Roasted peppers are worth the work

Roasted red pepper in a sandwich image
Roasted red peppers add substance and exciting taste to a simple sandwich with cream cheese, zucchini slices and shredded Swiss cheese.

Warning! This is not one of my simple tips. Making roasted peppers takes time. It’s fiddly. It’s also worth it. I’ve tried bottled roasted red pepper, and while I don’t know exactly how they make them, I taste a chemical undertone every time. The version you can buy at an olive bar in an upscale supermarket is often great, but very, very costly.

Once in a while, when I find a really good price on red pepper, I will buy a few and commit the time to roasting and freezing a supply.

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Keeping bean sprouts fresh

Bean sprouts in water and lemon photo
Storing bean sprouts in a covered container, with water and lemon juice keeps them fresh for a long time.

I love bean sprouts. I love them in sandwiches, soup, salads and stir fries, of course. Trouble is, they last about 20 minutes in the fridge before they turn into a soggy, slimy mess.

Store them in a covered container filled with fresh water and a lemon slice, and you will find that your bean sprouts will stay fresh, white and crisp for a week or more. Trust me … it works.

Hint: Find a place that offers bean sprouts in bulk.

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Keep fresh herbs fresh

Fresh herbs stored in water in the fridge
Fresh herbs stored in water can last for weeks in the fridge.Click the image to see the glass container.

Hands up if you have bought fresh herbs, used them once or twice, and had them turn brown, or even to mush before you get used to having this treat available. I thought so. It doesn’t have to be so.

Fresh herbs that have stalks, which is most if you are buying commercially, can be kept fresh for far longer if you store them upright in water in your fridge.

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Real food has seasons: Strawberries

Real food fresh organic strawberries
T'is the season ... for strawberries. These local organic strawberries were growing this morning.

We have become spoiled with having access to a complete selection of fruits and vegetables year round. I must qualify that, however. We have become spoiled with access, but very tolerant of low quality. If you have been paying attention to the quality and price of your produce, you may have noticed the inverse relationship between quality and price. When strawberries are cheap, they are excellent. When they cost the earth, they are usually disappointing. That’s because there is a strawberry season.

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Keep an avocado fresh for real food additions

Real food avocado storage
Cut just what you need at one time from an avocado.

Everyone loves guacamole. But avocados, with their creamy texture, gentle, but distinct flavor, and healthy fat can add a great touch to sandwiches, salads, main dishes and soup. Trouble is, an avocado is not forgiving once it is cut. Here’s a tip to let you use an avocado, one slice at a time.

Cut only what you need from the whole avocado. Here I have cut a wedge that is less than a quarter of the entire fruit.

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Extended storage for pineapples

Real food pineapple with top removed photo
To save space in the refrigerator, I always take the top from the pineapple as soon as I bring it home. Note that the shoulder is intact.

Have you noticed that a pineapple will last a long time in your fridge — as long as you don’t cut into it? Have you also noticed that once you peel and chop a pineapple, it seems to spoil almost overnight? I won’t admit how long it took me to put these two concepts together, but I can now save a pineapple for a long time, even though I am using it as I go along.

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Making juice when the lemons shine

Making juice when the lemons shine
Lemons for freezing image
Gorgeous lemons at 4/$1.00 can provide winter stock.

I stumbled across big, beautiful lemons at 4/$1.00. These were significantly larger than average, heavy with juice and without flaw. I use lemon juice frequently, but not enough that stocking up would net me any savings. However, you can freeze lemon juice and rind. Not only does that let you take advantage of the great lemon deal, but also guarantees that you will have that 1 tbsp of lemon juice or 1 tsp of rind on hand no matter how long you have avoided grocery shopping.

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Try something new: Jicama

Try something new: Jicama image
Jicama is an easy new food to try.

One of the best parts of real food today is the availability of strange foods, especially in the produce department. Jicama caught my attention many years ago, because I am a Canadian in love with Mexican food. For all the diversity in people and corresponding access to ethnic food, we are starved for good Mexican cuisine. If you want to eat authentic Mexican food, you must create it yourself. Jicama is a constant star in Mexican cookbooks.

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