Thursday, May 27, 2010
Cooking - Tips and Substitutions
Egg Substitute - (for use in baking) Combine 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin with 3 Tbl of cold water and then another 2 Tbl plus 1 tsp of boiling water. This will take the place of one egg in recipes for cookies, cakes, etc.
Meat Substitutes and Extenders - You can use cooked wheat, cracked or whole, in spaghetti sauces, pizza, Sloppy Joes, soups, etc. You can also add it to your ground beef for meat loaf, taco filling or hamburger patties when you don't have quite enough. Whole grain wheat berries are about 15% protein, on the average. Wheat germ can also be added to recipes, and contains about 23% protein. Millet is another grain that is high in protein, like wheat, and can be used as a substitute or extender with meat recipes.We like cooked millet with milk and honey for a hot breakfast cereal.
Boiled Eggs - To keep the shells from cracking while boiling, add a dash of salt to the water before you start.
Tupperware Stains - Spray your Tupperware or other plastic containers with cooking oil before you put tomato sauces in them and they won't stain.
Over-Salted Soup - If you give your pot of soup the taste-test and find it's way over-salted, peel a potato and drop it in the soup raw. It will absorb salt into itself. Leave it in until you're left with just the right amount of flavor.
Stained Fingers - Speaking of potatoes - I'm told that rubbing a slice of raw potato on your fingers will usually take stains off them.
Buttermilk - Buttermilk isn't something I use very often, so every now and then when I get a hankerin' to make buttermilk pancakes or something, I don't usually have any. Well, I discovered you can make your own. 1 Tbl of vinegar or lemon juice added to enough milk to make 1 cup, let it stand for 5 minutes, and whalaa! You have buttermilk.
Powdered Sugar/Confectioners Sugar - Put 1 cup of sugar in the blender and blend it up. Commercial products usually have corn starch added. If you want to more closely imitate that taste and consistency, add 1 Tbl of corn starch to the sugar when blending.
"Dusting" the Cake Pan - I never liked that look of gooey white flour on the sides of my cake or brownies. That's easily remedied by dusting the cake pan with a little bit of the dry cake mix instead. Or, if you're making a chocolate cake or brownies, you can dust the pan with some cocoa powder.
Measuring Sticky Stuff - Run your measuring spoons or cups under hot water before measuring molasses, honey or syrups, and the sticky stuff will all come off clean. Or, coat them with oil first.
Separating Eggs - If you have trouble separating eggs, use a small funnel. Crack the egg into it - the white will run through and the yolk will stay in the funnel.
Maple Syrup - I don't buy imitation maple syrup because it's basically High Fructose Corn Syrup with flavoring. HFCS is REALLY not good for you. Real maple syrup is extremely expensive. When I can't spare the money to buy it, I buy Mapleine at the grocery store. It's a natural maple extract mixed with some of the usual not-so-natural things. The little 2 oz. bottle will make 24 pints of syrup and costs about $4. You make the syrup with boiling water, sugar, and the Mapleine. I wouldn't call it a healthy "food" but this is one of those times when I'm happy to use good ole' regular sugar, because it's much preferable to the alternative. It has a real good maple flavor, is very inexpensive to buy, and is a great storage item.(Hint - make small batches that will get used right away. It tends to "sugar" on the bottom of the jar as it sits in the fridge.)
Some of these tips I've used, and some I haven't yet. They're all taken from various sources of information I keep on hand for food storage, cooking and other things. One of my favorite sources is a book my mother gave me a couple years ago, called Jumbo Jack's Helpful Hints Almanac. It's only $4.99 on Amazon, and worth every penny! I hope some of these ideas can make your life a little easier.