Backyard Chats

No Cupcake Papers?
September 9, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Food

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Even a well stocked kitchen falls short from time to time. No cupcake papers in the pantry? Simply grease each section, including the rims (generously) before adding the batter. Hot cupcakes taken directly from the oven will hold up better if they are allowed to cool a minute before removing from the pan.


Manual Drip Coffee Makers
August 31, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Food

Coffee pots for one person can be a counter hog. The solution…a single serving, manual drip coffee maker. Simple to “operate”,  easily stored, and inexpensive; less than $5. Know someone trying to go green? A drip coffee maker, cone (or hemp) filters and their favorite coffee grounds make a great gift. Find your way around the world of environmentally friendly coffee: Rainforest Certified,  Fair Trade, Bird Friendly, USDA Organic Coffee.

Disposing of Uncooked Meat Scraps
August 21, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Food

When the garbage pickup isn’t scheduled for another week, disposing of uncooked meat scraps can present a dilemma. Anyone tossing them into the kitchen trash is well aware of the potent aroma the following morning. A solution to the problem is to save bread bags for just such occasions. Using a wide felt tip pen, mark the bag “TRASH”. Place the meat scraps into the bread bag; tie the excess tail of the bag into a tight knot and toss in the freezer until the next pickup. Freezing the contents may also prevent all the neighborhood scavengers from ransacking the garbage cans.

Eat Seasonally
August 13, 2010, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Food

Are those tomatoes from Holland?!

If you could rack up points for the miles your food traveled, you’d probably have quite the vacation. For example, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s website, nearly 270 million  (that’s million) pounds of grapes travel 5,900 miles from Chile to Los Angeles releasing 7,000 tons of global warming pollution each year. Check out their website for an interactive list of what’s in season near you.

Stock vs. Broth
August 9, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Food

Stock or broth? Ever wonder which to grab at the supermarket?  For the home cook, the results from the use of either are basically the same.

Broth is made by simmering water, vegetables, seasonings, herbs and meat; then strained to provide a clear broth. (the meat can be reserved for other dishes) Broth is normally used as the base for soups, as a substitute for water in cooking rice and is used as the liquid in stuffing.

In stock, bones replace the meat, releasing gelatin and creating a richer flavor. A common practice in making stock is to first oven roast both the bones and vegetables to enhance the flavor of the stock. Stock is excellent in meat dishes and making gravies.

Not as convenient, but usually more flavorful (and less salty), homemade broth or stock is a  culinary ingredient worthy of the preparation time invested.

Fresh Baked Cookies – Anytime
August 1, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Food

With summer upon us and family schedules a little less than routine, homemade and convenience can still go hand in hand. When preparing cookie dough, double the recipe and stash pre-rolled cookies in the freezer. Need a quick snack or a dessert for a spur of the moment picnic? Cook as many or as few as you like. The aroma of fresh baked cookies always makes for fond memories.

Be sure to include baking and any other special  instructions on the container or lid to forego searching for the recipe each time. Using a dry erase marker works well and can be wiped off when the container is empty.

Recipe Organizing
July 4, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Food

Tend to forget which particular cookbook contains the family’s favorite recipe for Pumpkin Bread? Insert a card with the information in your recipe box for a quick and easy reference.