Month: April 2013

How to Keep Your Groceries Fresh

It is no secret that I’m not a fan of the kitchen. I am even less so a fan of doing groceries. Worse, I have the memory of a gold fish when it comes to foods. So those once-in-a-blue-moon days when I shop for produce and meats? I often let them spoil… Fortunately, I am now armed with tips on making my groceries last longer!

First, let’s discuss what’s in season in April, i.e. what produce are on sale!
– Artichokes
– Asparagus
– Avocados
– Beets
– Broccoli
– Cabbages
– Carrots
– Grapefruits
– Mushrooms
– Onions
– Peas
– Strawberries

Now, how do we keep them fresh!?!

– Rinse berries with white or apple cider vinegar and water (1:10 ratio) to prolong their freshness.

– Store potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting.

– Add a dab of butter to cut cheese to prevent dryness. Then, wrap in wax paper and store in the warmest area of your fridge.

– Store asparagus, cilantro, parsley, chives, basil, and most herbs in a watered vase/jar like fresh cut flowers. Cover with plastic and secure with a rubber band.

– Wrap the crown of bananas in plastic wrap and they will last a week longer!

– Wrap broccoli, lettuce, celery, and other stalky greens in foil before placing in the fridge. They will remain crisp for two weeks or more.

– Store tomatoes outside the fridge. (I always forget this one!)

– Place mushrooms in a paper bag or cardboard box – do not use a plastic container.

– Store a few slices of bread you know you will eat soon. Place the rest in the freezer.

– Chop your onions and gingers. Place them in a recycled water bottle or Tupperware and store in the freezer. They defrost quickly when you need them for cooking.

– Milk and yogurt need to remain in a cold environment. Do not store them on the refrigerator door as the constant opening and closing fluctuates the temperature.

Good luck and may your prolonged produce encourage you to cook more! :)


3D Printing

Lisa Harouni walks us through the basics of 3D printing and how this technology would change the manufacturing world. Could it one day be part of our many gadgets in the home? If so, imagine the possibilities! We could design and produce our own clothes, jewelry, shoes, decor, etc. The efficiency is unbelievable; it could potentially wipe out labor, particularly child labor in developing countries.

Research Says: Facebook Improves Memory

Social media may improve cognitive abilities in senior citizens, as demonstrated in an ongoing research study at the University of Arizona. 68-91 year-old adults were asked to set up a Facebook account and update their status daily. Participants in the control group were asked to maintain a private blog with daily entries. The adults who spent two months on Facebook showed a 25% improvement in their working memory and concentration. Control participants showed no improvement.

Several interpretations support these findings. Perhaps people who are more socially engaged in old age tend to do better cognitively. It could also be that the relative complexity of Facebook compared to a blog – keeping track of everyone’s status updates, comments, photos, etc. – gave the participants more of a mental workout.

Given results from this study, we recommend that you accept the Friend requests from your parents. ;)

How to Study for the SAT/ACT

Anyone who has ever been a college-bound high school student has his or her own memory of the application process. Every college application requires an SAT/ACT score. While GPA is definitely important, it may be inflated; some high schools may be tougher than others. Therefore, the SAT/ACT score is a way for colleges to “verify” the intellectual qualification of the candidate and be able to screen through thousands of applications.

The SAT focuses on mathematical and English skills whereas the ACT is a more well-rounded exam that also includes a Science section. Taking these exams cost both time and money and while no one likes to take “extra” exams, we recommend that you consider taking both the SAT and ACT. You may possibly score better in one of them (which will increase your chance of college admissions). Do note that the SAT is more widely accepted (not every school accepts an ACT score). Thus, be sure to check what your programs would accept or prefer.

So… how exactly do you prepare for one of the biggest exams blocking your way to higher education?

Prepare for the Critical Reading
Read a book. Pick up any book among your favorite genres. Read everyday. Once you enjoy the process, try to select classical works. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter has a lot of vocabulary typically used in entrance exams. Jane Austen is another good author to pick up. If novels aren’t your thing, you can pick up “Best Essays…” books. Also read the news, particularly The New York Times and The Atlantic.

Prepare for Math
Khan Academy has an excellent lecture series: Click here and start practicing Math! The key is to practice, practice, practice. You need to be able to start recognizing patterns so you can arrive at the answer faster. Remember, it’s a timed test.

Prepare for Writing (optional for ACT)
In order to write timed essays well, the first step is to form an outline. Read the entire prompt thoroughly to develop your interpretation of the question. Write a skeleton of the essay so you don’t lose focus of what you are trying to accomplish. An essay should always be clear and concise with a guiding thesis and strong supporting paragraphs. Conclude your essay by rewording the thesis and briefly restating your supported claims. Click here for some example essay prompts! A guide with tips on effective writing is forthcoming. Meanwhile, we are happy to provide feedback on your writing prompts’ responses.

Prepare for Science (ACT only)
Again, we refer you to Khan Academy for fundamental knowledge in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Practice Full-Length Exams
Make sure you take at least three full-length exams before taking the real thing! It is ideal to study and take the practice exam the same time as your registered exam. This way, you are wiring your brain to be more alert and focused at a certain hour of the day. Be sure to mimic the testing environment – no noise, no distraction. Take a test before you begin your preparations to see where you are at “baseline” and identify areas that need the most improvement. Equally important is to understand the rationale behind every answer.

Here are sites with free practice SAT exams: 4Tests | College Board | Kaplan | Princeton Review | Number2

Here are sites with free practice ACT exams: 4Tests | Kaplan | Princeton Review | Number2 | ACT practice questions

Prepare Physically
The exam takes four hours. You bet it will be mentally draining! Make sure you give your body sufficient rest and nutrition. Do not study, review, or take a practice exam the night before. Just sleep. On the day of the exam, drink apple juice instead of water to give yourself an energy/glucose boost. Stay away from coffee unless that’s your everyday routine (don’t change life habits on the day of). Eat an orange before taking your exam. Oranges are a great source of folate, which boosts recall and information processing. Vitamin C in oranges also reduces your stress hormones so you won’t be as nervous. Breathe deeply. Take a moment to do relaxation exercises if you need it.

We Say
You will do well! Best of luck!