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February Quick Picks

Not everything is perfect for a longer post, but that doesn't mean they're not worth talking about. This is where the 'whole' is greater than the sum of the 'parts'. Or, something like that.

I mentioned the other day that I didn't have a wine bottle stopper that was truly leak-proof, affording me the option of storing an open bottle on it's side in the fridge. Well, I've found the stopper that fills the bill, and wouldn't you know, it's the OXO brand. I've found that anything with the OXO label is legit. It works. Here's the link to the OXO Wine Stopper.

How do you store brown sugar? I keep mine in a very tightly screwed down Mason jar, and it lasts for months without getting rock hard.

There was nice fresh asparagus at my neighborhood Winco today, and I couldn't resist.

I keep my asparagus nice and firm and fresh by simply cutting off the dried up, fibrous ends of the stalks, and planting them in a Mason jar (you've sensed the 'theme' here, no doubt. Yeah. Sue me. I love Mason jars) with a paper towel in the bottom, and a bit of water.

Put one of those little plastic elastic 'shower hat' covers on the top and you'll never have slimy asparagus again. Plus, it's front and center, which means you're more likely to use it.

While I was at the store, I grabbed a bunch of fresh Cilantro.

There was still some fresh Parsley in there, which has been there a bit over a week now, and it's just as lovely and vibrant as the day I bought it. I keep these kinds of herbs like they were flowers. Snip the ends off every week, refresh the water in the, ahem, Mason jar (Yeah, I hear you. Hahaha). I've tucked the Cilantro in next to the Parsley. Yes, I can see and smell the difference. Put the shower hat over it, and put it back in the fridge door tray.

I completely re-organized my recipe binder. It's one of those jobs that I'd been putting off, but, oh am I happy that I did it! I pulled it out for use today, and it was a delight!

I also re-vamped my Instant Pot cooking times 'Cheat Sheet'. I keep a spreadsheet that I can update with notes, changes etc. It makes such a handy way to get meals on the table faster and better. When I try a new vegetable or grain, I make a few notes on the side, and update it when needed. Sliding the printed pages in those plastic sleeves keeps them looking nice and clean.

It was also time to refill some herbs from the bulk supply at Winco. I don't buy all of my herbs and spices this way, but for those that I use a LOT of, it's worth it. I wouldn't buy granulated onion and garlic any other way. Chives. Parsley. Red Pepper flakes. Peppercorns. Even the basic Curry blend. Other herbs like Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme and such are also fine bought this way. The stores go through enough of these herbs and spices, fast enough, that their supply is always going to be fresh. And, you'll save. LOT OF MONEY.

Select those items that you know you'll use more than just occasionally.

It's also good to save used herb and spice bottles and caps. Then, get your label making machine out. I have an old Brother P-Touch label maker that's still going strong.

Finally, store what wouldn't fit in the jars in the freezer, and I recommend double bagging to preserve freshness.

I hadn't been able to get any decent Italian Farro at my Winco or even Whole Foods lately. Pandemic scarcity, I suppose. I ordered some nice Roland Semi-Pearled Farro from Amazon, and it arrived today.

I put it into a larger canister than I'd been using, and again, got the label maker out so that I could have the instructions for use right on the canister. It saves time. I don't even have to get the binder and 'cheat sheet' out!

Last but not least, I was noodling around on some Japanese culinary sites the other day, and came across a really nifty way to slice snow peas!

Lay them flat and cut thinly on the diagonal. The snow peas become these crunchy, bright green strips!

They fit into a wonderful little impromptu salad of red onions, radishes, tomatoes, lettuce and my homemade Chow-Chow! Gotta say it, my Chow-Chow makes salads and sandwiches rock. The 'juice' is our favorite no-oil salad dressing!

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