Friday, July 31, 2015

Freezer Surprises

It’s a good thing I bought a new refrigerator.  Now I know what happened to my favorite plastic storage container.  When I emptied out the freezer, there it was, holding a batch of chicken curry that I made back in 2011.

I don’t recall that curry, but the container, which has blue plastic snap-up locks, brought back a happy memory.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 10

If you’re a baker, why bother with 5-pound bags of white flour for $3 or $4 when food warehouses and bulk-buy stores sell a 25-pound bag for $6 or $7. Yes, these bags are unwieldy, but once you get them home transfer a few pounds of flour into an easy-access container.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Spelling Appetizer Is Easier Than Spelling Hors d’oeuvre

Roasted Beets, Feta Cheese and Candied Walnuts with Mixed Greens (photo by Andy Mills)
I first heard the word ‘appetizer’ when I was a kid, helping my mother set up a card table in the living room.  We’d put out a pitcher of tomato juice and a plate of Ritz Crackers.  The red and gold color combo worked for me.  I felt very grown up with my glass of TJ and a cracker, waiting for dinner to be served.

My next encounter with appetizers came a few years later on New Year’s Eve.  My friend Lynne was visiting, and our task was making appetizers for my parents’ friends.  We used a gadget that looked like a miniature cookie press—a 2-inch-long metal tube with a plunger at one end.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 11

To keep rice from being undercooked, sticking to the pan or burning because you forgot to turn off the heat, cook it the same way you cook pasta—toss it in a large pot half-full of boiling water. No lid necessary. Cook white rice for about 12 minutes. Taste. If it’s too firm, cook for another 2 minutes or until it’s the consistency you like. Drain in a sieve, transfer to a bowl, fluff with a fork and serve. Brown rice will take about twice as long to cook.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 9

When tomatoes are cheap and in season, buy lots of them. If/when they start to deteriorate, put them in the freezer naked (no protective wrapping). A few weeks later when you need a tomato for cooking, take one out and run it under hot water briefly. Peel off the skin with your fingers and cut away and discard any bad parts. Then chop with a heavy-duty knife and add it to whatever you’re cooking.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Enjoying Someone Else’s Pantry Leftovers

Tabouli Salad (photo by Andy Mills)
Some of my most exciting new food finds arrive on my doorstep when friends move away and give me their pantry leftovers. I love using up their harissa paste, balsamic vinegar and exotic dried mushrooms because I’m forced to be creative. 

Thanks to my friend Lucien, who has a very healthy diet, I now know about organic freekeh. It’s an ancient toasted grain with a nutty flavor and lots of protein. It’s also fun to say. Before Lucien returned to London, he gave me a bag of freekeh, along with some spelt spaghetti, red bulgur wheat, low sodium garbanzo beans in a box, Vietnamese cinnamon and Madagascar chocolate.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 10

"HELP! My Apartment Has a Kitchen"
If you like to cut out recipes and then forget about them or misplace them, try this. Put them in your favorite cookbook, using them as bookmarks on the pages that have similar recipes. That way when you look up a recipe, you’ll find alternative choices.

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 8

Shake up your shopping habits. Visit all the stores in your area that sell groceries and compare prices. Don’t forget to check out the big box stores, mom/pop shops, farmers’ markets and membership warehouses (which will allow you to take a look even if you don’t belong).

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Do You Hate Vegetables?

Sugar Snap Peas
I lived my early life thinking that vegetables were a necessary but evil part of a meal.  At my house my mother used the boil-to-death method of cooking carrots, peas, broccoli and corn on the cob.  Asparagus, spinach, mushrooms and green beans came out of a can.  Luckily she had never heard of eggplant.  Meanwhile, my grandmother’s beet-red borscht looked like a bowl of blood.

Eventually I grew up and, after tasting fresh peas right out of their pods, realized I had been misinformed.  I ate real borscht in Moscow, fried artichokes in Rome and okra in New Delhi.  I liked the spicy garlic eggplant someone ordered for me in Hong Kong.  Now I happily drive 5 miles out of my way to stock up on super-fresh vegetables—including bok choy, kale and chard.  I even tried mustard greens the other day.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 9

Do you like perfectly round cookies? Bake them in greased or non-stick muffin pans. Use about 1 teaspoon dough per cup and bake as you would if they were on a cookie sheet. Remove pans from oven. After 2-3 minutes, loosen edges of each cookie with a knife and transfer to a cooling rack.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 7

Do you love shrimp enough to cook and peel them yourself? You can save a few dollars per pound, and it takes just a few minutes of work—as long as the shrimp aren’t tiny (70+ in a pound).

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

S-t-r-e-t-c-h Your Dinner to Feed Extra People

Salmon Shish Kebab, Black Rice and Corn (photo by Jenny Craig)
You’ve planned dinner for two, and suddenly a third person turns up.  Don’t panic.  There are lots of ways to stretch a meal without people leaving the table hungry.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 8

Photo by Andy Mills

When you buy bundles of fresh herbs at the farmers market or grocery store, treat them as you would bouquets of flowers and put them in glasses filled with enough water to submerge the stems. They will stay fresh for more than a week.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 6

When is a bargain not a bargain? 1) When you end up not using it and letting it rot. 2) When you need to buy a lot of other ingredients to make the recipe using that “bargain.”

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