Posts

Have you ever discovered you’re all out of a certain ingredient just when you’re in the middle of preparing a recipe? I hate when that happens. And I know myself well enough that I don’t want to run to the store.

For me, an unscheduled trip like that could easily cost $40, maybe more. That’s just how impulsive I can be. I’ve learned that when I’m in a pinch— I need a pinch-hitter!

 

40857321_m

 

Here is my list of cooking and baking substitutes that I refer to often:

Need an egg

Combine two tablespoons of water, two tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Thicken gravy

If you’re out of flour, you can substitute pancake mix up to three tablespoons. It works well, just don’t go over three tablespoons or your guests will be looking for the maple syrup.

Breadcrumbs

Crumble 1/2 slice of bread and mix 1/4 cup broken crackers to substitute.

Baking powder

For each teaspoon of baking powder, substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Baking soda

You need to use 2 to 3 times more double-acting baking powder than baking soda. Replace acidic liquid ingredient in the recipe with non-acidic liquid, i.e. water instead of vinegar or lemon juice, etc.

Buttermilk

Combine one cup of fresh milk and one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Read more

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage does seem like the only thing to do.

But wait! Provided it hasn’t begun to grow mold, you really can turn leftover bread, rolls, or baguettes into something deliciously awesome.

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

26006816_m

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Read more

Recently, I dropped off several out-of-prescription eyeglasses at a Walmart Vision Center, just one of many collection centers around the country that partner with Lions Clubs to collect old eyeglasses for those in need at home and medical missions abroad.

With the cost of prescription eyeglasses equaling a year’s salary in some countries, donated eyeglasses are the best hope for bringing sight to many visually impaired people who could simply not afford the cost.

The attendant kindly asked, however, that I not leave the cases.

031015image

My first thought was to toss the cases into the trash on the way out and just be done with it. But it didn’t feel right. There just had to be a way to give new life to these sturdy, protective cases.

Some quick research turned up these clever ideas:

Electronic accessories

An eyeglasses case is a perfect size for headphones, charging cord for the typical mobile device. No more tangled mess.

031015image4_Details-Etc
Photo Credit: Details-Etc.

Sewing kit

Travel-size thread, scissors, needles, pins, and so on fit easily inside one of these cases. Gluing a couple of magnets in the lid helps to keep sharp items in place so they’re handy.

Photo credit: Sulky

Photo Credit: Sulky

Read more

It was a weird request. My friend Mary Ann asked if she could borrow some pickle juice. Huh? Who keeps pickle juice?

The purpose of pickle juice is to keep the pickles fresh and flavorful, so when the pickles are gone, out goes the juice, right? That’s a practice that makes Mary Ann go ballistic.

two-jars-of-pickle-juice-one-is-sweet-the-other-dill-and-please-dont-throw-them-out-because-pickle-juice-has-so-many-awesome-uses!

 

Here’s the deal: Mary Ann is famous for her potato salad. She makes ten pounds at a time and it disappears faster than homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. Her secret (which she confides to only a chosen few*) is sweet pickle juice. Not pickles, not relish—only the juice. And lots of it.

So, I wondered if there might be other uses for the briny stuff? A quick search of the multiple thousands of tips readers have sent to me over the years plus research online came up amazingly positive!

Really, I had no idea that pickle juice had so many health benefits or could be used in so many ways in the kitchen.

In the Kitchen

Meat tenderizer

Most marinades to tenderize meat contain the key ingredients of vinegar and salt. Adding things like garlic, salt, pepper, even a bit of sugar improve the flavor and end result. Bingo! Those are common ingredients in pickle juice—either sweet or dill. Use the pickle juice to tenderize and flavor pork or beef—especially if you’re dealing with a particularly tough cut

Sweet pickled chops

Arrange four pork chops in a shallow pan and sprinkle with salt. Place a slice of onion and a tablespoon of catsup on the top of each. Pour 1/2 cup of sweet pickle juice around chops. Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Yum! Read more

I know “hate” is a strong word, but that’s how I feel about trash. Can’t stand it. But my loathing for trash is nothing compared to Lauren Singer, who has been trash-free for two years. It’s hard to imagine such a thing, but after hearing her story, she’s got my attention.

The entire amount of trash Lauren has produced in 24 months fits into a pint-size Mason jar.

042115image1

photo credit: TrashIsForTossers

I can’t say I’m anywhere close to Lauren when it comes to trash. I’m in that stage where I need a proper trash receptacle strategically located by my desk and in every other room of the house and garage as well. The most important receptacle is in the kitchen. It needs to be substantial in size, handy by location, as attractive as possible, impeccably clean and covered.

I have tested, tried and or reviewed every kind of trash receptacle in my search for the most perfect product out there. I have come to the well-educated opinion that stainless steel trash cans by Simple Human are the very best. I have the 30-litre/8 gallon round step can model in my kitchen.

042115image2

This beauty fits in a corner, against a wall—just about anywhere. It has a removable rigid liner for easy cleaning. The steel pedal is sturdy and the lid gives a smooth, silent close every time. It does not show fingerprints—also a big deal for me. Read more

Revisions

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing food in the garbage that is past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. So what can you really do with leftover bread, rolls or baguettes that will turn them into something great, almost if by magic?

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

26006816_m

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Read more