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Food and Cooking :Cheaper, Better, Faster- Tips and Tricks to Save You Time and Money Every Day

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Asparagus—tenderness pouch
For perfectly tender asparagus, fold aluminum foil into a rectangular shape to
form a cooking pouch and bake the asparagus inside it. The asparagus will steam
within the pouch.
Baby food—homemade
Puree some of the family’s regular food (not highly spiced items) in the blender.
Pour into ice trays, freeze, then pop “food cubes” into large freezer bags to store.
Keep the cubes frozen until needed, and simply heat them in the microwave.
Bacon—no-stick slices
Before opening a new package of bacon, roll it up like a jelly roll, then unroll.
Slices won’t stick to each other.
Baking—adjust oven for glass bakeware
Glass bakeware conducts and retains heat better than metal, so oven
temperatures should be reduced by 25 degrees whenever glass containers are
used.
Baking—biscuit squares from dough scraps
To use up the scraps left after cutting out rounds, roll the dough into a square and
cut square biscuits with a knife or large pizza wheel.
Baking—bread, dough rising
Create the perfect environment for bread to rise. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in
a lidded 2-quart pot. Remove the pot from the heat, invert the lid on the top of
the pot, and lay a pot holder on the inverted lid. Put the bread dough into a
mixing bowl, balance the bowl on the inverted lid, and cover with a dish towel.
The water releases its heat gradually and keeps the dough at an ideal proofing
temperature.
Baking—bread, dough rising chamber
To create a great environment for bread to rise, use the clothes dryer. On the high
setting, tumble a clean bath towel for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off, and place the
towel in the bottom of the dryer and the bowl of bread dough on top of the towel.
Shut the dryer door to allow dough to rise. Put up a sign or a piece of tape across
the door, or use some other signal in case someone decides it’s a perfect time to
do a little laundry.
Baking—brownie cutting
Remove brownies from the pan first and then cut them with a pizza cutter. It zips
right through. No muss. No fuss. And it makes it easier to cut them straight. This
works well with most bar cookies too.
Baking—brownies, extra fudgy
For extra-fudgy brownies, add 1 tablespoon corn syrup to the batter, either a box
mix or from scratch. Bake as usual. Also, don’t assume it always pays to bake
from scratch. Brownies, for example, are often cheaper to make from a mix.
Baking—cake cooling
To cool a cake just out of the oven, place the pan on a wet towel. The cake is less
likely to stick to the pan, and after it cools it will come out of the pan easily.
Baking—cake layer anchors
To keep the cake layers from slipping while you ice the sides of a cake, push
three long strands of dry spaghetti through all of the cake layers. Frost the sides
and top, and then pull out the spaghetti once the icing sets.
Baking—cake plate drips and smears
To prevent frosting drippings and smears on the cake plate, slip several strips of
waxed paper just slightly under the edge of the cake all the way around it. Once
the frosting is set, gently remove the paper to reveal the clean plate.
Baking—cookie cutters, no sticking
A thin coat of cooking spray will prevent dough from sticking to cookie cutters.
This also works with your children’s play dough.
Baking—cookie sheets
If the cookie sheet you are baking cookies on is half or less than half full of
cookies, it may absorb too much heat. Place an inverted baking pan on the empty
half.
Baking—cookie dough, storage
An 8-ounce juice can is just right for storing homemade cookie dough. Cover the
open end with foil or plastic wrap and either refrigerate for a few days or freeze
for later. When you’re ready to bake a batch, push the can at the bottom and
squeeze out the dough. Cut it into slices and bake, following the recipe
directions.
Baking—cookies, avoid burning
If you have trouble with cookies burning in your oven, bake them with a second
cookie sheet under the first one.
Baking—cookies, peanut butter
When making the traditional fork marks on peanut butter cookies, first dip the
tines in cinnamon, allspice, or ginger, then press down. This is effective, and
tasty.
Baking—don’t peek in oven
Don’t open the oven when something is baking. Each peek can reduce oven
temperature by as much as 25 degrees, will affect the baking quality, and can
change the baking time. Watch the clock instead.
Baking—don’t use whipped butter
Whipped butter contains more than 30 percent air, so it should never be used in
baked goods.
Baking—freeze your rolling pin
Chill the rolling pin in the freezer so the dough won’t stick to it. This prevents
more flour from being added to the dough.
Baking—fruit for pies
Always taste the fruit before making a fruit pie filling. If the fruit isn’t sweet
enough, slice it very thinly so there’ll be more surfaces to absorb the sugar.
Baking—glaze and butter brushing
A new paintbrush is perfect for brushing glaze on bread and pastry dough before
cooking or melted butter on corn or dinner rolls.
Baking—location in oven
Bake pies, tarts, and quiches in the lower third of the oven. The bottom crust will
be crisp, and the edges or top crust won’t overbrown.
Baking—maple frosting
For a quick, easy, and delicious frosting, add maple syrup to confectioners’ sugar
and stir until rich and thick. Spread on cakes, cookies, and buns.
Baking—multiples in the oven
When baking more than one item at a time, make sure there’s plenty of room
between the pans, walls, and racks of the oven for air to circulate.
Baking—no cupcake batter spills
A spill-proof way to pour cupcake batter into muffin tins or pancake batter onto
a griddle is to transfer it to a clean milk carton, using a funnel. The carton’s
spout lets you pour with precision and provides an excellent container for
storage in the refrigerator.
Baking—quick-bread muffins instead of loaves
When it’s too hot to crank up the oven for an hour, bake your favorite quick
bread as muffins rather than loaves. Baking time is only 15 to 20 minutes, and
the muffins are great take-alongs for summertime picnics and potlucks.
Baking—quick bread, measure ingredients carefully
Too much baking powder or baking soda gives quick bread a crumbly, dry
texture and a bitter aftertaste. It can also make the batter overrise, causing the
bread to fall.
Baking—toasted oats
To give your homemade cakes, cookies, and breads a crunchy texture and nutty
flavor, place uncooked oats on a cookie sheet in your oven and toast until they’re
golden brown. Mix the toasted oats into the dough or batter.
Baking—use nonfat dry milk
Use nonfat dry milk in baking. It’s cheaper than whole milk and will help you
stretch your budget. Try stretching your fresh milk by mixing 50/50 with
reconstituted dry milk (mixed with water according to package instructions).
Make sure it is very cold and your family is not likely to detect your cost-cutting
ways.
Baking—with blueberries
When making muffins, pancakes, or quick breads that call for blueberries, freeze
the berries first. The frozen blueberries will keep their shape, and they won’t
break up in the batter.
Bread—burned toast
Scrape the really dark part off with a cheese grater, and no one will have to
know.
Bread—hot dinner rolls
To keep dinner rolls hot at the table, heat a ceramic tile in the oven while the
rolls are baking. Put the warm tile in a breadbasket, cover it with a napkin, and
lay the rolls on top. Cover the rolls with a napkin, too, and they’ll stay warm for
the entire meal.
Bread—making crumbs
Don’t discard bread, rolls, bagels—even garlic bread—that have become hard.
Store them in a plastic bag in the freezer, and when you need bread crumbs,
simply grate a piece of your stash with a cheese grater. You’ll have uniform,
perfect bread crumbs.
Bread—mini hamburger buns
Use a biscuit cutter to cut the centers out of bread ends and you have a perfectsize
hamburger bun for a young child. Use the scraps for bread crumbs.
Bread—soften
To freshen bread or rolls that have become a little bit hard, sprinkle the inside of
a brown paper bag with water, add the bread or rolls, fold the top over tightly,
and place in a 400 degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes to heat.
Broth—clear
Pour broth through a coffee filter to produce clear broth.
Broth—fat free
To get rid of the fat from canned beef and chicken broth, store the cans in the
refrigerator upside down so the fat congeals on the “bottom” of the can, which
will be at the top as they stand in the refrigerator. To use, turn the can upright
and use a can-punch-type opener to pierce a hole. Pour the broth, and the fat will
stay behind.
Broth—seasoning meats and veggies in the microwave
To season meats and veggies when cooking in the microwave, add chicken broth
or beef broth, not salt. Cooking in broth enhances flavor, while sprinkling with
salt can cause food to cook unevenly, discolor, and dry out.
Browning while broiling
Broiled meat, fish, or poultry will brown more evenly if brought to room
temperature before cooking.
Butter—creaming with sugar
To cream butter and sugar quickly, first rinse the bowl with boiling water.
Butter—grated
When a recipe calls for dotting the surface of a pie filling with butter, rub a cold
stick of butter across the coarse side of a grater and sprinkle the grated butter on
the filling.
Butter—substitute
When baking, you can cut down or omit the butter or margarine by substituting
applesauce. A good rule of thumb: no more than 1 tablespoon of applesauce per
1 cup of flour.
Butter spread—homemade
To make your own butter spread, combine 1 pound softened margarine with 1
cup buttermilk, ½ cup vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon butter flavoring. Mix well
and store in the refrigerator in a container with a tightly fitting lid. Tastes just
like butter and stays soft.
Buying—cereal
Buy plain cereals, and then add your own extras like raisins, sliced almonds,
honey, and dried fruit. You’ll save a lot of money. You’ll also know exactly what
and how much has been added.
Buying—dairy
The date on dairy products is the date retailers must pull unsold products from
the shelf. Properly stored, the product will be good for at least 7 days past the
printed date. Unsalted butter has a shorter shelf life than salted. Whichever kind
you buy, extra sticks are best stored in the freezer. Milk, cream, cottage cheese,
and similar products should be stored in their original containers.
Buying—fish
For best quality, buy from supermarkets that display fish on ice in refrigerator
cases. A fresh-caught fish has almost no odor; it will not smell “fishy.” An
ammonia-like smell develops when fish has been stored several days—don’t
buy! The eyes should look clear, not cloudy; the scales should be bright pink, not
gray. The flesh should be unblemished, edges intact, not torn; when pressed with
a finger, the flesh should give slightly but bounce back.
Buying—meat
Never purchase more meat than you can properly refrigerate and reasonably use
within the following periods of time: Ground beef and beef cut into small pieces,
such as stew meat, should be used within 2 days of purchase. Steak should be
used within 4 days of purchase, and roasts should be used within 1 week. If you
can’t use the meat that quickly, be sure to freeze it as soon as possible.
Buying—nuts
Buy walnuts, almonds, pecans, and other nuts after the holidays at sale prices.
Shell, then store the nuts in individual plastic bags in the freezer. The nuts won’t
stick together, so it’s easy to remove the amount you need for each recipe.
Casseroles—for camping
Before you go camping, prepare casseroles and freeze them in waxed milk
cartons. Simply open the top of the empty carton completely to allow ample
room to fill the container, then refold to close. They will fit perfectly into the
cooler and stay cold longer.
Casseroles—no spills on the go
To prevent spills when transporting a casserole dish, stretch one rubber band
from each handle to the knob on top of the cover. The lid stays secure, making
the dish easy to carry.
Cauliflower—keeping white
To keep cauliflower white while cooking, add a little milk to the water.
Celery—keep crisp
To keep celery crisp, stand it up in a pitcher or jar of cold saltwater, and
refrigerate.
Celery—restore crunch
Tired of throwing out celery that’s lost its crunch? Cut off the bottom stem and
separate the stalks. Fill a pan that is deep enough to cover the celery with cold
water, and stir in ¾ cup granulated sugar. Let the celery soak 4 to 5 hours. Drain
well and refrigerate.
Cheese—equivalents
A 1-ounce piece of cheese equals ¼ cup shredded cheese; 2 ounces equal ½ cup,
and so on.
Cheese—grater care
Spray the cheese grater with cooking spray to speed up grating and to avoid
cheese buildup.
Cheese—Parmesan cheese
To quickly shave or shred fresh Parmesan cheese, use a vegetable peeler or a
zester.
Cheese—soft cream cheese
Make your own soft cream cheese. Combine one room-temperature, 8-ounce
package of regular cream cheese with 2 tablespoons milk, or one 3-ounce
package of regular cream cheese and 1½ teaspoons milk. Store in the
refrigerator.
Chip clips—substitute
Instead of purchasing plastic “chip clips,” keep a supply of sturdy clothespins on
hand. Clothespins work great for keeping bags of chips, cookies, rice, flour, and
coffee closed tightly.
Chocolate—melting
Before melting chocolate, spray the container with cooking spray, and the melted
chocolate will slip right out.
Cleanup made easy—broiler
Make cleanup easy by spraying the clean broiler pan with nonstick vegetable
spray before beginning to cook.
Cleanup made easy—graters, blades, and beaters
For easy cleanup, coat the grater, the knife blade of a food processor, and the
beaters of an electric mixer with cooking spray before using.
Cleanup made easy—measuring cup, molasses or honey
Dust your measuring cup with flour before measuring molasses or honey for
your next cookie recipe. The molasses or honey will pour from the cup easily,
and cleanup will be a snap.
Cleanup made easy—oatmeal pot
Love hot cereal but hate the mess? Coat the pot with cooking spray first.
Cleanup will be a breeze.
Coconut—preparation
Pierce the eyes of a coconut with an ice pick and drain the liquid. Wrap the
coconut in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes or until fragrant
and very hot. Let it stand 15 minutes. Wrap the coconut in a kitchen towel and
split it with a hammer or mallet. Pry out the meat with a sturdy knife.
Coffee—bitterness
Put a pinch of salt into dry coffee grounds to remove any bitterness.
Coffee—café mocha
Company’s coming, and you’re nearly out of coffee. Make this café mocha, and
you can serve six people with just 2 cups of coffee. Add ⅓ cup cocoa and 3 cups
warmed milk to 2 cups of coffee. Sweeten to taste, or add about ¼ cup sugar.
Coffee—cappuccino
To make four cappuccinos, place 2 cups of milk in a glass measuring cup.
Microwave on high until hot, about 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Place hot milk
and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a blender. Cover with a vented lid and blend until
frothy, about 1 minute. To serve, divide 2 cups strong coffee among four coffee
cups. Top each with frothy milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon or grated chocolate
(optional).
Coffee—European light
To make European-style “light” coffee, purchase coffee beans—half decaf and
half regular—and have them poured into the same container. To use, set the
grinder at the finest setting, which produces European-style ground coffee. Use a
much smaller amount of grounds than you are accustomed to because of the fine
grind. Store ground coffee and coffee beans in the freezer to keep them fresher
longer.
Coffee—filters
Unbleached tan coffee filters last longer and are stronger than the bleached white
type. They can be rinsed out and reused several times before discarding.
Coffee—for later
Don’t leave the coffeepot warming for hours on end. Instead, transfer the brewed
coffee to a thermos and turn that energy-sucker off.
Coffee—gourmet
Break up a cinnamon stick or sprinkle ground cinnamon into coffee grounds
before brewing. Or add a drop of vanilla to the coffee once it’s brewed.
Coffee—made ahead
Instead of making a half pot of coffee each morning, brew a whole pot every
other day. Drink half and store half in a Mason jar that has a screw-on lid. When
you pour hot coffee into the glass jar and tighten the lid, you will find the jar
actually seals as it would in the canning process. Store in the refrigerator. The
next day the coffee tastes great, and you can microwave a cup whenever you
want.
Cook topside whenever possible
Your oven uses a lot more energy than the stove burners.
Cooking surface
When cooking, keep as much of the surface-unit heat as possible from escaping.
Use pots and pans with flat bottoms, and always use a pan that is the same size
or larger than the burner.
Corn—kernel removal
Use a new, clean metal shoehorn to scrape kernels off an ear of corn. It’s the
perfect shape for the job.
Corn—silk removal
Keep it cool. Don’t pack fresh corn on the cob in a hot trunk after you leave the
store. Be sure to put it in the refrigerator immediately when you get home. To get
the silk off the corn quickly, put on a pair of rubber gloves and rub the cob. The
silk will come off easily. When boiling corn, add sugar to the water instead of
salt. Salt will toughen the corn.
Cornstarch—substitute
Substitute 2 tablespoons of flour for every tablespoon of cornstarch.
Cracker crumbs—substitute
Substitute 1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs for ¼ cup fine cracker crumbs.
Croutons—easy bake
Cut 4 slices of bread (stale is fine) into ¼-inch cubes. Toss the cubes with 2
tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon garlic
salt, and 2 tablespoons canola oil. Bake at 300°F for about 20 minutes, or sauté
in hot olive oil.
Crumbs—make with rolling pin
A rolling pin makes crumbs without the mess. Place dried-out bread in a large,
sealed plastic bag and roll away.
Cutting—dental floss
In the kitchen, dental floss can do the job of a sharp, serrated knife—and with
better results. Stretched taut between your hands, a length of floss can split a
cake into layers without a turntable and with a minimum of crumbs. It will also
slice a log of soft fresh cheese into rounds that stay intact, instead of crumbling
into bits. Cut creamy cheesecake with dental floss. Stretch a length of floss over
the top of the cake and, holding it taut, bring it down top to bottom through the
cake to cut it into halves. Repeat until you have the desired number of pieces.
Dessert—mousse
For a quick, cheap, and low-fat chocolate mousse, mix cocoa powder into Cool
Whip. Add as little or as much cocoa powder as your palate dictates. Stir well
and serve. You can also use this to frost cakes.
Dessert—thawing
Thaw bread, desserts, and baked goods at room temperature in their original
wrapping to avoid moisture loss.
Dip—green peppers for bowls
Use green peppers with the tops cut off and seeds removed as dip dishes. You’ll
have fewer items to wash later.
Double boiler or steamer
Here’s a way to save a little money on your electricity or gas bill: Cook with a
double boiler or steamer. For example, boil pasta in the boiler’s bottom pot and
steam vegetables in the top section.
Drinking straws—sanitary
Flexible drinking straws always seem to come in a cellophane bag or box that
opens at the top. This represents a sanitation problem if every member of the
family reaches in to get a straw. It’s impossible not to touch the top of all the
straws. Here’s the solution: Empty the entire box of drinking straws into a
gallon-size food storage bag, placing the straws horizontally in the bag. Now
when you reach in to get one, you are not touching the drinking end but rather
grabbing one from the middle.
Drinks—Crystal Light, homemade
Make your own product like Crystal Light with these ingredients: 1 cup lemon
or lime juice, 5 cups cold water, and five packets sweetener (Sweet’N Low or
Equal). Mix in pitcher, serve over ice, and enjoy!
Drinks—for school lunches
Pop-up, screw-on plastic tops that come on syrup bottles and sport-water bottles
fit perfectly onto 1-pint plastic soda bottles. For a cheap alternative to
individually packaged drinks, fill these small plastic bottles with water, milk, or
100 percent fruit juice for school lunch boxes.
Drinks—orange drink, homemade
Ingredients: 2 cups orange juice, ½ cup powdered coffee creamer, ½ teaspoon
vanilla, 2 tablespoons sugar, 5 large ice cubes. Place ingredients in a blender, and
add ice cubes one at a time. Blend until frothy. Yield: 1 or 2 servings.
Drinks—orange juice, squeezing
Before squeezing oranges for fresh juice, heat two oranges in a microwave on
high for 45 seconds to 1 minute until slightly soft and just warm to the touch.
Squeezing will be easier, and you’ll get twice the juice because the fibers will
have broken down a bit.
Drinks—punch cubes
Freeze whatever drink you are serving in an ice cube tray ahead of time. If
serving tea, make tea cubes; if punch, punch cubes. Drinks will stay chilled and
won’t get all watered down.
Drinks—soda quick chill
Chill a warm can of soda fast. Swirl the can in ice water for 5 minutes.
Drinks—tea
Give tea a zingy twist by adding an orange peel to the teapot a few minutes
before serving.
Dry staples—protect from bugs
To protect dry staples such as flour, meal, grits, pastas, and rice from
contamination, pop in a couple of bay leaves. This won’t affect the taste, but it
will prevent pesky bugs from ruining these products.
Duck—no stuffing
Unlike turkeys, chicken, and game hens, you don’t want to stuff a duck. The
bread in the stuffing absorbs so much fat that the stuffing becomes inedible.
Egg—quick salad
For quick egg salad, break 1 large egg into a custard cup. Puncture the yolk with
a knife. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave on medium (50 percent
power) for 2 minutes. Chop and use in your favorite egg-salad recipe.
Egg test—cooked or uncooked?
When you hard-cook eggs that you plan to save for a few days, put a tea bag in
the water. The shells will turn slightly beige, and you’ll be able to distinguish
them from uncooked eggs.
Egg test—fresh?
Place an egg in cool, salted water to determine its freshness. If it sinks, it’s fresh.
If it floats, throw it out.
Egg whites—beating tricks
Separate whites from yolks as soon as you remove eggs from the refrigerator.
Cold yolks are firmer and less likely to break. Do not pierce yolks. One speck
will keep whites from beating properly. To get the greatest volume, bring egg
whites to room temperature before beating. Use a small, deep bowl so beaters
are immersed and mixture is thoroughly aerated.
Egg whites—clean equipment
Whenever you are working with egg whites, it is important that your beating
equipment be impeccably clean and free from oil or grease, which will prevent
the eggs from creating the greatest volume possible. A copper or stainless steel
bowl is ideal.
Egg whites—separate with a funnel
Separate egg whites from the yolk by breaking eggs, one at a time, into a
narrow-necked funnel. The whites will pass through, leaving the yolk in the
funnel.
Egg whites—through your fingers
Crack the eggshell and pour its contents into your clean hand held over a small
bowl. Allow the white to drip between your fingers into the bowl.
Egg whites—use acidic mix
When beating egg whites, add ⅛ teaspoon acid (cream of tartar, lemon juice, or
vinegar) per white just as they begin to become frothy during beating. This
stabilizes egg whites and allows them to reach their full volume and stiffness.
This is not necessary if using a copper bowl, as the natural acid on the surface
achieves the same result.
Eggs—easy peel
Eggs can be shelled easily if you bring them to a boil in a covered pan, then turn
the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour off the hot water, shake the eggs
in the pan until they’re well cracked, then add cold water. The shells will come
right off.
Eggs—from refrigerator to room temp
If a recipe calls for room-temperature eggs and yours are straight from the
refrigerator, immerse them in very warm water for a few minutes.
Eggs—half of three
To halve a recipe calling for three eggs, use two eggs and decrease the recipe’s
liquid by 2 to 3 tablespoons.
Eggs—omelet fluff
Add a pinch of cornstarch to beaten eggs to make a much fluffier omelet.
Eggs—poaching
Put a few drops of white vinegar in the water to help poached eggs hold their
shape.
Eggs—reducing cholesterol
When making scrambled eggs, use the yolks from only half of the eggs to cut
cholesterol by 50 percent without affecting taste.
Eggs—storage
Always store eggs large end up. This keeps them fresher and helps keep the yolk
centered. Never store eggs near pungent foods like onions because they easily
absorb odors right through their shells.
Eggs—substitute
Out of eggs? Use 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise for each egg required in your
baking recipe.
Equivalents—one pound
The following amounts are equal to 1 pound: 2 cups butter; 2⅓ cups white
granulated sugar; 2 cups packed brown sugar; 3¾ cups confectioners’ sugar; 3½
cups all-purpose flour; 4 cups cake flour; 3¾ cups whole wheat flour; 4 cups
cocoa; 3 cups loosely packed raisins; 2¾ cups sliced apples; 2 cups fresh pitted
cherries; 5 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms; 3 cups sliced white potatoes; 4½ cups
coarsely sliced cabbage.
Fish—better smelling hands
Before handling fish, rinse your hands in cold water and they won’t smell so
fishy later.
Fish—cooking time
General rule: Fish should be cooked 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Measure
the thickest part of the fillet or steak; turn over the fish at the halfway point.
Example: Cook a 1-inch-thick fish 5 minutes per side. The fish is done when the
flesh is opaque. If a fish steak is unusually thick, check the center with a knife.
Fish—deboning
Tweezers are perfect for removing fine bones from cooked fish.
Flour—puff
Keep a powder puff in your flour container and use it for dusting cake pans
before you pour in the batter.
Flour—shaker
Put flour in an old saltshaker and leave it in the freezer. When you need to flour
a pan or dust a pastry board, the shaker will save you from wrestling with a big
bag and spilling flour everywhere.
Flour—sifter
A kitchen strainer works just as well as a flour sifter. Lightly press flour or
powdered sugar through with the back of a wooden spoon or gently shake the
strainer back and forth until the product has worked its way through.
Foil liners in pans
It sounds so simple, but it’s not always that easy. Here’s a way to make lining
any pan with foil a cinch. Turn the pan to be lined over and lay a piece of foil
over it, molding it to the exact shape of the pan. Now turn the pan right-side up
and set the perfectly molded foil into it. Perfect fit every time.
Food—expiration dates
Mark a rotation date on any food container that does not already have an
expiration date on the package. Store the food in airtight, pest-resistant
containers in a cool, dark place. Most canned foods can safely be stored for at
least 18 months. Low-acid canned foods like meat products, fruits, or vegetables
will normally last at least 2 years. Use dry products, like boxed cereal, crackers,
cookies, dried milk, or dried fruit within 6 months.
Food—inventory
Place a chalkboard on the refrigerator. List what snacks or leftovers are available
inside. This will prevent family members from eating things you’re planning to
have for dinner. And it will keep them from opening the refrigerator to search for
snacks that may or may not be there while all the cold air leaks out.
Food—list on display
If your supermarket receipt clearly lists every item you purchased by name, post
it on the refrigerator door. It lets everyone know what you bought so they can
decide quickly what they want.
Freezer—labeling
Label and date new items for the freezer, and place them in the back. Doing this
brings the older items to the front so they can be used first.
Freezer—list
Keep a current freezer inventory list posted to the outside of the freezer door.
The longer you leave the door open while you look to see what’s in there, the
more cold air escapes and the harder the freezer has to work.
Freezer—storage
Heavy-duty freezer bags can be reused, but if you’ve written on them, it can get
confusing. Instead, write the contents and also instructions for heating on a
separate piece of paper that you can slip inside the bag. You can see through with
no problem, and the bag stays blank for its future jobs.
Freezing—cakes
Freeze frosted cakes uncovered until hard, then lightly wrap with plastic wrap
and aluminum foil. Store unfrosted cakes and cheesecakes in plastic wrap, and
freeze. Thaw all cakes with the wrapping in place to minimize condensation.
Freezing—chicken
Freeze skinless, boneless chicken breasts uncovered in a single layer, then wrap
them individually and stack in resealable plastic bags. Thaw in the refrigerator,
or if you’re in a hurry, submerge them in the airtight bag in a bowl of cold water.
Freezing—eggs
If you have more eggs than you can use in the near future, crack them open and
place them individually in an ice cube tray. Once they’re frozen, remove them
and store in a resealable plastic freezer bag in the freezer. Frozen eggs should
always be thawed in the refrigerator and used in recipes in which they will be
thoroughly cooked.
Freezing—fish in milk cartons
Freeze cleaned fish by packing them loosely in clean milk cartons and filling the
cartons with water. When you defrost, save the water to use as fertilizer for your
houseplants.
Freezing—fish with high fat content
Fish with a relatively high fat content, like salmon and trout, freeze best. Thaw,
without unwrapping, at room temperature in a bowl of cold water or in the
refrigerator. Before you freeze a fish, it should be cleaned, gutted, rinsed, and
dried.
Freezing—ground meat
Freeze 1 pound of ground meat in a 1-gallon resealable plastic freezer bag.
Flatten the meat inside the bag and you’ll have a package that takes up very little
space when you stand it on end in your freezer. When you want to use the meat,
simply whack the package on the side of your counter to break it up; it will thaw
very quickly once broken into pieces.
Freezing—heavy cream
Heavy cream can be frozen if you intend to use it for cooking, but it won’t whip
once it has thawed.
Freezing—herbs
Place fresh herbs in tightly sealed plastic bags and freeze. Their color will fade
slightly, but their flavor will remain true. Another method is to mince the herbs,
place them into ice cube trays, and add water to freeze them in cubes.
Freezing—lemon juice
If you have an overabundance of lemons, you can squeeze the juice into ice cube
trays, freeze, and then keep cubes in a plastic bag for future use.
Freezing—liquids
Allow at least ½ inch of space for expansion when freezing liquids.
Freezing—onions
To freeze onions, chop them and then spread the pieces out in one layer on a
cookie sheet. Immediately place the cookie sheet in the freezer. When the onions
are frozen, transfer them to a resealable plastic bag or container and seal.
Freezing—snack foods
Keep marshmallows, potato chips, pretzels, and crackers in the freezer. They are
best if frozen in their original unopened containers.
Freezing—soups
Freeze soup or casseroles in a loaf pan. When they are hard, remove, wrap, label,
and return them to the freezer. You’ll have use of your pan again immediately,
and the product will easily stack in the freezer.
Freezing—soups not to freeze
Don’t freeze soups containing milk, cream, or coconut milk, which can separate
or curdle.
Freezing—vegetables
Blanch vegetables before freezing. They contain enzymes that, if the action is
not stopped, will cause vegetables to become coarse and flavorless. To blanch,
drop fresh vegetables into boiling water, followed by a complete immersion into
ice water. Work with small batches. Blanching time depends on the type of
vegetable. For example, boiling time for green beans is 2½ minutes while
asparagus should boil for 3 minutes. Find a handy blanching times chart at
http://www.ochef.com/617.htm.
Freezing—whipped cream in dollops
Whipped cream can be frozen in dollops on a flat sheet. Once the dollops are
hard, store them in resealable plastic freezer bags.
Freezing—whipped cream in milk carton
Fill a milk carton with whipped cream and freeze. When you need some, cut the
required amount off the top with a carving knife, carton and all. Recap the carton
with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, secure with tape or a rubber band, and return
to the freezer.
Fresher—asparagus
Asparagus will stay fresher longer if you set the spears upright in a container in
the refrigerator with the cut ends sitting in an inch of water.
Fresher—bananas, plastic bag
If you store bananas in a closed plastic bag, they will keep at least 2 weeks on
your counter.
Fresher—bananas, tree
A banana tree is a great invention that prevents bananas from bruising so they
will last longer. Purchase a big cup hook and screw it into the underside of an
upper cabinet. Your bananas can hang properly and be up and out of the way.
Fresher—berries
Berries keep for several days in the refrigerator if stored unwashed in a colander
or in their original container with airflow. Wash right before eating.
Fresher—cookie dough
Most cookie dough can be refrigerated for at least a week, and frozen for up to a
year if it has been wrapped in airtight resealable plastic freezer bags or in
aluminum foil.
Fresher—cookies
Put a slice of bread in the cookie jar to absorb the moisture that causes cookies to
become stale.
Fresher—cucumbers
To extend the life of a cucumber once it has been cut, wrap it in a paper towel.
The cucumber will not get soggy for up to 2 weeks.
Fresher—eggs
Eggs will stay fresh all month in the refrigerator if you keep them on the shelf in
their original cartons instead of putting them in the egg holder on the refrigerator
door. The temperature variations from opening and closing the door cause eggs
to spoil more quickly.
Fresher—lettuce
Remove the core from the lettuce head with a nonmetal utensil, fill the cavity
with cold water, and drain well. Wrap the head in a clean damp towel and
refrigerate. As long as you keep the towel damp, your lettuce will stay fresh and
crisp.
Fresher—milk
To keep milk fresh longer, add a pinch of salt when you open it. This will greatly
increase its useful shelf life and does not affect the taste in any way.
Fresher—nuts
Keep nuts in the freezer to retard spoilage. Nuts left in the pantry can become
rancid.
Fresher—onions, potatoes
Cut off a leg of an old, clean pair of pantyhose, drop onions or potatoes into it,
and hang it in a cool, dark place. The hose lets air circulate, which helps keep the
onions or potatoes fresh longer.
Fresher—popcorn kernels
Keep popcorn kernels in the freezer. They will stay fresh much longer, and
freezing will encourage every kernel to pop.
Fresher—raisins
Raisins stay fresh longer when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If they become hard, pour very hot water over them. Drain immediately, then
spread them on a paper towel to dry.
Fresher—salt
Add a few rice kernels to a saltshaker in humid weather to keep the salt fresh.
Frosting—spreader
Use a 6-inch scraper or putty knife, which you can buy in hardware stores or
home improvement stores, as a spreader for icing the side and top of a layer
cake. It’s smaller than a spatula and much easier to hold straight. Position the
scraper perpendicular to the side of the cake that you’ve placed on a lazy Susan;
hold it gently, and rotate the cake’s turntable. The scraper also will maintain an
even amount of frosting on the cake sides.
Frosting—to go
To keep plastic wrap from sticking to cupcakes (and other frosted treats), spray
the plastic wrap with some cooking spray. The cupcakes will arrive at their
destination with the frosting intact.
Fruit—citrus peeling
When grating or cutting citrus peel, use fruit straight from the refrigerator. The
fruit will be firmer and easier to handle.
Fruit—repel fruit flies
Garnish fruit bowls with fresh basil, which repels fruit flies.
Fruit—slices without browning
Fill a spray bottle with lemon-lime soft drink to spray on apple and banana slices
to prevent them from turning brown.
Fruit juice—extend with water
Stretch concentrated fruit juice. Add more water than instructions recommend.
You will be pleasantly surprised when you detect little difference, if any. Start by
adding half a can of water extra. Work up to one full can of water beyond the
amount recommended.
Fruit juice—leftovers
Use the leftover juice from canned fruits to sweeten your iced tea or lemonade.
This gives both the tea and the lemonade an excellent tropical flavor, and you
won’t waste that juice.
Fruit juice—lemon juice with no seeds
For seedless lemon juice, wrap half a lemon in a piece of cheesecloth before
squeezing.
Frying—draining
When deep-frying, use only one paper towel with a thick section of newspaper
under, and place food on it to drain.
Frying—grease removal
Use a turkey baster to remove grease from the frying pan as you’re browning
ground beef.
Frying—splatters
When frying foods, invert a metal colander over the frying pan to prevent hardto-
clean oil splatters.
Frying—sticking
Heat the frying pan before adding oil or butter. It’s guaranteed to keep food from
sticking.
Funnel—substitute
Make an emergency funnel out of aluminum foil, or cut the corner from a plastic
bag.
Garlic—quick roasted
Trim the top of one whole head of garlic. Place in a 1-cup measuring cup with 3
tablespoons chicken broth. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave on high
for about 10 minutes, until tender. Let stand 5 minutes. This is good spread on
toasted French bread.
Garlic—substitute
Use ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder in place of a clove of garlic.
Gravy—brown coloring
To make gravy brown, stir in 1 teaspoon of brewed coffee. It doesn’t affect the
taste, just the appearance.
Gravy—keeping it hot
Serve gravy in a small thermos-type coffee decanter. It holds a lot, is easy to
handle, and keeps the gravy piping hot.
Gravy—salvage after freezing
To salvage gravy and other fat-based sauces that have separated as a result of
freezing, whisk or process them briefly in a blender or food processor to
emulsify.
Gravy—spatula stir
Always stir thick brown or turkey gravy with a spatula instead of a wooden
spoon. The spatula’s broad, flat edge thoroughly sweeps the bottom of the pan so
the gravy won’t stick or scorch.
Grease fires—use pan lid
Smother a grease or oil fire in the kitchen by sliding a pan lid over the flames.
Never carry the pan outside.
Grease fires—use salt
To douse flames from grease fires, keep a box of salt near your stove.
Greasing—use butter wrappers
Save your leftover butter and margarine wrappers in a plastic bag in your
refrigerator. They’ll come in handy the next time you need to grease a pan.
Grilling—brushing meat, poultry, fish
Use a bundle of thyme sprigs to brush olive oil on meat, poultry, or fish as it
grills.
Grilling—change platters
Don’t place the grilled food back on the same platter it was on before cooking.
Wash the platter after it has held raw meat, or use a separate plate for serving
grilled food.
Grilling—fish
Prepared mayonnaise generously smeared on fish fillets and fish steaks will
prevent them from sticking when they are grilled. Most of the mayonnaise will
cook off, leaving the fish moist and tasty. Leave the skin on fish fillets to be
grilled, and they’ll retain their shape better. If desired, remove the skin after
cooking.
Grilling—flank steak
For an uncomplicated, great-tasting grilled entree, soak flank steak in soy sauce
for 3 to 4 hours. Cook on a very hot grill for 7 to 8 minutes on the first side, and
6 to 7 minutes on the other. Slice thinly on the bias and against the grain.
Herbs—as garnishments
Wrap bunches of fresh rosemary, thyme, or basil from your garden with raffia
and use to garnish platters of food.
Herbs—avoid steam
When adding herbs to a dish you’re preparing, hold the jar away from the
saucepan while adding. Steam from the pan will get into the jar and be absorbed
by the herbs.
Herbs—basil leaves
Clean and pat dry fresh basil leaves, then layer with coarse (kosher) salt in a
widemouthed glass jar until ready for use.
Herbs—fresh vs. dried
It takes three times as many fresh herbs to give the same flavoring as one
measure of dried herbs.
Herbs—make butter
If you have an overabundance of fresh herbs, try storing them by making herb
butters, which can be frozen and used during winter months on homemade
bread, melted over vegetables, or swirled in a simple sauce to provide a great
burst of summer flavor. To make herb butters, chop a cup or more of fresh herbs
and combine with a stick of softened butter; blend until smooth. Add a few drops
of lemon juice. Place in an airtight container and freeze.
Herbs—need to be bruised
When you add an herb to something you’re cooking, you should “bruise” the
herb first to release the oils that give it the flavor. If it’s a dried herb, crumble it
into the pot. If fresh, first tear or mash with the back of a spoon.
Herbs—store for freshness
Place stems of fresh herbs such as basil and parsley in a small container of water,
cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate to store and keep fresh before using.
Herbs and spices—not above stove
Even though it seems convenient, don’t store herbs and spices right above the
stove. Heat is bad for them, as is direct sunlight. The best storage place for dried
herbs and spices is in a cool, dark cupboard.
Honey—substitute
One cup of honey can be replaced with 1¼ cups sugar and an additional ¼ cup
of whatever liquid is used in the recipe.
Ice—crushed
Freeze water in clean milk cartons. Several strong whacks with a hammer to the
four sides and bottom of the carton will produce great crushed ice for homemade
ice cream and your other crushed-ice needs.
Ice cream—at the campground
Ingredients: 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup milk, 1 egg beaten, ½ cup sugar, 1
teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and place in a clean, 1-pound coffee can. Cover and
tape shut. Place in a 3-pound coffee can with 1 part rock salt and 4 parts crushed
ice. Cover. Roll back and forth on a picnic table for 10 minutes. Open both cans
and stir ice cream. Reclose the small can and tape it shut. Return it to the large
coffee can with the salt and ice, close tightly, and roll 5 minutes more. Caution:
Be sure to use an egg that is not cracked, and wash the shell before cracking it
open.
Ice cream—carton peel
When no microwave is available to soften hard ice cream, peel away the carton
and cut the ice cream into slices.
Ice cream—in prepared portions
If large quantities of ice cream disappear too quickly in your house, divide it into
individual portions ahead of time. Put single servings into empty yogurt
containers and freeze. Or line a baking pan with graham crackers, then a layer of
softened ice cream, followed by a top layer of graham crackers. Freeze, cut into
individual squares, wrap, and refreeze.
Ice cream—not on the freezer door
Store ice cream in the freezer compartment, not on the freezer door. This keeps
ice cream fresher because it isn’t exposed to temperature variations from
opening and closing the door.
Ice cream—softener
To soften a quart of rock-hard ice cream, microwave it at 30 percent power for
about 30 seconds. Hardened high-fat ice cream will soften more quickly than
low-fat ice cream because of the fat.
Ice cream cones—freezing until later
Prepare ice cream cones as soon as you get home from the market, when the ice
cream is soft and easy to scoop. Wrap them in plastic and freeze them for special
treats.
Ice cream cones—marshmallow plug
Stop messy leaks from ice cream cones by dropping a marshmallow into the
bottom of the cone before filling with ice cream.
Iron—from iron pots
Cook in cast iron pots. Doing this boosts the iron content of food. Soup
simmering for a few hours in an iron pot has almost 30 times more iron than
soup cooked in another type of pot.
Jelly or jam bottle
Transfer jelly or jam to an empty squeeze bottle like a mustard or ketchup bottle.
Snip the end of the tip to make a slightly larger hole. No more messy jelly or jam
jars.
Ketchup flow
Ketchup flows out of a new bottle more easily if you push a soda straw to the
bottom of it. This allows air to get in and break the vacuum.
Lemon juice—get more from the lemon
Get more juice out of a lemon. Roll it around on the countertop with the palm of
your hand to break up the fibers inside, or put it in the microwave for 30 seconds
to a minute before cutting.
Lemon juice—quick seasoning
Store lemon juice in a shaker for quick seasoning. Keep it in the refrigerator.
Lettuce—wilted
To restore wilted lettuce, quickly dip the lettuce in hot water, then rinse in ice
water to which you’ve added some salt. Shake, then refrigerate for an hour.
Lunch supplies
For the lunch crowd, store all sandwich and lunch fixings in the same
refrigerator drawer. Keep some plastic and brown bags there too.
Marinade—repurposed as dipping sauce
Once meat has been removed from a marinade, the marinade can be used for a
dipping sauce or saved for future use—provided you first boil it for a full 5
minutes to destroy any bacteria left by the raw meat or poultry. Since boiling can
change the texture and flavor of some marinades, it may not work a second time
as a marinade, but you can expect to enjoy a lovely dipping sauce.
Marinating—acids
Marinate meat in resealable plastic bags, glass, plastic, or ceramic containers.
Most marinades contain acids, which can react with metal and affect the flavor.
Marinating—fast and easy
For fast and easy marinating, all you need is a resealable plastic bag and a straw.
Mix the marinade in the bag, add the food, and seal the bag, leaving one corner
open. Insert about a ½ inch of the straw into the bag, then gently inhale on the
straw. As you create a vacuum, the marinade will draw up around the food.
When the marinade nears the top, quickly pull out the straw and seal the bag.
You’ll need less marinade, use less space in your refrigerator, and have less to
clean up.
Meat—for stir-fry
It’s easier to slice meat thinly for quick-cooking dishes such as stir-fries if you
first freeze the meat for 30 to 60 minutes.
Meat—handling without sticking
Rinse your hands in cold water before mixing or shaping ground meat. Meat
won’t stick to them.
Meat—salt after cooking
Salt your steaks after cooking, because salt draws the juices out.
Meat—seasoning check
To check seasonings when mixing raw ground meat for meat loaf, meatballs, or
burgers, cook a tiny amount of the meat mixture in the microwave. Taste and
adjust seasonings if necessary.
Meat—steak doneness test
To check a steak for doneness, press on it. Rare will be soft, medium will give
slightly, and well done will be firm.
Meat loaf
Bake meat loaf in muffin tins instead of a loaf pan or in a large free-form shape.
It will cook faster, be easier to serve, and the cleanup will be a breeze.
Messy jobs
Before starting a messy kitchen job such as peeling potatoes or grating cheese,
cover the counter or sink with a ripped-open brown grocery bag. When you’re
finished, just roll up the mess and dispose of it in one step to the garbage can.
Microwaving—popcorn
Before putting a bag of microwave popcorn into the oven, knead it until the
lumps are broken. Now all the kernels should pop.
Microwaving—water
Before adding anything (such as instant coffee, a tea bag, or cereal) to water you
have just heated in the microwave, stir the water to prevent it from boiling over.
Milk—buttermilk, homemade
Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand 5
minutes before using.
Milk—sweetened condensed
Combine 2 cups instant, nonfat dry milk, 1½ cups sugar, 2⁄3 cup boiling water,
and 6 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled. Mix dry ingredients and
slowly add to boiling water. Stir in melted butter. Whip in blender or by hand
until smooth. Store in refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months. Yield:
20 ounces.
Mincing
When mincing garlic, shallots, or onions, sprinkle a pinch of salt over them. This
will keep the pieces from sticking to the knife and cutting board.
Mint
Freeze washed mint leaves or edible flowers in ice cubes to be used for special
occasions. They look pretty and add a subtle hint of flavor.
Mustard—prepared and dry
One tablespoon prepared mustard is equal to 1 teaspoon of dry mustard.
Nuts—toasting
To toast nuts, cover the bottom of your microwave with waxed paper. Spread
with ¼ cup chopped nuts. Microwave uncovered on high for 5 minutes until
lightly browned.
Oil—glass bottles
Since oils can become rancid more quickly when exposed to light, use designer
water bottles made of colored glass to store oils.
Oil—spray with cooking oil
Put cooking oil in a clean plastic spray bottle. This is much cheaper than buying
oil in a spray can, and you can use the exact type of oil you want.
Odor—cabbage
When cooking cabbage, place a half-filled cup of vinegar on the stove near the
cabbage, and it will absorb offensive odors.
Odor—onions on hands
Remove onion odor from your hands by rubbing a stainless steel spoon between
them while they’re under running water. Or rub hands with the end of a celery
stalk to remove the odor.
Odor—shrimp
Add a few drops of sesame oil to the water when boiling shrimp to eliminate the
odor.
Onions—even browning
While sautéing onions, sprinkle with a bit of sugar if you notice they are
browning unevenly. They should begin to cook evenly thereafter.
Onions—no crying, cold water
Peel onions under cold running water, then freeze them for 5 minutes before
chopping or slicing. This will keep you from crying while working with them.
Onions—no crying, vinegar
Before chopping onions, sprinkle a little vinegar on the cutting board. It will
keep your eyes from tearing.
Onions—sautéing
Chop enough onions to fill two skillets, then sauté them in margarine until
they’re translucent and slightly browned. After letting them cool, wrap portions
in plastic wrap and freeze them in a large resealable plastic bag. When you need
them, just add directly to the dish you’re making or thaw in the microwave prior
to adding.
Onions—substitute
Out of onions for gravy or stock? A few teaspoons of dried-onion soup mix
make a tasty substitute.
Onions—too soft
Boiled onions that have become too soft can be firmed up again by dipping them
briefly in ice water.
Organizers
Plastic berry baskets make terrific holders for powdered soups, drink mixes, and
envelopes of seasonings that seem to collect around the pantry.
Oven—when to preheat
Preheat your oven only if the recipe tells you to. Casseroles and roasts don’t
suffer from starting out in a cold oven, but breads, cakes, and pies do.
Pantry shelving
Create more pantry shelving by laying a narrow board across two tall soup cans.
Pasta—and Parmesan
Drain pasta noodles after cooking, then add a little grated Parmesan cheese. The
cheese creates a bumpy texture for the sauce to cling to. Add the noodles to
sauce in the saucepan, then toss until the pasta is coated.
Pasta—boiling with vegetables
When cooking pasta, add cut-up vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, green
beans, or carrots to the boiling water. They can cook together even if they will
not be served in the same dish.
Pasta—draining, coat the colander
Coat your colander with cooking spray before using it to drain pasta. This will
keep the pasta from sticking.
Pasta—draining, skip the colander
To skip the step of transferring pasta from the pot to the colander to rinse, cook
pasta in a pot with a removable inner basket, or use a metal colander or large
strainer inside a pot of boiling water. Lift out and drain.
Pasta—fresh
Fresh pasta can be wrapped airtight in a plastic bag and refrigerated for up to 5
days or double wrapped and frozen for up to 4 months.
Pasta—shapes
Match the pasta shape to the sauce you will be serving. Serve long, thin pasta
such as spaghetti or vermicelli with smooth sauces that will cling to the long
strands. Serve long, flat pasta such as fettuccini and linguini with rich sauces
based on butter, cheese, or cream. Serve short pasta such as fussili or rigatoni
with chunky vegetable, meat, or cream sauces (good choice for baked pasta
dishes). Serve fun-shaped pasta such as bow ties or shells with cream, seafood,
or tomato sauce.
Pasta—stretch prepackaged dishes
To receive more value from prepackaged pasta dishes such as Kraft Macaroni
and Cheese or Hamburger Helper, add up to a cup of extra macaroni or pasta to
extend the dish without losing flavor. To save on calories and fat, use skim milk
and half the recommended amount of butter.
Pasta—unsticking
If cooked pasta sticks together, spritz it gently with hot running water for just a
few seconds. Drain.
Pastry blender—for chopping and slicing
Use a pastry blender to chop hard-cooked eggs or canned tomatoes and to slice
sticks of cold butter into parts.
Pie—cover for meringue or custard
Before refrigerating leftover meringue or custard pies, cover with plastic wrap
treated with vegetable oil or cooking spray so it won’t stick to the pie’s surface.
Pie—pumpkin
When making a pumpkin pie, mix the filling in a 1-quart or larger liquid
measuring cup or a large pitcher instead of a mixing bowl. To add the filling,
pull the oven rack partway out, place the pie plate on the rack, and pour the
filling into the crust. Gently push the rack back in place, then bake the pie. No
spills, no fuss!
Piecrust—extra flaky
Substitute ice-cold sour cream or whipping cream for water for an extra-flaky
piecrust.
Piecrust—firm up
Place your unfilled piecrust in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking to reduce
shrinkage and to hold fluted edges in place.
Piecrust—hands off!
Body heat will melt the fat and toughen piecrust, so touch the dough with your
hands as little as possible.
Piecrust—prevent overbrowning edges
To prevent piecrust edges from overbrowning, cut the bottom and sides from a
disposable aluminum foil pie pan, leaving the rim intact. When the crust is
golden brown and the filling isn’t quite done, place the foil ring on top to slow
the browning process. It can be used again and again.
Piecrust—use cold ingredients
Piecrust ingredients, even the flour, should be cold to produce the best results.
Pizza crust—not so soggy
If you need a pan with sides to hold your pizza, prebake the crust on a pizza
stone or in a perforated pan, and then transfer it to a deep dish before filling. The
crust will be sealed and less likely to become soggy.
Portions—single-size
Here’s how to freeze single-size portions if you don’t have lots of small
containers or you have limited freezer space: Spoon a single serving of food,
such as chili or stew, into a large container; freeze it briefly until hard; cover
with two pieces of waxed paper; then add another serving. Repeat layers with
remaining food. When ready to use, just grab the edges of the waxed paper, lift
out what you need, and return the rest to the freezer.
Potato—brightener
A teaspoon or two of lemon juice in the cooking water will keep potatoes white
after cooking.
Potato—peeler uses
Uses for a potato peeler: (1) Grate cheese, and save time on cleanup; (2) shave
off small pieces of butter or margarine from a frozen or hard stick with a potato
peeler; (3) pit cherries.
Potato—salad
For more flavorful potato salads, add a vinaigrette dressing while drained
potatoes are still hot so they’ll absorb some of the dressing.
Potatoes—buttermilk or skim milk with seasoning
Make mashed potatoes with buttermilk or skim milk and butter-flavored
seasoning instead of using butter and whole milk.
Potatoes—mashed, ahead of time
Mashed potatoes can be made ahead of time. Make a batch, then spoon the
prepared whipped potatoes into a buttered casserole dish. Dot with pats of butter
and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. To warm before serving, bake in a
350ºF oven for about 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out
hot. Or cook in the microwave until hot.
Potatoes—mashed, with mayo
Add a good-quality mayonnaise along with the butter, salt, and pepper to your
mashed potatoes. Prepare as you would for whipped potatoes.
Potatoes—saltwater soak before baking
Soak potatoes in saltwater for 20 minutes before baking so they will bake more
rapidly.
Potatoes—scooping tool
Use a curved grapefruit knife to scoop out baked-potato halves when making
twice-baked potatoes or when preparing a halved eggplant for stuffing.
Potatoes—washed in the dishwasher
When you have to wash a lot of potatoes, just put them in your dishwasher—but
don’t add soap! Set it on a short wash cycle. The clean potatoes can go right into
the oven or pot.
Potluck surprise
Get a group of friends or relatives and pick a day or week of the month when
everyone’s cupboards are lean. Everyone brings an item to share for dinner
together. Saves money on going out and you can have fun with all the surprises
on the menu.
Poultry—baked chicken coating
Ingredients: 1 cup bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons celery salt, 1 teaspoon garlic
powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup flour, 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon
paprika, ½ teaspoon pepper, 5 teaspoons onion powder, and ½ teaspoon cayenne
pepper. Mix all ingredients, and store in a tightly closed container. Will keep for
up to 4 months in the pantry. To use, dip chicken pieces in mixture of ½ cup milk
and one beaten egg. Pour 1 cup coating mix into a resealable plastic bag, add
chicken one piece at a time, and shake. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until juices
run clear.
Poultry—basting with margarine or butter
For crisper skin on your turkey, prebaste it with margarine or butter. Avoid a
mess by using a plastic sandwich bag as a mitt.
Poultry—basting with cheesecloth and butter
Turkey or chicken will almost baste itself if you cover it with a double layer of
cheesecloth that’s been soaked with butter. When the cheesecloth is removed at
the end of the roasting time, the bird will be moist and golden brown. For a
crisp, brown skin, remove the cheesecloth 30 minutes before the bird is done.
Poultry—chicken yield
How many chickens in a cup? A 3-to 4-pound broiler-fryer will yield about 3 to
4 cups of cooked chicken, after deboning. A ¾-pound skinned, deboned chicken
breast will yield about 2 cups of cooked chicken.
Poultry—cutting with scissors
It is easier to cut cooked or raw poultry with scissors than with a knife, and it
doesn’t shred the meat as much as a knife does.
Poultry—fried chicken crunchy coating
Crushed cereals like cornflakes, Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, or Corn Chex can be
used as a coating for fried chicken instead of flour or as part of the flour mixture.
Poultry—fried chicken in cornstarch
For super crispy fried chicken, use half flour and half cornstarch instead of flour
only. Season as usual and add ½ teaspoon baking powder.
Poultry—game hen stuffing
When stuffing a game hen, count on about 1 cup dressing per bird.
Poultry—mayo rubdown
Rubbing mayonnaise all over the skin produces a crisp, deep golden-brown
roasted chicken or turkey. Note: Low-fat or nonfat mayonnaise will not produce
satisfactory results.
Poultry—roasting chicken without the skin
To keep skinless chicken moist and ensure even browning during roasting, spray
pieces with cooking spray, then season.
Poultry—skinning
To remove skin from uncooked poultry, grasp it with a paper towel and pull.
Poultry—turkey and fresh herbs
For a delicious and festive roast turkey, insert sprigs of fresh herbs in a single
layer between the skin and breast meat, arranging them in a decorative pattern.
Then roast the turkey as usual. The herbs will flavor the meat and show through
the skin in an attractive design.
Poultry—turkey broth to moisten
To keep turkey moist and tender after it has been sliced, drizzle turkey broth
mixed with apple juice or cider over the meat.
Poultry—turkey soak
Cooked poultry, especially turkey, can dry out very quickly. To save your guests
the ordeal of a dry meal, slice the turkey and arrange on a heat-proof platter.
Prepare a sauce of half butter and half chicken broth. Pour it on the sliced bird,
and let it stand in a 250ºF oven for 10 minutes to soak up the juices.
Poultry—turkey sling
Before roasting your turkey, place a 3-inch strip of folded cheesecloth crosswise
on the rack in the roasting pan. (Wash the cheesecloth first, to remove sizing.)
Place the turkey on the cheesecloth in the pan, pulling the ends of the cloth up
between the wings and the body. Roast as usual. To remove the turkey from the
pan, lift it with the cloth, steadying the bird with a big spoon if necessary.
Poultry—turkey trussing
Out of string to truss the turkey? Dental floss works well. Use unflavored
because minty-fresh and turkey don’t go together very well.
Range top reflectors
Make sure the reflector pans beneath your stove’s burners are bright and clean.
Shiny reflector pans help focus heat rays on the bottoms of pots.
Recipes—clothes hanger holder
To keep recipe cards clean, clip them to a clothes hanger, the kind you use for
skirts, and hang it from a cupboard doorknob.
Recipes—in photo albums
Keep recipes clean and easy to use by storing them in small photo albums. They
stay open and lie flat, and the pages can be wiped off easily. They’re especially
great for recipes printed on thin paper from magazines and newspapers.
Recipes—on coated cards
A recipe written in ink on a card won’t smear if you rub a piece of white paraffin
(a candle will do) over the card to coat the surface.
Refrigerator access
A lazy Susan on a refrigerator shelf ensures easy access to items often forgotten
in the back.
Rice—whitener
A teaspoon or two of lemon juice in the cooking water will make cooked rice
whiter.
Rice—storage
Store white rice in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year;
store brown rice for up to 6 months. In warm climates, or for longer storage,
refrigerate or freeze rice.
Rice—using broth
When cooking rice, you can substitute chicken broth or beef broth for part of the
cooking water.
Ripening—faster
Tomatoes, avocados, peaches, and nectarines ripen faster when enclosed in a
brown paper bag and kept at room temperature in a dark place for 2 to 3 days.
Roast—faster with the bone
A roast with the bone in will cook faster than a boneless roast. The bone carries
the heat to the inside of the roast, so it cooks more quickly.
Roast—no sticking
To keep a rib roast or pot roast from sticking to the pot, place celery sticks on the
bottom. This works like a rack to keep the meat up and out of the fat and the
celery flavors the roast at the same time.
Salad—make ahead of time
Here’s how to prepare a green salad ahead of time without the greens getting
soggy. Place dressing in the bottom of the bowl. Add cucumbers and other
ingredients that marinate well. Then add greens. Cover with a damp towel and
refrigerate. Toss just before serving.
Salad greens—outside spinner
Wash salad greens thoroughly and load them into a clean, cotton pillowcase.
Step outdoors. Grasp the end of the case in one hand, then spin the case in a
windmill motion next to your body. In about 30 seconds—just before your arm
gets tired—the greens will be dry and the pillowcase damp. Bonus: You got
some exercise and your neighbors got some great entertainment. If you are not
making a salad right away, just fold the damp pillowcase loosely, greens and all,
and store in the refrigerator.
Salad greens—washing machine spinner
Wash fresh greens thoroughly and load them into a clean lingerie laundry bag or
pillowcase. Close the bag securely and throw it in the empty washing machine.
Run the spin cycle for 2 to 3 minutes. The case will be damp; the greens will be
dry.
Sautéing—with less fat
For less fat in a meal, sauté meat and vegetables in fruit juice or Worcestershire
sauce instead of oil.
Skewers—natural and safe
If you have an abundant supply of strong, woody rosemary sprigs, pull off the
leaves and use the stems as skewers for tiny potatoes. Just make a hole in the
potatoes with a real skewer first, thread the potatoes onto the rosemary stems,
then grill. Never use twigs or sticks from bushes or trees for skewers. Many
plants are toxic, and you could inadvertently poison your guests.
Soup—cover or not?
The general rule is that soup should be cooked in a covered pot to help retain
nutrients and flavor. However, when a very thin soup needs to reduce, the pot
should be only partially covered to allow for evaporation of the water and to
intensify the flavors.
Soup—getting rid of fat in cans
Store cans of condensed soup upside down in the refrigerator for a while. The
excess fat will rise and then stick in the bottom of the can when it is turned
upright and opened. It’s an easy way to get some of the fat out.
Soups and stew grease
To degrease cooled meat soups and stews, put a sheet of waxed paper or plastic
wrap directly on top of the liquid before refrigerating. Before reheating, peel off
the waxed paper and the fat will come with it.
Special occasion ingredients
Keep all the items you buy for special occasions, such as a dinner party or
holiday baking, in a grocery bag that you store in the refrigerator or the
basement so you can just grab the bag when you’re ready to start cooking.
Spices—in baby food jars
Attach tops of empty baby food jars to the underside of shelves. Fill the bottles
with spices or small objects and screw them into their tops.
Spices—in drawers
Fill a drawer near your food preparation area with spices. This is an excellent
way to use drawer space. Label the jar tops for easy identification.
Spices—in the summer
If the summer heat and high humidity sap your powdered spices and seasonings,
store the closed bottles in the door of the freezer compartment or your
refrigerator. They’ll be handy and fresh when you need to use them.
Splatters—bowl in sink
When mixing batter, cookie dough, or pudding mix, place the bowl in the sink
before mixing. No more messes on the wall or window.
Splatters—paper plate guard
To prevent splatters from an electric mixer, cut a hole in the middle of a paper
plate and put the beaters through it while mixing.
Squash—scooping out
To remove cooked squash from its shell, use an ice cream scoop. No mess, no
fuss!
Stew—salt substitute
If your soup or stew seems flat, don’t automatically go for the salt. Add a little
red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead.
Stew—tenderize meat, with wine corks
Here’s a great way to tenderize stew meat: Add at least three wine corks to the
pot. Corks release enzymes and reduce the cooking time by as much as half. Be
sure to remove corks before serving!
Stew—tenderize meat, with black tea
Tea can be used as a meat tenderizer, particularly for stew meat. In a Dutch oven,
sear chunks of stew meat in fat or oil until very well browned. Add 2 cups strong
black tea, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add stock and
continue to cook stew as usual with additional ingredients.
Stew—with pumpkin pieces
After carving jack-o’-lanterns, add the cut-out pumpkin pieces, with the outside
shell removed, to beef and vegetable stews for a terrific fall flavor.
Sticky stuff—candied and dried fruit
It’s much easier to chop candied or dried fruit if you freeze it first for 1 hour.
And dip the knife into hot water before cutting.
Sticky stuff—dates and marshmallows
Before halving dates or marshmallows with your kitchen shears, coat them with
cooking spray to help keep them goo-free.
Stock—freeze scraps to make later
Keep a container in the freezer specifically for the collection of fresh scraps,
juices, and bones that might otherwise land in the garbage. When the supply
becomes sufficient, make stock. If you don’t need the stock immediately,
freeze it.
Stock—substitute
One cup of beef or chicken stock can be replaced with 1 cup boiling water plus 1
bouillon cube or 1 envelope of instant broth granules.
Sugar—brown sugar, homemade
If you use brown sugar so infrequently that it turns rock-hard between uses, stop
buying the stuff and make your own as needed. Measure out granulated sugar in
the amount of brown sugar required. Stir in enough molasses to make either light
or dark brown sugar. Color is the key.
Sugar—brown sugar, soften
Lumpy, old brown sugar can be made usable again by running it over a cheese
grater, which softens the sugar.
Sugar—brown sugar, without lumps
Freezing brown and powdered sugars will prevent lumps.
Swizzle sticks—for chocolate drinks
Use a peppermint stick to stir hot chocolate and make a minty chocolate drink.
Swizzle sticks—for fruit kabobs
Thread raspberries or strawberries on a straw or swizzle stick to dress up
summer drinks quickly.
Syrup—catching drips
Before placing an opened bottle of pancake syrup or honey on your pantry or
kitchen cabinet shelf, place a cupcake baking cup under the bottle to catch the
drips. This will keep surfaces clean.
Syrup—corn, homemade
Mix together 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup water.
Syrup—for pancakes
Mix ½ tablespoons cornstarch into 1 cup cold fruit juice. Heat to boiling, stirring
constantly. Or stir a cup of corn syrup and 4 tablespoons of your favorite jam or
preserves in a saucepan over low heat.
Tomatoes—from the can
When fresh tomatoes are high priced or poor quality, use canned tomatoes for
salads. Drain well, and save the liquid to dilute condensed soup.
Tomatoes—puree
Purchase a huge can of tomato puree from your local grocery warehouse club.
Divide it into small amounts by filling small resealable plastic bags and placing
them in the freezer until needed. After one portion is thawed, add water to make
it the consistency of tomato sauce, then add salt and spices for flavor. Tomato
puree contains no additives or preservatives.
Tomatoes—slicing for sandwiches
Slice tomatoes from top (bud end) to bottom. They’ll lose less juice, and
sandwiches won’t get so wet and soggy.
Vegetables—blanching green vegetables
Here’s how to cook green vegetables to retain their color and crispness: Plunge
them into boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, then immediately turn them into a
bowl of ice water. Let them stand in the water only until cool, then drain. The
veggies can be reheated quickly by returning them to boiling water right before
serving.
Vegetables—cooking with lemon rind
Brighten the flavor of frozen or canned peas, carrots, green beans, broccoli, or
cauliflower by dropping a piece of lemon rind into the cooking water.
Vegetables—cooking with sugar
Add ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar to cooked vegetables such as carrots, corn, or peas.
This reduces the starchy flavors and highlights natural sweetness.
Vegetables—keeping green
To keep green beans, fresh spinach, asparagus, and peas green, add a pinch of
baking soda to the cooking water.
Vegetables—limp to crisp
If vegetables such as raw carrots and potatoes go limp, they’ll regain much of
their crisp texture if soaked in ice water for at least 1 hour.
Vegetables—root veggies, boiling
To cook root vegetables (such as potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips), place
them in cold water and bring the water to a boil. Add non-root vegetables (such
as corn, peas, beans) to water that’s already boiling.
Vegetables—root veggies, with leaves
If you buy root vegetables like beets and carrots with their leaves attached,
remove them as soon as you get home. These greens leach the moisture from the
vegetables.
Vinegar—strain
Strain fruit-flavored or herb vinegars through cheesecloth to remove the
sediment. Stretch the cheesecloth over the bottle top, then secure with a rubber
band before pouring.
Vinegar—substitute
Use 2 teaspoons lemon juice for every teaspoon of vinegar needed.
Whipping cream—everything must be cold
Cream will whip more quickly and have greater volume if you first chill the
cream, bowl, and beaters in the refrigerator. Chill the cream too.
Whipping cream—forget the blender
Don’t try to beat cream or egg whites in a blender. It won’t work because the
action is different. Fold in flavorings after the cream is whipped.

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