Tag Archives: money saving tips

Should you take a cooking/baking short cut – or not?

28 Jul
pie recipe from aunt takes time if you do not take short cuts

Aunt Sylvia's recipe did not have short cuts - but maybe you can take a few

For those who don’t want to devote an entire evening – or weekend – to making dinner, consider whether there are shortcuts, and if so, whether they would be worth taking.

I’m not doctrinaire on this issue. I like some short cuts (and some recipes that use short cuts are among my favorites), while I find others to be not worthwhile.  Generally if I don’t like a short cut it is because the short cut is too expensive or I think it results in a dish that has “shortcut” written all over it.

Now mind you, if I’m eating alone and I’m desperately hungry, there are a few short cuts I’m willing to take that I’d like to keep strictly out of this discussion.  But we all have secrets, don’t we?

Imagine that you’ve invited your latest crush to dinner and plan to make Aunt Sylvia’s apple pie for dessert. You’ve never made a pie before, but you’re sure it can’t be that hard as Aunt Sylvia is sweet, but not too swift. You’re running late and realize the recipe requires refrigerating the crust multiple times. Should you skip the refrigerating steps or buy a store-bought crust?

  • You may have more college degrees than Aunt Sylvia, but she probably knew what she was doing when she told you to refrigerate the dough.
  • If you’ve never made the recipe before, you don’t know how the dough should work and won’t know if skipping those steps has made a difference until it’s too late.
  • There are several types of crusts you can buy. Some brands are refrigerated, and can be put in your own pie dish so you can make them look home-made.
  • If the pie filling is home made and fresh, there’s a great likelihood that the pie will be delicious even if you use a store-bought refrigerated crust.

Need I say more?


Secrets of “in season” cooking

28 Jul

Have you noticed that locally produced food is all the rage?  Do you wonder whether you should use in season produce you see at farmers markets, but you’re not sure what to buy or how to use it? Keep in mind that locally produced fruit and vegetables are sold in grocery stores, too  – not just farmers markets.

Go ahead – try some of that luscious food you see in bushels or on tables at the farmer’s market or marked with a big sign in your grocery store. Using locally produced ingredients could make your food taste infinitely better and even save you money without any extra work.

If it sounds too good to be true, try two tests.

First – the taste test. Buy a tomato that is mass-produced, far away from wherever you live and looks ripe. Now buy a ripe tomato that is local, either at a grocery or farmer’s market. Take a bite from each. Can you tell the difference?  I’m betting that the local tomato tests a lot better than one that traveled thousands of miles.

Second – the price test. Go to a reasonably large grocery store and check out the price of a fruit that is out of season locally and is imported from a climate where the fruit can grow at this time of year. For example, now (mid-late summer) you may find Granny Smith apples in US stores that come from New Zealand or Australia.  A few months from now, when the fruit is in season in your area, price the same fruit grown locally. Usually, the imported, out-of-season produce (fruit or vegetable) will be more expensive than the locally grown version that is available only in season.

So, if you make an effort to eat fruits and vegetable that are in season and produced locally, you’ll probably enjoy their taste more and may well find them less expensive than out-of-season produce shipped from far away.