Feeling Tipsy

Hi, foodie friends! Today I'm feeling TIPsy or TIPpy. I'd like to share with you a few KITCHEN TIPS.

Keeping parsley fresh is incredibly easy. Wash a fresh bunch of parsley (or cilantro or basil), shake off the excess water and trim the tips on the bottom. Pour fresh tap water into a jar or large glass and set the herbs into the water. You can keep this herbal bouquet on your kitchen counter for about a week, but two weeks or longer in the refrigerator.

How to have your onion and keep it fresh longer.

Sometimes I need just a few slices of an onion. At other times, I would like to have half an onion ready to slice or chop. My Aunt Polly taught me this trick. Take a small glass or plastic resealable container, line it with a paper towel and put your onion (previously peeled) in there to keep in the veggie drawer of your refrigerator. It will last for up to two weeks. The paper towel absorbs any moisture and odor released by the onion and thus keeps it fresh for much longer than just wrapping it in foil or putting it in a ziplock. Now you always have an onion ready for all of your cooking needs.

My recipe calls for two tablespoons of chopped dill, but I don't have any, and I don't have time to run to the store! Help! Familiar scenario? If you can find it, buy a large bunch of fresh dill, wash it, dry it well and wrap it in plastic wrap or put it into a freezer bag with the air pushed out as you seal it. Put it in the freezer. Next time you need fresh dill for a recipe, pull out your frozen herb bouquet and slice off what you need. Put the remainder back in the freezer for next time. This will keep for one month. Of course, if you need fresh dill to garnish with, you're out of luck because the herb will wilt once it's out of the freezer drawer, but for a salad or a cooked dish, this method works very well. I've tried this with mint and oregano also with great success. Again, thank you, Aunt Polly!

Refrigerate potatoes? Yes, both white and sweet potatoes will last much, much, much longer in the refrigerator. Put them in a colander or wrap in paper or kitchen towels and place them in the main part of the refrigerator or the vegetable drawer.

Sage can be dried and then removed from woody stems before storing.
Oregano washed and laid out on a towel to dry.

Rosemary, ready for chilling out.

Drying fresh herbs. This is one of the oldest methods for preserving herbs, and it's so, so simple. Gather ye fresh herbs while ye may. Next, wash them, shake off excess water and set them on a kitchen towel to dry. This will take one to two weeks. Remove the dried leaves from the stems and store them in a plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. A sealable plastic bag works also. That's it. When you need the dry version of these herbs, rub some between the palms of your hands onto a paper towel.

Handling Avocados. They are incredibly sensitive little guys. But once you get to know their likes and dislikes, they're easy to get along with. Buy a few at your favorite grocery and, if they're very firm (not ripe) set them on your kitchen window ledges. We have a big pass-through from the kitchen sink to the dining room--that's where mine go. Some people put them in a brown paper bag. I find that I can get the same results without the bag. On a daily basis, touch them gently at the thinner end to see if there's a little give. If not, test again a day later, and continue until it's just right. Store in the veggie drawer of your refrigerator, but don't put heavier vegetables on top. If others in your home are not into treating avocados gently, store the avocados on a platter or bowl elsewhere in the refrigerator. We test the thinner end because that's where the avocado ripens first.

If you need avocados NOW, test them the same way at the store or your favorite produce stand.

Basil seeds and seedheads can be dried using the same process that we use for oregano and rosemary. Remove from the stems, dry thoroughly and save in a jar. To use, crumble between the palms of your hands.

Don't toss basil seedheads. They're a slightly zestier version of the basil leaf. Great in soups.

Washing lettuce and greens requires a lot of water. I wash them twice. I don't put them in a colander and spray with water. You can't get to every spot that way. I use a large tub in my kitchen sink. I fill it with water and submerge the greens in the water. I move the greens around using my hands and then pick them up in large handfuls to shake off the excess water and set them on a clean kitchen towel. I pour out the water and wash out any sediment. Then I repeat this process. 
For lettuce, I use a salad spinner. It uses centrifugal action to pull the water from the salad leaves. Once the lettuce is dry, I transfer to a large plastic bag lined with a few paper towels to absorb any remaining water or condensation. I seal the bag and store in the refrigerator until salad-making time.


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