I greatly appreciate all the links and ideas my readers send me. One of my readers showed me an article about a group of people in New York who are saving food that restaurants throw out.
Sorry I can't share the link; I have to cook potatoes before the turkey is done (which led to the inspiration for this post), so I don't have much time to finish this article.
The founder of the organization in New York was inspired when she ordered potato peels at a food cart and asked the owner what he did with the potatoes after peeling them. He said he threw them away.
The potato is one of the most versatile and beloved of foods. Wasting such a resource that could have easily been converted into a desirable dish...that's just bad business!
Luckily, the woman asked for the potatoes and delivered buckets and buckets of them to a homeless shelter.
After reeling from disbelief for a minute or two, I stopped and said, "Wait, wait, wait. People eat potato peels? Willingly?"
I had to investigate.
Turns out, you can roast potato peels, and they are delicious. It's a win-win all around; they're nutritious, they're free, and I can set them on a plate for my hungry kids to munch on while I finish dinner.
I realized as I was peeling my potatoes today for our Thanksgiving feast that a lot of nutritious peels were probably being thrown in the trash at that very moment, so I ran to my computer in hopes that I could inspire others to save the peels before it's too late.
Here's what you do.
I am a wizard. Seriously, Harry Potter and Gandalf got nothing on my magic.
After troubleshooting and creative problem-solving, I have…
…I have learned how to make rock hard cookies – cookies you could chip a tooth on – into warm, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth cookies that taste fresh. You don’t have to preheat your oven, and it takes less than two minutes.
Bow to me, for I am magnificent.
Now I’m going to tell you a rather long story about my Cookie Rescue Journey in order to drum up SEO stats. If you lose interest, scroll to the bottom of this page to see My Secret, plus the secret to keeping cookies from going stale in the first place.
Some of you might be wondering why such a skill as reviving stale cookies is even necessary. After all, you can make a big batch of cookie dough and bake as few cookies as you want at a time. Well, we recently had a garage sale, and I had the genius idea to make a bunch of baked goods to sell. We made a decent amount of money off of them.
Except, I made waaaaaaay too many treats.
The cupcakes got put in the freezer and were defrosted and re-frosted (with frosting, I mean) for church potlucks. The ginger cookies are my husband’s weakness and were soon devoured. The chocolate chip cookies were another matter.
I won’t tell you just how many we had left over *cough, two dozen, cough*, and they were already sort of stale by the time we hosted the garage sale. So we had a problem. The problem could have been prevented, though, because….
TO KEEP COOKIES FRESH
…all you have to do is store them in an air-tight bag or container with something moist, like a slice of bread, a slice of apple, or a tortilla. I wonder if a wet paper towel would work, and then you don’t have to waste bread and tortillas? The cookies suck up all the moisture and this keeps them soft.
But by the time I found out about this technique, the cookies were already hard enough to throw on the floor without breaking.
I tried warming them in the oven. Bad idea. I meant to keep the cookies in there until the chocolate chips melted, but they never did, and the cookies were burned. This is hard for me to admit. Burning cookies is an unforgivable sin, not because it’s wasteful, but because they are cookies.
Mama loves her cookies.
My next attempt was the microwave. Also not a good idea. Microwaves don’t cook evenly, so they’re really only good for food you can stir up. Also, a microwave only heats up water, so if the food item doesn’t have any water in it (i.e. stale cookies), you end up with a tough cookie that has pockets of warmth scattered amid spots of cold. Yuck.
Here is when my stroke of genius happened. We like to eat frozen Asian buns, which are usually steamed. To make heat them in the microwave, you wrap them in a wet paper towel to infuse moisture.
I thought, I could zap the cookies to make them moist, then bake them to make them evenly warm and also crisp on the outside. Except baking in the oven is a huge pain and the toaster oven isn’t much easier, so I thought, why not use the toaster?
Voila. Heavenly cookies in less than two minutes.
TO MAKE STALE COOKIES TASTE FRESH
You are welcome.
If you try this, let me know how it worked out!
The moment I started this blog, friend and family started sending me videos, recipes, and articles with food-related ideas to inspire me. One idea I keep seeing over and over again is how to make vegetable broth out of scraps. (Think onions skins, carrot heads, celery leaves, things like that.)
Obviously, that idea is a home run for No Scrap Left Behind. To think that I could turn garbage into something useful and delicious...brilliant!
At least, it sounded brilliant.
The video I saw told me to use onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, and potato peels.
I love all kinds of pie, but those pastries have a ton of food in them.
That can be a problem when everyone has had two or three slices and they don’t want any more. In my house, we struggle to finish dessert pies, specifically fruit ones.
Betty Crocker gave me the answer!
Of all the foods we used to waste in my house, rice was Culprit #1.
Lots of it gets stuck on the bottom of the pan or the rice cooker. After you eat the part that’s still good, the leftover rice gets hard and dry pretty much the second you put it in the refrigerator. Rice can stay on your counter covered for one day before it starts to get slimy.
"How do you freeze food so it doesn't get freezer burn? I too freeze leftovers my family is tired of eating, but when it sits in the freezer for weeks it gets frost on it. Then, my family refuses to eat it. Is there a solution for this?"
I don't blame your family; freezer burn is nasty.
Air is the cause of freezer burn, and the longer food stays in the freezer, the more time it's exposed to air. The solution is to keep air away from the food as much as possible. That's why they sell those vacuums that seal up food.
I love avocados. They’re rich and creamy, not to mention extremely nutritious. Did you know, that’s the only food you can eat exclusively and still survive? Nothing else has enough nutrients.
But I digress; another great thing about avocados is they’re versatile. If you only buy them for guacamole, you’re missing out
(At the end of this article is an extremely healthy, easy, and delicious recipe for a pasta dish jam packed with vegetables.)
Okay, so sure, I want the prize money for the contest I'm about to tell you about -- it would almost completely cover the cost of grad school -- but let's put a pin in that for a sec and talk about how helping me win would be a great thing for everyone else, too.
Home and Family is hosting a contest for the Best Home Cook. I think the fact that I never waste food makes me a unique and memorable candidate, so I made a video about a vegetable pasta sauce made from the random vegetables that happened to be in my fridge today.
The winner will fly to Los Angeles and actually be on the Home and Family show. Yeah. THAT'S pretty cool. All I need are enough likes, shares, and comments on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for my healthy vegetable pasta video to get the judges' attention. Community involvement is huge.
All I need...is you.
I was introduced to the beauty of salami by a friend of mine who liked to sit inside the refrigerator when she snacked.
The first time I spent the night at her house, I woke up in the morning, went into the kitchen, and found her sitting on the ground with her elbows propped up in the fridge.
"What on earth are you doing?" I asked.
"Because it's good. Try some."
I took a slice of plain salami, and she was right. It was amazing.
Every week my local grocery store has tons of buy-one-get-one deals. Everything else at this store is more expensive than Walmart, so I typically go there to buy only the sale items.
It’s fun to swipe my card and see my charge on the cash register literally get slashed in half.
The deals are so sweet that I’ll buy anything I think my family will eat and then I'll plan most of our meals around the food I bring home.
Last time I went, though, I made a mistake. A lot of the sale items were freezer foods, and I didn’t stop to think if all those items would actually fit in my freezer. Oops.
I will never waste food again
I've been tired of throwing out food for years - not to mention tired of our huge grocery bill! I decided to make a change and vowed never to waste food again. In this blog, I'll show you how I do it.