Softening Brown Sugar

Softening Brown Sugar

Both light and dark brown sugar are ingredients in my favorite banana bread recipe.  It is not uncommon for me to reach for my brown sugars and find that one of them has hardened. This is easily preventable, and I have changed my ways so that softening brown sugar is something I no longer need to do.  You can follow these easy tips so that your brown sugar doesn’t harden, either. Air Tight Container An air tight container is one of the best places to keep brown sugar.  This is what I do these days.  My brown sugars are each kept in a Tupperware container that keeps the air out. Ziplock Bag A bag that zips closed is also a great place to keep brown sugar.  The reason I did not go with this solution is because bags are not easily organized.  I’m anal, and want my cupboards to look neat and tidy.  Using air tight containers allows me to stack containers while maintaining a sense of organization. Refrigerator You can also store your brown sugar in the refrigerator.  I haven’t tried this, so I don’t know if you can simply use the bag or box it comes in, or if you should transfer it to a different container. Softening Brown Sugar That Has Hardened The reason brown sugar hardens is because it looses moisture.  You can try any of these methods to bring moisture back to your brown sugar: Place a slice of bread into a ziplock bag, then add your brown sugar.  It will take the duration of a day for the brown sugar to absorb the...
How To Crack An Egg

How To Crack An Egg

As you might already know, my refrigerator recently stopped cooling.  The contents inside were subjected to room temperature for too long, and we had to throw away a lot of food. Sadly for us, I had just bought a pack of 18 eggs (we like eggs) and the entire pack was no longer good.  At least, I wasn’t willing to use any in cooking recipes to find out if they were still good.  So, my stepdaughter gleefully tossed each and every egg down the disposal. It was only after she was done that I realized we had missed a great opportunity.  We could have used all the eggs to learn how to crack an egg properly. Although that opportunity is now gone, that doesn’t mean I can’t still learn.  Instead of using rotten eggs, I decided to find a video to teach me to break an egg the right way.  Truth be told, I’m glad I did, because I now know that I’ve been cracking eggs the wrong way for pretty much my entire life by cracking them on the side of a bowl. The video below taught me that cracking an egg on the side of a bowl or on a counter can cause small pieces of egg shell to mix in with the egg.  Not good. The proper way to crack an egg is to break it on the flat surface of your counter, and then pull the two egg pieces apart.  This will allow the egg to drop safely into the bowl without any egg shells going with it. All this time I’ve been so close...
Three Ways To Peel Garlic

Three Ways To Peel Garlic

Garlic is a favorite in my household.  Both my husband and I love to add it to whatever we are cooking (when appropriate to do so, of course!).  But one of our challenges with garlic is peeling it. This led me to wonder if there is an easier way than what we have been doing, which has been to cut off the top, then peel it with our fingernails.  This has led to more than one cut under the nail, and I’m tired of the pain. The answer is, yes, there is a better way to peel garlic cloves.  In fact, there are three: Use a Knife This method is great for when you want to mince garlic.  Take a large knife (aka a chef’s knife) and press down on the clove with the flat side of the blade.  Be careful not to cut yourself. Peel off the skin, then proceed to mince the garlic. Use a Roller This works best when you need to use a whole garlic clove.  Use the E-Z-Rol Garlic Peeler and place the clove inside the roller.   Using the palm of your hand, press down on the roller and roll the clove back and forth several times. Remove the clove from the roller, and peel away the skin. Use the Microwave Place a garlic clove on a microwave-safe plate, and cook it on High for 10-20 seconds to loosen the skin from the clove. Allow the clove to cool, then peel away the skin. I am so glad I took the time to research this!  Peeling garlic will never again be painful for...
Organize Your Refrigerator

Organize Your Refrigerator

My husband loves salad dressing.  Seriously.  At any given time we have about 10 different types of dressings in the fridge.  Imagine how much fun it is sorting through all those bottles to find what you want.  It drives me nuts! Well, I have come up with a way to organize your refrigerator.  My solution?  To use plastic storage totes.  That might seem like a strange thing to put in your fridge, but it actually works really well. The reason the totes work well is because I can remove one tote and have easy access to all the dressings, or whatever else is in them, without having to rummage through the refrigerator itself. If this doesn’t make sense, then watch the video below.  I show you exactly what I have done to our refrigerator, and what the storage totes look like. The totes that I am using are called shoe box storage containers.  The are made of plastic and are approximately the size of shoe boxes.  I use them in just about every room of my house, and have found that they are incredibly versatile when it comes to storing and stacking.  They are pretty inexpensive, and will help you organize your refrigerator, just as I have...
Onion Goggles

Onion Goggles

We recently bought a bunch of Vidalia onions from a kid in the neighborhood (it was a school fundraiser).  As much as I love cooked onions, I hate to cut them.  My eyes hurt horribly, and tear like crazy, when I cut or chop onions.  Which got me to wondering why this is. Turns out there is a very real reason for this reaction.  I could go into the highly scientific reason for the eye irritation caused by onions, but the dumbed down reason has to do with enzymes.  Cutting an onion damages their cellular structure, which in turn causes enzymes to change into various types of acids. These acids are released into the air, and eventually reach the eyes.  The tears caused by the air borne acids are meant to flush away the irritant. There are many suggestions on how to prevent eye irritation, including: Burning a candle while cutting onions Refrigerating onions before cutting them Freezing onions before cutting them Cutting onions under running water Cutting onions in a large bowl, while submerged under water Blowing the air away from your face while cutting onions (perhaps by using a fan?) Using a sharp knife to minimize cell damage Wearing special goggles I have tried most of the above suggestions, though I really can’t see cutting onions under running water or while submerged.  Really?  Who in their right minds is going to successfully chop onions in such conditions? For me, the only real relief from the extreme pain of cut onions is to wear onion goggles.  Apparently, some people are more sensitive to the acids that cause tearing...
Refrigerator Temperature

Refrigerator Temperature

Two days ago my refrigerator stopped cooling.  At first, I thought someone accidentally left the freezer door ajar, and that this was the reason why the frozen blueberries I took out were partly thawed yesterday morning (which was a stupid assumption on my part, I now know).  I simply took some blueberries for my smoothie, put them back, and firmly closed the freezer door. Unfortunately for me, I went out of town for most of yesterday, and did not realize until last night that the problem was not with a door left open, but that the fridge was no longer cooling.  This became clear to me when my husband opened the refrigerator and said there was water dripping from the ice maker (our model has the ice maker in the fridge part, not the freezer).  A light bulb went on, and I realized we had a bigger problem. Fortunately for me, it was an easy fix.  After some research online, I found a possible solution that worked.  My refrigerator is now cooling again. This led me to wonder about what the best refrigerator temperature should be.  Who knows if it was cold enough prior to this problem, but I want to make sure my food stays cold enough going forward. With some research, I found that the ideal temperature range for the fridge part is between 35° and 38° F.  Any warmer and foods may spoil too fast, which can cause food poisoning when eaten.  Any colder and foods may actually freeze.  As for the freezer, the ideal temperature is about 0° F.  I will use my food thermometer...

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