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More Tips For The Kitchen

For best flavour and nutritive value, always cook sweet potatoes whole in their skins. It takes 35 to 55 minutes in boiling water and about 35 to 60 minutes in a hot oven (425F).

Tip: Give your mashed potatoes a yummy twist by adding duck fat to the pot before mashing.

Keep bread fresh longer by placing a rib of celery in the bread bag.

Reduce the fat content of cooked, crumbled ground beef in sauces or casseroles by rinsing after browning and before adding to a recipe. Here’s how: Cook meat until done, drain and rinse with hot water. Drain once again and blot dry with paper towels.

Red cabbage will retain its red colour during cooking if vinegar or lemon juice is added to the water. The same holds true for blue jeans but that’s an entirely different column.

Speaking of veggies, ever wonder what the difference is between green beans and wax beans? Wax beans are so called because of their waxy yellow colour. Green beans are more common but there is little difference in the nutritional value of the two types of beans.

Have you ever baked a cake that fell in the centre? Try different fats or oils in your cake recipes. Too little fat in cake batter makes a cake dry. Too much fat results in a crumbly, heavy cake which may fall in the centre.

With proper care and constant use, wooden salad bowls remain beautiful as time goes on. A new salad bowl should be seasoned unless it has a special finish. Season the wood by rubbing it with mineral or sweet oils. As the bowl is used, salad oils will continue to season. After each use, a wooden salad bowl should be washed in warm water, rinsed in cool, and dried. If the bowl is heavily soiled clean it with a small amount of denatured alcohol on a cloth or use an S. O. S pad. Rewash and reseason the bowl. Store in a dry place away from heat.

No-fail peanut oil pastry recipe: In a large bowl combine 1 c. all-purpose flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Beat together 1/3 c. peanut oil and 3 tbsp. cold water with a fork until well blended. Pour over flour and stir lightly until mixed. Press dough into a smooth ball; flatten slightly. Place between two 12-inch wax paper squares (on a dampened tabletop to prevent slipping). Roll pastry until it reaches edges of paper. Peel off top sheet of paper. Invert pastry into the pie plate; then remove the second sheet of paper. Fit the pie crust into the corners of the plate, without stretching, to prevent the shell from shrinking. Use as baked or unbaked.

Yields: One eight-inch pastry shell.

To prevent pie crusts from shrinking while baking: Lay unbaked pie shell into pie plate, overhang dough 1/2 inch over edge. Prick the bottom with a fork. Place aluminum foil inside. Sprinkle dried beans onto foil. Bake; remove foil and beans just before baking time is complete.

When peeling garlic, squeeze the clove to bring out the oil. Doing this makes the clove easier to peel.

Tip: To roast garlic, sprinkle the bulb with a little olive oil and white wine, salt and pepper. Wrap it in aluminum foil and roast at 350F for approximately one hour.

Bruschetta is the original garlic bread and an easy first course for a great Italian meal. When making bruschetta spread butter, mayo or oil onto bread slices as vapour barriers so that the bread does not become soggy before adding toppings. Add toppings just before serving.

The Canadian market is flooded with all sizes and shapes of pepper mills. A top-quality pepper grinder should have a reasonably well-finished wooden part of European beech, birch, natural or stained walnut, teak, mahogany or walnut. However, it is the grinding mechanism that is even more important. It should be made from a casting of hard steel with cutting teeth that mesh properly when the bottom of the pepper-filled mill is held in one hand and the top turned clockwise with the other hand.

Did you know? Most of the pepper available to Canadians comes from India. This aromatic, pungent spice is the dried berries of the pepper plant, piper nigrum — black pepper being the whole berry while white pepper has the outer skins removed.

Interested in making your own bread? Think outside of the bread box by adding rye flour, nuts, wheat germ, parsley, raw grated carrots, yogurt and yeast. Voila, your bread has now become a healthy treat!

Interested in making your own yogurt for a fraction of the price? Stir 1/2 c. commercial yogurt into 1 quart of warm milk. Mix and pour into oven-safe containers. Set in an oven on low heat for eight hours. Add vanilla and fresh berries.

If you are watching your food budget, you can add instant non-fat dry milk powder to dry ingredients in recipes for cakes and breads or stir non-fat dry milk into flour for gravy sauce. It also mixes well with cornstarch and sugar for puddings. Add water for the required amount of liquid.

Great stuffing is better than good stuffing! Add a pinch of nutmeg as well as the usual sage or thyme to stuffing for turkey, chicken or goose. If the stuffing is a rice one, give it a crunch. Add 1/3 c. toasted sesame seeds for every 4 c. cooked rice.

Reena Nerbas is a professional speaker and the author of three national bestsellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives available online or by calling 204-320-2757. I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming! Check out my website!

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