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Kitchen Shrink

Figs: How do you select and store fresh figs?

William e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that he had noticed fresh figs in his local supermarket and wanted to know how to select and store them. Look for figs that are plump, have a little give when gently pressed, and have a fresh aroma. Avoid any that smell fermented as they…

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Grater: Where can I get a grater with a storage container?

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Green Tomatoes: What can I make with the green tomatoes I just harvested?

Each year as the weather in the northern states gets chilly, I get requests for green tomato recipes. As I learned a few years ago when the first frost threatens gardeners harvest all the tomatoes even though some are green. Some traditional ways to use up all those green tomatoes…

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Pumpkin seeds: How do you toast pumpkin seeds?

Each year at this time I get e-mails from viewers asking how to prepare toasted pumpkin seeds. Toasting pumpkin seeds is easy, lots of fun, and a good activity to do with children after you carve your jack-o-lanterns. Just place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat…

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Cookies: Why do cookies deflate after baking?

Pam recently e-mailed the Kitchenshrink with several questions. With the help of my friend Jean Anderson, I answered one last week and Jean and I will take on the second this week, “Why do cookies deflate when you take them from the oven.  Especially chocolate chip?” My thought was that…

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Cheese: What causes cheese sauce to have a gritty texture?

Pam recently e-mailed the Kitchenshrink to ask, “When I make a cheese sauce starting with a roux of flour and butter then adding milk and cheese it sometimes gets a gritty texture. What causes this?” I thought perhaps it was caused by overheating but wasn’t sure so I asked my friend Jean…

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Tool: V-etched Better Zester

I just had a chance to try the Edgeware V-etched Better Zester and I will definitely make a place for it in my small kitchen. This nifty tool takes all the frustration out of zesting citrus fruit. It slides smoothly across the skin removing only the outer layer and making…

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Spice Tins: Where can I find the Indian spice tins used on the show?

Several weeks ago I got an e-mail from Pamela asking for a source for the traditional Indian small spice tins nestled into a larger metal box that I had used on a show. These tins are based on the traditional Indian masala dabba and vary somewhat but the idea is…

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Food Safety: What foods can I save when the power has been out?

Whenever there is a power outage, I get e-mails asking ” what foods can I save and what do I have to discard when my refrigerator has been off for hours?” I thought this would be a good time to remind you that the USDA web site has guidelines to…

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Measuring: Mini Angled Measuring Cup

I am always interested in new ideas in kitchen equipment and was especially happy when I tried Oxo’s Good Grips Mini Angled Measuring Cup. Instead of balancing a measuring spoon filled to the brim with oil or vanilla or another liquid ingredient as you move it to the skillet or…

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Food Safety: How Accurate are "Best by" Labels

I recently got an e-mail from Scott who wrote, “I saw a TV show saying that the expiration date on mayonnaise is not real. . . Is this true? Also are the expiration dates on canned goods like tuna, soup, or tomato products really valid . . .? I promised…

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Food Safety: How Accurate are “Best by” Labels

I recently got an e-mail from Scott who wrote, “I saw a TV show saying that the expiration date on mayonnaise is not real. . . Is this true? Also are the expiration dates on canned goods like tuna, soup, or tomato products really valid . . .? I promised…

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Chocolate: What is Ganache?

I recently got an e-mail from Alice who asked, “When I asked my favorite bakery about the delicious chocolate frosting on their cakes, they said it is ganache? What is ganache and how can I make it at home? Ganache is a mixture of sweetened chocolate (either dark or milk)…

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Potatoes: How do you choose the right potatoes for a recipe?

This week I got an e-mail from Dawn asking how to choose the best potato variety for a recipe. Because I have often gotten this question, I included a special note on potato varieties in my first two books. For many recipes, the kind of potato you use makes a…

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Blueberries: Blueberry Muffin Tips

A viewer recently e-mailed me to say that when she added fresh blueberries to her favorite muffin batter the finished muffins had an unappetizing greenish haze around the blueberries. She wondered what caused it and if there is a way to prevent that from happening. When you bake with fresh…

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Ginger: What is the best way to store fresh ginger?

I recently got an e-mail from Jane asking how to store fresh ginger and remembered that I had a collection of suggestions in Sara Moulton Cooks at Home. Here’s what I said, “Whenever I have Asian chefs on my show, they tell me they use ginger in so many recipes…

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Peppermills: All About My Peppermills

I have recently gotten more e-mails asking, “Who made your peppermills and where can I get one?” My  peppermills were made for me by an octogenarian woodworker named Pinky Martin. When Oprah invited me to come on her show to give one of the peppermills to a viewer, Pinky got…

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Eggs: Perfect Hard-cooked Eggs

This time of year I get a lot of e-mails asking me about the special technique for hard cooking eggs that I learned from Julia Child. When I was writing Sara’s Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners, I made the process even easier and here it is: Sara’s Hard-cooked Eggs This is…

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Asparagus: When should you peel asparagus and when don’t you have to?

Kathy e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask how you decide when to peel asparagus and when it is all right to leave it unpeeled. Asparagus comes in all different thicknesses, from pencil-thin to nearly an inch. The bottom woody inch or two of any asparagus should be discarded. Whether or…

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Herbs: What Is The Best Way To Store Fresh Herbs?

Put leafy herbs, such as basil, parsley, dill, and cilantro in a glass or glass measuring cup with water in the bottom (like cut flowers), cover with a plastic bag loosely over the top, and store in the fridge. They will keep for a week if set up this way.…

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Baking: How can I bake healthier desserts?

Debbie e-mailed me that she can’t have butter or much sugar but would like to make healthier baked goods and would like some ideas. That is a tough one because butter and sugar bring the flavor to most desserts. However, there are a few ways to go that will be…

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Beef Roast: Why aren’t my roasts tender?

I recently got an e-mail from Virginia saying, “All my roasts come out tough; any help would be appreciated.” This is a great question and there isn’t a simple solution. I am not sure whether she is referring to pot roasts or more tender cuts such as rib roasts that…

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Beef Roast: Why aren't my roasts tender?

I recently got an e-mail from Virginia saying, “All my roasts come out tough; any help would be appreciated.” This is a great question and there isn’t a simple solution. I am not sure whether she is referring to pot roasts or more tender cuts such as rib roasts that…

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Cakes: What causes the line near the edge of cake layers?

Scott recently e-mailed me to ask what causes cake layers to have a line about 3/4- to 1-inch from the sides of the pan. He said, “I bake square cakes and rectangular cakes. For some reason the finished product has a square inside the square. ”  I passed his e-mail…

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