Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

How often should you baste a turkey?

Saturday, November 15, 2008 3:10 3 Comments

You have probably heard that basting frequently results in a better turkey that is much more moist and juicy than its non-basted counterpart.  But did you know that basting a turkey actually does little to make it less dry?

Basting your turkey has only one purpose – to give the skin that golden roasted turkey color to the skin that most people associate with a perfectly cooked turkey.  But frequent basting has a significant downfall.  Every time you open the oven, it loses heat.  This means it will take that much longer for your turkey to cook since everytime you open the oven for basting, it will take time to bring it back up to temperature.

So you should leave basting for the last hour of cooking, and not do it too frequently.  This way you get the benefits of basting by having that golden skin, while not prolonging cooking time significantly – something that can definitely put a crimp on your Thanksgiving dinner plans, especially if you have everything planned to when the turkey should be done before you started opening the oven all the time for basting!!!

If you want to have a juicier turkey, consider one of the self-basting turkeys instead, where there is a seasoned broth mixture injected into the turkey below the skin.

This was posted under category: Cooking, Holidays Tags: , , ,

How fresh are your jars of herbs and spices

Thursday, November 13, 2008 1:29 Comments Off on How fresh are your jars of herbs and spices

Since many of us give our jars of spices and herbs a workout during the holiday season, it is a good time to check and see just how fresh your herbs and spices are.  I don’t know about you, but can you remember how long ago you bought that jar of parsley or thyme?  Here are some tricks o the trade to help you figure out whether that jar is fresh enough or whether you should toss it and buy a replacement.

Color check
Does the color look fairly close to what it was when you bought it?  If your parsley was once a vibrant green but it’s now a dull grey or brown, it definitely needs replacing.  If you aren’t exactly sure what color it should look, make a note of the spices and herbs you need to check and have a look at them next time you are at the grocery store.  Then you can see just how true to the color that jar at home really is!

Smell test
Take a pinch of the herb or spice from the jar and rub it between your fingers.  Is the scent still strong or is it a barely lingering scent?  You should be able to smell it well.  If not, it needs replacing.  For example, when you crush basil, you should really smell the basil.  The intensity you smell when you crush it will relate to the intensity of the herb or spice in your dish.  If you can barely smell it, then you will barely taste it either!

Date it
Many herbs and spices need to be replaced every 6-12 months.  When you buy a spice, write the date you opened each one on the label, or put a small sticker on the top or bottom with the date.  That way you can wait until you notice when spices and herbs are on sale at grocery stores and replace what you know needs replacing, rather than having to pay full price because your rosemary doesn’t smell like anything when it is time to do your holiday cooking.

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This was posted under category: Cooking, Grocery shopping Tags: , , ,

Save hotel shower caps to use for bowl lids

Monday, November 10, 2008 2:32 2 Comments

Have you accumulated multiple shower caps from hotels but you have never used them for anything?  Or wondered what people do with them and have never bothered to take them?  Well, there is a fantastic use for shower caps and it has nothing to do with keeping water off of your hair.

Next time you run out of saran wrap, or you have a bowl you know you will be covering and uncovering a lot over a couple of days and you don’t have a lid for it, just pop one of these plastic shower caps on top for a lid.  The elastic keeps the cap in place over the bowl, and nearly all are clear so you can easily see the contents.  These are also great for using when you need to take a potluck dish and you don’t want to risk losing the cover (I have lots 3 lids at potlucks myself!)

Don’t have a stash from hotel stays?  They are usually very cheap at dollar stores (ie. a dozen for $1 or $2) so you can pick them up there. 

And honestly, does anyone still use these types of shower caps at the hotels anymore, for actually keeping hair dry in the shower?  I haven’t found anyone under the age of about 75!

This was posted under category: Cooking Tags: ,

A quick fix to save crystalized honey

Sunday, November 9, 2008 6:21 Comments Off on A quick fix to save crystalized honey

Especially if you don’t use honey that often, it has the tendency to start to crystalize in the bottle and become hard.  But, did you know that it doesn’t mean the honey has gone bad?  It is quite easy to revive your crystalized honey so you can use it once again.

Get a bowl or measuring cup that is larger than the size of your honey container.  Fill it with hot water, and then set your container of honey (make sure it is shut tight!) into the hot water.  It will take about half an hour, but the honey will turn into liquid again, and the crystals will be gone.

Note: it is not recommended to microwave your honey container, as they are not microwave safe, and can even cause sparks.  And it is also very easy to overheat honey in the microwave, so we recommend you heat your honey using the hot water method instead.

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This was posted under category: Cooking Tags: ,

Make your own crystalized ginger for gifts in a jar

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 1:37 Comments Off on Make your own crystalized ginger for gifts in a jar

This is a great gift to give this Christmas season, especially since it is pretty inexpensive to make, but buying crystalized ginger in the store is an expensive treat.

1 lb fresh gingerroot

Carefully peel gingerroot and slice into thin slices.  Place gingerroot in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover gingerroot and cook at medium low heat for 30 minutes.  Drain water and weight gingerroot on a scale.  Return to saucepan and add the same weight in sugar, using the scale to weight the sugar.  Add 3 tbsp of water and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  When the ginger is transparent and the liquid has nearly all been cooked off, remove from heat.  Toss ginger with enough sugar to coat the ginger.  Store in airtight container, such as a canning jar for gift giving.  Ginger will keep in airtight container for up to three months.

When you make your tag to attach to ginger, make sure to include a note that ginger must be stored in the airtight container for up to three months.  If you are making it several weeks before giving, you might want to put an expiry date on it instead, so the dating is accurate.

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This was posted under category: Cooking, Make your own Tags: , , , ,

How to roast pumpkin seeds from Jack O’Lanterns

Friday, October 24, 2008 6:44 1 Comment

Roasted pumpkin seeds are a great healthy snack – and they are fun to make with your kids after the pumpkin carving is done. 

And, did you know you can toast any kind of squash seed as well, so don’t think you are limited to just toasting up pumpkin seeds, toast other squash seeds for a nice “trail mix variety” of pumpkin and squash seeds for snacks.  And, they keep at room temperature for three months, but up to a year in the fridge, meaning you will be just in time for a new batch next Halloween!

How to toast pumpkin seeds

This was posted under category: Cooking Tags: , , ,

Is your slow cooker safe to use?

Thursday, October 9, 2008 10:09 Comments Off on Is your slow cooker safe to use?

With all the news surrounding illnesses caused by undercooked meat and poultry, it is no wonder that people are concerned about their cooking methods.  And since many frugal families are using their slow cookers, it is worth considering how safe your slow cooker is.

Was your slow cooker handed down, bought second hand, or simply one you have had for years and years?  If so, it is worth testing the temperature in your slow cooker to ensure it is safely bringing your food to the temperature needed to kill certain bacteria that can thrive in undercooked ground beef and poultry.

Fortunately, it is easy to test the temperature.  All you need is a day to “cook” hot water in your slow cooker for 8 hours.  All the specifics on testing your slow cooker’s temperature is found here.  The downside is if your slow cooker is reaching the “safe cooking temperature” of 185F in the eight hours, your slow cooker will need replacing.

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This was posted under category: Cooking, Slow Cooker & Crock Pot Tags: , ,