Clean and Lubricate Your Can Opener with Wax Paper

Ever since I’ve had a kitchen to call my own, wax paper has been a staple in it. It’s always been my go-to for keeping food from sticking and occasionally as the medium for preserving beautiful fall leaves! But other than those uses, it pretty much sits in a drawer. That is until I discovered these ingenious ideas for utilizing this inexpensive kitchen staple!

From speeding up snow shoveling time to getting a zipper unstuck, check out these creative ways to use it around the house.

Source: 16 Smart Uses for Wax Paper

Freeze your bacon using wax paper. Fold in rashers, accordion-style, then place it in a freezer bag. I eat the stuff on the weekends, but even a small package tends to spoil before I finish. When you’re ready, all you have to do it tear off as much as you’ll eat and put the rest back in the freezer. You can either let the retrieved bacon thaw (doesn’t take too long) or throw it right on the fire. If you cook it right away, though, it will be a little chewy. If you prefer it on the crisp side, let it sit out for a bit.

Also, go ahead and scrub your can opener with a toothbrush. That stuff next you think is rust? It may be old food…. eww. I thought mine had just rusted or changed color with age- nope!

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Freeze Cranberry Sauce and Gravy for The Best Thanksgiving Croissants Possible

Making Thanksgiving croissants is a three-day process. I started making the compound butter two days ago. I paddled together butter and Thanksgiving spices: dried sage, dried thyme, granulated onion, onion powder, salt, sugar, pepper, and a little turmeric for color. We developed the recipe from looking at the ingredient list for Stovetop stuffing.

Source: How to Make Thanksgiving Croissants

Lots assume that there will be a lot of leftover gravy. In my experience, gravy always runs out long before the turkey does, and I often have to cobble together substitutes for that first yummy batch with the meat dripping and carving juices.  So if you run out:

Roast and then simmer the giblets with veggies to get some flavorful broth to add to the pan drippings. Start with a (I know, it’s horrible) store-bought stock, dissolve flour or cornstarch in water, add it to the boiling stock, then add the giblet stock and pan drippings. If you use decent quality store stock, you won’t notice the difference and you can make half a gallon of gravy.  Or buy a couple of turkey thighs or legs and roast them a few days ahead and store the deglazed pan drippings in the freezer until the big day.

Whole-Grain Flour Has a Short Shelf Life, So Freeze It

Let’s just say you were unable to resist the temptation of the bulk bin aisle, and you’ve arrived home with a half-dozen baggies filled with everything from quinoa flour to einkorn. These things happen, but not to worry, because you have plans — big plans! — for baking all sorts of wondrous things in the coming weeks.

Okay, you eager-beaver baker, you — do you know where you should be storing all your lovely bags of whole-grain flour until your schedule clears? Do you know why?

Source: Why You Should Probably Be Storing Your Whole-Grain Flours in the Freezer

Why should I care about it being in an air-tight container? Because even in the freezer, the fats will react (slowly) with oxygen and become rancid. In an air-tight container, the oxygen level will eventually drop too low for the reaction to continue, thus preserving the flour for a longer time than flour stored in the freezer and constantly exposed to fresh oxygen.

On the flip side, whole grain wheat has a shelf live of over 30 years if properly prepared, sealed and stored.  Just add a grinder for flour.

It’s the Flour, Not Just The Yeast, That Makes for Perfect Bread

Why do some wheat dough balls rise well and bake into perfect loaves while others are flat and hard as a brick? A new study says it’s as much about the flour as the yeast.

Source: It’s the Flour, Not Just The Yeast, That Makes for Perfect Bread

What about the water?  J. Kenji López-Alt from SeriousEats (and previously Cook’s Illustrated) wrote about performing a test concerning the effects of water on pizza crust.  They used multiple bottled waters, with different levels of dissolved solids as well as NYC tap water in the introduction of his new book. His panel of judges weren’t able to detect a significant difference between any of the crusts made with the different waters. At this point, I think it’s safe to say this is a myth or at least a very large degree of self-induced bias.

Roll Chocolate Pastries in Cocoa Powder Instead of Flour for More Chocolately Flavor

Be prepared to get your hands dirty and apply sprinkles liberally.

Source: 10 Tips from One Week as a Professional Baker

It also keeps chocolate cookies brown (or black). I frequently make black bat sugar cookies and they come out looking much better with cocoa powder instead of flour.

This Is How Bleached Flour Changes The Taste of Your Cakes

You’ve seen labels advertising “unbleached” flour. Few labels announce that their flour is “bleached,” but that’s exactly what happens to most white flour. It’s not just about the color, though—it’s an actual chemical change. Here’s how it works and why your cakes just wouldn’t taste the same without it.

Source: This Is How Bleached Flour Changes The Taste of Your Cakes

Baking is easy to get wrong because it is really just particularly finicky applied organic chemistry.  Cooking is an art. Baking, a science.

Succulent Science: The Role of Fats in Making a Perfect Pastry

Have you ever wanted to bake the perfect pie? No matter whether it is apple, pumpkin, chocolate, pecan or pumpkin, every good pie needs a well-made pie crust. If the pastry crust is heavy or chewy it can affect the taste of the whole pie. How do you make a pastry crust that is light and flaky? In this scrumptious science activity you will find out by investigating how the temperature of fat used (in dough) can affect a pastry’s texture and taste—all while baking your very own pastry crusts!

Source: Succulent Science: The Role of Fats in Making a Perfect Pastry

They ask you to look at samples under a microscope!  You’ve been warned.

Salad Spinner: 10 Alternate Uses

Those who eat a lot of salad probably swear by a salad spinner and use it often enough to justify the large amount of cabinet space it takes up. But there are those who need some more convincing to justify buying or keeping this bulky kitchen tool.

Here are 10 more ways to put a salad spinner to good use so it comes out of the uni-tasker pile and becomes a hardworking part of your kitchen!

Source: 10 Alternate Uses for Your Salad Spinner