Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mom Cooking Tip 128

Here’s the perfect device to help you get rid of hot turkey fat on Thanksgiving: a specially designed cup with a low spout.  Transfer the liquid at the bottom of the roasting pan into this cup.  The fat will rise to the top, allowing you to pour the remaining fat-free liquid into a pot or bowl for use as needed when making gravy.  Dispose of the leftover fat in an empty can.

                                               See all my Cooking Tips!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

When in Doubt, Make Cornbread

Sometimes dinner needs some extra oomph.  Maybe I didn’t buy enough meat, or the vegetables are a little limp.  Or I forgot to cook the baked potatoes.

Hot cornbread, fresh from the oven, served with a jar of honey or a chunk of butter, will make everyone feel much better. It takes 5 minutes to prepare and just 20 minutes to bake.  What could be easier?

If there are leftovers, toast them for breakfast. 
Basic Cornbread - serves 8-10 (adapted from "Help! My Apartment Has a Dining Room"
1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon for dusting pan
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
3 tablespoons canola oil + more for greasing pan 
Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. 
Pour the milk into a small bowl, add the lemon juice and stir.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Then add the honey, egg and oil and stir until well combined.  Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon. 
Lightly rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with oil. Add 1 teaspoon flour and swirl it around to coat the oiled surface.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top has begun to brown and a cake tester or knife comes out clean when inserted into the center. 
Remove from the oven, cool briefly, cut into squares and serve.
                       For easy recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Decorating Your Food

My first memory of food as a plaything was pressing the tines of a fork down the sides of a cucumber and then slicing the cucumber into rounds.  I was probably about six years old when my mother showed me how to do this, and I was enchanted.  Maybe that was both the beginning and the end of my trying to impress people with the food I prepared.

Yes, the cucumber slices looked cool, and so did the subsequent radishes that I carved into roses and then soaked in cold water for a while so they would open.  The bigger lesson was that despite the way these vegetables now looked, they tasted exactly the same as the plain ones.

Would I grow up to be a people pleaser?  Probably.  But...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Plugra Butter: What Is It and How Do I Use It?

I’ve read that chefs like to use Plugra Butter, especially for baking.  But I never bought any until I noticed it on sale at my local supermarket for $2.99 instead of $5.99 for an 8-ounce block.

Can Plugra be that much better than plain Land O’Lakes, Land O’Lakes’ European Style Super Premium Butter or even the store brand? We’re talking a slightly higher milk fat content, but what does that really mean?  It’s a little creamier. 

I can’t really tell the difference.  I like butter on my whole wheat toast in the morning, but the bread I’m toasting is very flavorful to start with.  Also, I’m used to the taste of my regular butter.  Sometimes habits are hard to break.

                            For easy recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How to Stock a Pantry

If you really want to cook, you need a pantry.  In “Little House on the Prairie” days, this often meant aroom off the kitchen full of shelves to store fruits and vegetables you canned and jam you made. 

Today you don’t need a whole room to store much-used ingredients, but you do need several shelves or a cabinet, preferably near the fridge and stove..

Then you need basic ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, packages of dried pasta, rice and olive or canola oil.  Add some...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

How Much Does a Home-Cooked Meal Really Cost?

Crunchy Baked Fish Sandwich
It depends on the menu, how many people you’re feeding and how well stocked your pantry is.  If you’re a minimalist cook, you might have to add into your budget as much as $50 for basics that a long-time cook already has on hand—oil, vinegar, flour, sugar, rice, canned tomatoes, spices, soy sauce.  Also, you might need a frying pan or a big pot or a set of measuring spoons and cups.

And you haven’t even bought the main ingredients yet.

Let’s take the pantry issue out of the equation and concentrate on an easy meal for 4 people:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mom Cooking Tip 127

Freeze pre-shaped but unbaked chocolate chip cookie dough on a flat sheet or container.  When frozen, remove the cookies and put them in a plastic freezer bag.  Bake them as you need them, adding at least 1 extra minute of baking time or more if they’re too soft.

                                                          See all my Cooking Tips!