The Great Cookie Sheet Hunt

It’s over now. The Great Hunt. I’ve found what I’ve been wanting. It took a long time; I’ve shopped all over town and online looking for the perfect cookie sheet, one that meets my very specific needs:

♦ Don’t always need to be greased, especially between batches of cookies

♦ Are big enough to hold up to 2 dozen cookies

♦ Won’t bake the oil, shortening or cooking spray right into the pan

♦ Are heavy duty enough not to bend and dent

I finally found them at Bed, Bath & Beyond. The Brand is USA Pan www.usapans.com  and having used them for a few weeks now, I’m sold.  They meet all my criteria and then some:

♦ They are silicone coated, but don’t look like it. (Don’t risk scratching with metal untensils.)

♦ Their ridged surface cleans like a charm. I don’t grease them and between batches ; simply rinse them with cold water and wipe with a paper towel. (Instructions say do not wash in the

dishwasher.) No matter;  they wouldn’t fit, anyway. A dishcloth and a little soap makes quick work of any cleanup.

♦ You can bake at a reduced temperature (as a rule of thumb, I go with 25° lower) and sometimes  for a shorter time period.

♦ There’s only one rimmed edge.  So there are no corners to get gunked up – hooray!  The one edge makes the whole pan appear larger. Plus they store so much easier. I have a stand up rack in the pantry and I just pull out the cookie sheet. Nothing else comes with it.

USA Pan cookie sheets cost more than most:  $18.00+ Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons come into my mailbox on a regular basis, so I never pay full price, but would be willing to because they are the best I’ve ever baked with.

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

Me and the 2013 Pima County Fair

The Pima County Fair is coming up soon and this year I entered cookies. My great aunt’s gingersnaps won a blue ribbon for me last year, so why not?

Hope runs high for the Lemon Drop Cookies. They have four sources of lemon flavor, including a glaze and it’s still not too much. Taste testers love them and maybe the judges will too.

“Everything” Cookies are a wonderful combination of many favorite flavors of other cookies: peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, coconut, pecans and raisins.

Cranberry Coconut cookies are sometimes considered a special cookie reserved for the holidays, but they’re yummy anytime, so they’re on the list, too.

Brownies aren’t really cookies, but these triple chocolate,  super rich and delicious-with-a-hint-of-coffee deserve to compete.

I’ll let you know how we (me and my cookies!) do.

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

Get Rid of Odors in Your Freezer

This tip is worth its weight in gold – if you should ever need it. Read on.

If you’ve ever had your power go out while you were away, you know how awful it is to try to get rid of the odor of spoiled food – especially meat – in your refrigerator or freezer.

It happened to us once and we tried EVERYTHING that didn’t work – all manner of cleansers, elbow grease, bleach, putting the appliance outside in the direct Arizona sun with the door removed. As a last resort, we called an appliance repair place and asked for advice. Here it is:

Pour fresh coffee grounds (canned is fine) onto a paper plate and place in the refrigerator or freezer plugged in and running with the door closed, for a few days.  While the odor is strong, discard and replace the coffee grounds  every couple of days.

It actually worked! It took a week and though very inconvenient, it was better than buying a new refrigerator. It’s a good idea to use an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator for light duty odor absorption. Replace every three or four months.

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

The Green Onion Experiment

I found this great idea on someone else’s blog. Sorry, I don’t remember whose, but I give you full credit! It’s about extending the life of your green onions and getting new tops from them.  It really works! It’s especially nice if you don’t normally use the white bulb part of a green onion.

Here’s the thing: After you’ve cut off and used the green tops, instead of throwing away the rooted bulb portions, stand them in a small glass of water, an inch or so deep. Leave them on the kitchen counter.

In less than a week, the onions will have grown new green shoots, ready for you to cut again. Check the water level every few days and keep the root balls covered.

Kids will love watching the onions grow;  I have to say it’s been fun for me, too, and very convenient. I just reach up, snip them off and toss them in the salad.

Happy snipping!

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

New in the Kitchen

Kitchen stores or departments are among my very favorite places to wander through and check out what’s new. There’s always something! On my last foray, I found the can-be-flattened kitchen tools now available include not only strainers of various sizes and types and measuring cups, but mixing bowls as well.

I think the brand name I was looking at was “Squish” – I love that! How appropriate for any kitchen without a lot of storage space – I’m thinking tiny apartment, mobile home, motor home or a poorly designed house without adequate cupboards, cabinets and drawers.

They’re brightly colored, non-breakable and look to be very practical. I haven’t bought any because I simply don‘t need them yet, but I’d love to hear what you think.

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

The Story of The Little White Lie Cake

I don’t know where this came from or if it’s even partly true, but it brings a smile to my lips every time I read it.  Enjoy!

Alice had promised to bake a cake for the elementary school’s Bake Sale, but forgot to do it until the last minute. She remembered the morning of the bake sale and after rummaging through cabinets, found an angel food cake mix and quickly made it while getting ready for work and helping her son pack for Scout camp. When Alice took the cake from the oven,  the center had dropped flat and the cake was horribly disfigured. She realized there was no time to bake another  cake.

 Being a woman of her word, Alice felt she had to deliver what she’d promised, so she looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake. She found it in the bathroom – a roll of toilet paper. She plunked it in the center of the cake and covered it with icing. Not only did the finished product look beautiful, it looked perfect.

 Before she left the house to drop off the cake and head for work, Alice gave her 10 year old daughter some money and instructions to be at the bake sale the moment it opened. “Buy my cake and bring it home.”

A short time later, Alice received a frantic phone call from her daughter. “Mom, your cake is gone! Somebody else bought it – I don’t know who!”

Alice was horrified – she was beside herself. Everyone would know! What would they think? How would she recover from this? All night, Alice lay awake in bed thinking about people laughing at her cake and talking about her behind her back.

Although she would have preferred to stay in bed with the covers pulled over her head, the next day Alice promised herself she would try not to think about the cake. She would go ahead and attend the bridal shower luncheon of a friend and try to have a good time. Besides, she realized, she didn’t have a good excuse to stay home. a single parent and not from the founding families of Tuscaloosa. But, having already RSVP’d, she couldn’t think of a believable excuse to stay home.

The meal was elegant and no one mentioned the bake sale. Just as Alice was starting to relax and enjoy herself, it was time for dessert. Her heart stopped when the hostess brought out  the cake in question. She started to get out of her chair to tell the hostess all about it, but before she could get to her feet, the mother of the bride said, “What a beautiful cake!”

Alice, still stunned, sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess say, “Thank you, I baked it myself.”

On Drinking Water Before Dinner

Everybody knows that water is good for you and we should drink more of it and less coffee, soda, wine, etc.  We’ve heard for years that drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal will help curb the appetite by making us feel full and we won’t eat as much.

An article I read recently said that water alone doesn’t reduce hunger.  But put it in soup and consume a cupful and you will feel less hungry. (If I have a cup of soup I’ll want to postpone eating for an hour or two!)

Your mom probably told you chicken soup is good for you. And it is. But think about this:  In a university study in Pennsylvania, researchers reported that eating chicken and rice soup curbed the appetite better than eating a chicken and rice casserole (with the same ingredients) and drinking a glass of water with it.

I don’t quite know how that works, but it’s interesting. Maybe I’ll try it one of these days.

Jean
“Your friend in the kitchen”

A Special Recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie

Thanks to the good friend who passed on to me an old cook book that belonged to her grandmother. It was published by the Grand Union Tea Company sometime after 1872, and is identified as The Young Wifes’ Own Cook Book,  “a practical cookery book of today, with minute directions on how to buy, dress, cook, serve and carve, with 300 standard recipes…”

One of my favorites so far is for Lemon Meringue Pie. (In the book it’s actually spelled “maringue”,) but it’s the method of preparation that I found most interesting.  Here’s the recipe right from the book, including punctuation:

“Boil three lemons until they are soft enough for a straw to penetrate the rind, mash them up fine with a tablespoon of butter, one cup and a half of powdered sugar, and the yolks of six eggs; make a thin crust, put in the mixture and bake it; when cool, beat up the whites of the eggs with one and a half cups of powdered sugar and spread it over the pie; brown it a nice color.”

There you have it. An entire recipe in one sentence, in one paragraph.  The young wives of yesteryear must have known a lot more about cooking when they got married than recent generations, me included.

I will try this one day and let you know how it comes out!

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

Blue Ribbons at the State Fair

For the first time, I entered food products (2 yeast breads and 4 jams & jellies) in the Arizona State Fair. Judging was done within 24 hours and I learned that both of the breads – Rosemary & Cottage Cheese – were awarded blue ribbons. The Apricot Pineapple Marmalade earned a red ribbon.

I love it when people like what I cook!

 

Celebrate Date Night

Let’s hear it for Date Night!

I was recently approached by a young professional who said, “I’m past due for Date Night; I’d like to bring my wife to one of  your cooking parties.”

He planned the evening as a surprise, invited another couple to join them, and didn’t tell anyone where they were going.

They showed up hungry, as instructed, and we got acquainted over Brown Bread with Dates & Raisins and Sparkling Cider. Everyone participated: whipped the cream, chopped the fruits and vegetables and even cooked the broccoli/pepper/jicama side dish. Whoever was on the other side of the counter got to supervise:  checking instructions, verifying ingredient amounts and monitoring cooking times.

As the mother of sons and wife of someone who considers himself “strictly a consumer” when it comes to food, it was fun to have two guys volunteer to work in the kitchen. (The wives snapped pictures to have a permanent record.)

Besides the veggie side dish, we made Chicken Saltimbocca, Fruit & Veggie Pasta Salad and Lemon Ice Cream for dessert. Rosemary Bread was baked earlier in the day.

We all sat down to eat, talk and laugh like old friends and it was 9:30 before we knew it.

It was all about what they wanted to celebrate, but it turned out to be Date Night for us, too. What do you want to celebrate?

Your friend in the kitchen,

Jean

 

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