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Food Ideas & Tips


 

Here are just a few "tips" I have learned throughout my life when it comes to keeping food fresher longer, saving money on herbs and spices, and a few changes in how we use things in the kitchen.  If you have an other "tips", please feel free to e-mail them to me so we can share them with all the readers.


POPCORN

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No need to spend money on individual popcorn packets. Just take a brown paper lunch bag and put kernels of popcorn into it to cover bottom and fold the bag twice and put in microwave for about 2 or 2 1/2 minutes or until you hear the popping slow down. Store bought packets have all kinds of chemicals so this is healthier as you know what you are putting on the popcorn, like organic butter and/or salt. DO NOT add anything to the bag except for the pop corn. until it is finished popping and in a bowl.


EGGS

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Eggs are still good for a month after the expiration date printed on the egg carton so keep using them instead of throwing them away. Always refrigerate your eggs within two hours of purchasing them as the natural preventative coating is washed away which is mandated by the FDA. A little oil coating is put on them after they are washed to keep them from getting bacteria in them while they sit on the refrigerated area of the store and until you can get them home and in the refrigerator. If you have your own chickens you don’t even have to refrigerate them as eggs can just be kept on the counter as long as you don’t wash them.


CELERY AND GREEN ONIONS

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Wrap celery and green onions in Reynolds Wrap to make it last a whole lot longer. Celery will last close to a month and onions at least for a couple of weeks.


LEAFY HERBS

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To stretch out the lives of your cilantro, chives, and basil, cut off the end and put in a glass or jar of water, cover with a plastic bag and put on shelf in refrigerator, changing water every few days.


USING ICE CUBE TRAYS

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I like to take oil and brown my garlic and onions, cool and then add chopped herbs and freeze them first in an ice cube tray and once frozen just freeze a bunch of them in a freezer bag. I also do this with tomato paste with Italian Seasoning in it for recipes that just call for a little tomato paste so I don’t have part of a small can left over which usually goes to waste. This is perfect for people that are only cooking for one or two people. Oil herbs can be used in broth or recipes that call for all these ingredients and you don’t have them fresh at the time, and the tomato paste is great to add to a fried pot of veggies with a little bit of water to finish of the steaming process by covering the pan with a top and are great for the stoneware cookers. Picture below of ice cube tray pizza sauce I make and then I can take out as much as I want to use for an individual pizza (takes 4 cubes), or more for a bigger one.


STORING ONIONS

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When storing onions, take an old pair of panty hose and drop an onion into the bottom of the leg, tie a knot by manipulating the leg, and then continue to layer them with the knots in between and just hang them on a hook or a nail in a dark storage closet by the thicker tops.


BLENDER VS MASON JAR

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Standard Mason jars will fit on the blender so when you are just blending a little bit of something like a smoothie, or wanting to chop nuts or small amounts of anything, just use the Mason jar instead. I even make my pancake and waffle mix this way since I’m only cooking for one person. To keep from having to take a part your entire blender to wash, just add hot water and soap and turn the blender on and it will clean itself and you only have to rinse it out. No need to take the sharp blades, bottom, and rubber ring apart.


SPICES & HERBS

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No need to spend $4.99 or $5.99 when buying organic herbs and spices, instead purchase them at a bulk food health store and your cupboard will smell so good when you open it. Most items are less than $2 for a bag and they normally carry all varieties. Saffron is one of the most expensive herbs that normally cost $20+ at a store and only $12.19 by bulk.


FLOURS

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It is much healthier to use coconut, almond, potato, brown rice, or tapioca flour to bake, fry, bread, or use as a thickener then to use anything made out of wheat or have gluten in them. Keep flour in the refrigerator or freezer so it lasts longer.


BERRIES

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Who doesn’t like berries but it is frustrating to buy them and have them mold in one or two days. Take berries and swish them around a bowl of water (1 cup of white distilled vinegar to 3 cups of water). You can use small ratios for a carton of smaller berries. The vinegar will kill and remove all the spores on them that make them mold so fast. Rinse berries with cold running water and there will be no vinegar taste on them. You can more than double their shelf life. The picture below is of strawberries that were nice, juicy, and firm on the 5th day since I bought them. They probably would have lasted a couple more days, but I ate them before I could find out. Tried it a second time and even at the seven day point, they were still firm and juicy. After rinsing the vinegar off, dry the berries in a towel and put them back into the container with paper towels so the towels can absorb any moisture.


QUEST PROTEIN BARS

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These protein bars are low carb, gluten free, and there are wonderful recipes that can be found on the internet for making fabulous healthy desserts from them by simply rolling out the cake portion of them and making mini tarts, cheescakes, Brownie Bites and other treats. A lot of health food stores carry Quest Protein Bars, and if you can't find them, you can always get them online.


BANANAS

 

You can make bananas last twice as long (or more) if you put them in the refrigerator. The skins will get brown but that is okay because we don’t eat the skins anyway, but the inside will last a whole lot longer. You can also peal and freeze bananas.


SOFT BUTTER KEEPER

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Often called a "French Butter Dish", a "Butter Crock" or a "Butter Keeper", this little gadget will allow you to keep a stick of butter for 30 days on your counter, always soft and ready to spread. Just cut one stick of butter into four cubes and push them into the top of the cup. Fill the bottom cup about one third full of cold water and insert the butter and top. The combination of the bottom's water and the butter will create an air tight seal keeping your butter fresh and ready to use. Change water every three days and keep under 80 degree temps. I've had mine for years and there is no more torn toast or bread when the butter is soft enough to be spreadable.


FROZEN CELERY, CHIVE & PARSLEY

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When things are on sale I stock up and saute things like celery, chive, and parsley in a little olive oil and then let them cool off and freeze them. A couple of these cubes add a lot of flavor to rice or other dishes.


FROZEN ONIONS

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Nothing is worse then being in the mood for something to cook and discovering you have no onions, or the last one you do have is spoiled. By grinding my onions in the blender, not only do I get the pulp, I also get all the good juices. I try to always keep a bag of these cubes so I always have onions on hand.


DRYING OUT FRESH HERBS

 

If you want to turn fresh herbs into dried flakes, just tie a bunch with a string and hang them somewhere to dry for a couple of weeks, or until completely dried out, and then just pull off the leaves and put into little bottles. I dry mine by hanging them on my curtain rods.  Don't forget to rub your dried herbs between your fingers before you add it to the other ingredients.  Rubbing them will bring out their natural flavor and aroma.


CUCUMBERS

 

Cucumbers are sensitive to temperatures below 50°F and may develop "chilling injuries" including water-soaked areas, pitting, and accelerated decay. Best to keep them on a counter and the same thing is true about tomatoes. Neither should be put in the refrigerator.


 

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