"HINTS & TIPS"

This is just a quickie page with some helpful hints on it. Some you may use, some you may not. Just things I've found that help make cooking a bit easier for me.

- PREPARE AHEAD! There are times I will take an hour or so and chop things up ahead or prepare stuff ahead.
- I'll do an entire bag of onions and chop them. Then I put them in freezer bags and pop them in the freezer for future use. These work well in soups and stews. Do not use in a recipe that you want 'crisp' onions in as onions do soften a bit when frozen.
I do the same thing for green/red/yellow peppers. Especially the green ones. I use these in my spaghetti sauce and it makes life so much easier when I already have them and the onions prechopped and ready come the day I want to cook a large batch of spaghetti sauce. I use the red & yellow ones in my chinese food recipes and they are fine for that after being frozen.
- again.. I do this with ground beef too. I cook up enough for say my spaghetti sauce ahead, stick it in a freezer bag and it is ready to go the day I need it.

MORE PREPARATION! - This may seem tedious to you but I put all my ingredients measured into dishes prior to cooking or baking something. You end up with a wack of little dishes at times but when you are adding the ingredients they are already measured out for you this way and you are sure to have everything at hand. No surprise missing ingredients!

CHECK RECIPES... for ingredients. Make sure you have everything in your cupboards before you start any recipe. You don't want to get half way through and then find out you are missing something.

KEEP STOCK.. of all your stapels. As soon as you think you are running low put that item on your grocery list and get it!

DON'T WASTE THAT BUTTER! lol.. When I am baking and it requires butter and I use the lb up I keep the foil wrap it is in and use it to grease something with later (muffin tin, etc). If I have a recipe that calls for greasing something with butter I use that foil. These can be popped in the freezer and kept until you need them. Why waste it?

KEEP THOSE CONTAINERS! always a great idea. Margarine containers, ice cream containers, whatever. They make great storers and are reusable.

LINE THOSE CONTAINERS... running short of containers for your freezer. Here is an easy tip and saves space in the freezer too in the long run. Line the container with a freezer bag. Pour whatever you intend to freeze into it, tie it up with a twister tie, put the lid on the container and put it in the freezer. The next day, remove the container and take the bag out of it and redeposit the bag of food into the freezer like that. You now have a perfectly clean container to reuse and no stains on it if you were storing something with tomatoes in it. Be sure to label the bag before you put it back in the freezer.

SHAKERS! never toss a shaker. I have this favourite one. It was a very large shaker of onion flakes. When it emptied I cleaned it well and I keep it full of all purpose flour to sprinkle on the counter or board whenever I need it. Comes out evenly and works great! No more running for a bit more flour when needed. You can also use this to shake a bit in a stew or gravy when you need a bit more for thickening. You can do this with cornstarch as well but make sure you label the containers!

LABEL IT! Always label anything going into the fridge or freezer with the date and what it is. The date is important. That way you can use the oldest first. You do not have to buy fancy freezer labels either. I either grab some cheap labels at an office supply store or order these great little labels from Tupperware..

NO ARGUEMENTS... Got leftovers? Are you expecting an arguement the next day over who's is who's? Kids tend to do this to us.. lol Easily remedied. Grab an old margarine container, label it 'Joe's whatever'... and stick it in the fridge for the next day. The kids can grab their own leftovers this way and no arguements. I do this for myself as well as I don't use salt on my food and other's do. I don't want someone else's leftovers due to this because since I don't use it myself it taste's like I have a mouthful of the stuff.

SKINNING TOMATOES/PEACHES OR WHATEVER... Need to get the fuzz off those peaches? or skin those tomatoes to put down for your own sauces. Blanch them. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Throw a few of whatever in there and boil for one minute tops. Take them out and they will peel great.

CUTTING/CORING APPLES... The easiest way I have found to cut uniform apple slices is to buy one of those inexpensive apple cutter/corers. These things are terrific. They look like a circle divided into 8 sections with a small circle in the middle of it. Simply place the small circle over the core of an apple and push down. Voila! Lovely uniform sized apple slices and it is cored at the same time. Older kids can even help with this and it makes them feel involved and helpful.

EGG WHITES... Do you have a recipe that calls only for egg yolks? Do not throw away the whites! These can freeze (the yolks won't though). Put them in the smallest freezer container you have (one or two to a container), label it with date and what it is and how many per container. Next time you need to make merringue or an angel food cake, you have your egg whites. I have heard of people putting them in an ice cube tray. One per section then when frozen popping the 'cubes' in a good quality freezer bag. I don't know if this works though as I haven't tried it. I use these great little mini containers from tupperware. I found they hold one egg white each perfectly.

ICE CUBE TRAYS.... are not only for ice cubes! Have chicken or beef broth left over? Make cubes out of them and when frozen put in a freezer bag and store for future use when you need just a bit more flavour for something. You can do a lot of things this way. Use your imagination.

OLD STYLE GRATERS.... ugh.. don't we just love to hate those things? How many fingernails or knuckles have you lost on one? Don't throw it away though! Have you baked some cookies lately and your oven has gone wonky and the bottoms are black as coal but the rest of the cookie is fine? Grab your grater. Scrape the cookie against the smallest size grate on it. All the burned part will come off and you have a perfect cookie! This works for overdone toast (my toaster has a mind of its own when I have only a couple of pieces of bread left in the house) and it works for anything you need to get the 'crispy' part off thanks to an uneven temp in your oven. I actually went out and bought a longer thinner style one for the edges of loaves of bread when they happen to get overdone on the edge.

THE LAST OF THE BREAD... No one ever seems to eat the last two or three slices of bread in the loaf. They open a new loaf for the fresher bread. Instead of throwing out these slices, start putting them in your freezer. When you get another two to three slices that no one wants to eat, just add them to the supply in the freezer. They are handy for when you need grated breadcrumbs to put on top of a casserole or bread cubes for croutons. It's especially great at Thanksgiving or Christmas when you pull them out to make my turkey stuffing. Frozen bread is so much easier to cut into cubes or grate into breadcrumbs. It's amazing how fast those slices can add up. It is not uncommon to have two or three "loaves" of these unwanted bread slices on hand. These "loaves" used to end up in the garbage but really can be put to good use! Keep the crusts too!


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