Tuesday, October 5, 2010

kitchen tips and hints

Thought I would start out with a story about the midget. As i was doing laundry yesterday, I noticed something banging around in my washing machine. I figured it was buttons or something and i would figure it out when i was transferring the clothes to the dryer. So after the cycle was over, and I started carefully sifting through the clothes trying to figure out what was making so much noise, I came across a hoagie bun. It was plastic, mind you, and belonged in my daughters play kitchen. Upon further inspection...i recovered what seemed to be an ENTIRE sandwich, consisting of two pieces of bread, two pieces of sandwich meat, some lettuce, a little bundle of pickles, and a tomato. I swear living with children is like living with tiny hammered people. My daughter keeps me on my toes, though!

So as I thought about my daughters failed attempt to help me with my laundry, or whatever it was she was trying to do, I started to think about being helpful. What a great thing to do! Everyone could use a little help in the kitchen. So i am taking this opportunity to share with you all of the little kitchen tips and tricks that i have learned or come across!

These are in no particular order or organized in anyway! lol I am just listing as many things as I can think of.

Don't throw away sour milk. Make a cake or bread with it.

Save your leftover rice. You can freeze it in a covered freezer container for up to 6 months.

Never worry about finding your brown sugar hard again. Store it in its original box inside your refrigerator. It will stay soft and easy to mix with other dry ingredients.

When deli sandwich meats are on sale, buy extra. Put enough meat for a few days in a freezer bag, and then freeze. To thaw, put in the refrigerator a day before you want to use it. It will taste as fresh as the day you bought it.

If a soup or stew is too salty, add cut raw potatoes. Discard the potatoes after they have cooked because they will have absorbed the salt.

Store celery and lettuce in paper bags, not plastic. Do not remove the outside leaves and stalks until ready to use.

If your stew is slightly burned, add milk to take out the bad taste.

Before opening a package of bacon, roll it. This helps separate the slices and makes them easier to remove individually.

To retain crispness, drain deep-fried foods on brown paper grocery bags instead of paper towels.

Don't just keep dental floss in your medicine cabinet. Keep some in the kitchen. It is a great tool. Unflavored dental floss is often better than a knife to cleanly cut many soft foods, including soft cheese, rolled dough, layered cake, and cheesecake.

To make better French fries, soak freshly cut potatoes in water for 5 minutes, drain, and pat dry before cooking. This removes the excess starch that causes them to clump together and stick to the pan while cooking. For extra crispy fries, lightly dust them with flour before frying.

To avoid crying when peeling onions, put them in the freezer for about ten minutes before cutting.

Put flour in a large salt shaker and keep it in the freezer. When you need to flour a pan or make homemade gravy give it a shake. It helps prevent lumpy gravy and messy counters.

Lettuce loves fat: Fat can be removed from hot soup by floating a large lettuce leaf on the surface. Remove and add more leaves if necessary

Large tuna fish cans can be used to bake small pumpkin breads for gifts. Great size, great shape.

Stale chips? Try refreshing chips and crackers by putting them on a plate and microwaving them for 30 to 45 seconds. Let stand one minute to crisp.

Next time you have a headache try eating some strawberries. They contain natural salicylates, an ingredient that's found in aspirin.

Inexpensive meat tenderizer: Cooking a roast and the meat is still tough? Add lemon juice or vinegar to liquid in which meat is being cooked about thirty minutes before its done.

To clean small-neck bottles or vases, place a little rice and warm soapy water inside and shake well. Rinse out and let drip dry

If your hands smell like onions, garlic, fish or whatever, put a few shakes of salt on your palms and rub briskly. They'll wash up fresh.

If you need eggs at room temperature, but have forgotten to take them out of the refrigerator, put them in slightly warm water for 10 minutes.

When you lift the lid of a cooking pot, open it outward to prevent a blast of steam from hitting your face.

A little lemon juice added to the water you cook green vegetables in will help them retain their color.

1 tbsp of flour will thicken the consistency of 1 cup thin liquid to that similar of medium cream.

Scallions are excellent for tying food together, such as stuffed sole or vegetables. They make a wonderful presentation when used in this way.

Rice cooks better in low wide pots than high narrow ones.

To help prevent color loss, do not cover vegetables when cooking them.

When you fill muffin pans with batter, fill one of the cups with water and the other muffins won't scorch during baking.

If you add cocoa to a cake recipe which does not call for cocoa, decrease the amount of flour by 2 tablespoons for each 1/4 cup of cocoa.

If you are going to substitute oil for solid shortening in a cake batter, use about 1/3 less than the amount of solid shortening suggested.

Cooked rice freezes very well, for up to 6 months. Freeze in 2 cup portions for quick side dishes and additions to soups, etc.

Oatmeal cookies will taste better if you toast the oatmeal first. Sprinkle over a pan and heat in an oven on low heat for about 10 minutes.

If vodka is kept in the refrigerator, it will be more flavorful.

Champagne should only be ice-chilled up to the neck of the bottle, any higher and the cork may be difficult to remove.

Adding one pinch of salt to the basket of the coffeemaker will remove some of the acid taste.

For clear coffee, put egg shells in after perking.

Always start with cold water.

Make coffee more exotic by adding a dash of ginger, cardamom or cinnamon to the grounds.

Crush a small piece of ginger and add it to the upper container of the filter while brewing. Ginger coffee has an great taste and can also help to end a nasty cold.

Before you cap the plastic bottle, squeeze it to force out as much air as possible (so that the liquid is almost at the top). The bottle may look odd, but the soda won't lose its carbonation.

Instead of using sugar, dissolve old-fashioned lemon drops, cinnamon red hots or hard mint candy in your tea. They melt quickly.

You will need less sugar in iced tea if you add the sugar while the tea is still hot.

Freeze leftover tea in an ice cube tray. The next time you serve iced tea, use tea cubes instead of plain ones and you tea won't be diluted. You can do the same with other cooling summer drinks such as lemonade and fruit juices.

If a recipe calls for unsalted butter and you have only salted butter, remember that each 8 ounces of salted butter contains about 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the salt you add to your recipe by that amount.

Slice bananas and add to egg whites and beat until stiff for a wonderful substitute for whipped cream.

I really hope some of these help you in the kitchen like they have for me.

Til next time...

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