Kitchen Secrets: My Best Tip (Week 4) - The Kitchen Garden: Fresh Herbs and Flavorings Blog at - 221299

The Kitchen Garden: Fresh Herbs and Flavorings

Kitchen Secrets: My Best Tip (Week 4) 
Feb. 5, 2011 7:06 am 
Updated: Apr. 5, 2011 5:57 am
Hi, All! 

The well of Kitchen Tips springs eternal and almost 100 new tips were added last week in the three Kitchen Secrets blogs. 

Thank you all for continuing to take time to share your experience with others... even if they can't thank you personally they've often remarked how helpful they are to me. 

 I'm saving all the tips and will sort and combine them in some format for easier reference in a few weeks... Until then, have fun digging through the blogs!

All the best!

PS With Valentine's Day approaching, if you have any Best Tip for chocolate (baking, meat rubs, sauces, cocktails, sweets, etc) , then please take a look at my chocolate themed blog. TIA
Feb. 5, 2011 11:09 am
I keep ground coffee in a 2 qt rubbermaid container with a lid and covered spout. I keep it in the fridge and just pour out the amount I need for the coffee maker... No spills! I can make my own blends by adding different roasts and flavors.
Feb. 5, 2011 1:02 pm
Marvel - I really think it would be far more appropriate if you were to post "hints" within the blog itself. To most 60 comments - repeats is pretty absurd. I personally find it annoying.
Feb. 5, 2011 4:40 pm
Freeze sprigs of mint, kiwi slices, lemon or orange peel in ice cubes and serve them in chilled beverages. Cheers!
Feb. 6, 2011 8:46 am
Thank you Baking Nana. I agree. Talk about re-heating the leftovers one (four?) too many times.
Feb. 6, 2011 9:53 am
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Am thoroly enjoying reading the blog AND have learned some new tricks! Hope these are all going to be cmpiled and published in book form at some point.
Feb. 6, 2011 11:46 am
Baking Nana and SweetBasil- if you find the fantastic collection of tips and tricks inappropriate, don't read them! Marvel, thanks for compiling all of these- they've been a tremendous help to this new cook!
Feb. 6, 2011 12:38 pm
I agree EmilyV, Marvel is nicest enough to put these on. Keep on Marvel...I love them..
Feb. 6, 2011 1:17 pm
I've been so busy with a new job that I have thoroughly read only the 1st "Kitchen Secrets" blog so forgive me if this is a duplication. A favourite tip is to use NON oven ready lasagna noodles rather than the oven ready kind. I've found quite a difference taste wise, with the older variety much more superior.These old fashioned noodles call for a step of boiling, which everyone hates as this step usually results in incredibly stuck together & slippery noodles with a very good chance of burnt fingers. To avoid this mess, fill a baking dish (close to same size as the one you will be baking in) with boiling water. Add noodles and swish around a few times for about 30 min, while prepping other steps. The noodles will not be completely soft but the cooking time in the oven will do the rest.
Feb. 6, 2011 1:58 pm
can't find your travel coffee cup? Use your Good Seasons salad dressing cruet instead. Because of it shape, it fits right into a car cup holder, and it won't spill because the top is so much slimmer than the bottom.
Bonnie Shaw 
Feb. 6, 2011 2:17 pm
When using sour cream in a receipe, I add 1 tbs cream cheese per cup of sour cream. It cuts the sour taste..
Feb. 6, 2011 7:26 pm
I have always wanted to make a lasagna with 3 layers but never understood how to divvy up the ingredients so none would run out. How would it ever fit into a standard 9 X 13" baking dish. I can barely fit 2 layers and the dish is quite full. Today I took advice from a reviewer and did the following: first layer is meat sauce, noodles, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. 2ND layer is meat sauce, noodles, ricotta/cottage cheese mixture Parmesan cheese. 3rd layer is meat sauce, noodles, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Of course! This makes perfect sense. An added bonus is the lasagna holds together much better when served. Wow! I was practically jumping up and down.
cathy j 
Feb. 6, 2011 9:13 pm
When bananas turn brown I freeze whole bananas. When making banana bread I cut off the top microwave long enough to soften then squezze into mixing bowl
Feb. 7, 2011 5:23 am
I found this out last night when a friend brought fresh guacamole to my house for the Super Bowl: Put the whole avocado pits into the guacamole and it will not turn brown.
Feb. 7, 2011 6:07 am
Marvel, I thought this was a great concept for a blog but it has become too unwieldy to be helpful(at least for me). Perhaps if you proposed a theme for each edition... or spent the time you use cutting and pasting peoples tips into the body of a blog under categories or something. As I recall you reposted and added all those comments to your second edition because you were worried that it didn't show up on the "most popular" list any longer. We can subscribe to your blog if interested in the topic (which many of us are) so it seems odd to keep repeating information and distracting from the new tips.
Feb. 7, 2011 6:56 am
I have never cooked lasagna noodles in my life. Add a layer of sauce mixture to the bottow of the pan then add uncooked noodle and continue normal layering. Lasagna noodles cook in the baking process. The result is a lasagna that is not too squishy or messy.
Feb. 7, 2011 8:36 am
Thanks for the comments, all. Linda, you're right, I knew after the first week that the blog format wouldn't be the right one for easy use (though great for a quick look) I asked AR if there was another I could use or one they could create, but there isn't.
Feb. 7, 2011 8:42 am
Nana, Basil, Up to now, all of the comments I get are positive about the blog and most are "first timers" here. That's why I've put some previous ones to create enough critical mass. (and to keep it front & center.) I like the idea of posting themes (once I've gathered enough to do so). Sorry you're aggravated by it. :(
Feb. 7, 2011 11:51 am
Marvel, I appreciate your creating and working with this topic. I am an "old-timer" not a "new-timer". I do enjoy the tips, have found some new "tricks", and look forward to checking your blog out first thing, daily. Because I have followed this since it was first posted, I speed through the tips, looking for newer posts, and often see something I have missed. It only takes a few minutes, and it is for my enjoyment. Your time and efforts are greatly appreciated. Thank you. It's like reading the "Hints From Heloise" column in the newspaper, only better! We have been "covered in ice and snow" the past several days here in IN. This is a nice diversion!
Feb. 7, 2011 12:49 pm
I appreciate the time you spend on this it's just that while I'm somewhat new to blogs, I don't think it's appropriate to paste "comments" to keep yourself on the front page. The content of a blog belongs in the body, it doesn't start out with 60 comments. Does that make sense?
Feb. 7, 2011 5:05 pm
Just saying that up until now, this site and exchange has been very pleasant, one of the reasons I would check things out here. I hadn't really had the negativity and ** from one poster to another. Shame on some of you, Marvel is trying to be helpful and you ridicule her. Shame on you.
Feb. 7, 2011 5:15 pm
Oops, forgot to post mine, but if someone has already written it down and this is a repeat, I'M SORRY! Anyways, when making rice krispy bars or sticky stuff, I spray a piece of waxed paper with cooking spray and use my rolling pin to smoosh the stuff into the pan. Keeps hands from getting sticky and makes nice smooth bars without everything getting ick.
Feb. 7, 2011 8:04 pm
Another way to save an oversalted soup is to add chunks of raw potato. It will absorb the salt.
Feb. 8, 2011 7:29 am
To keep brown sugar soft, dampen a piece of paper towel, cover the hardened sugar with plastic wrap in a plastic sealed container, then put in the damp paper towel, then close it up with the lid. In about 2 days, the brown sugar will have softened and will stay soft as long as you keep the paper towel moistened.
Feb. 8, 2011 11:51 am
Wrap all hard cheeses in aluminum foil. They keep much, much longer than in clear plastic wrap or a plastic bag. I LOVE this blog!
Feb. 8, 2011 8:13 pm
@nanfanc4153: Actually, you should never have aluminum foil directly touching food - there's been a well-documented link between ingesting aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease. And since you've mentioned cheeses, I should say that I'm a store's former artisan cheese buyer/cheese counter supervisor. Hard cheeses should be wrapped first in parchment paper, then in plastic wrap. Never have aluminum oil touching the cheese directly, as it imparts a metallic taste to it (and for the health reason mentioned above). By wrapping in this way the cheese should last 2-3 times longer than with plastic wrap alone.
Feb. 9, 2011 9:41 am
to get the smell of raw garlic off of your fingers, just wash a stainless steel utensil ie. knife, fork or spoon with regular dish soap and your bare (offended) fingers. this is an awesome blog, have i mentioned that marvel? LOL
Feb. 9, 2011 11:38 am
I would just like to say that I really enjoy your blog,and sometimes repetition can be a good thing.I don't mind re-reading a comment,because it helps to refreshen my memory. Thank You.
Feb. 9, 2011 3:37 pm
Marvel, I very much appreciate the wonderful tips and your efforts.
Feb. 9, 2011 5:14 pm
Re: keeping cheese. I wrap my cheese in either paper towel or cheesecloth that has been moistened with vinegar. It does'nt keep the vinegar taste when you use it and keeps it from molding.
Feb. 10, 2011 8:39 am
Thanks, everyone! My tip for the day is if you don't have unsalted butter, just reduce the salt in the recipe accordingly. A stick of salted butter has about 3/4 tsp of salt in it. All the best
Feb. 10, 2011 9:26 am
This is my first time reading your blog I love it!!! For those of you that are board with it just don't read it. There are plenty of us who relish the help and time that is put into something like this. I have been cooking for many many a year and I picked up tips that if I had known before It would have made some things I was doing easier. Keep up this blog it is a Wonderful help in so many ways.
Feb. 10, 2011 10:13 am
these tips are Marvel-ous! it only took 10 minutes to read, so if a few tips are repeated it only took a few seconds of your time - my tips aren't so exciting - freeze leftover berries whole in double ziplock freezer bags - they last a LONG time and are great for yogurt fruit smoothies without added ice, I freeze herbs that come in big batches like from Costco, they lose flavor much more slowly, and storing meats long term in the freezer ruins the taste of the meat because of the freeze/thaw cycles - destroys the proteins so get a frosty ol' freezer for storing meat! looking forward to more tips!
Feb. 10, 2011 12:02 pm
I have learned so much from this blog thanks to you. Keep bringing it on!
Feb. 10, 2011 1:53 pm
I wrap my celery in foil before storing it in the fridge. Take it out of the plastic bag first if it came in one. It stays crisp a lot longer than if you stored it 'naked' or in plastic.
Feb. 10, 2011 2:01 pm
My first time, too. Loved the blogs, one after another. Some folks should just learn to read faster. My tip: not food, but flowers. A Christmas corsage of mine is still a zip lock bag on the fridge's top shelf, to greet me at door's opening.
Feb. 10, 2011 8:24 pm
This blog is FANTASTIC! Thanks for all the tips, everyone. Here's mine... * Do you get as frustrated as I would when cutting brownies? They would bunch up along my knife. A GENIUS friend of mine told me to use a plastic knife and voila! No sticky brownies all over your knife. For the sake of experiment, I've tested this at various temperatures- even straight out of the oven! Works every time.
Feb. 10, 2011 8:29 pm
The older your eggs, the easier they'll peel after you've hard boiled them. Mental note: buy eggs ahead of time for Easter.
Feb. 10, 2011 9:57 pm
chaelo Feb 11, 2011 1:53am. To keep lasagna noodles from sticking together when boiling them, first oil your pot with olive oil and once water has boiled, before adding noodles, pour 1/4 cup oil into the water then add noodles. This works well with spaghetti and macaroni too. Love this site!! Thanks to Marvel!!
Feb. 11, 2011 12:46 am
Marvel Thanks for your efforts.Keeping nuts. you just keep them in the freezer and thaw few at time. I usually dont even thaw just cut up and put in receipe.It will keep flavor longer.
Feb. 11, 2011 4:41 am
LOVE THIS BLOG! I double or triple lots of recipes and freeze the uncooked extras -cookie dough, bread, prepped meat etc. When surprise visitors stop by they are amazed and the home cooked spread I can produce in little time.
Feb. 11, 2011 5:55 am
When I buy green onions...they come with the roots still attached ..tied up in a little bundle. I put the bundle in a glass of water on my cupboard and they just keep growing. I get several cuttings off the original. Makes it go much further.
Grammies angels 
Feb. 11, 2011 10:07 am
Marvel-thanks for the AWESOME blog!!! I just happened to stumble upon it-I don't even know how to get back on it!!! I don't know if this tip has already been used-but I "flash freeze"a lot of things, such as making up hamburg patties, individual pieces of chicken, or any other meat I buy as soon as I come home from shopping. As soon as they are frozen, I put them in a freezer bag and they can be taken out one by one as needed. I also do this if I make pancakes, French toast, or waffles. I cook them and put the leftovers on a cookie sheet and freeze until frozen, then I put them in a freezer bag and my boys can have them for breakfast whenever they want! They taste like they were just cooked!!! :) :) :)how can I read your past blogs??? :)
Feb. 11, 2011 10:12 am
First time for me and I have found 3 new tricks to add to my cooking, thanks. My trick is Let raw potatoes stand in cold water for at least half an hour before frying to improve the crispness of french-fried potatoes.
Feb. 11, 2011 10:24 am
forgot to add Drain French Fries on brown paper grocery bags as opposed to paper towels to retain crispness.
Feb. 11, 2011 1:09 pm
I just happened on this site. I've been cooking forever but I have picked up quite a few good hints. Thanks for the blog. Please,please keep up the good work.
Feb. 11, 2011 1:11 pm
For the person who wanted to know how he/she could find this site again, I say "BOOKMARK" it.
Feb. 11, 2011 1:33 pm
Wonderful tips everyone! My tip is, a quick way to butter ears of corn without messing up the stick of butter is to butter a piece of bread and roll your ear of corn in the bread. Not only do you get buttered corn but also a piece warm buttered bread.
Feb. 11, 2011 3:17 pm
We all throw food in our trash and it does not smell good. that smells I put it in containers with lids I save from the store. Then it does not smell and in contained in case a bag rips.
Feb. 11, 2011 3:18 pm
oops you can also use plastic bags that seal
Feb. 11, 2011 5:34 pm
Hi Marvel AWESOME's my 2 cents worth...I save cookie tins...and I buy them at yard sales etc...they are PERFECT for baking pound cakes rum cakes etc...just pam and flour as you would a reg cake pan and WHAM all you have to do is add the top when them are done I give them away at christmas and thanksgiving!
Feb. 11, 2011 5:41 pm
here's another....when that herb bush (basil cilantro etc) is drying and dying don't forget to take some leaves and chop em up and add to ice cube trays.....add water or broth...and you always have fresh herbs available at the pop of a cube...Back in the day before I was a Mema...and I knew something(did you ever notice once your kids become parents you no longer know anything about raising kids????go figure...) I regress...back in the day when I was breast feeding ...I sterilized a plastic ice cube tray and used it to hold and freeze breast milk...ea cube holds 1 oz...and if you have to run out and leave the can just pop a cube or 2 and not waste any ....let thaw room temp or tepid water..never nuke breast milk....kills all those wonderful antibiobdies and vitamins
Feb. 12, 2011 4:33 am
Marvel, love your blog of tips - Every 2 or 3 weeks, I buy a large pack of BLSL chicken breasts. I trim them nicely then poach. Large heavy pot, S&P, a little garlic powder, a bay leaf. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Cut heat & let cool in pot. Takes about 2 hours but continues to cook in the broth. When cool, I use paper towels to rub scum from the meat. Stain broth through a coffee filter lined stainer. Then freeze 2-3 breasts in broth. So easy to use for everything from chicken salad to soups, enchiladas. Moist plus the broth is great.
Feb. 12, 2011 7:40 am
When adding removable seasonings such as peppercorns and bay leaves just cut off the top of a tea bag and throw away the tea. Fill the bag with seasonings and tie off with the string from the top of the teabag. "Flow through" seasoning with easy removal :)
Feb. 12, 2011 7:41 am
Happybug19, If you click on the lefthand "archives" link at the top of this page, you'll see them... Thanks, Hazel!
Feb. 12, 2011 9:29 am
When chopping onions put a piece of bread in your mouth - I thought it was crazy until I tried it and it really cuts down the fumes and the tears!
Feb. 12, 2011 9:30 am
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these hints! Here's one from my Mom (apologies if it's been said, haven't read thoroughly through every post yet): When making cookies that call for butter, make 1/2 of the called-for amount butter-flavored shortening. Cookies with all butter can be flat; cookies with all shortening don't have the great taste that only butter can add. Cookies that have half butter and half butter shortening aren't too flat, aren't too puffy, have a balanced level of density and have that taste that ONLY butter can impart. (Julia Child: "MMMmmm...BUTTER.") Also--make sure the shortening is room temp but the butter is just a bit colder than room temp. Cold fat doesn't spread as much in the oven, so your cookies won't be flat and crispy (unless you WANT flat and crispy--then use softened butter and room temp shortening).
Feb. 12, 2011 12:58 pm
I discovered an easy way to chop onions without the tears - I have a small fan that runs on batteries - I set it on the counter aimed at the cutting board - it blows away any irritating gases so they never reach my eyes - much more attractive than goggles!!
Feb. 12, 2011 6:56 pm
When boiling farm fresh eggs add vinegar to the water. The shell peels righ off!!!
Mar. 6, 2011 1:46 pm
Comments: Marianne Mar. 6, 2011 1:21 pm If they are red potatoes, you keep them in the fridge. But if they are russets, they are supposed to be stored in a dark, cool place--the fridge changes the sugar/carbos in them. Don't store them by onions, either.
Mar. 10, 2011 1:55 pm
missykitty Mar. 10, 2011 1:42 pm Avocados that are not ripe yet don't taste very good at all even if you can mash them. Do what chocoholics said and put a banana in the bag with the avocado. The banana gives off gasses that will ripen your avocado.
Mar. 10, 2011 1:56 pm
missykitty, a banana peel will work as well
Mar. 13, 2011 9:15 am
Answered by: BlondeJJ Mar. 13, 2011 9:11 am I saw in a magazine a way to organize your pantry and it so works! Get an over the door shoe organizer (mine has 24 pockets) and hang on your pantry door and put loose things in the pockets, like I have tea bags, gravy mixes and taco seasoning, jerky seasoning, sure gel, small bags of dried fruit, snack bags of nuts, loose bags of crackers, granola bars, pretty much everything that isn't in a large box or a can. It looks so much better and I can see more of what I have. For only 6 bucks I think it was great!
Apr. 5, 2011 5:57 am
Commented by: Bibi Apr. 5, 2011 5:08 am Hi, Mary! Not a recipe, but a couple of suggestions. Instead of freezing your casseroles IN a dish, first line the dish with two pieces of foil, each one long enough to wrap over the top, one longways and one crossways. Fill the dish and freeze. When frozen, you can lift the casserole out of the dish, seal the foil and then I place the foil wrapped meal inside a plastic bag. The frozen meal then exactly fits when you are ready to bake it, and it saves space in your freezer. The second tip is for meat. When you buy "family-size" packs of chicken breasts or pork steaks or chops, make a couple of your favorite marinades. In small freezer bags, freeze individual portions of meat in the marinade. Then you can pull out as many servings you need and the meat marinates as it thaws.
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Marvel's Kitchen

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About Me
Marvel is my mother's name and her kitchen is where I started learning to cook. It should also be Gramma's kitchen, Auntie Jean's, Auntie Phil's, etc. Still learning from friends, family and you all. Many thanks and all the best!
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