Category: Food and Drink

The easiest sweet treats this winter

Arm yourself with a can of sweetened condensed milk and some quick dessert recipes for a sweet winter this year.

The winter has truly set in all over the country, and while you love the season, cooking extensive meals takes its toll on you.

Washing up a spate of ingredients in freezing water, forcing your numb hands to knead, chop, roll, split and maneuver your food into delicious recipes all results in you spending a lot of time whipping up meals instead of relaxing on your couch with a blanket. It’s true that a warm kitchen is a source of comfort in the winter months, but it is even more comforting to cook a sweet recipe quickly and devour it in the embrace of your sofa or bed!

So, which are the quick and easy winter sweets you can make? We recommend going with the tried and tested gulab jamun, or gajar ka halwa, or anjeer ka halwa. But wait – if you are going to use the traditional recipes to make these, then you will spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Take a less complicated way out – make gulab jamuns and other sweet treats in just a few steps using Milkmaid condensed milk.

Condensed milk in desserts – why didn’t you think of this sooner?

When you use condensed milk in Indian or Western desserts, you end up saving not just time and effort, but also two ingredients – milk and sugar.

Condensed milk imparts a rich creaminess to the dessert, whether it is cake or halwa, gulab jamun or smoothies. The texture of the dish becomes decadent and velvety, thus satiating the eater much more. Also, condensed milk mixes quickly without leaving any lumps in other dry ingredients like sugar – you often see this happening when you use a material like khoya and paneer. Thus, your prep time is reduced, and the end result is even more delicious than before.

Milkmaid has so many easy winter dessert recipes that you will be left wondering which one to start with first. They minimize cooking time and have just a few steps to follow, so even amateur cooks can whip up delicious sweet treats in just a few minutes. For instance, the usual method of preparing gulab jamuns will have you sweating over the cooktop for at least two hours. But with the condensed milk recipe, you are done and dusted in just about 30 minutes from start to finish. And the recipe only calls for about 3 steps in all!

Desserts for the winter – essential ingredients

* Ghee: We recommend upping your intake of clarified butter or ghee during the winter months. It aids absorption of nutrients, better joint health, improved digestion, and increased warmth.

* Fibrous fruit and vegetables: Whenever possible, include fruit and vegetables like carrots, beetroot, sweet potato, oranges, guava and apples to get the maximum benefit of dietary fiber.

* Full fat milk: To add good fats to your diet and increase warmth.

The Undiscovered Anderson Valley Wineries

Surrounded by 2500-foot high mountains, Anderson Valley opens up its beauty to the coast towards its eastern end, allowing the summertime fog to touch its surroundings. Let’s explore and have a taste of what a visit to Anderson Valley wineries is like!

Navarro Vineyards

Tucked in a small valley beneath the rolling hills is the Navarro Vineyards, famous for the Alsatian varieties, especially its big-nosed gewürztraminer. You can only take advantage of these wines here and at some indie restaurants and shops. If you are a non-drinker, worry not because this one of the best Anderson Valley wineries offer you a wide selection of deliciously prepared unfermented grape juices.

Lazy Creek Vineyards

The smallest among all the wineries in the area, the Lazy Creek Vineyards serves gorgeous wines that are exceptionally paired with delectable dishes. Most wines here are unfiltered and organic, lending its tasters the specific fullness to satisfy their mouth’s desire. Among all Anderson Valley wineries, this is the only winery that grows pinot blanc, and its popular gewürztraminer vines belong to the oldest species in the U.S. Its funky little wine tasting room is also the winery’s barrel room so expect it to be chilly inside.

Esterlina Vineyards

Esterlina Vineyards lies high above the Anderson Valley. It has spectacular views, making it a perfect spot for a family picnic. Because this winery gets its fruits from five different vineyards, it makes a wide variety of delicious wines. Aside from the local specialties, chardonnay, pinot noir, and Riesling, Esterlina also offers big, chewy cabernets and zinfandels. The hilltop location of this winery makes it a perfect place to visit if you want a combination of wine tasting activities and scenic drive.

Husch Vineyards

Creeping roses can be seen at the four corners of this 100-year old redwood wine tasting room. Among all the Anderson Valley wineries, Husch Vineyards has the oldest and healthiest pinot noir vines, almost 40 years old. This winery makes both Burgundy and California- style pinots. It also offers two styles chardonnay. All its wines are grown and bottled at the estate and most of them are of single varieties.

Handley Cellars

Do not forget to check out the cool collection of Eastern and African artifacts at this winery. The Handley Cellars makes really good estate-grown chardonnay and gewürztraminer. You can also find worthwhile pinot gris, pinot noir, and pinot rose. The wines here are definitely worth tasting; however, it is really the artwork here that captures any visitors’ imagination.

Buy Your Wine Direct From the Winery

How wine is sold is subtly changing. Until recent history wine was sold through an arcane system known as Three Tier Distribution that came about when prohibition ended. The winery or brewer or distiller has no choice in how they get their product to market. Gradually however, this is changing as states approve wine being shipped directly from the winery to the consumer.

The 2016 Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) wines sales report has some interesting information. It confirms that wineries are focusing more of their strategies on marketing their wines directly to the consumer. In fact, this method of distribution isn’t just for the smaller wineries; the large wineries are now focusing more attention on this outlet. Greater than 5 million equivalent cases of wine were shipped direct to the consumer and it wasn’t limited to less expensive wines either. Sonoma wineries had the highest grow rate in 2016 of nearly 30%.

Wines and Vines has a 2016 database of 9,069 U.S. wineries that they have divided into 5 categories based upon number of cases produced annually. The largest combined categories are called Limited and Very Small producers, each producing up to 4,999 cases per year. These two categories represent 79% of all wineries shipping direct to consumers, roughly 3,600 wineries in each category. If Small Wineries (totaling 1,570) are added to the prior two categories they represent 96.4% of wineries in the U.S. The take-away from this information is that wineries each producing 49,999 cases of wine and less annually, while selling DtC, have a significant market presence.

The five million cases of wine shipped DtC in 2016 represented a 17% increase over 2015. This was made up of single or multiple bottle shipments. “The value of 2016 shipments rose 18.5 percent over 2015, topping $2 billion for the first time and culminating at $2.33 billion”, as reported by Sovos ShipCompliant/Wines and Vines. The average price of a bottle of wine shipped to the consumer in this format was $38.00; far from the $15.00 per bottle of wine making up the greatest number of bottles shipped. Jon Moramarco, Managing Partner of BW 166 LLC reports that the average bottle of wine sold “off- premise” was $9.29.

This points out that consumers are not shy about buying expensive wine on-line/phone and receiving the wine via FedEx, UPS or contract shipper. With the number of wineries growing at approximately 5% annually, most are in the limited and small producer category, therefore it would appear they are the group most receptive to reaching out directly to customers. With DtC shipment representing 8.7% of domestic wine sales there is plenty of room for growth.

The very large wineries, in 2016, represented 13% of all DtC shipments which was a 183% increase over 2015. However, it appears they did this by reducing the price of their shipped wines. The average price for the wine shipped by the 64 largest wineries (producing >500,000 cases) fell to $16.00 per bottle. Obviously, there is some elasticity in the wine business. There are some exceptions however, some Napa and Sonoma wineries did raise prices and still realized an increase in shipment and therefore values.

The varietals that have seen the greatest increase in shipment volumes since 2011 are: Rosé (+259%), Other White and Other Red (+174% and 172% respectively) and Pinot Gris (+101%). Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blend wines are still the stellar performers in annual increases in DtC sales. The Red Blends are surprising because they are relatively new for people to try.

In all the good news for direct shipments to almost all states (expect Utah, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi) all regions/states producing wine saw increases. Sonoma County’s 2016 surge is worth noting – “to the tune of $100 million over 2015 – was so impressive that, despite the region representing only 18 percent of the total dollar value of DtC shipments, Sonoma County accounted for 27% of the $363.6 million added to the DtC shipping channel during the year,” as reported by Wines and Vines.

Direct to Consumer, as a channel of distribution is becoming more important to a winery’s success. Yes, technology is an important tool to selling direct, but the ramifications on reducing costs cannot be over stated. This channel allows wineries to respond in real-time to changes in markets, need to promote products; even promoting products geographically. Shipping costs can be less than the discounts required to distributors.

The Top Wineries in the British Columbia Area

Are you living in the British Columbia area and fancy doing something different on your weekend? Perhaps you are a wine connoisseur who has decided on visiting the vineyards for your holidays and now you just need to find the top wineries? Either way, we have assembled some advice to aid you on your way to sipping the good stuff.

Containing over 200 wineries in the area, there is a great deal of variation in British Columbia when it comes to wine, and with some of them being the top wineries in Canada you would be crazy not to check it out.

There are over 60 different varieties of grape grown in the BC area, with the dramatic variety of the soils combining with differing weather conditions to produce unique flavours that help create some of the top wineries in North America.

With a lot of the top wineries, you are able to have a guided tour that will explain the procedure behind the process of making their wine. Alternatively, if you prefer to browse at your own speed, then many wineries will allow self-guided tours, where you can walk around the top wineries at your own pace. The tours are a great way to sample the wine, while also increasing your knowledge.

One of the best regions for top wineries is in the Okanagan area. With more than 80 percent of the total vineyard acreage of BC and over 8000 acres planted in the region, the diversity and variations make it a renowned area for wine.

The top wineries don’t stop at the Okanagan, with other notable areas being Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Fraser Valley, the Similkameen Valley, as well as new, emerging regions such as Lillooet and The Kootenay.

With the amount of variety available at the top wineries, you can find almost every type of wine, although there are some award winning grape types that simply must be tasted. When it comes to reds, be sure to sample the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Whereas with whites, be sure not to miss the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

One of the best ways to check out the top wineries in British Columbia is to attend one of the famous wine festivals. Okanagan and Vancouver both have a number of wine festivals, which will usually include set meal courses and complimentary tasting with the price of the ticket.

There are many websites that can help you locate the top wineries in the British Columbia region, where you can search by name or by region. Take the time to read the reviews of each, so that you can find a list of the wineries that suit your preference.

If you are already a wine buff or someone with a fleeting curiosity, then hopefully this will have given you a taste of what is out there in the wine regions of British Columbia.

A Guide to Oakville Wineries

When You visit Oakville, you will see that there are a number of wineries worth visiting. Depending on the kinds of wines that interest you, you may discover that some wineries are more suited to you than others.

Dave and Emily Miner in 1998,established the miner vineyards. The vineyard is located in the eastern portion of Napa Valley, located just off Silverado Trail. The vineyard here is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.

The PlumpJack Winery was created in the 1990s as part of an investment group. The area that comprises this vineyard was founded originally in 1881; however. The majority of the vineyards here are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon.

For many years, Silver Oak Winery has been known for its great Cabernet Sauvignon. In recent years, the winery has also acquire an additional 100 acres located north of Stags Leap.

The winery was established in 1996 by Leslie Rudd. The Rudd Winery-Although this winery is new, especially in comparison the large number of wineries that have been established for many years in the region, the Cabernet Sauvignon blends that are produced from Rudd Winery have already received awards.

Groth Vineyards-planted by Dennis and Judy Groth in 1982, this winery has developed exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon in the more than two decades it has been established. In addition to their fine Cabernet Sauvignon, Groth Vineyards also produces Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Opus One-The “ultra-premium” category was invented by Opus One. The winery was established in 1979 by the well known Modavi and Rothschild families. Since that time Opus One has become one of the most well known wineries in this region. They use a blend of both modern as well as traditional farming methods that has obviously produced excellent results.

Niagara Escarpment Wineries

Niagara on the Lake is a great tourist destination especially for the wine lovers. Every year thousands of tourists travel to this heavenly place from all parts of the world to taste the best ice wine and visit some of the most renowned Niagara Escarpment Wineries. The tourists who visit Niagara on the Lake not only get to taste the award winning ice wine but also get to see some picturesque scenery that will leave them spellbound.

Niagara on the Lake is often referred to as the “Land of wineries” and if you had been lucky enough to visit the land, you won’t ask why? The minute one sets foot in Niagara, the mesmerizing smell of the liquid gold of Niagara Escarpment Wineries and delicacies of Niagara on the Lake Restaurants begins to fire their imagination. The pristine ambiance, friendly people, calm atmosphere, serene life style, and sumptuous Niagara on the Lake Wineries provide an impetus to the dormant desire of booking for a Niagara Falls Ontario Wine Tours.

Niagara on the Lake is truly a tourist’s haven and offers a paradisaical environment to pamper one’s senses. The awesome Niagara Falls Ontario Restaurants are really a visual and appetite treat for the beholder. The place is an amalgamation of Niagara Restaurants, beautiful Niagara Falls Wineries, marvelous natural sights, delectable treats, and what not’s. The climatic conditions offered by the Niagara on the Lake are an asset to the tourism and Niagara Escarpment Wineries. If you have already basked in the majestic glory of the place, then you would know the splendor of Niagara on the Lake.

The whole magic of Niagara Falls Ontario Wineries Tours can turn sour if you don’t visit a Niagara on the Lake Winery. You will find umpteen Niagara Escarpment Wineries offering the best ice wine in the world. You will never get to know what you have been missing on until and unless you don’t set your foot in a Niagara Falls Winery. You will have your plate full with fun and merriments while your stay in Niagara on the Lake. The festive mood in the place during the ice-wine festival will drown you in the pool of seamless joy and fun.

How to Find the Best Oregon Wineries

How do you find the best Oregon wineries? This is a hard question to give a definitive answer to since at best it is a subjective question that people will have different answers for. You can decide which wineries in the state are a must for you to visit by deciding what kinds of wine you like and how much you are willing to spend, as well as how deep your appreciation for fine wine goes. Concerns over sustainable agriculture can also be a factor. Here is a brief guide to the various areas where wineries in Oregon are found:

Columbia River Gorge. Located some 60 miles east of Portland, this region includes the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area as well as part of the Columbia Valley AVA. Covering an area of 40 miles, the area is host to 13 Oregon and 18 Washington wineries as well as 26 Oregon and 24 Washington vineyards. The types of wines produced in the area include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.

Willamette Valley. Undoubtedly, this is where many of the best Oregon wineries can be found. The Willamette Valley is the biggest wine producing area in the state, with its AVA running 150 miles long and 60 miles wide. The Valley is divided into six smaller AVAs, each of which has its own unique climactic and geographic characteristics for growing grapes, including the recently approved Chehalem Mountain AVA and the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA. There are more than 200 wineries in the Willamette Valley, spread over 12,000 acres of vineyards. Although this area produces many types of wine including Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, the Willamette Valleyhas become most famous for its cool-climate Pinot Noir.

Eastern Oregon. The greater part of the area of the Columbia Valley AVA lies in Washington state with only a small section in Oregon that stretches from the Dalles to Milton-Freewater. The area is 208 miles long and 185 miles wide, and has some 29,000 vineyard acres with 50 wineries. The most popular wine varieties produced in East Oregon includes Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.

Southern Oregon. Found in the southeast end of the state, the Southern Oregon AVA stretches 125 miles from the south of Eugene to the border with California and 60 miles wide at its widest. It encompasses the Umpqua Valley and Rogue Valley AVAs. The area is home to 17 wineries and 120 vineyards spread over 3,000 acres. The prominent wines produced in Southern Oregon include White Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Tempranillo.

You can use the above guide to find which area produces the type of wines you are interested in tasting. Once you ve decided on a particular area, there are a variety of online resources you can use to narrow down your search further until you find the wineries you want. For example, each wine producing area has its own official site with a directory of the wineries found there. You can also use tourist sites that post user reviews of the various wineries to help you find the best Oregon wineries to visit.