Friday, December 30, 2011

Do spices get old?

Actually, spices won't spoil, but they will lose potency over time, and in general, they're best if used within six months of purchase. They should be stored in a cool, dry place, and if you're unsure of a spice's freshness, take a sniff -- if there's no smell, toss it and restock.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Green Onions

The next time you have green onions, don't throw away the white ends. Simply submerge them in a glass of water and place them in a sunny window. Your onions will begin to grow almost immediately and can be harvested almost indefinitely.

Quick Tip for Freezing Hamburger

Place ground beef in big freezer bags- use a ruler to create divisions within the food, forming individual portions. This way when you freeze the entire bag, you’ll be able to quickly break off just as much as you want to use, no more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot

It's easy to bake potatoes in the slow cooker!  Cover each potato in aluminum foil and place in a crock-pot. Easy way to have baked potatoes ready when you get home from work! Cook on low for about eight hours. Load them up with your favorite toppings, serve with a big salad and dinner is served!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Do It Yourself Dryer Sheets

Take your favorite liquid fabric softener and soak an old hand towel or flour cloth completely with it. Wring it out and let it dry completely, then throw it in with your next load. This mega-fabric softener sheet should be good for at least 40 loads of laundry, stretching out softener use and lessening waste.                   

Another Quick Holiday Snack

Ranch Oyster Crackers

1 (1 oz) package ranch dressing mix
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 t dried dill weed (or to your taste)
1/2 t garlic powder (or to your taste)
salt to taste
1 box or bag oyster crackers
Preheat oven to 250°.
In a large mixing bowl, combine first 5 ingredients and mix well. Stir in oyster crackers mix to coat. Pour crackers onto a large cookie sheet.
Bake 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Cool and add to a covered container.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Use Honey Instead of Sugar

Honey is twice as sweet as sugar, so you can substitute honey for half what sugar the recipe calls for.  And, if you do, just reduce the other liquids in the recipe by one-quarter cup for every cup of honey added. Lower the baking temp by 25 degrees, too, since honey browns faster.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/8 teaspoon sugar
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 to 5 teaspoons lemon juice or white vinegar
1-1/2 cups olive or other salad oil
4 teaspoons hot water
In a small bowl, beat together egg yolks, salt, mustard, sugar, pepper, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice, until very thick and pale yellow. Add 1/4 cup oil, drop by drop, beating vigorously. Beat in 1 teaspoon each of lemon juice and hot water. Add another 1/4 cup oil, a few drops at a time, beating vigorously. Beat in another teaspoon each lemon juice and water. Add 1/2 cup oil in a fine steady stream, beating continuously, then mix in remaining lemon juice, water, and oil. Cover and refrigerate.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homemade Mustard

1/2 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Dissolve mustard in vinegar. Stir in remaining ingredients until combined, and cook in a double boiler, stirring constantly, until it reaches the desired thickness (about 10 minutes). Pour into a container, cool, cover, and keep refrigerated.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

1. With the sheet inside out, place one hand in each of two adjacent corners.
2. Bring your right hand to your left, and fold the corner in your right hand over the one in your left, so the corner on top is right side out. Next, reach down and pick up the corner that is adjacent to the one that was in your right hand (it will be hanging in front), and fold it over the other two; this third corner will be inside out.
3. Bring the last corner up, and fold it over the others so it is right side out.
4. Lay the sheet flat, and straighten it into the shape shown above.
5. Fold the two edges in, folding the edge with elastic in first, so all elastic is hidden.
6. Fold the strip into a smaller rectangle.
7. Continue folding until rectangle is the size you want.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chocolate Time Line

1824: John Cadbury, an English Quaker, begins roasting and grinding chocolate beans to sell in his tea and coffee shop. In 1842 Cadbury's Chocolate Company in England creates the first chocolate bar.

 1875: A Swiss chocolate maker, Daniel Peter, mixes Henri Nestle's con- densed milk with chocolate and the two men found a company to manufacture the first milk chocolate.

1894: Milton Hershey adds a line of chocolate to his caramel manufacturing business. Soon he invents the Hershey Bar by experimenting with milk chocolate. Hershey's Cocoa appears next.

 1896: Leonard Hershfield invents the Tootsie Roll, named after his daughter.

1897: Brownies are first mentioned in print, listed for sale in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogue.

1900 (approx): A machine called the enrober is invented to replace the task of hand-dipping chocolate.

 1930: Franklin Mars invents the Snickers Bar.

1939: Nestle introduces semisweet chocolate morsels.

1940: The Mars company invents M&M's for soldiers going to World War II.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homemade Ketchup

1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend tomatoes and purée from the can in a blender until smooth. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, Cook onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened (about 8 minutes). Add puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and salt. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until very thick (about an hour). Purée mixture in a blender until smooth. Chill, covered, for two hours before serving.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Uses for Vodka

I found these uses for Vodka on the internet this weekend....

1.  To remove a bandage painlessly, saturate the bandage with vodka. It will dissolve adhesive.
2. To clean the caulking around bathtubs and showers, fill a trigger-spray bottle with vodka, and spray on the caulking.  Let set five minutes and wash clean. The alcohol in the vodka kills mold and mildew.
3. To clean your eyeglasses, simply wipe the lenses with a soft, clean cloth dampened with vodka. The alcohol in the vodka cleans the glass and kills germs.
4. Spray vodka on wine stains, scrub with a brush, and then blot dry.
5. Using a cotton ball, apply vodka to your face as an astringent to cleanse the skin and tighten pores.
6. Add a jigger of vodka to a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo. The alcohol cleanses the scalp, removes toxins from hair, and stimulates the growth of healthy hair.
7. Fill a sixteen-ounce trigger-spray bottle with vodka: spray bees or wasps to kill them.
8.  Pour one-half cup vodka and one-half cup water into a Ziploc freezer bag. Freeze it for a slushy, refreshing ice pack for aches, pain or black eyes.
9. Fill a clean, used mayonnaise jar with freshly packed lavender flowers; fill the jar with vodka, seal the lid tightly and set in the sun for three days. Strain this liquid through a coffee filter, then apply the tincture to aches and pains.
10. To relieve a fever, use a wash cloth to rub vodka on your chest and back as a liniment.
11. To cure foot odor, wash your feet with vodka.
12. Vodka will disinfect and alleviate a jellyfish sting.
13. Pour vodka over an area affected with poison ivy to remove the oil from your skin.
14. Swish a shot of vodka over an aching tooth. Allow your gums to absorb some of the alcohol to numb the pain.

......Silly me! I've only been drinking the stuff.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Homemade Mustard

Homemade Mustard
1/2 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch
Dissolve mustard in vinegar. Stir in remaining ingredients until combined, and cook in a double boiler, stirring constantly, until it reaches the desired thickness (about 10 minutes). Pour into a container, cool, cover, and keep refrigerated.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Homemade Chipotle sauce

Chipotle Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 ounce Dijon mustard
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ounce finely chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/4 ounce fresh garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Combine mayonnaise, mustard, lime juice, chipotle, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Purée until fully combined. Add salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Refrigerator Hints

What and how you store food in your refrigerator can affect the amount of energy that is consumed. Make the right choices and over the course of 12 months, the savings can add up!

Refrigerators and freezers should not be set too cold. Refrigerators should maintain a temperature of 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezers should be at 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Stand-alone freezers for long storage can be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To check your refrigerator's temperature, set a thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the appliance. Read the thermometer after 24 hours. For a freezer, place a thermometer between packages. Again, read the thermometer after 24 hours.

Keeping your refrigerator full actually helps increase energy efficiency because there is less air to cool. Be careful not to overfill though. Overfilling your refrigerator can hinder air circulation. Also, keep liquids covered and make sure to wrap foods when they are stored in the refrigerator. Not only will uncovered foods dry out and have their taste ruined, but the moisture that is released from uncovered foods causes the refrigerator's compressor to run longer.

Check to make sure the coils behind the refrigerator are cleaned on a regular basis. Keeping coils clean allows for better airflow over the coils resulting in the cooling unit’s compressor running less than if the coils were dirty. Another important task that should be done regularly is defrosting the freezer, if the unit is not a frost-free model. Frost buildup exceeding one quarter of an inch will decrease the unit's energy efficiency.

Here’s another money saving tip: Make sure there is no air leakage around the refrigerator’s door seals. When cold air escapes, the compressor runs longer to replace it. To see if your unit needs new seals, perform the “dollar bill” test. Place a dollar bill between the door and the unit. Close the door. If the bill slides out easily, air is leaking and the hinges and/or seals need to be fixed. If it is difficult to pull out the bill, the seal on the door is in good shape.

Lastly, make sure your refrigerator is in the right location. Though location is often limited by electrical and water hookups, making sure that there is proper air flow around the refrigerator can help it run more efficiently. If the appliance is stored between cabinets, make sure that nothing stored around the unit hinders its airflow. If possible, refrigerators should not be located near windows, stoves, or ovens. Heat from the sun or cooking appliances can cause the refrigerator to expend more energy to keep cool. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Emergency Substitutions

For 1 Tbsp fresh herb use: 1/3 to 1/2 tsp dried herb (of the same kind)

For 1 clove garlic use: 1/8 tsp garlic powder
For 1 egg in baking use: 1 tsp cornstarch plus 1/4 cup water
For 1 whole egg use: 2 egg yolks plus 1 Tbsp water
For 1 cup whole fresh milk use: 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water, or 1/3 cup dry milk plus 1 cup water
For 1 cup buttermilk use: 1 cup plain yogurt, or 1 cup sour milk (4 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to make 1 cup -- let sit for five minutes before using)
For 1 cup sour cream (in baking) use: 7/8 cup buttermilk or sour milk plus 3 Tbsp butter

For 1 cup sour cream (in salad dressings, casseroles) use: 1 cup plain yogurt or 3/4 cup sour milk plus 1/3 cup butter

For 1 cup cream use: 1/3 cup butter plus 3/4 cup milk
For 1 cup corn syrup use: 2/3 cup granulated sugar plus 1/3 cup water
For 1 cup brown sugar use: 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 Tbsp molasses
For 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar use: 1 cup granulated sugar, packed
For 1 cup margarine or butter (in baking or cooking) use: 1 cup hard shortening or 7/8 cup vegetable oil
For 1 square unsweetened chocolate use: 3 Tbsp cocoa plus 1 Tbsp oil
For 3/4 cup cracker crumbs use: 1 cup bread crumbs
For 1 cup cake flour, sifted use: 7/8 cup all purpose flour, sifted (1 cup minus 2 Tbsp)
For 1 tsp baking powder use: 1/3 tsp baking soda plus 1/2 tsp cream of tarter, or 1/4 tsp baking soda plus 1/3 cup sour milk
For 1 Tbsp cornstarch for thickening use: 2 Tbsp flour
For 1 Tbsp flour for thickening use: 1 1/2 tsp corn flour, arrowroot, potato flour, or rice flour; or 2 tsp tapioca

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why Recycle?

Good Reasons to Recycle

1 - It takes 75,000 trees each week to produce the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

2 - If Americans recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save 25 million trees a year.

3 - Recycling and reusing the material in "tin" cans reduces energy use by 74%, air pollution by 85%, solid waste by 95%, and water pollution by 76%.

4 - It takes 95% less energy to make aluminum by recycling it than by producing it from its natural ore, bauxite. It costs less too.

5 - The average American uses 580 pounds of paper each year. As a nation we consume 850 million trees annually.

6 - In 1991, the Great Wall of China became the second largest man-made structure in the world. The largest was Fresh Kills Landfill, serving New York City. It is now the highest point on the east coast.
 7 - Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour!

8 - For every glass bottle recycled, we save enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours.

9 - Every year, Americans throw away enough office and writing paper to build a wall 12 feet high from New York to Los Angeles.

10 - In one year, American steel recycling saves enough energy to heat and light 18 million homes. One pound of steel saves enough energy to light a 60 watt bulb for 24 hours.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Sea salt or table salt…what’s the difference? Taste, texture and how each is processed are the basic differences. One advantage of sea salt is that some people may use a little less because of its courser texture and some people prefer the taste. However, the sodium content of each is essentially the same.

If you are looking for a low-sodium option, try salt-free seasonings and herb blends instead.