101 Kitchen Lifesavers

Sometimes it is one big disaster - but more often it is just a nuisance. The number of things that can go wrong in the kitchen can eat up your time, be a headache, be a nuisance or worse an embarrassment. Trust me when I say they won't go wrong when you are fixing yourself a cheese sandwich but anything and everything will go wrong when you have a house full of company and they are waiting for their Christmas dinner. These helpful hints may save some time, work and money.

When Things Go Wrong - Substitutions - Time Saving Hints - Temperature Controls For Food -Clean Ups


To The Rescue

When something goes wrong:

TOO BLAND · When the flavor's blah in a meat dish, add a dash of Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce, bottled meat sauce or maybe fried onion. . . .

· In a vegetable dish, try a dash of sugar. . . .

· In almost anything, add salt and/or pepper.

TOO SALTY · When food is oversalted or too spicy: the ideal solution is to make a second batch, omitting the offensive seasoning. Combine the two batches and freeze half for later use. . . .

· For a soup or stew you can add cut raw potato to the pot, discarding the potato once it's boiled.

TOO SHARP · The second-batch trick works with food that tastes too sharp or acid too, but you can also soften the taste if you add a teaspoonful or two of sugar.

TOO SWEET · If it's a main dish or vegetable, add a teaspoonful or two of vinegar.

CURDLED MAYONNAISE · Start over with another egg yolk and add the curdled mayonnaise drop by drop.

CURDLED HOLLANDAISE · Remove sauce from heat and beat in 1 teaspoon hot water a few drops at a time. Do not return to heat.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

PALE GRAVY · Color with a few drops of gravy seasoning-browning sauce or soy sauce. To avoid the problem in the first place, brown the. flour well before adding liquid.

This will also help prevent lumpy gravy.

THICK GRAVY · If it's too thick, stir in a little more liquid.

THIN GRAVY · If it's too thin, mix some water and flour, cornstarch or arrowroot to a smooth paste. Stir into the gravy and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. . . .

· If a gravy thickened with cornstarch or arrowroot becomes too thin, it's probably been overcooked.

Rethicken with more cornstarch or arrowroot; cook just until thickened again; remove from heat.

WILTED VEGETABLES · If fresh vegetables are wilted or blemished, pick off

brown edges or cut out blemishes. Sprinkle vegetables with cool water; wrap in towels and refrigerate for an hour or two.

PALE CORN BREAD · Broil it for about half a minute. . . .

· And although good southern cooks generally abhor sweet corn bread, even some of them will add a teaspoonful or two of sugar to promote browning.

HEAVY CREAM THAT WON'T WHIP · Chill cream, bowl and beater well. . .

· or set bowl into a bowl of ice while you whip. . . . .

· If the cream still doesn't stiffen, gradually whip in three or four drops of lemon juice.

KEEPING WHIPPED CREAM · If serving is delayed (or you'd rather whip the cream ahead of time), pour the freshly whipped cream into a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and refrigerate. Some liquid will separate from the cream and drain into the bowl, but the whipped cream will hold its stiffness for an hour or more.

UNFLAMING FLAMBE · If the brandy or liqueur refuses to ignite, heat fresh spirits separately in a spoon over the chafing-dish flame; add to the hot food and ignite.


When you discover you're out of something you need; plus some switches you may prefer to make

NO BREAD CRUMBS · You can top a casserole or coat meat with finely crushed cornflakes, wheat flakes or any other crisp unsweetened cereal; with toasted quick-cooking rolled oats, cracker crumbs or wheat germ. You can use them plain or mixed with cheese or melted butter.

NO BUTTER (For 1 cup) · 1 cup margarine (soft margarine won't do) a cup solid vegetable shortening or lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt.

NO BUTTER OR MARGARINE, MELTED · Oil or melted shortening in batters, measure for measure, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup.

NO BUTTERMILK, SOUR MILK (For 1 cup) · 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough fresh milk to make 1 cup; let the mixture stand 5 minutes before using.

NO CATSUP (For 1 cup) · Combine l cup tomato sauce or mashed canned tomatoes, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash each ground cloves and allspice.

NO CHOCOLATE, UNSWEETENED (For one square [1 ounce]) · Use 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon shortening.

NO CORN SYRUP (For 1 cup) · Use 1 cup sugar plus 1f4 cup water or liquid called for in recipe.

NO CREAM SAUCE (For 11/2 cups) · Instead of making a cream sauce for main-dish casseroles and a la king recipes, substitute 1 can (about 11 ounces) Cheddar-cheese soup or cream of chicken, mushroom or celery soup plus 1 cup milk.

Omit salt in the recipe in which the sauce is used.

NO EGGS · If you omit an egg in a recipe, increase the liquid by 3 to 4 tablespoons for each egg omitted. It's a risky switch, however, in delicately balanced cake or cookie recipes, or in recipes using lots of eggs.

NO FLOUR, ALL.PURPOSE ' If it's needed for thickening gravy or sauce, for 2 tablespoons flour you can substitute · 1 tablespoon cornstarch, rice starch or arrowroot,. . . or 2 tablespoons instant mashed potato, cornmeal or quick-cooking tapioca.

If you'd like to use some whole-grain flour in baked goods, you can, but don't overload them with it or the food may be heavy.

For each cup flour · use 1/2 to 1 cup whole-wheat flour plus the remainder of the white flour called for in the recipe. . · or 1/2 cup rye or buckwheat flour. . or 1/4 cup soy flour.

You can also substitute, with good results, quick or old~fashioned rolled oats, corn or wheat flakes or other unsweetened cereal for about 1/3 the flour in recipes for plain muffins and other quick breads.

NO FLOUR, CAKE · Use all-purpose flour. Sift; pile it lightly into a 1cup measure; level off, then remove 2 tablespoons.

Use this 7/8 cup for each cup cake flour.

To reverse the process when you have only cake flour and need all-purpose, use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for each cup all-purpose flour.

NO GREEN PEAS OR BEANS, COOKED · If a (recipe calls for cooked or canned green peas or green beans, use some other fibrous vegetable:

cooked carrots, lima beans, corn or green-pepper strips. Don't use turnips or parsnips. They may be too strong in flavor. Soft squashes will be too watery.

NO HERBS AND SPICES, FRESH · Substitute dried herbs or spices. The flavors of fresh and dried herbs may be different, so don't count on perfect results with these substitutions:

1/4 cup fresh = 1 tablespoon dried 1 teaspoon fresh = 1/4 teaspoon dried

NO HOLLANDAISE · If you need just 1 or 2 tablespoons hollandaise for a sauce or glaze, you can use a good-quality mayonnaise (not creamy dressing).

NO HONEY (For 1 cup) · Use 11/4 cups sugar plus 1/4 cup water (or the liquid called for in the recipe). You're taking a chance, however, whenever you substitute sugar for a liquid sweetener, or vice versa, in a delicately balanced cake or cookie recipe.

NO MILK, FRESH (For,1 cup) · Use 1/2 cup each evaporated whole milk and water · or 1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk plus 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon water.

NO MUSHROOMS, FRESH (For 1 pound [1 1/4 cups chopped mushrooms and liquid]) · One 8-ounce can sliced mushrooms. . or 2 ounces dried mushrooms soaked in 11/2 cups water.

NO ONION, GREEN PEPPER, CELERY · Use 1 tablespoon onion, green-pepper or celery flakes for each 1/4 cup chopped fresh vegetable. If the recipe specifies one medium onion or green pepper or one rib celery, use 2 tablespoons flakes.

NO SUGAR · You can often substitute, measure for measure, packed brown sugar (light or dark) with no adjustments. You'll get a light molasses flavor, however.

NO SUGAR, SUPERFINE · Make your own by processing granulated sugar in the blender until fine.

NO SWEET PEPPER, GREEN AND RED · Use canned pimiento.

NO TOMATOES, FRESH · Canned tomatoes are interchangeable for chopped, peeled, fresh tomatoes in most recipes.

NO VANILLA EXTRACT · A batter or dessert can be flavored with grated lemon or orange rind and a little lemon juice. · or 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg for each teaspoon vanilla extract · or a dusting of cinnamon.


Getting through the pesky jobs as painlessly as possible !

CHOPPING ONIONS · Peel and cut into quarters. Spread, one layer deep, on a pan and freeze. When frozen, quickly pack in bags or other freezer containers. Use as needed, chopping the still-frozen onion on a board with a sharp, heavy knife.

PEELING ONIONS FOR BOILING . Cut off both ends; drop onions into boiling water;

boil 4 to 5 minutes. Remove; rinse under cold water; then just slip off the peels. If necessary to boil longer, continue as directed by the recipe.

CUTTING EVEN ONION RINGS · Slice before peeling-it's easier. Then slip the peel off each slice.

PEELING THIN-SKINNED FRUITS · To peel fruits such as peaches and tomatoes, place fruit in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let stand 1 minute. Peel with a paring knife. · or you can spear the fruit on a fork and hold it over a gas flame until skin cracks, then peel.

ANCHORING BOARDS AND BOWLS A crumpled towel or sponge cloth under a bowl or Jar will prevent it from sliding around when you're lixing ingredients or kneading and rolling out dough.also cuts noise level.

OPENING COCONUTS - Puncture the eyes with an ice pick and drain out the coconut water (the proper name for the liquid in a mature coconut). Place coconut in a shallow pan and bake at 350°F. 45 minutes to 1 hour, until shell begins I crack. Cool it enough to handle, then tap it smartly with a hammer. The shell will almost spring apart. Pry It the meat with a knife or small flexible spatula.

SHREDDING. COCONUTS - Peel off brown skin with a swivel-bladed peeler or 3.ring knife. Place pieces of coconut in blender with some of the coconut water (or the liquid called for in e recipe). Process until fine; pour out and continue with the remaining coconut. This short-shredded )coconut is suitable for use in pie fillings, batters and fill desserts.

SHELLING BRAZIL NUTS - Bake at 350°F. 15 minutes; or freeze. Then crack shell.

SHELLING CHESTNUTS - Cut a slit in the flat side of each nut; cover with water; boil 10 minutes. Use a paring knife to peel off shell, then membrane.

PEELING THICK-SKINNED FRUITS · To peel turnips, citrus fruit and pineapple, cut a slice from one end; place the vegetable or fruit on a board; cut off peel in large swaths from top to board.

Cut out pineapple eyes or any slivers of peel with a small knife.

'CUTTING STICKY FOODS · For moisturized prunes, fresh dates, marshmallows, candied"fruits etc., use kitchen shears dipped periodically in hot water.

BROWNING MEAT · You can avoid pot-watching by browning meatballs, stew meat or pot roasts in the broiler or oven.

It's especially time-saving when you're making large quantities. Spread meat on rack in a shallow pan and broil or bake at 450°F. until browned on top; turn and brown the other side. Then proceed with the recipe.

COOKING BACON · Bake it to avoid watching and turning. Place bacon on rack in a shallow pan. Bake at 400°F. until slices will separate, then spread them out on the rack and continue to bake until c'risp, about 12 minutes t,otal baking time. You don't need to turn them. .

DREDGING · Combine flour and seasonings in a sturdy bag. Add chicken or meat a few pieces at a time, shake, then remove. It's ready to cook.

SHAPING MEATBALLS, POTATO BALLS ETC.· Use an ice cream dipper to shape food into rounds.

REMOVING EXCESS FAT · To remove it from a skillet, tip pan and use a bulb baster or a paper towel folded in several layers to sop up the fat.

· To· remove it from soup or stew, run an ice cube wrapped in cheesecloth over the surface to pick up the fat. . . .

· If you have the time, of course, the easiest way is to refrigerate the soup or stew until the fat hardens and then remove it, but it's often an overnight wait.

PREVENTING SKIN ON SAUCE OR PUDDING · To prevent the formation of a surface skin on a cream sauce or cornstarch pudding, spread a thin layer of melted butter or margarine, cream or milk over the sauce or pudding right after it's cooked. Stir just before serving.

BEATING EGG WHITES · Easier if first warmed to room temperature. . . And the beaten whites will be more stable if you add I 1 teaspoon cream of tartar to each cup egg whites (7 or 8 egg whites).

PREPARING CUT FRUIT AHEAD · Toss the freshly cut fruit in lemon juice and it won't darken. The juice of half a lemon is enough for a quart or two of cut fruits. . . .

· or you can cover it with 1 cup syrup made of equal parts water and sugar cooked until syrupy. While you're at it, you might flavor the syrup with kirsch, creme de menthe or orange-flavored liqueur.

MEASURING STICKY LIQUIDS · If you need to measure syrup or honey, oil the cup with cooking oil or use the cup to measure the oil or shortening needed for the recipe first.


.Keeping hot food hot

THE OVEN If your oven holds a very low temperature, set it at WOF. or "warm." Cover the hot food with a loose· foil or the cover of the pan set slightly askew -not tight-so that food will not steam. It will keep it an hour or more.

HOT TRAYS AND TRIVETS Serve the food from an electric hot tray or trivet.

always preheat the tray and have the food hot and covered when it's placed on the tray.

IWTH MISCELLANEOUS ELECTRIC APPLIANCES You can use an electric griddle, skillet, sandwich ill, deep-fat fryer or slow electric cooker set at varm" or "low" to hold the food.

HOT WATER A small amount of food can be kept hot in the top a double boiler, with boiling water in the bottom or set a baking dish or platter holding hot food on top of a pan of Simmering water. Covered with foil, e food should stay hot up to an hour. . . .

Hot coffee or tea can be kept at serving temperature , putting the carafe, set on a rack so that it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan; in a large pan of simmering water.

WRAPPING UP Wrap a roast in a double thickness of foil or ten or so layers of newspaper to keep it hot for up to one hour. Food can be transported this way. too.

BOXING IN · Hot casseroles or Dutch ovens filled with hot foods, covered or well wrapped, can be stored or transported in an insulated picnic carrier. The food will stay hot longer if the carrier is filled. Stuffany spaces with crumpled paper-or bread or rolls you want to keep warm.

· Use an ice bucket with a cover to keep stews, soups or chili con carne hot for an hour or longer.

Rinse the bucket in hot water first to warm it. Don't use the plastic-foam types-the food may leak.

BARBECUING FOR A CROWD · When you must cook in batches but want to serve it at once, transfer each completed batch of food to baking pans and cover with foil. Just before serving, you can pile the food back on the grill to crisp it.


Keeping cold food cold

IN REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER · Chill plates, serving bowls, platters and serving pieces about15 minutes before adding chilled food. · Many foods, such as cut fruits and milk, can be given an extra chill by placing them in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before serving them. Don't do it with salad greens; they wilt.

IN ICY BOWLS · Fill a large bowl with crushed ice and embed the bowl of potato salad or milk in the ice up to its rim.

Add a little kosher or ice cream salt to the ice to make it "colder." · Use an ice bowl: put the serving bowl you'll be using, weighted down, in a larger bowl filled with water (no water in the serving bowl). Freeze. Use the empty center' bowl for serving salads or dips.

CANNED ICE · Use canned ice to set around foods on a buffet table or for tucking into insulated bags in which cold foods are packed. To make it, fill sturdy plastic bags with ice cubes and water and freeze solid; or fill empty milk cartons three-quarters full with water, ,freeze and set upright in picnic bag; or use plastic bowls with tight-fitting covers, then submerge them in bowls of food. Individual cans of frozen fruit and vegetable juices can be used in the same way, and they'll also provide the mealtime beverage.

IN ICE BUCKETS · Use an insulated ice bucket for serving chilled foods. To prechill the bucket, fill it with ice for 15 minutes; empty out the ice and put in the chilled food.

Covered, it will stay cold for an hour or longer.

· Set a bottle of wine or carafe of a beverage in an . ice bucket filled about half full with ice.

WRAPPING UP, AGAIN · Wrap cold foods in heavy foil or ten or more layers of newspaper~ IN ICE CHESTS · If you're going camping, solid frozen foods should keep frozen two to three days and very cold for at least one more day if they're packed snugly in the refrigerator of a camper or in an ice chest. They should keep even longer if packed with no air spaces' between the foods.


For drops and disasters, plus some of the ordinary dreary messes

BROKEN EGG · If you break an egg on the floor, sprinkle 'it heavily with salt and leave it alone for 5 to 10 minutes. Sweep the dried egg into a dustpan.

BROKEN GLASS · Use a dampened paper towel or cotton ball to pick up the elusive slivers of glass.

BURNED PAN · Fill the pan immediately with cold (for starchy foods or milk) or hot (for greasy foods) water. Soak for an hour or so .. or loosen burned-on food by boiling water in the pan for a few minutes.

BROILER PAN · Sprinkle the hot pan heavily with dry laundry detergent, cover with a dampened paper towel or sponge and let the burned-on food steam while you eat. When you get around to washing up, the pan should require little or no scouring.

MEAT GRINDER · Before cleaning, run a piece of bread through it.

BLENDER · Put a few drops of detergent in it, fill partway with hot water, cover and turn it on for a few seconds.

Rinse and drain dry. '

COFFEE MAKER, VACUUM BOTTLE · Put 1 teaspoon baking soda in it, fill with warm water and soak a few minutes before washing in detergent solution.

GRATER · Use a pastry brush to brush lemon rind, cheese, onion, whatever out of the grater before washing it.

STUBBORN STAINS · On glass, ceramic and porcelain cookware: use oven cleaner, following the manufacturer's directions.

Heat the cookware in the oven if that's required.

, . On aluminum: cook an acid food in the pot-tomatoes, apples or rhubarb. . .

· or boil a cream of tartar solution in it-1f2 teaspoon cream of tartar to each quart water. . . .

· When you use an aluminum pan as the water bath . for baking custard or pudding, add 1 teaspoon cream of tartar to the water to avoid discoloring the pan.

· On plastic cups: coffee or tea stains can be scoured-out with baking soda.

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