Category Archives: Helpful Tips

Turkey Gravy


Last week we talked about cooking the turkey. Now we need gravy to go with it. It’s easy to make. Honest. Just follow these directions.

Turkey Gravy

2 cups drippings from roast turkey
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the cornstarch and milk together in a small bowl or a glass jar with a lid until there are no lumps. Pour this mixture into the two cups drippings from the turkey in a saucepan.

Slowly heat until boiling. As the gravy thickens, add a little more milk if consistency isn’t right.

If the gravy gets too thin, add another tablespoon cornstarch to a small amount of milk to thicken.

See, it’s just that easy!


Herb Hints

hedge apples

For a different flavor and aroma on grilled meats, sprinkle the hot coals with soaked and drained dried herbs, fresh herbs, or garlic cloves.

Basil plants will repel mosquitoes and flies. Just keep a plant of two around the house.
When using fresh herbs instead of dried, use three to four times more to get the same flavor.

To keep ants away, place whole cloves or sage around the windows and doors or anywhere else they appear.

To keep spiders and other bugs out of the basement, put green hedge apples in the corners of your basement. (These sometimes mold, so keep your eyes open.)

What helpful hints do you know that you can share?

Food Allergies and their Remedies

food allergies.2Last week I posted a sugar cookie recipe which contained lime juice and lime zest.

I received a message from a reader who said, “No! Please do not promote the use of citrus in new and unusual places. Many of us are allergic to citrus. Last week I was in a restaurant in Estes Park where we had eaten many times in previous years. New owner. Lime in everything!!! The waitress said the kitchen said all I could have from their entire menu was a chicken breast they would cook individually for me and lettuce. We had waited twenty-five minutes for a table so I had an unseasoned grilled chicken breast, lettuce, and a Diet Coke.”

My apologies. I was not aware of citrus allergies. My post the week before was for peanut butter cookies which I know for some is a culprit. From here on, I’ll try to take that into consideration when posting.

The peanut allergy came front and center to my attention recently when we went out to dinner with friends. We ordered chicken wraps for an appetizer. After a few bites the lady who was with us asked if anyone tasted peanuts in the wrap. We agreed. Soon her ears began to itch, then her eyes. After we left the restaurant, we headed for their home for desert.

My husband and I rushed to the drugstore for some Benadryl to counteract her reaction. I asked the pharmacist which product to buy. She advised me that if my friend’s throat was swelling closed to buy the children’s liquid. If she experienced other reactions, to buy the pills.

By the time we got back my friend had lost her lovely dinner. She took the pills which seemed to help. We left and she went to bed.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of Benadryl sooner. When one of our sons was small, he seemed to be allergic to many things including food coloring, additives, and preservatives. In the course of treatment for those allergies, the doctor instructed me on the use of Benadryl to combat any allergic reaction.

For those of you allergic to any substance, please carry a supply of Benadryl with you at all times. You never know when an offending ingredient might pop into your palate.

Freezer Fairy’s Heist

ice cream.2Please note! I realized I sent this blog without any tags a few weeks ago so I am going to resend in case someone missed it.
This 4th of July I gathered the needed items for our annual picnic. All went well until I discovered the ice cream freezer fairy had made off with the cranking mechanism and inside barrel of the freezer. Not to worry. I’d hunt in the basement and find it. Besides, our eldest son, Trey, planned to bring an electric one to the gathering. With our family we need two in order to feed everyone these days.

After an extensive search, by three family members, we gave up. We’d just have to send the two batches through our son’s electric freezer. That way we could have two waves of dessert.

Then I remembered the recipe in the back of Family Favorites from the Heartland: Recipes Sure to Please. I gathered plastic freezer Ziploc bags and headed out to the picnic.

After our lunch, Trey and I mixed four eggs, two cups of sugar, four tablespoons vanilla and a dash of salt and filled the freezer to the fill line and then started his freezer.

Then I made another batch and added enough milk to make a gallon total. Then I put it into four quart Ziploc bags and then placed each bag into another quart Ziploc in case the first one leaked. I put those bags into a gallon size Ziploc along with rock salt and ice. We took turns shaking the bags. We poured off the melted ice and continued to add more rock salt and ice while we shook it.

Our bagged ice cream finished before the electric freezer. It turned out even harder than Trey’s freezer batch. Both were delicious. No leftovers.

If the freezer fairy never returns the working parts of our freezer, we now know we can still have homemade ice cream in spite of his heist.

Avoid Rotten Onions

rotten onion

When great-grandma stored fresh vegetables, she used a root cellar or put them in small wooden nail kegs covered with dirt in the back yard. This afforded the family fresh vegetables throughout the winter. I haven’t seen too many root cellars where I live. I don’t even know if nails come in kegs anymore. In this day and age we need to adapt.

Did you ever reach for an onion or garlic and find they’ve rotted? Here’s a solution a friend sent me the other day.

1. Put the onions and garlic in separate paper sandwich bags.

2. These are regular sandwich bags, but you have to prepare them first. Take a hole punch, fold the sandwich bag in half lengthwise, and punch holes every half inch down both sides. You want air to circulate around the vegetable.

3. Only fill the bag half full with your onions or garlic.

4. Fold the top over once and secure with a paper clip.

5. Label the contents with a magic marker.

6. Store in a dark place that doesn’t exceed 70 degrees F.

7. Avoid crowding the bags.

8. Avoid storing the vegetables in plastic bags and refrigerators. This will make them rot faster.

9. Store the onions and garlic separate from potatoes. The gasses they emit will cause both to rot quicker if stored in the same bin.

This is much easier than making a trip to the root cellar or digging up a nail keg from the back yard, don’t you think?