Inside vs. Outside Cruise Cabins: A Cabin Comparison

With so many types of cruise ship cabins in so many different categories, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you, especially if you’re new to cruising. What exactly is the difference between an inside cabin and an outside cabin, anyway? Read on as we compare the differences between interior versus oceanview staterooms, and determine which will serve as your home on the high seas.

Similarities Between Inside and Outside Cabins

When comparing inside versus outside cabins, you will find that both offer beds, bathrooms, desk/vanity combos and closets. You’ll also find standard electronics like a phone, a TV, a safe and a hair dryer.

Most staterooms are meant for double occupancy; there are generally two twin beds that can be combined to form a European king (bigger than a standard queen and smaller than a standard king). Cabins in both categories might also offer pulldown beds or pullout couches to sleep additional passengers.

Bathrooms most commonly have a shower-only setup (no bathtubs). Toilets and sinks with mirrors are standard, as are small shelves for storing toiletries. (Complimentary soap and shampoo are often found in dispensers mounted inside the shower or in hotel-sized bottles.)

In most rooms, closet and drawer space is ample. Shelves offer space to store folded clothes and shoes, and nicer garments can be hung in the closet with the provided hangers.

A desk/vanity area, usually offering a large mirror and additional drawer space, is ideal for checking email on your personal electronics, blow-drying hair and putting on makeup.

Inside Cruise Cabin

Differences Between Outside and Inside Rooms

Oceanview cabins offer just that — views of the ocean. That means these types of staterooms boast either portholes (small, round windows) or picture windows, which let in natural light. The windows don’t open, however, so don’t assume that an outside cabin will also come with ocean sounds or fresh air. Also be aware that some windows can be obstructed by lifeboats and other ship fixtures.

Inside cabins, meanwhile, offer no windows or natural light at all. For that reason, another major difference comes in the form of price: Interior cabins are almost always less expensive. For the most part, there isn’t much of a difference in square footage between the two, but occasionally you might find oceanview cabins on some ships to be slightly larger than their inside counterparts, allowing for additional furniture like couches or chairs.

Outside Cabin

Outside vs. Inside Cruise Cabins

Ultimately, the decision between inside versus outside cruise cabins comes down to whether you want a window. If you absolutely must have natural light or a way to see your external surroundings from your room, an outside cabin is for you. Otherwise, save yourself some cash, and book an inside cabin — especially if you don’t plan on spending much time in your cabin during the day.

 

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These Are the Steps to Building a New Habit

They say that bad habits are hard to break, but don’t say much about what it takes to build good ones that last a lifetime. If you’re looking to get into one (or even several) positive habit(s) but aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few steps that you may find helpful in getting you started.

Implementing a Routine

Whatever habit you’ve decided to nurture, it will require that you sit down, review your daily schedule, and formulate a feasible routine for your new habit. By doing this, you’re less likely to fall prey to excuses like being unable to find the time to commit to the habit, because you’ll have already found a slot for it in your schedule.

Setting Reminders (in the Beginning)

Since it’s something you are trying to get in the habit of doing, you’ll likely need to set reminders for yourself to do so once you have a routine in mind. If, for example, you’d like to start drinking eight cups of water every day, you may want to set several daily reminders to help you follow through on the task. Stick with it, and after some time, it will become habitual, and come to you as naturally as sleeping, eating and breathing.

Developing Discipline Through Incentive

Setting a habit takes willpower and discipline. If you’d like to get into the habit of waking up at the crack of dawn every day, exercising every day, or even taking the time to call a loved one every day, consistency is key. If you have a hard time staying disciplined, incentivize your commitment to habitual behavior. If you manage to wake up at sunrise for seven days in a row (which is quite an accomplishment), on the 8th day, you’re (rightfully) entitled to a treat – perhaps your favorite pint of gelato, or even a little retail therapy.

Constantly Reminding Yourself of the Longterm

It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re embarking on a journey, and it’s usually because the future is an abstract thought. What will your habit bring in the long-term? Maybe it’s happiness, health, success, or some combination of the three – but, as we focus all our energies on simply navigating daily life, the future is difficult to envision in the present. It’s important that you constantly remind yourself why you’d like to build a good habit, and what it will mean for your overall wellbeing in the long run.

Patriotic Restaurant Offers A Dining Experience Unlike Any Other

In Florida, we usually associate themed restaurants with tourist attractions, but this patriotic restaurant in Clearwater is completely different. In fact, the only thing cheesy in this unique theme restaurant is the macaroni.

Frankie’s Patriot BBQ is located at 6250 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater, FL 33760.

The restaurant was named in loving memory of the owner’s son, Corporal Frank R. Gross, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011. When you walk in, you will immediately realize this isn’t your ordinary barbecue restaurant. Almost every inch of the eatery is covered with military memorabilia and photographs

The restaurant was started by owner Craig Gross as a way to honor his son and other veterans and an almost therapeutic way to keep busy after losing his son.

Everyone is drawn in by the restaurant’s patriotic atmosphere and awesome purpose, but they keep coming back for the delicious barbecue.

The menu features ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and all of your other BBQ favorites. Don’t forget some homemade bread pudding or peanut butter pie for dessert. As all BBQ lovers know, sauces are very important. Luckily, Frankie’s Patriot BBQ has four mouthwatering homemade sauces to choose from.

Whether you’re a veteran or just a hungry civilian, stop by and check out this unique restaurant unlike any other in Florida.

 

Inside the world of beer league hockey

Where playing the game is as important as celebrating afterward … win or lose.

As a teenager, Joe Mohrfeld played hockey against Shattuck-St. Mary’s, the famed Minnesota boarding school that counts NHL superstars Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews as alumni.

“They destroyed us,” he tells me before jumping the boards. “Especially on their ice.”

On this night, 18 years later, and on this ice, tucked into the back end of an Austin, Texas, strip mall, the hockey is not quite as good. Author Don Gillmor’s observation that hockey’s beautiful geometry is never more obvious than when it doesn’t work is on display as passes miss their mark and shots fly wide.

The rink itself smells stale, like freezer burn.

A sallow patina has jaundiced patches of the walls like armpits on an old white T-shirt. Despite this, players come and go with an evident pride of place. It’s late on a weeknight, but the parking lot hosts a dozen players whose own games ended one, two, even three hours ago.

Inside, Mohrfeld, 32, tallies two goals for his team, dubbed the Junior Ehs, but his on-ice contributions are secondary: Tonight the acclaimed former head brewer at Odell Brewing Co. and current director of brewing at Pinthouse Pizza Brewpub has beer duty.

“We don’t draft Joe for the goals,” says Ehs co-captain Paul Eno, 46, whose team is so upbeat you’d never guess they lost. “We draft him for the growlers.”

This is beer league hockey, where it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you brought the beer. In the U.S., more than 174,000 adults pay good money to play hockey at odd hours, where the refs are blind, scorekeepers can’t stay awake, and success is defined by the ability to play alongside your friends for as long as possible. It’s organized hockey in its purest form, unencumbered by money, skill, ambition, fans or advancement.

Photo by Nick Cote

Photo by Nick Cote

“I can’t imagine life without it,” says Steve Albers, 28, who is launching Center Ice Brewing Co., a hockey-themed craft brewery in St. Louis. He echoes a once-provincial refrain that can nowadays be heard coast to coast. Hockey is growing in improbable locales like Arizona and Virginia, while California hosts the country’s largest beer league and is second only to Michigan in terms of adults registered with USA Hockey.

Nicole Warner is one of 17,000 adult women in U.S. beer leagues. “I saw an ad on TV featuring women’s hockey and I thought, I want to play! Or at least try.” At 30, she enrolled in a learn-to-play program, and three years later she is a veteran of nearly 250 league games.

“Hockey people are family to me.” The back nameplate on her jersey reads GOONIE. “And you can’t beat the camaraderie.”

In fact for many, beer league offers a brief respite from the burdens of reality. “When I hit the ice,” says Warner, “I can’t help but be in a great mood, no matter the kind of day I’ve had.”

Beer comes first in the name, but not as much in the game. Governing bodies across North America forbid drunk hockey, and most players will tell you it’s a bad idea. “Before a game, one beer is not enough and three is too many,” says Nick Dean, 33, in a fading Russian accent. “Two is good.”

Alcohol policies differ from rink to rink. The luckiest leagues play in rinks with bars on site, like the Ice Forum in Duluth, Georgia. “After each game, the Breakaway Grill sends a complimentary pitcher to both teams,” says goalie Kevin Mizera, 44. When I sound impressed, he hedges. “It’s probably worked into league fees somehow.”

For many players, the quality held in highest esteem isn’t directly related to hockey or beer. At 85, Ontario’s Jan Loos hits the ice three times a week and holds the Guinness World Record for Oldest Ice Hockey Player—a title he may soon lose to Minnesota’s Mark Sertich, 94.

“Those guys inspire all of us,” says Brian Hill, 63, of Boston. “The goal isn’t to play until you’re too old, it’s to have played on your last day.”

The night after seeing Mohrfeld play, I’m at a crowded Pinthouse Pizza enjoying a Man O’ War IPA when I wonder what drew him back into hockey. “One afternoon he told me he was thinking about playing again,” says Daniel Conley, 29, a brewer at Pinthouse and former youth hockey player himself. “I said, ‘If you do it, I’ll do it.’”

When I press Mohrfeld for specifics, he balks. So I ask why more than half the beers on his tap wall are made by competitors—Hops & Grain, Austin Beerworks, Odell, among others.

“I don’t see it like that,” he says. “I look up there, I see my friends’ beers. Craft brewing isn’t about fame or making tons of money, it’s about making great beer and being part of a community.”

I see an opening. “Kinda like beer league, right?” He and Conley exchange a look. “Not really.”

Oh well. It was worth a shot.

 

ROSS BONANDER

Beertown, U.S.A.: Tampa Bay

Thanks to a vibrant cross-section of cultures and an increasingly cosmopolitan flair, Tampa Bay has emerged as the next great locus for the inquisitive imbiber.

BREWERIES

Dunedin Brewery (Dunedin, dunedinbrewery.com) is Florida’s oldest continuously run purveyor of top-shelf microbrews, a fact evidenced by scores of loyal locals eager to settle in for the evening, soaking up nightly live music and feeling warm and cozy after a few Pipers Pale Ales. With a titular tip of the hat to the city’s proud Cuban heritage, Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, cigarcitybrewing.com) features what might be deemed more a tasting room than a bar—it’s snug and sparely decorated, though that doesn’t detract a bit from the pleasure of quaffing some of the Bay Area’s finest hops, especially the Jai Alai IPA, which, if you’re not careful, will hit you like a 175 mph pelota to the head. Renowned for its Belgian style ales, Saint Somewhere Brewing (Tarpon Springs, saintsomewherebrewing.com) prides itself on brewing techniques used a century ago. The brewer’s latest time warp, Pays du Soleil, is a delectable, fizzy saison concocted from Saw Palmetto berries and whole hibiscus. A comfortable oasis in the heart of the region’s most debaucherous quarter, Tampa Bay Brewing (Ybor City, tampabaybrew ingcompany.com) employs a dozen serving tanks once used by Britain’s Bass Ale Brewery and routinely offers nine house brews on tap. Pull the trigger on a basket of wings made with Red Eye Ale cider sauce, and if your evening isn’t over, perhaps the One Night Stand Pale Ale will prove auspicious. Jaunt southbound over the Skyway Bridge to Sarasota Brewing (Sarasota, sarasotabrewing.com), where the varnished wood furniture and cobblestone walls wouldn’t seem terribly out of place in some decadent medieval castle until you notice the rather non sequitur design ornaments like team pennants and nautical bric-a-brac. It’s an eclectic scene for what’s essentially a sports pub, but will you really notice anything else once you plop down for the game under one of the two 84-inch flat-screens with a cold micro in hand?

 

BARS

Formerly located somewhere between a Rainbow Apparel and a Body Shop in one of Tampa’s largest malls, Mr. Dunderbak’s (Tampa, dunderbaks.com) has finally decamped and set up shop as the finest Bavarian biergarten around, with more than 400 bottles and 55 on tap, not to mention more succulent sauerbraten, spatzle and schnitzel than you can shake a stein at. The Independent (Downtown St. Petersburg, independentbeer.com) is like a miniature beer garden meets swanky urban lounge and has contributed mightily to the area’s ascendant nightlife scene. Grab a seat outside and mix with the young and good-looking. If you’d rather talk shop with a beery crowd, Oldsmar Tap House (Oldsmar, oldsmartaphouse.com) is precisely the kind of joint where people show up just to discuss beer with the stranger sitting next to them; it doesn’t hurt that there are a couple hundred conversation starters behind the bar. New World Brewery (Ybor City, newworldbrewery.net) may not stew its own suds anymore, but with more than 60 bottles and 25 taps you’re sure to find something to sip on. Besides, the allure of the place is the intimate open-air music venue, frequently graced by regional and national acts that tend to appeal to the hipper set. You could spark a conflagration not seen since ancient Rome with the alcohol content of an ordinary cocktail at The Hub (Downtown Tampa, thehubbartampa.com), where on any given night you’ll find pink-faced septuagenarians, hot-shot lawyers, tattooed pin-up girls, folks with funny accents, hungover artists, grizzled bikers and thirsty scholars weaving precariously on the next barstool. Tucked away in a renovated bungalow a couple blocks from the beach in a sleepy arts community, Peg’s Cantina (Gulfport, pegscantina.com) is the ideal spot to sit outside and watch the afternoon lazily give way to dusk. All the better while savoring a Dancing Cody IPA, one of the house originals.

DINE

Devoted to organics and sustainability, Café Dufrain (Harbour Island, cafedufrain.com), languidly nestled on an island waterfront, crafts informally elegant New American cuisine that flirts with Korean, South American and North African culinary traditions. The posh décor is vaguely European, and the outdoor seating promises lovely skyline views. Meanwhile, Guppy’s on the Beach (Indian Rocks Beach, 3bestchefs.com/guppys) dishes out seafood far too distinctive for its flip-flops and tank tops dress code: Sophisticated items like tandoori crusted swordfish belie the unassuming fish shack vibe. The “best burger in town” debate is a never-ending one, though here it’s a good deal less heated thanks to the existence of El Cap (St. Petersburg, 727.521.1314), whose perfectly cooked patties, grilled onions and toasted bun conspire to produce a meal beyond reproach. Here’s a fact: Bern’s Steak House (SoHo, bernssteakhouse.com) boasts the largest wine cellar in the world—about half a million bottles. Think that’s impressive? Wait until you get to the cut-to-order dry-aged steaks, which have fed presidents, dignitaries and other bold-faced names from across the globe. And because no Tampa Bay visit is complete without Cuban fare, sidle up to the no-frills lunch counter at La Teresita (Tampa, lateresitarestaurant.com), where monumental portions of unbelievably tender stewed pork, ox tail and ropa vieja (shredded flank steak) recall the exotic flavors of majestic Old Havana.

SLEEP

South Tampa is the trendiest district in the Bay Area; stay in the middle of it all at the Hyde Park Hotel (South Tampa, hotelinhydepark.com). Located at the mouth of the historic Old Northeast neighborhood, the Beach Drive Inn (Downtown St. Petersburg, beachdriveinn.com), a bed and breakfast built in 1910, features four sunny rooms and two suites combining turn-of-the-century Florida elegance with modern amenities such as Wi-Fi and private jetted tubs. Spend your days sipping cocktails in a private rooftop garden with panoramic views of the bay before an evening out at any of several restaurants and watering holes just steps away. The Don CeSar (St. Pete Beach, loewshotels.com) is enormous, pink, world-famous, supposedly haunted and has accommodated the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Al Capone during its Jazz Age heyday. Plus, it looms imperiously on a tranquil stretch of beach, which you’ll surely enjoy if you can be pried away from the 4,000-square-foot spa or four-diamond restaurants. Mosey on up Gulf Boulevard to the SandPearl Resort (Clearwater Beach, sandpearl.com), the Gulf Coast’s prime mecca of waterfront luxury. Apart from innumerable inclusive perks, arrange for daily excursions to nearby coastal gems, such as immaculate Caladesi Island State Park.

DO

Tampa Bay Downs (Oldsmar, tampabaydowns.com) is the only thoroughbred racetrack on the state’s Gulf Coast and one of the country’s oldest; after the ponies, take advantage of the 22-acre golf facility and bustling poker room. Spend a delightfully cerebral afternoon among 400,000 interactive exhibits at the sprawling Museum of Science and Industry (Tampa, mosi.org), where you can pedal a bicycle across a 30-foot-high steel cable; brave elaborately constructed earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis; or grab a beer and get ready for the singular cinematic experience of the IMAX Dome Theater’s 10,500-square-foot screen. All that empiricism may have you longing for a spot of the surreal; you’ll be pleased to discover that the Salvador Dalí Museum (St. Petersburg, salvadordalimuseum.org), featuring 200-plus paintings and a dizzying collection of photographs, drawings and sculptures, houses the most comprehensive body of the flamboyant Spaniard’s work anywhere on the planet. There are few better places to wile away a long afternoon than at Ft. DeSoto Park (Tierra Verde, pinellascounty.org), lauded as one of the nation’s best beaches. Formed from five interconnected islands, the 1,136-acre paradise is more than just pristine white sand and breathtaking vistas of the sun melting into the Gulf: It’s the perfect locale to sate the outdoorsy spirit with nature trails, boat docks, campgrounds and bike rentals. •

ON THE WATERFRONT: There’s no shortage of outlets for indulging in Tampa Bay’s beaches, lakes and rivers, and since it never gets that cold here, you can enjoy aquatic action year-round. Named for a 19th-century French pirate, John’s Pass (Madeira Beach, johnspass.com) is a cheerfully ersatz little fishing village comprising inexpensive seafood restaurants, surf shops and kitschy art galleries, but it’s also a veritable promised land for the watersporting adventurer. Parasailing, waverunners, powerboats, snorkeling, island tours, dolphin and manatee-watching excursions and deep-sea fishing charters can all be found along the weathered wooden boardwalk overlooking a serene inlet to the Gulf. If you’d rather take things slow, rent a canoe at Hillsborough River State Park(Thonotosassa, floridastateparks.org) and explore the almost totally undeveloped 54-mile-long, spring-fed river that snakes through endless verdant canopies of wild swampforest. Cap off the evening in style with a moonlit meandering around the bay courtesy of Yacht StarShip (Downtown Tampa/Clearwater Beach, yachtstarship.com) luxury cruise lines, which pamper with four-star feasts, live entertainment and unimpeded backdrops of romantic twilit horizons.

By Jeremy Brown

 

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6 Off-the-Beaten-Path Caribbean Ports

If you’ve cruised into the same old Caribbean ports so many times you know the straw market vendors by name, it might be time to broaden your horizons — which means seeking out a cruise itinerary that ventures to less-traveled islands.

True, cruise ships can’t be accommodated everywhere in the islands. But some lines — particularly those with smaller ships, including Star Clippers, SeaDream Yacht Club, Island Windjammers and Windstar — call at some truly off-the-beaten-path Caribbean ports of call.

Here’s a look at some lesser-known spots ripe for discovery.

Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The main port on this hilly, quiet island is the town of Clifton Harbour, on the eastern side. It’s a popular mooring center and has a number of surprisingly good restaurants, considering its small size. There’s also a gourmet shop that caters to the yacht crowd.

An hour-long hike or a bone-jarring, 30-minute trip via four-wheel-drive vehicle leads to Chatham Bay on the island’s west coast. There’s a crescent of smooth white sand and several colorful beach shacks operated by welcoming locals. They’ll cure what ails you with a Painkiller made with local Sparrow’s rum, or throw a lobster, fresh from the trap, on the grill.

Commercial sailing ships including Star Clippers, Club Med 2, Island Windjammers and Windstar call here.

The Trafalgar waterfall of the caribbean island Dominica and amaryllis flower

Dominica (Dom-in-EEK-a)

Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, the Southern Caribbean island of Dominica is a nature-lover’s dream come true. Its rugged volcanic mountains harbor lush rainforests, spectacular waterfalls, geothermal springs and inland rivers. It isn’t highly regarded for its beaches, but the interior attractions more than make up for the lack of sugar-fine white sand.

Among the must-see attractions is Trafalgar Falls, twin falls with an upper “Father” cascade and a lower “Mother” waterfall. The 20-minute trail to the top is well-groomed and suitable for novice hikers, though less energetic sorts can stick to the lower falls, where natural pools — one hot and one cold — soothe and refresh. The falls are in the massive Morne Trois Pitons National Park, site of many otherworldly sites including Boiling Lake.

Small-ship lines including Azamara, Star Clippers and Windstar call at the island’s capital of Roseau. But so do some larger lines, among them Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.

Bequia (BECK-way), St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The tiny (just 7 square miles) island of Bequia harks back to an era before tourism exploded in the Caribbean. It’s quiet, low-rise and low-hustle.

The main town, Port Elizabeth, has a good array of restaurants, a few shops that cater to visitors (intricate handmade ship models are a specialty here), and a lively open-air food market.

Retail businesses line a path bordering Admiralty Bay. Stroll along it and you’ll reach Princess Margaret Beach, about 30 minutes from the heart of town. A few restaurants and concessions are located on the pristine beach.

Other attractions include the Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary, where hawksbill turtles are hatched and raised. The schooner Friendship Rose makes day trips to Mustique, another off-the-beaten-path Caribbean island.

Lines that call here include P&O Cruises, Seabourn, Island Windjammers, Windstar and Star Clippers.

Couple snorkeling in turquoise tropical water among a small boat

Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Islands

While not technically a port, this U.S Park Service-protected island lies just 1.5 miles off St. Croix’s east end.

A number of operators offer half- and full-day trips to the 176-acre preserve. Turtle Beach, on its west end, gets rave reviews. And the surrounding waters harbor some of the best snorkeling in the islands.

Major cruise lines including Carnival and Royal Caribbean visit St. Croix.

Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe

This eight-island archipelago of the French Antilles, about six miles off Guadeloupe, is an overseas department of France. Its inhabitants are mainly descendants of colonists from Brittany and Normandy, and speak Creole French.

Its most developed island (and the only one with overnight accommodations) is Terre-de-Haut; Fort Napoleon with its military museum is the island’s sole tourist attraction. But most visitors come for the beaches and bays. Plage de Pompierre is a palm-shaded arc of sand on a beautiful bay, while the best bet for snorkeling is Plage Figuier. There’s also a nude beach, Anse Crawen (though some sunbathers bare all on other beaches as well).

Among the small-ship lines that call here are Star Clippers, SeaDream, Island Windjammers, Hapag-Lloyd and Windstar.

Pinney's Beach at the foot of the Nevis Peak volcano

Nevis

This coin-shaped, eight-by-four-mile island lies just two miles across the channel from St. Kitts, its larger and more bustling sister island. Development is low-rise, and the attitude is laid-back.

The commercial hub of Charlestown is compact and walkable, lined with Georgian and Victorian buildings that date from its days as a British colony. A shrine to Nevis’s most famous native son, Alexander Hamilton (he lived the first 17 years of his life here), is in the restored home where he was born. British admiral Horatio Nelson (of Battle of Trafalgar fame) also rates a museum.

Nevis‘s signature palm-shaded beach, Pinney’s, is a 15-minute walk from town. Or consider hiring a cab to see other historic sites including Montpelier Estate, which houses the Botanical Gardens.The Hermitage Plantation (now a hotel) claims fame as one of the oldest wooden buildings in the Caribbean. It’s just one of a number of gracious historic inns, many of which have public bars and restaurants.

Among the small-ship lines that call here are Azamara, SeaDream, Island Windjammers and Star Clippers.

Deep-fried Turkey: Delicious or Dangerous?

While you may think the most dangerous thing you can do during the holidays is talk politics with your uncle, starting a kitchen fire because of a deep fried turkey  is a more realistic threat to your safety. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the number of structure fires double on Thanksgiving, causing on average $28 million in property damage1. Cooking causes the majority of these blazes, with grease and oil as the main culprits in ignition2. Despite the astonishingly large number of holiday mishaps, home cooks continue using fats. A select few even engage in one of the most daring of food adventures: deep-frying a turkey.

A quick Internet search for “deep-fried turkey” reveals how dangerous this culinary practice can be. There are plenty of videos and pictures that document the aftermath of a deep-fried turkey fire. A careless and unprepared chef can turn a deep-fried turkey into a deep-fried disaster within minutes. The bird quickly becomes engulfed in a fireball that can be seen from the rest of the neighborhood. So then, what makes deep-frying more appealing than roasting? More importantly, can it be done safely?

The key to effectively deep-frying a turkey is oil. Oil makes the bird both delicious and dangerous. Oil’s interaction with the poultry causes the characteristic crispy golden brown crust that draws people to deep-frying. This same oil, however, can ignite and cause a fire. To effectively and safely deep-fry a turkey, you must understand the science underlying deep-frying.

dft-1

The main appeal of a deep-fried turkey is the texture created by oil interacting with the bird’s skin. In deep-frying, hot oil completely engulfs the food. Put an uncooked turkey in hot oil and bubbles immediately start forming. The bubbles are not from the oil, but from the water within the surface of the bird that escapes as tiny pockets of steam. Water boils at 212 °F, but the temperature of oil in a deep fryer is typically around 350 °F or greater. Because of these high temperatures, the water in the turkey skin rapidly evaporates. This dehydration at the surface combined with the high temperature make conditions perfect for the Maillard reaction.

Maillard reactions create the characteristic deep browning and appealing aromas that you may have experienced when you deep-fry a turkey. These reactions typically occur when proteins and sugars in foods are exposed to high heat (284 – 329 °F): the amino acid building blocks of proteins react with sugars at high heat to create a complex set of flavor molecules. This is why a deep-fried turkey may evoke similar flavors and aromas as seared steak, roasted coffee, or toasted bread. As heat continues to vaporize the water on the bird’s skin, the reaction speeds up and the resulting flavor molecules become more and more concentrated.

While Maillard reactions can also be achieved through roasting a turkey, deep-frying avoids some of the pitfalls of oven roasting. First, because the hot oil completely envelops the bird, the outside gets an even brown coat. The temperature of the oil remains relatively constant as it spreads into every crevice. Such uniformity can be harder to achieve in traditional oven roasting, because of differences in air temperature within the oven. Moreover, poor heat circulation can result in uneven cooking. In extreme cases, you might find one side of the turkey charred, while the other is still undercooked.

Next, because the oil can transfer more heat than air per unit volume and time, deep-frying can allow the bird’s surface to get hot quickly enough so that the inside does not overcook. In deep-frying, oil acts as the workhorse transferring heat to food. By contrast, ovens rely on air to transfer heat. Compared to air, cooking oil has a much higher rate of heat conduction. Heat transfers between substances when the molecules collide and transfer energy. Because a liquid such as oil is more dense then air, its molecules are more closely packed; there are more molecules per volume to transfer energy. As a result, the high heat needed for the Maillard reactions develops much faster in a deep fryer than in the oven. In general, oven roasting generally takes about 2-4 hours, while deep-frying can take as little as 30 minutes. Slower increases in surface temperature, as in the case of the oven, allow for more time for the high heat to spread to the center of the turkey and overcook the inside.

Many deep-frying fans claim that the practice “seals in the juices”, however, internal temperature has a larger impact on moisture. If you’ve ever bit into a dry piece of fried chicken, you know, that deep-frying does not guarantee juicy poultry. Fans claim that oil creates a barrier to lock in moisture, but as previously highlighted, hot oil causes it to vaporize and escape. Even water near the interior can escape if it reaches the boiling point because the crust remains porous. The meat on the inside cooks in the same way as in roasting, but only faster because the oil transfers more heat. Thus, regardless of whether you deep-fry or roast the bird, you need to watch the internal temperature to get a juicy turkey.

While hot oil is essential for transforming your turkey into a delicious brown and crispy treat, properly controlling the oil will keep you safe. The first step is having the proper equipment. While a turkey can be deep fried in any number of large pots you already have, none of them are specifically designed to safely handle 3 gallons or more of hot oil and a giant turkey. Having a deep fryer specific for turkeys ensures that when you use the right amount of oil, the turkey is completely submerged and the oil won’t overflow. Also you can cook with a turkey deep fryer outside; this keeps the hot oil safely away from anything flammable in your home. So if you do make a mistake, it’s far away from anything that can spread a fire.

Next, to avoid turning the turkey into a giant fireball, it must be properly dried. This means checking that the bird is completely thawed and free of excess water. If too much ice or water remain, either can quickly vaporize causing oil to spray into the air. You may have seen a similar reaction occur when you throw drops of water into hot oil to test if it’s reached frying temperature. Sudden vaporization results in tiny droplets of oil spewing out in a fine mist. As microscopic droplets, the oil increases its chances of contacting the burner and reaching its flash point, or the temperature at which a material can ignite. (The flash point is around 600-700°F for many cooking oils.) In the deep fryer, oil won’t get as hot, but as droplets, oil can reach this temperature because of their small size and increased surface area. The ignition of a few small oil droplets can set off a chain reaction that engulfs the entire bird. This is why a seemingly innocent icy turkey can turn into a fireball.

Finally, you may want to consider that deep-frying adds a significant amount of fat to your bird compared to roasting it. The entire surface of the turkey is covered in oil and some may seep into the interior. In general, deep-frying can result in as much as 5 to 40% of a food’s weight in oil3. If you are concerned about your fat intake you might want to avoid this deep-fried treat. However, eating a deep-fried bird only on Thanksgiving likely won’t jeopardize your health too much.

Deep-frying a turkey requires significant culinary effort. Although this cooking method is potentially dangerous, your fowl can develop delicious flavors and aromas that cannot be achieved as quickly in the oven. Whether or not you want to make the investment ultimately depends on what you like about eating turkey. If you only care about juicy meat, then using an oven and monitoring the temperature can be easier. However, if you crave a truly unique treat encased in a crispy brown crust, then deep-frying a turkey may be your next gastronomic adventure.

How Art and Poetry Can Help People Deal with Challenging Times

(StatePoint) Whether you are dealing with personal tragedy and loss in your life, or are concerned about current events, some experts believe that creating and appreciating art can help you cope with the emotional fallout of challenging times.

“Art and poetry can be a beautifully effective outlet for dealing with tragedy or loss,” says J. Chester Johnson, a critically-acclaimed poet, essayist and translator of over four decades and author of the recently published book, “Now And Then: Selected Longer Poems.”

Johnson, who worked on Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts and was a regular volunteer in the months following 9/11 at St. Paul’s Chapel (the Ground Zero relief center for recovery workers), wrote the iconic poem “St. Paul’s Chapel,” published worldwide, about endurance in the face of terror. His poem remains the memento card for the thousands of weekly visitors to the Chapel that survived the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks at Ground Zero, and more than a million poem cards have been distributed to-date.

When one needs hope and healing, here are some ways you may find it through creativity and art.

• Art therapy is a common treatment for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, adverse physical health conditions or psychological impairment. The creative process often gives patients an opportunity to explore feelings and develop self-awareness.

• For those dealing with trauma, depression or other crises, keeping a journal is a way to regularly connect with one’s feelings. It also offers opportunities to be creative through verse, which Johnson says can be beneficial. “Acts of violence and mayhem often result in words being produced that describe, give solace or inspire,” he says.

• When your mind is racing or you feel anxious, consider picking up an art project that allows you to relax. Whether it’s knitting a scarf or simply coloring, such activities can allow your mind to take on a meditative state.

“Acts of violence and mayhem often result in words and art being produced that describe, give solace, or inspire,” says Johnson. “Poems occur where things happen and that’s where many people find comfort and assurance when dealing with challenging experiences.”

And when such challenging experiences as natural disasters or terror attacks are experienced by many people, the sharing of comforting words and images often becomes widespread. “After 9/11, poems by W. H. Auden and Galway Kinnell that touched the depth of the responsive feeling to the terrorists’ attacks, circulated over the Internet,” points out Johnson. “At that time, my ‘St. Paul’s Chapel’ was also posted on many websites, sent from friend to friend and appeared on many a refrigerator door.”

More information about Johnson and his poetry is available at jchesterjohnson.com, which offers details on his new book, “Auden, the Psalms, and Me,” a memoir and literary and historical commentary on the retranslation of the Psalms for the Episcopal Church.

If you are facing a personal or public crisis and are looking for ways to cope with loss or trauma, consider how you may heal through art, poetry and creative expression.

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7 Reasons Having a Dog Will Improve Your Health, According to Science

There are plenty of reasons that you may want a dog, from those cute plaid puppy sweaters to the afternoon games of fetch at the park. But, according to science, there are just as many reasons that you should get a dog as there are reasons to want one. Check out seven of the biggest reasons that you ought to add a furry canine companion to your family.

1. They Will Boost Your Heart Health

Having a pup in your life is sure to make your heart feel full, but it’s also going to help keep your heart in tip-top shape. The American Heart Association has found connections between having a dog and experiencing heart-healthy benefits, like lower blood pressure and healthy cholesterol levels.

2. They’ll Help You Lose Weight

A healthy weight may start in the kitchen, but studies show that there’s a big chance it ends in the dog park. Whether it’s through playing a game of frisbee or fetch, or just going for a walk with your pooch, research shows that having a dog helps boost physical activity on a regular basis, which could lead to more calorie burn and better weight maintenance.

3. They’ll Lower Your Stress Levels

Spending quality time with your dog, be it playing outside or cuddling up on the couch during a Netflix binge, has been found to boost the brain’s production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. This in turns helps minimize feelings of stress and boost feelings of happiness.

4. They Can Detect Diseases

While it’s no secret that dog’s sense of smell is far from weak, canine’s have a talent for sniffing out a lot more than lunch. Studies have found that, in addition to service dogs that can help people like epileptics know when a seizure is coming, dogs can actually be trained to detect cancer using things like breath and urine odor.

5. They Reduce Feelings of Loneliness

If you’ve ever suffered from feelings of isolation, dogs may be the secret to alleviation. Studies have found that having a dog can not only increase a person’s sense of belonging, but may also increase self-esteem and help people cope with social rejection better than those who don’t have a pup to come home to.

6. They Could Prevent Allergies

That’s not to say that keeping a pup nearby is necessarily going to stop you from sneezing up a storm at the start of spring, but science does suggest that growing up with a dog can make children less likely to develop allergies into adulthood. This is because when kids are exposed to common allergens growing up – i.e. their pet – they are less likely to be affected by things like asthma or animal allergies when they get older.

7. They Minimize Workday Stress

If you’ve got a dog-friendly office, then you’re in luck: research shows that dog owners who actually bring their pooch to work with them tend to feel less bogged down by work stress throughout the day.

A Manageable Detox For Fall

Summer’s warm flurry of activity often means more time vacationing, relaxing, and celebrating with friends and family. And often, those celebrations include lots of cocktails, desserts, restaurant meals, and other foods you wouldn’t typically consume on your normal healthy eating plan. And even though we normally plan our major detoxes or cleanses for spring, summer’s debauchery proves that fall is the perfect time to detox. 

Not convinced that you need to give your body a good internal scrub? Common signs that your body is actually crying out for a good detox include constipation, bloating, gas, skin problems, food cravings, bad breath, low energy, and even mood swings. So, in taking a page from Ayurvedic Medicine, which encourages detoxifying around seasonal transition point, I highly recommend pressing the reset button this season. Here’s how to do it:

Dietary changes

Without a doubt, what we eat — or don’t eat — on a daily basis directly impacts the toxic load of our bodies. And while fall basically equates to all-pumpkin everything, I would skip the overly sweet and heavily processed pumpkin-flavored treats and stick with the real thing.

Pumpkin is not just in season, but it’s also a fall superfood loaded with fiber that will keep things moving and, thus, prevent toxic buildup. And don’t forget to eat plenty of pumpkin seeds, too, as they are loaded with zinc and magnesium, which research has shown can help to reduce the heavy metals absorbed by your body and also prevent constipation.

Replacing processed foods with seasonal whole foods like pumpkin is a great way to help your body detoxify this fall (cabbage, cranberries, apples, and squash are other great choices). Plus, eating seasonally and shopping at farmer’s markets is even better for your body, as locally grown, organic produce doesn’t suffer from nutrient-’reducing transit time to get to your shopping bag and, as a result, is richer in detox-enhancing vitamins and minerals.

Homemade Detox Drinks

Once you have your fall detox diet on track by loading up on seasonal whole foods, you’ll want to add in some daily beverages that further encourage internal cleansing. And making your own detox drinks at home is easy if you have some key ingredients on hand. Apple cider vinegar is a top pick because it’s loaded with helpful bacteria and enzymes that promote detoxification, and it’s a key ingredient in my Secret Detox Drink. I recommend consuming this at least once daily, and if you’re looking to mix things up, dandelion tea is another excellent cleanser that contains nutrients that aid in liver detoxification.

Bone Broth Fast

I highly recommend bone broth on a daily basis for its detoxifying as well as gut-healing properties. And if you want to ramp up your detox efforts, you may want to try a bone broth fastto more thoroughly cleanse the liver (our #1 detox organ!) and digestive system.

Typically, I recommend a 3-4 day bone broth fast to quickly increase your internal supply of the antioxidant glutathione, which is one of the body’s most effective detoxifying agents. During this fasting period, you’ll want to consume 3-4 quarts of high quality bone broth each day — which ideally means making it yourself to ensure it doesn’t contain any harmful fillers or preservatives that can negate any cleansing efforts. If you find that you’re still hungry, steamed, non-starchy vegetables can be added, but you’ll want to stay away from starchy veggies, grains, fruits, and anything else that turns to sugar in the body.

A few days of fasting like this can help to kill excess bad bacteria in the gut while also helping it to repopulate with beneficial bacteria. If you’ve been struggling with symptoms of a leaky gut, a bone broth fast can be especially helpful in sealing the intestinal lining and beginning to heal.

Epsom Salt Baths

A successful detox includes not only what you put into your body, but also what you do with your body. In addition to regular exercise, finding time for stress relieving activities on a daily basis is key to a well-rounded and effective fall detox. Epsom salt baths can not only reduce stress and increase magnesium levels (many people are deficient), but they are also highly detoxifying. Human skin is extremely porous, so when you add Epsom salt to your bath, the salt’s magnesium and sulfate actually help to pull harmful toxins out of the body.

For a rejuvenating detox bath, add at least two cups of Epsom salt to warm bathwater and soak for 40 minutes (the first 20 are for toxin removal while the last 20 allow your body to absorb the minerals in the water). Don’t forget to drink water before, during and after the bath to avoid dehydration and boost detoxification.

Supplements

Some supplements that are especially known for encouraging detoxification include milk thistle and burdock root. Milk thistle is an herb that has been shown to reduce liver damage resulting from pollutants, heavy metals, prescription medications, and antibiotics. And a component of milk thistle called silymarin has even been shown to behave as a “toxin blockade agent” that prevents toxins from attaching themselves to liver cell receptors.”

Burdock root, meanwhile, is a detoxifying herb known traditionally for its ability to purify the blood and remove heavy metals from the body. It also helps to strengthen the lymphatic system (our internal drainage system).

During a short-term fall detox (3-4 weeks), the recommended daily intake of milk thistle is 150 milligrams, 1-3 times daily, and a typical dosage of burdock root is 2-4 milliliters of tincture, or 1-2 grams of powdered dry root, three times per day. Burdock root isn’t always easy to find fresh, but it can also be eaten raw or cooked as part of a fall detox.

 

From Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS.

 

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