Here a just a few general kitchen tips for hectic holiday times. They may help make your life easier as you prepare meals and present your family with beautiful holiday dishes.
1. Put a touch of canola oil in with your melted butter and mix well. Then, spread over your bagel, focaccia, or French bread slices before toasting. The oil will help keep the bread moist and keep the butter from burning at a high, toasting oven temperature. If you want a bit more flavor, use a flavored olive oil such as rosemary, roasted garlic or basil olive oils. Or, rub a cut clove of garlic over the bare bread before adding your butter/oil spread.
2. Use a stainless steel bar or simply rub your hands on your stainless steel faucet when washing hands after preparing garlic or onion. The stainless steel will remove the vast majority of heavy garlic and onion scent from your hands.
3. Save the day - if you have over salted your soup or stew, use an eyedropper and drop two to four droplets of balsamic vinegar into your soup or stew. The balsamic will absorb some of the saltiness. Use the balsamic (sparingly) to correct the flavor of your dish until it is just right.
4. Drop lime, lemon or orange hulls into your disposal to brighten the scents in your kitchen. Or create a (non-consumable) boil on a back burner of your stove. Boil water and add in lime, lemon or orange hulls, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, or cloves. Let the mixture simmer gently for about an hour before guests arrive or just to enjoy for yourself. This is a great way to use leftover peels and spices that are either out of date or the cloves you have just pulled from the holiday ham! Be sure to turn off the simmering pot just before serving dinner and discard .
5. Never put potato peels down your garbage disposal.
6. Keep bamboo skewers handy for sticking into decorated cakes, cupcakes and pies before putting on the plastic wrap to preserve your beautiful decor.
7. Use a criss-cross pattern of celery stalks, carrots and/or onion slices in the bottom of a roasting pan to support your roast. Add water and roast away. The vegetables will get the benefit of roasting in water that has been flavored by the meat drippings directly. No roasting rack to clean.
8. Coat the inside edge of your boiling pasta pot with a little oil from the water line up to the edge. The oil will help keep your pot from boiling over.
9. Use chicken or vegetable broth in the place of water when making mashed potatoes and/or rice. This brings great flavor to your potatoes and rice.
10. Thicken a soup with dry potato flakes instead of flour for a fuller flavor and thickening agent.
11. Keep the tops of honey, jams, syrups and anything else sticky from getting all gummed up by spreading just a little vegetable oil or canola oil around the inside of the top and the lip of the jar/container. The oil will not allow the sticky inside product to stick to the top.
12. Use pretzel sticks as spears or skewers for your cheese cubes and other hors d'oeuvres
The most important tip is to stay hydrated as you rush around and cook. Stop to enjoy a cup of coffee or juice, sit for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Remember these are times to make memories and enjoy family. Enjoy!