TIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING

TIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING

Summer living should be easy. We have more hours of sunlight to enjoy, vacations and travel plans to look forward to and the relaxation of long lazy weekends. Let’s make it even easier with some handy cooking tips, tricks, and timesavers for our favorite summer foods.

SALADS

TIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING
If winters are meant for hot hearty stews, summers are meant for light, crispy salads

Nothing ruins a great salad like brown or soggy lettuce. But how do you prep your salad ahead of time and still keep that lettuce crisp?

  • Remove the core from your romaine or iceberg lettuce before refrigerating. This will keep the lettuce fresher until you are ready to  wash and use it
  • Submerge washed lettuce leave in a bowl of ice water and a teaspoon of salt and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shake off (or spin) the excess water and place in a large container, cover with paper towels and store in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to make your salad, even if it’s a day later, your lettuce will still be green and crispy!

EGGS

TIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING
Eggs are delicious little powerhouses of protein goodness

Whether a side dish or the main dish, salads often call for the inclusion of boiled eggs. I’m here for that!

Here are some quick tips for those oval treats:

  • Store eggs pointy side down. All eggs contain a small air pocket at the wider end. Storing eggs with the pointy side down keeps this air pocket at the top and less likely to rupture and cause the egg to spoil.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda or a few lemon wedges to cooking water and the shell will glide off when you’re ready to peel
  • Do not store on the door of your refrigerator. The constant temperature changes will cause eggs to spoil faster than storing them on a shelf in the interior of the refrigerator.
  • If you’re in doubt about the freshness of an egg, try this quick freshness test:
    drop egg into a bowl of water.

If it floats, it’s likely to not be fresh

If it remains submerged, but the wide end is “up”, it’s not as fresh but perfectly good for boiling

If it sinks and lays horizontal, it’s fresh!

Keep in mind, though, that this is only a rule of thumb for gauging the freshness of an egg, not whether it or not it has spoiled. If you’re using a recipe that specifically calls for “fresh” eggs, you want to go for the “sinkers”.

FRUIT

TIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING
Nothing says "summer's here" like an abundance of fresh fruit

Not only are fresh fruits available in colorful abundance - they are also cheaper! But, can you have too much of a good thing?  Only if you let that abundance go to waste! Here are a few simple tricks for extending the fresh factor:

  • Wrap your banana stems in aluminum foil to delay ripening. It will add at least a week to the life of your bananas!
  • You can also freeze bananas, peel and all for a tasty frozen treat. Even though the peel will turn brown, the inner fruit will be unchanged.
  • Bananas don't have to be refrigerated but should be kept in a cool spot away from your other fruits, especially apples. Both fruits release ethylene so storing them close to each other will cause both to ripen (and spoil) much quicker!
  • Store your tomatoes (yes they are fruit!) in a cool dry place - not the refrigerator
  • Wash your berries in a 1:3 ratio of vinegar and water to prevent mold and significantly extend the non-spoilage time in the refrigerator
  • Toss in a few apples with your stored potatoes - they will keep your potatoes fresh for up to 2 months and prevent them from sprouting
  • A good rule of thumb for storing your fruits for maximum shelf life:
    If it has a pit (i.e. peaches) it can be bought slightly unopened and stored unrefrigerated; the fruit will continue to slowly ripen without spoiling.

Tips to freeze your summer fruits so they will still be in peak condition for those winter treats

  • Arrange washed berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze before placing them in airtight freezer storage containers - this will prevent them from “clumping” together.
  • Dip sliced fruits in a mix of water/lemon juice (1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1 quart water) before freezing to prevent the fruit from turning brown.
  • Even watermelon can be frozen for later use in yogurts, fruit cups, and smoothies. Simply cut into bite-size chunks, arrange in a single layer on your baking sheet, freeze and store in your airtight freezer containers as you would berries.

STAYING HYDRATEDTIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING

Staying hydrated during the summer months can be challenging - making sure we add fresh fruits and veggies make it easier.

Cucumbers, celery, star fruit, watermelon, grapefruit, and berries make a colorful and tasty addition to spruce up that plain glass of water

You can also step up your hydrating game by including lots of raw veggies in your diet.  These all have a water content of at least 90%:

Cauliflower

Iceberg lettuce

Tomatoes

Green Peppers

Spinach

Broccoli

Summer is also a great time to experiment with refrigerator tea - flavored by your favorite fruits.

TIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING
Another great way to up your summer hydration and nutrition is to put a modern spin on an old fashion treat:  Sun Tea.

The jury is still out on the exact health benefits of tea, but many studies do suggest that there is a positive relationship between tea and depression, liver function, coronary health, and diabetes. One thing is certain though - a cold glass of tea, with half the caffeine of coffee, only 2 calories per serving, and high in antioxidants, is a guilt-free and delicious summer drink.

While our grandmothers' method of making sun tea was yummy, I don't recommend it!  What we know today that they didn't know is that the temperature of the "sun tea" won't rise above 130 which will encourage bacterial growth.  So make "refrigerator tea" instead! Just as effortless, just as tasty, and no danger of harboring pesky bacteria.  Sorry, Gram!

To make refrigerator tea simply place 4 tea bags per quart of water in a large glass jar, add sliced strawberries, orange wedges or your fruit of choice and place in the refrigerator overnight.  That's it.  When ready to serve just remove the tea bags, stir and pour over ice.

Hint:  a truly delicious combination is crushed mint leaf and strawberry.

Grilling

TIPS TRICKS & TIMESAVERS FOR SUMMER COOKING

Yea, that 2-liter bottle of coke that you can buy for under $2.  Added bonus if you're calorie conscious:  a 4 oz serving of skirt steak has about 60 calories less than a 4 oz serving of ribeye.   And, if you're watching your wallet as well as your waistline:  we're talking about an average of $6 a pound cost difference.

The "science" behind this hack is pretty simple.  The soft drink contains acids (CO2+H20=H2CO3) and sugar.  The acids tenderize the meat during the marinating process, and the sugars help caramelize the meat under the heat of the cooking process.

I don't like getting "fancy" with my steaks (I save that for desserts) so I don't add any extra spices to the coke marinade.  But, you can add any spices you prefer- or even barbecue sauce and it won't change the tenderization process.

For my fellow "Keep It Simple" cooks, just submerge the meat in a glass bowl or other container filled with coke, allow to marinate in the fridge for a few hours to overnight and transfer to the grill.  Then salt and pepper to taste.

Easy breezy cooking, the way summer cooking should be - without breaking your budget

 

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