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1  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Meal Planning and Prep Cook-Along on: October 24, 2014 04:20:43 PM
Yep, I would absolutely do that with pizza dough. It'll work great. Bread dough can be stored in the fridge overnight or for a few hours or whatever if you need to retard it as well. It's pretty flexible that way. Smiley
2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Meal Planning and Prep Cook-Along on: October 24, 2014 12:57:34 AM
I'm replying on a couple of fairly old posts here...

There was a comment upthread about desiccated coconut never going moldy. Not true! I live in the tropics. Ask me how I know. Tongue

Because of where I live (Malaysia), nothing is available in big bags. The largest bags of sugar and flour are 1kg (2 pounds), the largest bags of beans & lentils are 500 grams (1 pound). Many products like factory-made cakes, cookies, other sweets come in 30 portions to a container, each portion individually bagged - it's all about humidity, mold, ants, and cockroaches and the like. I keep my sugar, flour, and other ant-attracting products in air-tight containers which are then put in the cupboards. It takes up more space, but we don't have as many pest problems doing it this way. Pests are a major consideration in the tropics.

I struggle with produce freshness. I buy my produce to last the two weeks between grocery shops, but within a week and a bit the unused stuff is starting to go bad and I end up throwing it out if it's unusable. The second week is usually all the veggies I've frozen because that's all I have left, but I would love to be able to have more fresh produce the whole time. In my fridge I use the vegetable box and the meat box to store my fresh produce. Maybe I just need to start getting produce I know will last longer.

Cauliflower always goes bad within the first week. I've tried storing it whole in the veg box, pre-cutting, pre-cutting and pre-washing, is there any way to make it last longer? It happens no matter what grocery store I go to, I've tried 5 in the city and it happens with all of them (I wondered if Safeway's was just not the freshest).

Going to buy produce every week is not an option for me.

We do this, too - buying produce about every 10 to 14 days. I buy a mix of leafy produce all the way to potatoes and carrots. I generally cook things according to what goes bad the soonest. So spinach, cabbage leaves, or other leafies sooner; cauliflower in the first 5 days; beans in first five or six days; potatoes, carrots, squash, hard cabbage at the end. We still get a variety of food in, but we have minimal spoilage, too. We hate spoilage. Spoilage is the enemy and must die. Also, I stack the veggies in the crisper in that order - the hard stuff, which is also the stuff that stays good the longest, at the bottom, the quicker spoiling stuff at the top. That helps to keep things in check.

Veggies that freeze well will end up in the freezer if I bought more than we can use before it goes bad. Bags of bell peppers are always useful. Or pickle it. Cabbage made into sauerkraut, cukes into fridge pickles, red peppers into pickled peppers or homemade sambal oelik, and so on. We like homemade pickles a LOT. Also, I make my own mayo and mustard. Cheaper and better.

Also, tomato paste - I don't know about the rest of you, but I *never* use up an entire can at one cooking session. I've heard of tubes of tomato paste, but I haven't seen those where I am. Instead, when I open a new can, I'll use what I need, stick the rest in a zip-loc bag, lie it flat so it's thin, and freeze it. Then break off bits when I need it.

I make almost everything we eat from scratch. We have a lot of dietary requirements and foods we have to avoid (religious reasons as well as allergies & sensitivities), so cooking from scratch is a better way to control that rather than trying to read all the labels, which is only possible in the store (we do the vast majority of our shopping online and have it delivered) and only when the label also includes an ingredient list in English, which doesn't always happen. So, yeah, cooking from scratch. Which is something I've been doing since I was a wee kid anyway.

Cooking from scratch means that I keep all the pantry essentials on hand - flour (of however many varieties), sugar, baking powder & soda, dried legumes, and so on. I make bread and, because the husband likes bread for breakfast and because he likes it fresh and I spoil him, I make a batch of bread every 10 days, portion it out, freeze nine portions and bake the one. Then every evening, take a frozen lump of dough out of the freezer to thaw and do its second rise, then bake it first thing the next morning. Bread dough freezes very very well.

I don't meal plan. The way things are here, not everything is available all the time, so I order what I order and find out what I'll be getting when it arrives. Meal planning just doesn't work here. But that's where a well-stocked pantry comes in - I have enough flexibility with that to figure out a use for just about anything.

I use a pressure cooker. I could have gotten a slow cooker, but small kitchen means I could realistically get only one thing. So, pressure cooker. Dried beans with no soaking time are completely cooked in around 35 minutes. Tough old goat meat (which we do eat - curried) is fork tender in 35 minutes.  I even use the pressure cooker to make rice using the pot in pot method - fill a small pot with the rice, water, salt, and butter, then that small pot goes into the rice cooker on a rack with water at the bottom for the steam. 7 minutes later, rice is done. The rice isn't cooked a lot faster than with a rice cooker, but it's fluffier than in a rice cooker and it's one less appliance on my already crowded counters. I use the pressure to cook potatoes, tough cuts of meat, legumes, pretty much anything that requires more than a few minutes to cook. It cuts the cooking time down to 1/3.

I do have a rice cooker, but use it mainly for larger amounts of rice, like when the husband's parents and brother and family are all here and we need to cook huge mounds of rice (they're all rice and curry people). Otherwise, that rice cooker is stored. But it's a fancy shmancy rice cooker that also does soup, congee, porridge, cake, and a bunch of other things. I've used it a fair bit for making soup. Toss all the ingredients on, switch it on, have soup an hour or two later. No muss, no fuss, no paying attention to it. If I want to add some softer veggies in, they can get tossed in halfway through. Or 2/3 of the way through. Whichever.

Induction cookers. Have any of you used them? I have a single-burner induction cooker and LOVE it. I bought it in Singapore a couple of years ago and use it every day for the vast majority of cooking. It's more energy efficient than any other type of electric cooktop or gas stove. It produces very little residual heat, so in the summer (where you are, assuming you have seasons - it's always summer for me) it doesn't heat the kitchen up very much. It's incredibly noticeable how little it heats up the kitchen. And induction cookers are at least as responsive as gas in terms of heating things up/turning the temperature down.
3  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: My utter failure in peeling hardboiled eggs on: September 09, 2014 01:02:25 AM
The best method I've tried is to boil the water (with salt or baking soda added so the eggs don't crack in the water), and when it's at a rolling boil, add the eggs and boil until your required level of doneness. Remove from heat, then put the eggs immediately into cold water. Once the eggs are cooled, then peel.

I've done the pressure steam method. It doesn't work as well as the above method.
4  CITY GUIDES FOR CRAFTSTERS / ASIA / Johor Bahru, Malaysia on: October 27, 2013 02:01:53 AM
I'm looking for fabric stores, preferably that sell inexpensive fabric. Any other crafty resources, please list here as well. Smiley
5  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Prevent worms in flour? on: March 13, 2013 06:44:39 PM
I've never had a problem with worms or anything in my rice or flour keeping them in those buckets (though the lids can be tough to get off, but its got a great seal!)
It's not always about the bugs getting into the container after you've opened the rice/flour/lentils bag. In Sri Lanka, nearly every rice/dal/dried bean bag I've ever bought already had weevils and other bugs in it. One bag of flour, when  I opened it, had so many worms in it that the flour all stuck together in the worm poo. That was just beyond disgusting and gross and repulsive and still gives me the heeby jeebies.
6  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Saving failed recipes on: March 11, 2013 05:07:32 PM
Adding potatoes to something oversalted can save it.

7  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Humus - on the cheap! on: January 26, 2013 04:36:59 PM
I don't know what it is with people and their dashes of paprika or hot sauce. Tongue I add about a teaspoon of chilli powder to mine per cup of chickpeas.

kstaron, basil is a *great* idea. I'll have to try that. Cheesy I always add lemon or lime juice (depends on what's available and good), but the basil is completely new for me. Smiley

In a batch without the basil, I'd suggest adding cumin. Adds very nice flavour. And tahini, aka sesame seed paste. Not too much since it can overpower - say, a tablespoon to about a cup or so of chickpeas.
8  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Naan on: January 26, 2013 04:23:27 PM
MissingWillow, I've only dry-fried my naan on my cast iron griddle on the stove. I think next time I'll try baking them. The recipe I use is very similar to yours, but I use wild yeast (aka sourdough starter that isn't sour) instead of commercial yeast.

They look delicious. I sometimes make naan bread but I have never tried them with yoghurt in the dough. I shall try it next time.
Since you have your own farm, you probably could make fabulous cheese naans.

The yoghurt in the naan makes the naan really soft.

I wonder if I could make the dough in my bread machine on the dough setting, then roll it out and bake it. That's how I do all the other breads and rolls I make.
It absolutely would work.


I don't have a mixer or a bread machine. I also don't knead my dough much. I use a low-knead method that goes like this...

Mix the dough. You're not looking for smooth, but rather a shaggy mess. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid. This is called autolyse. Then knead the dough for ten strokes and let sit for 15-30 minutes - repeat this step three or four times. Then the dough is ready for shaping.

I use the low-knead method because a. it works b. it's so much easier on my problem joints c. it doesn't require another piece of equipment that takes up room in my very small kitchen.
9  COOKING / Dessert / Re: Rubbery Texture on: July 24, 2012 08:56:42 PM
Yup, overmixing will do it. When you overmix, you're activating the gluten, which is great for bread but not for cake.
10  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: Coconut oil on: June 20, 2012 10:49:22 PM
I've benefitted from the flavour, that's for sure... Health benefits are hard to pick out as to being caused by coconut oil in particular, so no idea there.

Coconut oil, unrefined, is used in Sri Lankan cooking as well as in other cuisines in the region. It adds a distinctive but subtle coconut flavour to the curries that really is necessary for authentic Sri Lankan flavours. It's actually our main cooking oil.
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