Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Kitchen Tips

Last week I wrote about a few things that help me in the kitchen. I asked if you had any and Deb in Wisconsin was kind enough to share all these wonderful ideas. Thanks Deb!

Using your favorite pancake recipe.....bag up all the dry ingredients in a quart-size zipper bag. I sift the dry ingredients into a bowl first, then pour into the baggie. You can also do this with scones, johnny cake (cornbread/cakes), and pizza dough. I've been doing this for years, and the only "problem" I've ever encountered was ONE TIME when the baking soda in the scones mixture kind of clumped up, so the batter didn't rise properly....so I DID use up that batch (I make about 10 baggies at a time), and simply added another portion of baking soda to the mixture before adding the wet ingredients.

To make this really simple, I posted the Wet Ingredients needed for each recipe, on a sheet posted on the inside of my cupboard door nearest my baking/cooking center in my kitchen. So I don't need to get a recipe book out, just open the cupboard door, and there's a note with the needed ingredients.

Another "step ahead" you can do, when you're freezing or canning any of your garden veggies, make them in sizes that you'd use in your regular recipes. For example, my favorite pumpkin cake recipe uses 2 cups of pumpkin, so when I can or freeze our pumpkins, I do them up in 2-cup portions. Same for grated zucchini (or yellow crookneck summer squash) for
my Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe.

It also helps to do some mega-chopping sessions with nuts...then freeze them in portion sized zipper bags--they're ready for your recipe!

When red, orange or yellow sweet bell peppers are on sale I buy a slew, then wash, dry, slice and chop into small-ish pieces, lay them out on a cookie sheet (or two), then pop the cookie sheets into the freezer for a few hours (or even longer--as I usually forget!). After they're frozen, I use a pancake turner/spatula to loosen, and then pour into a large plastic container
(with a tight-fitting lid). Whenever I make spaghetti, chili, sloppy joes, or any Oriental recipe, I grab out a handful or two (or more) and into the sauce it goes. They don't stay as firm as "fresh" peppers do, but they still have that great flavor--and the color is just what perks up a winter-time dinner!

Another EXCELLENT time-saver at the end of August or beginning of September...when your tomatoes are all turning red at the same time, and you can't stand another minute cooking in a hot-n-humid kitchen, or you don't have time "right now" to make up tomato sauce.... Put your tomatoes (right off the vine) into a large brown paper grocery bag. Fill that right up,
then close it tightly. Put in the freezer and in about January, when you dig in there after all the holiday fuss, you'll see that bag (or bags!) of 'maters. Then all you have to do is SO SIMPLE: fill the sink with HOTTEST tap water, drop about 13 'maters in there, let float for 20-30 seconds, and the skin should slip right off. Plop the de-skinned tomato in your LARGE canning pot; when the pot is as full as you want, then cook at low to medium heat, they will be juicy and need stirring every so often. Once they break down, you can add your other ingredients. I run mine through a blender--after they've cooked down. I like my
tomato sauce to be broken up.

Thanks for all those fabulous tips Deb! I especially love the tomato idea, excellent. If you have some time saving kitchen tips, send them my way and I will post them here.

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