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Dark Secrets from My Kitchen

by Jane Wangersky | November 14th, 2014 | Cooking Basics
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pancakes (400x400)So, last week I wrote about cooking winter squash, which is, as I put it, “far from my favorite vegetable”, but is a fact of life here in winter. I’ve learned a few tricks with winter squash, which I shared, but I left out my biggest secret for dealing with it: Stop trying to eat it for dinner and make it into dessert. Pie, muffins, whatever you want, just use it in place of pumpkin, which after all is a winter squash too. Sugar, fat, and spices work miracles.

That got me thinking about some other things I’ve learned but hesitated to share here, and I decided to bite the bullet and let you in on how I managed to awaken from some of my own kitchen nightmares. Hope this helps.

Recently I let a casserole — in a glass dish — burn around the edges. (I must not have greased the dish enough; insufficient grease is not usually a problem in my cooking.) Most of it was fine, but it looked terrible, and I really couldn’t bring it to the table like that. Finally I scooped out the unburned part, put it in a serving bowl, and covered it with foil to keep it warm. No one ever knew — till now. (As for the casserole dish, I immediately filled it with hot water — cold would’ve cracked it — which soaked off the burned-on food quickly.)

If you make your own pie crust — and why not, it just takes flour, fat, and practice — you’ll have scraps left over. If there really aren’t enough to make anything else . . . well, I’ve been known to fry the scraps in a little canola oil and eat them then and there. You could put cinnamon sugar on them. If you have little kids, as I no longer do, it’s probably better all around to get them to eat them.

You know that liquid that starts to form in a yogurt container after it’s been standing around for awhile? After buying a huge bucket of Greek yogurt, I had a lot of it. I poured it off and subbed it in for some of the buttermilk while I was making pancakes, and it worked just fine. No one noticed the vanilla flavor of the yogurt, and if they had, they might’ve liked it.

Any of these could’ve been a disaster, but looking back, I’m glad I tried them, and glad I decided to write about them.

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