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14 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

by Country Living, on Wed Feb 2, 2011 9:45am PST

Save money and trips to the market with these tips and tricks from Rebecca DiLiberto’s Penny Saving Household Helper. You’ll be surprised how simple it is to keep food at its best.

  • Line the bottom of your refrigerator’s crisper drawer with paper towels. They’ll absorb the excess moisture that causes vegetables to rot.
  • To keep herbs tasting fresh for up to a month, store whole bunches, washed and sealed in plastic bags, in the freezer. When you need them, they’ll be easier to chop, and they’ll defrost the minute they hit a hot pan
  • A bay leaf slipped into a container of flour, pasta, or rice will help repel bugs.
  • Stop cheese from drying out by spreading butter or margarine on the cut sides to seal in moisture. This is most effective with hard cheeses sealed in wax.
  • When radishes, celery, or carrots have lost their crunch, simply pop them in a bowl of iced water along with a slice of raw potato and watch the limp vegetables freshen up right before your eyes.
  • Avoid separating bananas until you plan to eat them – they spoil less quickly in a bunch.
  • Put rice in your saltshaker to stop the salt from hardening. The rice absorbs condensation that can cause clumps.
  • Stock up on butter when it’s on sale – you can store it in the freezer for up to six months. Pack the butter in an airtight container, so it doesn’t take on the flavor of whatever else you’re freezing.
  • In order to make cottage cheese or sour cream last longer, place the container upside down in the fridge. Inverting the tub creates a vacuum that inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes food to spoil.
  • Believe it or not, honey is the only nonperishable food substance, so don’t get rid of the stuff if it crystallizes or becomes cloudy. Microwave on medium heat, in 30-second increments, to make honey clear again.
  • Prevent extra cooked pasta from hardening by stashing it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerating. When you’re ready to serve, throw the pasta in boiling water for a few seconds to heat and restore moisture.
  • Keeping brown sugar in the freezer will stop it from hardening. But if you already have hardened sugar on your shelf, soften it by sealing in a bag with a slice of bread – or by microwaving on high for 30 seconds.
  • If you only need a few drops of lemon juice, avoid cutting the lemon in half – it will dry out quickly. Instead, puncture the fruit with a metal skewer and squeeze out exactly what you require.
  • If you’re unsure of an egg’s freshness, see how it behaves in a cup of water: Fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.


Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

Hearst Communications, Inc.


Tips for Shopping a Farmers Market

From Taste of Home

Ready to shop at a farmers market? Find handy tips for what to bring with you to the farmers market, how to get the best deals, and how to find the freshest produce at farmers markets

Farmers Market Checklist

Before you go:

• Bring reusable bags. Tuck a few reusable shopping bags (with handles) into a pocket; merchants sometimes run out. And you’ll be helping the environment.

Have cash on hand. Credit cards and checks aren’t always accepted.

• Dress for comfort. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for the weather.

Pack a cooler. If you live far away, or plan to be at the market for awhile, bring a cooler for produce. Consider a wheeled cart or travel bag for bulk shopping.

• Go early… Find out the market’s hours and plan to arrive at opening time to ensure the best selection. Smartphone app Locavore and website provide market locations and seasonal hours.

• …Or go late. Great deals are often available around closing. Many vendors will lower their price rather than haul their wares home. However, some may be sold out.

While there:

• Don’t buy the first thing you see. Make a lap to compare quality and prices.

• Make your heavy purchases last.

More Farmers Market Tips

Expect an Experience

You’ll be buying produce that’s been off the vine just a few hours. But be aware that you won’t find everything on your list at bargain prices.

Talk to Farmers

Most vendors are happy to discuss their products and how they raised them, so you can ask them about:

• growing practices, including soil care and chemical use.

• when an item was picked, how to tell if it’s ripe and how to properly store it.

• ways to use the food in cooking. Some farmers may have recipes to share.

• estimated time of arrival of a regional favorite, such as sweet cherries, and how its quality looks this year.

Include the Kids

Show them what potatoes and tomatoes look like before becoming French fries and ketchup. It’s never too early to reinforce the importance of healthy food. Bring a stroller and drinks, and check for a play area: Some markets have them.

Try Something New

Many vendors offer samples, and it’s fun to experiment with a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tasted.


Introduce yourself and get to know your vendors. Some offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) options and can tell you how to get their product when the market is closed. They might even invite you to the farm!

Chef Shares Insider Tips

Come summer, the action in Madison, Wisconsin, is on the Capitol Square, where the largest producer-only farmers market (Dane County Farmers Market) in the country buzzes with masses. In the crowd is Executive Chef Tory Miller, co-proprietor of Madison’s nationally recognized L’Etoile restaurant. Known for taking market-fresh ingredients to the next level, Chef Tory dishes out a few pointers.

• Test for freshness. If something is harvested too early or late, you can usually tell by looking at it. But to me, it’s all about tasting and sampling.

• For best prices, become a regular. I also buy in large quantities and pay with cash. That lets farmers know every time they see me, I’m going to be buying something. And if I don’t, they might be more inclined to lower prices.

• Ask questions. Where is their farm? How long have they been farming? Do they use sprays or pesticides? If so, for how long and what kind?

• It’s ok to buy too much. You can pickle or can pretty much anything. I freeze a lot of things, as well as drying and curing.


Kitchen 911: Salvaging Cooking Disasters

From Mint Life/Frugal Foodie 7/21/2010

Spend enough time in the kitchen and you’re bound to have an “Oh, #$&@!” moment.

You know: Burned food, over-salted sauces, a cake that comes out of the pan in six pieces — the kind of food emergency that leaves you in despair of wasted time and ingredients.

Don’t reach for the garbage can just yet. Many apparent disasters are fixable, while others turn out OK with a little recipe creativity, says Mark Alan Mollentine, the chef behind the Chef Mark’s Kitchen product line. “It depends on how much CPR — cooked product repair — it’s going to take,” he says.

We talked to Mollentine and other chefs about how to salvage common kitchen disasters. Here’s what they suggest:

Over-salted foods

* For vegetables and large pieces of meat, “strain it and drain it,” says Ivan Flowers, the chef and owner of Fournos in Sedona, Ariz. Salt lingers in nooks and crannies, but a quick rinse should get things back to a reasonable level.

* “The old potato fix works pretty good,” says Leanne Ely, author of the “Saving Dinner” cookbook series. Add a potato to the dish to absorb the salt. Keep it as part of the dish if you want, or remove once it’s cooked.

* Puree cooked, unsalted rice and add to the soup or sauce a tablespoon at a time, says Angela McKeller, the host of the “Kick Back and Kook!” podcast It both thickens and de-salts the liquid.

* “The balance for salt is sugar,” says Alan Segal, the president of kitchenware distributor Real Chef. Add sugar, a teaspoon at a time, to taste. ‘It will bring down the salt flavor.”

* Balance out the salt with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar, says Bibby Gignilliat, the founder of Parties That Cook.

Over-dressed salad

* Transfer the salad to a clean bowl. Dressing tends to run to the bottom, so you’ll leave much of it behind in the old bowl, Ely says.

* Add more salad.

* Put it in a salad spinner. “Some of the dressing will come off that way,” Gignilliat says.

Overcooked vegetables

* Puree into a soup base with a little milk, cream or chicken stock, advises Segal.

* Use in quiche, or as a complement to scrambled eggs, suggests Mike Ciardi, the chef at prepared-food shop Radish in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Stuck-together pasta

* Put it back in water with a splash of olive oil, and use your fingers to separate the pieces, Ely says.

Dried-out meat

* “Sauce it down,” Mollentine says. Even a simple gravy helps reintroduce moisture and improve the texture.

Burnt meat

* Frugal Foodie’s dad likes to refer to his kitchen mishaps as “blackened,” rather than “burned.” Turns out, he’s on to something. Adding a rub of Cajun spices can salvage meat that’s a little too well done on the outside, Ely says.

* Spice combinations like cinnamon and cumin, chipotle and adobo or even liquid smoke can reduce the burned notes and add a complementary smoky, spicy flavor, Gignilliat says.

Lumpy sauce

* Place in a blender with a pat of butter. “It makes the sauce come to a beautiful froth,” Flowers says.

* Strain gravy through a sieve, but resist the urge to push it through, Mollentine says. That leaves lumps (although smaller ones) in the sauce.

Broken (i.e. separated) sauces

* For butter sauce, bring a little cream near to boiling in a separate pot and then add in the sauce. “Bang! It’s back and beautiful,” says Flowers.

* For mayonnaise, break an egg yolk into a separate bowl. Slowly whisk in the broken mayonnaise in a slow stream to bring it back together.

* For whipped cream that’s a little over-whipped, add a little more heavy cream. “It’ll loosen back up,” Gignilliat says.

Cracked/crumbled cakes

* Reassemble and freeze the cake so that it will hold together, says Mollentine. Then ice it.

* Reinvent the cake as a trifle by cubing it and layering with fresh fruit and pudding, whipped cream or ice cream. ‘Even if it doesn’t look good, it can still taste good,” McKeller says.

Burnt pie crust

* Remove the burned edges and add a light coating of powdered sugar. “It’s pretty, and no one will be the wiser,” Ely says.

Burnt cake

* Use a serrated knife to slice off the burned portion, Gignilliat says. Flip the cake so the shorn side is on the bottom, and then ice to cover the damage.

Deflated muffins

* Chop them up and use them to make bread pudding, McKeller says.


15 Hidden Health Secrets of Lemons

By Theresa Cheung From:

Did you know the Ancient Egyptians believed that eating lemons and drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a variety of poisons, and that recent research has confirmed this belief?

There are many health benefits of lemons that have been known for centuries. The two biggest are lemons’ strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and their use as a weight loss aid because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons contain many substances–notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene–that promote immunity and fight infection.

These are well-known health facts about lemons. But there’s so much more to this little yellow fruit. Here are 15 that I’ll bet you didn’t know. Whether you use them in the form of juice, teas, drinks, dressing, poultices or in the bath, take advantage of lemons’ natural healing power.

Reprinted with permission from “The Lemon Juice Diet,” Copyright 2008 by Theresa Cheung.

Abolish Acne

Lemon contains citric acid, which can be effective in treating acne. The vitamin C found in citrus fruits is vital for that healthy glowing skin while its alkaline nature kills some types of bacteria known to cause acne. In addition to drinking lemon juice with water first thing in the morning, here are some suggestions on how to prepare a homemade acne treatment using lemon:

With your finger or a cotton ball, apply fresh lemon juice on acne and leave it overnight. Wash with water the following morning. There may be an uncomfortable sensation of burning at first, but it will soon disappear.

Mix one part of freshly squeezed lemon juice with an equal part of rose or honey water. Put the mixture on affected areas for at least half an hour. Wash it afterwards with water. This application should be repeated twice daily, ideally in the morning and the evening.

Note: these remedies are safe and natural, but if acne is severe or there are open wounds, consult your doctor first.

Abandon Your Anxiety

Research has shown that lemon balm has a calming effect and therefore may be able to help remove fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, anxiety, nervousness, and tension. It is also believed that inhaling lemon oil helps in increasing concentration and alertness. It can therefore be used as a room freshener in offices to increase the efficiency of the employees. If you’re feeling tense sprinkle a few drops of lemon balm essential oil (Melissa officinalis ) on a handkerchief to inhale

Canker Sore, No More

The proven antibacterial and antiviral properties of lemons can accelerate the healing process in the case of cankers. Mix the juice of freshly squeezed lemon into a glass of lukewarm water and rinse your mouth with this solution; do this three times a day. There may be a burning sensation when the lemon juice comes into contact with the canker, however, the more frequently you use it, the less burning there will be.

Leave the Fever

Chills and fevers may be due to a variety of causes, but the lemon is always a helpful remedy. Here is a method that can ease symptoms: add the juice of 1 lemon to a cup of hot water with honey and drink at once, then every 2 hours until the fever or chill subsides.

Cold and Flu Got You Blue?

When you have a cold, the healing power of lemons works both internally, by supplying urgently required vitamin C to your defense cells, and externally, through the application of its antiviral properties to the virus on the mucous membranes in the nose and throat.

At the first indication of a cold – a runny nose or sore throat –try to give your body as much immune-boosting vitamin C as you can so that the virus is eliminated before it gets a chance to take hold. Drink the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon in a glass of lukewarm water every 2 hours.

If you have a sore throat, add the juice of 1 lemon and 1 teaspoon (5ml) of sea salt to 1 cup (250ml) lukewarm water. Gargle three times a day for 1 minute to diminish the burning sensation. If it’s a case of tonsillitis, gargle every 2 hours for at least 30 seconds with the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon. Tilt the head back to allow the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the juice to flow into the back of the throat. You can swallow the juice when you have finished gargling thereby benefiting from an immune-boosting vitamin C shot.

Cure Corns and Calluses

Lemon poultices applied overnight are a good home remedy for corns and calluses. Place a slice of lemon approx 5 mm thick on to the corn, bandage and fasten. Dabbing the affected area with lemon essential oil also helps accelerate the healing process. Take care to only use the undiluted oil on the callused area using a cotton ball or Q- tip, as it is too strong for un-callused skin.

Erase Eczema

If you suffer from skin infection such as eczema, a lemon wrap may offer relief. Add 8 drops of lemon essential oil to 1-cup (250ml) lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of liquid honey. Honey also has anti-inflammatory effect and strengthens the healing power of lemon.

Soak a linen cloth in the liquid, squeeze out the excess, and gently place the cloth on the affected area for 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. Not only will this ease the infection, it will counter the overwhelming urge to scratch.

Fight Fatigue

Long distance walkers, world travelers, and explorers look upon the lemon as a Godsend. When fatigue sets in, they might suck lemon juice by piercing the top of the fruit with a straw, giving themselves a quick-acting medicine and a lovely refreshment.

Explorers also use lemon for protection against many infections of the tropics. A small amount of lemon juice will quench thirst more effectively than many times the amount of water. Experienced travelers declare that when they add lemon juice to ordinary drinking water, in various localities, it acts as an antiseptic and prevents illness due to allergy to different water supplies.

Lemon oil also seems to be able to stimulate brain activity so whenever you feel tired for no reason or are finding it hard to focus or concentrate, add 4 drops of lemon oil to a water-filled aromatherapy lamp. Alternatively, drink a glass of lemon water every few hours.

Hexed with Halitosis?

Lemons can help freshen breath that has gone sour after consuming certain spices, alcohol, cigarettes, or that is caused by insufficient salivation. To keep breath fresh, thoroughly rinse your mouth several times a day with the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon in a glass of lukewarm water. Chewing on a lemon slice after every meal will also help.

Healing Hypertension

Garlic and onions have been shown to be effective in the fight against hypertension, and they combine well with the healing power of lemon. Add 3 crushed garlic cloves and 1 chopped onion to 1 quart or cold skimmed or low fat milk or soy milk. Slowly bring to the boil and let it stand for 5 minutes. Pour through a sieve and chill. Add the freshly squeezed juice of 3 lemons and sip throughout the day.

And if you suffer from high cholesterol, don’t forget that the pectin power in lemons along with its other metabolism and circulation-boosting nutrients can help lower cholesterol.

Smite a Bug Bite

If the stinger is still in the skin, take it out with a pair of tweezers. Massage 1 to 2 drops of lemon oil, mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey, into the skin around the bite.

To repel insects, add 20 drops of lemon oil to 1 cup (250ml) of water and spray into the air. It smells great and repels insects at the same time. Another home remedy is to place a cotton ball soaked in lemon oil in your bedroom. If you are sitting outside in the evening, apply lemon scent to skin areas not covered in clothing. Or, add 10 drops of lemon oil to 1 ½ oz of sunflower oil and rub into the skin.

Put Insomnia to Rest

Several studies have found that lemon balm combined with other calming herbs (such as valerian, hops, and chamomile) helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep. In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 18 healthy volunteers received two separate single doses of a standardized lemon balm extract (300 mg and 600 mg) or placebo for 7 days. The 600 mg dose of lemon balm increased mood and significantly increased calmness and alertness.

Pulverize Pain

Even though it tastes bitter, lemon juice has a powerful alkaline effect in the body and is therefore a natural agent against excess acid, which is in part responsible for rheumatism. Drink the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon in a glass of lukewarm water 3 times a day and if you experience severe pain add the juice of 2 lemons 3 times a day.

Lemon oil has pain-relieving qualities, so to inhibit inflammation and ease pain, massage the affected area daily with several drops of lemon oil mixed with 1 tablespoon (15ml) jojoba oil.

Save your Stomach

Drink the juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon in a glass of lukewarm water after each meal. The lemon acid will stimulate the production of stomach acid and the activity of stomach muscles.

Say Adios to Varicose

Lemon oil has vessel-strengthening properties that can help fight varicose and spider veins. For spider veins, take 2 to 3 drops of lemon oil every day and mix in a small bowl with jojoba, avocado or almond oil and massage the affected area.

For varicose veins, add 6 drops of lemon oil to 1 ½ oz (50 ml) wheat germ oil, and 2 drops each of cypress and juniper oil. Use this mixture daily for a gentle massage of the legs from bottom to top, in the direction of the heart. For a vein and vessel-rejuvenating bath add 8 drops of lemon oil to a warm bath. Also add 4 drops of cypress oil blended with 1 tablespoon (15ml) of honey. Soak in the bath for 15 minutes and when you come out, pat your skin dry – don’t rub it!