Recently in Tips
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

a better use for your butter wrapper

butter wrappers

I stopped by a friend’s house recently while she was in the middle of baking something. She had softened her butter earlier in the day and was about to cream it with sugar. Carefully, she peeled the wrapper off the butter, and into the mixer bowl the butter fell. Then, she crumpled up the butter wrapper and threw it away.

“Don’t…” was all that I managed to blurt out, but it was too late – the wrapper landed deep in the garbage bin.

“What? Why? It’s just a butter wrapper,” she said.

A wrapper that’s been generously slathered with softened butter – that could’ve been used for buttering the pan that she was using to bake. When I’m baking with butter, it’s a natural by-product, so instead of softening more butter, I just use what is left on the wrapper and most of the time, it manages to be enough. Plus, it’s a great way to be efficient and frugal in the kitchen.

Continue reading a better use for your butter wrapper.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

how to store your foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper, etc. in a tiny kitchen with limited storage

New organizational kitchen tip.

Forgive me for a such a short post, and also for the longest post title known to man. I sound like a broken record when I explain my silence here: work, recipe testing, clean. Lather, rinse, repeat. But I have been working on a recipe here for you – I just need to shoot it. But it’s ready to go and it’s a really good one, I promise!

Continue reading how to store your foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper, etc. in a tiny kitchen with limited storage.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

how to store leftover egg yolks

egg yolks

I’m always sad when I have to throw out a perfectly good ingredient just because I can’t find much use for it at that very moment. I’ve been too cold to contemplate ice cream, and at the moment, there’s no room in my freezer – as it is chock full of fish (courtesy of the lovely folks from the Alaska Fish Council – more on that at a later date).

But I bet that if you’ve ever made marshmallows, or meringue, or macaroons (or macarons for that matter, you had leftover egg yolk and you probably wondered how to save it, right?

A few weeks ago, when I was elbow deep in testing marshmallow recipes for my hot chocolate addiction, I wound up with quite a few loose egg yolks. I simply stirred the yolks with a pinch of salt, put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the yolks, covered with a lid, and placed the container in the freezer (with a date written on top of a piece of masking tape, which I find to be an indispensable tool in the kitchen). Those yolks will be good for at least about 2 months, and I’m willing to bet that I’ll have that ice cream hankering sooner rather than later. Or better yet, I’ll make lemon curd instead!

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Monday, October 31, 2011

effective and eco-friendly household cleanser

Eco-and-Budget Friendly Household Cleanser

No recipe today. Instead – a great household tip; great not just for your kitchen, and so so easy to make yourself.

In Russia, we used to wash windows with a solution of water and vinegar – it was incredibly effective, left streak-free windows, and best of all – was non-toxic. For whatever reason, when we came to America, we abandoned the practice. But now that our household contains one cute, furry animal who answers to Forrest, things have changed. When I clean out his litter box every couple of weeks, I do a major cleaning overhaul in his litter area. But I worry about spraying harsh chemicals around him; these things get on animals’ paws, and when they lick their paws, they are inadvertently ingesting toxic ingredients. [If this is how nuts I get about keeping non-toxic products around a cat, wait til I get a kid.]

So I turned to my beloved water and vinegar solution once more – and I’m loving it even more than my beloved non-toxic spray cleanser. In fact, I might never buy another spray cleanser again. Just a spray bottle filled halfway with vinegar (I’m pretty sure that everyone has a bottle stashed somewhere in their pantry) and another halfway with water. And voila – a cleanser that’s gentle on your household dwellers, the environment, and your wallet. If only I was this ingenious in every other way. What’s next – homemade facials?

Update: a few readers are sharing their tips on using vinegar at home. What’s yours? Let’s share and then I’ll repost the original post with all the updates!

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

preserving summer corn

in bags, ready to freeze

As we head into fall, I am both excited and bummed out. Fall means sweaters and hot cider; it means hot soups and comforting stews; it means my apartment doesn’t overheat when I go to bake a pie. But fall also means no more summer tomatoes, goodbye stone fruit, so long summer corn.

If you’re anything like me, you love sweet corn in the summer. It’s great for soups, salads, and just on the cob. I’ve even made corn ice cream last year. And while there is always corn available in the freezer section of our supermarket, I have found, in the past, that it tastes totally bland. I can’t taste the summer sweetness, no matter how generous a knob of butter I apply.

preserving summer corn

Last summer, I took a few ears of corn, cut off the kernels, and froze them in a small Ziploc bag. And then forgot about the bag completely. Sometime in January, while cleaning out my freezer in preparation for Andrew’s move-in, I found the bag of corn in the back. I warmed it in the pan with a bit of butter and salt and had the most amazing dinner treat that night. This year, I’m freezing 20 ears of corn to last me through the fall and early winter. It’s really all that my small apartment freezer will allow, but if you have more space, or another refrigerator/freezer going on in your household, consider preserving more.

I put the kernels in small bags, so each portion is contained, squeeze out extra air, and freeze. The sandwich size bags fit about 3 ears of corn. That should be enough as a side dish for two people. Of course, you can scale up more, should you need to.

Some people parboil their corn for 1 minute before freezing – it should slow down the conversion of sugar. I’ve been cutting and freezing without any problems in the past. If you want to parboil, go ahead – just cook corn for 1 minute before plunging it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Here’s to summer memories in a few months!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

what salt to use?

Kosher salt

The other day, a reader left a comment on the blog asking about what is kosher salt. I directed him to an excellent piece in Wikipedia, hoping it hasn’t been altered by the likes of Sarah Palin, lest we learn that Paul Revere carried salt (as well as bells) with him on that famous ride. You never know.

But in all seriousness, it got me thinking about various salt that we use for cooking. Some folks swear by their regular table salt. Others rely solely on sea salt. And still there are some folks who like fine salts, boasting dozens in their kitchen rotation.

I happen to stand somewhere in the middle – I like fancy salts in some cases. I love the nuances different salts offer, and I have a few in my pantry (somewhere in there I have a wood-smoked salt from Japan – and it smells amazging!). But for standard cooking, particularly baking, I turn to kosher salt – it has a clean, unprocessed salt taste that works best, I think.

Still, even with kosher salt, there are questions: Morton’s or Diamond Crystal? Personally, I stick with the latter, though I find that it’s a little more difficult to procure in stores. But across the board, I see more chefs using it, it’s finer than Morton’s, and you should adjust the proportions accordingly to compensate for the difference – i.e. because Diamond Crystal is smaller and flakier, you might need more of it, and if using Morton’s (which is larger) might need less.

I hope this helps. And if anyone has any more questions, please post it in the comments and I’ll try to answer as well as I can.

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