We all have heard or thought of cooking tips that can make our lives easier, so here are a few new ones for the summer of 2013 to help you stay excited about cooking in all this heat and humidity!
Keep it fresh, keep it exciting
1) How can I keep my lettuce from wilting once I pick it or after I buy it at the store?
When we pick lettuce from our garden it basically turns into a wet Kleenex in hours because it is not designed for longevity and travel. My husband has tried several techniques but this one works best:
Once the lettuce has been harvested, wash thoroughly with the coldest water possible, then soak the lettuce in ice water for 10 minutes in your sink.
Drain the sink and place the lettuce in a salad spinner. Spin out the excess moisture and put the lettuce in Ziploc bags with a piece of paper towel in it. Keep refrigerated for 3-4 hours and the lettuce will go from limp to happy and perky in just a few hours! Even if your store-bought lettuce looks totally dead, refresh it and bring it back to life with this simple and effective technique. It works!
2) How do I keep my guacamole fresh?
Guacamole tastes great when it is made fresh and the best way to keep it from turning brown is simply to add citrus juice. Whether it is the juice of half a lemon or a lime, both work wonders in keeping the avocado looking appetizing and delicious for many hours!
Try making homemade kale chips! Not only is this snack fun and easy to make from scratch, kale chips are good for you! Rich In antioxidants, kale helps to lower your cholesterol, is known as a cancer prevention food, and lowers your risk of heart disease.
One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals- copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
To make kale chips, wash the kale well and then dry as much as possible using a salad spinner.
Simply cut the kale into 2 inch pieces, sprinkle with sea salt and olive oil, and roast slowly for 20 minutes at 275 degrees.
They are a delicious and nutritious alternative to fattening, empty calorie potato chips and are so easy to make and even more fun to eat! Even your kids will like this cool new snack!
4) Now that you have either grown or collected all the amazing herbs available to enhance your summer meals, what can you do with the extras?
The answer is simple…get several empty plastic ice cube trays and fill each section with ½ “ of virgin olive oil and a dash of sea salt. Chop each herb and mix them into the cubes of olive oil. Label each row with a sharpie marker and save them for the fall and winter so you can easily have them on hand to enhance every meal! You can do this with tarragon, basil, oregano, chives, dill, parsley, rosemary, thyme and sage, all of which are growing in my garden right now!
You can plant each of these herbs in 6-inch pots if you do not have a full garden to plant them in and they will continue to provide you with pleasure all year round!
5) Do you love mushrooms as much as we do?
There are so many fresh varieties beyond the generic white cap mushroom (i.e. crimini, trumpet, hen of the woods, shitake, porcini, chanterelle, oyster and truffle) and many more that are dehydrated as well. When I cannot get these amazing mushrooms fresh I sometimes give in and buy them dehydrated. A simple slow simmer in hot water on the stove to bring dried mushrooms back to life will bring out the flavor of these amazing gems of the woods. Better yet, once you revitalize these mushrooms, you can save the precious mushroom broth in the same ice cube trays as your herbs and use those cubes for sauces and pastas in the future! Just freeze them all together with the herbs and pop them out as needed for great sauces, pastas and additions to poultry,pork, beef and lamb.
Keep it simple
These are simple yet effective tips for the summer that will simplify your life. A small investment of time and materials will give you a huge return, especially when these items are out of season in the winter. It is a great way to bring that summer freshness back to life when the winter doldrums set in. This year you will be prepared with all those great herbs to rejuvenate your wonderful home cooked meals!