Wednesday, November 14, 2012

cooking and cleaning secrets of the great Charlotta

Okay--none of these are really secrets.  But, for some reason, I felt like taking pictures of some of my basic habits and discoveries in the kitchen.  It's sure to be an exciting post, so you'll want to read on for sure!

FIRST OFF:  RICE

I use my vegetable steamer more often for rice than anything else.  That's because I like roasted vegetables more than steamed vegetables.  Sometimes though, when I don't feel like heating up the kitchen, or if I'm in more of a hurry, I will put the veggies in here.  Most of the time though, it's rice.

My mom gave me this steamer probably 10+ years ago for Christmas.  I doubt she remembers it, because I bought it with some credit that she had with the store in Cedar City that has a near monopoly on the wedding registry business (she had "bought out" one of my brothers earlier in the year, on the occasion of his wedding.  Come to think of it, she did the same for me and Eric a few years later.  Not before I used some of the credit to buy a hand-crank wheat grinder though.)  Photobucket

I have a hard time remembering the measurements and timing of the rice.  So, awhile back I wrote up the specifics and taped it to the steamer.  Handy.
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SECOND:  SAUCE

Last year I followed these cake easy instructions and made up a bunch of tomato sauce for freezing.  This year I did the same.  I like the fact that I know exactly what's in the sauce, as well as the fact that it's not stored in those cans that may or may not be lined with BPA.  If I don't remember to take the soup out of the freezer for thawing though (which is pretty much all the time), I have to thaw it right in the pan as I'm cooking.  That works fine, it just takes a little extra time.  Ah well.
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THIRD:  BREAKFAST

I've found a pancake recipe that I love.  Here it is.
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The thing is, when I'm making breakfast in the morning, I don't want to go through the trouble and measuring a bunch of cups of this and teaspoons of that.  So, every couple of months or so (more often if we're in a pancake phase), I'll put together a double or triple recipe of the dry ingredients and put them in a jar, with instructions like so:
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At one point I used powdered eggs.  I didn't like the pancakes as well though, so the next time, I left them out.  Hence the cross-out and then the circle with the !!! point, which is Charlotte-ese for "Pay no attention to the fact that this is crossed out.  You have to do this or you're gonna be in trouble!"

Of course, on the days when we don't have pancakes or eggs or oatmeal or what-have-you, there's always cereal.  Here's our current favorite.  It's a little spendy for a box, but I figure these guys are like grape nuts.  You don't need a whole lot to be filled up, so you don't end up going through the box as fast.  Of course, if you have two or three people who love them so much that they would eat them for three meals a day, then you do go through the box pretty quickly.  But eventually, the novelty has to wear off, right?  (RIGHT???)
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FOURTH:  DOING THE MOPPING (they always keep me hopping)
(We're in Cinderella mode around here these days.  I couldn't help myself.)

This is my version of a Swiffer mop.  I love it.  I was late to this party, but now that I'm here, I'll probably never leave.
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Funny story--I bought this version (it's an O Cedar Spray Mop) because on the day that I decided to finally go the spray mop route, I was standing in Wal-Mart, looking over the many selections, and when I saw this one, I remembered watching Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk of my childhood) strutting his stuff to sell it on Celebrity Apprentice.    I figured, if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.  (Of course, had it been more expensive than the others, then we all know that it wouldn't have been good enough for me.  Fickle and cheap my friends, fickle and cheap.)


The video that sealed the deal for me.  Cheesy but, at least in my case, effective.


I keep recipes for cleaning solutions, as well as a conversion chart taped to the inside of my spice cupboard.
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FIFTH:  LUNCH ON THE RUN

See that little container on the left?  That's a mini salad dressing holder.  It's made of silicone and is the perfect size for me to take in my lunch bag for work.  Love it.

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Speaking of salad dressings, here are recipes to my two current favorites:
Sweet Sesame Dressing
Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix (This site is run by a lovely woman who used to be my neighbor and friend back in my SUU days.  It's kind of fun to see that she's made the blogging big time, ya know?)

SIXTH:  KEEPING IT FRESH

Finally, I recently made this big purpose (as in, a month ago, after I had spent nearly a week solid filling ziploc freezer bags with tomato sauce and roasted tomatoes).  So far I've used it to freeze pomegranate seeds and chicken breasts, and I've got big plans for other items as well.  My (admittedly limited) experience has been great.  It's easy to figure out, it's quick, it's quiet, it doesn't take up a lot of space, and I'm confident that our food is going to last longer.  Not bad for $40.  (The actual cost was closer to $80, but I had a fair amount of Discover reward points that I cashed in.)
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And there you have it--the great kitchen secrets of moi.  What about you?  Have any handy dandy tricks to send my way?  You know I'll take 'em!

4 comments:

Jake said...

I wish I lived at your house, that Cracklin Oat Bran just looks delectable!

Charlotte said...

Are you teasing me? I can't tell for sure, but if you are, you don't know what you're talking about. Eating Cracklin Oat Bran is like eating crunchy oatmeal cookies for breakfast. I'm not even kidding. TRULY delectable!

Jake said...

I bet you told your daughter that the raisins were the best haloween treat as well. I think your oatmeal cookies may have a different ratio of oatmeal to cookie than mine.

Carol said...

Seeing your 'rice' recipe taped to your rice cooker reminds me of one of our classic family stories. When I was about 8 years old, my Aunt Audrey worked for a trucking company. Occasionally something would get damaged (like whole truck loads of stuff) that couldn't be delivered. So, we'd get a bonus of goods (usually more than anyone would ever want). In this story, it was large canisters of pancake mix. If I remember correctly, the pancakes were good.

Just prior to my Aunt giving us this huge canister of pancake mix she also had made a cake that we loved. My Aunt was a very efficient person -so she taped the cake recipe onto the canister of pancake mix. That way she wouldn't forget to give it to my Mom. All of us in the house knew what was in this non-labeled canister and that the cake recipe was just a bonus. (I bet you know where this is going.)

One day my oldest sister came home from university. She loved to cook and bake and thought that she would whip up this cake while waiting for us to come home (who knew where we were). She thought that since the recipe was on this canister of flour that she was to use that flour. You got it - we got a cake make with pancake mix instead of flour. Not exactly the result we were all looking for when we came home to a house smelling of freshly baked cake!

So to Jake - I say don't argue about the oatmeal to cookie dough ratio. Until you've had cake made with pancake batter - you don't know how good you have it!

To Charlotte - how wise of you to put the recipe on the item for which it should actually be used! (In a very long story - that is my tip!)

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