Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 18, 2015

Recipe hacks, tips, and more!

Kay's Cooking Corner

Kay Bona

Social media has taken over the food business. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook have thousands of recipes, copycat recipes, tips, and food-hacks. While cookbooks used to be fine, collectable items, today, our up-and-coming chefs merely consider them to be “something my mother and grandmother had.”

Now-a-days, you look-up the recipe on your iPad, Smartphone, or other electronic device, set it securely in the colorful holder on the cabinet and get to cooking. When you’re finished, you just turn it off.

It’s so easy. Within two seconds or less, you can find what you want. There’s no rummaging through old hand-written recipes or index cards with “From Kay’s Kitchen to Yours” boldly and proudly printed across the top, or trying to find a certain recipe in the book collection you’ve accumulated over the years from various friends, vacation spots, churches, and family members. I have a chest full of them.

This just seems rather sad, doesn’t it? Agreed, it’s not as quick, but there’s a certain loss to it. However, life today is faster and easier. There’s no time to waste!

We have to work late for the boss, go to the gym, and run the kids to soccer, band, football, or dance. (And sometimes, all of them, depending on how many children you have!) You then have to check homework, meet with teachers in the evening, attend to weeknight church responsibilities – it’s a busy world.

There’s no main recipe today, but hopefully, I can get everyone up-to-speed with these tips, food hacks (hacks is America’s new favorite word) and other bits of quickness!

Need breakfast in a hurry? Try these scrambled eggs. They’ll be done before your toast!

Two Minute Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons shredded cheese

Salt, pepper, and any other herbs you choose to use

Coat a 12 ounce microwave-safe coffee mug or other dish with cooking spray. Add eggs and milk and beat until blended. Microwave on high for 45 seconds; stir. Microwave until eggs are almost set (30 to 45 seconds longer). Top with cheese and season with salt, pepper, and herbs.

Oops! Got a piece of eggshell in that mix? Wet your fingers before grabbing the shells.

Sealing your newly purchased quart of ice cream in a large gallon-size zip lock bag will keep it as soft as the day you purchased it. No more bent spoon!

Slow down rotting: Store tomatoes stem end down to keep them from spoiling as quickly. This prevents air from entering and moisture from exiting the scar where the tomato was once attached to the vine.

Give bananas a longer life by wrapping the end of the bunch with plastic wrap, or better yet, separate each banana. The plastic wrap blocks ethylene gases from releasing out of the stem, consequently ripening the fruit too fast.

Save cut fruit from browning. You’ve probably heard that a little squeeze of lemon juice can keep apple slices from turning. A mixture of one part honey and two parts water works just as well to keep fruit from browning. The citric acid and vitamin C in lemon juice as well as a peptide in honey slows down the oxidation process that causes discoloring.

Store plastic wrap in the fridge to keep it from wrestling with you when you’re trying to cover a bowl.

They’re known for hair-hackery, but shower caps are not limited to the bathroom. Cover leftovers with a fresh cap (right in their dishes) to keep foods fresh. They’re reusable and much easier than repeatedly removing and replacing plastic wrap or tin foil.

Easy-breezy cherries and strawberries. Place cherries on top of an empty bottle (Coke, etc.) one at a time, then use a chopstick to push the pit into the bottle. For strawberries, insert a drinking straw into the pointed end of the berry and push it thru to the leafy end. Continue pushing through until the leafy end is removed.

Keep pots from boiling over by placing a wooden spoon across a pot. Because wood is not a good material for conducting heat, the hot water strays away from the handle.

Want to rustle up some cookies before the kids get home, but you’re out of brown sugar? Then make your own! Here’s how:

Light Brown Sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses (I use Grandma’s brand.)

Add sugar to a medium bowl. Pour molasses over sugar. Use a fork to combine the molasses into the sugar. You can also use a whisk, wooden spoon, or an electric mixer. I’ve even used a blender.

Continue pressing fork into sugar until the molasses and brown sugar are fully combined and there are no molasses chunks left.

Store in a sealed re-sealable container. Use as needed.

Note: For light brown sugar, use one tablespoon molasses; for dark brown, use two tablespoons molasses.

My family loves bacon, but there’s nothing messier to cook on the stovetop, so I’ve found this oven method that makes perfectly browned and crisp bacon!

Crispy Baked Bacon

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place an oven safe cooling rack in the pan. Lay slices of bacon on the rack. Do not overlap the slices, or they will not cook properly.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-25 minutes. The length of time will vary based on the thickness of your bacon (thick cut takes longer) and the doneness you prefer.

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.