Poll

Free email subscription

Recent comments

User login

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: What to do with difficult pie crust

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Sometimes my thoughtless hurrying gets me into trouble! A couple weeks ago I was making blackberry pie for Eliyahu's 7th birthday. (He had requested pie instead of cake.) My Foolproof Pie Crust recipe calls for shortening, which I don't keep on hand, and so in recent years I'd been just using butter instead. But, an all-butter pie crust wasn't turning out as perfectly, so I decided to use coconut oil instead of the shortening called for in the recipe.

At first the dough was too soft, so I put it in the fridge... and got busy making dinner. Three hours later, it was rock-hard.

It ended up being tricky to work with and made only an okay crust. (Tip: Since I was using coconut oil in place of salted butter, I added extra salt to the crust. We can really tell a difference when a substitution is made for butter and additional salt isn't used.)

I had an audience while I was rolling out the pie dough and lining the pans. I suppose that's an indication of how rarely I attempt anything as time-consuming as a "real" pie these days.

Eliyahu's birthday pies

I was able to "wow" my audience when I took my difficult-to-work-with pie dough and instead of making a flat top for the pies, I made a lattice top with strips of dough. Tip: When you have pie dough that isn't cooperating, a lattice top can save the day!

Eliyahu had a marvelous birthday and the blackberry pie was so delicious that Ruth said it's what she wants instead of cake this week for her birthday, too. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Slice, dice, and chop (Cooking Up a Sale)
2. 3 ways to cook dried beans (The Local Cook)
3. Quick-add apples to instant oatmeal (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Easy microwave cleaning tip (Extraordinary Ordinary Life)
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Fixing a cracked plastic kitchen trash can

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's kitchen tip is so simple, but I wish I had thought of it weeks ago! It would have saved months of annoyance!

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can
My "recycle" trash can (read about the label on it here)

I have two plastic trash cans under my kitchen sink: one for trash and one for recycle. We've had them for many years now and with the constant use they get in the kitchen, the recycle trash can was cracked on several sides and even cracked half-way across one side. It was difficult to continue to use like that, so I went in search of a new plastic trash can at the store.

I went to one store but they didn't have the size I wanted for under the kitchen sink. Something too small, and we would be emptying it more than once per day. Something too big, and it wouldn't fit under the sink (key to keeping little hands out of the trash can and making the kitchen look tidy).

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can

Then I spied duct tape. Duct tape can fix anything, right? And surely it couldn't hurt to try fixing a very broken kitchen trash can before it ended up in the trash itself!

I started taping and was VERY pleased with the results. The trash can is very sturdy again and appears to have quite a bit of use in it yet. I wish I had thought to take a "before" picture, because it looked pretty bad! I'm not worried about the appearance of duct tape since this will be hidden behind a cupboard door. Although, a bright colored duct tape might have been fun! ;)

I'm excited that I get to keep using my perfect-sized trash can and it's not going to the landfill. :D

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can
One of the side cracks, which ran across 2 sides of the trash can

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can

The handles were starting to break on my other kitchen trash can, so I went ahead and duct-taped them to prevent the cracks from getting worse.

A repaired plastic kitchen trash can

Do you have broken plastic trash cans in your kitchen? Have you ever used duct tape on them?! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Pie dough tip (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
2. DIY kitchen tips (Whole New Mom)
3.
4.
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for scubbing lots of tiny potatoes

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

My brother gave us two banana boxes full of beautiful red potatoes from his garden this fall. They are delicious! I am enjoying having fresh potatoes. :)

Recently, I gathered the smallest ones for Turkey Sausage and Kale Soup. It's fun to use tiny potatoes in soup and have them whole or just halved (not peeled). So pretty!

I brought my bowl of tiny potatoes into the kitchen and ran cold water over them to soak off some of the dirt. You know how dirty garden-fresh potatoes are, right? :)

Scrubbing small potatoes

After soaking them a while, it was time to scrub them. Normally my hands cramp up when scrubbing lots of tiny potatoes, so I came up with an alternative method that worked great.

Put the potatoes in a bowl with just enough water to cover them. Use a scrub brush to stir and scrub the potatoes in the bowl. Change the water as needed. Scrub and stir with the brush until potatoes are clean.

This took about 5 minutes for probably dozens of tiny potatoes! They were squeaky clean and made delicious soup. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Neatly cutting homemade fudge (Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Rescuing old hotdog buns from the freezer (Cooking Up a Sale)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Freezing Kraft Singles or American cheese slices

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Earlier this year, Costco had a great deal on Kraft Singles using a coupon from their coupon booklet. We use processed "American Cheese" occasionally, and normally buy Costco's store brand when we buy it.

Kraft singles

I was excited that the Singles were even more affordable, along with the convenience of being individually wrapped (great for occasional use!) and bought several boxes. I put 1 in the fridge and the others in the freezer.

A few weeks later I was organizing my freezer and the end of the box of Singles popped these words into my face: Do Not Freeze.

Kraft singles

Oh no! Was I doomed to dozens of cheese slices that wouldn't unwrap after thawing or would otherwise be a big pain to use or not "work right"?!

Fortunately, no. I don't know why the box says "do not freeze", but I haven't noticed a bit of difference in the boxes that have been frozen. The wrapper comes off just fine, and we've used them for burgers, grilled cheese, and lots of other things with complete success. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Pie crust tips (Whole New Mom)
2. More pie crust tips (Trial and Error Home Ec)
3. Crock pot tips and recipes (Purposely Frugal)
4. 10 tips for shopping at Costco (Cooking Up A Sale)
5. Sourdough tip (The Local Cook)
6. Cake carrier substitute (Premeditated Leftovers)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tips for cooking with stainless steel cookware


Cooking with stainless steel.

For those accustomed to using Teflon, the idea of using stainless steel for much more than boiling pasta can be a bit intimidating! I know, because I was there once too.

Even though my mom has been using her stainless steel cookware for longer than I've been alive, I honestly didn't do much cooking until after I was married -- at which point I was using my husband's Wearever Teflon pots and pans.

I loved using Teflon, but studies have shown that the fumes released during high heat are just not good for us (and DuPont, the maker of Teflon has lied about this for financial gain). (Since this isn't a post about the dangers of Teflon, I'll let you do your own further research if you desire!)

When our Teflon pans wore out, I relied on my cast iron skillet more than ever (read about cooking with cast iron here!), along with a few stainless steel pans from a garage sale. Even though my stainless steel pans weren't the highest quality (far from what I now use!) they worked well enough and keeping the health benefits in mind, using the stainless steel pans was not the nightmare I had envisioned! :)

Obviously, the quality of the stainless steel cookware will determine somewhat how easy it is to use.

In a nutshell, when looking for stainless steel cookware (at thrift stores or even brand new) the best options are 18/10 stainless steel (18/8 is all right as well) and have either a thick multi-ply bottom or else multiple layers all the way through (like All-Clad or Multi-Clad), which help conduct the heat evenly. Pans that are thin just burn too easily. If you do a lot of cooking, good cookware is an investment that you'll be enjoying every day!

One of my sauce pans

Tips from my personal experience with stainless steel cookware

1. Keep the heat at medium or below (sometimes higher but never above medium-high!) and keep an eye on what you're cooking. Stir, check, and adjust the heat as you learn about your cookware and even your stove. (The electric burners on my stove are all very different from each other! Truly!)

2. Don't be afraid to add some oil (for frying) or water (for re-heating leftovers). I often refer to package instructions for the best way to cook different frozen veggies. I've learned when I prefer to use my pan lids, and when I prefer to leave the pan uncovered. Usually it's just a matter of experience and trial and error for the various foods! :)

3. Don't expect stainless steel to cook exactly like Teflon cooks. But since I do have a high-quality set of cookware, I haven't had issues with sticking food or burning things. (It is amazing how much difference the quality of the cookware makes when it comes to food sticking!!)

There is one exception though. I am still experimenting with the best way to cook scrambled eggs in stainless steel. (Cast iron seems to work better for eggs, usually.) Sometimes my eggs don't stick a bit; other times they stick a lot. I'm guessing that there is a perfect balance of pre-heating time/temp, oil, and cooking temperature (which of course is affected by the number of eggs thrown into the skillet!) and I just haven't figured out how to do it on my stove. Yet. :) (Anyone have tips for this??)

UPDATE: I tried your suggestions and now making scrambled eggs in my stainless steel cookware is easy and successfully non-stick every time!!

4. If something is stuck on stainless steel, I usually just do a soak in soapy water and it wipes clean the next day. If you're in a hurry or have a particularly annoying stuck-food issue, Bar Keeper's Friend works wonders. It's mild and effective. You could also put some water in the pan and bring it to a boil, to loosen the food.

5. While it is certainly safe to use metal utensils on stainless steel, they will leave small scratch marks on the cookware. This is mostly cosmetic, though larger scratches could increase sticking.

For these reasons, I have personally opted to use only wooden/bamboo, silicone, or nylon utensils whenever they will touch the cookware. I do still have two of my "garage sale pans" and use metal serving utensils with those. They are very scratched but still don't stick much, as long as I've followed rules #1 and 2 above! ;)

6. Bonus tip: How to make perfect fried eggs in a stainless steel skillet

Does anyone have any tips to add to my list?

Here is my review of the stainless steel cookware we own!

Originally published in April, 2009

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Homemade breadcrumbs (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
2. Keep a running grocery list (Recipes Happen)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for making darker coffee in a drip coffee maker

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Jessica at Good Cheap Eats. Head over to Good Cheap Eats to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

At home, I love making coffee with my Aero Press. But, I didn't bring it with me on this trip to my parents' house. Even though it's small enough to easily take traveling, I don't drink coffee daily and already had tons of stuff to bring for 6 people. :)

Drip coffee maker tip

Here at my mom's house, I've been using their drip coffee maker. At first, the coffee tasted watery to me. It seemed like the first coffee dripping through had hardly "brewed" at all!

My solution?

Use two coffee filters instead of one. The coffee filters more slowly and is much darker and stronger.

Does anyone else use two coffee filters instead of one? :)

Drip coffee maker tip
Costco coffee I brought with me as a gift, and Starbucks coffee from my sister

 

For more kitchen tips or to add yours, visit Good Cheap Eats!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Emptying soup base jars

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Amy at Amy's Finer Things. Head over to Amy's Finer Things to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

Here's an easy way to completely empty a jar of soup base.

Empty soup base jar

When the jar of soup base is finished, scoop some hot broth out of your pot of soup and add it to the soup base jar. Swish the broth in the jar to melt any bits of soup base that were left, and then add back into your soup.

Empty soup base jar

I'm still on vacation for another week. Having internet access limited to just 30 minutes per week is rather... limiting for blogging purposes. ;) It's good for other things though... like:

Channah and my mom

Channah (9 months) and my mom :)

For more kitchen tips or to add yours, visit Amy's Finer Things!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for baking with home-cooked pumpkin

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Heather at Feel Good About Dinner. Head over to Feel Good About Dinner to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

If you're cooking fresh pumpkins this month, don't forget to drain it well before pureeing for your favorite baking recipes. :)

This year my brother (who lives in Eastern Washington) brought us a huge box full of pie pumpkins from their garden! They are so flavorful and less watery than the big pumpkins I've often been given. I did still drain a bit of water out of them after cooking.

Draining cooked pumpkin

Just place the cooked pumpkin in a strainer in a clean sink or big bowl and allow to drain for a few minutes.

Tip: This year I have an immersion/hand blender and it makes it super easy to puree the cooked pumpkin right in a big bowl. Other years, I just mash the pumpkin with a potato masher and that works sufficiently well for everything I've tried.

Some of our favorite pumpkin recipes are showcased here.

I love baking with pumpkin... probably even more than apples. :) I'll be making my signature pumpkin dinner rolls for Thanksgiving next week and I can't wait! :)

For more kitchen tips or to add yours, visit Feel Good About Dinner! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Lunchbox tips and more

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Bonnie at Recipes Happen. Head over to Recipes Happen to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

The kids and I left Seattle last week and flew to Ohio to visit my parents and siblings there. We're having a lovely visit and my mom is making some of her wonderful food for us.

Even though I have many of my mom's recipes, there are a few of her signature creations that I rarely make -- like tapioca pudding (Yehoshua's favorite), energy bars (the kids' favorite breakfast), and beef chop suey (one of my favorites!).

Like last time, my parents (still) don't have internet access at their house. We drove to the local library this evening so I could post this kitchen tip! :)

Lunchbox Storage

Just like my husband has, my dad has always taken a packed lunch to work. I learned a couple helpful hints about lunchbox storage from my mom.

Tip #1: Have an easy-to-access storage spot for the lunchbox(es) when they are not in use. My mom uses the top of her fridge for any lunchboxes that are at home.

When more of my siblings lived at home, the top of her fridge was home to numerous lunchboxes. Having a dedicated storage location kept the lunchboxes from cluttering the counters.

Lunchboxes stored overnight

Tip #2: Store lunchboxes with the lids open so they can air out. This keeps the lunchbox smelling fresher. If the lunchbox is washable or has a removable/washable insert, wash it at the end of the work week.

Alternately, wipe the inside of the lunch box with a soapy dishcloth after emptying it of dirty containers and then store open to dry/air out.

Bonus tip #1: Keep yogurt cold for on-the-go without using an ice pack

I discovered that it works beautifully to put homemade yogurt or Greek yogurt into a serving-size container and then stir in some frozen berries or other bite-size chunks of frozen fruit.

When you're ready to eat your yogurt a few hours later, the fruit will be thawed and the yogurt will still be cold. (This may not work in super hot climates -- but worked great in our Washington summers.)

Bonus tip #2: Pack your lunch ahead from the freezer

Before I left last week, I cooked and froze serving-size containers of pinto beans for Joshua's lunches at work. He told me it's worked great for him to pack his lunch the night before by pulling a container from the freezer and putting it in his lunch box. It's thawed by lunch time (and then he heats it in the microwave at work).

More of my lunchbox tips are in this post.

For more kitchen tips or to add your own, visit Recipes Happen!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 4-minute celery sticks (Cutting celery sticks quickly)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays link-up is being hosted by Katy at Purposely Frugal. Head over to her blog to read her tips for making homemade corn tortillas and submit your own kitchen tips!

I've lost 36 pounds in the past 7 months... and I've eaten a ton of celery.

I don't love celery, but it's not too bad and it's cheaper than cucumbers and a nice change of pace from lettuce and carrots. :) When I need a mess-free take-along snack, I often go for celery sticks.

One day this summer, we ended up taking a long walk to a park that didn't have a drinking fountain to refill our water bottles. The HUGE bag of celery sticks I had brought quenched my thirst. Celery is 95% water, after all.

With all this celery munching, I had to come up with a quick way to cut celery sticks. Here's what's been working for me:

Wash celery without separating stalks from the head

Wash celery without separating the stalks from the head. I run water inside and all over the celery until it looks clean.

Cut off tops

Without separating the stalks from the head, cut off the brown tops of the celery.

Cut off bottom

Turn celery around and cut off the bottom of the head of celery. Put the tops and bottoms in your compost, garbage disposal, or trash.

Cut off leaves

This is what you should have now: A bunch of long celery sticks, some with leaves.

Cut off leaves

Cut the leaves off. I don't like leaves on my celery sticks, but they are perfect to add to soups or tuna salad sandwiches later.

Almost finished: celery sticks

Now that the leaves are trimmed, all you need to do is cut into smaller sticks for snacking.

Finished celery sticks

Two cuts and you're finished! Beautiful, perfect celery sticks... and this whole process takes about 4 minutes. :)

The main "tip" to remember is: Save time by trimming celery tops and bottoms first, instead of separating stalks and trimming each stalk individually.

Now, head over to Purposely Frugal to read more kitchen tips and leave your own! :)