It's possible to trade profitably on the Forex, the nearly $2 trillion worldwide currency exchange market. But the odds are against you, even more so if you don't prepare and plan your trades. According to a 2014 Bloomberg report, several analyses of retail Forex trading, including one by the National Futures Association (NFA), the industry's regulatory body, concluded that more than two out of three Forex traders lose money. This suggests that self-education and caution are recommended. Here are some approaches that may improve your odds of taking a profit. Prepare Before You Begin Trading Because the Forex market is highly leveraged -- as much as 50 to 1 -- it can have the same appeal as buying a lottery ticket: some small chance of making a killing. This, however, isn't trading; it's gambling, with the odds long against you. A better way of entering the Forex market is to carefully prepare. Beginning with a practice account is helpful and risk-free. While you're trading in your practice account, read the most frequently recommended Forex trading books, among them Currency Forecasting: A Guide to Fundamental and Technical Models of Exchange Rate Determination, by Michael R. Rosenberg is short, not too sweet and highly admired introduction to the Forex market. Forex Strategies: Best Forex Strategies for High Profits and Reduced Risk, by Matthew Maybury is an excellent introduction to Forex trading. The Little Book of Currency Trading: How to Make Big Profits in the World of Forex, by Kathy Lien is another concise introduction that has stood the test of time. All three are available on Amazon. Rosenberg's book, unfortunately, is pricey, but it's widely available in public libraries. "Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude," by Mark Douglas is another good book that's available on Amazon, and, again, somewhat pricey, although the Kindle edition is not. Use the information gained from your reading to plan your trades before plunging in. The more you change your plan, the more you end up in trouble and the less likely that elusive forex profit will end up in your pocket. Diversify and Limit Your Risks Two strategies that belong in every trader's arsenal are: Diversification: Traders who execute many small traders, particularly in different markets where the correlation between markets is low, have a better chance of making a profit. Putting all your money in one big trade is always a bad idea. Familiarize yourself with ways guaranteeing a profit on an already profitable order, such as a trailing stop, and of limiting losses using stop and limit orders. These strategies and more are covered in the recommended books. Novice traders often make the mistake of concentrating on how to win; it's even more important to understand how to limit your losses. Be Patient Forex traders, particularly beginners, are prone to getting nervous if a trade does not go their way immediately, or if the trade goes into a little profit they get itchy to pull the plug and walk away with a small profit that could have been a significant profit with little downside risk using appropriate risk reduction strategies. In "On Any Given Sunday," Al Pacino reminds us that "football is a game of inches." That's a winning attitude in the Forex market as well. Remember that you are going to win some trades and lose others. Take satisfaction in the accumulation of a few more wins than losses. Over time, that could make you rich!

Cherry Turnovers with Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Cherry Turnovers with Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
An easy recipe for cherry turnovers with a flaky, buttery puff pastry crust and a simple homemade cherry pie filling naturally sweetened with maple syrup.
Early this spring I watched Twin Peaks for the first time on Netflix and fell in love with the show's mix of quirkiness, cheesiness, and abstract ideas. Shortly thereafter, I found out the third season would be airing soon on Showtime. 
Ummm...what are the chances?! I just happen to watch the series 25 years later and shortly thereafter I find out about its continuation. How serendipitous.
An easy recipe for cherry turnovers with a flaky, buttery puff pastry crust and simple homemade cherry pie filling that's naturally sweetened with maple syrup.

INGREDIENTS:
For The Cherry Pie Filling:
  • 6 1/2 cups of fresh cherries* (approx. 3 lbs.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt (like THIS)
  • 1/2 cup of real maple syrup** (like THIS)
  • Juice + zest from 1 lime OR lemon (about 1 tbsp juice + 1 tsp zest)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (get my homemade vanilla extract recipe here)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of cool purified water
For The Turnovers:
  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge (I used THIS all-butter brand - Note: You can use 3 packages of puff pastry if you want to use up all the filling)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of purified water
  • *You can substitute frozen cherries if they're out of season; however, these will likely produce more juice as they thaw so you may need to cook them longer to reduce the filling.
  • **Adjust this amount up or down depending on the type of cherry you're using & your preference for sweetness. If you are using sweet cherries (like Bing) you may be able to use less, and if you're using sour cherries, you may want to increase this to 1 cup.
  • Recommended Equipment
  • large rimmed baking sheet
  • parchment paper or silicone baking mat
  • silicone pastry brush or spoon
  • large skillet or pan (I love my cast-iron skillet & enameled cast-iron French oven) 
  • glass mixing bowls
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. For The Homemade Cherry Pie Filling: Wash and dry the cherries, place in a large bowl (to contain the messy juices), and remove the stems and pits. You can use a chopstick, frosting tip, or wine stopper as a makeshift cherry pitter by gently sticking it in the top of the cherry and pushing into the pit/seed until it pops out the other side. Discard all stems & pits, then pour the cherries + juices (I had about 1/4 cup) into a large skillet. Add the sea salt, maple syrup, lime juice + zest, and vanilla extract. Stir and turn the heat to medium. Let the cherries cook for about 5-6 minutes or until they start to release their juices and the mixture is steaming, but not boiling.
  2. Meanwhile, measure the cornstarch into a separate bowl and then slowly stir in the water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Set this aside until the cherries are juicy and steaming. When that happens, give the cornstarch slurry another stir, pour into the cherries, and mix well. Stir frequently, bring the mixture to a simmer, and then cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until the juices start to thicken up and turn slightly glossy. This will happen very quickly, so don't walk away. Immediately remove from the heat and let the cherry pie filling cool for about 20 minutes so you can use it in the turnovers. (Note: This recipe makes a little over 2 cups of filling, which is enough to make at least 18 turnovers in one go, but I prefer to freeze the leftovers for future baking adventures. You can also make the filling a few days ahead of time and store in the fridge until you're ready to bake.)
  3. For The Cherry Turnovers: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle a large cutting board or clean counter with flour. In a small bowl, beat 1 whole egg with 1 teaspoon of water to create an egg wash and set aside. Quickly unwrap the thawed puff pastry and spread it onto the floured surface. Cut the dough into six equal squares or rectangles using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. (Note: If you want the pieces equal sizes you may have to cut off an inch or so of the dough. You can save this for other baking projects or discard.)
  4. As soon as you cut the dough, transfer the puff pastry pieces onto the parchment paper. If the dough is getting too soft/sticky (this can happen if your kitchen is warm since it's an all-butter dough), transfer the baking sheet to the freezer for 10 minutes or so to cool down.
  5. Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of the cooled cherry pie filling onto the bottom center of each dough piece, making sure to leave at least a 1/2 inch rim around the filling for sealing the turnover. (If you overfill them like I did, the cherries will spill out during baking and the sides might not puff up as much. Don't worry, they'll still taste good.)
  6. Using a pastry brush or spoon, lightly coat the three edges of dough around the cherry filling (bottom & two sides) with egg wash, then fold the dry top part of the dough over the filling (hence the name turnover) and line up the dry edges with the egg-washed edges (no need to be perfect). Use a fork to press down & seal the three edges of the dough for each pastry. Lightly coat the tops of the turnovers with more egg wash, and cut 2-3 small slits into the tops of each one using a sharp knife. Place the baking sheet in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. In the last ten minutes of cooling, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the turnovers for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden and the dough is fully cooked through. As noted on the back of my puff pastry box, if the pastry puffs in the oven but collapses as its cooling, that means it's undercooked & needs to bake longer. Let the turnovers cool a bit on the baking sheet and eat while still warm. Store any leftover turnovers and cherry pie filling separately (you will have plenty left unless you double or triple the puff pastry) in tightly sealed containers in the fridge and consume within 4-5 days or freeze for later.

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