Tools, Tips, Tricks

imageI was very pleased to receive 3 bottles of new Palmolive® Fresh Infusions™ dish detergent from Influenster.  My normal brand, one that I never ever cheap out on or change is Palmolive® Oxy Alpine Purity.  It’s the only one I’ve bought for years.  I really hope the Fresh Infusions™ line works as well as the Oxy. 

Palmolive® Fresh Infusions™ is found at Walmart and Target and has three scents to choose from Lemon Thyme, Lime Basil, & Ginger White Tea.  I can vouch for the lime basil smelling ahhhmazing.  The ginger and white tea is a very light fragrance and the lemon smells pretty much like Joy.

Influenster is an online community that allows people to review products and companies honestly.  Active members of Influenster get exclusive access to deals, promotions, and swag from brands that want input.  I did receive these items for free so that I can give it a try and talk about it.  Once I decide how I like it, I’ll update this post.

Posted by Donna on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 09:10 PM
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Here are a few things that can help you out in the kitchen either as a convenience, substitution or money saving shortcut.

Buy a bunch of lemons.  Squeeze and strain the juice.  Freeze in ice cube trays then put the cubes in a ziplock.  Each cube is about 2 TBSP.  Zest the lemons with a microplane grater.  Freeze the zest.

Don’t throw away your orange peels.  Zest the orange before you peel it and freeze the zest.  It only takes a minute and the zest from citrus fruit adds just the thing to your baked goods.

When you cook a chicken or turkey, simmer the bones for stock.  Cover with water and cook down for 2 hours or so.  Cool, strain and freeze in ice cube trays.  Add a few cubes to soup, gravy, carbonara, etc.  You won’t believe how much flavour this will add to your food.

Save and freeze beef bones from steaks and such.  When you get a bunch, throw them in a pot, cover with water and simmer for a couple of hours.  Strain and freeze in ice cube trays.  Use in any beef based dish.

When you boil cabbage, save the cabbage water.  It makes a phenomenal base for vegetable soup and beef based soups.

Buy butter on sale and freeze it.

When you cook bacon, pour the grease off into a jar.  Use it in place of butter when you’re sauteeing onions, frying steak, etc.

If your blueberries are starting to shrivel, freeze them.  Use them in baked goods.

If your bananas are starting to get too brown, freeze them right in the skin.  Use them to make banana bread.

When you have a ham or large ham steak, cube some of it.  Put it in a baggie in the freezer and use it in potato or cheese soup.

Save the ends of your bread and freeze them even if the bread is stale.  Use them to make bread crumbs.  Put them in your food processor with some parsley, chives, italian seasoning, garlic salt, what have you. It’s a lot cheaper than buying them.

Make your own vanilla.  Buy 8 beans.  (I get them here.) Split them lengthwise and put 4 each in two ball jars and cover with one half pint of decent vodka.  Put it in a dark cupboard and shake the jar once in a while.  You’ll have two jars; one ”making” while you use the other.  It takes about 3 months until you can use it but all you have to do is add more vodka to the beans when it gets to about half full and use the other.  You can switch jar-to-jar like that and you will never have to buy expensive vanilla again. It gets better the older it becomes.  If you don’t want vanilla specks in your baked goods, strain what you’re using through a fine mesh sieve.  Don’t strain the whole jar though!

Put a vanilla bean or two in a cannister of sugar and use it in your coffee instead of that french vanilla cremora stuff.  It’s cheaper and tastes better.

For the above vanilla and vanilla sugar, you can use the beans after you’ve scraped out the good stuff for another purpose.  It will still flavour the vodka or sugar.  Also, if you buy beans from that site, save the pouch it comes in and stick it in your underwear drawer.  You’ll have vanilla scented undies...good enough to eat!  (Did I say that?)

Keep evaporated mile and instant potato flakes around.  You can use the milk in place of milk or cream in a pinch and the potato flakes make a good thickener for stew or any other roux based sauce that isn’t thick enough.

If you run out of buttermilk, add 2 TBSP of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  You won’t notice the difference.

If you run out of confectioner’s sugar, make your own.  Add 1-1/2 TBSP cornstarch to one cup regular sugar and whirl in the food processor or blender.

Posted by Donna on Thursday, January 07, 2010 at 02:03 PM
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The Aroma brand Electric Water Kettle.

DSCF2640 When I used to see these things on British television shows like “as Time Goes By,” and “At Home With The Braithwaites” I would think “Poncey Gits… Why cant you just boil it on the stove or in the microwave like normal people.” Then I saw my Food Network hero AB use one and I began to reconsider.  It took a long time for such kitchen gadgets to make their way to the backward-assed wastelands of Indiana.  No big surprise there though Parachute pants just went out of style a few days ago; mullets and muffin tops are still the fashion of the day.

But I digress.

Shortly before christmas I saw this baby on sale for $25 at the local outpost of civilization Target and picked it up. I won’t say that I can’t live without it, but damn! are these things handy. It’s great if (like the Brits) use it to make a spot of tea, but it’s also a hell of a lot more convenient and faster than using a burner and pot to boil water and much safer than nuking a big bowl of water and trying to move it across the kitchen to the counter while simultaneously hoping the bowl doesn’t slip from between the potholders and trying to avoid tripping over the always-helpful dog.

Seriously.  This has to rank as one of the best quarters I ever dropped in ‘09.

Posted by Mike on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 at 01:28 PM
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I recently purchased a Baker’s Secret Mini Fluted Tube Pan from  I had a pan quite like it but it was all bent and beat up.  I am a person who makes good use out of my pots and pans.  So I needed a new one.  I’m very put out by how hard it is to find baking pans that are not non-stick.  I like stainless steel without non-stick crap but after searching around for an hour, I settled on the non-stick one.  Whatever.

So it arrived and I was all, oh cool! until I went to peel the paper label off the top.

I am utterly disgusted with the glue they use to attach the paper to the pan.  I cannot remove this stuff.  It simply will not come off.  I have made my fingers sore trying to pick it off.  When I do get a little off, it sticks to my fingers and I can’t get it off of them!  I tried soaking in warm water, but water seems to just make it harder.image

I know there is a glue that comes off easily while holding paper firmly attached.  I’ve seen it.  Why can’t they use that?  I am left with a brand new pan that looks like hell.  I don’t even know what will happen to that glue mess if I tried to bake with it still on....which I totally would not even attempt to do.

How can this company charge people money for this crap with good conscience when they have to know (because I am not going to believe I am the only person with this problem) about this horrible issue?  I would return this to Amazon but they will charge me to ship it back since this is not their fault and shipping would be nearly as much as the $10 I paid for the pan.  Ten dollars might not be a lot of money, but it’s money I no longer have and have given to them for a product that is useless to me. 

I will NEVER buy another Baker’s Secret product.  Never.

Posted by Donna on Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 02:13 PM
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(This is NOT a paid or sponsored post.  This is solely my opinion.)

Sometimes there are products you just have to tell other people about.  People who love to cook and/or bake have certain tools they can’t do without.  I have many such tools and today I’d like to tell you about my wooden spoons.  I have the absolute best wooden spoons ever.  Seriously.  I do.  Everyone who has ever seen these, even people who don’t cook, remarks on them.

Years ago I volunteered in the museum store at Old Sturbridge Village.  I was lucky enough to win a set of wooden spoons while attending a summer barbecue function.  I will say that was one of the luckiest $1.00 door prize tickets I’ve ever bought.

These spoons are the absolute best wooden spoons I have ever owned...or seen for that matter.

These spoons are made by a company called Whetstone Woodenware.  I can’t even begin to tell you how pretty and sturdy they are.  They’re certainly built to do the job but it’s the look of them that will surprise you.  They have some weight but are not heavy.  They’re so well made, I can’t even imagine one cracking.  The surface of the spoon is like satin.  You have to touch them to believe just how satiny they feel.  They gleam even though I rarely oil mine...maybe once a year if I think about it and despite my abuse they do not even have a dry appearance.  (You should oil your woodenware at least once a month or so with mineral oil.)

I love these spoons so much, I highly recommend you go surf that site and spend a few bucks on the last woodenware you will ever need.  I think these would make an awesome gift for anyone who loves to cook.  Trust me.  Buying these spoons is money well spent.

Posted by Donna on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 01:10 PM
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