Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Hot weather kitchen tips

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

After weeks of 50's and 60's, we're finally getting some real summer weather here in WA! :) We're not joining the rest of the country in their insane heat wave though; 80 degrees is toasty enough for me! ;)

Here are a few summer weather kitchen tips, adapted from this post:

Don't bake in the morning, heating up your house as the day heats up outside! Bake after dinner instead. Run appliances in the evening, so your house can cool off overnight.

Cook outside on the grill (or safely use an appliance like a crock pot in your garage or enclosed porch). I like a hot dinner even in hot weather, and the grill is my favorite tool for that! :)

Experiment with main-dish salad recipes! I especially like salads that have a bit of protein while still being easy and refreshing.

Make lots of ice (water is free, after all!) and let the kids enjoy it often. :)

Hamburger salad (instead of sandwich)

For a lower-calorie meal, turn a burger into a salad instead of a sandwich. Pile a plate with the vegetable toppings you like (lettuce, pickles, sweet onions, tomatoes) and then add a burger, topped with a slice of cheese. Eat as a salad! :) I've been doing this lately as I still have some baby weight to lose. :)

Bonus pictures:

Shelling peas

My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew came over from eastern Washington last weekend and brought some peas from their garden. Early the next morning, my brother took the boys out to the deck and they shelled peas together.

Shelling peas

The peas drew quite a crowd! Soon everyone but Channah was out there helping (and eating). I made omelets for breakfast while they did the peas. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Using inexpensive canned salmon (Wholesome Homemaker)
2. Saving money on real food (The Local Cook)
3. Supper salad bar (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Freezing bananas (Living So Abundantly)
5. How to tell when beans are done cooking (One Little Word She Knew)
6. Using cheese but cutting calories (Finding Joy in my Kitchen)
7. Fried eggs tips (Recipes Happen)
8. Tips for from-the-pantry nachos (Western Warmth)
9. Quick kid-feeding tip (Sunny Side of Life)
10. Cooking chick peas faster (Trial and Error Home Ec)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for fresh fruit in the fridge

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

In a previous week's kitchen tip, I wrote about my soft resting place for fragile fruit that needs to ripen at room temperature.

When my fruit is ripe, I usually move it to the fridge for cold storage until we eat it. (Bananas are the exception.) Joshua prefers chilled fruit and I must admit, I'm starting to, too.

The fruit boxes at Costco come with soft trays for the fruit to nestle. I moved some juicy ripe peaches, tray and all, to my fridge drawer last week:

Fresh fruit storage in the fridge

As I'm using the peaches, I'm placing other fuit in the spots. Pears, oranges, apriums. The tray cushions the fruit as I open and close the drawer.

Fresh fruit tray

Strawberries are in season, along with peaches. I put this plate of fruit out for dinner last evening and had to snap a picture before we started eating; it was so pretty! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Spices in a small kitchen (Recipes Happen)
2. 10 tips for hosting a summer grilling party (The Local Cook)
3. Using leftover potato peels (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Double boiler tip (Living So Abundantly)
5. Cross-contamination in the kitchen (Sunnyside Homestead)
6. Using up bread crumbs (Purposely Frugal)
7. Tips for making faster dinner rolls (Western Warmth)

Favorite snack: Yogurt with fresh fruit

Yogurt with sweet cherries

I added the last of our sweet cherries to some plain Greek yogurt. It was an amazing combo! Have I mentioned lately that I love Costco's Greek yogurt? :)

The delicious cherries and yogurt combo reminded me of the last time I had Yoplait cherry-flavored yogurt -- only richer and less sweet. After eating plain yogurt for so long, fresh fruit is the perfect natural sweetener. The store-bought pre-sweetened yogurts now taste overwhelmingly sugary when eaten alone.

I have fresh peaches from Costco in my fridge... maybe tonight for dessert I'll serve Greek yogurt and peach slices for a "peaches and cream" style dessert. :)

Huge nettle leaf

I had to take a picture of some of the huge nettle leaves I gathered recently! They were fresh growth, but were as big as the palm of my hand!! I think the shady damp environment here must be ideal for nettles. ;)

I've been adding nettles to lots of foods since discovering how tasty they are earlier this Spring. Soups, sauces, casseroles -- if you come to my house and spot some green bits in your food it may just have nettles added! ;)

Card-making: My supplies and recent cards (with tons of pictures!)

Homemade cards

One of my favorite ways to relax is to pull out my box of stamps and make homemade greeting cards! I can't remember a time when I wasn't trying (sometimes unsuccessfully!) to make my own cards and stationery. I use fairly minimal supplies and almost always turn out something unique and fun.

Before I talk about the cards I've made recently, I want to show you my supplies. I have a big stack of paper:

Homemade cards

These are large books of card stock and paper, sold at stores like Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, etc. I was totally out of card stock and also wanted the convenience of some designed paper for backgrounds. The 5 books pictures were $25 (about 10 cents per sheet).

Homemade cards

My other expensive item is this paper cutter. Joshua saw it at Costco for $26 last year and bought it for me! I LOVE it. It has saved me so much time, and makes it so easy to get everything straight and perfect-looking. I can't believe I was using just a scissors all those years... :)

Homemade cards

Here are all of my stamps. The animal stamps on the right are from GoodWill. All the other stamps were a gift from a friend.

Homemade cards

My ink pads. These, too, were all given to me from a friend. I've been using them for a long time and they work great! I do find it a challenge to have so many pinks (3) and purples (2) with only 2 "guy-friendly" colors, green and black. Some day I want to get yellow, brown, and blue for that reason. :)

Homemade cards

And, the rest of my supplies: Scissors, glue stick, fancy cutter inserts for my paper cutter (above), colored pencils, markers, and an art brush. I've used the art brush a lot for backgrounds and edges.

Homemade cards

Torn paper is one of my favorite, simple ways to finish an edge. It doesn't require anything special, but looks kind of random and 3-D. I tear paper a lot when I'm making cards! On these two cards, I used some cardboard cut-outs that my sister gave me. I added a blue rick-rack bow to the one on the left. These aren't anything too fancy, but I like having unique cards to send! :)

Homemade cards

More torn paper, fancy-cut edges, and cardboard "buttons" with rick-rack tied onto them. It was actually tricky to find good ways to use the cardboard cut-outs, but in the end I was really happy with the results! :)

Homemade cards

After much deliberation, I came up with this pink and blue color-scheme and loved how these two cards looked.

Homemade cards

Anniversary cards! I had been given a big bag of sewing supplies, including lace, rick-rack, and plastic strings of pearls. I thought the lace worked out okay on that top card, and was the best I could come up with for using the cardboard "buckle"! :)

Homemade cards

I tried to make something appropriate to send to dads or brothers. I used some small rick-rack and the cutter attachment that cut zig-zags to match. The bottom of the card is finished by rubbing it across a stamp pad, my other favorite way to do edges (besides tearing).

Homemade cards

These are some random cards with Bible verses on them.

Homemade cards

Two similar thank-you cards. I liked making cards on darker card stock, although I realized afterwards that I would need to put white paper inside to write on. If you have gel pens, you might not need to do that, though! :)

Homemade cards

These two cards used a flower stamp (I drew the stems and grass with a colored pencil) and the edges were rubbed on a stamp pad.

Homemade cards

Two more using cardboard buttons. Joshua said the top one makes him think of a broken heart. Hmmm...

Homemade cards

These thank-you cards have the same layout, just with different paper.

Homemade cards

Two more anniversary cards...

Homemade cards

Birthday cards! I made a big set of these, after it took me a long time to find the right paper and layout. It also took a surprisingly long time to glue everything together (rick-rack is sticky and tricky!) but I love how they turned out.

The inside of the birthday cards:

Homemade cards

I like putting something inside the cards whenever possible... and decorating the envelopes too, if I have time! :)

Homemade cards

More random cards (all are blank inside). My sister actually made the music note card and gave it to me to use.

Homemade cards

Lastly, more birthday cards. I thought these looked kinda dorky. But, considering how bad I am about sending birthday cards (usually), hopefully anyone who gets one will like it regardless. ;)

I use a shoebox to organize my cards by occasion. :)

Related:

Simple thank-yous for busy days (the realization that I could be much more efficient making cards of the same design, plus a tutorial!)

Making homemade greeting cards (a couple pictures and tips)

Making thank-you cards (preparing for the birth of our 3rd child!)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Space-savers for a small kitchen

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

We just got back from a lovely weekend at my brother's house in Moses Lake, Washington. The 3-hour drive from our place in Seattle takes us through the Cascades, out of our evergreen, cool, and cloudy territory to the hot dry rain shadow in the middle of the state. I love the diversity of Washington, and I really enjoyed seeing the sun all weekend. ;)

During "quiet time" one day when the little ones (and a couple "big people" too!) were all napping, I moseyed around my sister-in-law's kitchen. She has made good use of the space in their current home, which lacks counter space especially.

Here are a few things I noticed and liked:

Portable dishwasher draining into sink

Candy has a portable dishwasher that has counter on top. Sometimes it's in the middle of the kitchen as an island, sometimes it's pulled alongside the stove while she's cooking, and sometimes it's tucked around the corner into another room, out of the way.

One thing I noticed was that when the dishwasher was running, Candy would put pots and pans that needed soaked and/or washed by hand under the drain from the dishwasher into the sink. As the hot water drained, it soaked a lot off the pans and made them easier to wash. Looked like a good use for the water that was just going down the sink anyway! :)

My brother installed hooks on a beam between the kitchen/dining and living room where all the pots and pans could be hung. I thought it looked classy and filled the space better (and probably more affordably!) than a commercial pre-made pot rack would have.

The hanging utensil canister! I really, really liked this idea. Candy used this flat-sided hanging wooden bucket for some of her cooking utensils, keeping them within easy reach yet off the precious counter space.

Vitamin storage

Their vitamins and supplements are in this metal basket/bucket on top of the fridge. It's easy to pull the whole bucket down and rummage for what you need rather than losing things in the back of a dark cupboard.

Moshe enjoying the warm summer day

Before we headed home, we stopped at Tonnemaker Hill Farm, an organic farm in the area with wonderful produce. We got 10 pounds of sweet cherries that were being picked while we drove there! And do you want to know the price for those freshly-picked organic sweet cherries? $2 a pound! :) I'd love to live right down the road from Tonnemaker's... they are so friendly and always give the kids samples to munch on. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. What to do with disposable cake domes (Trial and Error Home Ec)
2. Silicone baking mat tips (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Stir fry is faster than drive thru (The Local Cook)
4. Pasta cooking tip (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
5. Fridge and garbage space savers (Living So Abundantly)
6. Silk-free sweet corn (Finding Joy in my Kitchen)
7. Crock pot tip (Purposely Frugal)
8. Gluten-free baking (One Little Word She Knew)

My breakfast oatmeal add-ins

My morning oatmeal
Oatmeal with coconut oil, cinnamon, and flaxseed

I've been mulling over the idea of blogging. More than once a week, I mean.

For months now, I've thought about doing shorter posts more often and just... writing. With pictures.

But weeks keep passing and I keep not blogging. Which is not all bad, since it means I've been sleeping 8-9 hours a night (I'm co-sleeping with Channah), I get to play outside all day when it's sunny, and the kitchen gets cleaned every night.

In the last 3 months I've also organized the whole house, kept the laundry caught up, went thrift shopping so all the kids are again in nice, non-stained clothes, made 3 dozen homemade birthday cards and a whole bunch of thank-yous, knocked out my mending pile, organized the whole house again, played piano just for fun, checked out 60 books from the library (not all for me, of course), lost 15 pounds, and did fun and educational stuff with the kids for hours on end (stopping only to throw a freezer meal into the oven for dinner!).

It's amazing how much I get to do when I don't blog about any of it and dinner's in the freezer. ;)

Anyway, on to the point of this post, which is: telling you about my current favorite breakfast.

I love oatmeal (and it's cheap). I've been making a pot of it every morning for our breakfast. Joshua eats his oatmeal (plus a hard boiled egg) before he leaves for work, and the children and I eat ours a couple hours later. I cook 4 cups of rolled oats for the 4 children and myself, and it's the perfect amount.

Oatmeal by itself isn't enough for me, so I've been adding in some yummy stuff and I must say, a bowl of this oatmeal is very satisfying!

I cook my oats with some salt added (very important since I haven't been adding sugar or honey to mine!), and then stir in ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and coconut oil. A full bowl of oatmeal served like this is about 500 calories and keeps me full for several hours.

Having the same things on hand for breakfast (and snacks and lunches) is one of the things that has helped me keep losing about a pound a week. Remember when I said I had some weight to lose? Well, I'm about half way there! Somehow it helps me control my love of food when I have a list of good choices for snacks (plus not buying junk or baking sweets!). :)

Tips for Summer Picnics (Eat Well, Spend Less)

I love picnics!

Yes, the frugal part of me is why I am constantly saying "Hey, guys, let's just do a picnic."

That sounds more fun than saying "Since it's expensive to eat out, I'm going to pack some food for us." ;)

Whatever you call it, I love take-along food. It's a whole lot cheaper than eating out, plus being yummy, healthy, and on-demand. Here are some picnic tips that work for us!

Porch picnic

Bring enough food, but not too much. This is especially important if you're carrying your picnic with you while you sight-see on foot or hike. I ask the older family members how much food they want (how many sandwiches, pieces of fruit, etc.) and try to take just what we'll eat. The eliminates needing to tote around leftovers or keep them cold.

Re-usable dinnerware

Use disposable wrappings/plates if you're carrying everything; use re-usable containers if weight isn't an issue. I freely admit that I use plastic wrap, sandwich baggies, and paper napkins for an on-foot picnic! If we're packing a big cooler and driving somewhere in the van, then I'll use my normal re-usable containers and some washable plates. (I have extra plastic plates purchased for large crowds, bbqs, and picnics!)

Summer picnic walk

Take finger foods so you don't even need dinnerware! Our favorite picnics are finger foods like:

Sandwiches
Veggie sticks
Pre-washed/cut fruit like grapes, apple slices, pear slices, or bananas
Cheese sticks or slices
Nuts
Chips

I like to pack serving-size baggies of the veggies, fruits, or nuts so no little dirty hands are reaching into one big bag. ;)

And speaking of dirty...

Don't forget a clean tablecloth (if picnicking at a table) and some wet wipes or washcloths for dirty hands! :)

We also like to have at-home picnics on the deck or in the yard. Eating out in the sunshine and fresh air makes the kids (and me!) happy while keeping the kitchen floor clean. The benefit of an at-home picnic is that I can serve most anything -- like leftovers, even -- with no extra effort. :)

Eat Well, Spend Less series

This week, the Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers are writing about summer fun! Check out:

Eat Well, Spend Less During a Staycation from Life As Mom

Grilled Salads from Simple Bites

Sprouted Lentil Salad Recipe and Dressings from Kitchen Stewardship

Easy and Tasty Summertime Snacks from Kingdom First Mom

Eat Well, Spend Less During Your Insane Summer Schedule from Food for my Family

...and more to come from Denver Bargains and Good Life Eats!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Bottles of oil that don't oil your cupboard shelf

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I've been searching for a good solution for oil bottles for a long time. I try to be diligent about wiping any drips after using oil, but somehow oil still ends up on my cupboard shelf.

Olive oils

One of my solutions: Place an old t-shirt or other rag on the shelf under the oil bottle to catch drips. This works pretty well unless you have messy cooks in your kitchen who let the rag get bunched up... or your oil is on a high shelf where you can't even see the rag when you're putting the bottle away... Then you end up with an oily rag in the back of your cupboard and an oily shelf too. ;)

A tip I just read in Taste of Home (August/Sept 2000 issue), which I plan to try:

Cut the toe off of a clean white athletic sock and slip it over your bottle of olive or vegetable oil. It catches drops of oil that may run down the side of the bottle and prevents the bottle from getting slippery.

I may need to use an old baby t-shirt for my Costco-size jugs of oil, though. ;) I have a huge bag of rags so I'll surely come up with something that fits! :)

And lastly, if you're the crafty sort (and don't mind the thought of lovely yarn getting all oily), here's a free pattern for a knitted Olive Oil Drip Catcher! :)

Do you have any good oil bottle tips? I'd love to hear! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Hard boiled eggs tips (The Joyful Wife)
2. Saving money on special diets (Wole New Mom)
3. Cooking oil tip (Trial and Error Home Ec)
4. Reinventing the water pitcher (Simply Made Home)
5. Stubborn lids tip (Some Call It Natural)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Crispy skin on baked chicken drumsticks

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Here's a tip for chicken drumsticks! When I pull chicken drumsticks out of the package, the skin tends to be bunched up around the small end of the drumstick. If I just throw them into the baking dish, I end up with a lot of exposed meat and bunched-up skin.

This is not good because without the skin covering it, the meat will dry out during baking. And if the skin is bunched up, it won't get deliciously crisp.

Tip: Pull the skin back over the meat before placing the chicken drumsticks in the dish. The end result is perfectly moist meat and crispy seasoned skin!

Baked chicken drumsticks

Baked chicken drumsticks are a super easy meal. I do a variety of seasonings on them; sometimes I cover with barbecue sauce, salad dressings, or spray with oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

In the picture above, I had some Italian dressing to use up, and I added a garlic parmesan seasoning. I baked the 9x13 dish at 350 degrees for about 70 minutes (uncovered).

I made instant mashed potatoes and vegetables to go along with the chicken for dinner. The dish of chicken pictured was $5.21 at Costco, and we had 3 drumsticks leftover. Joshua loves drumsticks, and I love making a meal that takes 15 minutes to prep! :)

Bonus picture: One of the many Lego creations I've been asked to photograph. :)

Legos and kids
Yehoshua (8), Eliyahu (6) and Ruth (4)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Storing gluten-free flours (One Little Word She Knew)
2. Fitting real food into real life (The Local Cook)
3. Monthly meal planning (Simply Made Home)
4. Clearing drains naturally (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
5. Freezing foods with the "use by" date (Living So Abundantly)
6. 7 tips for shopping at farmer's markets (Modern Alternative Mama)
7. Fridge cleaning (Kolfinna's Korner)
8. Keep berries fresh longer; kill mold spores (iDreamofClean)
9. Save time and energy when boiling water (Nature's Nurture)
10. Scrambled eggs tip (Moms Frugal)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Sanitized pacifier shortcut

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Okay, this is one of those tips that sounded like a good idea when I originally decided to share it, but now I have my doubts. Oh, well, take it for what it's worth! :)

I use a pacifier sometimes with my babies*, and I wash it after it falls on the floor. Sometimes a pacifier goes missing for a few days or weeks or... I found one under the couch last week that hadn't been seen in months! I think Moshe used it last and that was months and months ago! Crazy.

And in that case, I not only wash the pacifier but I sanitize it in boiling water, too.

And I never feel like taking the time to specifically boil water and sanitize the pacifier.

So, when I'm boiling water for tea, I drop in the (clean, washed) pacifier for a few minutes to sanitize it.

Then I take out the (clean, sanitized) pacifier and use the water for my tea. This isn't yucky because I already washed the pacifier in my hot soapy dishwater before I sanitized it. ;)

*I feel compelled to note that I recommend the KellyMom information about pacifier use with breastfed babies. I always offer the breast first, but if it's rejected, I feel a pacifier is acceptable for a sanitary comfort-sucking solution. :)

Bonus picture: Channah, who has been using a pacifier lately. :)

Channah

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Freezing fresh fruit (Nature's Nurture)
2. Reviving, storing, and re-growing celery (Nature's Nurture)
3. Masking tape in the kitchen (Moms Frugal)
4. Recipe saving (Western Warmth)
5. Spaghetti (One Little Word She Knew)
6. Crockpot chicken broth (All Done Monkey)
7. Rhubarb syrup (The Local Cook)
8. Whole herbs vs. ground in crockpot + spaghetti sauce (Purposely Frugal)
9. Freezer foods (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
10. Watermelon rinds (Trial and Error Home Ec)
11. Getting kids to cook (Earthlings Handbook)

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