Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mom Money-Saving Tip 75

Note Sell-By Date on Lid

Sell-by” dates don’t mean that the food is inedible or hazardous.  The date tells you that the food will taste better if you eat it before or on that date.  You can stretch the eating time a few days, although if the product smells off or has mold on it discard it.  “Expiration” dates, however, do matter.  Do not eat any food product that has expired. 

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Cardamom Pod: What Is It and How Do I Cook with it?

The first time I saw a cardamom pod was in an Indian restaurant.  A bowl of them was sitting by the front door, and I was encouraged to take a few to chew on as I left.  Naturally I assumed cardamom’s main use was as a post-dinner breath freshener.  Later I realized that the little black or brown seeds inside each pod had probably been used in some of the dishes I’d just eaten.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mom Cooking Tip 92

(Clockwise from Left) Mustard Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Red Pepper Flakes

Some recipes ask you to heat whole spices such as mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a hot pan.  The heat may cause the seeds to pop out onto the stove, so have a lid handy as a barrier. 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What to Eat on a Dark and Stormy Night

Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Soup
Wanna-be world-famous-author Snoopy said it best in the first line of his never-finished novel: “On a dark and stormy night….”  If only Snoopy or his creator, Charles Schultz, could cook, we might have seen some memorable meals in that comic strip instead of an empty dog dish.

On one recent dark and stormy and cold night in usually sunny California I decided not to go out to the grocery store.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Question for Mom

(Left) Light Brown Sugar  (Right) Dark Brown Sugar
What’s the difference between light and dark brown sugar? --Evelyn R.

Mostly the color, although dark brown sugar includes more molasses than the lighter version and thus has a slightly stronger taste.  However, I think the subtleties are lost in baking.  Use whatever sugar you have, although do NOT substitute white sugar for brown sugar.

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mom Cooking Tip 91

If your French fries come out soggy rather than crisp, you may be cooking too many at once.  Don’t pile them up on each other.  Try using two pans or cooking them in batches.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Can Make That Too: Penne Arrabbiato in Mom’s Kitchen vs. the Restaurant Version

Eatalia Cafe's Penne Arrabbiato
The word “arrabbiato” is Italian for “angry.”  In food terms that’s code for “very spicy” or “as spicy as you can stand it.”  I prefer medium-spicy, with a glass of water standing by just in case.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mom Money-Saving Tip 74

Don’t own a cooling rack or need more than one?  An oven rack can substitute for a cooling rack--as long as you don’t take it out of a hot oven and burn yourself.  Remove the rack when it is cold and set it on a counter until needed. 

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Does It Taste Better If It Has a Fancy Name?

If you saw a dish called Rice and Peas on a restaurant menu, would you order it?  If it were me, I’d say, “Why would I pay good money for this dish when I could make it tomorrow with my eyes shut?”

But what if it were called Risi Bisi or Risi e Bisi?  I might be intrigued enough to order it.  I like Italian food so Risi (rice) e (and) Bisi (peas) could be a thrilling discovery.  Maybe I’d be convinced that it contained some special ingredient that justified the price.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mom Cooking Tip 90

Check cookies 2 minutes before the recipe says they should be ready.  Your oven may be baking hotter than it’s supposed to.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mom Money-Saving Tip 73

Freeze extra lemons.  Cut them in half and store in a plastic freezer bag.  Defrost before squeezing out the juice.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Joy and Agony of Leftovers

Sometimes I’m thrilled when I open the fridge and see nicely wrapped packages of leftovers.  “Ah,” I think to myself.  “Dinner is going to be easy tonight.  Thank goodness I have a microwave.”

Other times I cringe.  “Oh, no!  Not more turkey.”

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mom Cooking Tip 89

Do you always have more fresh cilantro and parsley than the recipe calls for?  Cut off and discard the long stems and put the leaves in a small plastic storage bag.  Store in the freezer until needed.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Szechuan Peppercorn: What Is it and How Do I Cook with It?


The Szechuan (also spelled Sichuan) peppercorn is a spice popular in many Asian countries, particularly China.  Rather than simply being hot, this peppercorn has a spicy, more exotic flavor than black peppercorns. It is not related to the pepper family.  Reddish brown, it is actually a dried berry husk from the Chinese prickly ash bush.  Because it can cause your mouth to tingle, use it sparingly.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Mom Cooking Tip 88

If you buy prepackaged mushrooms but don’t plan to use them for a few days, remove them from their boxes and wrap them in paper towels before storing them in the fridge’s vegetable bin.  This will help prevent them from becoming slimy.

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