Encyclopedia of Tips
Foods high in acid can wreak havoc on sensitive stomachs. Be cautious when serving them to guests.
The high content of pectin promotes good digestion and is thought to lower serum cholesterol. Apples provide a great source of dietary fiber and have 15% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C as well as a high content of vitamins and minerals. Its sugar, glucose, provides quick energy. The large water content, about 85%, is a natural thirst quencher. The acid in apples is a natural mouth freshener, and apples help clean the teeth.
- Due to the high water content in apples, they are best stored in a reasonably moist environment. Dry storage tends to draw out their moisture.
- Crispness and flavor are diminished at room temperature, so store apples in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, in a perforated plastic bag. Plastic prevents moisture loss, slows down the "breathing" of the apples and protects the apples from absorbing the odors of other foods.
- Leave some room for circulation around the apples, and immediately use any apples that show signs of spoiling. Apples may be kept for several weeks, and up to several months if stored well. If they do lose crispness, they are still good for cooking.
1 pound apples = 4 cups chopped apples, 4 cups sliced apples, 1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 pound apples = 4 small apples, 3 medium apples, 2 large apples
1 serving of apple = 1 medium apple, 6 ounces juice, 1/2 cup applesauce
1 apple contains 80 calories and less than 1/2 gram fat
Best baking apples
Tart, crisp apples that hold their shape are best for pie-making. Fall or early winter is the ideal time to bake an apple pie because the apple crop is fresh. With the exception of Granny Smith apples (tart, green apples from Australia and New Zealand that are available all year), apples found in markets in the spring and summer have been stored since the fall harvest and do not have the same taste or texture as fresh apples.
The following varieties are among the best for baking in pies: Baldwin, Cortland, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Johnathan, Macoun, Newtown, Pippin, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Rome Beauty, and Winesap.
Cooking with Granny Smith Apples
Selection: Good-quality Granny Smith apples will be firm with smooth and clean skin. Granny Smith apples are a deep green with an occasional pink blush spot. Test the firmness of the apple by holding it in the palm of your hand. (Do not push with your thumb). It should feel solid and heavy, not soft and light. These apples may be less attractive, but the flesh is still good to eat after cutting.
Avoid product with soft or dark spots. Also if the apple skin wrinkles when you rub your thumb across it, the apple has probably been in cold storage too long or has not been kept cool. Grannies occasionally show "russetting," a brownish network at the stem end.
After you make applesauce
When making applesauce, save the apple peels and cores and cook separately. Put through cheese cloth for juice then make apple jelly and none of your apple is wasted.
I preserve my fresh apples by wrapping them in clean newspaper and putting them in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. They remain as fresh as ever for a couple of weeks.
Health Benefits of Apricots: see Lycopene
Avocados, available all year, vary greatly in shape, size, and color. Despite this variation in appearance, avocados are of good eating quality when they are properly ripened, becoming slightly soft. This ripening process normally takes from 3 to 5 days at room temperature for the firm avocados usually found in food stores. Ripening can be slowed by refrigeration.
For immediate use, select slightly soft avocados, which yield to gentle pressure on the skin. For use in a few days, buy firm fruits that do not yield to the squeeze test. Leave them at room temperature to ripen. Irregular light-brown markings are sometimes found on the skin but generally have no effect on the flesh of the avocado.
Avoid: Avocados with dark sunken spots in irregular patches or cracked or broken surfaces. These are signs of decay.
To avoid the browning of avocado flesh when exposed to air, immediately place the peeled fruit in lemon juice until ready for use.
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To prevent bacon from curling up when frying, make some small slits around the edges with a pair of scissors. The bacon should remain flat and cook easily.
Put the bacon in a cold frying pan and put a cover on it. Put it on medium heat and it will not curl up. Turn over when it is done on one side and let cook till browned on the other side. You not only get straight bacon but there will not be splatters all over your stove to clean up afterwards. (Tip from Doris Church, Brethren, MI)
When using whole wheat flour in baking add 1 Tbs. of Vital Wheat Gluten for each C. of flour used and your cakes and muffins will turn out much softer.
A combination of ingredients, including baking soda, an acid such as cream of tartar, and a moisture absorber like cornstarch. An important chemical process occurs when baking powder is added to wet ingredients; carbon dioxide gas bubbles are released, which in turn cause the bread, cookies, or cake to rise and lighten in texture. The double-acting baking powder used by home cooks acts twice: some gas is released when it comes in contact with the wet ingredients and then again when exposed to heat in the oven. Baking powder is fragile and loses effectiveness quickly. A good rule is to replace it at least once a year to guarantee baking results.
Produces carbon dioxide bubbles, but here the catalyst is an acid such as buttermilk, molasses, or yogurt. Baking soda reacts immediately, so it should be sifted first with dry ingredients, and then added to the acidic ingredient only right before the dish is placed in the oven.
Bananas that require further ripening should be left at room temperature, but away from heat or direct sun. To speed ripening, place them in a loosely closed paper bag. Putting an apple in the bag will further speed the process. Once ripened to your liking, bananas can be held at room temperature for a day or two. Then, you can store them in the refrigerator to slow down ripening; although the skins will turn dark, the fruits will remain perfectly edible. You can keep refrigerated bananas for up to two weeks. Never refrigerate unripe bananas: the exposure to cold interrupts their ripening cycle, and it will not resume even if the fruits are returned to room temperature.
You can salvage an overabundance of overripe bananas by peeling them, wrapping them whole or in chunks in plastic wrap, and freezing them. Eat them frozen (another sweet treat in summer) or thaw them and use in baking, where peak sweetness and "mushiness" are desirable.
What to do with Over-ripened Bananas
- Peel and mash them to use in a quick banana bread or even a corn bread recipe. Mashed bananas over pancakes are mighty tasty and you save some of the calories, too. Another great idea for mashed bananas is to top your cooked cereal in the morning.
- Peel and cut into 1-inch chunks and put in a the blender with some soy milk, dates, raisins, and a little cinnamon. A tasty shake like this can help get you going in the morning.
Control the flames on a barbecue grill by having a pint spray bottle of water mixed with 1 teaspoon baking soda.
Cooking brings out the appetizing aroma and texture of dry beans. Overcooking causes poor texture, color, and flavor. Microwaving doesn't reduce cooking time for dry beans. Be careful to time how long you cook beans, and follow directions carefully.
Canned vs. Dried Beans
Sure canned beans are fast and easy to use, but you can also prepare dried beans from scratch and it can be economical to cook up a whole bunch and freeze in quantities similar to the can sizes you usually use.
Here are some equivalents and cooking instructions:
1 lb dry beans = 2 1/2 cups dry beans = about 7 1/2 cups cooked beans
1 cup dry beans = about 3 cups cooked beans
14 oz can beans = about 1 1/2 cups drained beans
19 oz can beans = about 2 cups drained beans
First, rinse and sort dried beans, discarding any blemished ones or any grit. Then do a quick soak. In saucepan, cover dried beans with three times their volume of water and bring to boil. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for one hour. Drain. In a large saucepan, cover drained, soaked beans with three times their volume of fresh water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, and top with water if necessary, for about 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours, depending on age and type of bean. Drain. Some maintain that discarding soaking liquid helps to reduce flatulence.
Health Benefits of Beans: see Lycopene
Pat beef steaks with paper toweling before cooking for better browning of the meat.
Lean to Fat Beef Ratio
Many supermarkets have started adding numbered ratio codes to the different grades of ground beef. Along with the titles "Ground Chuck" or "Ground Sirloin" you may see a number like "80/20" or "90/10." This is simply a "lean/fat" ratio (for example 80/20 means the meat is produced using 80% lean and 20% fat). This is actually more accurate because Ground Chuck is seldom produced using only Chuck roasts. Keep in mind that leaner is not always better for all recipes. A burger made with 90/10-ground chuck can be dry and flavorless.
Easy Beverage Ideas
- Mix orange juice and ginger ale together and garnish with orange slices.
- Buy a canister of hot chocolate and make according to directions, then add to crockpot. Surround crockpot with bowls of candy canes or peppermint sticks, marshmallows and whipped topping, plus the cup for a self serve hot chocolate table. Decorate the table with festive decorations and plates of cookies.
- Set up a table with hot water and teas from around the world, including herb teas. Many are available online and in your larger grocery stores. Decorate the table in a Christmas around the world theme and serve Chinese, English, Irish and an assortment of herb teas, as well as 2 or 3 types of petite cookies.
- Provide many different juices, plus bottles of seltzer water. Wearing a festive apron you can "mix" the juice of your visitor's choice with the bubbling water and garnish with their choice of fresh fruit. Use fancy glasses for a fun flair!
To peel a tomato, peach or anything else with skin, dip quickly in a pot of boiling water. Stick a fork into the stem and use a paring knife to easily remove the skin.
Fresh blueberries are on the market from May through September. Generally, the large berries are cultivated varieties and the smaller berries are wild varieties. Look for: A dark blue color with a silvery bloom is the best indication of quality. This silvery bloom is a natural, protective, waxy coating. Buy blueberries that are plump, firm, uniform in size, dry, and free from stems or leaves.
Health Benefits of Blueberries: see Lycopene
Boysenberries: see Raspberries
Use tongs to prevent piercing the casing with a fork and causing the juices come out. You will dry the brats out and lose a lot of the flavor to the coals. If you take the fresh brats straight to the grill, be sure to cook them slowly over a low temperature. If the coals are too hot, it will be almost impossible to fully cook them on the inside. It's worth the wait so go slow and don't char the outsides.
These aren't as commonly used as many of the other nuts, but they can be sliced, chopped, or ground and used in cookies, cakes, salads or stuffing. They can also replace macadamia nuts in recipes.
Know your Dough
- If dough seems too soft to roll, chill until firm. If dough seems slightly dry, work in one teaspoon of cream or butter with hands.
- For extra fine textured bread let the dough rise twice in the bowl before shaping. Dough will continue to rise during the first fifteen minutes of baking. It is important you do not open the oven during this time.
- Milk adds a velvety texture to bread plus needed nutrients.
- Sugar adds flavor and color to the bread. A good rule of the thumb might be a minimum of 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar for each called for cup of flour.
- Salt adds to the flavor of the bread and controls the fermentation by slowing the action of the yeast.
- Breads should be kept away from drafty areas while rising and when cooling.
- Self-rising flour is not suitable for yeast breads.
- Kneading the dough for a half minute after mixing improves the texture of baking powder biscuits.
It's easy to re-create a brick oven at home. The method of cooking directly on a heated ceramic-type surface is what gives classic pizza crusts and Old World breads their crunch. You can purchase a stone that fits in your home oven. Simply pre-heat the stone as your oven warms up and then bake on the hot surface.
Health Benefits of Broccoli: see Lycopene
Add a cup of water to the bottom of a broiling pan to absorb grease and smoke.
Why brown sugar gets hard
Place a slice of bread in the container. The syrup in brown sugar attracts moisture. So your brown sugar will draw the moisture from the bread. In a day or two, the bread will be dry and your brown sugar will be moist and soft.
On Pots and Pans
If you have a burn marks on a pan, boil some water and a few ounces of pearl barley in the pan. Let it cool and stand overnight, then clean as usual. The stains should lift out. If you have a pan that you burnt some food in, just boil a few cups of water with a cup a vinegar added. This loosens the burnt on foods so you can wipe it away.
To soften butter quickly, cut it in pieces, put it on a plate and cover with a metal bowl that's been rinsed with hot water.
Salted vs. Unsalted
Most professional chefs like to use unsalted butter because it is one way of controlling the salt content of a dish. When baking, many recipes for desserts and other sweet items do not call for salt —hence, unsalted butter is the only way of being sure that nothing goes into the recipe other than what is called for.
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Cool weather brings out the best in cabbage: Red cabbages are more colorful and green cabbages are more flavorful when the nights are nippy. Harvest your fall crop when the heads are firm when squeezed, but before a hard frost. They will keep 2-3 months when stored in a cool basement or root cellar.
Wilting Cabbage for Cabbage Rolls
First, core your cabbage, than wrap in several wet paper towels. Pop it in the microwave for 12-15 minutes. Take it out and let cool. Then just pull the leaves off.
Health Benefits of Cabbage: see Lycopene
When baking a cake, instead of dusting the pans with flour, use granulated sugar. The cakes come out of the pan just as easy and taste better with that little bit of melted sugar on them.
Flouring a Cake
When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead - no white mess on the outside of the cake. Shared by Melody Sherrill of Le Mars, Iowa
Frosting a Cake
When frosting a cake, eliminate crumbs by having the spatula only touch the frosting, not the cake itself. Use dabs of frosting to "glue" the bottom layer to serve plate to hold it steady as you frost the cake.
When frosting a two-layer cake, place 4 pieces of waxed paper on plate to square it off. Place first layer on plate, upside-down (flat side up). Frost bottom layer then place top layer flat side down and frost as usual. when cake is frosted, pull gently on waxed paper strips until removed. Plate is clean on edges with no clean up!
Slicing Cake Layers
If you have to slice cake layers in half (as in preparing a torte), get out your sewing thread. Position thread on far side of layer and then see-saw through. Also, ice or fill with sliced side down.
Adding nutrients to soup
To pull the calcium out of chicken or turkey bones, add 1 ounce vinegar to each quart of water up to 4 ounces total when you are making soup stock. It will not give a vinegar taste to the soup but will draw out all the nutrients in the bones.
Also known as pot marigold or poor man's saffron. The flower petals, when chopped and added to rice or potatoes, add a bright yellow color and a flavor reminiscent of costly saffron.
Open cans of things that settle (like beans or chili) from the bottom. The ingredients come out much easier. If you have a can that can't be opened from the bottom, try storing it upside-down. Shared by Bettye VanderVeen, Bentonville, Arkansas
Keep an electric can opener operating smoothly by moving a piece of wax paper through the cutting mechanism.
Cantaloupes and other melons should be left to ripen at room temperature, turning them once a day so they don't develop soft spots.
Lemon juice added to carrot cooking water will help keep the color bright.
Health Benefits of Carrots: see Lycopene
Good-quality cauliflower will have white or slightly off-white heads that are firm with no space between the curds. The leaves should be fresh and green. There is no quality difference between large and small heads. Avoid cauliflower that is soft or wilting, has ivory to light brown coloring or that has small dark spots on the curds. Keep cold and humid and use as soon as possible.
Adding one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the water will maintain the white color. A splash of milk will do the same thing.
To keep celery fresh and crisp wrap it in Foil when you put it in the refrigerator. Will keep for a month.
Celery Leaves (drying): see Drying
Neatly slice a log of goat cheese by holding both ends of a length of unflavored dental floss, sliding it under the log, then pulling up each end and firmly crossing the ends over each other.
Chervil can be directly seeded as soon as your soil can be worked, and it's a wonderful herb that can be grown easily. Chervil has a delicate flavor with a hint of anise. It's a little like a subtle parsley. It goes well with poultry, seafood, rice, couscous, salads, sauces, eggs and soups. It is delicate, so use it at the last minute when cooking with it and snip with a scissors, rather than chop. Combine it with tarragon or chives for a nice combination.
- Always freeze uncooked chicken if it is not to be used within 2 days.
- Chicken should not be thawed on the countertop.
- It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 4-pound chicken in the refrigerator. Cut-up parts, 3 to 9 hours.
- For quick thawing of raw or cooked chicken use the microwave. Thawing time will vary according to your microwave.
- Chicken may also be safely thawed in cold water. Place chicken in its original wrap or watertight plastic bag in cold water. Change water often. It takes about 2 hours to thaw a whole chicken.
For cubing chicken: Refrigerate after cooking. Wait until and gets cold and then it will be so much easier to cut!
- Use a potato or vegetable parer to make chocolate curls for decorating cakes and pies. You can use bars of semi-sweet or bitter chocolate. The chocolate should be at room temperature or even very slightly warmer. You can adjust the thickness and length of the curls by the pressure of your strokes.
- To melt chocolate, chop fine. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave, uncovered, at 100 percent power, stirring every 10 seconds.
- Use self-sealing plastic bags to melt butter or chocolate in the microwave.
To quickly and easily melt chocolate or carob, place in a metal bowl and put this in the oven, with the temperature turned on the lowest possible setting. Close the door. After about 5 minutes, turn the oven off. In about 10 minutes, the chocolate should be melted.
Cooking With Fresh Cilantro
From the coriander plant the leaves are considered "cilantro" and the dried seeds are called "coriander". Cilantro is another herb that is often mistaken for parsley, the leaves look very similar to flat leaf or Italian parsley. They can be differentiated by the rounded leafs rather than the flat leaf parsley's sharper edges. Cilantro is excellent in salads and often mixed with fruit salsas which gives them a certain "California" flavor. A very versatile herb often used in Mexican cooking.
Citrus Peels (drying): see Drying
To clean your microwave, heat a bowl of water on high power for 5-10 minutes. Keep the oven closed for several more minutes to allow the steam to do its magic. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the bowl of water, then wipe the walls of the oven.
For a quick clean up with no smell, clean your kitchen sink with baking soda. Works great on white or almond sinks.
To remove grease from inside your oven, put a small pan of ammonia in the oven in the evening, and then close the oven door. In the morning, remove the pan of ammonia. The grease inside the oven will wipe off very easily.
Dried out coconut can be revitalized by sprinkling with milk and letting it stand for about ten minutes.
Store coffee in the freezer. It keeps the coffee fresh from the first to last cup. Put enough coffee into small snack size zip lock bags to make 8 cups, then store them in the freezer. It's a little extra work when you first do it, but saves time when you're in a hurry. When you're down to the last couple of bags you know it's time to buy more.
If you run out of coffee filters and are too lazy to run to the store, try using a paper towel instead.
Cleaning your Coffee Pot
To clean your coffee pot, fill it halfway with vinegar and let it run through. Then brew 2-3 cups of water to get the vinegar taste out. Wash brew basket and coffee pot in hot soapy water.
Perfect Coffee Tips
- Keep coffee in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place. Try the freezer.
- For best results, buy the whole beans and grind them yourself just before use.
- If you notice any traces of chlorine, iron, or other minerals in your water, use a quality bottled or filtered water. Softened or distilled water will affect the flavor of the coffee and should not to be used.
- It's said the best water-to-coffee ratio is 1 tablespoon of ground coffee or 2 tablespoons of whole beans for each 6 ounces of water.
- Boiling or reheating coffee literally boils away flavor. A thermal carafe will keep the coffee hot for up to 2 hours without losing any flavor.
For a pretty flower design on sugar cookies, press the bottom of an empty plastic thread spool (label removed) into the rounds of the dough.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Variations
- Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies: Bake cookies in a 325 degree oven until they are a light golden brown (10-13 minutes). Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
- Chocolate Chunk Cookies: Omit semisweet chocolate chips. Coarsely chop a 3- to 4-ounce bar of semisweet chocolate, and fold it into cookie dough in step 3.
- Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies: After beating butter and sugars, add 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky). Beat well, then continue as for Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies. Omit chopped walnuts.
To make no-bake cookies even faster, spread out the batter in a pan, let it set and cut into squares. This is a lot quicker and just as good.
Tips on How to Avoid Flat Cookies
- Don't omit nuts. If you must, add 1-2 tablespoons extra flour.
- Softening Butter: Soften butter at room temperature or in the microwave. One stick of cold butter taken directly from the refrigerator may be softened on Defrost (30%) Power for 10 to 15 seconds. Check; if necessary, microwave 5 to 10 seconds more. Let stand until ready to use. Butter should be softened just until it yields to light pressure.
- Melted Butter: Using melted butter makes a flatter cookie with a shiny surface and a slightly crackled appearance. The cookie browns evenly. Using melted butter is acceptable but not suggested.
- Unsalted Butter: You may substitute unsalted butter, or omit salt from the recipe.
- When using margarine, do not soften. Use directly from the refrigerator.
- Use a good grade of margarine; avoid tub and light margarine.
- Don't over beat.
- Use ungreased baking sheets.
- Allow baking sheets to cool between batches. Chill baking sheets briefly in the refrigerator or freezer to hasten cooling between batches.
- Wipe baking sheets clean of grease or wash and dry between batches.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons extra flour on humid or rainy days.
- Allow cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
- Egg Substitutes: Acceptable. Liquid egg substitutes may be used. Follow manufacturer's directions for amount to substitute.
- Extra Large Eggs: Not recommended. Extra large eggs cause a flatter cookie than standard. If extra large eggs have already been added to the dough, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons extra flour.
- No Eggs: Acceptable. Omit eggs and use 2 tablespoons water. Bake 8 to10 minutes, until lightly browned. Do not over-bake. Store tightly sealed to prevent drying. Makes a cookie that is chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside.
- One Egg: Acceptable. Cookie and is crispy on the outside, softer inside.
- Egg Whites Only: Acceptable. Substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg.
- Preheat oven fully at the correct temperature. Use a mercury-type oven thermometer to check oven temperature about once a month.
- Use unsifted all-purpose flour. If the flour has already been sifted, add 2 tablespoons more flour. (Most flour sold in the supermarkets today is marked "Pre-sifted," so there is no need for sifting.)
Freezing Cookie Dough
Most cookie dough freezes extremely well and can be kept frozen for up to 4 or 6 weeks. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the dough will absorb any odd odors present in your freezer if it's not properly wrapped and sealed. To prevent this smell-sponge effect-as well as freezer burn-wrap the dough securely twice. It's also a very good idea to write the type of cookie dough and the date it was frozen on the outside of the package. When you are ready to bake simply let the dough defrost in the refrigerator. This will take several hours, so plan. The cookie doughs that freeze best are shortbreads, chocolate chip, peanut butter, refrigerator, sugar, and brownies, just to name a few. The types of cookie dough that do not freeze well are cake-like cookies and cookies that have a very liquid batter.
For even-size balls of cookie dough, roll the dough into a log and cut the log in half, then each in half, each quarter in half and so on until you have the number the recipe calls for, then roll into balls.
Cooking for One
Freeze chicken/turkey broth in ice cube trays to use in stir-fries, sauces etc. You can also freeze fresh herbs from the garden in water and ice cube trays and use as above as well. Also, plain yogurt used as a topper on rice is so nice, with a little hot sauce. Try plain yogurt, grated radish and salt, delicious to use on rice, cook your chicken in yogurt, marinate in yogurt or milk, your meat will be so tender.
Ways to Cook Corn
Boiling – length of cooking time depends on the freshness of the corn. If the corn is young, fresh and tender (picked that morning), remove the husks and cook for 2 minutes maximum in rapidly boiling unsalted water (salt makes the kernels tough) and forget the sugar, the corn is sweet enough. If the corn is a bit older or has been refrigerated, boil it for 4 minutes.
Microwave – Best for cooking only one or two ears of corn. Cook with husks off at the highest setting (one ear for 2 minutes, two ears for 5). Rub ears with butter or olive oil
before cooking, if desired.
Roasting on the grill – Husks on or off, there's really no need to soak the ears or remove the silks (they'll come off with the husk). Place on hot grill. If husks are on, let them char a bit to impart a wonderfully smoky flavor to the corn and grill six to eight minutes. Or remove husks for beautiful color and taste (the heat caramelizes the sugar in the corn) and grill for 3 minutes.
Roasting in the oven – Set temperature to 450 degrees and roast 6-8 minutes with husk on. If you desire seasoning, first pull back the husk, rub with flavored butter or olive oil and pull the husks back over the tops.
Bring cornstarch mixtures to a full boil (even if they contain egg yolks). Otherwise the starch won't cook properly and the finished dish may taste pasty.
Buttering Corn on the Cob
Melt a stick of butter in a pan of hot water. The butter will float, to butter corn, simply dip in the pan, the butter sticks, the water doesn't.
- When washing, look for bright, plump cranberries and pick out any soft, crushed, or shriveled berries.
- Peak season is September through December.
- Fresh cranberries will keep in the refrigerator for 4-8 weeks.
- You can freeze fresh cranberries for longer storage.
- You can substitute frozen cranberries in most recipes calling for fresh.
- Do not wash cranberries until ready for use, as moisture will cause quicker spoilage.
- When the recipe says "cook until the cranberries pop", don't expect popcorn. This simply means the berry's outer skin will expand until it bursts
Cream will whip faster if the bowl, beaters and cream are all chilled first.
Cumin isn't just for chili. It's a savory herb and though a little goes a long way--it adds a unique flavor to dishes. You can use whole seed or ground. If you use the whole seed you'll need to grind it in a grinder or in a mortar and pestle for the recipe after lightly toasting it in a skillet.
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Deviled Eggs see Eggs
Dripping faucets can be quieted by tying a string to it that reaches into the sink. The water will slide down the string quietly. Try loosening rusty screws by putting a drop or two of ammonia on it.
Dried fruit will chop easier if you put it in the freezer for about an hour before cutting.
Drying Citrus Peels
Before I eat an orange, I use my box grater and shred the peel. I put the shredded peel on a paper plate and leave it on the kitchen counter a few days to dry. When the shredded peels are bone dry, they go into a Mason jar with a tight fitting cover. I then make a label for the jar. I use the dried peel in baking and canning recipes. I do the same with lemons, limes, tangerines, and grapefruits. The home-dried peels are much more flavorful than the stuff you buy and they are free.
Drying Celery Leaves
It's very easy to dry celery leaves. I simply put the chopped up leaves on a paper plate and leave it on the kitchen counter for a couple of days. They are great to add to soups and stews and again they are free.
Drying Hot Peppers
Wear disposable rubber gloves and cut off the stem and blossom ends. Put them into a food processor and chop them. Line a cookie sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and spray it lightly with cooking spray. Put the chopped peppers between a couple of paper towels and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Spread the chopped hot peppers on the cookie sheet. Turn your oven to 200 degrees and leave the door slightly ajar. Using a long-handled pancake turner, turn them over every 15-20 minutes. Be very careful when you do this as the fumes will clear your sinuses big time. Depending upon how wet they are, it should take a couple of hours for them to dry. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place it on a kitchen counter for a few days. When the peppers are absolutely bone dry, transfer the hot pepper flakes to a Mason jar with a tight fitting cover. Label them. Make sure they are absolutely brittle or they will mold. They are very powerful and you don't need a lot to kick up a recipe. They will last indefinitely.
Drying Culinary Herbs
I grow a lot of culinary herbs and dry them as well. Pick your herbs and strip them off their stems. Chop them finely. Dry them between a couple of paper towels to get rid of excess moisture. Place on a cookie sheet lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Put into a 200 degrees oven with the door slightly ajar. Turn
over with a long handled pancake turner every 15-20 minutes. Depending upon how wet they are, it should take a couple of hours for them to dry. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place it on a kitchen counter for a few days. When the herbs are absolutely bone dry, transfer them to a Mason jar with a tight fitting cover. Make sure they are absolutely brittle or they will mold. Label them because once they are dried, they all look alike. I save the stems from the herbs and toss them into my BBQ grill. They smoke and add a great flavor to whatever you are grilling.
Drying Fresh Mushrooms
Gently rinse mushrooms and dry between paper towels. Cut into slices. Place on a cookie sheet lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Put into a 200 degrees F oven with the door slightly ajar. Turn over with a long handled pancake turner every 15 to 20 minutes. Depending upon how wet they are, it should take a couple of hours for them to dry. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place it on a kitchen counter for a few days. When the herbs are absolutely one dry, transfer them to a Mason jar with a tight fitting cover. Make sure they are absolutely brittle or they will mold. Label them.
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Bring eggs to room temperature quickly by putting them in a bowl of warm, not hot, water for 5 to 10 minutes. It's easier to separate egg yolks from whites when the eggs are cold.
If you drop an egg on the floor, cover it with salt and leave it alone for 2 minutes. The salt absorbs the egg and makes it easier to wipe it up.
When stiffly beaten, egg whites will expand to approximately 6 times their unwhipped volume. But they will not whip up if even a speck of yolk is included or if the dishes or utensils used for whipping have any oil or fat on them.
If you have a recipe that uses just egg whites, you can refrigerate the yolks for later use by storing them, unbroken, in a small bowl, covered with cold water for up to two days.
To make deviled eggs with no mess put eggs yolks from hard boiled eggs in plastic sandwich bag. Add remaining ingredients, close bag and mix. When finished cut small tip off corner of bag and squeeze into hollowed egg white, then simply throw away the bag. No mess, no fuss.
For perfect hard-cooked eggs, put eggs in a large saucepan with cold water to cover them by 1-inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let stand covered 15 minutes. Pour off water; put pan under running water to stop further cooking. When cool enough to handle, crack shells and peel. To prevent the black ring around the edge of the egg, plunge straight into cold water after cooking.
Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Place eggs in saucepan with water to cover as usual. When water comes to a boil remove from heat and let set 20 minutes covered. The eggs will finish cooking, yolks perfectly centered and no green every time. Sherri from Fort Worth, Texas
Easy Peel Hard Boiled Eggs
Add 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the water before you boil your eggs. Boil eggs for 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool at room temperature. The shell can be peeled easily and cleanly from the egg.
Egg Substitute: see Substitutions
Cooking with Equal
When using Equal no-calorie sweetener, use recipes designed for Equal or maintain sweetness by adding Equal after removing the dish from heat. Prolonged cooking at high heat levels may result in some loss of sweetness.
Try these ideas with your basic recipe for a more ethnic flare
Chinese: Add rice, water chestnuts and sweet-and-sour sauce. Or soy sauce, green onions and ginger.
French: Mix in mushrooms, red wine and pepper. Also, try white wine, Dijon mustard and parsley.
Greek: Add ground lamb and feta cheese.
Indian: Add curry powder and crushed garbanzo beans. Or mix in cubed potatoes, yogurt and mustard seeds.
Mexican: Add fresh cilantro and green chilies. Or add white cheese, chili powder and cumin.
Polish: Add bacon drippings, dill pickles and hard-boiled eggs. Or add horseradish and sour cream.
Puerto Rican: Add sliced green olives, ham and raisins. Or mix in onions, garlic and chopped green bell pepper.
Thai: Mix in peanuts and hot red peppers. Also, try coconut milk and grated lime zest.
Mix half milk and half water to use as a milk substitute in recipes. Covered tightly it last longer in the fridge than regular milk. Great on camping trips when making pancakes or waffles or any other recipe that calls for milk.
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Fat Free/Low Fat
Cook crumbled hamburger meat for spaghetti sauce or tacos in boiling water to save fat and calories. After cooking, place in a colander and run hot water over it to rinse much of the fat away.
For perfectly cooked fish, measure fish at its thickets party and cook, using any method, 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
Thaw frozen fish in milk. The milks helps to draw out the "frozen" taste. Discard the milk before cooking.
See individual listings for: Tuna
- Serve French fries with salsa instead of ketchup for a different flavor.
- Before cooking Portobello mushrooms, cut a few slits in the caps and insert slivers of garlic.
- Add softened plain or chive cream cheese to eggs while scrambling.
- Use bottled salad dressing on cooked, hot vegetables.
- Sprinkle shredded peppery Jack cheese on hot tomato or split-pea soup.
- Add vinaigrette-type salad dressing to potatoes for potato salad while they're still hot – they'll absorb more of the dressing.
- Stir in a few cinnamon red-hot candies into applesauce and they will dissolve.
- Cook rice in broth instead of plain water.
- Add bouillon granules or cubes to soups, stews and sauces that need a lift.
Scented geranium leaves add a delicious taste to sugars, cakes and other desserts. Try placing a single geranium leaf in the bottom of a jelly glass before pouring in apple jelly for a nice touch. Make the following sugar and use it in cookies, cakes, custards or breads in place of the granulated sugar or it can be sprinkled on top.
See Food Storage Guidelines
Stretch freezer space by freezing sauces, meatballs, even soups in zip-top bags. Squeeze out any air, press flat and stack. Food will thaw faster too. When labeling containers in your freezer, put the label on the side for upright freezers and on top for chest-type. Be sure to include the name of the dish, date and amount.
Freezing chicken and fish in your RV freezer
To freeze your fresh fish filets, place filets of fish in a freezer baggie, fill with enough water to cover fish. Allow room to let water expand due to freezing, and press out air pockets. Seal well and label it. Lay flat in your RV freezer, that way it will leave more space in your freezer. T
To thaw, place baggie in sink or pan filled with cool water, it will thaw within the hour. You will not be able to tell it was ever frozen! This works the same with raw chicken breasts and the best thing is that due to the water surrounding and protecting the meat, it will never freezer burn!
Occasionally, frozen foods are partially or completely thawed because of delays in storing food, a power outage, or a change of plans for cooking the food. The basis for determining safety in refreezing foods is how long and at what temperature they have been held. Look closely at frozen foods you thawed partially or completely to determine whether you should refreeze them.
Refreezing needs to be done quickly. Clean the freezer before refilling. If the freezer has an adjustable temperature control, turn it to the coldest position. Check each package or container of food. Non-rigid containers can often be checked without opening by squeezing to feel for ice crystals. If they need to be opened, they should be carefully rewrapped.
Certain foods may be safely refrozen if they still contain ice crystals, or if they are still cold -- about 35 to 40 degrees -- and if you held them no longer than one or two days at that temperature. Put the relabeled packages in the coldest part of the freezer leaving space for circulation, and use within two or three months as quality is diminished. Any signs of spoilage, off odors or color in any food indicates the food should be disposed of without tasting.
- Meats such as beef, pork, veal, lamb and poultry can be refrozen when they are still firm with ice crystals. Meat still safe to eat can be cooked and refrozen. Discard meats if any signs of spoilage are present.
- Fruits usually ferment when they start to spoil which will not make them dangerous to eat but will spoil the flavor. Defrosted fruits that smell and taste good can be refrozen.
- Thawed fruits suffer in appearance, flavor and texture from refreezing; if they do, you can make them into jam.
- Vegetables should be refrozen only if they contain plenty of ice crystals and still have a firm-to-hard core of ice in the center. Spoiled vegetables can be dangerous.
- Shellfish, prepared foods or leftovers should not be refrozen if defrosted. If the condition of the food is poor or even questionable, get rid of it. It may be dangerous.
- You can cook and eat thawed food mixtures like casseroles, pot pies, dinners, or pizzas if you are certain they have not reached a temperature above 40 F for more than one to two days. Do not refreeze these foods.
- Never refreeze melted ice cream, cream pies, eclairs or similar foods.
- Unfrosted cakes, uncooked fruit pies, bread, rolls, and similar bakery rolls can be refrozen. Their quality may suffer, but they will be safe to eat.
Source: NDSU Extension Service Nutrition Specialists
Healthy French Toast
Make your French toast with whole grain breads and egg substitute instead of eggs. Add cinnamon to the egg mixture with a little skim milk too. After cooking drizzle with a small amount of light syrup and top with fresh fruit.
Vinegar will help keep windshields ice and frost free. When a car has to be left outside overnight in the winter, coat the windshields with a solution of 3 parts White Distilled Vinegar to 1 part water.
Don't add sugar to stewed fruits until they have boiled for 10 minutes. They need less sugar then.
Working with fruits
For juicier citrus fruits, take from the refrigerator and microwave at 100 percent power, allowing 45 seconds for one fruit, 60 seconds for two, and 1-1/2 to 2 minutes for four. Nothing preserves a fruit's natural nutrients, shape and color like micro-poaching. For perfect poached peaches, combine 2 Tbs. peach or other fruit-flavored liqueur and 1 teaspoon each freshly squeezed lemon juice and vanilla in a flat, microwave-proof 2-quart casserole.
Arrange 4 halved and pitted ripe peaches skin-side down in casserole, over with lid or vented plastic food wrap and microwave at 100 percent power 2 minutes. Turn peaches over, re-cover and cook 1-3 minutes at 100 percent power until tender. Let stand 3 minutes, uncovered. Slip the skins off and serve warm or chilled with the casserole juices. To soften bananas for banana bread and muffins, pierce unpeeled bananas once or twice and microwave, uncovered, at 100 percent power for 1 minute, turning over at half time. Cool and peel.
Do you have fruit in your kitchen that's ripening quicker than you can eat it? Puree it and use in smoothies or as a topping for ice cream, pancakes or waffles. You can also freeze the pureed fruit in a plastic freezer zipper bag and use it later on.
Fresh, frozen and canned fruits are generally interchangeable in equal measures in recipes. To get approximately 1/2 cup of fruit puree, use 4 ounces of fresh berries or juicy fruit or 1 cup of cooked and drained berries or juicy fruit.
Also see individual listings for: Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Canteloupes, Cranberries, Oranges, Peaches, Raspberries, Strawberries, Watermelon
Making your own citrus extracts to use in recipes will give you a much purer fruit flavor. You can do this with lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or tangerine. Peel the fruit in strips, leaving the pith behind. Place the strips in a jar, and cover them with good-quality vodka. Cover the jar tightly and let it stand at room temperature for two weeks, shaking the jar daily. Discard the peel, replace it with fresh peel, and let it stand for two more weeks. Remove the flavor, and use the flavored vodka in recipes calling for extract. It will keep indefinitely.
Fruit Pies: see Pies
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Rinse (don't bother peeling) garlic cloves if you're removing them after cooking.
Microwaving makes garlic easier to peel and lessens the "garlicky" smell on your hands. Microwave unpeeled garlic cloves at 100 percent power 10-20 seconds, cool, and store in a self-sealing plastic bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Use the garlic within two weeks.
This year, try planting a few bulbs of garlic around your roses and in your flower beds to help with insect control. Arzeena Hamir talks about growing garlic and explores some varieties of garlic that you might want to try in this article.
Slipping garlic clove skins off is easy if you zap them in the microwave for about 15 seconds first.
Keeping garlic in a cool, dark, and dry location works best. The problem with keeping it in the refrigerator is that there is ambient moisture, and this is why your garlic starts sprouting before you use it.
If you happen to live in a humid environment, you may find that your garlic sprouts no matter where you keep it. I find it's always best to buy spices, onions, garlic, and such in small amounts, so you don't have the added worry of it "going bad" before you get a chance to use it.
To make quick garlic butter, squeeze a clove of garlic through a garlic press with a small amount of butter for perfect garlic butter for some quick toast or to season veggies, fish, chicken or whatever!
Dress up a side dish, such as mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes with a long sprig or two of fresh rosemary or thyme.
Add flair to dinner rolls with fresh herbs. Before baking the rolls, brush them with a mixture of one egg white beaten with 1-tablespoon water. While the egg white glass remains moist, place fresh Italian parsley or sage leave on the rolls. Brush again with the egg white mixture. Bake as directed.
Center unmolded gelatin on a serving place by moistening the plate with cold water so if the gelatin lands off-center you can slide it to the middle.
Geranium Flowers: see Flowers
To peel the ginger root, cut off the amount you think you'll need, and peel it with a vegetable peeler to remove the brown skin. You can also use a teaspoon to scrape a section of fresh ginger root instead of a knife; it's much, much safer and faster. If the recipe calls for it to be grated use a grater with tiny holes. Mince by hand if it calls for minced – ginger doesn't respond well to machine processing. Try minced ginger in soups, marinades, with vegetables or fish. Add it grated to sugar cookie batter or quick breads.
Goat Cheese: see Cheese
Making Gravy Without Pan Drippings
If you have access to any full-flavored stock or broth, you can easily make gravy. Canned broth works fine, but homemade stocks will make a much better gravy. There are several methods of thickening the gravy, and my favorite involves making a roux (equal parts of flour and butter or oil).
You simply cook the flour and oil/butter in a heavy saucepan or skillet, stirring constantly, until the color desired. (If you want a blond gravy, such as for chicken, only cook until a blond color. If you want a dark, rich gravy for red meat, cook the roux until milk chocolate brown. Add some chopped onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic (any flavors you like), and cook the vegetables in the roux until they are soft.
Whisk in the stock, and bring gravy to a low simmer. Cook until thickened and the flavors have come together. Add any extras you may like, such as chopped green onions, fresh herbs, or other spices and seasonings. For every 2 cups of broth or stock, you will need about 2 tablespoons of flour to thicken. Of course, if you like a thinner gravy, simply use less.
An even simpler method involves using cornstarch. Simply mix a little cornstarch with just enough cold water to form a pourable "slurry," then add this slurry, little by little, to hot stock or broth. As the stock comes to the boil, the cornstarch will work to thicken the sauce. You can always add more slurry if your gravy isn't thick enough, but always wait until the sauce boils between additions, to make sure you really need more.
Lump-Free Gravy Tips
- Whisk!...Whisk!!...Whisk!!! It makes a difference. If you don't have one...run out now and buy one!
- In a cup or a bowl mix several tablespoons of flour with 1/2 C of the stock, cold from the refrigerator. Use a whisk and make sure this mixture is absolutely smooth.
- Put the drippings and whatever amount of fat you want... zero to 1/2 C. depending on how much gravy you are making and how rich you want it. I add vegetable stock to the drippings and bring to a good solid simmer. In a nice thin even stream, add the cold flour/stock mixture to the pan. Use that whisk in a nice motion...too fast and it will encourage lumps.
- To control the thickness of the gravy: if it's to thin, have a standby of additional flour and cold water or white wine mixture; if it's too thick, add white wine or water or stock.
Science is proving that there are many specific positive effects of this tea. These benefits are due to the antioxidants present in the green which have shown positive effects in:
- Reducing cholesterol
- Having an anti-inflammatory effect
- Reducing blood lipids (fat)
- Improving blood vessel function
- Providing protection against cardiovascular disease
- Inhibiting the growth of cancers in the early stages
- Limiting the plaque buildup in Alzheimer's disease
- Having antibacterial properties
- Aiding digestive, skin, respiratory & dental health
- Aiding weight loss by inducing a thermogenic effect which helps to burn fat
Why is green tea so much healthier than other teas? The steaming process used to produce green tea maintains more of its beneficial nutrients. By contrast the fermenting process used to produce the more common black teas consumed in the West destroy those nutrients.
From its discovery, green tea has been renowned for its pharmacological properties. While green tea is not classified as a medicine, it does contain substances that are as effective. It is ranked as a leading health-giving substance in traditional Chinese medicine.
Add a few ice cubes to aluminum foil packet dinners or vegetables to prevent them from burning and keep them moist. Kathy Weigman of Appleton, Wisconsin
A cross between a soup and a stew —made with as many different ingredients and as many different ways as you can find different cooks. It is often made with a very, very dark roux, and is always eaten in bowls over hot white rice.
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Chuck makes juicier, more flavorful hamburgers than ground round or sirloin. Much of the extra fat will cook out during broiling or grilling. To keep burgers juicy, handle the meat as gently as possible and don't press them while cooking.
Perfectly Grilled Hamburgers
Make a tiny hole, about the what your index finger could fit through, in the middle of her burgers. During grilling, the hole in the middle will disappear but the center will be cooked the same as the edges.
Burger Builders by Wisconsin Beef Council
Hamburgers are one of America's favorite foods on the grill. But how do you make a family favorite like hamburgers a thrilling event night after night? You build a better burger with 101 Burger Builders! Click hereto check out all 101, but here is a small selection of what you'll see.
- Pepperoni Pizza Burger: grilled burger covered with pepperoni, Mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce.
- Verde Burger: grilled ground beef mixed with seasoned garlic, topped with piquant Italian Verde sauce made with parsley, onions and capers.
- Classic Burger: hamburger with ketchup, mustard and pickles.
- Greek Burger: topped with herbed Feta cheese, black olives and onions.
- Hickory Burger: beef patty covered with cheddar cheese, bacon and hickory barbeque sauce.
- Meat-o-Rama Pizza Burger: ground beef patty stuffed with Mozzarella cheese, diced tomatoes and pizza sauce, and topped with pepperoni and bacon.
- Caesar Burger: ground beef seasoned with garlic and black pepper, on a crusty roll, accented with Caesar dressing, romaine lettuce and avocado slices.
- Brocco Burger: ground beef patty dressed with a blend of melted Cheddar cheese and cooked broccoli.
- Gyro Burger: hamburger topped with white onions, tomatoes and yogurt cucumber dressing.
- Barbeque Burger: ground beef grilled with a tangy barbeque sauce and hot peppers.
- Onion Burger: grilled ground beef seasoned with dried onion soup mix, and blanketed with grilled and raw onions.
- Bistro Burger: ground beef covered with caramelized onions, Brie cheese and crisp bacon, served on a walnut bun.
- Blue Moon Burger: grilled burger topped with Bleu cheese, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, and tomato served on an onion bun.
- Bao-Wow Burger: chili seasoned ground beef served on a Chinese Bao bun with soy-ginger mayonnaise and Asian slaw on the side.
- Cowboy Burger: grilled mushrooms, grilled onion, bacon and Monterey Jack cheese on a flavorful beef patty.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year for the freezer for 2 years in airtight containers. To roast hazelnuts, spread the nuts in a shallow pan and bake in a 275 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the skins crack. To remove the skins, rub with a
textured rough cloth.
Healthy Eating Tips
- The best bread products for you are sprouted! ("Jack Sprout")
- Margarine is one molecule away from plastic!!!
- Beware of the sodium content in canned soups and vegetables.
- Always go for fresh! Fresh whole fruit and vegetables (not juice) are among the healthiest foods you can eat.
- Stay away from all manufactured beverages such as alcohol, soda pop and caffeine.
- Soda pop has one teaspoon of sugar for every ounce of pop! (Just imagine putting a bowl of sugar and a spoon in front of you instead of drinking that pop)
- Drink water obsessively!
When baking you can substitute vanilla yogart instead of shortening to make the food healthier.
Don't wash herbs until ready to use. If already wet, loosely wrap them in a paper towel. Hardy herbs such as rosemary and thyme may keep up to 2 weeks refrigerated in plastic bags; fresh bay leaf can be stored longer. Refrigerate delicate herbs such as basil, parsley, sage and cilantro with their stems or roots in a jar of water and the leaves loosely covered with a plastic bag.
Baking with Herbs
Add a teaspoon of freshly minced rosemary, lavender, lemon balm or mint to your sugar cookie or shortbread recipes. Be sure to mince it as finely as you can. You can also "infuse" herbs in milk or water that is to be used in recipes. Heat the liquid and then remove it from the heat, add the herb and allow it to sit for 20 minutes to a half hour. Strain and use.
Cooking with Herbs
Cooking with herbs is like icing a cake: it makes the dish complete. It may seem daunting at first. There are so many herbs and so many recipes to choose from. And, while using recipes that include herbs is a good way to get started, the excitement comes when the unique flavor of each herb is understood and can be used to create your own special dish.
Here are three tips to get you started:
1. Take a clean leaf of the herb and chew but don't swallow. Experience your herbs like you would a fine wine; check the fragrant bouquet, let the leaf meet the tongue and chew thoughtfully. It is not necessary to swallow. Learning about the flavor of the herb this way will help you to decide if it will make the perfect pot roast or sorbet.
2. Add fresh chopped herbs (one at a time) to something bland yet familiar, like butter or sour cream or potatoes. This allows the intensity of the herb to stand on its own and helps you to know how much of the herb to add.
3. Just start playing; add a little Rosemary or Tarragon to the potatoes or the chicken; sprinkle some Oregano on your pizza or pasta; lay sprigs of Thyme on your roast. Keep notes, at least at first of what was pleasing, how much was used and what didn't work. Note whether the herbs were fresh or dried or a combination of both. You will find this invaluable, especially when you start blending herbs together to get more complex flavors.
The most flavorful culinary herbs are harvested from well tended plants in their leaf making stage. All herbs have two phases of growth: the leaf stage and the flower (or reproductive stage). When the plant enters its flowering stage, leaf production slows or stops and the leaves on the plant may become bitter, grassy, woody, or yellowed. These leaves are not of optimum quality for cooking. Flowering can be delayed by harvesting kitchen herbs often. If your herbs grow too fast to use them all fresh, dry or process the extra for later use.
Flowers do make colorful, fragrant garnishes for salads, sautés, and desserts. And, you might want to consider growing two of the same culinary herb, one that can be allowed to flower and one that can be kept pruned for leaf production. Or, just enjoy both phases of growth on a single plant. After flowering, herbs should be cut back to encourage bushy new growth.
Culinary Herbs (drying): see Drying
Dill, parsley, sage, thyme, chives and basil leaves can be frozen with blanching or drying. Just slip them in freezer containers or resealable freezer bags. Remove what you need and use immediately!
You can also make a paste by mixing 1/3 cup of oil with 2 cups of herbs in a blender until smooth. The paste freezes beautifully in sealed jars or in ice cube trays that are thoroughly wrapped to make them airtight. The paste will also keep for about a week in the refrigerator. In winter, retrieve a frozen paste to give a fresh taste to your dishes. Herbs that are good candidates for grinding into pastes include basil, chervil, cilantro, coriander, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, and tarragon. Herbs can also be frozen to make decorative ice cubes for party drinks. Freeze strawberries and their leaves, mint sprigs, and woodruff sprigs into an ice ring or block. Boil the water first to make it clear. Once it has cooled, fill the bottom of the mold with the boiled water and freeze. Arrange the herbs you plan to freeze, and then continue adding water until the mold is filled.
Herbs that freeze well:
- Dill (better frozen than dried)
- Savory (both winter and summer)
- Sorrel (better than dried)
- Sweet woodruff
Place herbs onto a piece of kitchen paper and spray with a fine spray.
Using Herbs to Cook a Chicken or Turkey
Combine a tablespoon each of chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage leaves plus minced shallots or onion and minced garlic. Wash a whole chicken or a small turkey as you usually would. Rub this mixture into and under the skin, then place the remaining herbs in the cavity of the bird. Sprinkle lemon juice over the skin, and season with salt and pepper. Bake as usual!
Place culinary herb leaves (or edible flowers) in a clean bottle. Fill with a good-quality white wine vinegar. Let it infuse for several weeks. Sunlight will fade its color.
Also see individual listings for: Basil, Calendula, Chervil, Cilantro, Horehound,Lavender, Mint, Sage, Thyme
- Borage (reseeds readily)
- Calendula (reseeds readily)
- Cilantro (reseeds readily)
- Bee balm
- Fennel (reseeds readily)
- Lemon balm
- Savory (summer and winter)
If honey becomes crystallized, it is still good, just warm it up in a microwave or put in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes. A quick stir and it will be as good as new.
Measuring with Oil
When a recipe calls for oil and honey, measure the oil in a measuring cup first and then measure the honey in the same cup. Every drop of the honey will easily slide out.
Measuring without Oil
Measuring Honey or Molasses is easier if you first spray the measuring cup lightly with Pam. The sticky liquid will slide right out.
by Brenda Hyde
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare), is an herb that can easily be grown in your garden. One plant is enough for a family and can be used not only for horehound drops, but also tea and homemade cough syrup.
Horehound is very easy to grow and can actually become a pest if not watched carefully. It self-seeds readily and rapidly! The flowers should be cut BEFORE they dry and form seeds. This is one of the reasons it's considered a noxious weed in Victoria, Southern and Western Australia plus parts of New South Wales. Horehound is not picky about soil---except if it's wet and heavy. The leaves and flowers lose their flavor quickly, so snip them into smaller pieces to dry on screens. When dry, crumble and store in jars.
It's been used for centuries for coughs and other ailments. The FDA took it off the approved list, but not because it was harmful. They didn't see enough scientific evidence to consider it a medicine.
Make sure you buy or are growing the proper horehound. There is black horehound, Ballota nigra which is not related. Also bugleweed, Lycopus virginicus, is known as water horehound, but again, it is not related. These plants have their own benefits, but they shouldn't be used interchangeably.
People with low blood pressure, heart conditions or those using any type of insulin or related meds should avoid horehound. And lastly, do NOT use horehound if you are pregnant or nursing. The tea can be especially potent, more than the candy, so avoid that at all times if you fit into any of these categories. It's always better to be safe!
If you aren't scare off at this point (which I hope you aren't!) you can use the following recipes with either fresh or dried horehound.
Hyssop should be used sparingly. The flowers and leaves are edible and can be used with lemon to add flavor to roasted poultry. The young leaves and flowers can be added to salads, soups and stews. Add it minced to sauces that contain tomato for a different twist.
You can also use it in bath teas and facial steams fresh or dried. To harvest, cut the stems just before the flowers begin to open. Hang upside down in a warm, dark place. The entire plant (stems, blooms and foliage) can be dried and stored in tins or covered jars.
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Ice Cream Drips
Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to keep the ice cream from dripping.
Insect Repellent Sachet
4 parts tansy
4 parts patchouli
2 parts lavender
1/2 of 1 part powdered Orris Root
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Fill cloth bags made from remnants. Tie off with a bow.
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Louisiana’s answer to Paella. It's predominantly rice (never soupy), seasoned very well with lots of onions, celery, and bell pepper, and always contains at least one or usually more than one type of protein, such as chicken and sausage, mixed seafood, etc.
Jell-O: see Gelatin
Jelly or Jam
If you use products like Surejell or Ball pectin, on your final boil after adding the sugar, add a half teaspoon of butter or margarine and it will not foam. Phil Street, Jonesboro, Indiana
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Use an egg slicer to cut kiwi fruit.
Keeping knives sharp
Sharpening steel at a comfortable angle and with a relaxed grip. Start with the knife in the vertical position, lightly touching the steel at a 20 degree angle to the knife. Keeping your arm still and using a smooth wrist action, pass the blade along the length of the steel. Note that the completed action is basically an arc. Place the blade on the opposite side of the steel and repeat the sharpening motion. Repeat the above steps 3-4 times to sufficiently realign the edge of the blade.
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Cherished for the clean scent of its flowers and leaves. The grayish evergreen leaves are attractive any time of year.
Place leftovers in vacuum sealed pouches with portions to serve your normal family settings. Vacuum packed bags eliminate freezer burn and last longer than any other packing in the freezer. Robert Wagner, Remington, IN
4 lemons yield about 1 cup of juice
After squeezing lemons for cooking, freeze the rinds. Whenever you need freshly grated lemon zest, you can grate it from the frozen lemons. Saves a trip to the store or buying a lemon just for a small amount of zest.
Squeeze limes or lemons that are starting to get too old and freeze the juice in small containers or ice cube trays. When you need a tablespoon of juice pop it into the microwave and you are ready to go." Meriel from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Lettuce won't "rust" in the refrigerator if it is wrapped in paper toweling.
10 limes yield about 1 cup juice
Low-Fat Baking Tips
I have used applesauce in place of the fat in brownies and quick breads with success. I haven't tried it in cookies but I would think it would work if the recipe calls for oil and not butter or shortening.
Foods with Lycopene
This fruit/vegetable is the epitome of a cancer-fighting superfood. Not only do tomatoes contain lycopene, the antioxidant phytochemical that also helps prevent heart disease, but they're a good source of vitamins A, C, and E -- all enemies of cancer-friendly free radicals.
Pile tomatoes, spinach, and peppers on top of ready-made pizza dough and top with tomato sauce and part-skim mozzarella. Pop some cherry tomatoes into your romaine lettuce salad. Stuff your sandwiches with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and alfalfa sprouts or shredded broccoli. However you do it, find a way to add tomatoes to your daily diet.
Recommended Serving Size:
1 cup sliced tomatoes, about 32 calories
1 cup fresh spinach, about 7 calories
1/2 cup sliced green peppers, about 18 calories
1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella, about 80 calories
1 cup cherry tomatoes, about 27 calories
1 cup alfalfa sprouts, about 10 calories
1 cup broccoli slaw, about 30 calories
Cut a watermelon into bite-sized pieces for a huge dose of antioxidants, about 80 percent of your daily vitamin C, and 30 percent of your vitamin A, or beta carotene. Watermelon also contains lycopene, the famous cancer-fighting substance found in tomatoes. Plus, recent studies show that eating more fruits and vegetables leads to a lower risk of lung, oral, esophageal, and colon cancer.
Recommended Serving Size:
2 cups of watermelon, about 80 calories
Cabbage and Carrots
Coleslaw Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, which help reduce the risk of colon and rectal cancer. Plus cabbage is rich in fiber and has almost 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, making it a well-rounded super-food with cancer-fighting power.
Carrots are a wonderful source of fiber and beta carotene, and they have a whopping 308 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Combine shredded cabbage and carrots with your favorite low-fat mayonnaise and some red wine vinegar for a delicious side to any meal.
Recommended Serving Size:
1 cup shredded cabbage, about 21 calories
1 cup grated carrots, about 45 calories
1 Tbs. vinegar, about 3 calories
1 Tbs. reduced fat mayonnaise, about 48 calories
Pasta, Bean & Broccoli Salad
Did you know that one-quarter cup of kidney beans has the same amount of fiber and protein as two ounces of red meat? Whole wheat pasta is also a good source of fiber, and broccoli will tip the daily scales for your daily vitamin A and C needs. Toss them all together with your favorite low-fat Italian dressing for a simple dinner of cancer-fighting proportions.
Recommended Serving Size:
3/4 cup whole wheat pasta, about 162 calories
1/4 cup drained kidney beans, about 51 calories
2/3 cup of broccoli, about 33 calories
1 tablespoon of reduced calorie Italian salad dressing, about 56 calories
Finger Snacks: Peppers, Dried Apricots, Sunflower Seeds
If cigarettes are cancer sticks, then chopped peppers are anticancer sticks. They're packed with all the nutrients you need to reduce your cancer risk: lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.
Dried apricots are rich in beta-carotene, and they're perfect for storing in your desk at work as an alternative to the vending machine's fatty snacks. If you're craving a little salt, try a handful of sunflower seeds, which contain selenium, an infamous cancer nemesis.
Recommended Serving Size:
1 cup red peppers, about 24 calories
1/4 cup dried apricots, about 79 calories
1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds, about 93 calories
Blueberries and Strawberries
Both blueberries and strawberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber. Plus they just taste darn good. Add some to your whole grain cereal or oatmeal in the morning. Mix some into your cup of plain yogurt, or top off your ice cream with a handful.
Recommended Serving Size:
1 cup blueberries, about 80 calories (all berries give you lots of fiber and vitamin C)
1 cup strawberries, about 46 calories
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Always marinate your food in the refrigerator and for a minimum of 30 minutes. A great no-mess way to marinade is to use a sealed, plastic, food-safe storage bag so it can be flipped over a couple of times for a more even marinating. For safety purposed do not reuse marinade that has been in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish. Instead, reserve some marinade on the side for basting and dipping or just make a separate batch.
Also Known as: Sweet marjoram, knotted marjoram
Origin: North America
Flavor: Mild, sweet
Home garden: Indoors/outdoors
A perennial of the mint family native to the Mediterranean, marjoram is frequently confused with oregano (wild marjoram). It is compact, low-growing and shrub-like growing from 12 to 18 inches in height.
Marjoram was also planted on graves, to delight the souls of loved ones.
Once the Romans had carried marjoram as far as England and Germany, it became a charm against witchcraft, for they believed that he who had sold his soul to the devil could not endure the fragrance of this happy herb.
This is a delicate herb that is best added to cooked dishes shortly before serving, or added fresh to salads. Marjoram has a special affinity for dishes containing tomatoes, and is delicious rubbed into lamb before roasting or used in stuffing for boned leg of lamb. It also flavors cooked beans, poultry, liver, and veal. Northern Italian cooks favor marjoram, whereas those in the south prefer the more assertive oregano. It is often added to sausages: in Poland, Kielbasa, in Germany, Liverwurst, in Italy, Bologna. In Morocco, it flavors meatballs, called Kefta, and is brewed in sweetened hot milk as a cold remedy, In Chile, it flavors a fish soup, Caldillo de Pescado.
Fresh marjoram, wrapped in damp paper towels and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator will keep for up to 4 days. It loses much of its delicate flavor if frozen. Store dried as any herb.
Marjoram substitutes: see Substitutions
To revive marshmallows that have become hard, place them in a plastic bag with a couple slices of fresh bread. Seal the bag and after a few days the marshmallows will be as good as new.
Let cooked roasts stand at room temperature 10-15 minutes before carving to let the juices settle. The meat will firm up for easier slicing. Wet your hands in cold water before mixing or shaping ground beef and the meat won't stick to them.
It is easier to slice meat finely if it is still slightly frozen. Fresh meat can be frozen for about 30 minutes until firm, slice and cook.
Tenderize meat with equal parts of strong brewed tea and double strength beef stock to a tough pot roast or stew. The tannin in tea is a natural meat tenderizer.
Also see individual listings for Pot Roast, Beef
For nicely shaped, same-size meatballs, use a 1 1/2-inch spring-action scooper.
When I make meatballs, I always put in 1/2 cup riccotta cheese and about l teaspoon of ketchup to a pound of hamburger. It makes them very tasty and they are nice and soft. I bring them to different parties and everyone loves them.
When using bread as a filler in meatloaf, moisten the bread and whip it together with the egg, liquid, and other ingredients. The result is a more uniform texture. When making meatloaf instead of using breadcrumbs or oatmeal (like mom does), use stuffing mix it gives it great flavor and is just the right filler.
It is best to use a meat thermometer instead of continuously cutting into your roast or turkey just to see if it is done cooking. No more guessing and the benefits of making this minor investment will prevent food borne illness and overcooked food.
A meat thermometer can be used for all foods too. It measures the internal temperature of your cooked meat and poultry, or any casseroles, to assure that a safe temperature has been reached and that harmful bacteria like certain strains of Salmonella and E. Coli O157:H7 have been destroyed. Use it every time you prepare foods like poultry, roasts, ham, casseroles, meat loaves and egg dishes.
To avoid milk from boiling over and spilling, add a drop of vinegar to the milk at boiling point, it won't boil over.
Evaporated Milk: see Evaporated Milk
Calcium: see Calcium
Also Known as: Mentha species
Flavor: Distinct, sweet
Uses: Culinary, fragrance, tea, cosmetics Home garden: Indoors/outdoors
There are many varieties of mint, but spearmint and peppermint are the most commercially important. The main difference, when compared, is that peppermint is bright green, sharply pungent (almost peppery), and the stems are lightly tinged with purple while spearmint is more delicate in fragrance, and its color is a uniform, light grayish green. The mint found in most gardens is spearmint.
Mint is a hardy perennial native to the Mediterranean. It dies back in cold weather returning later when the weather warms up again. A cutting planted in an open area will spread and occupy the entire area so containing it in a pot or limiting its ability to spread is wise. The essential oil of mint is extracted to use as a flavoring in confections, oral medications and as a scent in toiletries.
Mint is widely used in Asian cooking as a flavoring in curries, mint sambals, raw chutney, dipping sauces, for jellies, and as a garnish for many spicy dishes. In Vietnamese cooking, mint garnishes vegetable platters served with every meal and is part of the filling of Vietnamese Spring Rolls made with rice-flour skins. It is widely used in Thai cooking in such dishes as Yam Nang Mu (pork skin salad) and in Malaysian and Indian curries. In Morocco, it is the basis of the sweet mint tea traditionally served after meals, and in South Africa it flavors a popular Green Pea Soup. In the Middle East, it is often added to yogurt, to soaked bulghur wheat to make the popular salad, tabouli, and flavors a popular cheese, haloumi. Greeks use it in salads, stews, and sauces. In Mexico, it is used sparingly in Albondigas (meatballs for soup) and occasionally in the cooking of beans and, as in Morocco, it makes a soothing tea to serve after a meal. The English make mint sauce with vinegar and sugar to serve with lamb. In our own South, it characterizes the famous mint julep of Kentucky. We like to add a few chopped mint leaves to peas before cooking.
Wrapped in paper towel in a plastic bag, fresh mint should stay usable for a week in the crisper of the refrigerator. Store dried as any herb
Mint Substitutes: see Substitutions
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
The truth is that many people in the late 80's and the early part of the 90's claimed allergic reactions to food prepared with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Reactions included nausea, headaches, and general feelings of discomfort. Although there is proof that a small segment of the population does suffer from an adverse reaction to MSG, it is also a little known fact that mushrooms are filled with natural MSG, and most people do not have any problems with them. MSG is a salt alternative that is used commercially as well as in a lot of Chinese cooking. It's a lure that you can use to accent other flavors, without making them seem too salty.
For nicely rounded muffin and quick-bread tops, grease only the bottom and halfway up the side of the pan so the batter can cling to the sides and rise. If you only have one muffin pan and want to cool it quickly before refilling it with batter, turn it over and run cool water over the underside so you won't wet the muffin cups.
Before cooking Portobello mushrooms, cut a few slits in the caps and insert slivers of garlic. To keep mushrooms white when cooking, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the butter or oil used when sautéing.
Believe it or not, there is a tool designed just for this purpose. It is a small brush containing soft bristles and is appropriately called a mushroom brush. These brushes are easy to find at most kitchen supply stores and make cleaning mushrooms a breeze. Simply brush the mushroom off with the brush to release any dirt or sand, and trim the stem ends with a paring knife. You can also use a damp paper towel and gently rub off any dirt. Mushrooms should always be cleaned dry if at all possible—their spongy nature will cause them to absorb water if washed.
An easy alternative to slicing fresh mushrooms by hand is to use your egg slicer for quick and perfectly even slices.
The most widely available fresh mushrooms, whites are mild in flavor, smooth and round in appearance, creamy white to beige in color and come in various sizes from button to jumbo. When small they have closed "veils" (gills are covered on the underside of the mushrooms); larger mushrooms may have open veils. White mushrooms may be eaten raw and can add excitement to soups, salads, sauces, sandwiches, main dishes and more.
A larger relative of the white and crimini mushroom, portabellas are allowed to mature longer than their smaller relatives and can grow to 6 inches across the top. When freshly harvested, they are a light tan with slightly rough rounded caps. They are used in the same ways as white and crimini. Their size, meaty flavor and texture makes them an excellent choice for grilling and sautéing whole or in thick slices.
These tan to dark brown mushrooms are also called "Oak," "Chinese" or "Black Forest" mushrooms. They have umbrella-shaped caps, open veils and tan gills. They are woodsy in flavor and best when thoroughly cooked. The stems tend to be woody and should be removed before cooking. However they can be added to stocks for flavor intensity.
Named for their oyster-shell shape, these delicate velvety mushrooms come in shades of beige, yellow, cream and gray. They are more fragile than most other mushrooms, so should be used shortly after purchase and added to dishes at the end of the cooking time.
For more info on mushrooms, check out The Mighty Mushroomsarticle.
Mushrooms (drying): see Drying
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Rub a whitening toothpaste with fluoride onto your nails each night before bed. You will have stronger longer nails before you know it.
May be made of a variety of materials that do not alter the flavor of foods that they come into contact with. Examples of non-reactive materials would be glass, plastic, stainless steel, or non-stick cookware. Aluminum bowls, utensils, and pots or pans are especially reactive and should only be used if you are certain that the foods coming into contact with them will not have a reaction to them. It is especially important to use non-reactive bowls, spoons, pots, and other cookware when preparing dishes that contain any type of acid, such as citrus juices, vinegar, wine, dairy, and many fruits.
1 1/2 to 2 cups of nutmeat from 1 pound of nuts in their shells
Place in a plastic zipper bag and roll with a rolling pin.
Freezing and Storing
Almonds, pecans, walnuts etc. can be sealed in a bag in the refrigerator or freezer. Stored properly, they will keep taste and texture quality for up to two years. Place shelled nuts in plastic bags or containers and remove as much air as possible and freeze.
Roasting nuts enhances their flavor and crunchy texture and gives them a toasty brown appearance for visual appeal.
To roast sliced, slivered or chopped nuts, spread in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and roast at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes. If frozen or chilled, bring almonds, pecans and walnuts to room temperature before roasting. You can also roast nuts in a microwave, but be careful to not overcook them. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow microwave-safe dish and cook on High power, stopping every minute to stir and distribute the nuts for even browning. Watch color and check aroma. Chopped nuts can microwave in as little as 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
Always grind pecans, almonds and walnuts at room temperature to prevent them from exuding too much oil.
From: Simplify Me
If you're making a recipe that calls for ground nuts, grinding them with a little sugar from the recipe will keep them from becoming too sticky and oily.
Also see individual listings for Brazil Nuts,Hazelnuts,Pecans,Walnuts
History of Nutella (from Wikipedia.com)
Nutella is the brand-name of a chocolate and hazelnut spread created in the 1940s by Ferrero (best known for their Ferrero Rocher sweets, which are filled with Nutella). It is used for sandwiches among other things.
In Italy, Nutella has become a cultural and social phenomenon: many books have been written on it, and it is the core of a celebrated scene in the movie Bianca, by the Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti, in which the actor/director relieves his post-coital anxieties by eating from a gigantic jar of chocolate spread.
It is also very popular in all Europe and in Australia, less so in the United States, where the product was only available as an expensive import until the 1990s. In the United States, basketball star Kobe Bryant was a former spokesman for Nutella having grown up in Italy.
In several European cities, including Cologne and Paris, crêpes filled with Nutella spread are popular snacks available from food vendors on many street corners. As a reference to its popularity, Nutella's official website comments that, worldwide, the spread outsells all brands of peanut butter combined.
The ingredients listed here are from the US packaging. Listed by decreasing weight: sugar, peanut oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey, partially hydrogenated peanut oil, soy lecithin, vanillin.
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Regular Oats vs. Quick Oats
If you ever accidentally pick up regular oats instead of quick oats, take and pour 2 C. portions on a cutting board. Coarsely chop until most oats are cut at least a couple of times, then measure out amount that you need for the recipe.
Use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in meatloaf. A bonus is more nutrition and fiber in your diet.
Removing Kitchen Odors
- Spread baking soda or freshly ground coffee in a shallow pan and let it stand uncovered in the refrigerator for a few days to absorb odors.
- Put a fabric softener sheet on the bottom of a wastebasket bin to prevent odors.
- Grind a few lemon rids and ice cubes down to the garbage disposal once a week to keep it smelling fresh.
- Lingering odors and be removed from plastic containers by putting crumpled-up newspaper inside and sealing it tight. Let sit overnight and the smell should disappear.
- To get rid of odors in the microwave, combine 1 C. water, grated peel and juice of 1 lemon and several whole cloves in a 2 C. glass measure cup. Boil for several minutes using 100% power. Allow to site in oven until cool. Wipe interior of microwave with a soft cloth.
- Remove garlic and onion odors by washing the countertop area with a solution of 1 Tbs. chlorine bleach and 1 C. water. Let sit for 5 minutes then rinse thoroughly.
Removing Odors from Hands
To remove the odor from your hands after slicing foods such as onions or garlic, just hold a spoon between your hands and run cold water over them.
If you have to clean anything that has a strong odor, put a bit of Vick's Petroleum Jelly under your nose. You will not smell anything else and the menthol scent of the jelly will also keep your sinuses clear
Put a mixture of water and citronella in a potpourri burner or any pot and let it boil and let the steam rid the kitchen of the smell. When frying fish, slice lemons thinly and put them in the pan as the fish fries, takes all the smell away.
The application of the oil will determine the type of oil used. Fat is flavor, and that is especially true for oils. Most fruit oils are used primarily for vinaigrettes and sauces. It is very rare that these types of oil would be used to cook with. The reason being is that most of these oils (with few exceptions) have a very low smoke point.
Smoke point is the temperature at which heated oil will turn to smoke. Most cooking oils, i.e., corn, canola, and vegetable oils have a relatively high smoke point. Other oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, truffle oil, and pumpkin seed oil, are best used to drizzle over meats, grains, and vegetables after cooking.
When making a mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based dressing, it is best to use neutral flavored oil such as safflower or vegetable oil. If frying is your goal, then you should use oil with a high smoke point, such as lard or peanut oil.
For cooking, you may want to choose between corn, vegetable, safflower, canola, and olive oils. These are all good choices for everyday cooking. If you intend to use an oil as a means of providing flavor to a dish, then use a more flavorful oil such as extra-virgin olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, or sesame oil. They each have a significant amount of flavor but are rarely used to sauté or fry because they tend to burn at high temperatures. As for frying, use what the pros use: canola or peanut oil. And if you are really looking for a whole lot of flavor, use pork fat, in the form of lard.
Also see individual listings for Olive Oil
Virgin: must be produced by a cold-pressed method in which the olives and their pits are crushed by a machine, without the use of chemical solvents or any other means.
Other "grades" of virginity: determined by the percentage of oleic acid in the oil. Those oils with 1 percent oleic acid or less are deemed to be extra-virgin. If the percentage of oleic acid exceeds 4 percent, then the oil must be rectified to lower the acid content, and the oil may no longer carry the label of virgin.
There are at least 70 species of onion native to North America. Some consider onions a sedative – perhaps because they keep people from venturing too close when one has eaten them recently.
Over the centuries the onion has retained its seed identity. This has been most fortunate for it has permitted geneticists to develop and improve specific strains for specific purposes. These special seed strains, particularly adapted to the West, have made possible the convenient, high quality, dehydrated onion products such as onion powder, onion salt, instant minced onions, and instant toasted onions.
In producing dehydrated onion products, quality control actually starts in the field. Before the onions are permitted to be sacked, preparatory to being hauled to the processing plant, they must pass stringent inspection on portable tables. When the onions reach the processing plant, they are carefully graded according to size. This operation insures that only sound, fully matured onions go into manufacturing.
From the graders, the onions are passed through a flame peeling device which removes the membranous skin without injuring the onion itself. After being peeled, they are rooted, topped, and thoroughly washed. Prior to drying, the Onions are sliced mechanically with rotary razor-sharp knives. After they have been dried, the onions are again inspected on conveyor belts. The inspected and approved material is then conveyed to the milling and screening equipment.
The great advantage in using dehydrated onion products is the constant uniform flavor. This, plus the convenience in using and storing, undoubtedly accounts for the popularity of these products.
Reducing Eye Watering
To reduce tearing when peeling or slicing an onion, chill for 30 minutes or cut off the top, but leave the root on. The root has the largest amount of sulphuric acid, which is what causes tears when the onion is peeled or cut. Remove the root before cooking or eating. Prolonged cooking takes the flavor out of onions. Cook only until they're tender when tested with a fork.
Place a sauté pan over a medium-high heat, and melt about two tablespoons of butter in it. Once the butter is melted, add the onion slices to the pan and stir every couple of minutes. Season the onions with salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, remembering to stir often. Continue to cook over the medium-high heat, stirring often for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are brown and appear sticky. If the onions seem to be burning, lower the heat slightly, and continue to stir them. Remember that the volume of the onions will reduce to less than half of their original volume.
Store onions in a cool, dry place with good air circulation and away from bright light and out of any direct sunlight. Place onions at least one foot away from walls to provide air movement. Do not store whole onions in plastic bags as lack of air circulation reduces storage life. Do not store onions with potatoes as potatoes give off moisture that can cause onions to spoil.
Vidalias have a higher water and sugar content than other storage onions, making them susceptible to bruising, and need to be handled with care. Since they're only available a portion of the year, sweet onion lovers buy them in quantity (50 lb. or more), and store them for extended enjoyment.
The key to preserving Vidalias, and to prevent bruising, is to keep them cool, dry and separated. Here are 2 popular storage methods:
- In the refrigerator, wrapped separately in foil. This method is expensive and takes up precious refrigerator space, but can preserve Vidalia Onions for as long as a year.
- In the legs of clean, sheer pantyhose. Tie a knot between each Vidalia and cut above the knot when you want one. Hang in a cool, dry, well ventilated area.
To bake a Vidalia Onion, peel, then cut off the top and bottom to make it sit flat. Place
a pat of butter on top, and microwave for 7 minutes on high, or wrap securely in foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender.
1 orange yields about 1 tablespoon of grated zest
1 pound of oranges yields about 1 cup of juice
Organizing your kitchen
- The number one rule of an organized kitchen is to store items where you use them. Put your plates near the table, glasses near the fridge and cutting knives and board near island or counter where you cut up produce.
- If you do any baking, set up a baking section. Store together all items you use when baking.
- Clean and organize your fridge and freezer. Do a quick upkeep once a week on trash day. If you don't use it, get rid of it.
- Move the excess clutter. For example, seasonally used items such as platters and holiday dishes are better stored in a basement or attic. Unless you have a very large kitchen, it is best to remove items that are not used on a regular basis.
- How many glasses do you really use between dish washings? Store only as many as you regularly use (glasses, dishes, wine glasses), and place the extras in storage.
- Go through your cookbooks and keep in the kitchen only the ones you use regularly. Seasonal cookbooks can be stored with your holiday dinnerware. Others can be kept elsewhere or given away.
- If you don't use it every day, remove it from your counters. So many of us complain about not having enough counter space yet we crowd the counters with things we don't even use.
- Check out all the racks and drawer units on the market to more efficiently store all your kitchen items. You will find a large selection at home stores around the country.
- Set up a small pantry somewhere in your home for extra cans of soup, coffee and other essentials. You'll save money by buying in bulk or during sales and you'll save space in the kitchen. A small closet can easily be converted to a pantry. Once you have one you'll never want to be "pantry-less" again.
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A Jewish term describing food made without animal or dairy ingredients. According to Kosher dietary laws, animal food (meat or chicken) cannot be consumed at the same meal with dairy food, but a pareve food may be combined or eaten with either. In order to be pareve, breads and cakes must be made with vegetable oils and not with butter or other animal fat. Look at the Kosher designations on many packaged foods -- anything marked "Parve" or "Pareve" is dairy-free.
Pasta comes in many shapes. My genuine Sicilian Grandmother taught me long ago never to use pasta with a ribbed texture because it does not cook evenly. When cooking pasta, after adding the pasta to the water keep stirring until it starts to boil again to keep it from clumping up and sticking.
If your dough breaks as you roll out your pasta, it's probably because your dough is too dry. Be sure to keep the fresh dough covered with a moist towel after forming the dough, and between the different stages of kneading and rolling to form the pasta. Once the pasta has been cut into its desired shape, it is recommended to dry the pasta by hanging and dusting with semolina flour.
When boiling pasta, put a little sugar in the water along with the salt. This will bring out a better flavor!
You can prevent pasta from boiling over while cooking by rubbing a small amount of butter or shortening around the rim of the pan. It really works. No need to add oil to the water and have all that wonderful sauce run off. Judy Forte from Revenna, Ohio
Peaches are best ripened at room temperature, just out on the kitchen counter. If you're pressed for time, place them in a paper bag with a few holes poked into it, and leave at room temperature. If you're really pressed for time, place an apple in the bag with the peaches, as the ethylene gas will speed the ripening process even more. Just be sure to check the fruit twice a day to prevent over-ripening.
Uses for peanut butter
- Shave: Former senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona once shaved with peanut butter while on a camping trip. (For best results, avoid shaving with crunchy peanut butter.)
-Remove bubblegum from hair: Rub a dollop of peanut butter into the bubblegum.
- Remove airplane glue or cement glue from furniture: Simply rub the dried glue with peanut butter.
- Grease a car or truck axle: George Washington Carver developed axle grease from peanuts.
- Make peanut soup: Peanut butter is the main ingredient in any recipe for peanut soup.
- Trap mice or rats: Bait a mouse or rat trap with peanut butter. Mice actually prefer peanut butter over cheese.
Pecans absorb odors from food--store in airtight containers. Shelled pecans will last about 9 months in the refrigerator and up to 2 years frozen. You can also use them and refreeze without losing taste. In the shell they will keep in a cool, dry location for 6-12 months.
To roast and peel peppers, cut a small slit in the pepper close to the stem end so that the steam can escape. Put peppers on a baking sheet and put directly under the broiler or on a screen on the top of the stove. They can also be plunged into hot vegetable oil to loosen the skins.
Another method is to place the pods on a charcoal grill about five inches from the coals. Be sure the peppers are blistered all over so that they peel properly. However, do not let them blacken or they will be very difficult to peel. Immediately wrap the pods in damp paper towels and place them in a plastic bag to steam for about 15 minutes.
Another method is the propane torch method. Place the peppers in a cast iron skillet and light the torch. Adjust the flame to medium high and let the flame make contact with the surface of the peppers. Move the torch over the surface, pausing no more than necessary to split and blacken the skin. Using tongs or a fork, flip and turn the food as needed to facilitate even blackening. Since the torch cooks so quickly, peppers intended for sauces may need to be roasted in the oven very slightly after blackening and before proceeding.
Place the chopped peppers in plastic ice cube trays and freeze them solid. Pop the cubes out and place them in freezer bags. They will keep in the freezer for at least one year.
Keep salt shakers dry by adding a few grains of uncooked rice to them. The dry rice will absorb any moisture present. Dried peas work as well! Also when they start rattling excessively it's a good indicator that they need topping up before they run out.
To keep garden peas out of the pod looking fresh and beautifully green simply soak them over-night in a bucket of water with some ordinary baking soda mixed in. This is what many restaurants with fresh vegetable salad bars do.
To make breadcrumbs stick, keep cutlets coated with breadcrumbs 1 hour in the
refrigerator before frying. Take out the cutlets, hold in your palm and press lightly all sides. This way the breadcrumbs will stay put and won't mess up while frying. You will also have a crispy coating.
If you get the pepper on your bare hands when cutting and preparing hot peppers like jalapenos or habaneros, soak your hands in milk for a few minutes, it'll take the burn away.
To tame the heat in hot peppers, remove the seeds (which carry a lot of heat). You can also soak the peppers in sugar water for about an hour to put out even more of the fire (especially helpful when making stuffed peppers). Use 2 cups water to 2 tablespoons sugar.
Hot Peppers (drying): see Drying
Health Benefits of Peppers: see Lycopene
To make a pretty garnish, cut small pickles like a fan - cutting down the pickle's length but not through the bottom in thin slices. Spread slices like a fan to garnish plates.
Flaky Pastry Dough
- The butter or shortening should be very cold. Some people even freeze their butter before beginning to work it into the flour. This way, the heat of your hands will not melt the butter.
- Do not overwork the dough —it's preferable that there are small beads of butter (about the size of green peas) left in the pastry.
- When you go to add the water to the flour/butter mixture, make sure it's ice water, and add only enough to make the mixture come together into a ball.
- When following a recipe, always add the water a bit at a time, because many times you do not need all the water that a recipe will call for.
- Once your dough has come together, flatten it into a disk, wrap it well with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour before rolling it out. This allows the butter to firm up and will help ensure a flaky, tender crust.
No Burnt Edges
Before placing double crusted pies in the oven, loosely wrap aluminum foil around pie crust edges. This will help the edges from browning too quickly. Remember to remove the aluminum about 10 minutes before pies are ready to come out of the oven so the crust is properly browned
Working with Homemade Pie Crust
Store homemade pie crust wrapped in wax paper then put in refrigerator (not freezer) until cool then take it out of refrigerator and it will roll out nicer and easier.
Baking Fruit Pies
Nothing beats the smell of a fresh baked pie! We recommend using in season fruits and vegetables to make the tastiest pies. Make strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry pies in the summer; and apple pies in the fall! Preheat the oven to the temperature the recipe you are following recommends. Most fruit pies bake at a temperature of between 350 degrees and 450 degrees. Some recipes ask to place the pie into a 450 degree oven, then to turn the oven down to about 350 degrees after a few minutes. This is recommended in order to set the shape of the crust in recipes that contain a lot of fat; it will keep your crust from slouching.
Baking a pie with a raw fruit filling will take at least 30 minutes total cooking time. Berry, apple, and pear pies cook for approximately 45 minutes. When using a pre-cooked filling, the pie will normally bake at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time in order to thoroughly bake the crust and heat the filling up. To check the doneness of the filling, insert a knife into the center of the pie. If it meets with little or no resistance, the pie is done. To check the doneness of the crust, insert a knife into the crust. If you feel the knife puncture the crust when it is inserted, the crust is done. If the pie is not quite done but the top or edges are becoming too dark, loosely cover the top of the pie with aluminum foil to shield it from the heat.
Once the pie is done cooking, carefully remove it from the oven. As the pie cools, the filling will settle and the top will flatten out a bit. Letting the pie cool to room temperature will also help the pie slices hold their shape when served.
Making Pumpkin Pie
When making a pumpkin pie from scratch, use a Hubbard Squash...It looks like a great big gourd and has a bluish outer flesh. Inside is a very lush orange color and very little string and seed....You need to cut it into pieces and bake in the oven until soft. It really is excellent and makes the best pies.
To prevent fresh pineapple from making your tongue surface sore, microwave the chunks/rings for 1 minute on high. cool and refrigerate. Tastes just like the fresh fruit but the acid effect is diminished.
Poison Ivy Spray
3 lb. salt
2 gallons soapy water
Mix well. Pour into a spray bottle with tight fitting lid. Spray the poison ivy with this solution. A few dousings of this mixture will also kill the plant.
To enjoy a fresh pomegranate without the mess, first cut off the two ends of the fruit (on a plastic surface preferably because the juice will stain wood). Then, score the skin several times around the pomegranate with a sharp knife but do not cut through. Submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of water and break it apart with your hand. You will probably have to release some of the seeds from the membrane with your fingers. The seeds will float to the bottom and you can remove all the pithy membrane floating on the top of the water. Drain the seeds, dry, and you can store to up to 2 months in an airtight container covered with a moist paper towel.
Safe Pork Handling Tips
- Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling fresh meat.
- Refrigerate meat as soon as possible after purchase.
- Place meat package on a plate or in a container before placing in refrigerator to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods.
- Always defrost in the refrigerator.
- Always place cooked meat on a clean plate, not one that has been used for uncooked meat.
- When using an automatic, clock- controlled oven, do not leave fresh, unfrozen roasts or casseroles longer than one hour before start time.
- For longer periods of time use a frozen product.
The loin is the ideal cut for the barbecue. It is extremely lean and yields the premium priced cuts. The tenderloin is the leanest and most tender portion, and can be cut in a variety of ways. For example: medallions, fillets, and stuffed tenderloins. Chops can be bone in or boneless and can be cut in many ways. Some examples include; fast fry, butterflied, stuffed and whole roasts. These cuts can come from any of the three sections of the loin, which are; rib end, center cut, and tender end. The always-popular baby back ribs also come from the rib section.
Pan-frying Pork Chops
To keep thin steaks of chops from curling while pan-frying, cut slashes through the edges at about 2-inch intervals.
Bacon: see Bacon
Chuck roast or rump-roasts work just fine. There are lots of ways you could go with seasonings — a bay leaf or two, a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme, lots of garlic (12-15 cloves) and salt and pepper. Sear the roast in hot oil on all sides before putting it in the oven.
Potatoes soaked in salt water for 20 minutes will bake a lot faster. To get snowy white potatoes, add a teaspoon of vinegar or fresh lemon juice to the boiling water.
Keeping Potatoes Fresh
- Store potatoes in a cool, dark place at about 50 degrees. Do not wash potatoes before storing, because the moisture can cause sprouting.
- Do not refrigerate potatoes. Storage in temperatures cooler than 45 degrees converts the potato starch into sugar which changes the taste and causes the potatoes to darken prematurely when cooked.
- Protect potatoes from turning green and acquiring a bitter taste by keeping them out of strong light. If a potato has any green spots, simply pare these areas off before cooking.
Potatoes will take on a golden taste and appearance if sprinkled lightly with flour before frying.
Set aside some of the potato water that the potatoes were cooked in and add it to the potatoes when mashing them. It makes the potatoes just as fluffy and tasty, but without the fat.
Mash potatoes while hot. If cooled before mashing, they'll become gummy. Give mashed potatoes a beautiful whipped cream look by adding hot milk to them before you start mashing. The top half of a double boiler works great for reheating leftover mashed potatoes.
Purple potatoes also called Blue Potatoes or Delta Blues and truly are naturally purple! This is from the same powerful antioxidant that gives blueberries their brilliant color. Purple Peruvian Potatoes were some of the first potatoes harvested. They were saved for Inca kings. Used in Mexican cooking, purple potatoes are gaining popularity in the U.S. They have a naturally creamy flavor and texture and hold their shape well for salads. Perfect for a purple potato salad! Or fried or baked purple chips, or roasted, or Royal Purple Mashed Potatoes - they stay purple once cooked, but not as vibrant as when raw.
When making potato salad, add the dressing to warm potatoes for the best flavor. Once cooled, the potatoes will not absorb the dressing as well. To save time when making potato salad, use a pastry blender to chop the peeled cooked potatoes and hard boiled eggs.
Roasting chickens or turkeys breast-side down will help keep the breast meat moister.
Wrap stuffing in a cheesecloth bag. This makes removing the stuffing from the cavity incredibly simple, and no worries about bits left inside the bird.
Also see individual listings for Turkey
When harvesting pumpkins the stems should be cut so you have a 4 or 5 inch stem if possible. Pumpkins without stems do not store well, so it's important to pick them up from the bottom not by the stem.
Pumpkins should be harvested when mature and the rind is hard, but before night temperatures fall below 40 degrees. Don't harvest when the pumpkins are wet or allow them to become wet after harvesting. Any of these things will cause them to rot more quickly. After harvesting, allow the pumpkins to "cure" if possible. This is where they sit for 10 days or so in a temperature around 80 degrees and a high humidity of 80%. This can sometimes be done in the field if it's warm enough, or near a furnace. The pumpkins will last longer if cured first.
Afterwards, store them at 50-55 degrees in a location where the humidity is about 50-70% such as a basement or a garage. Don't store the pumpkins near apples or allow them to sit directly on a concrete floor.
How to Roast a Pumpkin
You can only do this with a freshly carved pumpkin! Do not use on a pumpkin that has been carved and sitting out for several days. To bake a fresh 6-7 pound pumpkin, halve the pumpkin crosswise and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place halves, hollow side down, in a large baking pan covered with aluminum foil and add a little water. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 1 1/2-2 hours or until fork-tender. Remove. When cool, scrape pulp from shells and puree, a little at time, in food processor or blender. Mix with a little salt.
To freeze pumpkin puree, put 1-2 cups in freezer bags along with spices and use in pies.
To use pumpkin puree for recipes, line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth or a flour sack dish towel and let the pumpkin sit to drain out the extra moisture before cooking with it. Pumpkin is very moist, so in order for your recipe to come out correctly, you must strain it.
Prolonging the Life of a Carved Pumpkin
After all of your effort carving that expert pumpkin, wouldn't you want it's lifespan to be at least through Halloween? Pumpkins shrivel up after losing moisture so slowing down the dehydration process and deterring the on-set of mold will help make them last longer. You can usually restore them back to their original condition by soaking them in water overnight.
One technique is to coat all cut surfaces of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly immediately after carving. This includes a light coating of the entire inside of the pumpkin. If you can't do the whole inside, at least try to coat the design that you've cut. The petroleum jelly acts as a barrier to seal in the pumpkins internal moisture to help slow down the dehydration process of the pumpkin. You can use a finger to coat the eyes, nose and mouth but you may want to use a paper towel with jelly on it to coat the inside. It's less messy that way. There are also spray pumpkin preserver products out there if you can find them at a craft store.
Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice inside your Jack O' Lantern to give the air a spice aroma!
Pumpkin Sprouts and Pumpkin Flour
Everyone knows you can toast and eat pumpkin seeds, but did you know you can also sprout them? First soak them by placing them in a glass jar with just enough tepid water to cover them. Cover the jar with cheesecloth, holding the cheesecloth in place with a rubber band at the neck of the jar. Let the seeds set in the water overnight to make sure they're nice and soft. The next morning, drain the water from the jar by gently turning the jar upside down until all of the moisture is gone. Place the jar out of the light (in a closet or cabinet). The temperature should remain at about 70 degrees.
Rinse the seeds in the jar 4-6 times a day. After 3 days you should have approximately 1/4-inch sprouts. Rinse them once more and set the jar in a sunny window for about a day until the sprouts grow tiny leaves. Eat them in salads, sandwiches, or add them to soups and casseroles. They're very healthy and easy to make!
You can also make flour out of fresh pumpkin. Cut the raw pumpkin into chunks, cut off the skin the best you can and dry in the oven. Grind the dried pumpkin in the blender or a food mill. Use pumpkin flour as a partial substitute for all-purpose flour in your favorite breads and other baked goods. Store in an airtight container.
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Wash and drain large radishes, cut off the stem and hollow out, leaving a nice shell. Fill hollows with cream cheese, egg or tuna salad, liverwurst or any number f other fillings or dips.
Cut off the root end, then cut 4 gashes through the red peel from the root end almost to the stem (do not cut all the way through). The thinner the slices the better. Loosen the 4 sections gently so they start to stand out from the radish. Chill in ice cubes until the "petal's start to slightly curl back. For more detail, make thin circular slices of the red skin from the outside of a second radish and insert these slices between the petals.
Raspberries, Boysenberries, and Similar Berries
Look for: A bright, clean appearance and a uniform good color for the species. The individual small cells making up the berry should be plump and tender but not mushy. Look for berries that are fully ripened, with no attached stem caps. Avoid: Leaky and moldy berries. You can usually spot them through the openings in the ventilated plastic containers. Also look for wet or stained spots on wood or fiber containers, as possible signs of poor quality or spoiled berries.
For tender ribs on the barbecue grill, first make sure they have been cut apart (if they are beef ribs) or for pork ribs, rolled up. Stand ribs up in a crock pot adding a little water so they don't stick to the bottom. Heat on high for several hours before throwing on the grill to finish cooking and soak up BBQ sauce. They come out super tender.
Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to each quart of water used to cook rice. The grains will stay white and separated. If you want your rice to be light, fluffy and separated, try cooking with a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice.
Rice Krispie Treats
Run your hands under cold water before making Rice Krispie treats helps keep the marshmallows from sticking to the fingers.
For creamier rice pudding, use short or medium grain rice.
Roasting Peppers: see Peppers
Rosemary flowers have a milder flavor than the leaves and can candied or used in jellies, honey, and vinegars.
Keeping a piece of charcoal in the tool drawer will keep the moisture out, preventing rust. Rusty bolts can usually be loosened by pouring club soda on them.
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Sage can be used fresh or dried, but you can also freeze the leaves whole in plastic freezer bags. It is a very hearty herb that continues to grow well through the fall. Long-believed to imbue wisdom, it is essential seasoning for turkey stuffing. It is semi-evergreen with gray-green leaves.
To make salad dressings even more low calorie, I add some water to them and this reduces the calories and also makes them easier to mix in salads.
It depends on the recipe, what you're cooking, and how much you've over salted, but often you can salvage the recipe if you've added too much salt. Sometimes adding a bit of an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, will counteract the saltiness. If you're cooking a slow-cooked dish, such as a stew or soup, add a peeled, halved, raw potato to the dish and it should absorb some of the salt.
There are many salt substitutes out there on the market, but you need to be careful, because some of them contain alternative types of chlorides; depending on the health issue you're faced with, they may still present a health problem. I recommend simply cutting back on your salt intake in a gradual manner. Many people I know say that once you get used to going without salt, you don't miss it anymore. Try to add more flavor in other ways, such as with fresh or dried herbs and spices or salt-free spice blends. Another trick is to add a little lemon juice or vinegar to a dish to bring out the flavor. A couple of drops will usually do the trick.
Push through sieve, whisk briskly or pour into a blender and blend until smooth.
Skin on sauce
To prevent a skin forming on a milk sauce, reserve a little of the measured milk and pour it over the surface of the sauce. Simply stir into the sauce before serving.
When shopping for scallops, look for a sweet and briny aroma. The odor can be surprisingly strong, but don't mistake it for a sign of poor quality. Only reject scallops if their odor contains a hint of iodine or sourness. Look for meats that are firm and slightly translucent. The color should be ivory to pinkish white. A pinkish-orange mottling will sometimes occur when the roe stains the meat. This natural coloring is harmless and will not affect quality. Avoid scallops that have been "soaked" (treated with a chemical during processing to reduce water loss and improve shelf life). Soaked scallops will feel "soapy" and excrete a milky white liquid.
Also see our article on preparing seafood
Also see individual listings for Scallops, Shrimp
- Wooden bamboo skewers are inexpensive and easy to find, but they must be soaked at least 30 minutes in water preferably warm to the touch) prior to use. This keeps them from easily catching fire. If you get into the shish kebab habit, then you may wish to invest in stainless steel resusable skewers.
- Wash all meats and seafood thoroughly and pat dry before skewering and adding to marinade.
- Meats should optimally be cut in uniformly sized 1 to 2-inch cubes for quick and even cooking.
It is not necessary to devein shrimp, but generally, any shrimp big enough to have a visible vein should be deveined. Inside that vein is digested material and sand that needs to be purged from the shrimp's body. Leaving the vein in can also produce a gritty texture in the shrimp.
Fresh or thawed shrimp that has not been cooked is very perishable. Shrimp should be used within two days of purchase to ensure optimal taste and texture. Store fresh shrimp that will not be cooked immediately in the coolest area of the refrigerator, preferably on ice and covered with waxed paper. The waxed paper allows air to circulate around the shrimp.
If the heads are attached, twist them off to remove. Discard or save for stock. If you are right-handed, hold the shrimp in your left hand with outside curve up and tail away from you. Using clean kitchen scissors carefully cut through the shell along the top of shrimp to just before the last section of shell, below the tail. Peel back shell and remove shell keeping the tail intact. Discard shells or keep them for stock. Hold peeled shrimp under running water. With paring knife, remove black vein along cut side of shrimp.
If you want to butterfly the shrimp: Complete the steps above, leaving the tails on, then slit the back of shrimp from tail to head, about 2/3 through.
Also see our R4L Guide to Preparing Seafood
A rich shrimp sauce (always only shrimp), often thickened with a roux or sometimes with cornstarch, usually containing a fair amount of tomato product, and always served over a bed of white rice.
Make cleanup easier by lining your crockpot with an oven-proof roasting bag or Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. The liner does not affect the ability of your slow cooker to heat evenly and they make your life a lot easier.
To ensure your soufflés rise make sure egg whites are really stiff and peaky. You should be able to turn the bowl of whisked egg whites upside down without them dropping out. Also if you over mix the egg whites you will beat out the air and thus not help the soufflé rise.
Remove fat from stews and soups by chilling them with plastic wrap covering the surface. The fat will harden and come off when you lift off the wrap.
Types of Soup
Stocks or Broths - Bouillons and consommes.
Cream Soups - Those thickened with a white sauce.
Bisques - Heavy cream soups usually containing shellfish. Modern quick cookery gives this name to a soup made with a white sauce base to which is added a puree of fish, vegetables, or fruits. At one time bisques were thickened with rice, but today they are more frequently thickened with roux.
Purees - Thickened with cooked vegetables or fish passed through a sieve or pureed with a blender or a food processor.
Chowders - Thick soups or stews usually containing seafood, potatoes, and milk or cream. Chowder comes from the French word "cauldron," meaning cooking kettle. Vegetables or fish stewed in a cauldron thus became known as chowder in English-speaking nations, a corruption of the name of the pot or kettle in which they were cooked. The first chowders on this continent were brought by French fishermen to Canada.
Pottages - Broths heavy with ingredients such as gumbo, chicken, noodles, or vegetables.
To Thicken Soup
Use oatmeal to make your soup thicker. It will add flavor and richness to almost any soup.
Use a double boiler. The hot water in the bottom part of the boiler does the trick with no burned or boiled over soup.
- Soups and stews should only simmer (Never Boil) when cooking.
- Refrigerate cooked stews and soups overnight before serving. The fat will rise to the top and you can skim it off before heating and serving.
- In a hurry to skim the fat from the soup? An ice cube floated in the soup will help to congeal the fat and make it easier to remove.
- A leaf of lettuce dropped in a pot of soup absorb the grease from the top.
- Freeze the liquids from canned mushrooms or vegetables; use it in soups or stews later.
- To remove excessive salt from soup, drop in a sliced raw potato.
- Another way to thicken your soup, take some of the cooked vegetables out of the soup and puree in the blender. Then return to the original soup mixture.
To save pot watching and burning of the bottom of the pots when making spaghetti sauce, place your sauce in an oven safe dish and place in the oven -- no higher than 300 degrees. It can be left to cook slowly for hours without burning -- just stir every now and then.
When a recipe calls for you to make a spice packet and you don't have any cheese cloth use a coffee filter and a twist tie instead.
Seven Essential Spices
- Black peppercorns: Get a simple pepper mill and your culinary life will change. Fresh ground pepper can give the most mundane dishes an amazing depth of flavor.
- Garlic (fresh): Remember those garlic powders and garlic salts? Forget you even HAD a jar. Buy fresh bulbs and cut the cloves as you need 'em.
- Oregano (dried): This herb figures largely in southern Italian tomato dishes, which form the popular backbone of American-Italian food. This versatile herb is also common to Greek and Mexican cuisines, and holds up well in dried form.
- Basil (dried): Same goes here. You wouldn't make pesto out of this, but dried basil adds a necessary note to salad dressings and most anything Mediterranean.
- Parsley (dried): Believe it or not, this garnish green has a flavor. In both dried and fresh forms, chopped parsley (curly, flat leaf, take your choice) adds incredible depth and body to sauces. Parsley is readily available in fresh bunches, but keep a jar of dried on hand for quick fine-tuning at the stove.
- Cinnamon: Growing up, most kids considered cinnamon that exotic spice that could turn sugar toast into fragrant candies. Nowadays we keep it in the rack for general baking and the occasional nostalgic cinnamon toast breakfast binge.
- Chili powder: Actually a blend of spices—ground dried chilies, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, and cloves—chili powder mixtures vary, so shop around for one that suits your tastes. Good for adding distinctive flavor to dips, dressings, and (shockingly enough) chili.
Also see individual listings for: Cumin, Ginger, Marjoram
How to cook spaghetti squash
Bake It – Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer and place in baking dish. Cook squash in preheated 375 degree oven approximately 1 hour or until flesh is tender.
Boil It – Heat a pot of water large enough to hold the whole squash. When the water is boiling, drop in the squash and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on its size. When a fork goes easily into the flesh, the squash is done.
Microwave It – Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place squash cut sides up in a microwave dish with 1/4 C. water. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 10-12 minutes, depending on size of squash. Add more cooking time if necessary. Let stand covered, for 5 minutes. With fork "comb" out the strands.
Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot – Choose a smaller spaghetti squash (unless you have an extra large slow cooker) so that it will fit. Add 2 C.of water to slow cooker. Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer, add to Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.
Once the squash is cooked, let it cool for 10-20 minutes so it will be easier to handle, before cutting in half (if it wasn't already cut for cooking) and removing the seeds. Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long strands. You can do these steps ahead of time, then prepare any of the spaghetti squash recipes whenever the mood strikes.
All About Butternut squash
There are two kinds of squash: summer and winter. Butternut squash is a winter squash. It has a hard, thick skin and it is filled with seeds. It can range in size from 8-12 inches long, and about 3-5 inches wide, weighing up to 3 lb. The color of the Butternut squash ranges from a yellow to a light tan. Inside, the flesh is orange and has a sweet flavor. Available in early fall through winter, you will want to choose a squash that is heavy with few blemishes and moldy spots.
Storage: Butternut squash can be stored longer than summer squashes because their skin is so hard and thick. Store in a cool dry place for at least a month. If the squash has been cut into pieces, then wrap in a plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 5 days.
Nutritional Qualities: The following qualities are available in 1 C. of mashed squash: 80 calories, 2 grams protein, 1 gram fat, 18 grams carbohydrates, with riboflavin, iron, Vitamins A and C.
Spices: Allspice, anise seed, brown sugar, butter, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, mace, nutmeg, paprika, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme and turmeric.
Equivalencies: 1 pound fresh squash = 3 medium fruits = 3 c. sliced = 1 c. cooked / mashed
Preparation: Rinse and cut the squash lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds and excess fiber. May peel skin if desired.
Stir-Fry: tender when pierced.
Bake: 400 degrees 30 - 40 minutes, uncovered.
Microwave: 1/2 the squash and microwave for 10 -12 minutes.
Boil: Cut into chunks and boil 7 - 9 minutes.
Steam: Cube and steam for 6 - 8 minutes.
Roast: 400 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes.
Look for berries with a full red color and a bright luster, firm flesh, and the cap stem still attached. The berries should be dry and clean, and usually medium to small strawberries have better eating quality than large ones.
Avoid berries with large uncolored areas or with large seedy areas (poor in flavor and texture), a full shrunken appearance or softness (signs of over-ripeness or decay), or those with mold, which can spread rapidly from one berry to another.
Don't just jump at those discounted case prices! In most containers of strawberries you will likely find a few that are less desirable than others. Try to look at some of berries lower in the container to be sure that they are reasonably free from defects or decay.
Use a sturdy plastic straw. Push it up through the bottom of the strawberry and through the top. It does a great job quickly and neatly. The berries look excellent if you want to leave them whole.
Health Benefits of Strawberries: see Lycopene
Allspice: Cinnamon; dash of nutmeg or mace; or dash of cloves
Aniseed: Fennel seed or a few drops anise extract
2 cups Splenda, Granular, 1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup. Mix ingredients well. Replaces 2 cups of regular brown sugar to be used when baking or canning. To make more than 2 cups, just multiply ingredients by the number of cups you need.
Substitute 1 C. all purpose flour minus 2 tsp. for 1 C. of cake flour in your recipe.
Chili Powder: Dash bottled hot pepper sauce plus a combination of oregano and cumin
Cinnamon: Nutmeg or allspice (use only 1/4 of the amount)
Cloves: Allspice; cinnamon; or nutmeg
Cumin: Chili powder
1 whole egg plus 1 or 2 egg whites for scrambled eggs, French toast, omelets etc.
Ginger: Allspice; cinnamon; mace; or nutmeg
Mace: Allspice; cinnamon; ginger; or nutmeg
Marjoram Substitutes: basil, oregano, thyme.
Mint Substitutes: Mint or spearmint tea from tea bags or bulk tea or crème de menthe in sweets.
1 cup honey can be substituted for 1 cup molasses. (and vice versa) Note: flavor will be affected.
1 tablespoon prepared mustard can be substituted for 1 teaspoon dry mustard.
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard plus 2 teaspoons vinegar can be substituted for 1 tablespoon prepared mustard.
Nutmeg: Cinnamon; ginger; or mace
Onion (1 medium or 1/4 cup)
= 1 tablespoon instant minced onion
= 1/4 cup frozen chopped onion
= 1 tablespoon onion powder
= shallots (use a little more)
= green onions (use more)
Powdered Sugar Replacement
2 C. (500 mL) nonfat dry milk powder
2 C. (500 mL) cornstarch
1 C. (250 mL) granulated sugar replacement (equivalent of "Equal" packets)
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Whip until well blended and powdered.
From: Diabetic Candy, Cookie & Dessert Cookbook by Mary Jane Fins
Saffron: Dash turmeric (for color)
Also see our R4L article on Emergency Ingredient Substitutions
Make your own superfine sugar (especially handy for decorating cookies) by whirling granulated sugar in a blender or clean spice/coffee grinder.
Decreasing the sugar amount by 1/3 to 1/2 does not usually affect the recipe's chemistry too much, although the texture can sometimes be a bit different (for example, brownies will be cakier and less fudge-like).
There's a natural sweetener called Stevia, which a lot of people use and swear by, but it does have a bit of an aftertaste and I'm not sure how it would affect the chemistry of baked items, as it's a very concentrated powder and you need to use a very small amount to get the same sweetness as sugar. There is also a product on the market called Sweet One, which can be used in place of sugar in baked as well as non-baked items. As far as we know, it's just fine for diabetics.
Also see Equal
Make in the microwave: Slice ripe tomatoes thinly and place on a microwave safe plate and cook for 45 minutes on 30% power. Store dry in a plastic zipper bag or in a jar covered in good olive oil.
Make in the oven: Turn oven on lowest setting. Halve or quarter tomatoes and sprinkle with equal parts salt and sugar. Bake until shriveled and slightly tough - about 12 to 14 hours. Store in the refrigerator or you can freeze for later use. You can also store in oil, in the fridge.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds: see Lycopene
If sweet cream is just starting to sour, restore the sweetness with a pinch of baking soda.
All about Sweet Potatoes
How to Select: When trying to choose a sweet potato, choose a medium sized variety with smooth unbruised skin. You will want to choose an unblemished yam with unwrinkled skin.
Storage: Store your sweet potatoes in a dry, dark 55 degree area for approximately a month. Otherwise, use your sweet potato within the week. Never place a sweet potato in the refrigerator. Store your yam in a cool, dark, dry place up to 2 weeks. Never place your yam in the refrigerator.
Nutritional Qualities: Sweet potatoes have high Vitamins A and C. Yams have higher sugar content.
Spices: Brown sugar, butter, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, lemon juice, lemon peel, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, orange juice, orange peel, poppy seed, sage, savory, thyme.
Equivalencies: 1 pound fresh = 3 medium = 3 ½ - 4 cups cooked and chopped
Preparation: A sweet potato can be prepared like a potato: baked, boiled, sautéed, steamed, microwaved, or fried. A yam can be prepared like a sweet potato!
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Tenderize chicken, beef and lamb, by sprinkling with fresh lemon juice.
Remember that every time you open the oven door, the temperature drops about 25 degrees. The coldest part of any refrigerator is the top back shelf. Never freeze more than four pounds of fresh food per cubic foot of freezer capacity at one time. For highest refrigerator efficiency, air should circulate around each container.
More properly termed "light cream." It is called "light" because it has a lesser percentage of milk fat than heavy cream. Heavy cream (also called heavy whipping cream) contains 36 to 40 percent milk fat by volume, and light cream normally contains around 20 percent milk fat. If you can only find heavy cream and need a substitute for "light cream," an approximate equivalent would be a mixture of 2 parts heavy cream to 1 part whole milk by volume.
A Mediterranean herb that thrives in poor soil. Using pebbles as mulch keeps the crown from rotting.
It is important to read the label on foods to be sure of the nutrition value. Tofu can be an excellent source of calcium, but not all types of tofu are. Most tofu that is processed with calcium sulfate has about 260mg of calcium per cup. The body absorbs calcium sulfate just like it takes calcium from milk.
The alternative is tofu that is processed with nigiri, which has very little calcium. Similarly, calcium-fortified soy milk contains 300mg of calcium-equal to a cup of milk-but again you want to double check the label before you purchase soy milk because not all brands are fortified.
Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover tomatoes; bring to a boil. Immerse tomatoes about 30 seconds; drain and cool. Remove stem ends and slip off skins. Use a melon baller to take the stems off tomatoes for less waste.
Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Gently squeeze each half, using your fingers to remove seeds. To reserve the juice for use in dressings, sauces or soups, seed the tomato into a strainer held over a bowl.
1 small tomato = 3 to 4 oz.
1 medium tomato = 5 to 6 oz.
1 large tomato = 7 or more oz.
1 lb. of tomatoes = 2 1/2 C. chopped or 1 1/2 C. pulp
What to do about green tomatoes
If you grow tomatoes you are most likely left with green tomatoes when the frost is about to hit. Try bringing them inside to ripen! They need to be kept around 55-70 degrees while they ripen. The cooler the temperature, the longer it will take. You can lay them individually in straw or shredded paper. The tomatoes won't need light. Also try covering them lightly with newspaper. The tomatoes have to be mature or they won't ripen. Look for the tomatoes that are green with white or pinkish tinges as the mature one. Tomatoes should not be refrigerated before eating for the best taste. You can use your green tomatoes in recipes as well.
Cooking Green Tomatoes
Instead of breading and frying those wonderful green tomatoes (which is a perfectly delicious way of enjoying them), cut off the outside meaty part leaving the skin on. Cut into bite sized pieces and sauté in extra virgin olive oil with onion pieces of about the same size. Season with salt and pepper. Phil Brady of Evanston, Indiana
Occasionally you may see the term "Tomato Concasse" in a recipe. This simply means to coarsely chop fresh tomatoes. It is often used in Italian-style pasta dishes.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes: see Lycopene
When preparing meatless tomato sauce, use beef broth to dillute the cans of tomatoes instead of water. The beef broth gives the sauce much more flavor.
Though the texture of fresh truffles is unmistakable in dishes, if you cannot find or afford whole truffles, a small amount of truffle oil can often provide a nice truffle flavor at a fraction of the cost. Look for truffle oil in upscale gourmet shops or through mail order at places such as Dean and DeLuca (NYC) or Williams-Sonoma. A small bottle will still be expensive, but if kept refrigerated it will last for up to 4 months. Truffle oil is delicious drizzled over simple pasta, rice, or potato dishes.
Canned Tuna Options
Albacore, the most expensive tuna. Canned tuna made from albacore is labeled 'white'. It has the mildest flavor and is easily substituted for canned chicken in most recipes.
Yellow fin tuna and other varieties are labeled 'light' on cans. It has a slightly stronger flavor than albacore. 'Light' tuna can contain several different varieties of tuna.
Bonita has the strongest flavor and highest fat content. This tuna is usually sold canned. If the can you're purchasing doesn't say 'white' or 'light, it's probably bonita or skipjack tuna.
Make sure that the tuna you purchase is labeled 'dolphin-safe.'
When roasting turkey, roast as usual, then carve all meat from bones and place carved meat in juices from turkey. Add chicken broth to cover meat and cover. Store in refrigerator overnight and reheat in 350 degree oven just before serving next day. Turkey is even better tasting than just cooked and is moist and already carved for your turkey dinner. Place meat on serving platter hot and moist for your family and guests' delight. Use some of the juices and broth to make great turkey gravy. Robert Wagner, Remington, IN
Within two hours after roasting, remove stuffing from turkey and carve the meat off the bones, then place in the refrigerator or freezer. For refrigerator storage, wrap the turkey slices and stuffing separately and eat within three days. To freeze, wrap in heavy foil or freezer wrap, or place in a freezer container. For the best taste, use stuffing within one month and turkey within two months.
I've heard some pretty funny ideas from people trying to thaw a turkey (like using a blow-dryer if you can believe it?) Here is a quick guide, whether you have 4 days or 12 hours, to safely thaw your frozen turkey without risking bacterial growth. No matter which method you select, cook the turkey promptly after thawing.
Thawing your turkey in the refrigerator is the preferred method for safety reasons, but you can also thaw it in cold water. The thing to remember about both methods is that they keep your turkey cold while thawing - the key to preventing excessive bacterial growth.
The Fridge Method:
Using the following chart, simply place the turkey in its original wrap on a tray or in a pan to catch moisture that accumulates as it thaws.
|8 to 12 pounds||1 to 2 days|
|12 to 16 pounds||2 to 3 days|
|16 to 20 pounds||3 to 4 days|
|20 to 24 pounds||4 to 5 days|
Cold Water Method:
If it's the day before you plan to serve your turkey and you just remembered that it's still sitting in the freezer, don't despair. Check the wrapping to make sure there are no tears, and simply place the bird in its unopened bag in the sink or in a large container and cover it with cold water. If the wrapping is torn, place the turkey in another plastic bag, close securely, and then place in water. You will need to change the water frequently to assure safe but effective thawing. The National Turkey federation recommends every 30 minutes as a rule of thumb.
|8 to 12 pounds||4 to 6 hours|
|12 to 16 pounds||6 to 9 hours|
|16 to 20 pounds||9 to 11 hours|
|20 to 24 pounds||11 to 12 hours|
When you make turkey, melt a stick of real butter and then stir in some flour into it to make a runny pasty texture and baste your turkey all over with it....it will make the gravy just awesome with flavor and the skin of the turkey gets brown and tasty
For an elegant garnish to prime rib or other roast beef dishes, wash and drain medium sized turnips, pare the turnip so it can stand upright, cover with lightly salted water and bring to a boil - cook until barely tender. Drain, chill then scoop out the center and fill with a horseradish/sour cream mixture.
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Utensils, flatware and place settings for formal occasions
Generally, the more formal the occasion, the more courses are served, which of course means more flatware. There should be a different set of utensils for each course: salad fork, dinner fork; dinner knife, bread knife; and so on.
Some special dishes such as oysters have special utensils. These can be served at the presentation of the food, but generally are placed on the table in order of course. When oysters are served as an appetizer, for example, set the oyster fork to the right of the spoon.
Building from the basic set-up (dinner fork on the left of the plate; knife to the right of the plate, dinner spoon to the right of the knife):
On the left side of the plate put the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. On the right add a soup spoon to the outside of the dinner spoon if soup will be served. Place the soup bowl above the soup spoon and to the right. The bread plate goes to the left, about two inches above the fork. Place the butter knife across the bread plate at a diagonal, upper left to lower right. Small salad plates go to the left and a little below the bread plate. Dessert spoons, or in some cases knife and fork, are placed about an inch above the top of the plate with the handle(s) on the right side.
The largest glass on the table is the water glass which goes on the right side above the dinner knife. It may be filled and iced when guests arrive or left empty to be filled at each diner's request. If wine or some other beverage is served, set the appropriate glass to the right and a little down from the water glass.
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Getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables
If the kids turn up their noses at fruits and vegetables, you may be surprised to find that all you need to do is present the same foods in a different way and suddenly they won't be able to get enough produce. Kids love anything they can dip! A baggie full of carrot and celery sticks, cucumber and bell pepper slices, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes will isappear like magic if there's a tub of dip to go with them.
Make some ranch dressing using low fat ingredients, or make a batch of nutritious hummus, bean dip or salsa. Baked tortilla chips and whole wheat crackers or pita triangles are perfect, nutritious and kid-pleasing accompaniments for dips, too. Sliced fruit takes on a whole new appeal as well when it's accompanied by a sweet, creamy dip. Good fruit dips include flavored yogurt, applesauce, low fat sour cream sweetened with honey or brown sugar, and caramel ice cream topping.
Store fresh vegetables such as broccoli with plenty of air circulation. Wrap them in a damp towel or place in a perforated plastic bag. Putting them in an unventilated plastic bag will cause humidity to build and decay to set in.
Whenever you cook vegetables (broccoli, carrots, etc.), save the cooking water and keep it in a plastic freezer container. You can keep this in the freezer and add to it every time you cook vegetables and always have vegetable stock on-hand for cooking.
Enhancing Flavor and Cutting Fat
When making vegetables, always put a little lemon on them, it works the best on green vegetables. Brings out flavor and cuts fat.
Also see individual listings for: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Lettuce, Peppers, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes
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Store shelled nuts in the refrigerator on the upper shelf will last about a year. Frozen walnuts will be good up to two years. If shelling your own, remove the papery section that is between the two halves-it's bitter.
Wasabi comes from the "mountain hollyhock" plant which only grows by cold mountain streams in Japan. Although it's not related to Western horseradish, it is an edible root with a strong aroma and a biting taste. It's generally served as a paste with sushi or sashimi. To make a paste, add equal amounts of wasabi powder and tepid water. Mix well and let stand for at least 10 minutes for the flavor to develop. Mix the paste with soy dipping sauce and add as a condiment with your meal. Wasabi's light green color pleases the eye and its taste stimulates the palate. It's ideal for hors d'oeuvres and Japanese cuisine. You can buy Wasabi Powder on eBay, Amazon.com or other online health food stores.
Prevent from boiling over
Rub olive oil around the rim of the pot.
Americans purchase and consume about 3 billion pounds of watermelon annually.
Watermelon, considered one of America's favorite fruits, is really a vegetable (Citrullus lanatus). Cousin to the cucumber and kin to the gourd, watermelons can range in size from 7 to 100 pounds. The world record for the largest watermelon grown is 255 pounds, grown by Vernon Conrad of Bixby, Oklahoma! The world record for watermelon seed-spitting is 66'11", held by Jack Dietz of Chicago.
Melons may be kept at room temperature, un-cut, for about two weeks. Store whole melons at 50-60 degrees. Cut melons should be wrapped and stored at 40-50 degrees. If you need a small amount of watermelon, it is best to buy a piece of a larger one. It may be more expensive per pound, but you will be more likely to get good flavor.
Health Benefits of Watermelon: see Lycopene
Cut watermelon in half, then in quarters. Cut through the flesh of the melon along the seed line with a pairing knife. Now, lift off the piece of the melon you just cut. Using a fork, scrape the seeds from the piece you just removed and the remaining flesh on the rind.
Choosing a good watermelon
- Choose a firm, symmetrical fruit that is free of bruises, cuts and dents.
- Before you buy, pick up your melon. The heavier it feels, the better – a good watermelon is 92% water, which makes up most of its weight.
- On the underside of the watermelon, there should be a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
To prevent whipped cream from deflating, store in the fridge with a paper towel covering the container. I usually use a Tupperware container and put the paper towel under the lid before closing. You'll be amazed at how long you can keep whipped cream this way.
Stabilizing Whipped Cream
Dissolve 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin in a little bit of water and beat it into whipping cream to keep it from turning watery. Betty Brotherton of Williamstown, New Jersey
How to store wine
All white and pink wines are served chilled. Dry and medium-dry Sherries and light reds, such as Beaujolais and Gamay, can be served slightly chilled. All other red wines are served at room temperature (ideally 65 to 68 degrees). Many red wines, especially less mature ones, improve if opened an hour or so before serving.
Older red wines often contain sediment. The bottle should be set upright several hours before pouring. It's a good idea also to decant an older wine by pouring it into a clean carafe. Set a strong light or candle behind the wine so that you can see the sediment. Stop pouring as soon as sediment approaches the bottle's neck.
What to do with leftover wine
Don't throw it out. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.
If you don't have time to cool your white or red wines before serving, add 2-3 frozen grapes in your glass. White grapes for white wine and red grapes for red wine. It will cool your wine and you will have a treat at the bottom of the glass.
The vinegar is what kills the weeds, but the dish soap holds the vinegar in place so it stays on the plant instead of running off. This works great on grass or weeds in sidewalk or driveway cracks, too. Best time to spray is in the middle of the day when the sun is hottest.
1 C. of vinegar
1/2 C. of regular dish soap (not dishwasher detergent)
Fill the rest of the bottle up with water.
Use a funnel to place the following ingredients in a medium spray bottle approximately the size of a quart, but it doesn't have to be exact. Shake well before each use. Spray mixture directly on the weed itself; if weed is out in the yard, be careful not to spray
Keeping Hot Wraps Warm
If a wrap is meant to be enjoyed warm but won't be consumed until the lucky recipient reaches her destination, it can be wrapped in foil and slid into most travel mugs. The wrap will stay warm and fresh.
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Store lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit rinds in the freezer. Grate fresh citrus zest whenever you need it.
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