Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More “Turkey Day” Trivia: Thanksgiving dinner

Turkey meat:  white vs. dark - What causes the color difference between white and dark turkey meat? The type of muscle fiber determines the color of the meat. Dark turkey meat has slow contraction muscle fibers. Slow contraction muscle fibers, sometimes called slow twitch muscle fibers, are used for extended muscle contraction in endurance activities and are supplied with lots of blood vessels, mitochondria, and myoglobin pigments, which give the red color to the meat. White turkey meat, on the other hand, has fast twitch muscle fibers for short bursts of strength and speed. Fast twitch fibers have a poorer blood supply, and fewer mitochondria and myoglobin, and tire quickly.

Cranberries – Of all fresh fruits, cranberries contain the most phenols, a type of disease-fighting antioxidant. Phenols and polyphenols are strong antioxidants and many scientists believe antioxidants protect the heart.

Yams vs. sweet potatoes - A yam is not the same thing as a sweet potato. Although yams and sweet potatoes are both angiosperms (flowering plants), they are not related botanically. Yams, native to Africa and Asia, are a monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and are related to lilies and grasses. Sweet Potatoes are a dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves) and are in the morning glory family. Yams are starchier and dryer than sweet potatoes.

Pumpkin pie - Most pumpkin fillings are really custard-type fillings with eggs acting as "gelling agents". They're able to do this because proteins in the eggs unwind as they are beaten and hold the pumpkin and liquids in a gentle mesh. As it cooks, it coagulates or sets and forms a custard-like filling. If the filling is cooked too long, the protein network contracts and shrinks, causing the filling to crack across the top. To prevent the cracking, cook it a little less this year. Remove it from the oven while the center still jiggles slightly if you give it a gentle shake. It may look like it still needs a little more cooking, but remember because of latent heat, it will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven.

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