Cantaloupes Tips

Time to enjoy this sweet, juicy fruit. You may look at them in the market and wonder how you can tell if they are ripe. Unfortunately there is no way to know for sure until you cut it open, but there are three things you can do to help get a good tasting melon.

1. Pick one up and hold it in your hands. It should be heavy for its size and a    light beige color.

2. You’ll notice a round spot – that is where it was attached to the plant. Press on either side of the circle with your thumbs. It should give a little, or leave a slight indentation.

3. Then sniff the circle. It should have a sweet smell, like you would want it to taste.

When you bring your melon home, it may have passed all the tests for maturity and still not be completely ripe. Leaving it at room temperance for two or three days will ripen it to a good flavor and aroma. You can put it in a shady spot on the countertop, or, like other fruits, put it in a loosely closed brown paper bag at room temperature. This traps the ethylene gas that the cantaloupe releases and that helps the fruit to ripen. To encourage the ripening to go a little faster you can put a ripe banana or apple in the bag with the cantaloupe. The bag is porous, so the carbon dioxide escapes and oxygen comes in. This is important; otherwise the melon would ferment. As soon as it is fully ripe, store it in the refrigerator.


If you want to keep the melon whole for serving, put it into a tightly sealed plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about five days. Put cut-up melon into an airtight container (such as Tupperware) and keep it refrigerated for up to three days. This not only keeps the fruit fresh, but prevents the strong aroma from permeating other foods around it.


To prepare cantaloupe for freezing, cut it in half, cut off the rind, scoop out the seeds and cut it in whatever shapes you want it to be (balls, slices, etc). Then spread the pieces on a baking sheet and put it in the coldest part of your refrigerator. When they are frozen pour them into a freezer bag, leaving ½ inch of space for them to expand. Since they were frozen in separate pieces you’ll be able to take out just what you need at one time.

The melon will have a sweeter, deeper flavor if served at room temperature.

6 Cheese Facts And Tips – What You Should Know


When you take cheese out of the refrigerator to use it in a recipe, it can be kept on the counter up to an hour, but put it back as soon as possible. The heat from a warm kitchen will soften the cheese, and the change in texture could make a difference in your recipe.


Mold certainly looks unpleasant, but in some cases it doesn’t spoil the cheese. It doesn’t work its way into hard and semisoft cheeses, so because it’s only on the surface, it can be cut off and not affect the taste. Cut off ¼ to ½ inch of the affected cheese, then use it as soon as possible. Be careful not to get the knife into the mold, as it could spread it.


These terms are often used interchangeably, but they really are very different depending on how they are used in a recipe. Grated cheese tends to be more like powder, or with very small pieces, and works best with a hard cheese, such as parmesan. When you shred cheese it comes off in long strips, and takes longer to melt. Because of these differences they are used for different reasons. For instance, if you added grated cheddar to chili it would melt more quickly than if it was shredded. For grating you have a choice of many different graters, but an old-fashioned box grater is handy because you can either grate or shred with it. If you’re concerned about skinning your fingers, grate as long as you feel comfortable, and save the small pieces for a snack or cut them up and add to soup, salad, or a sandwich. They will keep well for a short time in the refrigerator. To make cleanup easier, spray the grater with cooking spray before grating the cheese. You can also grate with a food processor or blender, spraying the blades the same as a grater. Cut the cheese into small chunks and pulse in small batches.


Most cheese is easiest to cut when chilled. However, some hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, will be easier to cut if they are brought to room temperature. Round cheeses are to be cut in wedges, like a cake. Tall truckles are easier to serve if sliced horizontally. A “truckle” of cheese refers to a wheel of cheese usually taller than it is wide, and sometimes it has a barrel shape. Truckles vary greatly in size, from the wax-coated cheeses sold in supermarkets, to larger artisanal cheeses.


Heating cheese at a high temperature can make it curdle or separate, and sometimes gives it a leathery kind of texture. If you want to keep cheese warm after it is melted, it’s best to place it over low or indirect heat. If you are broiling foods that have cheese on the top, place it a few inches from the source of heat just long enough to melt it.


If a little liquid forms inside the package, it’s just whey from the cheese, and there’s no need to be concerned. You can wipe it off with a paper towel and enjoy the cheese.

4 Steps to Make Delicious Drop Cookies

Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly. Start with room temperature butter and cut it into cubes. You can tell if it is room temperature by gently pressing a finger on the butter. If it leaves a slight indentation it’s just right. Beat it on low speed for about 30 seconds or until it’s creamy. Add the sugar and beat on high until it’s fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape the sides of the bowl several times so that it’s all blended in. Be patient – this can take a few minutes, but it’s worth the effort, as it will give a nice rise and lightness to the cookies.

Don’t over-mix! Gradually stir flour mixture into the sugar mixture just until you don’t see any unmixed flour. Over-mixing will make the cookies flatter and they will look greasy – not too appetizing!

Chill the dough. You’ve been working in a warm kitchen, and chances are the dough has warmed up, especially the butter. Even 30 minutes in the frig will help, and it can be kept covered up to three days. The dough will stick together better, and it’s less likely to spread during baking.

Don’t over-bake! They will keep on cooking and getting crisper as they cool, so it’s a good idea to take them out of the oven before they are totally baked. Shiny metal pans help to keep them from getting burned on the bottom. Make sure to cool the pan before making another batch of cookies. Place the pan on the center rack and rotate it halfway through the baking time so they all cook evenly.

A warm cookie and glass of cold milk anyone?

Tips For Beating Egg Whites

If you have difficulty in beating egg whites into stiff peaks, these ideas may be helpful to you.

The whites will separate from the yolk best when they are cold, but will triple in volume if they are beaten at room temperature. So after separating the eggs, let the whites rest for about 30 minutes to warm up. If you are in a hurry, the bowl of whites may be set into a larger container with very warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes.

What you beat them in will make a big difference. A copper bowl is the best, because it makes high stiff peaks, takes less time to beat the whites and they will stay stiff longer. To get a similar result, the next best bowl would be stainless steel or glass. When beating them in an aluminum bowl they often turn a grayish color and look very unappetizing. Depending on what they have been used for, wooden bowls can have oil residue left from previous uses, and it can keep the whites from beating into stiff peaks.

Start beating the egg whites at low speed, gradually increasing the speed to medium-high. If you start at high speed it will cause air bubbles that keep the whites from making stiff peaks. Continue beating the whites and once they have reached the soft peak stage, gradually add the sugar (this ensures that the sugar fully dissolves into the foam). If sugar is added in the beginning it will take a lot of beating to get any peaks at all. Add the sugar a small amount at a time while you continue to beat. It helps to get stiff peaks and keep them from deflating if you add one-eighth teaspoon cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar for each egg white, or if you are making a meringue use one-eighth teaspoon for every two whites. Add before they begin to thicken.To make sure the sugar is completely added in, rub a little of the beaten white between your fingers. If it feels gritty, it needs to be beaten some more.

Be sure not to over beat, because the peaks will flatten and start to get watery. After you are finished beating, use them right away or the same thing will happen. If whites are over beaten they are apt to dry out.

If you are using the beaten whites as a meringue, you’ll have better success if you don’t make it in rainy or exceptionally humid weather. The meringue is mostly air, and moisture will make it go flat. To keep the meringue from shrinking, spread it on a pie when it’s hot.

Old-time Recipes

Here you will find recipes that you’re not likely to find on the Internet. They are recipes that have stood the test of time, taken from printed media or received from family members or friends, and enjoyed by families for a long time. If you have one you would like to share, please send it in an email, and include something about the story behind the recipe – how you got it and what it has meant to your family.

When my kids were growing up I was an avid recipe collector, and cut many out of magazines. This was their all-time favorite casserole, made with ordinary ingredients and fast to put together. When my younger son was married and living 3,000 miles away, he called me and asked me for the recipe. Now it is my grandchildren’s favorite! ~ Selma Roth

1 lb. ground beef
1 16 oz. can pork and beans
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. minced onion
1 tube small biscuits
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Brown ground beef; stir in the rest of ingredients except the cheese. Pour into 2 quart casserole. Cut biscuits in half and place them around edge of casserole with the cut edge in the mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake at 375° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.

Over 40 years ago a friend gave me a brownie recipe, and it’s still the only brownie recipe I use. They always come out fudgy and delicious. All the ingredients are mixed together in a sauce pan, so they are really easy to make. This is another recipe my younger son asked me to send to him. Some favorites live forever! ~ Selma Roth


2 sticks butter
4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
Melt together in a sauce pan, then add
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 pinches salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir until well blended and pour into ungreased 13×9 pan and bake about 25 minutes. Don’t over bake! The edges will be more done than the middle. Enjoy!

My grandma was a master pie baker, and one of the family’s favorites was her pumpkin pie served at our large family gatherings at Thanksgiving. It’s different from other pumpkin pies, as it is more like custard, and is sweeter. After her passing my mother carried on the family tradition. Because they served so many, the recipe is for three pies. If there isn’t a need for that many, they can be easily frozen for later use. ~ Georgia Adamson


1 large can plain pumpkin puree
2 t. salt
9 lg. eggs
2½ t. pumpkin pie spice
4½ c. sugar
2½ t. cinnamon
5 c. milk
Beat eggs and pumpkin in a large bowl. Mix in 1 c. milk and remaining ingredients. Mix in other 4 c. of milk. Pour mixture into prepared pie crusts and bake at 400 degrees until crust just begins to brown; then turn heat to 350 and bake until done (up to an hour). Knife stuck in center should come out basically clean. Makes enough for 3 ten-inch pies.

This is a recipe from my Grandma that was a favorite when I was growing up. Not long after moving out on my own it became my go-to Christmas gift, and continues to be today. ~ Jeff Bender-Baird


1 stick margarine (1/2 C)
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
2 C peanut butter
3 C crushed Rice Krispies (4 1/2 C uncrushed)
2 lb melted semi sweet chocolate
Mix first 4 ingredients, cover and refrigerate overnight. Form mix into balls. Melt chocolate in double boiler. Dip balls in melted chocolate. Cool on waxed paper.

Why Is Kale So Special?

When you buy kale, look for leaves that are firm and dark in color. They shouldn’t show any signs of wilting or getting brown, and not have any holes. Small leaves are best because they don’t have as strong a flavor as large ones. When you get it home, put it unwashed into an airtight bag and keep it in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for five to seven days. Much longer than that, it can begin to taste bitter. When you are ready to cook, rinse the leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt. There are many choices for ways to cook it other than with other foods.


Cut it into small pieces and let it sit for about five minutes before steaming it to bring out all their healthy goodness and great flavor.


Tone down the sharp taste, even though you lose a little of the vitamins. It’s worth it if you don’t like a strong bitter taste.


This is a slow way of cooking it, and tenderizes the tough leaves. It gives extra time for the other things you are cooking with it, like bacon and tomato, to flavor the greens.

Stir frying and sauteing are other tasty ways to cook kale.

If you are just getting into the kale revolution, you might wonder how to get it into your diet. Add it to pasta sauce, soups and stews, scrambled eggs, and mix it in with other vegetables. Bake it in the oven to make chips for a nutritious snack. Some people think it’s even tastier than potato chips! To eat it raw, add it to your favorite green smoothie, and make delicious salads.

There are other popular ways to enjoy kale. Any way you choose to eat it, you’ll know you’re eating healthy!

5 Must Know Facts About Garlic


The amount of flavor and aroma that uncooked garlic has depends on how much you cut it. It will have the strongest smell when you puree or mash it. Minced or chopped it’s a little less aromatic. When it’s just sliced it has a very mild smell, and a whole clove has no smell at all. When cloves are cooked or baked whole, they taste sweet, and have even been added to some desserts! When preparing garlic for cooking, it’s a good idea to think about how strong you want the flavor to be in the finished dish.


Buy garlic that feels firm, with no nicks or soft spots. Any powdery spots mean it’s getting moldy. You can buy minced or whole cloves that are preserved in olive or vegetable oil. They need to be refrigerated to keep bacteria from growing on them. You can do your own this way, but freshly peeled cloves always have the best flavor.


Unpeeled garlic should be kept uncovered in a cool, dry place. Don’t put them near other foods, as they may end up tasting like garlic! Unpeeled garlic shouldn’t be refrigerated or frozen. “You’d think that there’s no issue with refrigerating garlic; you may even think that the cool storage would preserve the stuff. But refrigerated garlic actually spoils faster than it should; it grows mold and gets soft quickly in the fridge. Instead, keep your whole heads of garlic out on the countertop, perhaps in a bowl with your whole onions, and only store peeled, chopped, or cooked garlic in the fridge.”

If it is stored properly it should last up to three months. As they get older, sprouts start to grow in each clove. They are bitter and should be tossed out before chopping the garlic.


To peel garlic, place it on a cutting board on its side, and gently press down with the flat side of a knife. If it doesn’t come off easily, it means that it’s very fresh. An easier way is to microwave it for about 15 seconds and the skin will come right off. But using a garlic press is the easiest way of all. The garlic doesn’t need to be peeled. The skins are left in the press!


When sauteing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavor turns intensely bitter, and you’ll have to start over.