Here are some hints for better bread.
- Large air holes in the crust may be caused by overkneading.
- Let nut breads and other quick breads stand in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan so they become firmer. They may become soggy if allowed to cool completely in the pan.
- A rib of celery in your bread bag will keep the bread fresh for a longer time.
- Dry cereal and potato flakes can be used as substitutes for bread crumbs.
- Freshen dry bread by wrapping in a damp towel and placing it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove towel and heat in oven for a few minutes.
- After your rolls have baked, remove them from the pan immediately to prevent steam from forming and making them heavy.
- To avoid lumps in bread batter, add a pinch of salt to the flour while still dry.
- Place a small dish of water in the oven while baking bread to keep it from getting a hard crust.
- To improve the texture of baking powder biscuits, knead it for 30 seconds after mixing.
- Put frozen bread loaves in a clean brown paper bag and place in a 325º oven for 5 minutes to thaw completely.
Keep your fork
Now that we are starting to harvest our broccoli heads, I thought it might be time to post a few thoughts on this popular veggie.
- Broccoli is one of the most popular members of the cole family of vegetables. Cabbage, Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale and kohlrabi are also members of this family.
- Broccoli as well as the other family members contain bioflavonoids that help reduce the risk of cancer of the colon, breast, cervix, lung, prostate, esophagus, larynx and bladder. The one that seems to be one of the best in cancer prevention is broccoli.
- Broccoli is also a good source of vitamins, iron, potassium, folate, calcium, iron and other minerals.
- It takes from 60 to 80 days for broccoli plants to mature from transplants.
- Harvest the main head while it is still compact and the stalks tender and firm. Cut about 3 inches of the stalk off with the head. The compact heads should be a dark or purplish-green in color. Yellow buds mean the vegetable is too mature. Once the yellow flowers appear, broccoli is tough and bitter.
- Most broccoli varieties will produce smaller side shoots from the main stem if the side shoots are kept cut. Harvest these side shoots every few days to keep them from flowering.
- Soak the heads in ice cold salt water for 30 minutes before cooking or blanching. Cabbage worms, if present, will usually float to the top of the water. But check each head for stubborn worms.
- Do not overcook broccoli. Cook to tender-crisp, never soft. It should be bright green at this stage, not olive-green.
- Broccoli is delicious when eaten raw with dips or in salads.
- Broccoli will keep for up to a week if kept unwashed in the refrigerator.
- 1 pound of broccoli = 5 cups of florets = 1 pint
Keep your fork
7 Rice and 1 Potato Helpful Hint
- Don’t stir rice while cooking unless recipe says to.
- Don’t soak rice before cooking.
- Don’t moisten rice and leave wet for a long time before cooking.
- When tossing or fluffing cooked rice, use a fork not a spoon.
- One cup of raw rice, when cooked will serve from 4 to 6 with normal serving size.
- When bell peppers, green onions and parsley are cheap on the market, buy and chop and freeze separately in small cellophane bags. Freeze in ¼ cup and ½ cup quantities. When you cook rice recipes, you have just what you need. This saves prep time.
- Serve rice with;
- Any gravy (roast, chicken, steak, duck, turkey, wild game)
- Shrimp creole
- Curried shrimp
- Chili (put a scoop in each bowl of chili)
- Any gumbo (put scoop in each bowl of gumbo)
- Any stew (shrimp, chicken. Meat, wild game)
- When boiling potatoes for salad, boil in very salty water to avoid skins breaking open and potatoes cooking to pieces. Use 1 tablespoon salt to each pint of water (one pint is two cups). Bring to a boil and boil slowly, so center will get done about the same time as the outer part. Drain as soon as done. Cool before peeling.
Keep your fork
We’ve been told over and over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Does that mean that we don’t have to make smart choices when confronted with various options? Obviously not, we know better than that. Given these four choices, which option in each case would you choose?
- Bacon or Sausage – A side of sausage adds an average of 277 calories, while bacon adds 131 calories to your meal. Bacon also has 1/3 less sodium and ½ the saturated fat. Bacon contains around 35 calories per slice.
- Home fries or Hash Browns – You should go with the choice that is least fried. Home fries compared to hash browns deliver less fat and about 15 percent fewer calories. The thicker sliced home fries have less surface area on which oil can take hold of when compared to the confetti-sized shredded hash browns.
- High-fiber Cereal or Oatmeal – It has been shown that high-fiber consumers have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and knee pain. High-fiber cereals, such as Fiber One and All-Bran, deliver more than twice as much fiber as oatmeal and with fewer calories.
- Egg Sandwich or Breakfast Burrito – Restaurant burritos can average over 1,000 calories each while an average egg sandwich has 722 calories and around 32 grams of protein.
If you chose bacon, home fries, high-fiber cereal and egg sandwich, you made smart choices.
Keep your fork
Staying Not Lost
Seeing that soccer team and its coach finally found after being lost for 10 days reminded me that staying found is very important. True, they were in a cave and the searchers knew their whereabouts to some extent, but I wonder if hiking safety was even given a thought when they entered the cave. Teach your children (or children like adult hiking companions) some simple rules to be ‘staying found’ and help them develop some good old-fashioned common sense. Here are a few thoughts on that subject.
- Never hike alone. This goes for adults as well as children. You never know when you may need someone to administer first-aid, go for help or to out-run in case a bear shows up. Use the buddy system if hiking as a family. Some teenagers think they know what’s up and may strike out on their own if younger siblings linger longer than they ought.
- Older children should be encouraged to help plan the hike. This will give them an idea as to where you will be going and how long the hike may take.
- Every hiker should have in their possession a whistle to be used only in case of emergency or failure to locate the family group. The universal signal (distress call) is three short “tweets” which will carry farther than the human voice. Repeat the trio of three louds blasts until help arrives. Searchers can return a whistle blast to tell the ‘not found’ that help is on the way.
- Stop walking the minute you know you are not found and STAY PUT. Sit down, stay calm and think about when last seeing the family (group) and then start the whistle blowing procedure.
Keep your fork
Here are some hints that you might find helpful in preparing potatoes for a meal.
- 1 pound of unpeeled potatoes = 3 cups sliced or chopped potatoes
- Try using a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese in place of butter when mashing your potatoes.
- Use sour cream instead of milk when mashing the potatoes.
- To restore some of the nutrients lost in the cooking process, add some of the water the potatoes were cooked in to powered milk when mashing potatoes.
- Add a little sour cream to the potatoes to keep them from discoloring when making potato pancakes.
- To prevent overcooked potatoes from getting soggy when liquid milk is added for mashing, sprinkle with dry powered milk instead.
- If you need to hurry baked potatoes, boil them in salted water for 10 minutes, then place in very hot oven. Or, you can cut the potatoes in half and place them face down on a baking sheet in the oven for a shorter baking time.
Keep your fork
Now that the tomatoes are starting to ripen around here, I thought a few thoughts on the ‘fruit’ may be in order.
- When storing tomatoes, point the stems downward so they keep their freshness longer.
- Find a warm place in the house (near the stove or dishwasher for example) to ripen tomatoes. It’s not the sunlight, but the warmth that makes them ripen.
- Rather than discard the juice from canned tomatoes, place it in ice cube trays to freeze. When frozen, store the tomato juice cubes for use in cooking or in tomato drinks.
- If you purchase inexpensive tomato juice, you can pour a 46-ounce can of it into a refrigerator safe jar and add one chopped green onion and one cut-up celery stalk to improve its taste.
- Do not refrigerate ripe tomatoes. Keep them at room temperature out of the sunlight.
- Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, folate and potassium. They also contain lycopene, a proven anticancer agent.
- 1 pound of whole tomatoes = 2 cups cubed tomatoes
- 1 bushel = 50 to 55 pounds = 38 to 40 pints
Keep your fork