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How to Tell When 7 Summer Vegetables Are At Their Tastiest

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Last week, we shared some tips for helping you to always pick the freshest, most delicious summer fruit in the store or farmers' market. But in the spirit of ensuring that you also eat your veggies, we're turning our attention to vegetables.

1. Corn

You could peel down a piece of the husk for a peek at the kernels, but you risk the wrath of your fellow shoppers if you decide to put back an ear after it's been partially undressed. What can you check without semi-husking your corn in the produce aisle? Plenty! First, the husk should be vibrant green and wrapped tightly around the cob. Check closely for any tiny brown holes near the top of the husk as those are signs of worm holes—and the worms that make them. Don't get turned away by brown tassels sticking out the top—that's the color they should be. What you want to look out for are tassels that have turned black or gone from slightly sticky to all dried out, which indicates an ear that's less fresh. Finally, although you can't get a look at the kernels, give the ear a careful squeeze to get a sense for how plump and plentiful they are.

2. Bell Peppers

The first thing you'll notice about the peppers is likely to be their vibrant color, which comes into play when selecting the right one. While orange and yellow peppers are their own distinct and often sweeter varieties, the green and red peppers are the same species—the red ones are just more mature. Of course, you can still eat the green ones and, in fact, if you're not planning to use the peppers right away, consider that the less ripe green ones actually last a few days longer on the shelf. No matter the color, look for firm, shiny, unblemished peppers with wrinkle-free skin.

3. Arugula

When it comes to greens, bigger leaves tend to be bitter leaves. For arugula, which is known for its peppery flavor, this might not be a problem—as long as you know what you're getting into. Smaller leaves are just as "ripe" and a better choice if you're looking for something a little bit more subtle in flavor. Things to avoid: holes or yellowing edges. And, if possible, seek out greens that come with their roots intact for greater shelf life.

4. Beets

If you're a stickler for freshness (and you are since you're reading this article, after all) seek out beets with the greens still attached—leaves show age more quickly than the bulbous roots. Not all grocery stores leave the leaves on, however, so if you're dealing with just the beets themselves, avoid any surface nicks or bruises and go for firm beets that are heavy for their size.

5. Cucumbers

There are two types of cukes that sometimes overlap: Ones for eating and ones for pickling. The pickling process is forgiving of quality so we'll focus on those that are primarily for eating raw. As always, nix anything with obvious blemishes or spongey spots. Cucumbers should be firm and dark green. Be wary of a shiny skin as it means the outside has been rubbed with wax to help preserve it. This is fine if you plan to peel your cucumber, but if you prefer to eat the skin look for one that's a duller hue. And although the eat-fresh varieties tend to be larger than the pickling ones, anything too big will be full of large, tough seeds.

6. Eggplant

The best eggplants should feel heavy for their size, but not weigh over one and a half pounds. This is because the bigger an eggplant is, the more likely it is to taste bitter. In fact, smaller varieties like the Thai or Japanese eggplant will be even sweeter than the hulking purple ones you're used to. In addition to being the right size, ripe eggplants will be firm, with shiny and taut skin.

7. Zucchini

Bigger not meaning better applies to zucchini, too. The larger squashes will taste watery and flavorless, so don't go for anything bigger than an average flashlight. Yellow and even white zucchini can be just as ripe as green ones, as long as their skin is saturated and vibrant. If you're not planning on using it right away, look for ones with the stem still attached—the more stem that's left, the longer it'll keep.

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10 Fab Facts About George Harrison
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You probably know George Harrison as a Beatle, the lead guitarist of the most famous band in the world. We’re guessing that there’s a lot you don’t know about the youngest of The Fab Four, who was born on this day in 1943.

1. HE WAS ONLY 27 WHEN THE BEATLES BROKE UP.


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George Harrison turned 27 on February 25, 1970, less than two months before Paul McCartney told the world he had no future plans to work with the Beatles. It had been 12 years since Harrison had joined John Lennon’s band, The Quarrymen—shortly after McCartney, his Liverpool schoolmate—in 1958.

2. HE INVENTED THE MEGASTAR ROCK BENEFIT CONCERT.

Before Harrison organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, there were performances for charity, of course. But when his friend, the great Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar, told him about the plight of Bangladeshi refugees, victims of both war and a devastating cyclone who now faced starvation, Harrison felt compelled to devote himself to the cause. He recruited stars like Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Badfinger, and Leon Russell, and together they played two sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden on August 1, 1971. Harrison then arranged for the release of a concert album and film. The ventures had raised more than $12 million by 1985, and profits from sales of the movie and soundtrack continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF.

3. HE WROTE “CRACKERBOX PALACE” ABOUT HIS QUIRKY MANSION.

Harrison nicknamed his 120-room Friar Park mansion “Crackerbox Palace” after a friend’s description of Lord Buckley’s tiny Los Angeles home. The 66-acre property, about 37 miles west of London, was first owned by Sir Frank Crisp, a lawyer who lived there from 1889 to 1919. Harrison bought the estate in 1970—and quickly penned “The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp,” which appeared on his first solo album, All Things Must Pass, also in 1970.

Friar Park was a strange place, with gnomes, grottos, a miniature Matterhorn, and lavish gardens, which Harrison loved to tend. According to the Victoria County History website, the house itself “is an architectural fantasy in red brick, stone, and terracotta, mixing English, French and Flemish motifs in lavish, undisciplined profusion.”

4. HE LOVED HANGING OUT WITH BOB DYLAN AND THE BAND.

All four Beatles were Dylan fans, and first met him in 1964. But Harrison felt a special bond with him, and spent weeks at Dylan’s Woodstock, New York home in the fall of 1968. The Band was there, too, and Harrison loved the collaborative atmosphere. During this time Dylan and Harrison co-wrote “I’d Have You Anytime,” which appeared on 1970's All Things Must Pass. The two would become bandmates in the Traveling Wilburys, and maintained a close, lifelong friendship.

5. THE "QUIET BEATLE" WASN’T SO QUIET.

"He never shut up," friend and fellow Traveling Wilbury Tom Petty once said of Harrison. "He was the best hang you could imagine."

6. WHEN HE LOST HIS VIRGINITY, THE OTHER BEATLES CHEERED.

The Beatles at the EMI studios in Abbey Road, as they prepare for 'Our World', a world-wide live television show broadcasting to 24 countries with a potential audience of 400 million.
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During the band’s early years, they had extended runs as a house band in Hamburg, Germany, and were paid so poorly (and had to be on stage for so many hours) that they shared a small room in the club’s basement. Hence the witnesses to George’s deflowering, at age 17. "We were in bunkbeds," Harrison recalled. "They couldn't really see anything because I was under the covers, but after I'd finished they all applauded and cheered. At least they kept quiet whilst I was doing it."

7. WITHOUT HIM, THERE MAY NOT HAVE BEEN A MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN.

EMI Films, Life of Brian’s original backer, withdrew funding for the Monty Python comedy classic just before filming began, scared that the religious subject matter would be too controversial. Harrison, a big fan and friend of the Pythons, set up his own production company—Handmade Films—to fund the project. Why? "Because I liked the script and I wanted to see the movie,” he explained. Harrison not only saw the film, he appeared in it, as Mr. Papadopolous, "owner of the Mount.” Monty Python’s Life of Brian, released in 1979, was a huge hit in both the UK and U.S., and was ranked as the 10th best comedy film of all time in 2010 by The Guardian.

8. HE WAS THE FIRST EX-BEATLE TO SIMULTANEOUSLY TOP BOTH THE SINGLES AND ALBUMS CHARTS.

Harrison began recording the songs that would comprise All Things Must Pass at Abbey Road on May 26, 1970, just weeks after the Beatles broke up. The triple album was released in late November, along with “My Sweet Lord,” the first single from the album. Both the record and the single spent weeks at the top of the Billboard and Melody Maker charts in early 1971, while receiving rave reviews.

9. THE FIRST SONG HE WROTE WAS INSPIRED BY A DESIRE TO TELL PEOPLE TO GET LOST.

Harrison wrote “Don’t Bother Me,” his first first solo composition, while sick in bed at the Palace Court Hotel in Bournemouth, England, in the summer of 1963. It “was an exercise to see if I could write a song,” Harrison said. “I don't think it's a particularly good song ... It mightn't even be a song at all, but at least it showed me that all I needed to do was keep on writing, and then maybe eventually I would write something good." “Don’t Bother Me” appeared on With The Beatles, their second studio album.

10. HE WAS THE FIRST BEATLE TO VISIT, AND PLAY IN, THE U.S.

In the fall of 1963, Harrison traveled to Benton, Illinois to visit his sister, Louise, and her husband, George Caldwell. During his 18-day stay, Harrison also became the first Beatle to play in the U.S.—appearing on stage with The Four Vests at the VFW Hall in Eldorado. He played the second set with the band, taking over lead guitar and singing "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Your Cheatin' Heart."

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