Tips & Tricks

Perfecting Prep-Work

Are you working on a stir-fry or planning a Chinese themed dinner party? If your dish calls for thinly sliced beef, partially freeze and it will slice more easily.


  • Getting the Last Drop! Want every last drop of lemon juice from that lemon? Pop it in the microwave a lemon for 15 seconds and roll it along the counter-top a few times before cutting and squeezing. You’ll get double the juice. Works for limes as well.
  • Spectacular Swaps!  Find out too late that you’re out of sour cream and the shops are closed? Never fear! Lemon juice is here! Add a little lemon juice to whipped cream and after it sits for 30 minutes, you have your sour cream substitute. No muss. No fuss.  Another stellar substitute lemon juice makes possible? Buttermilk! If you don’t have 1 cup of buttermilk, you can try this substitute: milk (just under one cup) with a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in it. Just remember to put the milk into the vinegar or lemon juice, not the other way around and then let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
  • Cleaning Up! Lemons aren’t just for cooking – they are an awesome addition to your cleaning arsenal as well. Run out of furniture polish or just want to go a bit more natural with small kids/pets underfoot?
    • Juice of one squeezed lemon
    • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon of water

And presto! A lovely shine and a fresh lemony scent (actual lemons, not that nasty synthetic stuff). Obviously scale up amounts for as much polish as you need. The other reason I like using this is I don’t have to store cans of polish.

Shelf Life Guidelines

Finally decided to clean out the pantry and start your culinary adventure anew? Here’s some shelf life guidelines to keep in mind when you decide what to toss and what to save.

  • Flour: unopened, up to 12 months. Opened, 6-8 months.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar, unopened is good for 2 years. It won’t spoil as such but it may change or lose flavor. Confectioners sugar is good (unopened) for 18 months but brown sugar, even unopened, is only good for about 4 months.
  • Spices are good for 2-4 years opened or not. It rather depends on the conditions under which they are kept. If the location is cool and dry (and out of the sun, it’s closer to 4 years) If they sit on the window sill, closer to 2 years. Whole spices keep longer than ground spices.
  • If your baking soda is unopened it will be good for about 18 months. If it’s opened, it will keep for 6 months.
  • Baking powder is good for 6 months if it’s unopened and 3 months after it’s been opened.
  • Honey will keep for 1 year opened or not.
  • Jams, jellies and preserves will keep for a year before opening. After opening, they will keep for 6 months if refrigerated.