Joey Green has fascinated readers for more than a decade with his quirky and innovative tips to make domestic engineering a lot more fun. Now fans will be completely intrigued and entertained by Joey's kitchen--and pantry-focused ideas, like using Canada Dry Club Soda to buff stainless steel appliances and flexible fabric Band-Aids as labels for frozen foods.
Filled with time- and money-saving ideas, Joey Green's Kitchen Magic offers clever ways to make household items do double duty, like using ReaLemon for revitalizing wilted asparagus, L'eggs Panty Hose (clean, of course) for removing corn silk, and Oral-B Dental Floss for slicing layer cake. He shares unusual ideas for kitchen troubles, like stirring in Jif Peanut Butter to save burnt gravy and using Efferdent to clean the coffeepot. Joey even tosses in home remedies from the kitchen (soothe a blister with Carnation Nonfat Dry Milk) and simple recipes (try Slow-Cooker Brisket with a Coca-Cola marinade).
Whether it's a quick fix (Eggo Waffles for hot dog buns, anyone?) or an emergency substitution (Bounty Paper Towel for a coffee filter), there are loads of useful and entertaining tips for making the most of brand-name purchases.
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Shopping and Storing
Dairy and Eggs
• Domino Sugar Cubes and Ziploc Storage Bags. To prevent mold from forming on a block of cheese, place the cheese and a few Domino Sugar Cubes in a Ziploc Storage Bag, seal the bag partially shut, suck out the excess air from the bag, and seal tightly. The sugar cubes attract the mold spores away from the cheese. Change the sugar cubes every few days.
• Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar. To prevent a chunk of cheese from getting moldy, dampen a soft, clean piece of cheesecloth with Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar, wrap it around the block of cheese, seal it in a Ziploc Storage Bag or airtight container, and refrigerate. The acetic acid in the vinegar helps prevent the growth of mold without affecting the flavor of the cheese. Refresh the cheesecloth with more vinegar when necessary.
• Morton Salt. To prevent cheese from molding in the refrigerator, dissolve two tablespoons Morton Salt in three cups of water, dampen a cloth with the salt water, and wrap the block of cheese in the damp cloth before refrigerating.
• Reynolds Cut-Rite Wax Paper and Saran Wrap. Natural cheese contains enzymes and bacteria that require air and moisture to survive. Rewrap cheese in a sheet of Reynolds Cut-Rite Wax Paper, followed by a sheet of Saran Wrap and refrigerate to create a healthy microenvironment. After using some of the cheese, rewrap the remaining cheese in fresh waxed paper and fresh plastic wrap.
• Ziploc Storage Bags. Store grated cheese in a Ziploc Storage Bag in the freezer to prevent mold from forming. Seal the bag partially shut, suck out the excess air from the bag, and seal tightly.
• The best places to buy cheese: a specialty market, a cheese shop, or a gourmet food store that specializes in cheeses.
• Check the label to ensure that the cheese is well within its expiration date. Question whether any cheese offered at a bargain price has passed its expiration date.
• Before buying cheese, check the aroma, appearance, and flavor. Avoid any cheese that smells like ammonia, sour milk, or a barnyard. Make sure the cheese appears free of cracks, discoloration, and mold (except for blue cheese). If possible, taste a sample of the cheese before you buy.
• If you have any dietary restrictions or concerns, check the label on the cheese or ask the cheesemonger to determine whether the cheese was made from pasteurized or raw cow, goat, or sheep milk and whether the cheesemaker used animal, vegetal, or microbial rennet.
• Avoid buying more cheese than you will consume within a few days.
• If you accidentally purchase a spoiled cheese, return the cheese to the store for an exchange or refund.
• Don't be repulsed by the unsightly appearance of some types of cheese. Many cheeses taste wonderful even though they look hideous.
• To prolong the shelf life of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, store the container upside down in the refrigerator.
• Store packages of blue cheese and Roquefort cheese in the freezer. To prepare a salad, use a paring knife to scrape the cheese, causing it to crumble beautifully.
• The following cheeses can be frozen and will remain fresh: Cheddar, French, Greek, Italian, Swiss, and processed cheese. Cream-cheese dips can also be frozen. If the cream cheese appears grainy after being thawed, simply whip the dip thoroughly.
• If a blue-green mold forms on the outside of hard cheeses (with the exception of fresh cheese or blue cheese), cut it off roughly one-half inch below the mold. The remaining cheese is safe to eat.
• Cottage cheese can be frozen. However, when thawed, it breaks down. Whip it until creamy and use it in cooking.
• Processed cheese sold in jars does not require refrigeration until opened.
• Store cheese in the vegetable or fruit bin (where the humidity is highest) of a refrigerator set between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep cheese away from the freezer compartment and the meat bin, where the cheese might accidentally freeze.
• Place strong, pungent cheeses in airtight containers to prevent the aroma of the cheese from permeating other foods stored in your refrigerator.
• Store cheeses separately to prevent them from acquiring each other's flavors.
• Freezing natural cheeses may turn the texture dry and crumbly and may alter the flavor. To defrost frozen cheese, place the cheese in the refrigerator, so it thaws slowly. You can still use the defrosted cheese for cooking or for topping salads.
• If any cheese becomes excessively dry, develops a slimy texture, or exudes an ammoniated or peculiar odor, throw it away.
• Soft cheeses tend to spoil before aged cheeses because they contain more moisture, making them more prone to bacterial growth.
• Crayola Crayons. To differentiate hard-boiled eggs from raw eggs in the refrigerator, mark the hard-boiled eggs with a Crayola Crayon.
• Morton Salt. To store unbroken egg yolks intact for up to one week, dissolve one-eighth teaspoon Morton Salt into one-half cup of cool water, and pour the salty solution into a jar. Carefully slide the yolk into the jar without breaking the membrane, making certain the salt water covers the yolk completely. Seal the lid and refrigerate. Before using the yolk, simply drain out the salt water.
Food for Thought
SURE AS EGGS
• Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Eggs stored at room temperature lose the same quality in one day that a refrigerated egg loses in a week.
• Medium eggs weigh at least twenty-one ounces per dozen, large eggs weigh at least twenty-four ounces per dozen, extra-large eggs weigh at least twenty-seven ounces per dozen, and jumbo eggs weigh at least thirty ounces per dozen.
• Two medium eggs, unbeaten, yield approximately one-quarter cup of egg.
• Eggs stored in the carton remain fresh longer than eggs stored in the refrigerator egg shelf. The snug carton prevents the eggs from losing moisture quickly and absorbing odors from the refrigerator.
• Eggs stored with the large end up remain fresh longer than eggs stored with the large end down. With the large end up, the air pocket inside the egg rises to the top, keeping the yolk centered.
A Good Egg
Brown eggs are neither tastier nor more nutritious than white eggs. Brown eggs and white eggs are equally nutritious. The only difference between different colored eggs is the breed of the hen that lays it.
Milk and Cream
• Morton Salt. To extend the shelf life of milk and cream and prevent spoilage, add a pinch of salt to the milk or cream. The small amount of salt does not affect the taste of the milk or cream.
• Ziploc Storage Bags. One bad apple can indeed spoil the whole bunch. The excessive ethylene gas produced by the bad apple triggers the healthy apples to rot. Instead of storing apples in a brown paper bag, store the fruit in a Ziploc Storage Bag so you can see whether any apples are going bad and remove the rotten apples before they contaminate the good fruit. Using a hole puncher, perforate a few holes in the Ziploc Storage Bag. The holes permit air movement, while allowing the bag to retain the ethylene that hastens ripening.
Food for Thought
AN APPLE A DAY
• When buying apples, look for a light green color at the bottom of each fruit--an indication that the apple is sufficiently ripe.
• Buy firm, hard apples that look fresh and crisp, without any soft spots or bruises.
• For eating, the best apples are Baldwin, Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan, McIntosh, Opalescent, Pippin, Red Delicious, Stayman, and Winesap.
• For baking, the best apples are Granny Smith, Jonathan, Northern Spy, and Rome Beauty.
• For pies, the best apples are Cortland, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Greening, Northern Spy, and Pippin.
• Store apples in the fruit bin in your refrigerator, but make sure they do not touch each other--to prevent bad apples from spoiling good apples.
• Forster Toothpicks. To test whether an avocado is ripe, insert a Forster Toothpick into the fruit near the stem. If the toothpick goes in and slides back out easily, the avocado is ripe.
Food for Thought
A QUICK PIT STOP
• When buying an avocado, make sure the green skin is spotted with brown, and press the leathery skin to make sure the flesh underneath is soft.
• An unripe avocado is green, shiny, and hard. To ripen avocados, place them in a brown paper bag and store in a warm, dark place. Adding a ripe apple inside the bag speeds the ripening by releasing ethylene gas.
• Store ripe avocados in the refrigerator.
• Bounty Paper Towels. To ripen green bananas, wrap them in a damp sheet of Bounty Paper Towels and place them in a bag, and store in a dark, cool place. Adding an overripe banana to the bag speeds up the ripening by releasing ethylene gas.
• Ziploc Storage Bags. Place ripe, unpeeled bananas in a Ziploc Storage Bag, remove as much air as possible before sealing, and store in the refrigerator. The cold turns the skin dark brown but preserves the banana color and flavor inside, impeding further ripening.
Food for Thought
• Store bananas in a light, cool place. Darkness ripens bananas.
• Saran Wrap and Ziploc Storage Bags. To freeze berries, spread the berries on a cookie sheet, cover with a sheet of Saran Wrap, and place in the freezer for twenty minutes. Then place the frozen berries in a Ziploc Storage Bag, remove as much air as possible, seal securely, and freeze.
Food for Thought
FROM THE BERRY PATCH
• When buying berries, examine the bottom of the container for juice stains from squished or moldy berries. If the bottom appears overly stained, the berries may not be fresh.
• Upon getting berries home, discard any spoiled berries to prevent mold from spreading quickly to the good berries.
• Do not wash or hull berries before storing them in the refrigerator. They stay fresh longer when unwashed.
• Ziploc Storage Bags. To freeze cherries, rinse well, pat dry, pit, place inside a Ziploc Storage Bag, and store in the freezer for up to one year.
• Saran Wrap and Ziploc Storage Bags. To freeze cranberries, spread the cranberries on a cookie sheet, cover with a sheet of Saran Wrap, and place in the freezer for twenty minutes. Then place the frozen berries in a Ziploc Storage Bag, remove as much air as possible, seal securely, and freeze. Stored in the freezer, fresh cranberries last for months.
• Ziploc Storage Bags. To store dried fruit fresh for a longer period, seal the dried fruit in a Ziploc Storage Bag and place it in the freezer.
• Ziploc Storage Bags. Using a hole puncher, perforate a few holes in a Ziploc Storage Bag. Place the eggplant in the bag and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Food for Thought
PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGPLANTS IN ONE BASKET
• When buying eggplant, choose small, heavy ones, which tend to be sweeter and meatier.
• To determine whether an eggplant is overripe, gently press the skin. If the dent quickly pops out and vanishes, the eggplant is ripe. If the dent remains, the eggplant is overripe.
• Scotch Tape. To remove sticker labels from fruit without damaging the peel, place a small strip of Scotch Tape over the sticker, and then peel off the tape and sticker together as one.
Food for Thought
• Do not wash fruits before storing them. The moisture will cause them to decay faster. Instead, store fruits unwashed and wash them before eating or preparing.
• To buy the juiciest grapefruits, do not judge grapefruits by the yellowness of their skin. Instead, choose the grapefruits with the thinnest skins.
• Saran Wrap. To store a whole pineapple in the refrigerator for up to three days, wrap the pineapple below the crown in Saran Wrap.
Food for Thought
PINING FOR PINEAPPLE
• To determine whether a pineapple is ripe, pull out one of the inner leaves from the crown. If it comes out easily, the pineapple is ripe.
• Mr. Coffee Filters. To keep unwashed strawberries fresh in an airtight container, place a folded Mr. Coffee Filter on top of the strawberries, secure the lid shut, and store upside-down in the refrigerator. The coffee filter absorbs any excess moisture that might otherwise turn the strawberries soggy.
• Saran Wrap and Ziploc Storage Bags. To freeze strawberries, spread the berries on a cookie sheet, cover with a sheet of Saran Wrap, and place in the freezer until they freeze solid. Then place the frozen berries in a Ziploc Storage Bag, remove as much air as possible, seal securely, write the date on the bag, and freeze.
Food for Thought
STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER
• Buy strawberries with bright green caps.
• Storing strawberries in a colander in the refrigerator allows the cold air to circulate around the strawberries, keeping them fresh for several days.
• Newspaper and Scotch Tape. When taking a refrigerated whole watermelon on a picnic, wrap the cool watermelon in pages from newspaper secured in place with Scotch Tape. The newsprint seals in the coolness.
Food for Thought
WHEN THE TIME IS RIPE
• To determine whether a watermelon is ripe, rap the hard skin with your knuckles. You should hear a low, deep echo.
Table of Contents
But First, a Word from Our Sponsor xiii
Chapter 1 Shopping and Storing
Dairy and Eggs 1
Herbs and Spices 13
Meat, Chicken, and Fish 15
Shopping Supplies 19
Sweets and Treats 20
Chapter 2 Cookware and Tableware
Cake Pans 32
Cake Plates 32
Cast-Iron Cookware 33
Cutting Boards 35
Dishwashing Liquid 35
Garbage Palls 36
Jar Labels 37
Jar Opener 38
Measuring Cups 38
Measuring Spoons 39
Meat Mallets 39
Nonstick Cookware 40
Oven Mitts 40
Plastic Containers 40
Plastic Wrap 41
Pot Holders 41
Pots and Pans 41
Rolling Pins 42
Rubber Gloves 43
Salt and Pepper Shakers 44
Serving Spoons 44
Shelf Liners 45
Steel Wool Pads 46
Sifters and Strainers 46
Wooden Salad Bowls 47
Wooden Spoons 48
Chapter 3 Appliances and Gadgets
Bread Machine 52
Can Opener 53
Coffee Filters 53
Coffee Grinder 54
Coffee Percolator 55
Electric Skillet 59
Fire Extinguisher 60
Food Processor 60
Garbage Disposer 63
Meat Grinder 65
Microwave Oven 65
Oven Racks 69
Pressure Cooker 71
Range Hood 72
Refrigerator Drip Trays 75
Rice Cooker 75
Slow Cooker 76
Stove Burner Drip Plates and Burner Grates 77
Stove Knobs 78
Toaster Oven 80
Waffle Iron 81
Chapter 4 Food Secrets
Baking Powder 87
Baking Soda 87
Barbecue Sauce 89
Brown Sugar 100
Brussels Sprouts 101
Collard Greens 141
Corn Syrup 146
Dried Fruit 150
Frozen Food 169
Herbs and Spices 181
Honeydew Melon 183
Hot Chocolate 183
Ice Cream 185
Jams and Jellies 185
Lemons and Limes 187
Lima Beans 189
Milk and Cream 204
Pork Chops 229
Salad Dressing 241
Snow Cones 248
Sour Cream 254
String Beans 256
Sweet Potatoes 259
Chapter 5 Astonishing Kitchen Remedies
Athletes Foot 269
Bad Breath 270
Body Odor 271
Chapped Lips 273
Colds and Flu 273
Cuts and Scrapes 275
Food Poisoning 280
Gum in Hair 280
Ice Packs 282
Insect Bites 284
Itchy Skin 284
Sore Throat 286
Tongue Burn 287
Chapter 6 Cleaning Up the Mess
Aluminum Cookware 289
Broiler Pan 290
Broken Glass 291
Butcher Block 292
Candle Wax 293
Carpet Stains 293
Casserole Dishes 296
Cast-Iron Cookware 297
Cleanser Cans 299
Coffee and Tea Cups 300
Crystal Glassware 305
Crystal Vases 306
Cutting Boards 308
Drain Boards 310
Enamel Pots and Pans 312
Garbage Pails 315
Kitchen Magnets 317
Lunch Boxes 317
Nonstick Cookware 319
Plastic Containers 321
Pot Scrubber 322
Pots and Pans 323
Scouring Powder 326
Sink Mats 327
Spilled Milk 330
Sports Bottles 330
Stainless-Steel Appliances 331
Tablecloths and Napkins 332
Thermos Bottles 334
Waffle Iron 335
Walls and Wallpaper 336
Wine Stains 336
Wooden Spoons 337
The Fine Print 341
Trademark Information 345
About the Author 370