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Cooking 101

Tips, Tricks and Tidbits of the Trade

Thursday, January 27, 2011

We did some digging into the depths of some old cookbooks and combined the information with some fun feedback from our subscribers to come up with a list of helpful household hints and hunches.

• Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store, if you leave them connected, they ripen faster.

• To easily remove burnt-on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stovetop-skillet will be much easier to clean.

• To get more juice out of your lemons and limes, make sure they're at room temperature and  roll them under your palm against the kitchen counter before squeezing.

• To see if an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh-if it rises to the surface, throw it away. Also, it's best to crack eggs on a flat surface, not against a rim.

• Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces. Actually, we take that back, who would have leftover wine?

• To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

• Use a turkey baster to "squeeze" your pancake batter onto the hot griddle - perfect shaped pancakes every time.

• Soak diced or sliced raw onions in ice water for 15 minutes to make them less pungent - ideal when adding to salads or sandwiches and you don't want an overwhelming onion bite.

• Using fresh bread later in the week? Cut the loaves in half and place in ziptop bags until ready to use.

• For super-simple deviled eggs, put cooked egg yolks and additional ingredients in a zip-top bag and seal. Mash until well combined. Slice one of the tips off of the bottom of the bag and squeeze mixture into the cooked egg white shells.

• To reheat pizza without creating a soggy mess in the microwave, heat it in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove over medium-low heat until warm. Cover with the lid to melt the cheese.

• To make scrambled eggs or omelets richer, add a couple of teaspoons of sour cream or heavy cream. Have leftover rice? Add to scrambled eggs to get more out of your eggs.

• To easily cut corn the cob,  place individual ears of corn inside a bundt pan, use a knife and the kernels fall right into the pan.

• If you're tired of your house reeking after a day of cooking in the crockpot, the best air freshener is that old-fashioned incense. Add a little Pink Floyd and you're golden!