Tip Tuesday

People beg me to make mashed potatoes. Josh, my family, sometimes the rare friend that has tried them. My secret?

Boil peeled and quartered potatoes (enough for 8 servings – 8 medium, 12 small, 6 large, or an appropriate mix) until fork-tender, mash with one tablespoon of butter and milk, and a package of cream cheese. Normally, I would only make mashed potatoes for 4 if we were out of cream cheese, but when I make this, everyone seems to eat double…


Is there any particular set of dried spices and herbs you find yourself using over and over and over? Bottle it! If you think about it, that’s all Essence is, or even savory or Italian seasonings – someone, somewhere, kept using the same set of 5 spices in the same proportions, until finally they decided to just stick it in a bottle and use it from there.

Even if it’s as simple as keeping 2 parts salt to 1 part pepper in a shaker, or keeping a shaker of Parmesan and Romano in your fridge, it works. Also, if you happen to notice that everyone else likes your spice blend too, you have a great addition to small gifts. Or you could market it. You know, whatever.

Mix 8 oz of cream cheese, some sugar, and 4-8 shots of cocktail mix. Fold in a tub of whipped topping. Place in a prepared pie shell. Delicious! (I want to make watermelon. There’s this watermelon martini mix that tastes like Jolly Rancher…)

Always best to cook things when they’re in season, right? So have a peach-and-apricot pie today, or a berry tart! Basil is definitely in season (once, as a child, I had a basil plant that looked more like a tree than anything it was so healthy. We could steal so many leaves and it wouldn’t even phase the plant).

Beets are a summer veggie, not a fall one – stories of borscht aside. Same with chili peppers – fall chili utilizes the fact that dried chilis are just as delicious. Cucumbers are delightfully in season: but be careful, they’ll start to get really big, and that just spells bitter and nasty. Obviously, corn is, and tomatoes, all the melons, and the ubiquitous summer squash (if only all other foods made their identification so easy, neh?)

Cherries and plums are coming fresh of the trees (and there is nothing quite like a plum, fat and juicy, directly off the tree. I love plums!) But don’t forget figs. They are also currently in season, if you like them. Weird little fruits, I’ve never been a fan.

Things that are NOT in season: There is no orange in season! Sweet oranges are a product of spring, and mandarin ones a fall crop. Pomegranates and persimmons are being pushed too fast, you shouldn’t be seeing those until September at least! Lettuce and broccoli should also wait a few more months, though both of them start their season in the summer. Quince and star fruit (I’ve noticed them popping up at my local mega-mart. I once had a quince tree in my backyard. NEVER. EAT. RAW!) are also not ready until at least September, but October’s fruits are best. Pears, also, shouldn’t be found in summer – or at least, not until very late summer.


PS: This is in my Midwestern farmin’ experience, with a little looked-up knowledge. If you know different for your area, you should comment!

Freeze Jello Jigglers on a stick for a really weird lollipop. Because the flavor’s more intense, it’s way more awesome. And there’s that odd jiggly sensation as it melts on your tongue!

Toss blackberries and raspberries together with a lemon glaze and put in a baked pie shell for a fast and delicious dessert.

Add a shot of blueberry vodka to your favorite smoothie (or citrus, if that’s more in line with your favorite smoothie) and serve at a fun “kid-again” cocktail party.

When you have to spray one side of saran wrap to keep it from sticking to whatever is in the container, first cling the saran wrap to one side of the container, then spray the underside and cling the saran wrap to the remaining three sides. The container itself will act as the necessary third hand in doing this frustrating task!

Take well-drained pineapple chunks (or cut, core, and dice a pineapple) and dust with oh, a tablespoon of cayenne. Put in snackable sized container and put in every lunch box. DELICIOUS!