Friday, April 27, 2012

Old Mother Hubbard

Thanks to my mother for sending me an email of Old Mother Hubbard cooking hints. It came at just the right time, too, because I had been thinking about putting together a list of helpful hints like this. Though some of them I already knew, I haven't tested them all, so I can't vouch that they all work. 
Here they are:
To keep blocks of cheese fresher longer, wrap them in aluminium foil instead of plastic wrap. It will help prevent mold.
Extend the shelf-life of cottage cheese by storing it upside down in its container.
When you get home from the store, separate bananas from the main stem. They will not ripen as quickly. And to avoid having strings on a banana when you peel it, take the peel off from the bottom — the primates do it that way.
If you love the taste of garlic, push it through a garlic press before adding to the rest of your ingredients. If you like a milder taste, chop or slice it. Pressing garlic makes the taste of garlic much stronger because there is more surface area of the garlic exposed. Also, be sure to add garlic towards the end of cooking when sautéing so you don't burn it and turn it bitter.
Soak diced or sliced raw onions in ice water for 15 minutes to make them less pungent — ideal when adding to salads or sandwiches and you don't want an overwhelming onion bite. 
To make rich and creamy scrambled eggs or omelettes, beat in a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, softened cream cheese or heavy cream.
To reheat pizza without creating a soggy mess in the microwave, heat it in a non-stick skillet on top of the stove over medium-low heat until warm. You may need to put the lid on the skillet to melt the cheese.
If a bell pepper has three bumps on the bottom it is sweeter and better for eating raw. If it has four bumps on the bottom, it is likely firmer and better for cooking.
For super-simple devilled eggs, put cooked egg yolks and additional ingredients in a zip-top bag and seal. Mash until well combined. Slice one of the tips off of the bottom of the bag and squeeze mixture into the cooked egg white shells. Clean up is easy — just throw the bag away.
To reheat refrigerated bread products, like loafs, biscuits, pancakes or muffins, and keep them soft, reheat in the microwave with a cup of water. The water will keep the them moist and help them reheat faster.
To avoid teary eyes when cutting onions, cut them under cold running water or briefly place them in the freezer before cutting.

To keep bacon from curling while cooking, lay it flat on a cookie sheet. Edges may touch but not overlap. Bake in the oven at 200°C for crispy bacon about 30 minutes for softer bacon about 20 minutes. No splatter mess on the stove top.

Fresh lemon juice will remove onion scent from hands.

Add raw rice to the salt shaker to keep the salt free flowing.

Separate stuck-together glasses by filling the inside glass with cold water and setting both in hot water.

Clean corningware by filling it with water and dropping in two denture cleaning tablets. Let stand for 30 - 45 minutes.

Always spray your grill with non-stick cooking spray before grilling to avoid sticking.

In a large shaker, combine 6 parts of salt and 1 part pepper for quick and easy seasoning.

Unbaked cookie dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen in an airtight container for up to 9 months.

Dip cookie cutters in flour or powdered sugar and shake off excess before cutting. For chocolate dough, dip cutters in baking cocoa.

Instead of folding nuts into brownie batter, sprinkle on top of batter before baking. This keeps the nuts crunchy instead of soggy.

To test if spaghetti is done, throw one piece at the wall or ceiling. If it sticks then it is done.

When frying meat, sprinkle paprika on meat to make them golden brown.

Scaling a fish is easier if vinegar is rubbed on the scales first.

A few drops of lemon juice added to simmering rice will keep the grains separated.

Pumpkin and other custard-style pies are done when they jiggle slightly in the middle. Fruit pies are done when the pastry is golden, juices bubble and fruit is tender.

Achieve professionally decorated cakes with a silky, molten look by blow-drying the frosting with a hair dryer until the frosting melts slightly.

When baking bread, a small dish of water in the oven will help keep the crust from getting too hard or brown.

To keep hot oil from splattering, sprinkle a little salt or flour in the pan before frying.

To prevent pasta from boiling over, place a wooden spoon or fork across the top of the pot while the pasta is boiling.

Boil all vegetables that grow above ground without a cover.

A little vinegar or lemon juice added to potatoes before draining will make them extra white when mashed.

To absorb the pungent odour of foods like fish or cabbage, place a small bowl filled with white vinegar on the stove while cooking.

If food from a bubbling casserole spills over on the stovetop or oven floor, sprinkle salt on the drips to absorb the burned smell while the dish is still cooking (that will also make it easier to clean up the mess later).
There you have it. If you try any of them, please let me know if they worked for you.

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