Tag Archives: tips

Happy Earth Day!

In celebration of Earth Day, here are a couple of tips for being a little more “green” everyday.

  • Wash clothes less often – Wait until you have a large load to run the washing machine. And then, wash with cold water. Save those bright whites until you actually have a full load.
  • Plant something! – As important as it is to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, it is equally as important to have plants to absorb it all!
  • Iron less – Ironing uses an unbelievable amount of energy. To keep clothes wrinkle free, fold while still warm from the dryer. If there is something that is still a bit creased, hang in the bathroom while showering and the steam will help bring out the wrinkles.
  • Avoid anti-bacterial soaps – Using these soaps ultimately leads to the development/growth of antibiotic-resistant super germs. Many of these products contain the compound triclosan, which is also used in hospitals for its bacteria-busting power. The trouble is, many scientists are worried that such widespread overuse of triclosan is likely to render it useless, as microbes may develop resistance to it, as well as possibly other similar antibiotics.
  • Switch to paper-less billing – Pay utility and credit card bills online to limit the number of trees wasted on paper that you ultimately throw in the trash.
  • Finally, get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Take a hike, plant a garden, walk to work – whatever it is, be proud to do your share in keeping the Earth beautiful for generations to come!
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Filed under Events, Gardening, Healthy, holiday, Home Keeping, How To

In Print: Clips from Food Sections

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5. – The Chicago Tribune Meatloaf Making Tricks “Which brings us to that other perfect meatloaf. It can be found on Nantucket, where it is lost on the summer residents and overlooked by tourists who jam the cobblestone streets from June to Labor Day. But among locals it is legend, and can be found at a shack called Claudette’s on the east rim of the island. It also is a fine example of how meatloaf need not be for winter.”

4. – The Boston Globe Foods we obsess over “A food obsession can revolve around something luxurious – like French bubbly or grass-fed steaks. But we think it’s more likely that whatever strikes your fancy is considerably more ordinary. We know people obsessed with certain jams and the perfect kind of toast to spread them on, with melons at a particular point of ripeness, with a blend of coffee, or a cake to go with it. From time to time, we’ll feature an obsession and after some tinkering in the kitchen, perhaps a recipe too.”

3. – The LA Times Wine Decanting: Give wines some air “Air is one of the most talked about but most misunderstood elements in wine. We say a wine needs to “breathe” as if it just needs a few minutes to freshen itself up, releasing its seductive perfume. In fact, most wines have been waiting years just to cast off a little gas.”

2. – The NY Times Freeze that Thought “I know: you do. In that messy box you have some ice cubes, some stuff you bought frozen — a pizza? Lean Gourmet? peas? — and maybe, if you cook a lot, some stock or hastily stored leftovers. You also have a load of things you’ve already forgotten about and will eventually toss, even though you would have been guilt-struck if you had discarded them when they were fresh.”

1. – The Washington Post If Big Mama Could See Me Now “Girl, I’ll probably take some heat for this, but I’m going to say it anyway: Far too many of us view cooking as subservient. We — and I can say that because I was once one of you — proudly tell prospective husbands that we don’t do cooking.”

photo from The LA Times

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How to: Make Hard Boiled Eggs

dscn2473While my husband was away for work, he called to ask me how to hard boil eggs. Now this might sound a bit ridiculous, but he realized that though he’s often in the kitchen while I’m making most things, he never pays attention to exactly what I’m doing.  So, honey, here you go… My tips for perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs!

1. Figure out how many eggs you want to make, then get a pot that is big enough they all fit in one level in the bottom with a little room to move around while cooking.  This may be the only time you hear this, but using eggs that are a few days older is better – as eggs age, the membrane pulls away from the shell, making it much easier to peel off the shell after cooking.

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Filed under Food, Healthy, How To

Turkey Day Countdown: The Timeline

turkeyIn most families, there’s no diverging from the classic Thanksgiving menu of turkey and all the trimmings.  And we say cheers to that!  With many of the beloved foods gracing the table just once a year with this sort of fanfare, replacing them with untried and newfangled creations could be a disaster.  In our family, it’s the recipes that have been passed down for ages that tend to be the biggest crowd-pleasers.  And with just over a week to go until the much anticipated turkey day, we’re hoping to help you out with some of our best tips and tricks for a delicious and enjoyable day of giving thanks!

It’s not to early to start on the preparations for the big day.  Now’s the time to get your timeline in place and plan the menu.  Here’s our rough overview for planning out the days until Thanksgiving.

T-Minus 7-10 Days

  • Plan the menu – Put together your list of what you’ll be serving along with any dishes that other guests have offered to bring.  And hopefully, you’ve already ordered the turkey, but if you haven’t yet, hurry!!!
  • Purchase the non-perishables – if you buy them now, they’ll be in your pantry and if you forget something, you can still pick it up when getting the last minute items.
  • Make pie dough – If you’re making pies, it’s a great time to make the dough.  Roll it out, put it in the pie dish, wrap well and freeze.  For slabs of dough to top a pie, perhaps apple, press into a 1″ thick round disk and wrap well in plastic wrap then freeze.

T-Minus 4-6 Days

  • Purchase any alcohol – Might as well stock the wine shelves and liquor cabinet now.  It’s one less stress for later.
  • Polish silver – If it doesn’t get much use, chances are your silverware is in need a little buffering.  Don’t leave it until the last minute or it won’t happen.
  • Begin defrosting the turkey – Depending on the weight of your bird, if it is frozen, it’s best to allow 4-5 days to let it defrost in the fridge.  You’ll need to allot 5 hours for every pound of turkey.

T-Minus 3 Days

  • Cranberry sauce – Go ahead and make this.  It keeps well in the fridge and if you’re including other flavors, such as orange zest, the flavors will meld better after sitting a couple of days.

T-Minus 2 Days

  • Iron the linens – Wash and press your linens.
  • Set the table – It’s a good idea to begin to set the table a couple of days before.  Whether it’s locating your missing crystal vase or purchasing an extra set of China, don’t leave it to the last minute.

T-Minus 1 Day

  • Flowers – Pick up or put together your table arrangements.  One day of sitting out will allow the flowers to open to be a little fuller.  Be sure to water them well as flowers are always thirsty after changes in temperature.
  • Give the turkey some attention – Prep the turkey (but do not stuff), and store in the refrigerator. If brining, begin the process this morning.
  • Shopping – Pick up all perishables and any other products from the grocery store… Chances are the later you go the more madness you’ll encounter!
  • Desserts –  Defrost pie dough; assemble and bake pies along with preparing any other desserts.
  • Potatoes – If mashing, peel and store in a large pot of cold water in the fridge.
  • Salad – Clean and dry salad greens, and store in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Wine – Put in the fridge or wine cellar to chill.
  • Side dishes – Prepare anything that can be put together and chilled in the fridge until baking tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Day!!!

  • Breads – Start the day by whipping up your bread dough.  Bake by lunchtime and then just warm while making the gravy.
  • Turkey – Remove turkey from fridge 2 hours before putting in the oven to bring to room temperature.  Bake until the temperature of the turkey at the thigh, which is the thickest part. If the thermometer reads 180 degree.  After removing from oven the turkey will need to sit for 30 minutes (just enough time to make gravy) to let the juices settle into the meat.
  • Stuffing – Prepare and put in turkey immediately before putting turkey in the oven.
  • Side dishes – Prepare anything that couldn’t be prepared the day before.  Bake and keep warm until the turkey is ready.  This includes cooking and mashing the potatoes.
  • Gravy – Prepare while turkey is resting.
  • Enjoy!  Grab a glass of wine and enjoy dinner with your family and friends!

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Filed under entertaining, Food, holiday, How To, Tip of the Day

Container Gardening

Living in the city can provide a challenge for gardening at home, but I am here to tell you having a plentiful bounty throughout the summer on your front steps or balcony is possible! Here are some of my tips and tricks for successful container gardening…

  • Think about how much sunlight your container garden area will get. Most veggies and herbs need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Herbs tolerant to partial shade include cilantro, dill, chives, marjoram and mint.
  • When purchasing containers, plastic will retain water better than terra cotta, though terra cotta is prettier. Make sure pots are large enough to support the root system of what you are planting. Also make sure the pots have proper drainage holes – this means 2-3 holes and the pot should be elevated an inch or two by little feet.
  • Do not use top soil or dirt directly from your garden! Use a high-quality potting medium as the plants will need all the nutrients from a potting soil.
  • Fertilizing is a must for container gardens. Because you will be watering so often, nutrients are quickly depleted from the soil. Once every other week, apply a diluted water-soluble fertilizer. I like to use it in half-strength concentration.
  • Water and water again! All containers, regardless of material, dry out quickly. To be safe, check pots daily. If the soil is dry at 1″ depth, they need to be watered. The best time is early morning as water on the leaves in the middle of the hot day will burn the leaves and watering at night can increase the chances of developing mildew. Placing a little mulch on top of the soil will help retain moisture.
  • When choosing what to plant, look for high-yielding and dwarf varieties of vegetables and fruits. Remember that tall or sprawling vegetables have huge root systems and will only bear well if their roots have enough room. Be careful not to crowd herbs or veggies when planting or their growth will be stunted.

Happy Gardening!

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