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Espresso machineBesides hot coffee, you can be served up plain iced coffee (usually with milk added), iced cappuccino, and even iced espresso. You can also have your coffee in forms other than liquid. There is coffee flavored ice cream, chocolate covered coffee beans, and even coffee syrups to put over ice cream or puddings. You can put coffee in cakes, frostings, cookies, and candies. You can even have Mocha Sodas and Frosted Mochas. 

For Mocha Sodas:

Mix a half cup of strong coffee with 2 cups milk. Put a scoop of chocolate ice cream in each of four soda glasses. Pour the coffee-milk mix into each glass, dividing it equally among the four glasses. Finish off each glass with club soda or other fizzy drink, and top with whipped cream.

Frosted Mochas are a blend of coffee, chocolate syrup, and vanilla ice cream.


Snow DriftHow much you stock your larder in anticipation of storms or power outages depends on where you live. If you live in the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Gulf Coast, or in the East, a storm (winter or summer) can be very serious. In the Northern Plains, winters are normally harsh and winter storms really are the blizzards of the Little House on the Prairie books. There, the stores are usually full of customers before a winter storm with folks stocking up on milk, bread, and serious munchies. Even in cities in this region, travel the day after a storm is difficult. If you live in a small town or on a ranch or farm, getting into town to a major grocery store may be impossible until the roads are plowed. 

Click to continue reading Hurricanes, Snow Storms, and Power Outages

PantryWhen you start stocking up for winter, you will automatically be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Take advantage of store sales. Pick up extra flour or another frozen pie crust (if you don’t make your own) if your grocery store offers them at a good price. Start thinking of tucking in an extra can or box of this or that as you shop now.  Over the next few weeks, you should be able to have most of your staples ready in preparation for your holiday dinners or just in case unexpected guests drop in. 

Another way to tackle your holiday shopping is to make out your menus well ahead of time. Then draft your grocery lists. As you shop each week, pick up something on your holiday shopping list. That way you will be spreading the cost over the coming weeks and take advantage of sales. Your perishables will be the only things you will need to buy right before you entertain. 

Click to continue reading Start Stocking Up Now for the Holidays

Root CellarOur pioneer grandmothers also stored root vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots, and turnips)  in aptly named root cellars. These were usually dirt-floored rooms dug into the ground with a door on top. Vegetables were stored in baskets, laid out on shelving, or buried in sand to keep them from drying out.  Most basements and many garages today however are heated, making storing root vegetables there no different than storing them in your kitchens. 

Click to continue reading Storing Garden Abundance: Root Veggies, Garlic, and Tomatoes

Canning JarsIn years past, almost every woman in America canned or dried garden produce. Some of us still do today. With the advent of bigger and better freezers, more people have opted to freeze fruits and vegetables. You can still get great information about canning and freezing from your County Extension office in your city or town. Or, you can go to the library and find books about canning safety and recipes to use with a pressure cooker or water-bath canner.

Most fruits and vegetables can be blanched briefly in hot water and then put into freezer bags. Label each bag with the contents and the date it was frozen. Freezer bags can be stacked easily or put into cartons in the freezer.

Herbs can also be frozen. Wash them well, pack in small quantities, and freeze them as flat as you can.  You can usually break off a bit as you need it. Frozen herbs are best used in foods that will be cooked.

Empty jarsWhen the crisp air of these mornings whispers to us that fall is on its way, many of us start thinking about stocking up for those cold days to come. Our foremothers did it out of stark necessity and with some real urgency. If they didn’t prepare for winter–and prepare well, they might starve. Today, though we won’t necessarily starve if we don’t put food by, we still prepare our larders for winter whether we live in an apartment or a Victorian mansion. 

There are three good reasons why we stock up for winter. The first, like our grandmothers, is to store the abundance of our gardens so that we can enjoy it all winter long. The second reason is to stock up for the coming holidays when our homes will receive guests. And the last reason is to prepare for snow storms and power outages when it might be difficult to get out to a grocery store.

We will be offering tips on putting food by over the coming days.

Salt productsAdd a bit of salt to baked goods. It will balance the flavors of the sweets.

A pinch of salt to egg whites will increase their volume when you whip them for meringue.

Salting eggplant will make them sweat out their bitterness.

Don’t salt steaks before grilling. They will brown but be drier because the salt will draw out the moistness from the center. Salt afterwards.

Always add a bit of salt to any bread recipe. It will have a finer texture and more flavor. But, add it after you have proven the yeast (after the yeast froths) or mix it in with the flour.

Herb MillFresh herbs can add zest to salads and soups or eye appeal as a garnish on an entree, but mincing them fine enough by hand can be a labor of love and can take a long time.  Using a hand herb mill might save you some time and effort.  These gadgets, a little over 8 inches long, have rotary steel blades that can make short work of mincing herbs and produce them as finely as any master chef.

All you do is select your favorite herbs; for example, a sprig of parsley or cilantro or a bunch of basil. Wash the herbs and pat dry on a paper towel. Put them in the hopper of the mill and crank away.

Many herb mills are made of stainless steel and are dishwasher safe. Often the handles can be adjusted for the person who is right-handed or left-handed.  The mill can also be used to chop nuts.

Oil CruetFreshly made salad dressings can enhance any salad green. The trick is to produce a dressing that is light without masking the subtle flavors of the salad. A splash of olive oil or balsamic vinegar often is all that is needed.

For those who can’t bear their salad greens naked, we recommend good olive oil, either extra virgin - or the new - lighter-tasting varieties. Either white vinegar or cider vinegar can be used in many salad dressing recipes.

Chef Scott’s tip: For any salad dressing, always whisk the oil into the vinegar either before adding the other ingredients or afterwards. This will keep the oil from “breaking” or separating from the dressing. But if you are dressing the salad before plating and will not be serving the dressing on the side, you can just mix and pour. Whisking the oil into the dressing, however, is a good habit to get into.

Olive OilThe subtle flavors of delicate mixed greens should not be masked by heavy dressings, like cream and highly-spiced ones.  A splash of olive oil or balsamic vinegar can often be all that is needed. French vinaigrette, a light dressing made with cider vinegar or lemon juice, oil, salt, and a pinch of dried mustard, is the perfect mate for delicate greens.  If you are calorie-conscious, make your vinaigrette with the following formula: 1 part lemon juice or vinegar, 1 part oil, 2 parts water, salt, and dried mustard. You can add garlic and/or light herbs like dill or thyme.