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Tips of the trade shared again & peach ice cream

By Peggy Walker, R.D.

Today’s Special

Call them what you will…memes, hacks, helps, or tips, I’m sharing a few again. I still prefer to call them tips and they can help make life easier in the kitchen and the cook happier.  In no particular order….

*  Sift powdered sugar to remove lumps, it will blend more smoothly.

* 1 pound of confectioners’ sugar = slightly more than 4 cups.

* As a rule of thumb, when a recipe calls for “butter” use unsalted, especially if salt is added to the recipe.

* Butter absorbs flavors like a sponge in the refrigerator: use opened packages of butter within 3 weeks; unopened salted butter will stay fresh up to 12 weeks (salt is a preservative) and unsalted butter for 8 weeks.

*1 cup whipping or heavy cream will make 2 cups of whipped cream.

* A chilled metal bowl and beaters will make whipping cream stiffen quicker and hold up longer.

*Do not hit beaters on the side of bowl to remove whipped cream; that causes the air that you just beat in to escape and your lovely whipped cream to deflate.

* Brush a cold grill with vegetable oil (not olive oil though) to prevent sticking.

* Dried herbs are at least 3 times as strong as fresh herbs, so use only 1 teaspoon of a dried herb to substitute for 1 tablespoon of fresh. Soak dried herbs in lemon juice or wine before using to bring out the flavor. Drain off liquid that is not absorbed.

* To avoid overcooking and to ensure the fullest flavor, add herbs only in the last 30 minutes of cooking.

*For a creamier soup stir in a 13 ounce can evaporated milk.

*For soup in a hurry: blend equal portions of your favorite marinara or pasta sauce with half & half and heat until thoroughly heated. Just needs crusty French bread.

*A “pinch” equals as much as can be taken up between the tip of your pointer finger and thumb, usually about ⅛ teaspoon.

* Read ingredient lists carefully, understand modifiers. For example: “1 cup rice, cooked” means you are to cook 1 cup rice for the recipe but “1 cup cooked rice” means one cup of rice that has already been cooked.  That’s about a 2 cup difference in how these ingredients are worded which could make a big difference in the outcome of a recipe.

*To find the best cantaloupe use your nose: if perfectly ripe it will have a sweet fruity aroma, a rather rough netted texture and be a tad soft at the blossom end.

* Sniff pineapples on the bottom to find the most flavorful. If one doesn’t smell like a pineapple, it’s probably tasteless.

*Cold eggs seem to separate more easily. Let egg whites come to room temperature, though, before beating into a meringue.

*You will get 1 cup of grated cheddar (or similar textured cheese, but not hard cheeses) from a 4-ounce block; and cold cheese grates easier than at room temperature.

*When a recipe specifies a certain skillet or pan size, measure skillets and baking pans across the top, not the bottom.  Difference in sizes will alter cooking times and outcome of the recipe.

*Stir flour with a spoon or whisk to break up clumps before measuring.  Spoon, don’t scoop, flour into a dry-measuring cup. Let it mound slightly, then level it off with a straight edge. Do not shake the cup to level flour because you will end up packing in too much.

*As a rule of thumb, when salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon of table salt for every 4 quarts of water.

* Microwave a medium sized lemon for at least 10 seconds (20 seconds for large lemons) on high before squeezing. The heat helps the lemon release more of its juice.

And one more.  Happy Birthday to DW!  And many more to my sweetheart, my travel buddy, my handyman, my calm in the storm, and my best friend.

Recipe of the Week

Peachy Good Ice Cream

When you find fresh peaches, eat a few, then make ice cream!

4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and mashed before measuring

3 ½ cups sugar

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 pint heavy cream

¼ teaspoon salt

Milk

Mix peaches, sugar, and lemon juice. Slowly blend in cream; add salt. Place mixture in ice cream freezer; add milk to fill line and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fat free milk will make a lower fat version; low fat works well too; and whole milk makes a very creamy ice cream, but all are good.