This morning I woke up to a little fog and a 40 something degree temperature. The fog burned off and left behind a crisp, blue sky. The weather forecast promised a high temperature of no more than 62 degrees. While it might be a couple of days early, this is, in my opinion, the perfect fall day. As happens every year, I find myself craving foods that highlight warm spices such as cinnamon and ginger. It’s been my experience that fresh ginger satisfies the craving for warm spice much more than dried ginger. However, for years I stayed away from the fresh stuff because it seemed to shrivel up long before I could use it all. Then I discovered the secret to making fresh ginger root last a really long time. Store ginger in the freezer and it will last for months. First, peel the ginger (it’s easier to use a teaspoon than a paring knife) then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place it into a freezer storage bag or airtight container and put it into the freezer. As a recipe calls for it, remove the ginger from the freezer and slice it or grate it using a microplane. It is not necessary to thaw the ginger before slicing or grating. As a matter of fact, you want to be sure not to let the ginger thaw, which can happen within 5-10 minutes. Therefore, don’t remove the ginger from the freezer until you are ready to use it and be sure to return it as soon as you are done. Ginger will stay in the freezer for six months or more. Add a little spice to your fall!
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The more you cook your own meals the more adventurous you become. As you peruse cook books and magazines looking for new recipes, it is not unusual to get all excited about a potential dish only to be stymied by one ingredient that you have never had in your pantry. It doesn’t make penny-pinching sense to purchase a new ingredient that you may never use again. Before you run to the grocery and purchase a 15 oz jar of an ingredient for which the recipe only requires 1 teaspoon, determine whether or not there is a reasonable substitution available. This same thought process applies to perishable ingredients that you don’t use often enough and will go bad before the expiration date. For instance, recipes for pancakes and biscuits often call for buttermilk. Since I don’t use buttermilk for any other purpose I never purchase buttermilk. Otherwise, I would be throwing away money along with the expired buttermilk. Instead, I use a substitution. (Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let stand 5 minutes.)
So, think outside the recipe box and keep on cookin’!!
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