Reduce, reuse those plastics

Not the sexiest way to wrap, but a large plastic bag can easily fit over an 8-by-8-inch pan. This one's holding pizza slices.

Not the sexiest way to wrap, but a large plastic bag can easily fit over an 8-by-8-inch pan. This one’s holding pizza slices. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Note: Some of these suggestions may not be workable at supermarkets while we’re under the restrictions of the COVID-19 emergency.  

Earth Week thought: Let’s work on reducing the plastic in our kitchens.

Wait, stop, don’t run away. I’m not advocating the disposal of every plastic item in your home. But I am going to point out some ways to reduce (and not buy) of some of the food-related plastic in our lives: namely, plastic bags and plastic wrap.

I admire those amazing folks who are giving up all plastic of every kind. I’m not that saintly by a long shot. But — I do think we can all do a little bit to help reduce the use, and thus the non-recyclable disposal, of so much of the plastic that comes our way via the food we buy.

One afternoon many years ago at work, I wandered into our break room and saw several Continue reading

For 2019, a book that will entertain you while improving your cooking (and eating)

My well-thumbed copy of "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" is my recommendation to you for 2019.

My well-thumbed copy of “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School” by Kathleen Flinn is my recommended reading to you for 2019. (Photo by Laura Groch)

If you’re one of the millions who are resolving to change your eating/cooking/food-buying habits in the new year, have I got a recommendation for you. I have meant to write about this book forever, but I just keep rereading it and re-enjoying it for myself. (And procrastinating too, yes.)

But no more. My 2019 resolution is to share this book with you, so: “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks,” by Kathleen Flinn (Penguin Books, 2011).

Here’s the premise. Flinn was in the supermarket one day when she saw a woman whose Continue reading

How to slice bread, or how I get around a round

Round loaf

Slicing a round loaf of bread in half will let you carve off similar-size slices for sandwiches instead of having the slices be uneven in size as you slice the loaf from one side. Photo by Laura Groch

 

 

 

Maybe it’s just me. Who am I kidding? It probably IS just me.

I have a thing about the uneven slices you get from a round loaf of bread.

Don’t get me wrong. I love round loaves of marble rye, sourdough, Italian (oh, Italian …) and multigrain whatever. I have fond memories of my Italian great-aunt holding a basketball-size loaf under her arm as she carved off massive slices with a formidable Continue reading

A new (old) method of cooking rice. And it works just fine.

brown rice

Brown rice cooks up even faster and fluffier in the boil-like-pasta method, IMHO. Photo by Laura Groch

I have to confess I am late to this rice-cooking party. But I’m here at last, so here goes:

It’s not easy cooking rice on the stovetop. This seemingly simple task is the bane of many home cooks (and why those boil-in-bag rices, which are parboiled, were invented):

Two cups water to one cup white rice, or two and a half cups water to 1 cup brown rice. Heat it up in a saucepan and boil it, but not too hard. Keep the pot lid on but a little askew so some steam can escape. Cook 15 minutes for white rice, closer to 40 minutes for Continue reading

When life gives you avocados, here’s how to keep them green

Avocado, mashed and seasoned with lemon juice, holds well in the freezer in a plastic bag. (Photo by Laura Groch)

It may not be the prettiest thing, but avocado, mashed and seasoned with lemon juice, holds well in the freezer in a plastic bag. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Avocados are a wonderful treat, full of so-called “good fats” and other nutrients, and delicious in all kinds of dishes. But once they’re cut — or mashed — it can be hard to keep them green. They oxidize, like cut apples. And it’s hard to just plain keep them, once they’ve decided to ripen. They can go bad pretty fast.

With avocado crops booming — and with Cinco de Mayo on the horizon — I’ve got a Continue reading

Time to spill some Thrifty/Nifty ideas

A simple paper plate in the microwave oven saves a lot of cleanup. (Photo by Laura Groch)

A simple paper plate in the microwave oven saves a lot of cleanup. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Well, I guess I can’t say “Let’s start the New Year with some Thrifty/Nifty tips,” but I can say “Let’s wrap up February with some Thrifty/Nifty tips.” (Let’s just say it’s been a busy beginning of 2018 for me.)

Anyway, one of the purposes of this little bitty blog is to offer some help in the kitchen (since I can’t be there with you) and some ways to save time and perhaps even money. So let’s try these on:

— Save cleanup time in the microwave by protecting the rotating glass plate with — ta- Continue reading

Post-pumpkin, a few tasty ideas

pumpkin oatmeal

Pumpkin is a warm, welcome addition to your morning bowl of oatmeal. Photo by Laura Groch

Halloween is over, but pumpkin is still with us. And will be with us through year end. And really beyond, because pumpkin is just too good not to eat more often than just in chilly weather.

It’s nutritious, full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber, and you can use it in myriad cakes, pies, muffins and cookies — none of which I’m going to discuss here.

Instead, I’m going to suggest a few simple ways to use the rest of that can of pumpkin you Continue reading

Don’t fear the artichoke. Here’s how to steam and conquer it

artichokes

Don’t fear the fierce-looking artichoke. Instead, learn to conquer and eat it. Here’s how. (Photo by Laura Groch)

It pains me to see food misused. I once nearly keeled over while watching a cooking-show host take some very fine lobsters, remove all the meat from the shells, then puree it, mix it with other stuff and pour it into a baking dish. Oh! what a terrible way to treat beautiful, succulent lobster meat!

Similarly, I was shocked to see on another show a vendor at an open-air market slicing all the leaves off an artichoke to reach the tender (and yes, delicious) heart. Oh! what a waste of tasty leaves!

But I can understand it — somewhat. You may be familiar with jarred artichoke hearts, Continue reading

Safe at home: Those pesky ‘best by’ dates

"Best by" dates aren't absolutes. Most canned foods are perfectly fine for up to five years. (Photo by Laura Groch)

“Best by” dates aren’t absolutes. Most canned foods are perfectly fine for up to five years. (Photo by Laura Groch)

 

For the past three months, I’ve been feeding myself poison.

That is, if you count “Use by,” “Best by” and “Sell by” dates as absolutes when it comes to wholesome food.

Obviously, I don’t.

We’ve recently seen stories about how wasteful Americans are with their food, and how Continue reading

Lettuce try some new ways to do salad

Radish leaves are edible, so why not try them in a salad?

Radish leaves are edible, so why not try them in a salad? (Photo by Laura Groch)

With California’s winter rains flooding out some lettuce farms, greens are going up in price nationwide. Some reports say that lettuce is going for $3.99 a head.

Well, if you use your head, you can still enjoy salads without going broke. Stores and farmers markets still have plenty of less-expensive green leaves to fill your salad bowls.

Green and red cabbage come to my mind first, especially green. Just slice the leaves into Continue reading