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Food Tips And Tricks

October 16, 2015

I am not a chef, just a simple man who likes food (a lot). However, I first started cooking at age five, so I now have well over 60 years of experience and I suppose I have learned a few things along the way. Some of these things are small tricks or variations that I wanted to share here with you on this site.

Tamales – Try using large coffee filters instead of corn husks to wrap your tamales. Although not traditional, the filters allow for more even steaming and are much easier to use than the husks. Cooking time is also reduced. Juan Valdez would approve!

Yogurt – Coffee filters again. Use them in making yogurt at home to separate the whey. When placed over a colander, they work much better than the recommended cheese cloth. And they are much less expensive!

Spices – Almost any small whole spice can be put into a pepper grinder and be used in a ground form. Try this with dried hot red peppers, prickly ash, or most any other whole dried small spice. I keep a couple of extra grinders on hand for this reason. Who said they were for only salt and pepper?

Bananas – We heard on the television that bananas will last much longer without turning black if you separate them individually from the bunch ans store them in different places. We tried this and it works. The chemicals that ripening bananas emit affects others in close proximity and hastens their ripening. When separated, they last almost twice as long. Who knew?

Hummus – If you like hummus but not the high price in local stores, why not make your own? Just use a hand mixer or blender with a can of garbanzo beans (chick peas), a clove of garlic and your favorite flavor (tomato, pepper, etc.) Add a little lemon juice and salt and you’re all set. It’s super easy and you get exactly what you want.

Drying Dishtowels – The next time you are done baking, prop the oven door open and hang your damp dishtowels over the top of the oven door. They’ll be dry in minutes.

Salt – Keep a bit of salt in a small dish next to your stove. It can be used by the pinch or by the teaspoon as required in recipes. We use it the same way on the table but beware of guests that mistake it for a sugar bowl!

Bread – To keep bread from drying out, try placing the loaf in a plastic bag after its first use. It will last a lot longer.

Chestnuts – After you’ve roasted chestnuts, remove them from the pan, put them in a bowl and cover them immediately with a kitchen towel. This keeps them hot and also provides enough steam so that the shells are easily removed.

Bacon Grease – Keep an empty 12 ounce can in your freezer for bacon grease (other greases too). Pour excess grease into the can and return to the freezer as needed. When the can is near full, you can remove the can’s bottom and use the grease as suet for birds.

These are just a few of the things I have picked up on the road called Foodie Street. Please share yours! The photo is a mosaic from thr Roman ruins found at the southern end of Lake Garda, Italy.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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