As everyone knows, old cookbooks compiled by churches, organizations and businesses are one of my favorite book or tag sale finds. I figure the contributors have submitted recipes that are their very best and most often used — maybe not the ones they’re most noted for, because cooks rarely share that one! Many TV shows have dealt with a recipe being shared, but the giver omitting an ingredient so it wouldn’t be quite the same delight as what he/she makes.
In many of these cookbooks there is a section of helpful hints, what we now call kitchen hacks. Here are some, although I haven’t tried them all — especially the first one!
- An unlit match stick held between your teeth, striking end out, when slicing onions will prevent onion tears.
- Put wilted carrots and celery in a bowl of ice water and refrigerate to perk them up. (I’ve done this and it works!)
- Cabbage leaves are easily separated when the head is first cored and then placed in the freezer for one or two nights
- A little lemon juice added to cauliflower cooking water will keep the flowerettes white. The addition of a piece of white bread will reduce the cooking odor.
- Dipping citrus fruit in hot water before squeezing will double and triple the amount of juice the fruit yields.
- A large piece of citrus peel placed in a box of brown sugar will keep it moist and lump free. Another cookbook recommended adding an apple slice.
- Potatoes should be started cooking in boiling salted water rather than cold, and drained immediately. Cover lightly with a clean dish towel to keep them warm, but never put a lid on the pot or they will get soggy.
- To remove excess salt from food, add one teaspoon each of sugar and vinegar to the pot. In a soup, add a few slices of potato.
- Save time when browning a quantity of meatballs. Place them in a Pyrex dish for 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven.
- When broiling steak, brush both sides with olive oil or butter to seal in the juices.
- Drop a lettuce leaf into a pot of homemade soup to absorb grease from the top.
- To remove the core from a head of lettuce, hit the core end once against the counter sharply. The core will loosen and pull out easily. (I do this all the time. It was a hack I learned from my mother.)
- Cream will whip faster and better if you first chill the bowl, beaters and cream.
- A dampened and folded dish towel placed under a bowl in which you are beating something will keep it from dancing all over the countertop.
I ran across a tried-and-true recipe the other day and pulled it out for future reference. It was a staple in our house back in the day — even my picky-eater son liked it. OK, to be honest, he picked out the onions and ate only the noodles and meat … Make sure to put a match between your teeth when slicing the onions!
(Recipe courtesy Good Housekeeping magazine)
Makes 8 servings.
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
6 medium-style onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup paprika (yes, this much!)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
One 8-ounce container sour cream
4 cups buttered hot cooked noodles
In a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, in hot margarine or butter, cook onions until lightly browned. Add meat, paprika and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours until meat is fork-tender.
Stir in sour cream , heat through (do not boil!). Serve over noodles.