Posts Tagged ‘kitchen tips’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Burn Treatments

June 11, 2013

As a continuation of my series of “Unfortunate Events”, I spent a few days last week in the Cornell Burn Unit at New York Hospital.  I know what you are thinking: Yes, I did just finish physical therapy on a fractured knee. Mmmhmm, I did hurt my foot after a triumphant return to the gym and taking my mileage from the recommended “walk a minute/ run a minute” to running 3 miles straight in the course of a week.
All of that is better now thank you, but last week I did a doozy of a job burning my hand. I will spare you the gory details, and trust me they are quite gory, but after a few days of pretending it was all fine, I ended up at the doctor, the emergency room and yet another emergency room, before finally being admitted to the hospital.

ZC8X8120 SH Hosp Bedmail

I burn myself a lot. As anyone who cooks like I do will tell you, burns are a part of the process. I inevitably have a couple of little marks on my arms as reminders of great meals past.

This one however, was more serious.

The moral of the story, is that if you have an injury that is large, extreme and doesn’t stop hurting/bleeding/swelling/oozing, do as I say, not as I do, and head to the doctor immediately. Many ERs now have a fast track area that deals with these non-life threatening emergencies that require treatment that often can’t be provided by your local doctor. (IV antibiotics, X-rays and MRI’s, wound treatment and stitches: you get the idea!) The first visit had me in and out in 45 minutes, a world record for a New York City ER.  If you think it might be serious, go see a doctor!!

Today’s kitchen tips are for those little pesky burns that don’t require either hospitalization or shots of morphine just to take a shower and get them bandaged (for reals!).  These are quick remedies often found in the kitchen to soothe those mildly singed areas and help prevent scarring or infection.


A teabag can act as a soothing compress, and the tannic acid present in black tea helps to draw the heat from the burn. Soaking a teabag in cool water and applying it directly to the area should provide some relief. Some advocate using the tea leaves as a poultice, and dabbing them directly on the burn before covering the area with gauze.


When honey is applied to a burn, it draws out fluids from the affected area, and acts as a disinfectant. It also keeps the skin soft, and supple as it heals.
Apply honey to the wound, and cover it with a gauze bandage. Change the bandage several times throughout the day.

Vinegar has antiseptic properties that can cleanse the burn and help dull the pain. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, and use it clean the area. Placing a cloth soaked in the mixture directly on the wound is said to help ease the pain.


Rubbing a raw potato over a burn is said to reduce pain and prevent blisters. Apply the cut side to the burn immediately, for optimum effects.

Milk is another food with soothing properties.  Soaking the affected area in milk or plain yogurt is recommended to take the burn out of the wound. Repeat every few hours, being sure to use fresh dairy products each time.


Freshly cut onions are also thought to be a good treatment, as the quercetin and sulphur compounds help to relieve the pain, and prevent blistering. Work quickly, as the onion loses its medicinal properties soon after it is cut. You may not smell very good, but people swear by the results!

Remember to keep the burn clean, and moist at all times. The doctors at the Burn Unit I was in are big fans of Bacitracin, which keeps the wound clean, infection free, and moist while it heals. And hopefully, mine will!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Skewering

May 21, 2013

4093600783Isn’t it kind of odd to take grilling advice from a city girl who has never owned a barbecue, or a backyard to put it in?
Trust me, this makes perfect sense…

When putting food on skewers to grill this holiday weekend, use two skewers, placed about 1/2″ apart from one another. This will secure the food, and prevent it from swirling around on the stick when you turn them.

Yeah, you’re welcome.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cream of Tartar

May 14, 2013

Cream of tartar is a natural substance often used to stabilize egg whites and whipped cream. It is derived from tartaric acid, the white powdery substance that forms in the barrels during the wine fermentation process.

While it’s commonly known for it’s culinary uses, cream of tarter also has hidden talents when it comes to cleaning.


Make a paste of cream of tartar and water and use it to polish your stainless steel appliances and cookware.

Mix it with a little lemon juice to polish copper.

Raw carrot in a copper saucepan

Cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide can lift off that nasty bathtub ring.  Apply it to the ring, let it dry, and wipe the solution and the ring right off!

It’s also a great way to remove mildew from grout.

Did you know that you can mix it with baking soda to make baking powder in a pinch?

photo: glasshouse images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How to Get More Juice From Citrus Fruits

April 23, 2013


When using citrus for cooking, it’s important to extract as much juice as possible from the fruit.
Here’s all the juicy details to help you get the most from your citrus fruits.

Lemons and limes can sometimes be very firm, and hard to juice. Placing them in the microwave for about 10 seconds or so, softens them and brings out the juice. Be careful when you cut into them, the juice can get hot!

Rolling the fruit on the counter before cutting is another way to release the juices. Use firm pressure as you roll the fruit before cutting.


This little kitchen gadget makes juicing super easy. Just place the cut fruit into one side of the cup, and squeeze! It allows the juice to pass through, keeping excess pulp and seeds inside.

photos: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Perfect Salad Dressing

April 16, 2013


Homemade salad dressing is so easy to make, and so much better than the store bought variety. A simple vinaigrette can be made with oil, and anything acidic, such as vinegar, or citrus juice.
As a baseline, dressing should be 3 parts oil, to one part acid. Depending on the ingredients, and what the dressing is being used on, that might need to be tweaked a bit. Personally, I tend to  err on the side of extra acid, preferring a little more tang to the dressing.

To make the perfect salad dressing, start out with a good quality oil. Olive oil is the most common base for a vinaigrette, but other clean, flavorful oils such as walnut can also be used.  Vinegar, or citrus juice can provide the acid.

There are lots of types of vinegars on the market. Balsamic vinegars can range from tart, to syrupy and sweet, depending on how long it has been aged. There is even a white balsamic, that has a milder taste. Red wine vinegar is a bit more tart, and half wine vinegar and 1/2 balsamic can be a nice blend. There are also flavored vinegars which add an extra element.  Lemon juice is a nice alternative to vinegar, as is lime or even grapefruit juice.

Whisking, or shaking the mixture will cause it to emulsify, thickening it slightly.
Once you have the basic recipe, it is fun to experiment with fresh herbs or other condiments.

One of my favorite tricks is to make the dressing in a dijon mustard jar that is almost empty. Just pour the oil and vinegar or lemon juice into the jar, and shake it vigorously. The mustard left on the sides of the jar will mix in and add another level of flavor to the mix.

Once you start making your own dressings, you will never want to go back to bottled versions, which are laden with preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients.


Photos:Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How To Tell If Baking Powder/Soda Is Still Good

April 2, 2013

4093602237It seems that no matter how much I bake, I never seem to use up the baking soda or baking powder in my pantry. These products do have a shelf life, and lose their effectiveness over a period of time.

Baking soda has an expiration date on the box, often 3 or 4 years from the date of purchase! Baking powder has a shorter lifespan of about 9-12 months.

If you are uncertain that they still have the power to “poof your pastries”, here is how to test them:

For baking soda, add a little vinegar to ½ cup of very hot water and add a little of the soda. If it fizzes, you are good to go. No bubbles mean you are not likely to get a rise out of your baked goods. Get a fresh box, and save the old stuff for cleaning projects.

Baking power can simply be stirred into hot water, (sans vinegar) as above. If it bubbles, it’s still good. If not, it needs to be replaced.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Non-Toxic Oven Cleaner

March 12, 2013

modern stainless steel oven knobs

My self cleaning oven has stopped cleaning itself. There is no worse household chore that I can think of than scrubbing the oven. The fumes, the waiting, and the endless wiping, rinsing and wiping again makes for a miserable experience. And did I mention how toxic oven cleaner is?

A quick survey of the web has turned up an easy, natural way to clean the oven using household ingredients. I also tried it on the burners of my stove and it did the trick.

Make a paste of baking soda and water, and spread it in a thick layer on the bottom of the oven. Let it sit for several hours or overnight. If you can, spray it regularly with water to keep it moist.

When ready to clean it off, spray the dried soda mixture with white vinegar, which will not only rehydrate it, but it will also cause a chemical reaction that will cut right through that greasy grime.
Wipe it off with a damp sponge and enjoy your sparkling, clean oven!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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