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Ask your mom . . .

January 10, 2011

Veggies ready for the Cuban Beef recipe in the slow cooker. There will be good eats tonight!

If you are a Mom, I’m sure you have heard “Mom? Can I ask you a question? “

My kids are on their own now but I still get calls with requests about most every topic imaginable, but especially about food and food prep. Over the years, I think I have finally answered all their questions so now the requests are coming from their friends and co-workers.

I really don’t mind, especially if they don’t mind that the answer is just an opinion, folk lore, or a shrug of the shoulder because, honestly, I don’t always know.  I’m sure a classically trained foodie would know the science of why things happen with food and how to manipulate things but that’s not me.  I just have years of experience in food service and an inquisitive mind of how it goes together best.

With that being said, my daughter said she wanted me to write down all the tricks I know about food.  Doesn’t she realize how hard that is???

I’m going to start a list with the last few requests I’ve received and as you, the public, think about it send in your tips and tricks and we’ll all get to read the wonderful advice that will help our food sing!!

Ask your mom . . . .

~how do you make gravy without lumps?
Answer:  Make your roux of oil or butter and flour, let it cook a bit for flavor, turn off the heat and remove the pan.  Let it cool for a few minutes then add your milk or liquid while stirring as fast as you can.  If you keep the bowl of the spoon horizontal to the bottom of the pan while you stir, it won’t slop over the sides of the pan.  You can take your time with a whisk if need be and when it’s smooth, put it back on the burner and finish cooking – keep stirring!  And if all else fails, an immersion blender is worth it’s weight in gold!

~how do you keep the skin from forming on the gravy before serving?
Answer:  Cook the gravy but never bring it to a boil.  When it’s good and thick, taste the gravy to see if the flour taste is gone.  If it is, remove the pan from the heat and pour in about ½ cup of cold milk or whatever your liquid of choice is, to stop the cooking (it sinks to the bottom of the pan and cushions the gravy from the residual heat of the pan).  Let it sit without stirring until serving time.  When you are ready to serve, stir in the milk and pour it into a serving bowl.

~how do you make a sauce shiny or glossy?
Answer:  Add a bit of corn syrup to the recipe.  This little trick works great for sauces like sweet and sour sauce, as well as fruit pancake toppings or toppings for cheesecake.   Best place to use this is when you make strawberry glaze for your fresh strawberry pie.

Now it’s your turn!!
Leave a question or tip below or email me at info.dancingkitchen @

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristen permalink
    January 10, 2011 5:51 pm

    If your recipe calls for fresh herbs but you don’t have them, what is the ratio of dried herbs you should use instead?

    • January 10, 2011 8:53 pm

      Hi Kristen,

      Fresh herbs are almost always available in the stores these days, well in most cities. But there have been times when I have been too tired to get dressed and do a town run so I usually substitute 1 tsp. of dry for 1 T. of fresh herbs.

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