ideas for decorating below to make it look like a work of art.

Depending on the occasion you are making a cake, whether it be for a children’s party, a wedding, an anninversary or even for a school fete, the following tips will create an amazing decorative cake to be admired.


Colored organza and silk ribbons, silk or real flowers, candles, ornaments, gold or silver cachous strings.


Milk, white or dark chocolate-blocks, chips, buttons. Icing, colored food dye, colored sprinkles, fruit-fresh or glazed, ganache, fondant, colored candy balls, whole or chopped nuts, desiccated coconut, raisins and spreads such as jam or marmalade.


Shaped cake tins-hearts, rolls, squares and rectangles in various sizes. Piping bags, spatula, wooden spoons, shape cutters in various shapes and sizes, paint brush, shape templates and florist wire.

Most of the above items can be purchased at your local supermarket. When purchasing specialized cake tins or cutters, try your local kitchen store or craft store.


The cake underneath all the decoration can be elaborate or as plain as you like. You can use a basic sponge cake recipe or a chocolate or white chocolate mud cake. Wedding cakes would call for a fruit cake and children’s cakes a plain sponge would do perfectly.

~Basic Sponge Recipe(for 25 cm round cake)~

375g butter
3 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups caster sugar
6 eggs
4 cup self raising flour
1 cup milk

(for 22cm round tin)-bake 1 hours
250g butter
2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups self raising flour
4 eggs
1 cup milk

1)Preheat oven to 180 degree celcius or 350 degree Farenheit
2)Grease and line cake tray with baking paper.
3)Beat the butter, sugar and essence in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing in between each addition.
4)Stir in sifted flour and the milk.
5)Transfer mixture to baking dish.
6)Bake for 1 hours or until skewer inserted in middle comes out clean.


You could cook either size or both sizes if you like. Once they’re both cooked and cooled they are now ready for adding some artistic flair to them.

The easiest way to add some character to a cake is with simple things like icing, cream and jam.

1)Cut the top crust off the cake to make it flat and not ccrunchy. If you have made two cakes, remove the crust off both ends on one, and one side on the other.
2)Cut your cake in half.
3)Spread a thick layer of strawberry or raspberry jam over the layer.
4)Whip up cream according to decorations below with whip cream.
5)Scoop cream onto top of raspberry jam and use a flat spatula to even it out.
6)Put the top of the cake onto the jam and cream.
7)Use icing sugar and color dye of your choice.
8)Evenly place dollops of whipped cream around the edge of cake using a piping bag.
9)Use fresh cut strawberries to be placed in the middle of the cream.

The decorating is only limited to your imagination. Use the below tips when using icing and cream to add some flair to your cake.


Fluffy Icing
1 cup caster sugar
cup water
2 egg whites

1)Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved, do not boil.
2)Turn the heat up and boil until sugar turns into a ball when dropped in a glass of water-test by placing a drop into cold water. Remove from heat and wait for bubbles to stop.
3)Beat egg whites with electric beater until soft peaks form.
4)While beating begin slowly adding the sugar mixture to egg until it’s thick and has cooled down.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1 cup cream
400g good quality (70% cocoa) dark chocolate

1)Boil the cream in a saucepan.
2)Pour over the chocolate until the chocolate melts.
3)Cover and place in the refrigerator and stir occasionally-approximately 30 minutes until spreadable.

Whipped cream makes a wonderful easy decoration, add sugar to sweeten and alcohol to add a bite to your cream.


Chocolate is one of the best things you can use to decorate a cake. By using white chocolate and colored food dye, you can make amazing effects that look fantastic.

Pink and White Swirls

3 cups white chocolate melts
Pink colored food dye
Pastry comb

1)Melt the chocolate over simmering water
2)Separate the chocolate into two bowls, adding pink dye to one to create pink colored chocolate
3)Place pink colored chocolate on cold surface and spread out using a spatula, place the plain white chocolate over the top and spread.
4)Using a comb, drag the comb from top to bottom of mixture to make stripes.
5)Using a spatula or knife, drag from left to right to make curls.

These curls can be attached to icing around the sides and top of cake. Add artificial or real rose petals and ribbons on top to make the effect more spectacular. Sprinkle with white icing sugar (using a sifter) for more decorating.

This can be done with plain colored and flavored chocolate. Using icing sugar or drinking chocolate, sprinkle over top of curls for added effect.

This is only a very simple guide to decorating cakes. With imagination and practice, you’ll soon be creating some of the most amazing cakes for those special occasions in your life. You’re only limited by your imagination, have some patience and you’ll soon be seeing some results.


Any books by the Australian Womens Weekly regarding decorating, cooking cakes, and their Celebration Cakes book.

1. 28 Insanely Creative Ways To Decorate A Cake That Are Easy AF
2. Creative cake decorating – recipes, tools, tips & techniques …

Why Cooking Oil is Found in Desserts

Oil is often found in many desserts. When I first started out my cooking experience, I was pretty much dumbfounded as to why oil was used in so many things. To me, growing up in the South, oil was something we used for frying – not something we put in cupcakes. Furthermore, it was even more baffling that the things that oil was used in actually tasted good.

Oil is not something to recoil from, however. In fact, oil is pretty much the essential ingredient of all desserts. Oil can be found in many recipes – from cakes to cupcakes, to cookies and biscuits, oil is pretty much the universal ingredient of all desserts. But why? Oil doesn’t sound good at all – in fact, it sounds oily and gross. So why is oil used in nearly every dessert?

The answer as to why is plain and simple – it makes desserts have that moist feel that everyone craves. If a cake is made with just the simple ingredients – flour, eggs, milk, sugar – the cake might taste flat or dry, and even though you used a lot of flavour in it, it still might taste bland.

However, take that same cake mix and add a bit of cooking oil into it. The cake takes on new life. When you bake it, the taste of oil cooks out, leaving only a moist, fluffy centre that allows the eater to enjoy a cake that is not dry, but flavourful and easy to eat. The oil tends to bring out a flavour in the dessert that allows the sort of melt in your mouth feeling to overcome you. It allows the dessert to sort of crumble and sit on your tongue nicely.

Oil is not the only thing you can use, however. If you are allergic to vegetable oil, or want a healthier alternative, butter is a good substitute, as it can produce a similar effect. However, the butter might leave an unwanted flavour, while oil normally cooks out. Another strange, but oddly effective, substitute is apple sauce. This, again, can leave a flavour, but it produces that moist effect that oil does.

However, oil is the best thing that you can use if you want a dessert that is moist and that will make your guests say wow!’. So if you want to impress your in-laws, friends, or even just treat yourself, adding a little bit of oil into a dessert can go a long way.

Friendly note: oil in this context is not like what you put in your car. It’s normally cooking oil or vegetable oil, and can be found in any sort of store that sells groceries. It is normally cheap and easy to store, and does not spoil easily.


Creamed Soup Method Foolproof Technique

Here’s a simple cooking method to make almost any kind of creamed soup (it is best suited for squash, broccoli, asparagus and similar vegetables.)

1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 carrot (flavour base)
3 cups of liquid (stock or water)
vegetable (broccoli, asparagus, squash, carrot, potato and leek, etc.)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups of milk or flour

1. Make a flavour base
Always start by sauteing a diced onion, one diced stalk of celery, and for orange coloured vegetables like squash you can add a grated carrot. They can be sauted in a tablespoon of olive oil until the onions are transparent and the rest of the vegetables are tender. This is your flavour base.

2. Add 3 cups of liquid (chicken stock, vegetable stock, water) for an extra dash of flavour you can add a bouillon cube to the liquid.

3. Add your vegetables
For dense vegetables like squash used four cups of cubed vegetables.
For broccoli use eight cups of florets.
Cook the vegetables in the liquid until tender
Once done, puree the soup mixture with an immersion blender – a regular blender is fine as well.

4. Cream base
In a separate pot make a roux using 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour – continue cooking for a minute or two. This will ensure the flour does not have a ‘raw’ taste. Add 2 cups of milk and bring to an almost boil, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened. You could also use cream for a richer soup. However, milk works well.

Add the cream base to the pureed vegetables and heat up. Season to taste and you are done! I haven’t tried it myself yet but I think it is possible to add plain flavoured soy milk instead of dairy milk, and if you wanted to leave it out all together you could add extra vegetables or a few potatoes to thicken the soup so that it can be entirely vegan. For another variation you can roast the vegetables before adding them to the stock for a richer flavour.


1. Cream Soup Base Recipe –
2. Creamy Green Pea Soup – Cook's Illustrated

Perfect Shortbread Cookies

The best way to create perfect shortbread cookies every time is to use the exact listed ingredients in the exact amounts specified by the recipe. Surprisingly, only three ingredients are absolutely necessary to produce this classic treat in its basic form.

Shortbread Cookies (approximately 24 cookies)

3/4-cup (1-1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened

1/4-cup granulated white sugar

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour


1.  Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Cream softened butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium setting.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  

3.  Add sugar and continue mixing at medium speed.  Again, stop several times to scrape the sides.  

Continue until the graininess of the sugar is no longer noticeable and the mixture is light and creamy.

4.  Lay out a sheet of wax paper.  Measure the flour, after sifting, by spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling it with the flat side of a knife.  

Be careful not to pack the flour down and don’t tap the cup to level the flour.  Too much flour produces a dry, crumbly cookie.

5.  Pick up the wax paper and pour about one-third of the flour into the creamed butter-sugar mixture.  Mix thoroughly at the lowest speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add another one-third of the flour and mix again, still at low speed.  Scrape.

6.  When adding the final one-third of the flour, hold back about one tablespoon.  After the addition of this final portion, the mixture should consist of very fine crumbles.  You may or may not need to add the final tablespoon.

To test, use your bare hand to pick up a large handful and gently squeeze it.  Much of it should stay together.  If the dough is too sticky, add the last tablespoon of flour, but no more.

7.  Lay out another piece of wax paper and place one large handful of cookie dough in the middle.  

Gently press down to flatten the dough to 1/2-inch thickness.  It may crumble slightly around the edges.  Just tap them gently back into place.  Lightly roll a rolling pin over the top for a perfectly flat, smooth look.

8.  Go around the edges of the dough with a table knife, cutting side up, and press the edges in to straighten them.

9.  Cut the dough into pieces approximately 1-inch wide by 3-1/2 to 4 inches long.  

Carefully lift with a spatula and place on ungreased cookie sheets which may or may not be lined with parchment paper.

10. Place in a preheated oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.  The shortbread cookies need to be slightly firm, or “set”, not browned. 

Add cooking time if needed, one or two minutes at a time.  Depending on the oven, they may take as long as 20 minutes.

11. Remove from the oven and if using parchment paper, immediately slide the parchment paper onto a table or counter.  If not using parchment, use a turner to scoop up the cookies and place them on a wire rack. 

While these deceptively simple cookies, unadorned, are a melt-in-your-mouth treat, their appearance and appeal can be embellished for special occasions with sweet or semi-sweet chocolate.  One or both ends of each thoroughly cooled cookie can be dipped in melted chocolate and for further gilding, each chocolate-covered end Immediately dipped into finely chopped pistachio nuts. 

Carefully adherence to these guidelines for preparing and cooking these buttery, rectangular sweets is truly the best way to perfect shortbread cookies.