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CrabFest 2023


Tips and Tricks

Our editors enjoy dining out as much as we like cooking at home. And because this is what we do for a living, we've got lots of experience at both. In this column we're sharing the ins and outs of dining in and out. Bon Appetit!


Counter Top Cleanup

Unless you have a housekeeper, chances are you don’t keep your kitchen counter as clean as a five-star restaurant. But eventually it has to be done. Now and then, pull everything from the counter and give it a ful wipe-down using a solution of bleach water or another sanitizer. This is also a good time to condition the counter top if it’s formica, stainless or otherwise.


Toast Your Nuts (and Seeds)

Most nuts and seeds aren’t very flavorful raw, compared to what happens to them after they get a little heat. Toasting nuts and seeds releases the flavors locked inside. We like to shop the bulk section and stock up on staples like slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts. Then we have a little toasting party, putting heat separately on each one, packing them back into re-usable storage pouches, and storing them in the freezer for later use with salads, mains, and desserts. Just remember, there are different temperatures to toast different items, so break out the infrared thermometer.


Refresh Spices

Spices, like any other food, can get old. Like that ginger powder you’ve been sitting on for the last 15 years. Locate some long credit card storage containers (available from The Container Store) and 4” wide food stuffs (available from Uline). Transfer all your fresher spices to the individual food stuffs, use a sharpie to identify them on the stuff bags upper edge and store them in the credit card holder. Toss all the older spices. For the ones you want to replace, mark empty food stuffs the same way, go shopping in the bulk spice section of a better grocery store and only buy 1-3 tablespoons of anything you’re refreshing. Enjoy all the free space you just created in your spice cabinet.


“Certified” Farmers Market

If you’re drawn in by the lure of fresh ingredients available when you shop a farmer’s market – and you think that’s a healthier way to shop – then buyer beware. Those of us who appreciate food grown organically have found not all farmers markets are created equal. It never hurts to ask a seller if their fruits or vegetables are organic. If not, you can do just as well in the non-organic sections of your local grocery store since those goods will likely have been sprayed with the same pesticides as the ones in your market. Ditto when it comes to proteins like meat, poultry, and seafood. Grass-fed, organically fed, wild-caught? Ya gotta ask. Some vendors will have signs that say they offer grass-fed, organic, etc. Read their signs.


Gadget Drawer Cleanup

If you’ve lived in the same place for a while, it may be that you’ve got more gadgetry than you need. Spatulas, spoons, whisks, corkscrews, and more seem to multiply over time. If your drawer is starting to overflow, it’s time to start that annual ritual of cleaning it out. Take everything out, group together each of the different items, select the best two or three of each and stash the rest away from the kitchen. Try operating for a few months with the essential gear and see how often you actually find yourself searching for the ones you left behind. After a few months consider taking whatever you didn’t move back to the kitchen to the hand-me-down store.

Have you got a tip or trick you'd like to share with out readers? Send it to If we use it, we'll send you a copy of our Cooking with Class cookbook.

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