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

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

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

Net worth: Recycled wreath for Christmas

Christmas netting wreath

You know I hate to waste stuff and love to recycle when I can. So I crafted this Christmas wreath of red plastic netting from grocery store produce. (Photo by Laura Groch)

I had to show you my colorful Christmas wreath. Look closely, and you’ll see it’s made of the red plastic netting that my grocery store uses to package for-quick-sale fruits and veggies. I had been saving these lengths of netting for something — I wasn’t quite sure what, but I knew it would be good for something besides scrubbing — and then hit upon the idea of a wreath.

I already had an empty wreath form — two concentric wire circles, held together by some other welding — and basically just knotted the lengths of netting together as I wrapped them around the wreath form. That was step one.

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

Thrifty/nifty hints for holiday baking and beyond

pie crust

Build up the edge of the pie crust to help keep the uncooked filling (pecan pie here) from spilling as you maneuver it into the oven. Photo by Laura Groch

We’re coming up on prime holiday cooking season, so I wanted to share a couple of thrifty-nifty hints today.

• The first one is about baking, and more specifically, pie crusts. I have made my share of pies, and while they usually turn out pretty well, getting custard-type pies, like, well, custard, or pumpkin, or pecan into the oven without spilling the filling can be a bit fraught.

It dawned on me one day that things didn’t have to be that precarious. I’m not a huge fan Continue reading

Clip it: Computer fix from the kitchen

A chip clip works to block off your computer camera.

A chip clip works to block off your computer camera.

Worried about someone peering at you through your computer’s built-in camera eye? Don’t mess with sticky tape-and-paper solutions. Just grab a chip clip from the kitchen drawer and pop it over the camera! Easy to remove and easy to remember — just clip it to something else you’re using (like your carry bag or sunglasses strap) to keep it nearby.

(c) copyright 2016 Laura Groch

Thrifty/Nifty: Five easy tips for food shopping

Marking dates on cans and bottles as they come into the pantry helps you keep rotating the older items to the front. Photo by Laura Groch

Marking dates on cans and bottles as they come into the pantry helps you keep rotating the older items to the front. Photo by Laura Groch

We’re well past the holiday hangover, but perhaps still paying the bills for it. I’m thinking we’re overdue for some Thrifty/Nifty tips to help make shopping and managing a kitchen a little easier:

— Look high when you choose  produce, especially when it’s piled high and deep. The stuff at the front, which is within everyone’s reach, is what’s been handled most. Reach farther back, or higher, in the pile to choose a pear or tomato or head of lettuce that hasn’t been bruised and battered by everyone else.

— Remember to look low on store shelves. We naturally scan shelves at eye level, Continue reading

Thrifty AND nifty — finding those perfect odds and ends

Revere Ware pot lids

Two Revere Ware lids are among the potential finds at this local thrift store. Photo by Laura Groch

It’s frustrating to break the glass lid of a Corningware or Calphalon pot, or lose a kitchen utensil to the chaos of the office potluck. But you might not have to lay out big money to buy replacement pieces.

If you’ve got some thrift stores in your city or town, you’d be surprised at the kitchen items you can find there for pennies. Caveat emptor (oh, look it up): The pieces might have some small chips or dings or dents in them that don’t affect Continue reading