Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Thanksgiving Countdown: Tip #9

November 19, 2017

Clean the oven.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but start the cooking marathon with a clean oven. Once the oven gets cranked up and is on for many hours at a time if there are drips and grease spatters, they will start to burn and smoke up the whole house. Even if it looks pretty clean, give it a good wipe to remove crumbs and any other debris that might cause an issue. Trust us, a blaring smoke alarm causes undue chaos with a house full of guests.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #5:

November 15, 2017

Now that you have figured out your cookware situation, do you have the tools to execute that meal?

If you don’t own a stand mixer, food processor or immersion blender, you might want to reconsider your recipe. Do you have a turkey baster or an amply sized carving board? We know you sharpened your knives! Now is the time to check and either shop, borrow or adjust your plan. Once you get started cooking, it’s too late.

Photo: Glasshouse Images


Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #2:

November 10, 2017

Today’s tip: Inventory your pantry.

definitely not our pantry

We take for granted that we have basics like salt, pepper, and oil on hand at all times. But remember, you are probably going to be cooking more than you are used to and using much larger quantities of all those staple items. This weekend, spend a few minutes taking inventory of your pantry and make sure that you have ample amounts of every spice, as well as oil, vinegar, flour, and sugar. Check for the freshness of your baking powder and soda, as they do expire and lose effectiveness. Make sure you have pan spray and aluminum foil, as well as parchment and plastic wrap. Trust us, you don’t want to have to stop everything to run to the store ( if you can find one that is open) or brave the crowds with overflowing carts because you ran out of cinnamon.

Bonus points for actually wiping down your shelves and drawers while you are at it. There is something about starting the preparation with clean and well-organized cabinets that makes the process much more pleasant.


photo: Glasshouse Images


Marching Orders

January 18, 2017


“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”- Women’s March on Washington

Women’s marches are scheduled to take place across the country this Saturday, in support of human rights. While the main march is taking place in Washington D.C. other marches will take place in New York and Los Angeles, as well as over 300 other locations around the country. And yes, men are also welcome.

If you would like to find a march near you, visit the official website and look for sister marches.

If you choose to attend the D.C. event, there will be some restrictions due to security concerns.

Here are a few tips and things you  should know if you are attending one of the marches.

Security will be extremely high. There are many common items that are banned, including aerosols, balloons, coolers, including glass, thermal or metal containers, selfie sticks, packages of any kinds, and bicycles and strollers.

Signs must be made of cardboard, posterboard or cloth only, and measure less than 3 feet wide, and 20 feet long.

Backpacks are allowed, but must not exceed 18″x 13″x 7″.  Other bags, such as a cross body pouch, must not exceed 8″x6″x4″ in size.

The weather is supposed to be mild, but at this time of year, can be unpredictable. It is best to wear light layers that can be added or removed as the day goes on.  Sunglasses, hats, and gloves are recommended.

It may be winter, but sunscreen is a must when spending the day outside, regardless of the season.

Amenities may be sketchy so be prepared with non-perishable snacks in clear zip-lock bags, and  (it pains me to say this), water that has been purchased in plastic bottles. Due to the ban on containers, your metal or glass water bottle may be confiscated. Restrooms may also be hard to come by, and the liklihood of having to use a filthy porta potty is pretty high. Dress for ease of use, with nothing hard to get in and out of, or anything that might touch the floor, such as overalls, jumpsuits or super wide leg pants.

Carry hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes, as well as tissues. You will need them!

Comfortable footwear is a given, but making sure your shoes or boots and socks don’t rub weh your feet swell is important. A coating of  Vaseline or Aquafor on your feet will help prevent blisters, and leave them suprisingly soft.

Be sure that your money, credit cards, transportation tickets and most importantly identification are safely stowed and close to your body. Placing them in a plastic bag inside a small crossbody pouch will keep them both safe and dry, in the event of rain.

Make sure your phone is fully charged, and bring a backup charger with you, if possible. If you are not using your phone, putting it on airplane mode will save battery.

Pre-purchase a local Metrocard, if applicable, so that you can easily get on public transportation.

Google has posted a map of spots where you can warm up, meet up and use the restrooms here.

Not into crowds, but want to show support? The 1@1 equality action initiative asks that at 1:00p.m. in Washington D.C,( regardless of your time zone), people stop whatever they are doing and stand for one minute of silent solidarity.

1@1 is a small, symbolic act in support of the American ideal of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It is one powerful minute to connect, reflect and recommit to making that American ideal a reality.

The only way to make our country great, is to be an active participant in the decisions that shape our lives. Whether is is women’s rights, or healthcare reform, let your voice be heard by those that initiate real change. The future is in our hands.

Kitchen Tips Thursday: Dried Fruit

December 8, 2016


What exactly is Kitchen Tips Thursday, you may be asking? It’s when I am too busy to get the post up in time to call it Kitchen Tips Tuesday! Better late than never, right?
Today’s tip is about using dried fruit in baking. Before you stop reading, this isn’t just about fruit cake. In fact, I have never made a fruit cake, nor have I even considered it. I do however make delicious scones, and oatmeal walnut cookies, both of which use dried fruit in different ways.


For the scones, the dried fruit (usually cranberries, but sometimes raisins, currents, dried cherries, dried blueberries or combination there of) are tossed in flour before being mixed into the dough. This is to keep them separated, and prevent them from getting sticky. This technique is often used in muffins when the fruit is fresh, as in the case of blueberry muffins, for example, to allow the fruit to disperse within the batter, rather than drop down to the bottom. Both of these items have heartier dough, and allow the fruit to become imbedded into the scone or muffin, thus protecting it from the heat of the oven.


The opposite is the case for the cookies. My recipe calls for the dried fruit ( they use the classic raisins, but I make mine with cranberries) to be soaked in lightly beaten eggs and vanilla for an hour before getting added to the dry ingredients. This makes them plumper and prevents them from sucking the life out of the delicate cookie dough during baking. A very dry raisin will try to seek hydration from the moisture in the cookie, and it can also end up almost petrified after baking dries it out further. This method takes a bit longer ( get it started and go do something else for an hour) but it is well worth it for the end result.

Happy holiday baking!!!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Boiling Potatoes

November 11, 2014

spuds, potatoes, three

Boiling potatoes is not exactly rocket science. You basically boil a potato in water, right?
Well, theoretically the answer is yes, but there are right and wrong ways to do everything.

Potatoes are a very dense vegetable, and the inside of the potato often cooks at a much slower rate than the outside. This can result in unevenly cooked, often mushy potatoes.

The solution:

It is best to put the potatoes into a pot of cold water, and then bring the whole thing to a boil. This way, the water and the potatoes heat up at the same rate, allowing them to cook more evenly.

While many people peel their potatoes before cooking, we prefer to scrub them with a brush and leave the skin on. It holds them together better, and the skins slip off easily once they are cooked, saving us the time and effort of peeling them first.

Cooking time varies based on the size of the potatoes. They are done when they are tender when poked with a fork, knife or metal skewer. This should take about 10-20 minutes.

Don’t forget to salt the water, and leave the lid off the pot to keep them firm.

Drain them well before mashing, slicing, dicing or just drizzling with butter and eating fresh from the pot!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How to Soften Butter

November 3, 2013

Curl of butter

When baking, the recipe often calls for softened butter. Icy cold, straight from the refrigerator butter is usually too hard to work with, and when the baking urge hits, waiting for the butter to come to room temperature is agony.

The obvious solution to softening the butter; putting it in the microwave, almost always leads to disaster. Some part of it always starts to melt, and the results never seem to be quite as intended.

Here are a few other methods that yield more consistent results:

Using a stand grater to grate the butter is an effective way to soften it, as the small shreds soften much more quickly than a whole stick. Don’t worry…it’s quicker to do than you think it is.

Another method that is effective, is to put the butter in a plastic bag, and use a rolling pin to manipulate it into a  more malleable state.

Alternatively, place the butter in a tightly sealed plastic bag, and submerge it in warm, not hot water for a few minutes, until it reaches the desired state. You can use the same bowl of water you are using to bring your eggs to room temperature, which we discussed her last week.

Or, if it is the first step in the recipe, do as I often do when time crunched. Put the hard stick of butter into the electric mixer and beat it into submission!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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