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Kitchen Shrink: Righting readers’ rants

Catharine L. Kaufman
Catharine L. Kaufman

As your culinary advisor, mentor and nurturer, I’m also available as a sounding board for your venting and to dole out doses of practical advice … so rant away!

Make your blood boil

Rant: “I recently made a quiche with a dozen eggs, and as I cracked the 11th one into the bowl I noticed it was marred with a blood spot. Yikes! I had to throw out the contents and start fresh.”

Solution: A blood or a “meat” spot on the yolk is simply caused by a ruptured blood vessel during the egg’s formation. While candling techniques usually catch these flaws, some blood spots slip through the cracks, especially with brown eggs. Although these spots are aesthetically unpleasant, they are safe to eat, and can easily be removed with a half eggshell or tip of a knife.

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But if you have a kosher kitchen, bloodshot eggs must be discarded. For damage control, break each egg individually into a separate bowl, and when it passes the inspection test, add it to the mixing bowl with the rest of the pristine eggs.

Shop hopping

Rant: “I’m frustrated that I can’t do a one-stop shopping trip. I have to make the rounds to three or even four supermarkets — one for quality meats and fish, another for fresh produce, a third for baked goods and a fourth for household items.”

Solution: These shopping patterns are costly and time consuming. Don’t make this a weekly habit, at most, a bimonthly one. Try substitutions (canned or frozen instead of fresh); if it will cut out one of the shopping trips, make organized lists and stick to them, and stockpile your staples.

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Another idea is to gather a group of your cronies and designate each one to a particular supermarket to do shopping duties for the rest.

Inflation aggravation

Rant: “Prices in the produce aisle of the supermarket are like the stock market, fluctuating daily — usually upward, especially for berries that are like edible gems.”

Solution: Just when you think you’re beginning to make ends meet, they move the ends! To buy the most economical (as well as nutritional) fruits and vegetables choose local and seasonal. Berries hit their bounty, and are therefore cheapest in the late spring, melons and stone fruits in the summer, and apples, pears and gourds in the fall.

Dangerous doppelgangers

Rant: “I’m frequently confusing herbs and spices that look alike, ruining my recipes. In the past I’ve inadvertently sprinkled garlic powder instead of powdered ginger (and vice versa), cayenne pepper instead of paprika, and salt instead of sugar in various dishes.”

Solution: The legendary Liberace embarrassingly told the story of his culinary faux pas when he mistook a green cylindrical tin of Comet for a can of dried Parmesan cheese as he was sprinkling it on top of a pan of homemade lasagna.

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Fortunately, he noticed the gaffe before his dinner guests were poisoned. Read labels judiciously, separate similar looking herbs and spices in your pantry, and designate all savory ones with a red label, sweet ones with a green label.

HEALING GINGER BROTH

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken breasts (organic, skin removed)

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and sliced in coins

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2 celery ribs, sliced

32 ounces broth (organic chicken, vegetable or mushroom)

6 cups spring water (adjust to desired taste and consistency)

1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons oil (sesame, canola, red palm, your choice)

Cayenne pepper and sea salt to taste

Method: Heat oil in a stock pot and sauté garlic, ginger, onion, carrots and seasonings until tender. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Remove chicken and shred into broth. Serve piping hot with egg noodles.